Jul 30, 2009

Your Communion Isn't Good Enough

From Catholic News Agency

Lancashire, England, Jul 30, 2009 / 03:17 am (CNA).- An Anglican cathedral is trying to accommodate those of its faithful who do not accept female clergy by allowing parishioners to decide whether to accept communion bread blessed by its female canon or by a male priest. Blackburn Cathedral in Lancashire recently installed Rev. Sue Penfold as a residential canon. Cathedral canon Andrew Hindley explained the decision to This Is Lancashire, saying it was agreed by all the clergy that it was the best way to handle what they called a “mixed economy.”

The congregation can choose whether to receive communion bread blessed by Rev. Penfold or bread blessed by a male priest at the main cathedral service on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

After reading this story I have a feeling that in the Catholic Church there is an equivalent snubbing going on. There are a good deal of people who won't receive communion from a lay minister or a deacon and will go out of their way to receive communion from the priest.

Um, last time I checked we were all giving out Jesus.

Jul 29, 2009

I'd walk a million miles... for one of your smiles...

From the Washington Post:

They've been mistaken for Jedi-wannabes headed to a Star Wars convention. They've been investigated by police, approached by strangers, gawked at from cars and offered gifts of crumpled dollar bills and Little Debbie snacks. After trekking along more than 300 miles of dusty Virginia country roads and suburban highways, six Franciscan friars reached Washington on Tuesday, having seen it all during an offbeat modern-day quest for God.

For six weeks, the brothers walked from Roanoke with only their brown robes, sandals and a belief in the kindness of strangers to feed and shelter them.

The sight of six men in flowing habits, trudging single file on the side of the road, prompted many to pull over and talk, even confess. People on their way to work described their loneliness. College students wanted help figuring out what to do with their lives. Children, mistaking them for the Shaolin monks in movies, ran up to ask the friars if they knew how to beat up bullies.

"Dressed like we are in our habits, it's like a walking sign that says, 'Tell us your life's problems,' " explained Cliff Hennings, the youngest of the friars at 23...The pilgrimage was the idea of four young friars just finishing their training in Chicago and working toward taking lifelong vows. Seeking to emulate the wanderings of their founder, Saint Francis of Assisi, they wanted to journey together as a fraternity, ministering to one another and to strangers, while depending on God for every meal and place to sleep..

Interesting that they did this as a group. I'm always impressed as well with the Jesuit novices who get dropped off at some remote location with $35 and a bus ticket and told to figure out how to get back home. It's an opportunity to learn first hand how the poor--and perhaps even many of our working poor--spend their days.

Congrats to the Friars on their walk and may they continue to touch the lives of the poor. And check out their photo gallery here

A final significant snip from WAPO:
Just outside Harrisonburg, a woman in her 40s with a young daughter pulled over in her old Dodge sedan to talk to 25-year-old friar Richard Goodin.

She'd recently caught her husband cheating on her. He had kicked her and her daughter out of their house, she told Goodin. Now, like the friars, they were wandering through the wilderness, unsure of their next meal or their next move.

As they talked, the woman's daughter rummaged through the car and gave the friars a soda. Then she found a chocolate bar and offered that. As the conversation began winding down, the daughter said there was nothing more in the car. The woman reached for her purse and told Goodin, "I want to give you what we have left."

She pressed $3.52 into his hand, which he accepted reluctantly.

"I realized she wasn't giving this to us or to me," Goodin said. "I think she heard us talk about trusting in God and she wanted to try to trust in the same way. She was giving that money to God."

Track their journey on their blog, www.friarwalk.com

Inspiring, just a note, with the exception of their two superiors (who were probably brought along kicking and screaming) most of these guys are young. I don't hear of any baby boomer priests thinking about doing this.

I'm just sayin...

And we thought the clergy sex abuse scandal was bad...

but that's nothing compared to the stables! So says the NY Daily News

He's a repeat sex offender - who should be registered with the Humane Society.
A South Carolina man was busted for having sex with a horse, while on probation for having sex with the same horse.
Rodell Vereen, 50, was arrested Monday night in the throes of bestiality by the filly's shotgun-toting owner, who also has video surveillance of the perverse act.
"When they arrested him before I thought that was the end of it," said Barbara Kenley, who caught Vereen in the middle of his romp in the hay with her 21-year-old horse, Sugar.

Read more here And the Seattle Times adds this from the horse's owner:

"Police kept telling me it couldn't be the same guy," Kenley said Wednesday. "I couldn't believe that there were two guys going around doing this to the same horse."

So she installed a video camera and, lo and behold, her instincts were right. It was Vereen again. The next time he came by, she chased him down with a shotgun and called police. According to his brother, Vereen has mental problems but does okay when he takes his medication.

Whinny a prayer for the safety of helpless animals and hope this guy doesn't go for the trifecta.

Jul 27, 2009

Our Lady of Hope: Thanks, Bob for the Memories

A h/t to Deacon Greg and Mcnamara's Blog for this

Today also marks the death of Bob Hope, who converted to Catholicism (largely through the influence of his wife Dolores) several years before his death. Before his death, the Hopes funded the building of a new chapel at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. The name of the chapel? Our Lady of Hope

Bob Hope has given me one of my most famous stories that I tell at a lot of the workshops I run:

When I was in radio the Program Director of one of the stations I worked at called some colleagues and I into his office. He asked what we thought was wrong with the radio station and how we could improve things.

A few of us took the news department to task, claiming that they were always behind. They never broke any stories and our competitors had a better reputation in news than we did. Mind you, some of the newscasters would just listen to the competitor's station to know what was going on.

Our solution was simple: We talk-show producers would no longer wait until the top or bottom of the hour to announce breaking news. Instead, we'd just type the information on the screen or let the host know the information in his headset.

So that afternoon, I walked in to produce a talk show and across the AP Wire came the news: Bob Hope is dead.

I told my host immediately who launched into a eulogy that had everyone in tears in the studio--really touching stuff.

Then the AP sent a second alert: Bob Hope not dead.

Turns out John McCain got bad information from someone and announced it on the senate floor.

It was also the one day our station was on top of the news.

I say this to emphasize the point that we live in a world of immediate gratification and we want what we want, when we want it. Sometimes that's short sighted of us--actually, it almost always is.

Recently, I wanted something to happen in my life really badly, and when it didn't, I became very angry--and to what end? Perhaps God is letting me know that sometimes I need to wait until the time is right for my desires to come to fruition.

And when we don't wait...we really screw things up.

