Apr 29, 2006

Former CDF #2 sez: Boycott Da Vinci Code Movie

From Religion News Blog:

A Vatican official reportedly called for a boycott of the upcoming The Da Vinci Code film Friday, saying it contained "slanderous" offences against Christianity that would have provoked a worldwide revolt had they been directed against Islam or the Holocaust.


A bit much if you ask me. Only morons take fiction for reality. Rich Leonardi who usually bashes me on Open Book regularly mentions:

"What if someone wrote a 'good, suspenseful, and thrilling read' that told lies about your mother -- would that be O.K.?"

In a word, yes. I know they're lies, she would know they're lies, and anyone who "matters" to us would know they're lies. IT'S FICTION. Someone wrote a story that was a page turner for a good deal of the dopey public who fails to read critically. So what? If you shut up about it sales would stop climbing. Instead everyone shouts about it and Dan Brown is adding a wing to his home for all his awards.

Seems to me people who get worked up about this are overly concerned with the opinion of others.

Sant'Egidio Conference in DC...

was a raging success says my colleague Fr. Michael Hunt.

Check it out and throw in some prayers for Fr. Hunt who is undergoing cancer treatment soon. He has been a great friend to me and has thoroughly advised me on my upcoming book.

Y'all: Singular or Plural?

Ok--I'm from New York...born and bred just north of the Bronx in Yonkers and then lived in Queens or Manhattan after my Fordham graduation. So the vernacular of the South is not my forte.

I was amazed to hear from Dr. Mickey Corso, a Fordham professor in their Graduate School of Religion (of which I am a grad) at a recent symposium, that the term "y'all" is singular. "So how y'all doing?" is a term address to an individual and not to a group.

If that's the case than the million dollar question is:

Do you know what the plural of "y'all" is?

A free BustedHalo t-shirt to the first one who comes up with the right answer.

Answer will be posted in the comments below after the correct one is mentioned.

NCYAMA Board Meeting

I will be flying tomorrow night...but should be able to continue blogging while on my trip.

I am headed to Santa Cruz, California for our annual board meeting of the National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Assoication, of which I was recently elected Board President. The organization is at a crossroads of sorts, but is still healthy and growing in new directions. We'll be determining which course the organization takes at this meeting so we ask for continued prayers from y'all.

Learn Gregorian Chant

This intrigued me and I may even indeed try to attend this if I can fit it into my busy schedule. I've been trying to convey to different people that reverence and quiet are imperative in today's liturgy for the faithful. At the same time, community is an important element. I think chant provides us with a good mix of contemplation and community (because everyone can sing this stuff--rather easy).

While I like some more contemporary music at mass I also have seen it denegrate into a concert that lacks the participation of those in the pews. Cantors become "look at me" singers and don't engage the congregation in singing themselves. Others over-do it and hold "practices with the community" before mass begins. I sometimes want to scream "Can't we just pick music that's easy to sing."

I don't think I have a particualrly good singing voice (speaking yes; singing not so much); but some say I'm better than I give myself credit for. I think when I concentrate on singing, I'm not terrible.

And thus, I think chant would be an easy solution for those of us who aren't complete singing buffoons. The rhythms of it might calm our nervousness about singing and the mantras themselves can be soothing in general.

I can see these being used on Sunday as:

"A centering call to prayer or introit (but someone needs to call the community to silence beforehand--the choir can't just start chanting)."
Certainly at communion or post-communion.
Responsorial Psalm (duh)
And even an opening or closing hymn if we were trying to maintain that reverent attitude as opposed to something more rousing. I still think there's room for that as well--just not a healthy diet of it.

Anyway--check this out.

Apr 27, 2006

Today's Proverb

I thought I'd bring back a shorter version of my old Proverbial Wisdom postings:

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Interesting. The more we are in awe of how much we are NOT God...the more we truly can know who we are. Fools spend their time thinking that they can grasp all the knowledge and power that only God can hold.

The key however is prudence and balance. We very easily can become complacent and say "I don't need to know anything because only God can know it all. I won't search for any meaning in the world at all."

Instead the wise one is one who discerns well. Who picks his battles and searches for meaning in a way that honors the awesomeness of God while continuing to find themselves less than but at least somewhat awesome themselves!

Pittsburgh Embraces Lay Ministry

In response to shrinking numbers of priests, Bishop Donald Wuerl of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh will begin appointing "parish life collaborators" to coordinate pastoral ministry in parishes with no resident priest.

They can be deacons or laity, and many are likely to be sisters. The plan was unveiled yesterday at a priests meeting. Up to three pilot programs are expected to start by year's end.

Oh to be in Pittsburgh! I wonder how much the pay is? Could a "family man" afford to be a PLC in the diocese? Benefits? I'm starting to become a big fan of Bishop Wuerl.

More here

Til Death do us part...or until myspace takes your page down...

Interesting story of how young people who have died are being immortalized on their myspace pages.

