Mar 31, 2009

Mary Kate Cary over at US News just blogged onthis recent survey:

She claims:

This poll shows that most American Catholics go with our faith first, our religion second. We have plenty of members of our parish who are homosexual, and we're glad to have them, despite what the Church's rules are about that. For the most part we are a pro-life community, but I don't know anyone who pickets an abortion clinic. We all know divorced Catholics—they're part of our community too—because sometimes there are excellent reasons to get divorced, despite what the Church says about that, too. I can't speak for all Catholic women, but as a mom, I feel that if women were allowed to play a bigger role in the leadership of the Church, there never would have been a pedophile scandal at all and the Church's conservative positions on many issues would be very different.

So it looks like the "cafeteria Catholics" are now the new mainstream of the American Catholic Church. I'm not surprised.

As they said in the Movie "White Men Can't Jump"...

"Dude, you were almost there!"

To think that if women were in leadership positions in the Catholic Church there never would have been a sex scandal is ludicrous. We all know what the sex scandal is about and that's power. Women have had their share of abusing power in the church just as much as men have.

With regards to her other commments, I would say two things:

I think she is accurate on how many people feel about having divorced and gay people in their pews--but I don't believe that this is because of any theological reason. In a world of diversity, inclusion is held up as an almost sacred value in our society. Many Catholics believe that homosexuality is wrong but wouldn't shun the homosexual from their pew (even if they might shun them at communion time). Many people think that couples don't really try very hard to save their marriage and then are all too willing to jump through many hoops to try to procure an annulment from the church should they want to remarry. When there are some marriages that never should have took place to begin with and have caused much pain to families, many Catholics believe that an annulment is fine and some may even equate divorce with that process.

And as for the pro-life comment...

We're all too nice when it comes to abortion. As Bishop Chaput has stated and I'll paraphrase here..."We don't really care." If we really cared Pregnancy Crisis Centers would be shrines and plentiful. We'd all be foster parents and we'd let that inconvenience us without complaint. We'd hire pregnant teens to do jobs that feed their family well and provide for their medical care and not say two words about it. We'd charitably provide council to politicians instead of merely screaming at them or writing them a nicely worded letter.

If we really cared about the unborn we wouldn't care if President Obama was speaking at Notre Dame--because we'd be too busy taking care of the children and mothers that he picks an all too easy solution for. If we really cared we'd wonder why we allowed the state to kill prisoners in our name and we'd lose a lot of sleep over that. If we really cared, we'd be angry about why people are going hungry tonight and we would go a little hungrier ourselves and share not just what we want to dispose of with the poor but what we have and think we deserve ourselves.

But we don't do that, do we?

No, instead like most Americans we choose comfort.

That's what is missing from that little survey that isn't really worth the paper it's written on or the time it took to compile.

It doesn't really look at the big picture when it comes to our faith which is often all too easy, convenient and not at all messy. Nobody's feathers ever get matted down nor do we ever risk offending anyone who might not share our views--and for the few that do, we call them crazy, out of touch fanatics.

We simple choose to pray in peace in our nice quiet church that's free of any controversy and continue to delude ourselves into thinking that this is what the radical message of Christ's love is really all about.

Our own comfort.

Because you see, neither the conservatives nor the liberals have gotten this right. And surveys don't tell us how we are responding with love to those who need us.

We like the comfortable wood of the manger but hate the painful wood of the cross.

But as we move towards holy week that cross is where we are called to look. And it scares us to think that if we even came close to loving others as much as Jesus did that our result would in fact be similar: They'd crucify us.

And so, our wooden pews get cushioned and our views become ones that get kept to ourselves. We like Christmas but without labor and Easter with cute bunnies but without a painful death a few days before the resurrection.

And that my friends is simple American Catholicism. Where the comfy come to pray.

Now survey THAT!

Tony Dungy to join White House Faith Initiatives Advisory Council

US News has the scoop:

The White House has invited recently retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy, whose outspoken Christian faith fueled his 2007 support for a gay marriage ban and has won accolades from evangelical leaders, to join its Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. News has learned. The invitation is likely to draw praise from conservative evangelical groups and criticism from liberals and gay rights activists.

Dungy has long been active with evangelical Christian charities like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Prison Crusade Ministry, along with other nonprofit groups, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the United Way. Leading the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, he became the first black coach to win the Super Bowl.

The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials with the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships would not confirm the invitation to Dungy, but his publicist said rumors of the invitation in Washington were true. "I can confirm that Tony was contacted by the advisory council and asked to join," said Todd Starowitz, a publicist at Dungy's book publisher, in an E-mail message this morning. "He has yet to make a decision if he will accept the offer."

The White House is expected to announce the final 10 members of its faith council this week. It had announced 15 members of the council when it unveiled its Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in February.

Dungy is a good guy and is well respected and I think most times level headed enough to be a good addition to the committee. Read more here.

Can we make this guy a Bishop?

In a seemingly level headed move today, the Superior of the Holy Cross Fathers has sent a letter to President Obama:

ROME (CNS) -- The head of the Holy Cross religious order that founded the University of Notre Dame has written to U.S. President Barack Obama and asked him to rethink his positions on abortion and other life issues.

U.S. Father Hugh W. Cleary, Holy Cross superior general in Rome, said that when Obama receives an honorary degree from the Indiana university and delivers the commencement address in May, he should take to heart the objections of Catholics who have been scandalized by the invitation.

Father Cleary asked the president to use the occasion to "give your conscience a fresh opportunity to be formed anew in a holy awe and reverence before human life in every form at every stage -- from conception to natural death."

The 13-page letter, dated March 22, was made available to Catholic News Service in Rome. Father Cleary also prepared an abridged version of the text as an "open letter" to the president, which was expected to be published on the Web site of America magazine.

Catholic News Service has more here.

Also from Sunday's Washington Post with a hat tip to Deacon Greg:

On the dais at Notre Dame, Obama will find a familiar face: Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, Bush's ambassador to the Vatican, who will receive this year's Laetare Medal in part for her peerless defense of human life. It's important that the president hear her message as well as deliver his own. It is equally important that this kind of engagement take place at a university devoted to both faith and reason. Where else but in a university setting should we expect this kind of principled presentation of issues?

I'd pay good money to watch the two of them slug it out--the way it should be done in a principled and respectable debate.

I Debaptize you in the name of

A huge hat tip to American Papist today for this one.

Oh brother, can we all just give it a rest? Why do atheists always have to thrust their thoughts down everyone's throats but when religious people even do this in a small way (like say putting a cross up in a field on Good Friday) they act like religion is proposing killing puppies?

Mar 30, 2009

The Platoon Porno

Blogging today wouldn't be complete without sharing one high school story that I still tell at dinner parties from time to time.