So today, I pray to Our Lady of Hope who will undoubtedly keep me faithful to knowing that God knows all about timing things for our own benefit. And when things don't happen the way we'd like them to, it's not our time to be angry but our time to hope and to be excited about the new opportunity that God has ready and in store for us.

Dr. McCourt, PhD..."because I was a teacher"

A great video on Frank McCourt from NYU who gave him an honorary degree...

Frank McCourt: The Journey of an Ordinary Teacher from NYU Steinhardt on Vimeo.

A h/t to Paul Snatchko for this one.

Jul 26, 2009

Those Wedding Dancers..and The Spiritual Experience of Young People

Deacon Greg pointed me to the Today Show interview of the runaway viral video of the couple who danced down the aisle with their wedding party. Over at Facebook, I've seen a mixed bag of responses to the video from people who think it was awesome to others who found it disrespectful and even others who suggested that their marriage might not last because they're not pious enough!

Oh p'shaw!

None of these responses hit the mark in my opinion. Some people are projecting their own spiritual experience onto others here. Many paint younger people into a corner and expect them to conform to THEIR vision of what ritual is. Young people, in my opinion, seem to be striking back and saying that they have their own thoughts on the matter and that maybe we need to look more carefully at this to see some deeper wisdom in this?

The bride suggested that they do this because “I danced growing up and was a dancer through college and loved dance as a way to express yourself and share joy. So it was something I always thought about doing.”

Dancing as a way to express yourself and share joy...

While slightly self-indulgent to be sure, there's a lot of deep seated meaning here. God created her as someone who is to be loved and she is expressing that--perhaps unconsciously--and also expressing how much she loves her friends and secondly I found the moment to also express how much her friends love and support her and her groom as well.

Here's the failure of the day. WE'VE secularized it...not them. From the Today Show's article:

The 28-year-olds floored their wedding guests by having their whole bridal party — including seven bridesmaids, five groomsmen and four ushers — boogie down the aisle in a choreographed dance more at home in a Broadway musical than in a somber church. (Emphasis mine)

Um...my church is hardly somber, first of all. Contemplative at times--but not somber, even at funerals. So let's just point that out.

However, I'm also not dumb enough to think that my church is the norm. I'm sure there are some that are really boring and staid--and therein lies another assumption--and one that the young people pictured took a lot of pains to avoid.

Church is supposed to be joyless.

Clearly these people did not want a joyless wedding and often the young think that they simply need to jump through the motions of the religious ritual to get to the party. These people smashed that myth--the wedding ceremony IS the PARTY. In fact it's the most important part of the party.

What if we felt that way every time we did ritual? What if we looked forward to the Eucharist with that much joy each week? More importantly, do we ever feel that enthusiastic about our own participation in parish life or even just attending mass at any random church?

I think if we're honest, we don't or it's rare--reserved for high holy days like Christmas or the Easter vigil (and that's a lot more sedate than what was expressed by the couple) but not for a random Sunday in "ordinary time."

Our assumption is that if it doesn't correspond to our usual experience of church it can't possibly have any spiritual meaning.

But perhaps the question goes deeper...

What these young people are expressing is very spiritual. In fact it is very spiritual and so alive with the joy that God has given to them in the love that they share now in marriage and that they have cultivated with their friends that they can barely contain it.

Our job is to awaken them to that fact. If i were the presider at the wedding I would start out with the following words:

"Clearly the Holy Spirit, the spirit who dances, who animates us into existance, clearly that spirit is alive here today! Clearly the love that is already being expressed by Jill and Kevin for each other is alive. Also the love that has been shared over the many years by their parents and their families and friends who have danced with them through life, that love has brought them to today--the wedding day. And here's the most important thing for all of us, not just Kevin and Jill, but all of us, need to remember. The love that is expressed by them for each other reflects the love that God has for each one of us. And because God has this great love for us, the greatest love, the love that forgives us of our faults, the love that Jesus shows us by becoming one of us and then entering into the experience of our own human death and going beyond that experience into new life, a love that is completely unselfish and in fact, self-emptying--that is the way God loves us.

Kevin and Jen, today as you come before us in marriage, know that this love you feel for one another is not merely self-indulgent but rather it compels you to understand just how much God loves you both. As a husband loves his wife so too does God us in the same way. Kevin would do anything for Jen and Jen loves Kevin so much that she cannot help but express that by dancing joyfully. And that is contagious! God too, always wants to go that extra yard for all of us and in your marriage may you continue to be aware of that same joy and see God in the love that makes you dance!


(a h/t to the good deacon and to the Today show for the pic)

Jul 25, 2009

OK, Now I'm Addicted to Wedding Videos

The dreaded best man speech...

Here are two guys that really knocked it out of the park:

Jul 24, 2009

Another Wedding video

This is more silly...but still great...

Brian & Eileen's Wedding Music Video. from LOCKDOWN projects on Vimeo.

Coming up...a play by play of my own wedding--- no video but maybe a picture or two.

St. Frank of Limerick

"The happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood. People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests, bullying schoolmasters; the English and all the terrible things they did to us for 800 long years.”

These words, written in the Pulitzer Prize winning tome Angela’s Ashes, recount the unhappy childhood of Frank McCourt. After surviving typhoid as a child, the severe poverty of Limerick’s lanes brought on by the drunkenness of his father and teaching in the New York City School system for years, McCourt’s voice was silenced (today) at the age of 78 after complications from meningitis.

I got to know Frank McCourt briefly during my radio career after working on his brother Malachy’s program. Malachy would tease him constantly and vice-versa.

Frank: So you’re a vegetarian now?
Malachy: I am. And I smell that rotting flesh on that sandwich that you have there.
Frank: So I’m to become a vegetarian now simply because you are.
Malachy: Are you too good to be a vegetarian, now, Mr. Big Pulitzer Prize star?
Frank: I’m not saying that and let’s not forget that YOU were a much bigger star for years, on the Tonight Show saying all kinds of malarkey for years. And anyway, you’ve written a book, riding on my coattails now which I’m all too happy to help you promote.
Malachy: And I’m working on a second one now, don’t you know? Ask me what the title is...
Frank: I know I’ll regret this but what’s the bloody title.
Malachy: I’m going to call it “I read your brother’s book.”
(Entire studio breaks up laughing)
Malachy: Sure to win a pulitzer! Don’t ya know?

Frank took his brother’s good natured ribbing in his more quiet and eloquent style. His book, written from the unbiased and uncensored viewpoint of a child’s experience within the dank poverty of Ireland held a similar kind of simple class. “Children tell it like it is.” he once told me, “and I had the thought that if I wrote about my experience as my own childlike thoughts, that it would allow me to tell the story in a way that I hadn’t been able to express it as an adult.”

