Jul 22, 2008

Papal Mass

Sorry for the late post:

Here's my report from the Papal Mass

Jul 20, 2008

Wolrd Youth Day Booty Call

Needless to say...hormone-crazed teens and college students...

Jul 19, 2008

Pope as Audiobook

So John Paul II was Pope as Rock Star, I think Pope Benedict is more of a Pope as Audiobook. People love to listen to him and he gives really good theological discourse which is always challenging to listen to in the freezing cold with 150,000 noisy pilgrims. I think that one of the problems with World Youth Day is that it provides great emotional resonance and people fall in love with the Pope (and hopefully Jesus)--much like a Promise Keepers revival stirs up the same kinds of emotions. However, it does little for the intellect. Even the Cathechetical sessions with the Bishops just skim the surface.

Here's my proposal for Young Adults (20s and 30s) to engage with the Pope: Offer a one week course on a topic of the Pope's choosing to teach to young adults online. 250 young adults will get a trip to Rome to sit in the Pope's classroom and 50 will have lunch with him each day and celebrate a mass with him in a more intimate setting.

Nonetheless, great theological insights were shared with the crowd. Rocco gives you the text of the Vigil homily. I'm not sure if the teens heard it. Regardless, a good night to all who sleep outdoors. I'm in my nice warm hotel bed.

Wuss that I am.

Receive the Power From the Holy Spirit

This is the theme for World Youth Day--and yet, I'm not sick of it yet.

The Vietnamese Young Adults dig it too!

Vigil with the Pope

Cardinal George Has One--Why Don't You?

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Jul 17, 2008

Papal Motorcade

My Travel Companions

I haven't had the chance to tell you a bit about the folks I'm travelling with. I'm with a group of women from Charis Ministries in Chicago--which runs retreats for young adults in Chicago and elsewhere. BustedHalo has been in a partnership with them for 8 years now and I'm really happy to be considered a friend of this ministry which is very close to my own heart.

Here's a little video or two of some of us:

Lauren Gaffey (in the Notre Dame hat) is a Charis employee who is leading the trip--no daunting task--is the only person that I had met and spoken with for any real length of time. We worked together a bit on the BustedHalo Pod Retreat which Charis "experimented" for us. She's been doing a great job despite the obsticles that inevitably get thrown in your path when leading a pilgrimage like this. Her number one rule for the group is simple: "Nobody can die."

So far so good.

Our other friends who I've gotten to know include:

Lexi (in the bar video, blowing a kiss at the end), a twenty something year old Creighton University graduate who has a real heart for singing. In fact, she sings everything--and warned me about that fact when we started hanging out on this journey. She's also someone who enjoys going out and spending time in the city that we've come to really like. Lauren, Lexi and I went to The Bourbon for happy hour last night while we awaited our friends who had been doing some additional sightseeing on our "off night."

Melissa (next to Lauren with the reddish hair) is someone I had met briefly at a Young Adult Conference in Chicago some time ago. We've spent some time hearing about her nieces--something that I love to talk about as well (my nieces, that is). We are bit closer in age to each other as Melissa is unbelievably in her 30s (flaterry will get you everywhere). Like me, she's been thankful for some of the one on one time she's gotten to spend with the folks here on the trip. Hopefully, we'll get to know each other better over the next few days.

Lori (with the camera in the video), also in her twenties, is straight out of my book as a millennial Catholic who gravitates toward the beauty of Catholic teaching. Yet, Lori is no "holy roller", she enjoys a clever retort, and since she said that in her opinion, our website BustedHalo talks about "useful situations of everyday life," she's launched herself into someone someone I'm convinced has impeccable judgment.

Brianna (with the WYD headband and tattoo) is Charis' development coordinator. We had a chance to sit and talk a few times the past week. She was asking me if I miss my wife and how tough was it to be apart. It has been hard, but we've been busy and they all have been keeping me laughing and on the go constantly so I've had less time to really think about how much I truly miss my wife and my dog--especially on nights when I mess up taking videos or when things don't go exactly well.