My friend Doug, was sort of the class clown. When we were in high school the movie Platoon came out (Yes, I know I'm officially old). Somehow Doug got a copy of the movie on VHS and told our history teacher that he had it. She agreed to let all her classes watch the film to learn about the Vietnam war. So Doug went home and got the tape but there was a bit of room left on the end of the tape--so he decided he was going to tape some footage of the Playboy Channel on the end of the tape and then cue the tape up to that point and tell our teacher to "just hit play" we're all set.

And so the die was cast. Doug and I had an English class first period right next door to the history class that was about to view the movie. Doug had let me in on the joke. What he didn't plan (And this made the joke even better) was that our high school was a trade and technical high school and the first period history class was filled with a bunch of rowdy guys who were specializing in Carpentry as their trade. When the teacher hit play--and that tape engaged we heard a huge ROAR come from the class. Moments later 3 of the hugest guys I have ever seen come bursting into our english class: "DOUG! You are in some serious trouble, dude!" The history teacher came in and started hitting him with the tape and Doug came clean and told her the movie was actually on the tape and she just needed to rewind it.

Doug, ironically, did not get suspended. In fact, he got into NO trouble whatsoever.

Sometimes a good joke is in fact well played--and deserves some respect. In this case we all doff our caps (and nothing else!) to Doug for one of the greatest practical jokes of all time--that we still talk about 20 years later.

High School Memories

On Saturday night, I got together with 7 high school friends and my wife who was a real trooper for hanging in there as the plus one and enduring all of our high school memories.

One particular moment stuck out in a very personal way. My friend Karen, who was easily one of my best friends in high school said: "I feel so bad because I really think you took a lot of abuse in high school."

Well...I suppose I should go and thank my therapist and spiritual director since I seem to be so well adjusted by now.

But I have to admit Karen's feelings were accurate. And the fact that she's absorbed a lot of the pain that I probably didn't really myself touched me very deeply--especially because I think Karen probably took a good deal of abuse herself. In fact, a great moment of reconciliation came when our friend Doug apologized to her for picking on her in high school.

We do hold on tightly to things from our formative years, don't we? And while my own awkward high school years were filled with a sense of under-confidence--a feeling that I often have trouble shaking even today--I think I've been able to put those feelings aside and remember high school as being mostly a good time of my life--even with all the abuse. I learned a lot in high school and had a lot of special teachers and friends. We wished that more people would have been able to make our dinner on Saturday--but I was really looking forward to dinner with these 7 people--3 of whom I was pretty close with in high school in particular and one of whom I have known since kindergarten!

So thanks for the memories, folks! Go Saunders and thanks for a great evening.

Mar 26, 2009

Archbishop Burke Apology

Archbishop Raymond Burke has apologized to Bishops for a statement that he made that was released by Randall Terry the president of Operation Rescue. Archbishop Raymond Burke, who now leads the Vatican supreme court, said two controversial statements on videotape when he said that President Obama "could be an agent of death" if his support for abortion rights becomes a model for leaders in other countries. He also stated that parishioners should press U.S. bishops to withhold Holy Communion from Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.

"It is weakening the faith of everyone," Burke said. "It's giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion."

Terry, for his part has been on a crusade that calls the church to oust bishops who think that to refuse someone communion would be to politicize the Eucharist. He used Burke's comments in a very public way--something that Burke thought was merely going to be released to a more private audience apparently.

From his apology:

In Burke’s statement of apology he said that Terry and some of his associates had visited him in Rome and had asked to videotape an interview “to share with pro-life workers for the purpose of their encouragement.” The interview was conducted on Mar. 2.

“Sadly, Mr. Terry has used the videotape for another purpose which I find most objectionable,” the Burke statement went on to say.

“First, Mr. Terry issued a media advisory which gave the impression that I would be physically present at the press conference during which he played the videotape, when, in fact, I was in Rome.

“Second, I was never informed that the videotape would become part of a press conference.

“Third, I gave the interview as a Bishop from the United States to encourage those engaged in the respect life apostolate, not as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

“Fourth, I was never informed that the videotape would be used as part of a campaign of severe criticism of certain fellow bishops regarding the application of Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law.

“If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it.

He then said: “I am deeply sorry for the confusion and hurt which the wrong use of the videotape has caused to anyone, particularly, to my brother bishops.”

Somebody is lying here. Yesterday Tom Gannam of the Chicago Tribune ran this story which states:

"Terry conducted the interview as part of his campaign to persuade the church to oust American bishops who allow abortion rights backers to receive Communion. He said in a phone interview that Burke knew the goal of the campaign and that the interview would be distributed."

I would say that Terry is the one lying here, but regardless, the Vatican really needs a new PR department. Who allows someone to put comments on videotape without a release form and without knowing the purpose of the video? Archbishop Burke as a good lawyer, just might have a good case against Mr. Terry.

Or is this public feud exactly what these men want to happen to draw more attention to their cause--a shrewd use of the media to be sure--but perhaps we give too much credit here.

For the record, I think it is up to the individual as to whether they should present themselves for communion or not. I do think that the Bishops have a responsibility to speak with these public figures to persuade them to not hold these policies and perhaps even to ask them not to present themselves for communion if they have no plans to change their ways--but to publicly refuse someone communion is not something I think we should be promoting.

Pontius Pilate Should Throw Out the First Pitch

The Detroit Tigers have stupidly scheduled their opening home game right smack in the middle of Good Friday.

Traditional Christian belief says Jesus hung on the cross from noon to 3 p.m. on Good Friday.

All 30 American and National League teams play April 10, but the Tigers' 1:05 p.m. game against the Texas Rangers is the only one during holy hours.

"It's sort of an insult for Catholics," said Michael Ochab, a 47-year-old Tigers fan. He said he'll miss his first opener in 20 years this year to attend services at St. Florian Catholic Church in Hamtramck. "I'm still hoping the Tigers will change the time."

Tigers spokesman Ron Colangelo said Major League Baseball has a "monumental task" putting together a season's schedule. Detroit's climate makes a night game unrealistic this time of year, Colangelo told the Detroit Free Press.

"Fans have come to know that our home opener is always a day game," he said.

The Rev. Ed Vilkauskas of downtown Detroit's St. Mary's Catholic Church said the game at nearby Comerica Park will keep people from services.

"Nobody is saying baseball isn't big, but Good Friday is really big," Vilkauskas told The Detroit News. "It's 2,000 years old."

Since the Tigers got shellacked by the Cardinals the last time they went to the World Series in 2006 is this their way of getting revenge? And since Detroit's team has not won the Fall Classic since 1984 perhaps they've traded their souls for a World Series title ala Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees?

Here's the real irony: Manager Jim Leyland's brother is a priest. Albeit a priest who has had his fair share of controversy.

We'll see how it all shakes out in the end.

Catholics don't care

While I'm not a bishop, I've been saying this for years:

“Too many Catholics just don’t really care. That’s the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn’t need to waste each other’s time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow ‘balanced out’ or excused by three other good social policies.”

