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August 2013

Construction Update

Dig_heavy_196769Workers are preparing to reinforce the foundations of the old church and lay the foundations for the new. During this process, the old church will be buttressed for added support. The excavation for the basement should be complete by the end of the week. 

A specific plan is being developed to move the smaller children's playground playset to its new home, from the east side of the older children's playset to the west. This move will clear the approach to the entryway for the church from the parking lot. 




Food for Thought: Goodbyes

…Just this is the mystery. That all the important moments, and probably the source of all moments, there is something that is illogical, paradoxical, and sort of impossible. Male and female. Good and bad. Loved and hated. Sought and shunned. Alive and dead. A time for loving and a time for hating…

School_father_96052When we said goodbye at the airport – the parents and the children – happiness and sadness were both there and probably some simultaneous. Don’t leave me and good riddance. But because the logic of this world demands that whenever experience offers two sides, only one of them can be good…the other must be named “bad” and removed from awareness.

But every now and then the paradox sparkles from within, and we are mystified and a little frightened and we pause. To live is to arbitrarily choose one, but ever be bothered by the other.

 Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Honey From the Rock.

Basement Excavation Extended Today

05_crawler_excavator_carcassToday the contractors will extend the excavation for the basement under the western section of the nave. We're running out of space to put dirt, but after being patient with the demolition, it's exciting and inspiring to see the foundations being laid for the new portion of the church building.

It looks like they have already uncovered portions of the foundation of the old rectory or its gardens.

Pictures later in the's pretty busy out there now!

Food For Thought: My Judgment I Kept Flexible For Too Long

Albrecht Haushofer was a German activist who took a role in the rise of Nazism in Germany, before Hitler had clearly signalled his anti-semitism and willingness to do most anything in its cause. When Hitler's intentions became clear, Haushofer distanced himself from the Nazi party, eventually conferring with those who sought to overthrow Hitler and indirectly with those who attempted to assasinate Hitler (though Haushofer was opposed to assasination attempts since he believed they would be useless.)

He was imprisoned by the Nazis shortly after the failed assasination attempt of Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg and eventually executed. He wrote this sonnet called "Guilt" which was found on his body at the time of his execution:

Yet I am guilty otherwise than you think
I should have known my duty earlier
And called evil by its name more sharply
My judgment I kept flexible too long…
In my heart I accuse myself of this:
I deceived my conscience long
I lied to myself and others
Early I knew the whole course of this misery
I warned, but not hard enough or clearly
Today I know of what I am guilty.

Contemporary condemnation of persons or institutions who are deemed "judgmental" often conflates rational discernment with bigotry in a misguided attempt to silence those would dare disagree. Evaluating moral decisions and coming to a conclusion, or judgment is deemed as arbitrary and off bounds as deciding someone's character by the color of their skin.

Albrecht Haushofer learned that sooner or later, sadly later in his case, that being flexible and non-judgmental can also make one complicit in evil.


The Basement Begins

The contractors serviced their excavation equipment to ready it for excavating the basement and the new foundations this week. There is a man standing in the hole holding the white stick you see, so the hole is deep! Happily there's no water so far.

So far ONE person has told me they would like to be at a blessing for the foundations when they are poured. Let me know, please. It should be within a few weeks.


church basement excavation
Excavation for the Church Basement Begins

Running Out of Room for Dirt
New Basement and Meeting Room


A Homegrown New Jersey Tomato - Nothing Quite Like It !


New Jersey Tomato
A Tomato Parable
Finally! For a few years, I've been trying to grow tomatoes with varying degrees of success. In Howell, I had abundant tomatoes and flourishing basil, but also bunnies, groundhogs and deer, so I wasn't the one who got to enjoy most of the harvest!


My tomato plants in Rumson have not fared well from year to year despite following all kinds of recommendations and tips for preventing diseases which they seem quite susceptible to. Buy the right kind, water more, water less, water've heard all the well meaning advice. Every fall I decide they were too much trouble and too disappointing, only to be lured into trying again by all the tomato seedlings at the garden center and the beautiful pictures in catalogs. Add to that the tasteless condition of most of them available in the supermarket alongside the memories of what real tomatoes taste like and I guess it's no surprise that I'm suckered in every Spring.

This year for the first time it looks like I will have quite a few beefsteak (actually they are Mortgage Liters)  tomatoes worthy of the name! My first one was so delicious, juicy, sweet and red that I had to share a picture. And I was so excited when I cut into it that I didn't go outside to cut any basil, just good, fresh extra-virgin olive oil and a dash of salt.  Mmm.

More on the vine, but they're not yet quite ripe and I've learned the hard way to not count my tomatoes until they are cut up and in a salad!

Food For Thought: C. S. Lewis, Worship and Liturgy

As long as you notice and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becaomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of...our attention would have been on God.


The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremonsiously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender's inability to forget himself in the rite and his readiness to spoil for everyone else the proper pleasure of ritual.


C. S. Lewis

A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C.S. Lewis

ed. Clyde S. Kilby; Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968

Church Perimeter Takes Shape

The perimeter of the church foundations were placed today and for the first time it is possible to get an eyeball estimate of its size and shape.

The east-west axis extends from the door of the present building to the base of the dirt mound on the parish field.

The north-south transept approaches within a driveway's distance of the rectory and extends toward the carriage house as marked.

Cruciform church building
Cruciform Shape of New Church

Jesus Calming the Storm

What do you think about the possibility of an exterior statue/shrine of Jesus Calming the Storm at Sea? It could be located toward the East of the Prayer Garden Plaza and possibly face Ward Avenue and the Ocean!

