Monday, December 03, 2012

No shock here: New translation is better!

If you still needed an additional reason to justify the feeling that this current English translation of the Roman Missal is superior to the one we lived with for decades, it came today at Mass when the Gospel was read:
"The centurion said in reply, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant shall be healed.'"

Imagine, the words we hear from Scripture are the words that we say just before the Lord enters our body.  Beautiful.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Between my ears: A scary place to be

In my dream last night, I was on the White House staff.  We were on the South Lawn of the White House, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan were visiting.  We all knew President Reagan had Alzheimer's, and I was sitting on the grass directly in front of him.  He was interacting with me nicely, and I thought, "Oh, he's having a 'good' day."  I had this idea that it would be a great photo-op if he would hand out Halloween candy to the children of White House staffers, who all worked on the 2nd floor (the 2nd floor of the White House looked like the inside of a hospital).  Another staffer tapped me on the shoulder and told me that if this photo-op didn't go well, I would be in big trouble.  That's when I woke up.

The lesson to be learned from the dream is this: I shouldn't have pepperoni pizza before going to bed.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

St. Josemaria Escriva on the Feast of Christ the King

This is part of a 1970 homily which can be found in the book, Christ is Passing By:

If we let Christ reign in our soul, we will not become authoritarian. Rather we will serve everyone. How I like that word: service! To serve my king and, through him, all those who have been redeemed by his blood. I really wish we Christians knew how to serve, for only by serving can we know and love Christ and make him known and loved. And how will we show him to souls?  By our example.
Through our voluntary service of Jesus Christ, we should be witnesses to him in all our activities, for he is the Lord of our entire lives, the only and ultimate reason for our existence. Then, once we have given this witness of service, we will be able to give instruction by our word. That was how Christ acted. “He began to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1); he first taught by his action, and then by his divine preaching. If we are to serve others, for Christ’s sake, we need to be very human. If our life is less than human, God will not build anything on it, for he normally does not build on disorder, selfishness or emptiness.  We have to understand everyone; we must live peaceably with everyone; we must forgive everyone. We shall not call injustice justice; we shall not say that an offense against God is not an offense against God, or that evil is good. When confronted by evil we shall not reply with another evil, but rather with sound doctrine and good actions: drowning evil in an abundance of good.
That’s how Christ will reign in our souls and in the souls of the people around us. Some people try to build peace in the world without putting the love of God into their own hearts. How could they possibly achieve peace in that way? The peace of Christ is the peace of the kingdom of Christ; and our Lord’s kingdom has to be based on a desire to for holiness, a humble readiness to receive grace, an effort to establish justice, a divine outpouring of love.

Pope Benedict on the Feast of Christ the King

This comes from a 1979 work of Cardinal Ratzinger's called "To Seek the Face of God", and is found in English in the Ignatius Press book, "Co-Workers of the Truth":

The Feast of Christ the King is of recent origin, but what it celebrates is as old as the Christian Faith itself.   For the word Christ is, in fact, just the Greek translation of the word Messiah: the Anointed One, the King, Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified son of a carpenter, is so intrinsically King that the title “king” has actually become his name.
By calling ourselves Christians, we label ourselves as followers of the King, as people who recognize him as their King.  But we can understand properly what the kingship of Jesus Christ means only if we trace its origin in the Old Testament, where we immediately discover a surprising fact; It is obvious that God did not intend Israel to have a kingdom. The kingdom was, in fact, a result of Israel’s rebellion against God and against his prophets, a defection from the original will of God. The law was to be Israel’s king, and, through the law, God himself. … But Israel was jealous of the neighboring peoples with their powerful kings. … Surprisingly, God yielded to Israel’s obstinacy and so devised a new kind of kingship for them. The son of David, the King, is Jesus; in him God entered humanity and espoused it to himself.
If we look closely, we shall discover that this is, in fact, the usual form of the divine activity in relation to mankind. God does not have a fixed plan that he must carry out; on the contrary, he has many different ways of finding man and even turning his wrong ways into right ways. We can see that, for instance, in the case of Adam, whose fault became a happy fault, and we see it again in all the twisted ways of history.  This, then, is God’s kingship – A love that is impregnable and an inventiveness that finds man by ways that are always new.
For us, consequently, God’s kingship means that we must have an unshakeable confidence. For this is still true and is applicable to every single life: no one has reason to fear or capitulate. God can always be found. We, too, should make this the pattern of our lives: to write no one off; to try to reach them again and again with the inventiveness of an open heart. Our most important task is not to have our own way but to be always ready to follow the path that leads to God and to one another.
The Feast of Christ the King is not, therefore, the feast of those who are under a yoke but of those who are grateful to find themselves in the hands of Him who writes straight on crooked lines.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Luke 17:20-25

Today's Gospel has the Pharisees asking Jesus when the Kingdom of God is going to happen.  "The coming of the Kingdom of God", said Jesus, "cannot be observed."

One of the things we overlook is the technological marvel (appropriate on this feast of the Patron Saint of Scientists, St. Albert the Great) that allows us to see weather maps.  Satellites in the sky take photos of cloud patterns, send the information to computers, and we can know whether we should have our picnic indoors or outdoors.  We've made some impressive things that enable us to see some some of God's creations that are even more impressive.