-- Archbishop Charles Chaput, March 21, 2009,
delivering the keynote address at a conference marking the Year of St. Paul in Detroit.

Our biggest sin: indifference. We don't really care about our next door neighbors that much, as long as they stay out of our hair and play their music at a reasonable level. If we can't care about our own families and people in proximity to us--what chance do the homeless, immigrants, victims of genocide in Africa and the unborn have?

Mar 25, 2009

Annunciation: How can this be?

Awesome homily from Deacon Greg on the Annunciation today. It's really from Advent in December but well worth a repeat performance today.

Gabriel comes to a virgin and tells her something stunning. She will bear a child. It is an event she never anticipated, one she never planned for. She’s practically a child herself, in a poor town, and she is being told that God wants her to play a critical role in salvation history. The angel makes clear: what is about to happen to her will change the world.

And in that moment, Mary utters her first words in the gospel…words that speak for all of humanity, in all our confusion:

“How can this be?”

She seeks an answer, an explanation, some plausible reason for something so implausible.

How many of us have asked the same question?

How often have we struggled to understand God’s plan in our lives?

How many of us have been blindsided by events we never expected – a twist on life’s path that we never saw coming, for better or for worse -- and asked ourselves, in fury or despair or bewilderment:

How can this be?

And here Mary is told, simply:

“Nothing is impossible with God.”

Today's inspiration: When I Close My Eyes - Trail of Stones

Mar 24, 2009

Pope Expresses Sorrow over Trampling

Just in from Zenit

Benedict XVI expressed his profound sorrow over the death of two girls trampled by the crowd, which also left some 90 wounded, in the incident that took place outside Luanda's Coqueiros Stadium, where soon afterward the meeting with young Congolese was to be held.

"I have prayed, and pray for them," said the Pontiff.

The Holy Father also recalled the meeting Thursday with the sick in Yaoundé's Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger Center, a rehabilitation center for people with disabilities, founded in 1972 by the Canadian cardinal after whom it is named.

"It touched my heart to see here the world of the many sufferings, of all suffering, the sadness, the poverty of human existence, but also to see how the state and Church collaborate to help those who suffer," commented the Pope.

"And one sees, it seems to me, that when a man helps one who suffers he is more of a man, the world becomes more human: This is engraved in my memory," he added.


Follow me on Twitter and then check out this hysterical video!

Pope to Young Angolans:

The Pope's full message to Young Angolans can be found here. But here are just three quick snips:

At present though, and even in our midst, I see some of the many thousands of young Angolans who have been maimed or disabled as a result of the war and the landmines. I think of the countless tears that have been shed for the loss of your relatives and friends. It is not hard to imagine the dark clouds that still veil the horizon of your fondest hopes and dreams. In your hearts I see doubt, a doubt which you have expressed to me today. You are saying: "Here is what we have. There is no visible sign of the things you are talking about! The promise is backed by God's word -- and we believe it -- but when will God arise and renew all things?" Jesus' answer is the one he gave to his disciples: "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" (Jn 14:1-2). But you persist, dear young people: "Yes! But when will this happen?" The Apostles asked Jesus a similar question, and his answer was: "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:7-8). See how Jesus does not leave us without an answer; he tells us one thing very clearly: renewal starts from within; you will receive a power from on high. The power to shape the future is within you...

You do not lack generosity -- that I know! But the idea of risking a lifelong commitment, whether in marriage or in a life of special consecration, can be daunting. You might think: "The world is in constant flux and life is full of possibilities. Can I make a life-long commitment now, without knowing what unforeseen events lie in store for me? By making a definitive decision, would I not be risking my freedom and tying my own hands?" These are the doubts you feel, and today's individualistic and hedonist culture aggravates them. Yet when young people avoid decisions, there is a risk of never attaining to full maturity!

I say to you: Take courage! Dare to make definitive decisions, because in reality these are the only decisions which do not destroy your freedom, but guide it in the right direction, enabling you to move forward and attain something worthwhile in life. There is no doubt about it: life is worthwhile only if you take courage and are ready for adventure, if you trust in the Lord who will never abandon you. Young people of Angola, unleash the power of the Holy Spirit within you, the power from on high! Trusting in this power, like Jesus, risk taking a leap and making a definitive decision. Give life a chance! In this way islands, oases and great stretches of Christian culture will spring up in your midst, and bring to light that "holy city coming down out of Heaven, from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband". This is the life worthy of being lived, and I commend it to you from my heart. May God bless the young people of Angola!

Notre Dame and the Pro-choice President

MSNBC has the latest on the number of Notre Dame alumns and students who object to having President Obama come to give the commencement address this May on the campus. The issue is of course, abortion.

"We are not ignoring the critical issue of the protection of life,” (University Present Fr. John) Jenkins, CSC told campus paper. “On the contrary, we invited him, because we care so much about those issues, and we hope … for this to be the basis of an engagement with him."

Amen. Here's my take on this. Look at the statement from the USCCB here:

In 2004, the United States of Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a policy statement called "Catholics in Political Life," which says, with reference to pro-abortion politicians, "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

The question arises whether having a President speak at a University elicits support for his position on abortion in particular, or perhaps on any other position for that matter?

I would not only say that the answer is unknown and that at best a survey could reveal whether that was the case--but more importantly, it would deny the university ANY opportunity to engage the President on these issues to refuse him a visit. Perhaps the honorary degree can be given to him for a specific issue he's worked on--say, his work for peace or for the environment and then an explicit reference can be made to the Catholic principles that those positions espouse? Perhaps he can speak on those positions but not receive an honorary degree? There are tons of solutions to that issue. But here is where I really think the opportunity lies:

What is Notre Dame doing with regard to promoting life? What initiatives are those who are complaining about the President's visit taking on that they can show the President while he's there? You have world-wide media coverage at the time of his visit--give them something to cover! I would think that meeting with three of Notre Dame's student athletes who have participated in "life-changing" direct service opportunities offered by the University's monogram club including one who worked directly with pregnant teens would be quite a way to show their support for the unborn in a personal and straightforward manner and may indeed even sway the President to consider a new plan in taking care of poor women and teens who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. One student's experience:

"The women and girls who live (at Elizabeth House) form an incredibly supportive and devoted family ... Each girl is responsible for cooking a dinner for the house and house chores. These factors make it very much a home, rather than a shelter or program. I truly felt welcomed and part of this larger family, an amazingly funny, loving collection of unique women from all walks of life. ...

"By providing a supportive family during the pregnancy, yet respecting a mother's rights as an adult and promoting independence, the staff truly empowers the women. (The mother's) often begin as troubled teens brave enough to make an important life decision, yet terrified and excited at once. They emerge as strong, confident mothers with resounding hope for the future.

We will only win converts when we show them that we are Christians by our love, by our love. For the complainers, I'm with you. But what I'd like to challenge you to think about is the following:

"While the law says abortion is OK. What have you done for the unborn today other than complain loudly to a faction unlikely to listen? How have you SHOWN your support to people by helping to change a circumstance of someone who is pregnant and therefore made an impact on the life of the unborn. Even saving one life is important enough.

