My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

My Friendship with an Alaskan Husky





Dear Blog Visitors:

In recent months, I have developed a very special friendship with my next-door-neighbors’ Alaskan husky. Her name is Star, and I thought I would take this opportunity to write about the many ways this special friendship has enhanced my life.

Ever since I was a young child, I had a special love for animals. Due to my very busy schedule throughout my adulthood, it was not possible to actually have a pet of my own. However, I have always been drawn to movies that feature dogs and I never pass an opportunity to pet a dog or cat when our paths cross.

A couple years ago, my neighbors adopted Star, the Alaskan husky who was to become my very special friend. When she first arrived on the scene, it took me a while to introduce myself to her. She was a little shy at first, whereby I allowed her to sniff the back of my hand (time-honored way of introducing yourself to a dog). After Star got used to seeing me in the yard, she gradually allowed me to pet her. I then introduced Star to my wife (Brenda). Brenda went through the same ritual of allowing Star to sniff the back of her hand, which gradually led to petting.

As with the case of Brenda and me, our neighbors have very busy schedules as well, between their jobs and raising two children. So, this allows little time to take Star for walks. If you know anything about Alaskan huskies, they are very energetic dogs. If trained for sledding, they can run up to 80 miles per day. However, when raised as a house pet, a good energetic walk or run (or combination of both) each day will generally satisfy the husky’s needs.

After visiting Star in her backyard over a period of several months, Brenda and I finally asked our neighbors if we could take her for a walk. We quickly found out how much energy Star has. Our initial walk has led to almost daily exercise routines. I will generally go for a good run with Star, followed by a long walk. On days that Brenda accompanies us, she will generally run behind us and then take the leash once Star is ready for walking, as opposed to running.

Alaskan huskies are often described as being fiercely independent, while at the same time, not liking being left alone for long periods. They are also often described as being very gentle around people, but having tendencies toward aggression around other animals. So, when I take Star for walks, I tend to allow her to say hello to people, but will steer her away from other dogs.

This winter has been a new experience for me, thanks to Star. In the past, I have generally hibernated on weeknights and weekends, because I do not like the cold weather. However, since huskies love cold weather, I managed to take Star for walks on most days this winter when the weather cooperated. This has improved my physical condition, inclusive of dropping several pounds.

I learned from my friendship with Star (in addition to doing some reading) that Alaskan huskies rarely bark. However, I have learned to interpret her needs from both her facial expressions and her physical movements. I have also learned that huskies are very intelligent dogs, and I like to think that I have learned much from Star, just as I have tried to teach her to be patient with her curiosity while outdoors.

Star knows that following a long walk, either Brenda or I will give her a few treats (usually a couple pieces of salmon, followed by a couple biscuits). This has become a daily ritual that brings much joy to Star, Brenda and me.

Finally, I would have to describe my friendship with Star as highly spiritual. By this, I simply mean that I am indeed fortunate to have as one of my special friends, one of God’s four-legged creatures. I especially enjoy time alone with Star on Sunday mornings, when traffic is light and I can walk with her in wide-open spaces, where she and I can have plenty of room to run and walk in the midst of nature settings.

In closing, if you are in need of a special friend or companion, you may need to search no further than your neighbor’s back yard. Star is a wonderful friend who has touched my life immensely.

Peace to all,
Ray

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Married Priests Have Reasons for Hope



Dear Blog Visitors:

If you have followed my writings in recent months, you are aware that I not only changed the title of this blog, but I have also ventured into a variety of topics of interest.

Since my blog originated as a vehicle for reform in the Roman Catholic Church, I will continue to focus on this area from time-to-time, in addition to writing on such topics as the arts, politics, social issues, etc.

As I have grown older, I have come to realize that I need to step back from my reform activities in the Catholic Church and allow the next generation's voices to be heard. At the same time, I want to offer a message of hope to the approximately 120,000 married priests throughout the world.

In 2002, married priests came to realize the great injustice they had experienced at the hands of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. This was the year the Boston Globe broke the story of the sexual abuse crisis. This was an especially hurtful time for married priests, for one simple reason. At the very basic level, married priests were driven out of their canonical ministries, while priests who committed acts of sexual abuse were routinely moved from parish to parish.

When I say there is a glimmer of hope for married priests, it is because of harsh realities the Vatican is now facing. In brief, Vatican City was not spared from the economic downturn the world has experienced in recent years. In addition, multiple parishes have closed throughout the world, due in large part to the dwindling number of celibate priests. Consequently, the Vatican is beginning to realize that if the Roman Catholic Church is to remain vital on the world stage, some immediate steps need to be taken.

Judging by the relative quiet amongst the Roman Catholic hierarchy the past few months, it is safe to assume that secretive discussions are taking place behind Vatican walls on very sensitive issues, including the hot topic of priestly celibacy.

Although I made the above video three years ago, it is fair to say that it is more timely today than it was then. So, I am posting it in the hopes members of the Catholic hierarchy will see it. I tried to utilize a blend of theology, history and present-day realities to give hope to married priests.

Let us pray that as the world moves forward that the Vatican, although locked in tradition, can find creative ways to embrace a new generation. Utilizing married priests would be a welcome step in the right direction. It would be a way of honoring the early married apostles (Peter included) and giving hope to those who have strayed from the institutional church over divisive issues.

Peace to all,
Ray