That child’s voice also filled McCourt’s book with humor amidst the pain, which is what he always claimed kept him alive in the midst of poverty. Irish melancholy filled with a self-deprecating touch of “well, it wasn’t all bad” led him to write one of the most touching and yet aggravating portraits of Irish life. Many Irish resented the book because of its rawness--a bit too close to home for them perhaps. My own cousin, an Irish native, often said that the book was filled with exaggerations and outright “lies.” In truth, my thoughts often thought that McCourt had captured the Irish all too well and we often hate that which reveals what we most despise about ourselves.

His third book, Teacher Man, covered his years of teaching in New York City Schools including a Vocational High School in Staten Island and then later the more famous Styvesant where he was often noted as “the best teacher I ever had” by a plethora of students (12 of my friends from college went there and they all reported that McCourt had indeed captured their hearts and more importantly, their imaginations). McCourt often lamented that “I create too many lawyers” in his years as an English teacher but his lilting Irish brogue charmed the girls and allowed him to become one of the boys as he endured their taunts and fired back some of his own. On day one in Staten Island, a young man assumed that he wouldn’t be around on St Patrick’s Day because he’d be drunk in some gin mill. “I’ll be here,” McCourt retorted and never missed school on that day to honor his heritage as more than a bunch of drunks, the too-oft used stereotype. When one student hit him in the head with a sandwich in class, McCourt shockingly picked it up and ate it and began to tell stories of the days when he longed for a sandwich, embarrassing the assassin.

But in all those years of reclusiveness, his students often suggested that he write a book, that his stories needed to be compiled together and be told to the world. McCourt tried but nothing would come. Even hanging out in pubs with the likes of Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin brought him no closer to penning a book and it wasn’t until the age of 66 after his mother had passed that he revealed the whole story of that miserable childhood. A childhood where his mother was a savior by sleeping with his cousin so they didn’t get thrown out into the streets--a more than embarrassing moment for her but one that kept him alive and healthy and a roof over their heads. Not surprisingly, the words came once his mother passed, and they spilled off the pages as a homage rather than a bit of inappropriate self-disclosure.

McCourt was no fan of the church to be sure, and when you read how poorly the church treated him you can hardly blame him. By the same token he also didn’t denigrate an individual’s practice of it either. When he found out I was Catholic he asked me about my favorite saint and when I replied that I had two, St Peter and St Ignatius he smiled and said, “Ya can never just have one favorite saint, can you? I read the Lives of the Saints all the time and still pray to my favorites. Lord knows we need lots of prayers.”

And now I firmly believe that McCourt walks amongst those saints that he considered friends. And I will include him as one of the newfound favorites to intercede for me.

Dancing in the Aisles is permitted..at least in this church

Now I know how I'm celebrating the renewal of vows ceremony on my 10th anniversary! A HUGE hat tip to Deacon Greg for forwarding me this. It actually made me cry to see a couple this enthusiastic about getting married.

Now go dance with your partner! You know you wanna...

Jul 16, 2009

Once in a while...I still have some sports thoughts

I guest columned an item on the Mets Police retiring #8 for Yogi Berra and Gary Carter.

Retire #8 on 8/8
Two Hall of Famers have worn #8 for the Mets and yet that number has not been retired. It’s not a stretch to think that the Mets could retire #8 for both Gary Carter and Yogi Berra the prolific manager of the 73 “Ya Gotta Believe” pennant winners.
Berra was an astute manger for 4 years with only the 1974 season being a blight on his record. He brought the team back from a huge deficit and got the players to believe in themselves with a little help from Tug McGraw’s rallying cry. McGraw often said that it was really Berra’s managing style that enabled the players to believe in themselves and led them to that pennant. To top matters they spanked the Reds in the playoffs and in a crazy world series he took the mighty A’s to 7 games--all an almost impossible feat to accomplish for any manager. We forget he was also a coach with Hodges on the 1969 Miracle Mets (in fact he was a coach since 1965), so you can’t say he wasn’t involved or around long enough with the Mets to merit inclusion. While more well known as a Yankee, Berra deserves to be acknowledged as someone who contributed much to the Met franchise as a coach and manager.
Carter was the missing piece to the 1986 World Series Champions. The young Mets pitchers needed someone to be a leader within those 60 feet 6 inches. Carter led them well for 3 years until his career began to wind down. He helped spark that team into the cocky bunch of players who never felt they were out of a ballgame even when things looked bleak. In game 6 of the 86 World Series Carter started the rally with a single that led to the improbableMookie Wilson grounder through the legs of Bill Buckner.

I love this Mets Police blog because it has a good take on all the stupid stuff that the Mets do as an organization--a big reason why I can't root for them any longer. Read the rest here and then agree or disagree.

Jul 15, 2009

Tonight on Net TV...Once Again...

is me.

I did an iWitness segment with them on my ministry to young adults. I was quite moved by some of the questions so check it out by going to NetTV.net. And if you didn't see our cast of characters from the Busted Halo Cast and our editor in chief Bill McGarvey check out this episode from a few weeks back.

Jul 14, 2009

What a Surprise- VOTF..going broke

Voice of the Faithful, the reform and advocacy group that emerged in 2002 in the wake of the clerical sex abuse revelations in Boston, has announced that it may be forced to close its national offices unless it receives a quick infusion of cash.
In an e-mail sent to members and media representatives, the organization said it was “at the crossroads of financial survival” and is looking to raise at least $60,000 by the end of July in order to continue operations.

You want to know why their funds are low...?

No people in their 20s and 30s belong to voice of the faithful. It is a baby boomer organization at best.

Why is that the case? You would think that they would find the cause of supporting those who have been abused laudable, no?


I would offer a few thoughts here.

1) Most of the younger adults I know don't really have a problem with the church, rather the church isn't even on their radar. It's simply not part of their life and when they see all the infighting that happens with their older compatriots--many of whom are their own parents, the church looks even less attractive, much less an organization that calls the irrelevant organization to task.

2) Younger people simply don't have the time for an organization like this. As an example, a young man I know was asked by his baby boomer mother why he wasn't more of a voice for change in his own parish? His response was simple:
"Mom, I just don't have that kind of time. It's just not worth it to me. I'm going to do all this work and NOTHING is going to happen because, pastor, bishop, etc is going to do what he wants anyway."

Can't say I disagree with him.