We need to lobby our President, congress, the courts and most especially the world stage through the media. How do we do this most effectively? I think it's by putting our actions where our teachings direct us.

Mar 23, 2009

The Man Born Blind

This weekend's gospel talks about "the man born blind". We see Jesus heal this man--a man thought to be incurable--not because of the lackof medical technology but rather, because it was believed that he was a sinner and that God had in fact smited him.

Jesus essentially says that this is hogwash. He also points out how blind the people who have kept this man believing that he is a drastic sinner really are. They are unable to see beyond the usual societal prejudices of the day--the prejudice that says disabled people have been made that way by God. This had to have been a nice loophole for people to engage with to get out of taking care of those who were destitute...."Ah, God wants them to be like that."

Jesus sees beyond these prejudices and not only looks into the heart of the man born blind but then also calls us to see what we do not see in others as well.

Have I pre-judged the homeless man who sits down the block from my office?

Have I pre-judged my family knowing their own weaknesses and assuming that they will fail at matters I deem them not worthy to handle?

Do I think less than highly of myself staying blind to all of my own gifts and talents and fail to stretch to develop my own abilities?

If I'm honest, I answer yes to all of those things and admit that I am guilty of this sin. A serious one, in my mind. I've placed myself as the judge and I relegate each person to an unredeemable status.

Help me Lord, to look into the heart of these people that I too often don't see clearly. Cure my blindness and let me see what gifts they can be to me and to you. Fill me with your Amazing grace, for I was blind, but not I see.

New Bishop in Oakland

A hat tip to A Catholic View via Twitter

This morning Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone to become the next Bishop of Oakland, Calif. Currently serving as an auxiliary bishop of San Diego, Bishop Cordileone will become the shepherd of 400,000 Catholics in the Oakland area.

Bishop Cordileone will be taking over after Archbishop Allen Vigneron was appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Detroit in January of this year.

The speed of the appointment may be connected with the news that the interim administrator of the diocese, Fr. Dan Danielson was accused of blessing homosexual unions.

The diocese was recently restructured by now Archbishop Vigneron and sources say they are hoping to move forward speedily with the administration.

How many of us would say this?

A beautiful story lede in the NY TImes today:

LUANDA, Angola — Manuel Domingos Bento, a 62-year-old farmer with a paralyzed right leg, had journeyed 50 miles to the outskirts of Angola’s capital and slept here under the stars beneath a thin blanket. A faithful Catholic, he did not want to be late for Mass on Sunday. Pope Benedict XVI was going to lead the service on the last full day of his first trip to Africa.

Even with the help of a crutch, Mr. Bento was too unsteady to venture into the mammoth crowd that had gathered along the expansive dirt of a vacant lot near a cement factory. When the pope finally arrived, the farmer was 200 yards away, able to see only the top part of the “popemobile,” a sparkle of glass under the harsh glint of a powerful sun.

Still, his eyes welled up with emotion. “This is the greatest moment of my life,” he said, awed by the pope’s presence, no matter how distant.

I remember thinking that the Pope's visit was not that big a deal when I went to my first World Youth Day in Toronto. Then he passed in front of me and I just had to call my wife and my mother to tell them how moved I was by his presence. I felt the same way with a different Pope in Sydney. The Pope has time for us. That will always be John Paul II's gift to the world, the papacy, young people and Catholics all over the globe. Benedict is doing a fine job keeping up with JPII's pace and at a much older age.

To read more on the Pope's trip click here

George Weber RIP

Over the weekend veteran WABC radio newsman George Weber was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment, a victim of murder. The police are investigating but it looks like he was stabbed in the neck--most likely, in my view, is that he walked in on a robber who panicked.

Dreadful news, to be sure. I didn't know George other than by reputation but my best friend worked with him on WABC's morning show and always had great things to say about him. A bunch of other colleagues have been saying similar things--nice man, opened his home to everyone for great parties, gave a lot of people their start in radio...

The list of accolades goes on--we should all be as lucky as to be remembered so fondly by so many--and at the same time it is sad at how unlucky he was this weekend.

George worked very closely with Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. While I'm not encouraging revenge, I would think that his killer might want to turn himself into police before the Angels find him.

You can read more about the story here

Rest in peace, George. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May George's soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

Baton Rouge

Spent the weekend in Baton Rouge as I did the keynote at the Diocese of Baton Rouge's conference. A great time despite some technical snafus during my presentation. It worked out though. Thanks to Charles Jumonville and his wife Wendy for their wonderful hospitality and their son Ben as well.

Fr. Michael Aiello invited me to hear him reach and we also got burgers and shakes at a roadside shack. The shake was the best I had in awhile. Catherine Mifsud from USF also was i town and joined us. Fr. Michael was also on the catholic TV station the next day and did a great job.

Baton Rouge was also seriously effected obviously by Katrina. Charles was telling me that he was out of his home for 55 weeks. I can't imagine what that would be like. Even more amazing is that his home looks fabulous now! How they rebuilt so fast is just a testament to their resolve as a community and in Charles' case, a family. Lots damage was caused by trees falling on houses as opposed to the water damage, but nonetheless, it had to be a harrowing experience.

If you've never been to the area--you should take a gander. A nice spot.

Mar 21, 2009

Sticking with Lent

Have you conitnued with the BustedHalo Lenten--Fast Pray Give Calendar?

Check it out by clicking here

Mar 18, 2009

The Catholic Church and the Fight Against AIDS

Pope Benedict in response to a question on whether the church's position on fighting AIDS was "unrealistic" and "ineffective"?

Here is some of what he said in response on the Papal plane:

"One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.

"The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.

"Therefore I would say this is our double strength -- to renew the human being from the inside, to give him spiritual human strength for proper behavior regarding one's own body and toward the other person, and the capacity to suffer with the suffering. ... I think this is the proper response and the church is doing this, and so it offers a great and important contribution. I thank all those who are doing this."

As your trusty translator of papal language, I'd like to say that this is going to make negative headlines but it is really one of the more beautiful things that a Pope has ever said.

In a world that has turned sex into just another commodity--something to just be consumed--the Pope's thought is that there needs to be a culture shift in thinking about sex in a new (old?) way. Sex is beautiful--so beautiful that it needs not become just another daily exercise or an item on your "to do" (no pun intended) list. We know it is powerful psychologically in creating unity between husband and wife but it also has creative power--the literal power to create another human being. How often do we think about either of these things when it comes to sex--or when we're simply "in the mood?" For people who have sex often the novelty of sex may have worn thin, seemingly difficult to re-capture those initial sparks. But is that because they never really consider sex in a deeper dimension; only focusing on the genital pleasure that it provides as opposed to the deeper intimacy that we should strive for in connecting with one another?