Ana (not pictured) is from El Salvador but now living in the U.S. I've been particularly touched by how much she's shared about her family in our evening reflection group (which I confess, I accidentally slept through tonight). She asks for prayers for her sister who has cancer. I'm always amazed at the people who struggle to be here at World Youth Day and at how much it means to them to just be in the presence of the Pope and to hear him talk in their native language. I think Anna was the first one to scream when Benedict spoke in Spanish today.

Chrissy (also in the bar video with the red jacket) is very sweet and kindhearted and had the line of the day yesterday when I quipped that the band we were listening to was very "disney-like." Without missing a beat, Chrissy replied, "You're right...they almost sound like the Chipmunks!" Never a truer statement was said.

There are a few others with us as well that I hope to get to know a bit more as the week goes on. But suffice it to say, this journey has been made all the lighter by the presence of these, and I'll use the word, not lightly here, HOLY WOMEN.

Let us pray that Mary, the mother of God, will continue to inspire us all on this pilgrimage and remind us of the goodness of God.

Jul 16, 2008

Catechesis Day

So today young adults got a "teaching" from one of the Bishops from around the world. Our Bishop, the Most Reverend Raymond Field, was from Ireland and was very engaging. His topic: The Holy Spirit--which he compared the Holy Spirit's role in the trinity to "the software that makes a computer run." Agreed.

I ran into some young adults today including Hamish who was one of the animators at the Catechetical session. It seems young people suffer from an "it's embarrassing to be Catholic problem. Certainly understandable...but they also have great hungers in their faith.

And then this Motley crew:

Jul 15, 2008

Bob Sheppard to miss All Star Game

Just not healthy enough yet says NJ.com

Flip Video ruins my day? Or opens me to something new?

So we had a great day here in Sydney at World Youth Day today. I worked very hard and actually had some great footage of Young Adults from Tonga doing their native dances and then I interviewed two young Tongan women as well.

What happened to the videos? I have no idea. I left Barangaroo were the opening mass was held with the videos intact but with the batteries draining. They actually died and so I replaced them--that seems to have resulted in deleting half of the videos I took today. Of course they didn't leave the good ones--it was the so-so ones that got saved.

Anyway, perhaps there is some spiritual opportunity that I am missing here. Maybe I am supposed to really try to interact more with the pilgrims here and not just look on them as subjects for the website?

I know plenty of people found a vocation at World Youth Day and I've been feeling more and more like I'm being called to be a deacon lately. Even at mass tonight I noticed the Deacon reading the Gospel--which I think is cool. At a mass with all these Cardinals and Bishops--the deacon is still the one who gets to read the Gospel. Same will be true for the Papal mass later this week.

I'm really attracted to the servant part of the ministry as well. Cardinal Pell talked a lot in his homily about how many of us only take our committments to Jesus so far--even those of us who would take the time to come to World Youth Day. Are we afraid to take the next step into a larger committment to faith? Are we able to grow more by listening to God, letting him lead us by the hand--perhaps into fear--but then again, into a place where we can grow more closely to God and more toward the person that we are called to be for the world?

I think that touched me a bit tonight. So I'm open to listening more this week and seeing where I need to stretch and what new things God may have in store for me.

Opening Cermonies

Two quick video clips:

Jul 14, 2008

Before Mass at St Mary's cathedral

This is from Sunday night--but just got around to posting this. Before mass outside the Cathedral I took these shots.

Pilgrims have started to arrive

So I had my last touristy day today as the pilgrims have started to arrive. I went to Harry's (see below) and then walked back to Circular Quay from The Domain a large outdoor arena near the Naval Pier (picture, left of the pier, that is) and caught a ferry to Taronga Zoo.

The ferry ride provided some spectacular sites. As it was a beautiful sunny 70 degree fahrenheit day--or as the rest of the world would say it-- 21 degrees celsius.
Here's a sunny shot from the ferry of the Harbour Bridge.

The opening ceremonies start tomorrow and my colleagues from Chicago have arrived. A great group of women from Charis Ministries--BustedHalo's retreat partner--and a Jesuit Young Adult retreat initiative. Lauren Gaffey is running the outfit and they've actually been at this a lot longer than me. They've been in Melbourne for the last week doing the Magis Experiements--which is a Jesuit-based retreat-like experience with other young adults from Jesuit Schools and parishes all over the world.

