Thursday, July 31, 2008

Holy Brother

Yes, we're used to him as the Holy Father, but even he gets to have a family vacation in which he gets to be a "little brother" again. Not since the pontificate of John Paul I have we had a Pope with living siblings (Papa Luciani had a younger brother and sister).  For the record, Pope John Paul II had a brother, a medical doctor named Edmund, who died as a result of treating patients with Scarlet Fever.  He died in 1932, when Karol was 12.

The photo database of L'Osservatore Romano has these pictures taken today, as Pope Benedict enjoys his vacation in northern Italy with his brother, Georg (who is 3 years his elder).

Remember, these are not "publicity shots", per se.  L'Osservatore Romano also has the task of recording the Pope's schedule for the purposes of keeping a historical archive.  Those who have their photographs taken with Pope Benedict can order copies of the photos, but primarily those pictures are being taken for archival purposes, and not for the photographees.

"Oooh, look at us,
ve look like an Oreo cookie!!"

NB - Also, fellow "carers of the minutiae" will notice that the Pope is wearing a cassock, and not his usual simar.  No shoulder cape or half-sleeves.  You can tell he's letting his hair down on vacation.  Can water balloons be far off?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

For those who complain, "The Church only cares about money"

This was part of an e-mail I got from my sister (yes, she said I could reprint this part).  For the record, she is Jewish.
I went to a temple here and talked with a rabbi about joining the congregation, which sounded nice, until she gave me the application to fill out which asked "would I be giving the standard $1700 fee and $600 additional to worship on high holy days?"  I decided that Judaism may have to wait until I'm much more monetarily secure.
Now, it's been a while since I've been at a Synagogue for Sabbath services, so I don't remember: Do they take up a collection?   Supposing they don't, I started doing the math:  $1700 fee per year, divided by 52 weeks a year, comes to $32.69 a week.  I don't think that's so bad, considering that people will shell out about 40 bucks for a night at the movies.  Priests who read this and know what their average giver gives in a weekend envelope can judge this accordingly.  But she's one person; do you think the "fee" is more for a family?  Also, the fee is paid up front, whether you're there or not.  Now a good many people do send in their collection envelopes, even when they're away on vacation.  But a good deal do not.

Also, a "$600 additional" to worship on High Holy Days?  Now THERE'S an untapped resource that we haven't considered in the support of parishes.  Can you imagine parishes charging $600 for a seat at Mass for Christmas and Easter?  OK, maybe not the Easter Vigil or Christmas Day, but we could have a ball charging for seats at the 4pm Christmas Eve, when everybody and their brother wants to come in and get Mass over with.

You can bet that this little tidbit is coming out of my mouth, the next time someone starts giving me "ugly face" about the Church being obsessed with money.

St. Peter Chrysologus, pray for us (preachers)!

Today's feast day, commemorating St. Peter C., may not have even been celebrated at the thousands of daily Masses that have already taken place, or will take place, today.  He's not one of the first Saints of the Church you think of, if you were asked to rattle off twenty-five Saints of the Church.

But I get the feeling Joe and Jane Catholic would demand a Mass on this feast day, if they knew more about Chrysologus.  I got this tidbit out of Butler's Lives of the Saints:
"We have many of his discourses still extant: they are all very short, for he was afraid of fatiguing the attention of his hearers."
A Patron Saint for short homilies at Mass?  Now do I have your interest?

Now, before you start running to the internet in a desperate attempt to find novenas to St. Peter Chrysologus, maybe even asking that a statue of the Saint be placed in your parish church (preferably right across from the ambo), let's remember that "short" is a relative term.  Some of the Church's best preachers would be up in the pulpit for hours; what is a short homily in comparison to them?  forty-five minutes?  a half hour?

It has been said that some preachers can preach for two hours and say absolutely nothing, while others can say something in one minute that blow you away!  Most of us are somewhere in the middle, but we can always use some assistance.

St. Peter Chrysologus, pray for us preachers.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prot. n. 1464/06/L

The story has broken around the blogosphere about the "recognitio" (approval) granted by the Holy Father for the new English translation of the Ordinary parts of the Mass.  Rome has been pushing for years for one English language Missal for the entire English speaking world (meaning that, whether you attend Mass in New York, London, Ottawa, Dublin, New Delhi, Sydney, Manila, etc., you'll hear the same exact prayers).