His second point is just as beautiful. If we really cared about the people in Africa with AIDS we'd be doing a lot more for them. Instead we wallow in our own mundane concerns and leave this problem to the people in their country. We hear many people say that we need to take care of our country first and other countries later. The Pope's thought here is that we need to take care of all humanity always. We need a renewed spirit and vision in order to make this a priority. We can't solve all the world's problems alone--but together we can indeed make great strides with our human committment as well as with our dollars.

The "problem" with the Pope's thought--and I use the quotes not to minimize this but merely to get more deeply at the issue...

This takes time.

A culture shift cannot happen overnight. Condom use may indeed prevent the spread of AIDS in the immediate realm but it does nothing to shift the culture. It merely makes having sex for people who have the virus (or even those who wish to avoid pregnancy) more conveinent. Now because the culture is not there yet--the dilemma is huge. How does one change a culture and then continue to protect those who are in danger of contracting AIDS because there are people who do not yet share the Pope's views on the need for a culture change. Men are indeed infecting young women with the AIDS virus because they have a disregard for their lives and see women as a disposable commodity and secondly because they also regard genital sex as their only need as opposed to intimate connection with another. Crudely put, why would they want intimate connection with someone who they do not consider to even be worthy of the same status that they have. Simply put, because men are regarded as being "better" than women in African culture--we have a huge problem.

Women's rights all over the world need to be treated as a priority--but have we started to provide women with a mixed message? I think the message the culture has given them with regards to sex is this:

Women of the can get laid like men and treat them in the same manner that they have been treating you, if you just use birth control and condoms. Men indeed are just as disposable as women and are commodofied for sexual gratification in many cultures.

This indeed is the attitude that needs to change. We must strive for a culture of mutual respect for both genders despite our past which certainly favored men over women in almost every culture. This doesn't mean we revert to the submissive woman and the dominant male but rather, we need to shift much more broadly into a culture of life. Where woman matters equally with men, where children are valued by community and cared for by the community as well as by the parents. This community needs to re-create sexual power to highlight its transcendant nature over its orgasmic immediacy.

Until that time comes--and it probably won't happen anytime soon (mostly because most people, and most people in the church itself, are selfish and want to simply satisfy their own urges and don't really give a hoot about anything or anyone else) the world indeed stays broken.

Where do we start? That's the big scary question.

And none of us dare to answer it.

If I had a terminal illness...what would I want to do?

Here's an item from today's NY Times

Terminally ill cancer patients who drew comfort from religion were far more likely to seek aggressive, life-prolonging care in the week before they died than were less religious patients and far more likely to want doctors to do everything possible to keep them alive, a study has found.

The patients who were devout were three times as likely as less religious ones to be put on a mechanical ventilator to maintain breathing during the last week of life, and they were less likely to do any advance care planning, like signing a do-not-resuscitate order, preparing a living will or creating a health care proxy, the analysis found.

The study is to be published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

“People think that spiritual patients are more likely to say their lives are in God’s hands — ’Let what happens happen’ — but in fact we know they want more aggressive care,” said Holly G. Prigerson, the study’s senior author and director of the Center for Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“To religious people, life is sacred and sanctified,” Dr. Prigerson said, “and there’s a sense they feel it’s their duty and obligation to stay alive as long as possible.”

Read more here

What do we all think here? I am apt to think that I'd opt to die quietly with family and friends around me. But who knows what kind of fears might overwhelm me?

But if we truly do have faith, why worry? If we've lived a good life and have been declared terminal, for what reason would we seek an aggressive "Hail Mary" type of treatment. Is this perhaps another statement of faith? That God can do anything and we trust that God will do what's best and we need to give all that we can to this process?

I've been with a few people during those last few days of life. What I noticed most is that most people often LACK fear. That they almost look forward to their moment of death. These are the people who have a quiet faith and an inner peace and have lived a life in which they are quiet comfortable in their own skin and have given much to others throughout their life.

But I've also been with people who are the polar opposite. People who were filled with great fear. These are people who also may have wanted to hasten death but did so out of fear of suffering. And some who wanted to stay alive irrationally when all hope had been dashed and there was no turning back from their diagnosis and yet they still held out hope for a miracle.

My final thought is that we are forward looking people as Catholics. In faith, we believe that there is more beyond this life and into that great mystery of faith we will travel beyond this life. Karl Rahner, the great Jesuit theologian believed that God was ALWAYS mystery--that even after death God remained mystery to us. That's what makes God, God and us, us. We are always "other" to God and God is always "mystery" to us. That at first, seems cruel that we don't get to know all there is to know about God beyond death. But Rahner's hypothesis also holds much hope for life beyond death. Where we are still serving God in new ways and where the journey doesn't end for us, but rather change.

"For people of faith, life has changed, not ended."

What comments might you have on these issues?

Congrats to Martin Brodeur--he gave me the Stanley Cup.

New Jersey Devils Goalie Martin Brodeur became the National Hockey League's greatest goalie ever last night with his 552nd win. He's won more games than anyone now...and he's a great guy.

When I was in radio, Brodeur brought the Stanley Cup to our offices at WFAN and I helped him carry the cup back up to his truck. Which leads to a funny story. As we started up a flight of stairs, I "clanged" the cup off of the metal railing.

I got real worried and looked at Brodeur and apologized.

His reply:

"Oh Mike, no worries. It's gone through much worse than that! Someone was probably rolling it down second avenue last night!"

True enough. The Stanley Cup has indeed been through a lot. My favorite story is that the 1906 Montreal Wanderers left the cup behind after a photo shoot and a cleaning woman used it as a flower pot.

Some others:

The 1980 Islanders won the cup and Clark Gillies let his dog eat his kibble out of it. He said "He's a good dog!"
Bryan Trottier also took the cup to bed with him so when he awoke he wouldn't think that it was all a dream.

Both Patrick Roy and Mario Lemieux found the cup at the bottom of their swimming pool.

And perhaps the most bizzare: The 1940 NY Rangers urinated in the cup.

When you think of all the people who drink out of this thing--I hope the strength of alcohol they put in it is rather strong. For some reason I don't think I need to worry!

Anyway, congrats to Marty--the greatest goalie of ALL TIME.

How About "You're An Idiot" Day?

Mar 17, 2009

Fr. Reese on Pope Benedict

Great thoughts from Fr. Tom Reese today in the Washington Post:

In explaining the lifting of the excommunication, I have compared it to a "ceasefire." A ceasefire is not a peace treaty, even less an alliance. It allows for negotiations, it is not the end of negotiations. Whether these negotiations will succeed, is uncertain.

While admitting that the staffing and communication of the decision was flawed, the pope defends the decision itself. "Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church?" "Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?" "Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who 'has something against you' (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation?"

I agree with the pope's analysis of the Williamson crisis. The decision making process was flawed and the roll out of the decision was a disaster. As I said earlier, lifting the excommunication was a prudential decision which the pope had every right to make and it did not mean an endorsement of the views of Williamson or of the Society of St. Pius X.