3) Lastly, I think there's clearly a perceived agenda with Voice of the Faithful that goes beyond the scope of the sex abuse scandal and into other issues like women's ordination, optional celibacy, and a more democratic decision making process in different areas. Younger people tend to see more value in religious organizations that actually do good work in the areas of social justice, global change and even prayer and sacraments--the so called passing along of the tradition. When they see infighting that is the clear death knell and simply is translated as a waste of energy.

I wish VOTF well. I know that these people are faithful Catholics for the most part who see the challenge of today in developing priests that we can depend on as trusted sources and not suspects. It's an area that they have little control over however and the fact that many Bishops have outsided them from their diocesan property doesn't help either.

But their lack of success, financially at least is not a surprise to me. Everyone is struggling and VOTF is not just one more struggling religious organization. They are one more organization that seems to raise the level of suspicion past the point of something to which young people can see a value to contributing their time.

Jul 12, 2009

Would You Care for Someone Passed Out on the Sidewalk?

As I walked my dog last night I happened to pass my local parish in Woodside only to find a young man passed out cold on the sidewalk. My dog, Haze started to bark wildly as if he sensed something was wrong. I too, had a strange feeling about this. The man didn't appear to bre breathing by my observation. The guy didn't flinch when Haze barked pretty close to him and he didn't respond to me yelling "Dude, are you OK?" So I called 911.

After a brief wait of about 15 minutes, the cops, fire department and paramedics arrived. They awakened the inebriated man and put him into their truck. A beer can casually rolled into the gutter after he stood up. Somewhat relieved, I began to walk home with Haze.

I wondered if anyone else bothered to consider what had happened to this man. The 911 operator asked if it looked like he had been assaulted. I replied no but that he wasn't responding to any of my verbal cues and wasn't moving.

The young man looked hispanic or perhaps Native American, I wondered if he was just drunk if I would be getting someone who may possibly be undocumented in trouble. On the other hand, if he were hurt or dead, he'd want someone to call the cops.

I was amazed at how many people never gave him a second look. It reminded me of the ABC show "What would you do?" And this clip in particular.

I say all this not to toot my own horn but rather because I find it hard to believe that I'm the only one who called 911. What if it were me and I just passed out on the sidewalk suddenly. Would anyone care?

I'm always amazed not at the fact that people pass by other people on the street but that they even have to think about what they should do here. In my case this evening I waited for the 911 cops to arrive and they didn't seem to want to involve me nor know that I had tried to wake him up--they just walked past me and said "Thanks".

While this seemed to be a case of someone just being young, drunk and stupid. What if it wasn't? It seems to me that the story of the Good Samaritan is alive and well.

And perhaps that is Jesus' point. We forget about people and relegate them to our own compartmentalized notions of who we think they are. He's a drunk. He's no good. He's homeless, etc.

It shouldn't be lost on anybody that I wasn't willing to touch this man. I called 911 but I didn't shake him or try to wake him with a nudge. My own concern needs to go deeper than that. And perhaps it is there that our fear restricts us from caring for people as well as we should.

Tonight let us pray for the ignored on the city streets and for the people who will die there tonight.

Jul 11, 2009

What gift would you give the Pope?

So Barack gave the Pope a stole and the Pope autographed a copy of his encyclical. If you were to meet the Pope what would you want to give to him?

I think I'd give his cat, Chico, a scratching post that looks like a crosier. =)

Australian Town Bans Bottled Water

From Mother Jones

Residents of Bundanoon, New South Wales, Australia have voted to ban the sale of bottled water in their rural town—probably the first in the world to do so. Only two voters opposed the ban. Why?

Bundanoon's battle against the bottle has been brewing for years, ever since a Sydney-based beverage company announced plans to build a water extraction plant in the town. Residents were furious over the prospect of an outsider taking their water, trucking it up to Sydney for processing and then selling it back to them. The town is still fighting the company's proposal in court.

In other words, bottling water wastes an incredible amount of resources—natural and capital. (Producing the bottles for the American market requires 17 million barrels of oil; three liter of water are needed to produce a liter of bottled water.) So officials in Bundanoon will install more drinking fountains and encourage residents to use them to fill reusable water bottles for free.

Interesting. I like the use of reusable water bottles and the large scale water cooler thingies or buying the big jugs.

A hat tip to my friend Eunice Park for pointing this to me on facebook.

Jul 10, 2009

Pope Presses Obama on Pro-Life Issues

From John Allen at NCR and in my opinion the right way to engage the debate with the President. Thanks to the Pope for taking the lead here.

When President Barack Obama came calling on Pope Benedict XVI today, the two men enjoyed a “truly cordial” encounter, according to a Vatican spokesperson, but at the same time there was no diplomatic silence from the pontiff about their differences over abortion and other “life issues.”

Not only did Benedict press his pro-life case with his words to the president, but he even found a way to make the point with his gift, offering the president a copy of a recent Vatican document on bioethics. According to a Vatican spokesperson, the pope drew a repetition from Obama of his vow to bring down the actual abortion rate.

Beyond the life issues, the Vatican’s statement indicated that Benedict and Obama also found “general agreement” on the Middle East peace process and other regional situations. The two leaders also touched food security, development aid especially for Africa and Latin America, immigration and drug trafficking, according to the statement.
Coming away from the meeting, however, it was hard to escape the impression that Benedict wanted to use it to deliver a clear pro-life message.

Read the rest and then think about the Pope's actions today. Did he embarrass the President? No. Did he yell at the President and call him a baby killer? No. Did he not show up for the meeting? No.


My guess is that President Obama will read the book he gave him and start noting it in his plans to reduce abortions bringing us closer together on this issue.

Dying Well

From the NY TImes a few days ago on Sisters of St Joseph caring for their dying members at home rather than hospitals. A great model for us all:

As she lay dying, Sister Dorothy declined most of her 23 medications not essential for her heart condition, prescribed by specialists but winnowed by a geriatrician who knows that elderly people are often overmedicated. She decided against a mammogram to learn the nature of a lump in her one remaining breast, understanding that she would not survive treatment.

There were goodbyes and decisions about giving away her quilting supplies and the jigsaw puzzle collection that inspired the patterns of her one-of-a-kind pieces. She consoled her biological sister, who pleaded with her to do whatever it took to stay alive.

Even as her prognosis gradually improved from hours to weeks and even months, Sister Dorothy’s goal was not immortality; it was getting back to quilting, as she has. She spread her latest on her bed: Autumnal sunflowers. “I’m not afraid of death,” she said. “Even when I was dying, I wasn’t afraid of it. You just get a feeling within yourself at a certain point. You know when to let it be.”