I've started to see other pilgrims from all over the world now too settling in. An impressive sight...or rather sound. There is a World Youth Day song chosen each year and usually sung in English. They ask pilgrims to learn it if they can. I ran into an entire group of teens from Turkey at the zoo. They wanted to entertain a Bishop who had just joined them and they began to sing the song. Now it starts out with the words "Alleluia" but I'm sure it's not the same in Turkish or even in Arabic. Regardless, the next words out of their mouth were said in perfect English:

"Receive your power...from the Holy Spirit."

My only words were..."Wow. If the World Youth Day song were in Arabic would any Americans dare to learn it?"

Or even if it were in Latin?

Harry's Cafe de Wheels

So my friend Dan Twohig has been to Sydney before and insisted that I go to Harry's Cafe de Wheels to get an Aussie Meat Pie called the Tiger. His words to me were essentially some form of:
"If you don't go I will beat you into the ground."

So off I go and as advertised it was delicious. Essentially it's a meat pie with mashed potatoes and gravy on top as well as mashed peas. I hate peas generally but these concoction was simply delicious.

Now I had a meat pie earlier in the trip so I'd have something to compare it to other than the lousy meat pies my mom used to make (sorry, mom). And Harry is certainly a cut above. We need to go back to that area later in the week so I'll be taking my colleagues who have now arrived here in Sydney to Harry's. I think this time I might try the Hot Dog de Wheels.

So credit to Mr. Twohig for a great meal find in Australia. Thanks, Dan!

Jul 13, 2008

Benedict's Family

John Allen has a great story today about Pope Benedict's cousin and childhood playmate, who happens to live in Australia (Melbourne though, not Sydney).

The money quote at the end made me laugh:
"Nobody else in the family wanted to visit them because they were so religious."

I guess that paid off for the Ratzingers.

BridgeClimb in Sydney

One word: Awesome. Do you have a pic of you next to the Sydney Opera House like this? if you do, you are just as cool as I am. We should hang out!

Some more pics:

On the catwalk at the Apex of the bridge. We climbed over 1400 steps (up and down including ladders). As an out of shape 38 year old, I'm kinda proud of myself.

Just below the Apex, you can see the city great!

Going down was a bit harder than going up. But it was all great fun. Here are three awesome scenic shots.


Going up?


Jul 12, 2008

Breakfast in Sydney

This big fella flew right up to the ledge where I was eating breakfast. So a snapped a cameraphone pic. The waiter had trouble knowing what type of bird he was but then said he was a Kaukey.

Sydney, Australia: Pre-World Youth Day

After a rather enjoyable 15 hour plane ride from Los Angeles, I touched down in Sydney and am waiting for colleagues to join me. So for these two days I am free to explore the city. Sydney is wonderful! It reminds me of a combination of San Francisco and New York. At present, it's a bit chilly here as it is there winter. Temperatures in the 50s but not freezing. The Sydney tower is pictured to your right which I might go to with friends later in the week.

I went to the World famous Sydney Aquarium and saw A PLATYPUS!

And then, a giant tortoise, lots of different looking sharks, cute penguins, and sea lions (my personal favorite). Pics below:

I then went next door to Australia's Wild and got to pet a Wallaby and see a Koala. A wallaby is like a small kangaroo. Notice also that I didn't say that I saw a Koala Bear! Koalas are not bears! They are marsupials, like Kangaroos and Wallabys. I'm headed to the Blue Mountains at the end of my time here so I'll get better pictures of that but here are a few of both for now.

Evenings sound rowdy here as I hear a lot of car horns, loud laughs and feminine screams from my hotel room. I hear things get rowdy on Saturday nights and I'm exhausted so I'm turning in early. I'm a bit concerned that the city isn't quite prepared enough for this as they have all kinds of warning signs about heavy traffic and bad transit. We'll see. Tomorrow: Climbing the Harbour Bridge!