The one criticism that the pope does not answer in his letter is from those who feel he reaches out to dissenters on the right but not on the left. Could we take the same conciliatory language and apply it to those who reject the church's teaching on birth control, married clergy and women priests? Can there be another commission whose responsibility is to reach out and negotiate with these factions in the church? "Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity?"

I think those are all good points. The larger question would be do those on the left actually seek reconciliation? Perhaps they just throw their hands up in disbelief. It seems that at least some people in the Society of Pius X would be open to working this out.

Read the rest here.

Photo credit to the AP from today's trip to Cameroon.

Lend the Orphans of Mustard Seed Communities a Hand Today

Some years ago I had the great joy of attending a mission trip to Nicaragua with Mustard Seed Communities--a charity that takes care of abandoned and disabled children in thrid world countries. It is an experience that moved me greatly and made me not only much more sensitive to the needs of the poor but also the needs of poor children.

Last night, Martha's House in Kingston Jamaica, home to thirty children with HIV/AIDS, burned to the ground.

Friends of mine went to this community in Jamaica as well and were very moved by the children there. One even said that if he could only have one memory in his old age he hoped it would be the memory of the children saying the rosary in the morning "as best they could." Kids with cerebral palsy, HIV, AIDS, and mental handicaps as well all make an effort to say the rosary each and every morning for their needs and for the needs of the world. Beautiful.

Thankfully, all of the children and caregivers were able to escape from the burning building. This was in large part due to the help of many people from the local community who came to their assistance.

These children, many of whom are under five years old, are now left very confused and are filled with much stress. Imagine not having very much to begin with and now losing your home and all your belongings! The little girl who loses a teddy bear that gives her security or a little boy who suffers from HIV who now can't even play ball in the day--the one thing that gives him pleasure.

While the children are safe at another one of Mustard Seed's homes area, they will soon need permanent housing.

Although they have not yet received a full report from the Fire Marshall, the fire is believed to have been caused by a short from the electrical pole outside of the home.


As is often true in disasters such as these, our immediate need is for funds and goods to replace what the children have lost. To donate funds online go HERE to make a donation.

You may also send funds directly to MSC USA development office at: 29 Janes Avenue, Medfield, MA 02052 or contact Laura Doherty, Executive Director, at 508-242-9622.

Mar 16, 2009

A no-hangover St Patrick's Day

My article today on BustedHalo

As the son of an Irish immigrant, I always found it odd that my American mother looked forward to the big holiday more than my Irish father did.

“St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal now in Ireland,” he told me on the phone recently, “but it never used to be anything to write home about in the old days. It was mostly a religious holiday and we treated it as a solemn day, as opposed to a day to get snockered.”

Now I don’t begrudge anyone a nice pint o’ Guinness, but shouldn’t St. Patrick’s Day be about more than simply getting drunk in a random pub? Instead of heading to some insanely crowded bar why not have a few friends over for one or more of the following Irish cultural alternatives?

These include: Irish Breakfasts, Irish Music, Literature, Movies and of course Celtic Spirituality

St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday celebrating the Saint who converted much of Ireland’s pagan population to Catholicism, by highlighting the similarities between their very earth-based faith with Catholicism. Celtic spirituality developed many traditions that we can learn from and use today. The Catholic Celts were very isolated, so their religious practices often grew independent from any kind of centralized religious authority, and were based on a monastic way of life. The central tenets of Celtic spirituality include:

Pilgrimage and seeing God in all things: The Irish believe that the sacred and the secular are not that far apart — that God and the saints are personally present and are guides for people as they go through life. Nature and, more importantly, the notion of pilgrimage, are extremely important reminders of God’s gift. Ancient Celts revered the wild as sacred space — a place you journey to on pilgrimage in hopes of finding God — since God is embedded in all things.While they believed in many gods before their Christian conversion, Christian Celtic spirituality translated this into revering nature as having qualities that reveal God and are connected to God. God is found in the “thin places” — places where people feel God’s presence intimately, perhaps on a mountaintop, or a deep forest, or when sunlight reflects off the water.

Get out in the great outdoors today and take a hike or get in a boat or do something more adventurous like whitewater rafting or rockclimbing. Think of the grandeur of God’s majesty in Creation, and how we are all just small but significant parts.

Read the whole thing here

And get ready for the big day tomorrow. How do YOU celebrate the grand Saint's day?

Vatican official says Ecommunication was "Hasty"

VATICAN CITY -- A 9-year-old Brazilian girl and the doctors who performed the girl's abortion needed the Catholic Church's care and concern, not its condemnation, said a leading Vatican official.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, criticized what he called a "hasty" public declaration of the excommunication of the girl's mother and the doctors who aborted the girl's twins.

The girl "in the first place should have been defended, hugged and held tenderly to help her feel that we were all on her side" he wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, March 15.

"Before thinking about excommunication, it was necessary and urgent to protect her innocent life and bring her back to a level of humanity of which we men of the church should be expert witnesses and teachers," he said.

"Unfortunately, this is not what happened and it has impacted the credibility of our teaching, which appears in the eyes of many as insensitive, incomprehensible and devoid of mercy," he said.

I would say that I agree with both sides of the coin here. The Bishop who did the hasty excomminication was apt to defend life as we need to do. He was also thinking as someone who follows the law as it reads in Natural Law. Also because excommunication occurs when an abortion is carried out automatically, there was really no need for a public declaration--but rather a much needed issuance of a public announcement for an outreach of reconciliation. It would have been more prudent to say: "We know that this situation was difficult. This little girl now adds the pain that abortion brings to any mother and to any child. The church needs to uphold the rights of the unborn to live but now also holds her arms open to this little girl and her family in hopes of reconciling them more fully into the church's healing ministry. Project Rachel (or the equivalent) will work with this family very closely to heal them from this pain."

And while the solution to this 9 year old girl's pregnancy is unfortunate--the only other solution seemed to include her likely death. This is a moral dilemma of the highest caliber and while Natural Law would require us to defend the unborn life here many consciences might opt to ignore that option in this case. A rare situation to say the least.

Let's pray for the child who was raped as well as the innocent life that once stirred within her. Let's also pray for wisdom, so that we one day will know God's will for situations like this that don't seem cruel one way or the other.

You can read more on this here

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Mar 15, 2009

Guys and Dolls

So I took my wife to see Guys and Dolls for her birthday because she'sa big fan of Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls fame. She plays Miss Adelaide in this Broadway Production alongside the extremely talented Oliver Platt who plays Nathan Detroit. The play centers around the 14 year engagement of Nathan and Adelaide and the never do well attitude that Nathan who organizes floating craps game has.

What a fantastic production! Craig Bierko plays Sky Masterson and also does an outstanding job with Kate Jennings Grant who plays Sarah, the Salvation Army missioner who falls in love with the gambling Sky. Grant was the most poised on the broadway stage, I think in this production and has a lovely voice.