A convent is a world apart, unduplicable. But the Sisters of St. Joseph, a congregation in this Rochester suburb, animate many factors that studies say contribute to successful aging and a gentle death — none of which require this special setting. These include a large social network, intellectual stimulation, continued engagement in life and spiritual beliefs, as well as health care guided by the less-is-more principles of palliative and hospice care — trends that are moving from the fringes to the mainstream.

For the elderly and infirm Roman Catholic sisters here, all of this takes place in a Mother House designed like a secular retirement community for a congregation that is literally dying off, like so many religious orders. On average, one sister dies each month, right here, not in the hospital, because few choose aggressive medical intervention at the end of life, although they are welcome to it if they want.

“We approach our living and our dying in the same way, with discernment,” said Sister Mary Lou Mitchell, the congregation president. “Maybe this is one of the messages we can send to society, by modeling it.”

Primary care for most of the ailing sisters is provided by Dr. Robert C. McCann, a geriatrician at the University of Rochester, who says that through a combination of philosophy and happenstance, “they have better deaths than any I’ve ever seen.”

A great breakdown on Catholicism's take on both Euthanasia and using extraordinary means and the difference between the two. A snip:

Laura L. Carstensen, the director of the Center on Longevity at Stanford University, says the convent setting calms the tendency for public policy discussion about end-of-life treatment “to devolve into a debate about euthanasia or rationing health care based on age.”

“Every time I speak to a group about the need to improve the dying process, somebody raises their hand and says, ‘You’re talking about killing old people,’ ” Dr. Carstensen said. “But nobody would accuse Roman Catholic sisters of that. They could be a beacon in talking about this without it turning into that American black-and-white way of thinking: Either we have to throw everything we’ve got at keeping people alive or leave them on the sidewalk to die.”

Often the Roman Catholic position on end-of-life issues is misconstrued as “do anything and everything necessary” but nothing in Catholic theology demands extraordinary intervention, experts say, nor do the sisters here, or their resident chaplain, Msgr. William H. Shannon, 91, advocate euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.

“Killing somebody who is very, very old, with a pill or something, that isn’t right,” Sister Dorothy said. “But everybody has their own slant on life and death. It’s legitimate to say no to extraordinary means. And dying people, you can tell when they don’t want to eat or drink. That’s a natural thing.”

Indeed. We need these great women to teach us how to die well. Let us pray today for all those who are dying that they may die with dignity, peace and prayer.

Photo courtesy of James Estrin/The New York Times

Arrival: A Sweedish Abba Cover Band

OK, my wife is into Abba and dragged me to see Mamma Mia (the movie--which I kinda thought was goofy-funny). So I decided to treat her to this concert by these folks in Tarrytown (a tiny sleepytown in Westchester County which is the inspiration for Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow) along with a nice dinner by the water. I had low expectations but this was a pretty good show. They did a lot of the hits and they do sound like them and they are really proud to be Sweedish and of their country.

They finished the show without doing Dancing Queen which I was surprised at...but then came out for an encore and they did it then. It was cute when they invited all the little girls up on stage for the number and taught them a small routine to do with them in the midst of their number.

Also, plenty of places to eat on the water in Tarrytown. A nice quick trip from NYC.

Staycation continues hopefully by seeing Anne Hathaway tonight at Shakespeare in the Park. I'm on the virtual line.

Jul 9, 2009

Pope to Obama: You're too conservative

From today's Washington Post and E.J. Dionne

When President Obama meets with Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow, there will be no right-wing Catholic demonstrators upbraiding the pontiff, as they did Notre Dame earlier this year, for conferring the church's legitimacy upon this liberal politician.

In fact, whether he is the beneficiary of providence or merely good luck, Obama will have his audience with Benedict just three days after the release of a papal encyclical on social justice that places the pope well to Obama's left on economics. What a delightful surprise it would be for a pope to tell our president that on some matters, he's just too conservative.

It seems that this Pope is indeed going to be critical of the Obama administration but just not in the manner that most people would expect.

To read the Pope's new encyclical on social justice click here

All You Heretics...COME ON DOWN...You're the next contestant on...OUR FAITH IS RIGHT!

OK so the game show is real and it's actually called Penitents Compete! A new game show where clerics compete for conversions...

Reuters has the details on a new game show that is based on conversion.

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – What happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists?

Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers.

The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion -- Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.

But religious authorities in Muslim but secular Turkey are not amused by the twist on the popular reality game show format and the Religious Affairs Directorate is refusing to provide an imam for the show.

"Doing something like this for the sake of ratings is disrespectful to all religions. Religion should not be a subject for entertainment programs," High Board of Religious Affairs Chairman Hamza Aktan told state news agency Anatolian after news of the planned program emerged.

The makers of "Penitents Compete" are unrepentant and reject claims that the show, scheduled to begin broadcasting in September, will cheapen religion.

"We are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God," Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu told Reuters.
"We don't approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn't matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe," Soylu said.

The project focuses attention on the issue of religious identity in European Union-candidate Turkey, where rights groups have raised concerns over freedom of religion for non-Muslim minorities.

I hope that a Catholic gets into the Showcase!

Jul 8, 2009

Pope fires those responsible for SSPX fiasco

John Allen has the scoop as usual!

In what could be seen as another piece of fallout from Benedict XVI’s January decision to lift the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops, including one who is a Holocaust denier, the pope today restructured the Vatican office that handles relations with the traditionalist world -- and, in effect, gently fired the officials who presided over the earlier fiasco.

As a result of a document issued by the Vatican today, titled Ecclesiae unitatem, Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos, who had served as President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission since 2000, and Italian Monsignor Camille Perl, the number two official at Ecclesia Dei, are both out of work. The Ecclesia Dei Commission was created by the late Pope John Paul II in 1988 to manage relations with the Society of St. Pius X founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Both men played key roles in the decision to lift the ecxcommunications, including that of Bishop Richard Williamson, the traditionalist prelate who denied in an interview with Swedish television that the Nazis had used gas chambers and that six million Jews had died in the Holocaust.

The so-called “Lefebvrites” rejected many of the reforms associated with the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Most prominently, traditionalists clung to the pre-Vatican II Mass in Latin, but many also have voiced objections to the council’s teachings on ecumenism, inter-faith dialogue and religious freedom.

In broad strokes, the restructuring announced today is seen by most observers as a sign that the Vatican intends to take a more careful, and perhaps a bit firmer, hand in its dealings with traditionalist Catholics.