In a letter from the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, dated over a month ago (June 23) and given Protocol number 1464/06/L, Cardinal Arinze (Prefect of the Congregation) wrote to Cardinal George (President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops), saying that the release of this first part of the English translation of the Roman Missal (notice that it's not being called a "Sacramentary" anymore) will "provide time for the pastoral preparation of priests, deacons, and for the appropriate catechesis of the lay faithful."  Once all the parts of the Missal receive the recognitio, and the Missal is published, then Cardinal George will announce when use of it is to begin.  

In addition, it's also being released to that musicians can get to work composing musical settings for the new translations, so I hope liturgical musicians will be sharpening their pencils and getting busy soon.

A friend of mine sent me the translations, and I've given it a perfunctory reading, skimming it briefly.  Other blogs are commenting on the content abundantly, so I won't need to do so.  But I will say this:  There's much more of a change for the clergy than there is for the laity.  In attempting to read the Eucharistic Prayers out loud, I kept "messing up", jumping back into the current translation that has been burned into my memory.  So for those who say "The Pope is making it hard for the people", realize he's asking the clergy to take a bigger bite.  In short, "we'll feel your pain".

Make no mistake about it: there's going to be "turbulence" (to use a flying metaphor), as clergy and laity adjust to the new language.  We'll have some bumpy roads as we adjust.  Plus, I can't even imagine what will happen when the "Christmas and Easter" crowd comes to Mass after the translation change and end up competing with regular Mass-goers, for a blend of "And also with you" with "And with your Spirit", among other things.  I'm sure parishes and publishing companies will be busy making "pew booklets" (you can't call them "missalettes", because one publishing company owns the rights to that word) with the translations.

Randy Pausch Lecture

By now, you may have heard the news of the death of Professor Randy Pausch.  Pausch was diagnosed with terminal cancer just one month before he was scheduled to give a lecture at Carnegie-Mellon called the "Last Lecture".  The premise of the "Last Lecture" is this:  If you could give your students just one more lecture, what would you say?  For most, it was a theoretical exercise; for Randy, it was real.

YouTube has that lecture posted.  Out of curiosity, I watched it this morning (it's about 80 minutes long).  I'm not into motivational, self-help speakers that conclude their talks with a pitch to buy their CDs, DVDs, or books.  This guy gives you his own dreams growing up, how he achieved them, and what he learned from the experience that might help anyone else to do the same.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July 25: St. James and Humanae Vitae

Today is significant for two reasons:

1. Today is the feast of St. James the Greater, the patron of the first parish I was assigned to after ordination.  I spent five years there.  Since then, every Mass I celebrate on July 25 fills my mind with flashbacks of those years.  What's that Beatles song?  "There are places I remember, all my life..."

2. Today is the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae.  How do you describe it, in a nutshell?  Remember the movie "Men in
 Remember that teeny, tiny gun that Tommy Lee Jones gave Will Smith to use?  Remember how, when he finally shot that gun it had huge power to it?

THAT'S what Humanae Vitae has been in the life of the Church.

To begin with, the first thing that one notices is the size of the encyclical.  It's a short read.  My copy of it (purchased years ago from the Daughter's of St. Paul, back in the days before Vatican documents were available online) has only 15 pages.  Compare that to the 145 pages of Pope John Paul's Veritatis Splendor, 158 pages in Pastores Dabo Vobis, or 167 pages in Evangelium Vitae.  Fifteen pages, containing 31 paragraphs, that's all.

What is it the "center of the storm"?  Here it is, found in paragraph 11:
"... each and every marriage act (quilibet matrimonii usus) must remain open to the transmission of life."
Ladies and Gentlemen, you're looking at what was, in 1968, the rough equivalent of Plutonium in the life of the Church.  And, like any radioactive element, it's half-life continues to affect the Catholic Church today.