More Here

Googling God the Book

I just sent an updated manuscript to Paulist Press. Fr. Mike Kerrigan, my editor just returned from a much needed vacation, so he should get back to me next week on how good or not so good it is.

The book generally is in three parts:

1) Who are young adults? Especially on the differences between milennials and Gen X Young Adults. And what is working well in ministry?

2) Interviews with young adults I have worked with in my ministry nationwide on what are their religious longings and experiences in ministry.

3) A how-to section on young adult ministry complete with some resources.

Hopefully it will be out this fall or winter 2007.

Adoption Update

Not much word from Nicaragua about the little girl we're hopefully going to adopt.

Her mother is still alive but is unable to care for her or her other children (two boys, I believe, both older). The director of the orphanage where we travel each summer is hoping that her mother will allow us to meet with her to discern if we would be able to provide her daughter with a better life--one that she could simply not provide her with in Nicaragua.

I have to say this whole situation breaks my heart continually. We (my wife and I) basically have to ask a woman if we could take her daughter away from her. She has already determined that she can't care for her but is desperately trying to do what's best for her while staying in minimal contact with her. It's obvious to me that she loves her daughter but is woefully unprepared for parenthood. This is all too often the case in third world countries like Nicaragua. The poor continually are caught in these situations.

Marion and I are open to a kind of "open adoption" where contact with Patricia's birth mother could continue. I feel bad for Marion too, because you know that the words "you're not my real mommy" are more apt to angrily come out towards her than they will towards me as the papa (the bio-papa's whereabouts are unknown).

We ask humbly for your prayers. We will have all of our answers in August when we head down for our trip. We have been asked to raise $3000 ($1500 each) for our trip to the orphanage so if anyone would like to make a donation please email me at mike@bustedhalo.com and I'll send you the address. All proceeds go directly to Mustard Seed Communities and are earmarked directly for our trip where we'll be helping to build a new structure for pregnant teens this year hopefully along with several smaller projects. I'll be one of the spiritual guides again this year hopefully with our new priest-pastor at St. Paul the Apostle.

Anyone interested in going on the trip? Let me know: mike@bustedhalo.com

We don't need no education....

So my wife is a pre-school teacher and I'm finding that in today's culture pre-schools are horribly understaffed. There are far too many children in every class and far too few teachers, especially in independent pre-schools that are inexpensive and in the inner-city.

It's a double edged sword: Trying to keep the prices down for parents (mostly mothers) who have to work and can't afford sitters for their little one and then nickel and diming the staff by short-handing the staff and making them do more with less. It gets to be overwheming for teachers.

When I was young I didn't attend school until Kindergarten. My older sister had me reading at the age of 3 or 4 and spent a lot of time teaching me letters, numbers, and other comprehension tasks. I owe her big time. It's the individual attention--called mentoring--that little children really need--time spent with an older mentor--parents preferably, but not neccessarily. In schools today, teachers spend more time putting out behavior problems that rambunctious 3 year olds have started rather than giving them that much needed individual attention. Why? Simply put, children under the age of 5 are not meant to be in school for any extended period of time. They have no attention span at that juncture and get cranky and foul mannered if left in school too long.

It's time for parents to start parenting and for businesses to start paying for extended maternity leave (3-4 years please).

Apr 26, 2006

Community of Sant'Egidio: Hearing Good things

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the historical Prayer for Peace held Assisi, Italy, in 1986, the Community of Sant'Egidio, Archdiocese of Washington, Georgetown University and The Catholic University of America, are sponsoring the International Prayer for Peace: "Religions and Cultures: the Courage of Dialogue," in Washington D.C. today and tomorrow.

Check out more on BustedHalo.com

BustedHalo Cast

The latest cast is up: Click here

Interview with Carlton Cuse the Executive Producer of TV's Lost

July Retreat

For those on the East Coast...

BustedHalo Retreat: July 7-9--Mt Paul Retreat Center, Oak Ridge, NJ.

Details here

Tell me who your friends are...

Tony Snow named press secratary by President Bush.

So now we have a FOX News reporter telling us more lies.

AIDS and Anglicans in Africa

Interesting story from the LA Times here:

When it comes to buying condoms, Gideon Byamugisha prefers to dart in and out of the drugstore, leaving his car engine running for a quick escape.

Between a rock (Peter) and a Hard Place (pun intended)

Vatican officials say condom-AIDS study still in consultation stage

By John Thavis Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Vatican officials said a study on condoms and AIDS protection was still in the consultation stage and that Pope Benedict XVI had yet to decide whether a document would be issued on the topic. The sources said there were strong arguments for allowing married couples in which one spouse is infected with HIV, which causes AIDS, to use condoms as a disease-preventing measure, when it overrides any contraceptive intent. On the other hand, the sources said, the Vatican is hesitant to make any move that would be seen as an endorsement of condoms as a method of disease prevention, because condoms do not offer 100 percent protection from AIDS and could encourage sexual promiscuity.

More here

Apr 25, 2006

United 93

The movie opens today on the plane that crashed in Shanksville, PA on September 11th.