Issued as a motu proprio, meaning an exercise of the pope’s personal authority under canon law, Ecclesiae unitatem brings the Ecclesia Dei Commission under the supervision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s top doctrinal agency. That means ultimate responsibility for the church’s relationship with the traditionalists will belong to American Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the doctrinal congregation.

The Vatican also announced today that the new secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission will be Italian Monsignor Guido Pozzo, 57, formerly an official in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and deputy secretary of the International Theological Commission, an advisory body to the doctrinal congregation.

Levada released a statement today stipulating that as far as the Lefebvrite movement is concerned, “the doctrinal questions remain open. Until they’re clarified, Levada’s statement said, the ‘Society of St. Pius X’ cannot enjoy any canonical status within the church, and its ministers do not exercise in a legitimate way any ministry within the church.”

Although the Vatican issued a similar statement at the time of the controversy surrounding Williamson, today’s repetition from Levada makes clear anew that the lifting of the excommunications in January does not mean that the Lefebvrite bishops are fully “rehabilitated.”

Now for those of you offended at first glace at the Pope's attempt at reconciling these folks--shout this move just as loudly as you shouted your outrage.

Why do I have feeling that I'll only hear the words: "It's about time!"

How Many Major League Baseball Parks/Cities Have You Been To?

So I just went to the New Yankee Stadium and have been to the new Citi Field and I make it a point to try to go to a stadium when I get to a Major League City.

Here are the ones that I've been to. The names are the names of the park when I attended the game. These include only the parks that I've either seen a game or done a ballpark tour at:
New York (4): Old Yankee, New Yankee, Shea, Citi
Chicago (2): Wrigley Field (by far the best park in the Majors), US Cellular (White Sox)
Baltimore (1): Camden yards (orioles)
Boston (1): Fenway Park (Red Sox)
Seattle (1): Safeco (Mariners--and I took the ballpark tour there!)
Arizona (1): Bank One (Diamondbacks--and it was a no-hitter for Jose Jimenez of the Cardinals and Randy Johnson struck out 14 and LOST!)
Colorado (1): Coors Field (Rockies)
Houston (2): Astrodome (tour only), and Enron Field (!): Astros
Milwaukee (1): Miller Park (Brewers)
San Francisco (1) SBC Park (Giants)
Washington DC (1): RFK Stadium (Nationals)
Montreal (1): Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique) (Expos)

Now most of my friends have been to close to this number and one of my friends has been to about 40 over his many years. So I asked a question of my friends:

Has anyone been to all the major league cities (with or without going to the stadium and I'll include Montreal in this for argument's sake)?

Here are the cities I've been to:

Baltimore YES
Boston YES
Chi White Sox YES
Cleveland YES
Detroit YES
Kansas City NO
LA Angels YES
Minnesota NO
NY Yankees YES
Oakland YES
Seattle YES
Tampa Bay YES
Texas NO (arlington)
Toronto YES
Arizona YES
Atlanta YES
Chi Cubs YES
Cincinnati NO
Colorado YES (Denver)
Florida YES (Miami)
Houston YES
LA Dodgers Yes
Milwaukee YES
Philadelphia YES
Pittsburgh YES (and I'd have another ballpark if I wasn't rained out of this one)
San Diego NO
San Francisco YES
St. Louis NO
Washington YES
Montreal YES

So I've been to all but 5.

How about you?

50 Ways to Save the Earth

A great piece on today's edition of Busted Halo®. Check it out:

Many of us grew up being told to turn off the lights when we leave a room or to not hold the refrigerator door open while looking for a snack. While small, these and other suggestions to conserve energy are still important. Those who have taken any of the various online “ecological footprint” quizzes have learned that it would take four to ten Earths if everyone were to consume energy the way a middle-class American does. Knowing that we only have one Earth, and that most of our energy right now comes from nonrenewable, unsustainable sources, it is essential that we learn the most important ways to reduce our personal energy consumption. Small commitments add up.

How To’s
Turn off lights, electronics, small appliances, and chargers when not actively in use. Unplug those with an “always on” clock or “standby” red light. A TV set that’s on for three hours and in standby for 21 hours uses about 40 percent of its energy in standby mode.
Replace incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) or, where available, light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs use 60 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. For church use, there are many overhead and exit lights now available in LED, a highly energy-efficient lighting technology....

Check out the whole piece here

Jul 7, 2009

The Temptations of Jesus

Before He began his public ministry, the spirit drove Jesus out into the desert where He was tempted. I call this Jesus' exorcism moment--the devil attempts to possess Him but Jesus will have none of this, driving the devil away from Him "for a while."

It's easy for us to listen to the evil forces in our lives rather than to what is best for us--which is what God wants whether or not we really can see that at the time. It is only in these desert places when all is stripped away that we are able to get in touch with what temptation really looks like and see it for what it is. Sometimes a good spiritual direction program can serve as a pseudo-desert, a place where we come away for awhile to see things stripped away from our own usual biases and experiences and where another can listen to our experience and provide guidance and support for our journey when we are inevitably led into temptation.

Jesus knew these temptations directly. The three we see in the synoptics include:

1) Putting one's needs first (Luke 4:3): The Devil commands Him to turn the stones into bread---to satisfy His own need of hunger before anything else. I think I fall into this trap often. I often feel I need to have my alone time before I can listen to my wife when she needs to talk something out that's happened to her during her workday, or even when I'm the one at fault and have offended her. As I write this blog entry I even know intimately that I am ignoring her in favor of writing this entry. How stupid of me and yet, how easy a temptation it is to fall into.

2) Seduction of power (Luke 4:5-7): The Devil suggests that He will give Jesus power over the whole world if He just worships him. Of course Jesus pushes the temptation aside, but I often think that it might have been hard for him to do this, knowing the cross was in his future--that he would not be able to change the hearts and minds of all of the world and that they in turn, would kill Him instead. I'm not sure how much I hunger for power in my own life but I certainly want to be liked by people. I don't think I have an unhealthy attachment to this, after all, who doesn't want to be liked? I also think I can see very clearly when my hope to be liked gets in the way of my work or ministry or something else more important. I also think I like to be respected a bit much and when I don't feel respected by others that I have a hard time putting that aside.

3) Manipulating others (Luke 4: 9-11): The Devil finally asks Jesus to throw himself off the cliff and suggests that God will send angels to save Him. Jesus offers the response of not putting God to the test. Yeesh! I fall into this trap often. I want to see God's work tangibly and have some confidence that God will care for me, especially in my own dark hours. I want things neat and easy and often life is very messy and obscure. Throwing one's self from the cliff metaphorically is asking for this proof of God's love for us. And God need not be tested, after all, God has already given us much--His very self on the cross.