Here's what Pope Paul wrote in Humanae Vitae to Priests:
And now, beloved sons, you who are priests, you who in virtue of your sacred office act as counselors and spiritual leaders both of individual men and women and of families—We turn to you filled with great confidence. For it is your principal duty—We are speaking especially to you who teach moral theology—to spell out clearly and completely the Church's teaching on marriage. In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the magisterium of the Church. For, as you know, the pastors of the Church enjoy a special light of the Holy Spirit in teaching the truth. And this, rather than the arguments they put forward, is why you are bound to such obedience. Nor will it escape you that if men's peace of soul and the unity of the Christian people are to be preserved, then it is of the utmost importance that in moral as well as in dogmatic theology all should obey the magisterium of the Church and should speak as with one voice. Therefore We make Our own the anxious words of the great Apostle Paul and with all Our heart We renew Our appeal to you: "I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment."

29. Now it is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing from the saving doctrine of Christ; but this must always be joined with tolerance and charity, as Christ Himself showed in His conversations and dealings with men. For when He came, not to judge, but to save the world, was He not bitterly severe toward sin, but patient and abounding in mercy toward sinners?

Husbands and wives, therefore, when deeply distressed by reason of the difficulties of their life, must find stamped in the heart and voice of their priest the likeness of the voice and the love of our Redeemer.

So speak with full confidence, beloved sons, convinced that while the Holy Spirit of God is present to the magisterium proclaiming sound doctrine, He also illumines from within the hearts of the faithful and invites their assent. Teach married couples the necessary way of prayer and prepare them to approach more often with great faith the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance. Let them never lose heart because of their weakness.

The "radioactivity" metaphor is poignant.  In the 40 years since it came out, some have treated the encyclical like it really was "radioactive", and avoided it altogether.  Others have been brave enough to draw near to it, knowing that, if handled properly, its power could be harnessed.  But for most people, Humanae Vitae, like nuclear power, is something they simply don't know enough about.

That can change.  Today, click on this link and read Humanae Vitae for yourself.  Remember the time it was written, 1968, and what the world was like at that time.

Read it and it may give you a new opinion about Pope Paul's courageousness and foresight.  Read paragraph 17 and decide for yourself whether, in 2008, Papa Montini could be considered a prophet because of what he wrote 40 years ago about what the consequences of a "contraceptive culture" would be.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mary Magdalene and easter eggs?

This morning, in doing my preparation for Mass for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, and in particular the homily,  I went to one of my normal stops on the net: Wikipedia.  In the entry for St. Mary Magdalene, there was this snippet:
One tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by Emperor Tiberius.  When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed "Christ is risen!" Caesar laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house.
Now, take heed: Wikipedia is a website that allows readers to add information on a topic, so you have to take these things with a grain of salt.  Usually I use the site for the "bare facts" of the life of a saint: year they were born, died, etc.  But this is the first I've heard of this connection between Mary Mag and Easter eggs.

See, you learn something every day.  Whether it is true or not is another thing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Breaking with Pope John Paul's tradition of
handing out commemorative Rosary Beads,
Pope Benedict decided to "upgrade"
and give away live children.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

St. Augustine, Pope Benedict, and the world's biggest lecture hall

Zenit has a story on Pope Benedict's use of his favorite Church Father in a catechesis on the Holy Spirit for the WYD pilgrims.  Imagine, treating teens and young adults as able to understand theology without resorting to using "shtick" to seem relevant.

B16 @ WYD 4

Click here for the text of Pope Benedict's homily at the concluding Mass of World Youth Day.  The Vatican website probably won't post his homily until Monday morning, and so this comes to us from Zenit and not the Holy See.

In addition, Fr. Z at WDTPRS has a commentary on the Pope's homily.

OK, so if you're borderline OCD and you want ALL your homily sources to be identical, here's the link to the homily on the Vatican website, which I added Monday morning.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


For those who buy into the media and dissenter mantra, that young Catholics are only attracted to World Youth Day because of the "rock concert" atmosphere, check out this article from the secular Sydney Morning Herald.

A Tale of Two Gatherings

While the world's media is focused on Pope Benedict and the gathering of Catholic youths in Sydney, the Worldwide Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference opened this past week as well.