Jul 10, 2008

Off to Sydney and World Youth Day

So I'm sitting in the airport at LAX waiting for my Qantas flight to Australia. Besides being in the presence of the Pope, I'm excited to go to the Land Down Under as well. I have a few days to myself and plan to do the Harbour Bridge Climb and then hit the zoo and the Aquarium. I hear that there are animals there that you'll never see anywhere else. I'll be happy to just cuddle with a Koala Bear like John Paul II did when he went here.

Jul 8, 2008

Paulist Press Gala

Headed to Paulist Press today for their celebration of the Paulist 150th Anniversary. They've been at it for 141 of those 150 years and one particular Paulist, Fr. Kevin Lynch, CSP has been at the Press for over 50 years now. If you've ever dared to read a copy of anything from the Second Vatican Council you have Fr. Lynch to thank. He translated and published much of that for the English speaking world.

He gave me the best advice about my own book after it was published. He said:

"Mike, reviews sell books. And pushing your own book does as well. If you get those two things working together, you'll skyrocket."

Right he was. After the National Catholic Reporter reviewed Googling God the Amazon ranking went from like 400,000 to 210,000. Then Zenit, the Vatican News service published a review and it flew down to 6,000. Which is awesome for a book of it's size.

Don't have a copy of Googling God yet? Get one here.

Jul 7, 2008

Bob Sheppard not ready yet

Since I've seen a few bloggers incorrectly quote 98 year old Yankee announcer Bob Sheppard saying that he was going to be back at the Stadium on July 1--I'd like to clear up what he actually said in my article from BustedHalo.com awhile back about his possible return to the stadium after his long illness.

He said:

"According to the doctor, when I reach, “my fighting weight” about 145-150, he will allow me to go back to Yankee Stadium and finish the season. So my target date to be back is July 1. There is an All Star Game to be played at Yankee Stadium on July 15th and one of my goals is to be there and announce it. I did one years and years ago at Yankee Stadium but I can’t recall it. So now this would be something to remember. I do want to be there next year when we open a new Stadium. And I’d like to be the one who says, “Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen…Welcome to the NEW…Yankee Stadium.”

Now go read the whole article and then listen to the podcast. Sheppard actually says "Welcome to the NEW Yankee Stadium." I hope we get to hear him say that LIVE next year and that he's back by the All Star Game.

What I'm hearing from trusted sources is that Sheppard is not quite yet at the weight he'd like to be and that even when he is he needs to convince both his doctor and his wife that he's healthy enough to return. One source said: "He may have trouble staying awake for 9 innings. His energy is just not quite what it was. But who knows? The Stadium might bring him some energy just by being there and going back to the stadium is what keeps him focused on his recovery."

Go get 'em, Bob!

Jul 6, 2008

Reflections on my Last World Youth Day in Toronto

So back in 2002 I went to World Youth Day in Toronto, the last WYD that John Paul II attended. I remember the place being overloaded with teen-agers most of the week. In reality this event was supposed to be for college students and younger adults just starting out in life. The connotation of "youth" in foreign lands essentially runs from the ages of 16 until marriage (whenever that is). In Spanish it is connoted by the word jovenes. In the United States and even just in English language countries youth equals teens...hence the confusion and the different audiences.

I believe now you have to be 16 in order to attend so that might clear this up a bit.

Regardless, in Toronto I was annoyed at the fact that BustedHalo's target audience was not really present until later in the week..closer to the time of the Pope's mass (which, in hindsight, makes sense...young adults can't take a random week off of work, while teens are on summer vacation).

The two more spiritual elements for me were just the presence of the Pope being there for young people, despite his ailments, despite the travel. Secondly, there was a really beautiful night when the sun was setting on the Canadian summer when Fr Brett Hoover turned to me and said: "Look at all these people from all over the world, from all different cultures, here on this beautiful night...and it's all because they're Catholic."


Tomorrow: My experience of JPII.

Jul 3, 2008

John Allen Comments on Archbishop Burke and his Promotion

Awesome article today from our esteemed colleague John Allen on the promotion of Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura--essentially the highest Court of the Catholic Church.