My friend Debbie Welsh was the first class flight attendant on that flight for United. She was a sparkplug and had a beautiful voice that graced our parish's choir. Word has it that Paul Greengrass (the director) has done a marvelous job with the re-creation of this horrible event. I plan to go see it tonight or tomorrow and will report back.

In general, I'm wondering if folks think it's too soon to have a movie about this event. It seems that movies on Wars and other tragedies often are not immortalized on film for some time usually. But I'm in favor of this one coming on the heels of the event, since I think the filmmakers will want to recapture the memory of this before we forget too much.

Blogging Renews

Daily blogging here has resumed! I have dedicated some time to this once again after finishing the manuscript for my book: Googling God.

So look for several church news items here each day henceforth!



Apr 13, 2006

Holy Thursday

Are You Going to Wash My Feet?

Lessons from a gritty ancient ritual

By Mike Hayes

When Jesus knelt at the Last Supper and began to wash the feet of His disciples, the disciples were dumbfounded. Washing feet was the lowest task given to a servant—some of them would even refuse to do it, leaving the matter to servants who were new to their role.

The disciples wore sandals, exposing their feet not only to the dust of the road but to animal waste as well in the open marketplace, where livestock often roamed free. Back in their time, one’s feet were likely to be an even less appealing body part to wash than they are today.

In the gospel story, Simon Peter, the brashest of all the disciples will have none of it—and who could blame him? Jesus is the proverbial elephant in the room and Peter is the only one with the guts to say what everyone in the room is thinking.

“Are you going to wash my FEET?” The one who Peter calls master and Lord is going to perform one of the vilest, filthiest jobs there was. Peter knew that his feet were filthy and he didn’t want anyone, much less, Jesus to be anywhere near them.


We can get pretty dirty feet too. But perhaps even more likely is the fact that our feet can also get us into a lot of trouble…taking us places where we know we shouldn’t go. I often run away when my parents need me to care for their needs now that they’re getting older. My feet failed to move for years when I was in relationship that was unhealthy and a job that was unfulfilling. My feet do a good job of avoiding the homeless on the city streets. And when my wife needs me to be by her side, my feet can find plenty of other places to take me instead.

Jesus knows all about feet. In this scene from John’s gospel, Jesus is in complete control and knows that he is about to die and the feet of these “friends of his” are going to head for the hills. They will run faster than ever before and when they finally stop in that upper room, they will be unable to move—locked in their own fear.

"The one who Peter calls master and Lord is going to perform one of the vilest, filthiest jobs there was. Peter knew that his feet were filthy and he didn’t want anyone, much less, Jesus to be anywhere near them."

Bare Feet in Church

In my parish we wash feet at the Holy Thursday evening Mass. The people in the pews have the option of coming forward and washing a partner’s feet after a select group are washed by the priest. One of the more touching moments for me was when my wife washed my feet. My wife knows me better than anyone else. She loves me without reservation and some days I wonder why. She knows that I’m grumpy in the morning, can be quick tempered, don’t have a whole lot of patience and get disappointed easily when things don’t go my way. She knows that sometimes I don’t want to listen or feel like talking when she needs me to be present for her. She knows that I’m a workaholic and that my ministry often takes time away from our relationship. She knows all of my struggles to simply be a good husband. And yet…she got down and washed my feet easily and without hesitation. No deals, no strings.

Learning to Care for Each Other

My wife and I both know that neither of us is perfect and because we both know our own faults, we can wash each other’s smelly feet without much embarrassment—with a certain freedom. While we never get tired of saying “I love you,” marriage can be tough. We need patience for one another when times get messy and difficult, or when one of us does something to annoy the other. We know that we’re going to have to wash each other’s feet over and over for the rest of our lives.

And that is exactly how God loves each and every one of us. And He never gets tired of doing it either.

That too is the genius of Jesus. He knew that these men were going to need to pick one another up every time they fell. He knew that in order to trust their own gifts and talents to be able to wash the feet of the poor and the destitute in their pain and embarrassment and shame—without making judgments or feeling superior, they must first learn to care for each other.

We all become scarred from the bumps on the road where we have walked. And Jesus knows how hard that road is as well. His feet walked that same human journey that we do—filled with human fear and disappointment. His feet walked the road to Calvary and became broken and bloodied.

Walking with the Wounded

But the story doesn’t end there. He crossed from death to new life so that we might do the same. So, when we face pain, we stand a bit stronger the next time out. We don’t step into the same traps that we did before. When we find that we can’t always do it alone, we get help from a friend or mentor who helps us walk that journey. And when our feet take us to those uncomfortable places, where we’d rather not go—when we face something like the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job, or the break up of a special relationship, later on, after healing and licking our own wounds, we are better prepared to walk with those who are also wounded. We help them walk on their journey when they cannot walk for themselves.

It is the experience of Jesus who washed feet, that reveals to us how much our God indeed loves us and who is able to touch the most vulnerable parts of ourselves and make us whole.

And just like Saint Peter, all we have to do, is let him.

Googling God

Googling God
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