What tempts you? What are the things that tie you down to your mat and keep you from really being the best you can be? Today let us pray that we can cast aside our temptations so that we can live more in freedom from them and discover what lies on the healthier side of our desires.

Jul 6, 2009

Tonight on Net TV...

is me. I believe! Rumor has it that I will appear on the show Currents along with my colleagues Fr Dave Dwyer, CSP and Brittany Janis doing our weekly podcast. Matt McClure (pictured here with co-anchor Tai Hernandez) comes by and plays a role on the podcast where we explore Angels and Demons.

No, not the movie--actual Angels and Demons.

It was a fun time taping and I'm sure that it'll be a great show to watch.

Tonight at 7:30 or 11:30 on netny.net

Jul 5, 2009


I'm on a staycation for the next few weeks so I'll be hanging out and doing some morning blogging. Im doing a self directed 8 day retreat as well in the mornings for the most part--so much of my reflections here will be based on that experience for the next week or so.

The Thorn in My Side

The second reading today at Mass has a lot to offer us. My pastor pointed out that some scholars say that Paul, who mentions in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians that "a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan was given to him" may have more meaning than at first glance. What is this thorn he speaks of?

Some say that it may have been a person--in short, someone who was a real challenge to Paul. We all have those kinds of people in our lives, people who may in fact bring us a lot of stress, or simply always point out our flaws or call us to change our ways when in fact, we don't want to change at all. The prophets all talk about this as well--how they just want God to leave them alone in their comfort and not call them into something greater.

I think in my own life I've known such thorns and moreover, I, like Paul came to rejoice in them. Often these were people that I respected and who came to know my own gifts and moreover my flaws as well and still learned to work with me despite them. The end result was a mutually graced relationship where we accomplished much in our lives.

Still, there are those who know us well who have a more negative attitude towards our flaws. In their eyes we think too much of ourselves and we can never do anything right. Often these are people who know us pretty well--perhaps even our own parents, siblings or close friends.

Jesus met these people in the Gospel today as well. After those who know him well, who saw him grow up hem and haw saying such things to the effect of "Who does he think he is?" something interesting happens.

So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

I'm often troubled by this part of the gospel because it sounds like Jesus is powerless. But in fact, I think a careful reading might be somewhat sarcastic and perhaps even say more about these people who know him than it does about Jesus.

He was unable to perform any mighty deed there but then the next line says "apart from curing a few sick people by laying His hands on them."


Isn't that a pretty might deed? I think Mark is being coy here and suggesting that perhaps no matter what Jesus did here it would not be received well. Amazed at their lack of faith Jesus begins his public ministry away from this place--where the faith of simple people, unbiased in their opinion about Jesus received him into their presence and it was there that they met the living God.

Who are we biased against? Who don't we allow to amaze us with their gifts and talents? Are we the thorn in someone else's side? How about our thorns? Will they ever change their minds or do we have to move on down the road to someplace new where we indeed may be seriously challenged more than we ever have been before? Where is God calling us when we notice the thorns in our side?

That indeed is a question that we all need to answer today and pray. We pray to ask where God may be speaking to us when we encounter our thorns. Do they call us to more carefully look at ourselves, our flaws and where we don't measure up--or are they calling us so that we realize that they are the voice of those who unjustly refuse to accept us for who we are?

Today let us pray that we all find where God is calling us--even amongst the thorns that await us.

Jul 4, 2009

Should the Flag Be Displayed in Church? Your comments

A bunch of people weighed in on this flag being displayed in church. As my 4th of July lazy blogger gift to them, I thought I'd share their comments with you.

David Frydrychowski at 4:30pm July 2
The reason that so many European rulers might have objected to the practice might have been less a fear of treading on the sacred and more a fear of losing pride of place. The national churches of Eastern Europe are great examples of national culture being used to unite the individual with the transcendent. I think it works so long as the national culture stays on ground level. With us. Looking up.

Paul Jarzembowski at 4:39pm July 2
If God is truly present in all things (including our American culture), then to have a flag in the church should not be seen as anti-God or anti-sacred. Perhaps it might be best placed on the side of a church or in the back of church (just to remind worshippers that we are not worshipping the flag), but I agree with Mike that this should not a major issue.

Jeanne Schaefer at 4:43pm July 2
I don't think the American flag should have a permenant place in the sanctuary. Political boundaries are artificial and have no role in the Kingdom of God.

On special occassions, however, the flag is a useful symbol when giving thanks to God for the freedoms we have and when remembering our responsibility to protect freedom for others. Or, in the case of World Youth Day, it is a useful symbol for noting how far each pilgrim traveled to get there.

Roger Mella at 5:16pm July 2
Interesting topic, Mike. The issue for me is not whether or not the flag should be displayed in church but rather how I don't really think about its presence. We don't say the Pledge of Allegiance during mass and there have hardly been any sermons about it. It's just, kinda...there.

Leota Roesch at 6:13pm July 2
Oh, God, NO!-

Mary Cummins Wlodarski at 7:19pm July 2
When we enter the church building with a body for a funeral, we remove the flag from the veteran's coffin and replace it with a white pall. This is not disrespectful nor dismissive of our country's symbol...it just points out that the symbol of baptism is more inclusive.
In the Body of Christ there are no countries nor boundries nor governments. Flags have their places...church is not one of them.

Joseph Muscente at 10:03pm July 2
YES to celebrate and honor the country that allows us to worship

Edward Karasinski at 12:31am July 3
....One Nation under God....

Mary Cotter Naughton at 10:04am July 3
Absolutely not!

Paul Jarzembowski at 10:31am July 3
Call me utilitarian, but I think that the sanctuary of a church should be reserved for objects that are either used in worship (i.e. altar, processional cross, chair, chalices, etc.) or are decorative (i.e. flowers, altar cloth, banners, etc.).

The American flag is neither utilized in worship nor is it a decoration. So I guess I would probably keep it out of the space for these two reasons.

Gerry Czerak at 11:56am July 3
I agree with Paul, but have no problem with a flag in the Narthex.

Raul Rousset Jr at 11:13pm July 3
In GOD We trust!!!

I think the esteemed Paul Jarzembowski had the best take by suggesting that the flag not be placed on the altar but can in fact have a role within the church building somewhere. I've suggested that the flag not be displayed near the altar but rather can be placed in the front of the parish but on one of the side altars. This is where I most often see it placed BTW and the papal flag is most often on the other side or maybe a flag for a local Knights of Columbus group or something.