Burke is the Archbishop who has taken the lead amongst U.S. Bishops in showing pro-choice politicians the door when it comes to having them receive communion in the Catholic Church. The rumor that began to swirl is that the Vatican may have agreed with his stance but not his methods of implementing the punishment. Many within the Church, even amongst traditionalists, state that they don't like politicizing the Eucharist.

I agree with that sentiment--but I do think that the politicians themselves should in good conscience not put their priests in that uncomfortable position and abstain themselves from taking communion when their opinions and voting records do not reflect being in full communion with the church.

Secondly, and this will sound cranky...but as a Eucharistic Minister the thing that appauls me most is the number of people who come up to the communion line and after hearing me state "The Body of Christ" they, in turn, say nothing.

I've started waiting for a response in some instances--usually adults who I think should know better or who simply just might be having a tough day and are blinded by that and are going through the motions. I often prompt children..."Amen, right?" And they usually smile and say "AMEN!" in a very loud tone.

I've also heard many variations on "Amen" from people.

Here are some of my favorite "answers" to "The Body of Christ."

1) "Yes" --Ok close but not quite there. At least that's the right sentiment.

2) "Thank you" -- Which I believe is said by the Episcopalians. And thus places you in the awkward position of telling me that you really believe in consubstatiation (the bread and wine are symbols--but not the essence of Christ) and not transubstatiation (that Christ is truly present in the "accidents" of the bread and wine. The essence of the material you are receiving is Christ--not bread and/or wine--although they look and taste like bread and wine).

3) "We are." A nice sentiment but not really on the mark. We must become what we receive and we can't become the Body of Christ without believing that what we are receiving IS in fact the Body of Christ. So you are one step ahead of the crowd and in this case that doesn't gain you special merits.

4) My friend once said in his best Southern accent: "What if I said "sho 'nuff?" (sure enough for those who can't translate 'hick'). I said I'd probably laugh but would probably also think you're a lot closer to those who say "Thank you."

5) Silence. Some people just stare at you.

I think that when talking about who gets to receive communion and who doesn't we need to turn to Canon Law and there seems to be a conflict which I will try to resolve here as best as I can muster--although I am certainly not a Canon Lawyer.

Here are the two Canons that are most often pointed to:

Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion. (emphasis mine)

Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

So this seems to say that Eucharistic Ministers of any type should not admit people who are known to be holding positions contrary to the Church but then it also says that people of the same ilk should abstain themselves. So what's the deal?

I think the answer may be both:

If it is so widely held by the public that the person in question is not "in communion" with what the church teaches, than to offer that person communion indeed woould be the equivalent of THE RECIPIENT telling a devious lie. To a lesser extent the minister of communion would be complicit in that lie as well, since they have knowledge of their intentions.

However, the initial movement here really always must be with the communion recipient. They must decide if they are going to at least attempt to commit a sacralige and in that vein, does that impel the minister to "defend the Eucharist" from such.

I'm of two minds:

I think first and foremost CONVERSATION must take place in which the priest, bishop or minister has a talk with the person in question and asks them their intentions and thereby can also ask them to refrain from communion so as not to bring the matter of scandal to a heightened nature.

Secondly, I think Jesus can take care of Himself pretty well and doesn't really need us to make such demonstrative defenses of Him. That doesn't mean that we need to do nothing here (see above) but I think that turning the sacrament of Jesus' Body and Blood into a political side show also is a sacralige that demeans the unity of the sacrament to begin with.

So while I think Archbishop Burke is right in his intention to call those who are not in communion with us to refrain from the sacrament--I question if his methods of publicly and vociferiously scathing politicians is neccessary to achieve the goal.

Perhaps in his new position where he is forced to listen to cases and then to determine if the law of the church has been violated might be an opportunity for him to "listen someone into communion" once again with the Lord and with the Church.

Jul 2, 2008

World Youth Day in Australia

If you are lucky enough to be going to the land down under for World Youth Day with the Pope--then drop me a line here via this blog and we'll have a get-together while we are there in Sydney.

BustedHalo Cast: New RSS Feed

Hey folks--

If you are one of our loyal BustedHalo Cast listeners, we now have a new RSS Feed.


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