Not much has been written or shown, certainly not in the United States media, about the gathering of Anglican (or "Episcopalian" in the United States) bishops.  Probably because this isn't going to be pleasant to watch.  The BBC has an story which explains the showdown expected to take place over issues such as homosexuality and the nature of authority within the WAC.

The world's media has been keen at doing stories about the "Pope Protests" that have come and gone during World Youth Day, complete with pictures of costumed protesters mocking the Catholic Church.  They do this every World Youth Day, scouring the crowds, looking for young people who will proudly announce their dissent from Catholic doctrine.  The media rarely have any luck finding any, much to their frustration (and not a little bit of surprise).  Stories of dissenters handing out condoms to attendees rarely tell you the kids throw them out at the first waste basket they find (thereby getting points for being both faithful to doctrine and courteous in not littering).  One story is worth passing on, as we seem to have found an untapped reservoir in the youth who give new meaning to "Church Militant" when it comes to protesters.  No, he didn't form a whip with cords, but there's always room for improvement.

Once WYD ends on Monday, let's see if the media turns its attention on the Canterbury conference.

B16 @ WYD 3

Click here for the Holy Father's address to the young people gathered for the prayer vigil at Randwick Racecourse.

B16 @ WYD 2

Click here for Pope Benedict's homily during the Mass with clergy, religious, and seminarians of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

B16 @ WYD

Click here for the Pope's address at the ceremony welcoming him to World Youth Day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Daniel 3:59

Fr. Z. at What Does The Prayer Really Say has posted a great video clip of Pope Benedict being introduced to some of the natives of Australia who won't be attending World Youth Day. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Great T-Shirt, eh?

Have any of you ever eaten at a Buca di Beppo's restaurant?  Years ago, I was visiting Father C. John McCloskey, who used to run the Catholic Information Center & Bookstore in Washington, DC, when he suggested we go there for dinner.  I thought it was a local eatery with incredible Italian food.  Then, years later, with other Priests in Orlando, Florida, I was shocked to see another Buca's staring back at me.  In this Pauline Year, I suppose I should say I was knocked senseless off my horse (Yes, I know, there is no horse in the Scriptures, just relax).

Suffice to say, it's a great restaurant with great food and great pictures on the wall of Popes and Prelates.  In my previous parish, I was about 20 miles away from a location near Allentown, Pennsylvania.

As for the T-shirt, Buca's has recently started offering products for online sale.  You can get this shirt by clicking here.

On Quarterbacks and Vocations

First, let me start with a disclaimer: football is not my strong sport.  But there are names you know that become bigger than the game itself, and Brett Favre is one of them.

I've always had a soft spot for the Green Bay Packers, going back to the time when I was in the Boy Scouts, and my Scoutmaster was a genuine Green Bay fanatic.  Maybe it was natural; I mean, Vince Lombardi had his start in the NY metro area.  But whatever the reasons, we'd hear glory stories about Coach Lombardi as we were driven to camping trips in his beat up white car.

Last spring, Brett Favre announced his retirement from the NFL.  Here's video of the speech.  A very emotional moment, without a doubt, for Favre, his family and friends, Packers fans, and probably any fan of the game who watched his amazing career.

But now it's the mid summer, football training camps are about to start up, and Brett has changed his mind.  The Packers spent months coming up with plans for moving the team forward without Favre.  Now he has told them he wants to play again, and they're a little put off by it.  They still own his contract, and so right now, if Favre is going to continue playing, he has to play with the Packers, the team which he committed himself to by signing his name on a contract (and the Packers responded by giving him a lil' bit of financial compensation).

So now, Brett is singing this to the Packers.  Stay tuned for the saga to continue.

What is this doing on the blog of a Catholic Priest?  I bring it up because, like it or not, sports stars role models for society.  But perhaps they're also mirrors of our culture, as well.  Want to know why so many marriages end in divorce?  Or why so many young couples are NOT running to the altar and simply pretending they're married?  Or even why young men and women aren't giving their lives to God in the priesthood or religious life?  Our culture firmly believes that there is no such thing as the permanent commitment.

Was Favre lying when he gave his retirement speech?  Of course not; no one doubts his sincerity.  But now he thinks, "I used to feel that way, but now I feel this way.", and society applauds his decision to not live with the consequences of his actions.