I'll add the following as a New Yorker. During September 11th's disaster I would say that the flag played a pretty prominent role by being visible to people who had lost a friend or a family member at that time. My parish at that time lost a choir member and we kept a small memorial for her in the church. I think a flag not being in that place wouldn't look right.

How about the papal flag? Should THAT be displayed? How about those felt banners from the 70s? Should we have done that? A banner from the Catholic School?

Jul 2, 2009

Should the Flag Be Displayed in Church?

As we enter into the 4th of July weekend the inevitable question in many churches is one of favoring patriotism over religiosity. The Tidings in Los Angeles weighs in.

The custom of displaying a national flag in church is uncommon outside the United States and has its origins here about 150 years ago in an effort to counter the rampant and often violent anti-Catholicism that raged throughout our country.

In the mid-19th century, Catholic immigrants were often accused of being loyal to a foreign ruler - the pope. (Until 1870, the pope also ruled the Papal States, a sovereign nation that included much of present-day Italy.) Catholics often had to go out of their way to demonstrate their loyalty to the United States.

In the 20th century, Catholics became more integrated into the mainstream American culture, but as residual anti-Catholicism and suspicions persisted even up to the election of John F. Kennedy, so did the need to demonstrate our patriotism by displaying the American flag in the sanctuary.

However, if we examine both the nature of our worship and the requirements of due respect for the American flag, the reasons why it is not appropriate today as a permanent fixture in our worship space will become evident.

Church documents carefully regulate the furnishings of the church because everything must focus on the transcendent mystery that is celebrated there. Anything that creates a secular focus, even a noble and worthwhile one, detracts rather than adds to the nature and meaning of what we are doing in church. Our worship must raise our minds and hearts beyond earthly things.

Isaac Hecker, Servant of God, the Paulist founder, had a dream of evangelizing America. He thought that American principles and Catholicism were a good marriage and it is from that vision that I take my position. We are Americans and Catholics. Both have influence over our own schools of thought. So I don't have a problem with the flag being displayed in church or even America the Beautiful being sung. I might draw the line at The Battle Hymn of the Republic since it's so obviously about war, but I'm not even vitriolic on that point.

Moreover, I think we should be able to mix our experiences as Americans into our prayer--after all the things we pray for at the prayer of the faithful come from the experiences of our lives, our community, don't they? We remind ourselves that we transcend our American culture by bringing those experiences, inherently American, into prayer.

So this weekend let us be thankful for freedom and mindful of those who go without. But it may be our moment of grace realized this weekend that we are free. That we are Americans and that the limited view we may have of the world in our own American culture is indeed limited. We pray also for Immigrants who long to salute our flag and for their freedom.

The fact that we are free as Catholics to choose or not to choose God should be highlighted as well. Freedom is ours and that freedom comes from not merely our American influences but also from knowing that we live in freedom thanks be to God.

My last thought is that I don't hear anyone complaining when we see all of those flags waving at World Youth Day.

Michael Jackson

I've been pretty silent on the whole Michael Jackson mess this week. Perhaps because I wasn't a huge fan of his. But I have to say whenever I hear Thriller at a club or a party or even just on the radio I start to get excited. I also liked the song "Man in the Mirror." And it seemed that Mr Jackson really didn't like his own man in the mirror--or he at least longed to like him and found it nearly impossible to do so.

Andrew Sullivan over at the Daily Dish said it better than I ever could:

I loved his music. His young voice was almost a miracle, his poise in retrospect eery, his joy, tempered by pain, often unbearably uplifting. He made the greatest music video of all time; and he made some of the greatest records of all time. He was everything our culture worships; and yet he was obviously desperately unhappy, tortured, afraid and alone.
I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours' and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out.
I hope he has the peace now he never had in his life. And I pray that such genius will not be so abused again.

Amen. Moonwalk in peace, Michael.

Jul 1, 2009

Fr Joe Mahon, CSP: a great Paulist

One of the best moments of my day is my mailroom encounter with some of the old..er, more experienced Paulist Fathers in the house at 59th Street. In particular, Fr. Joe Mahon is one of the guys who always has a joke or a kind word for me each day. Our running joke is when he comes to me with his hand out and then yells at me when I refuse to give him some change. He's been a priest for over 50 years and has really been blessed by the men who he has lived with and served with for all these years. More importantly to me, he always seems to be a happy priest--someone who is at ease with himself and others. I really enjoy his company each day even if just for a fleeting moment.

Today was a unique day. He saw me fiddling with my blackberry and said that I should just ignore whomever was calling me. I replied that I had just received a text message from a friend who was tweeting. He asked me if I was a "twitterer" and I replied that I do, but mostly just push content from this blog on it and that I couldn't remember my most recent tweet.

Fr Joe: "What're you getting old? You can't even remember what was the last thing you put on your blog? Well...this makes me feel good because I'm getting old and forgetting things from time to time too!"

Mike: "You're not GETTING old, c'mon! (Long pause...wait for it....)

You ARE Old!

I think Fr Mahon's next line was something along the lines of "Why don't you go feed that dog of yours?"

Good guy--keep him and all of our retired priests in your prayers today.

A Continental Mission

This sounds a lot like the Paulist mission to me!

SAN ANTONIO—Archbishop Roberto González Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico, addressed the U.S. bishops on the implications of a “Continental Mission” to reignite Catholic identity and missionary zeal throughout the American continent, as urged by the Latin American bishops.

He addressed the full body of bishops June 17, at the General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in San Antonio. The day before, he led a workshop on the same topic accompanied by U.S. bishops who participated in the Fifth General Conference of Bishops of Latin America in Aparecida, Brazil, May 13-31, 2007.

That meeting gathered bishops from more than 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the United States. Participants analyzed the pastoral life of their regions and identified positive and negative aspects of their social, cultural, economic, political, pastoral realities. They identified common problems and considered common solutions and guidelines for pastoral action.

Archbishop González said that the late Pope John Paul II “correctly identified the need to evangelize Catholics anew in the ‘continent of hope’” if they were to be true witnesses to their faith. Archbishop González said the Continental Mission is directed to baptized Catholics because “we are losing our sense of being light and salt.”

Archbishop Nieves will also receive the Fr. Joseph Fitzpatrick Award for Hispanic Ministry this year at Fordham University's Sapientia et Doctrina Dinner sponsored by their Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education on October 9th at Fordham's Rose Hill campus.

More information on the dinner can be found here

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