Stealing the show is the actor, Tituss Burgess who plays Nicely-Nicely Johnson who's big number is towards the end of the play with "Sit Down You"re Rockin' the Boat." He added a gospel twinge to the song that had the entire crowd feverishly applauding by the end. Mary Testa also does a hysterical job as the General.

I don't usually get starstruck--all those years in radio got me over the novelty of meeting actors. But since it was my wife's birthday, we stood outside the stage door waiting for Graham's autograph. Surprisingly, Platt showed up first and was really very approachable. He signed our playbill with his own Sharpie and I took the opportunity to ask him how hard was it to play George Steinbrenner in "The Bronx is Burning."

Platt did a double take and looked right at me and smiled and said: "Man that was hard. Really hard. I had to forget that I was a Red Sox fan." If you haven't seen this series that was out not that long ago--it well worth purchasing. It chronicles the 1977 baseball season with the Yankees and Platt is excellent as Steinbrenner. I'm a huge fan and even more of one now that he's such a nice guy.

Kate Jennings Grant also showed up and was extremely gracious. Signing autographs and taking pictures for everyone. She told a great story of how this was the first play she ever did in high school and played Sarah then too! Over 20 years later she stands on the Broadway stage doing it all again. Her high school teacher showed up recently to watch her in the role and the two had a good cry about the memories.

Finally, Lauren Graham showed up wearing a NY Giants ski cap and was signing autographs as well including a t-shirt that said "Team Lauren" for a young girl. Hurried, though she was, I don't think she missed a fan's request, even suggesting that the fans take pictures paparazzi-style because she knew her "people" were going to whisk her away.

All in all a great night. I took some pics with my camera phone so they're not great but the one of Platt is above and here's one of Graham.

Mar 14, 2009

How I Met My Wife

OK it's no secret that I think I married the most wonderful woman, but today I need to especially tell y'all about her. It's her birthday today and she has indeed been the light of my life in so many ways. She loves talking about how we met, so I thought I'd share that story with you, but more importantly, tell you how wonderful this woman has been to my life.

I met my wife because a college friend was honest enough with me to let me know that she didn't approve of the woman that I was dating and that I should meet her friend Marion.

I didn't listen.

Instead, the relationship I was in sapped much of my energy and we ended up breaking up sometime down the road. Not to mention, my friend was persistent. She'd bring Marion to young adult events including one that I particularly remember when she was extremely dressed up. She let me know that she was interested in helping organize an event for young adults to serve the needs of children. So I decided to call her later in the week and take her up on that offer.

The phone call went something like this:

Me: "Hi Marion, It's Mike Hayes. Hey I wanted to see if we could have lunch sometime and talk about organizing that event for kids?"

Marion: "Well...I'm a teacher and I eat with the children."

Me: (To myself) Great! She thinks I'm an idiot for not realizing that. (To Marion) Oh...well OK, well I guess I'll see you around maybe I'll see you at the church.

I turned to my co-worker Heather at that point and said:

"This woman wants nothing to do with me."

Fast forward like 3-4 months later and it's Holy Week. And lo and behold, Marion shows up in my parish for Holy Thursday mass. I was seated far from her but I kept my eye on her. I decided to catch up with her after mass, but I forget that mass ends with a solemn procession around the church and everyone leaves in darkness and in silence.

In essence, I don't know if I lost her in the crowd or in the dark.

So glumly I head to the local diner to grab a burger before the Good Friday fast and there she was with my friend and another friend who grabbed me and plunked me down in the chair next to Marion within seconds.

The rest of the night was simply magical. It was like we were the only two people in the diner, never mind at that table.

As we left I found out she lived in Queens where I was also living (and it's the borough where we still reside). I asked what subway she takes home.

"Oh I take the R"

"ME TOO!" I replied.

I lied. I was on the #7 line. But a trip on the R train would only result in bascially a longer walk to my house and a chance to continue talking.

In the subway...we talked and waited...and waited...and waited for an R train that never came.

We didn't notice.

Finally I asked Marion if she had seen an R train on either platform? We decided that we'd take the N train into Queens and that I could transfer to the #7 train and she could also take the #7 to another local train and get home that way.

How smooth was I? Not very.

A windy night at Queensboro Plaza ensued. On the platform we stood close to each other in the freezing cold.

"Block the wind!" Marion said to me. So I stood close to her shielding her from the bracing cold. I didn't hold her. We didn't kiss. It was just my lanky frame blocking the prevailing winds. Marion still wonders how I didn't kiss her right there. She told me once:

"You played it so cool. I wanted to kiss you so badly."

I was probably scared to death.

I looked at her and said as we entered the arriving train:
"Y'know you could just come to my place and call a cab if you want!"

Marion tells me years later her reaction was "Yeah right, like I'm going to go to your apartment after just meeting you! I don't think so."

She declined my offer (which didn't really have any ulterior motives) so instead I made her promise to call me when she got home. So I'd know she got home safely.

I began to fret about asking her out but just before I exited the train I asked her to dinner and a quick

She did.

We spent the rest of that Holy Week together. I preached a reflection on Good Friday and our first "date" followed: A Passover Sedar at a friend's apartment that he held for both his Christian and Jewish friends--sans meat for the Catholics. At one point after dinner, the entire party was on one end of the room and Marion and I were on the other. Talking and talking and talking. I couldn't get enough of her talking about how cute her niece Veronica was (she is!) and how her fiesty Grandmother won a tomato sauce contest in Brooklyn. We got a ride back to Queens but parted ways kiss, no hugs.

Easter brought us the Vigil on Holy Saturday and I brought the gift of a Chocolate Easter bunny. Marion interpreted the mass in sign language and I served as a lector. I wanted to kiss her at the sign of peace but somehow THAT didn't strike me as appropriate. We again parted ways separately, but made a date for the following Tuesday: a wonderful one act play called Fully Committed which we saw with some friends. We loved it.

That magical first kiss came when I walked her to her apartment building. She tells me now that her knees got weak that night. And if I'm honest I'll admit that mine still do.

We've been married for nearly 7 years but that fateful night happened almost 9 years ago. We've seen each other through a lot. Sickness and health. New life and death. The lack of children but the loyalty of a good dog. Successes at work and challenges in relationships with others and with each other.

It has not been easy. Not by a longshot.

But it indeed has been wonderful. Wonderful enough that I wouldn't want to change a thing, because I know that I have a woman for a wife who is my lifelong love. More importantly, I know I have a wife who understands what it means to love--that loving is hard. It means loving one another when one of us is grumpy (uaually me and usually in the morning!), or when the toliet won't flush and the laundry is piling up. Love doesn't quit when parents need surgery or when people can be unreasonable. When the chips are down, love doesn't cash in and quit but instead doubles down and risks it all.