Until we can restore personal integrity and the courage to live with our decisions, don't look for a lot of permanent commitments in our culture.  Yes, the Church still offers them in her vocations, but not a lot of fish are biting.

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Bishop of New Ulm

Today, Pope Benedict named Father John LeVoir as the next Bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm.  Fr. LeVoir is the author of the EXCELLENT "Image of God" series of books for religious education programs.  I was first exposed to the series as a seminarian, when I taught religious education to 6th and 7th graders on a military base in Maryland.  To me, it is the "no brainer", hands-down choice for what series to use if I was ever asked to run a religious education program.  He also wrote a bit on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, so it's great to see someone tuned in to that great body of teaching being elevated to the episcopate.

For those of you in my generation asking, "Where the heck is New Ulm?", let your imagination go back to growing up watching "Little House on the Prairie". The Diocese of New Ulm is in Minnesota, and the diocese's territory includes towns like "Sleepy Eye", "Mancato", and the granddaddy of them all: good old "Walnut Grove".

Congratulations, Bp. Elect LeVoir!  Treat yourself to some penny candy over at the Oleson's mercantile on me.  Just stay away from that nasty Nellie Oleson!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reform of the Reform

A fellow Mount St. Mary's Seminary alumnus, Fr. Tom Kocik, writes for the New Liturgical Movement blog.  He had a great entry lately about what Young Fogey priests can do to bring some of B16's Hermeneutic of Continuity to parishes.  Check it out by clicking here.

Congratulations, Grandpa

The world is going ga-ga about the birth of twins to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

But I want to extend congratulations to Angelina's father, Jon Voight (seen here with Pope Benedict after a Vatican screening of the movie, Pope John Paul II).

When the movie was released, Jon graciously agreed to be a guest on my radio show.  You can listen to that interview by clicking on this thingamajig.

Some questions I have

1. Do all Alitalia planes have this much legroom in First Class?  That's worth the price of upgrading, right there.  Back in Economy class, my knees get sores on them from rubbing up against the back of the seat in front of me.

2. Where's the screaming baby?  I thought the screaming baby was standard issue on every long flight.  Oh wait, maybe just the planes that I'm on.

3. Thank God he takes the window seat.  I mean, who has the guts to wake the Pope up from a nap so you can get by to go to the bathroom?  Maybe Bertone.

Thank you, AP, for the photo.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tony Snow, RIP

Tony Snow died this morning after a long bout with cancer, leaving behind a wife and three children.  He was only 53 years old, but had an amazing resumé which included work in radio, television, print, and service in the federal government as a speechwriter for one President the the Press Secretary for another.

Here's your homework for the weekend: flip the channels and see if the mainstream media gives Tony's life the same airtime they gave Tim Russert.  So far it is only Fox who is giving this serious coverage, though MSNBC is carrying the story.  Is a media personality's death worthy of airtime only if the deceased used to work for Democrats?

In the meantime, those who may be inclined to do something can click this link to the Colon Cancer Alliance.

Friday, July 11, 2008


My pal Father Guy over at Shouts in the Piazza links to a great op-ed piece in yesterday's London Telegraph about people going freaky when it comes to the return of more traditional Church vesture.  If you think sartorial items such as grecas, amices, or Roman-cut Chasubles (or things like the return of a Tabernacle to the middle of a sanctuary) are a sign of the Apocalypse, then this isn't for you.  But if not, and you like the dry, English sense of humor, then check it out by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

"Let the pucks to come unto me and do not hinder them."

A friend of mine who was also a fellow hockey player in the Geezer Hockey League brought his camera to the rink on the day of the last games of our Spring season (which was also probably my last games played there due to my move).  Fortunately, my team did not play his, and so he took some photos of me in net.  Here are a few of them, and for the neophytes in the blogosphere, I'm the goalie:

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Today was my first Sunday at the new parish.  A bigger parish means a bigger Mass schedule, and this weekend especially I wanted to be outside after all the Masses to "meet & greet" my new parishioners.  They were all very welcoming, and certainly very nice and kind.  The fact that I have the same name as my predecessor didn't hurt, either, when it came to name recognition.