They are not that common, at least images of them on the Internet aren't. A rather famous statue on Corpus Christi, Texas and another in a cemetery pond in Gainesville, GA are the only sizeable ones I can find. Likely it would need to be designed/commissioned.

With enough donor interest, I think it would contribute a wonderfully consoling message to the community and a needed spiritual note to the many rebuildng efforts already underway. Let us know what you think in the Parish Office or by email to the webmaster at Holy Cross' webpage.

Corpus Christi
Jesus Calming the Sea at Corpus Christi Bay


Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

Mary Assumpta Est
Mary Atop the Carriage House at Holy Cross Rumson

[Almighty ever living Father...]

Today the Virgin Mother of God 

was assumed into heaven

as the beginning and image

of Your Church's coming to perfection

and a sign of sure hope and comfort

to your pilgrim people;

rightly you would not allow her

to see the corruption of the tomb

since from her own body she marveously brought forth

Your Incarnate Son, the Author of all life.

from the Roman Preface of the Day

Food for Thought: Edith Stein - Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD

514px-DBP_1983_1162_Edith_SteinThis post is late for her feastday, August 9th, but here are the notes I took from a reading of her life by Waltraud Herbstrith.

On encouraging those who care for others despite difficulty:

Whether your contact with people comes through providing medical care, giving financial support or offering legal assistance, the possibility always exists for involving the whole person...This will impose an even greater burden on the capacity to love than a family does. Here, the natural ties are missing, the number of people is much greater, and, for the most part, they are men and women whose situation and current state of mind will tend to make them repulsive instead of attractive.


On the reception of her decision to enter the convent by her family:

Christians themselves often have trouble understanding the value of a contemplative vocation; for the Steins, it was an impossibility. The day came when Frau Stein asked her daughter, "What do you plan on doing with the sisters in Cologne?" When Edith answered, "Join them," peace at home was a thing of the past. Everyone in the family felt crushed by the tragedy. Edith herself clung to her friends to keep from faltering in her decision; her mother, not daring to display her anger openly, wept in desperation; the brothers and sisters did all they could to change their sister's mind. 

"Why did you have to get to know him?" demanded Frau Stein. "He was a good man, I'm not saying anything against him. But why did he have to go and make himself God?"

from Edith Stein: A Biography by Waltraud Herbstrith (see reading list)

Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption

Celebrates_christians_187009Tonight we had music in the chapel for the first time and it was great! Our trusty Clavinova doesn't take up too much physical space and sounds perfect without extra amplification. 

What better way to inaugurate sacred music in the chapel than on a feast of Mary.

We also blessed some boxwood basil, rosemary and marigolds in honor of the Virgin Mary. There is also a tradition of blessing the sea and collecting some of its water for blessing the home or swimming in the blessed waters.

Tomorrow's mass is at 9 AM in the chapel. The solemnity is a holy day of obligation.



The Foundations Are Measured

Church_13This week the workers finish up the installation of the subterranean storm drain system. Today the surveyors have returned, this time to mark out the foundations for the church. 

Please pause today for a time in prayer as we reach this important milestone in the life of our parish.

Fr. Manning will bless them when they are completed. Perhaps an informal gathering to pray this blessing can be arranged. Let us know if you are interested in attending, most likely in the next couple of weeks.



Food For Thought: Courage to Get Burnt in the Fire

I was introduced to Brennan Manning (no known relation!) through his book  The Signature of Jesus and learned in catching up on the author that he recently died. His own life was interesting, to say the least, and after learning he left the priesthood, I didn't follow his life's twists and turns. 

However hidden and undramatic your witness may be, I pray that you will be daring enough to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, courageous enough to get burnt in the Fire, and real enough to help others see that prose is not poetry, speech is not song, and tangibles, visibles and perishables are not adequate ultimates for beings signed with the blood of the Lamb. (The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning)

New Feature on Diary of A Parish Priest: Food for Thought

  Open_book_2One of the great opportunities seminary afforded me was the time for reflection, prayer and reading. For many years I kept a digest of quotations and excerpts from books which made an impact on me. Since most of them were library books, I typed the sections into my brand new 1993 laptop (!) as a kind of spiritual digest. It was quite an eclectic mix of literature and I can't predict how many blog entries this treasury of collected wisdom will provide. I collected it to help in praying about homilies before the Internet provided such a rich treasure trove of reading material with references to be had at a moment's notice. 

From time to time, I'll reprise a quotation or two. I was fairly good at annotating the source, but sometimes an excerpt from an unknown author just appears on the page. I can probably find the source of those as well using one of the anti plagiarism software programs or just typing some of the text into Google!

Yesterday's quote from Goethe/Hillman was the first example.  


The Moment One Commits Oneself, Then Providence Moves Too


Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Sometimes attributed to Goethe, but apparently actually written by William Hutchison Murray concerning one of his climbing expeditions to the Himalayas, the complete quotation is inspiring. I have hesitated blogging it for many years, but it has quietly inspired faith-filled dreamers all around the world for decades. I think the first time I encountered the quotation was in seminary when I was reading Goethe's Faust


“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts
of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”1

Thanks to Rumson Police for Their Help

Truck_n_trailer_rearviewOne of our contractors arrived on Saturday afternoon with a WIDELOAD trailer to pick up a bulldozer from our construction site. 

Of course, since it was a nice beach day, there was a fair amount of traffic on Ward Avenue and the spaces along the sidewalk all the way down Ward Avenue were taken narrowing the road even further. This made backing the rig into Ward Avenue an even more challenging task than usual.

The driver reports an officer from Rumson was polite and helpful. Anywhere else, the officer would have given him a hard time, he said. 

Thanks to Rumson's Police for their courteous and professional demeanor!