My wife knows that kind of love. I've seen it each and every day of our marriage and I hope I've at least been able to offer some of that love back to her. She's much better at it than I am, I think, but somehow I'm still amusing enough for her to keep me around--grumpy mornings and all.

It is clearly the kind of love that God has for us as well--a love that doesn't place conditions on it. No matter what happens, I know Marion will always love me and that she always has my back.

And today, I pray that she knows how loved she is by her husband.

Happy Birthday, My Dearest Marion. And many, many more.

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Mar 13, 2009

What the Hell is Purgatory?

Fr James Martin and myself tell you all about it!

“None of us are perfect but all of us are on a journey toward God” is one of the ways we use to explain what the name Busted Halo® means. Given our name it is no surprise that people often ask us:

“Since I’m not perfect, how can I get into heaven?”

Heaven is defined by the Catholic Church as “a perfect life with the Holy Trinity” and “ultimate end and fulfillment of our deepest human longings.”

But most of us feel we fall short of deserving to be in full union with God. While all of us sin, though, most of us don’t sin in such a grave way that we cut ourselves off completely from God. And even if we do commit grave sins, many of us seek reconciliation with God throughout our lives.

So, if heaven is this state of perfection… and one dies while being far from perfect… how can one enter heaven? The answer, Father James Martin, SJ, tells us, is purgatory. So just what the hell is purgatory?

More on Purgatory can be found here in the rest of this BustedHalo "Googling God Section" mixed media piece.

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Mar 12, 2009

Rock and Roids

Dwayne Johnson (AKA The Rock) who has gone from Wrestling to a very successful acting career, admitted that he used steroids. Our friends at the Mets police ask a great question: Do we think he'll be held to the same standards as A-Rod?

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Today's inspiration: Mime & Natalie Imbruglia

Hysterical. Who says that a good laugh once in awhile can't be inspiring? I think Natalie Imbruglia is cool for doing this and for not taking herself too seriously.

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Are Video games Sinful?

That's this week's topic on our podcast which you can find by clicking here

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Living Ignatian: God in the Crossroads (Part 3)

Hear about the founding of Busted Halo. And how it helped me find my place in the world. This is a third of a 10 part series.

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Pope Apologizes for Public Relations Fiasco

With regards to the SSPX public relations nightmare where Pope Benedict thought that the headlines would read "Pope Heals Schism" and instead got "Pope welcomes back Bishop who denies Holocaust" the Pope had the following very humble words to say. A hat tip to Deacon Greg this morning who beat me to the papers.

One mishap for me unforeseeable, was the fact that the Williamson case has superimposed itself on the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards the four bishops ordained validly but not legitimately, suddenly appeared as something entirely different: as a disavowal of the reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and therefore as the revocation of what in this area the Council had clarified for the way for the Church. The invitation to reconciliation with an ecclesial group separating itself had thus become the opposite: an apparent way back behind all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews which had been made since the Council and which to make and further had been from the outset a goal of my theological work. The fact that this superposition of two opposing processes has occurred and has disturbed for a moment the peace between Christians and Jews as well as the peace in the Church I can only deeply regret. I hear that closely following the news available on the internet would have made it possible to obtain knowledge of the problem in time. I learn from this that we at the Holy See have to pay more careful attention to this news source in the future. It has saddened me that even Catholics who could actually have known better have thought it necessary to strike at me with a hostility ready to jump. Even more therefore I thank the Jewish friends who have helped to quickly clear away the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust, which - as in the time of Pope John Paul II - also during the entire time of my pontificate had existed and God be praised continues to exist.

Another mishap which I sincerely regret, is that the scope and limits of the measure of 21 January 2009 have not been set out clearly enough at the time of the publication of the procedure. The excommunication affects persons, not institutions. Episcopal consecration without papal mandate means the danger of a schism, because it calls into question the unity of the Bishops' College with the Pope. The Church must, therefore, react with the harshest punishment, excommunication, and that is to call back the persons thus punished to repentance and into unity. 20 years after the ordinations this goal has unfortunately still not been achieved. The withdrawal of the excommunication serves the same purpose as the punishment itself: once more to invite the four bishops to return.

You can read more here

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Lent: Slip Station

For those of you having difficulty with your lenten promises...check out Busted Halo's Slip Support Station on Facebook.

It's a way to share your struggle but more importantly it gives you support to start over the next day. You can't flunk lent. So simply begin the Lenten practice again knowing that you gave up the things that were hard for you to give up--and that this is not always easy for us. Lent helps us purge ourselves from bad practices and that takes time--hopefully by the end of 40 days we will have gotten somewhere.

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King David on NBC

The NBC series Kings is simply brilliant and Busted Halo's Bill McGarvey sat down with the creator of the series Michael Green and discussed the show at length.

BH: The story of King David is an iconic Old Testament story — were you raised in a very religious household?

MG: Not very religious. I was educated in a Jewish parochial school system. Known as yeshiva, but called by us — we called it Jew School. It’s very similar to (Catholic school) — the same as a lot of people on your site might know — but rabbis instead of nuns. My mom is Israeli, so she wanted me and my sibling to be conversant in the religion and culture.

BH: How long have you wanted to do this story?

MG: It’s a story that I’ve been interested in for a long time. The decision to pursue it came about two and a half years ago. I’d always thought it was something I’d have to do much later in life, when HBO would be willing to let me make it. I originally imagined it as a period piece, but then I thought, “Why wait?” — the TV audiences have grown so sophisticated in the last few years that with all the fantastic shows being done by HBO, by Showtime — you know, Lost, Alias, Heroes — all these shows have really brought up the level and audiences have grown so accustomed to, or so willing to, or so eager to dive into a story and to pick at its nuance. People treat The Wire like a novel, and it’s written like a novel and it rewards that deep viewing. And because of the great work done by all those shows, I felt like it was a fair time to try to tell this sort of novelistic story.

BH: I felt a kinship on some level between your show and HBO’s Rome . You get to do a modern re-telling of the story of King David. What made you decide not to do it as a period piece?

MG: Mostly, cost. It’s cost-prohibitive. It’s nearly impossible to do something accurately in a period piece. The reason Rome didn’t continue was because — it was absolutely brilliant, I thought it was a wonderful show — it was so costly that it couldn’t sustain itself, as I understand it. I could be guessing, but that’s what I’ve been told, that it never was able to gain the ratings required to justify its cost. And in order to do period in a way that isn’t silly, in a way that is authentic, it’s just incredibly costly. And plus, doing it period would have made it a much more accurate telling, and I was interested in taking the story and going further with it. You know, there’s a lot to draw from in the original text but not enough to sustain a hundred episodes of dialogue, let’s say. So by creating a ‘remove,’ and setting it in modern times, or with a modern aesthetic, anyway, we were free to continue interpreting. It was convenient. And the other thing was to make it really relatable to a modern America.

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Googling God

Googling God
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