The readings this weekend hit me.  Amazing how God does that, eh?  As I'm sitting in my room at the rectory, which looks like a tornado blew through because of the mix of boxes, papers, books, and plain ol' stuff, the Scriptures brought it all home of the need for simplicity in my life.

Zechariah spoke of the king approaching on an ass.  A reliable form of transportation, but hardly regal.  In the Gospel, Jesus praises God the Father for having revealed to little ones what has been hidden from the wise and the learned.  How many times have we heard that something is "so simple that a child can do it."?  We're good at being childish; child-like takes some practice.  The people at the Masses today weren't looking for my resumé; they wanted a smile and a "hello", and I kept giving it over and over.  You can't get much simpler than that!

I need more "simple" in my life, that's why I'm throwing stuff away.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Catholic roots to today's holiday?

I love being a priest on the 4th of July.

It's fun to approach the altar on the 4th, with everyone feeling all patriotic dressed in red, white, and blue, and say, "Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Elizabeth of Portugal.", and then ignore the civil holiday in favor of the Church's sanctoral cycle.  I do it once every few years to remind people that not every civil holiday needs to be "sanctified" in church.  I mean, we already make the Sundays of Mothers' and Fathers' Day into near-Solemnities.  Besides, what about the blatantly religious holidays, like Christmas and Easter, that secular society has, well, secularized?  There's gotta be some payback for that, no?

So what do I do on Independence Day in the other years, when I'm not getting accused of being a Tory?  Glad you asked...

Sometimes I give a homilette on the history of Roman Catholicism in the United States, trying my best to incorporate the early missionaries from Spain and France, the Calvert family (a.k.a. the Lords Baltimore) and the settlement of Maryland, the Carrolls and their relationship with Ben Franklin and how that led to John Carroll being named the Prefect Apostolic of the United States, the Sulpicians of France trying to find safe haven from the French revolution by coming to the United States which led to the first seminary and the possibility of training a native clergy, the arrival of Carmelites at Port Tobacco and the Visitation Sisters in Georgetown, all in 5 minutes.

Finally, sometimes I use this:  A few years ago, I came across a great article about how Thomas Jefferson was influenced by the writings of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (who got it from Aquinas), and how our Declaration of Independence has its roots in Catholic moral teaching.  Yes, Jefferson saw Jesus Christ as simply a philosopher, and rewrote the bible to his own liking (taking out miracles and anything that made Jesus seem like God).  But the article is great at showing just who saw those "truths as self-evident" before the gang in Independence Hall.

Oh yeah, and then there was that one time when I was fighting the flu and took Nyquil nighttime formula instead of the daytime stuff, and ended up doing this:

But that's another story.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

St. Thomas' finger

While still in a "Thomas" kind of mood, I forgot about the blog entry I did this past March, for the Second Sunday of Easter.  Click here for a picture of the relic of St. Thomas' finger, on display at the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Rome.

Greetings from Old Bridge, New Jersey

I'm now coming to you from another parish in my diocese.  As I wrote before, I have been transferred to the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle in Old Bridge, New Jersey.  I've been here since Tuesday morning, July 1st, getting myself unpacked and settled in.  Of course, in the world of the blogosphere, where I am doesn't really matter.  As long as you have the Young Fogeys web address, you can always find me right here.

Today is, whaddyaknow, the feast day of my new parish's patron!  Last year, I wrote about Pope Benedict's Wednesday Audience discourse about St. Thomas, so if you want to do a little spiritual reflection on the doubter, click here.  I have the 7pm daily Mass in a few hours, and I'm wondering what I'll end up saying in the homily?  I never quite know what's going to come out until it does, but that makes it exciting.  Some guys can be so God-awful boring, reading something they wrote word for word in a monotone voice.  Others rip something off from a "homily hints" subscription service, and read it for the first time when they're reading it to the Mass attendees (they're almost as surprised at what they've just said as the people in the pews!).

Well, I have to go back to unpacking now.  Right now my room resembles, well, do you remember that last scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark? The warehouse with rows upon rows of boxes?  You get the picture.