Imagine how many lives would have been lost if we had no idea the recent storm was coming?  What if people didn't know to get away from the coastline or stock up on candles, batteries, and canned soup?  What if we couldn't say "Look, here it is", or, "There it is"?  What if it was suddenly among us?

Worse, what if, like the Pharisees, God is right in front of us, and we don't recognize Him?

Hopefully we've all learned how to handle storms a little better, and will make sure we have batteries in our flashlights and radios, a propane camping stove, etc.  One of the nights we were without power, I poured over a catalog that I've been receiving for years, but from which I never really bought much.  If you're looking for some great things for electricity-free living, check out Lehman's.  You can bet I'll be getting an oil lamp or two for the rectory, along with a percolator coffee pot for the stove top.

A great vocation reflection

This snippet comes from Pope Benedict's 2010 Wednesday Audience talk on St. Albert the Great, whose feast day we celebrate today:
During his stay in Padua he attended the Church of the Dominicans, whom he then joined with the profession of the religious vows. Hagiographic sources suggest that Albert came to this decision gradually. His intense relationship with God, the Dominican Friars' example of holiness, hearing the sermons of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, St Dominic's successor at the Master General of the Order of Preachers, were the decisive factors that helped him to overcome every doubt and even to surmount his family's resistence. God often speaks to us in the years of our youth and points out to us the project of our life. As it was for Albert, so also for all of us, personal prayer, nourished by the Lord's word, frequent reception of the Sacraments and the spiritual guidance of enlightened people are the means to discover and follow God's voice.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I snapped this picture in our parking lot last Tuesday evening, before the Nor'Easter came and put snow everywhere.  One of the good things that came from being "electrically challenged" was an appreciation of the sky at different times of day without artificial lighting.

Even in the midst of misery from no electricity, no heat, etc., beauty is all around us.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Motivation from The Godfather

Let me tell you a little story that comes from a great book called The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay, written by Jenny Jones.  This comes from her introduction to the book.

Looking back thirty-five years after the release of The Godfather, one can't help but marvel how the film ever got made, when every conceivable obstacle stood in its way. 
A writer who didn't want to write it.
Mario Puzo was broke and needed to pen something commercial in order to write the kind of books he really cared about. 
A studio that didn't want to produce it.
The box-office failure of previous gangster movies made Paramount Pictures reluctant to pick up their option, but with the novel a runaway success, and other studios showing interest, they couldn't let it slip away. 
A film no director would touch.
Twelve directors turned it down, including, at first, Francis Ford Coppola.  But, Coppola, too, was broke, and needed a job directing a Hollywood production in order to make the kind of personal films he really cared about. 
A cast of unknowns.
Except for one renowned actor, Marlon Brando, who was considered box-office poison by studio executives. 
A community against it.
Before filming even began, Italian-American groups protested what they perceived was to be the movie's characterization of their culture, and amassed a war chest to stop the production. 
And, yet, The Godfather succeeded beyond anyone's wildest imagination, to become one of the greatest cinematic masterpieces in history - a film that continues to captivate us decades after its release.

Think of that the next time you're having a bad day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ode to Rain

I've never liked thunder and lightning.  Rain?  Love it.  Nothing can lull me to sleep faster than the sound of raindrops hitting the window.  Back in my camping days, there was nothing cooler than the sound of rain hitting the canvas of a tent roof.  Outside, rainy and wet; inside, warm and dry.  Like Linus's blanket, it meant security.  Unless the tent leaked and the inside was wet too, then it just plain sucked.

Now, as a Pastor, rain means work.  Put the buckets out where the rectory leaks (this changes depending on what direction the wind is blowing).  Check the floor of the basement in the church.  Check the walls where plaster jobs done decades ago get moist and blister out.

As a kid, rain was cool.  No more.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows

This is it.  This is the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows which is in St. Lucy's Church in Newark, NJ.  This was the statue (about 6 feet tall) that  gave me my love for today's feast day.

If yesterday's Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross gave us an appreciation for Jesus' embrace of the Cross, today's feast of O.L. of Sorrows gives us the insight into how we can live out this embrace of God's will.

In Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II wrote that Simeon's prophecy about the "sword piercing Mary's heart" was like a second Annunciation.  I like to see it as the continuation of the first one.

She would have to see her Son suffer, so that the greater gift of salvation could occur.

We whine a lot.  Too much traffic.  The line at the drive-thru is too busy.  Why didn't my child get to be the center of attention in gymnastics or karate or the Yearbook Club?

Priests?  Man, we take whining to the realm of art form.  But that's another article.

A lovely feast day today.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Metuchen is a odd diocese (for a number of reasons, but that's another article) in that we've had two priests who have undergone heart transplants.  The story of one of them, Fr. Edmund Luciano, has been written about in Catholic newspapers.

A virus caused his heart muscle to enlarge and weaken, to the point that his life was in danger.  His name was placed on the donor recipient list, and moved higher and higher as his heart grew weaker and weaker.  Finally, a heart became available due to a fatality and the family's agreeing to donate the deceased's organs.  The transplant was performed, and today Fr. Luciano is alive and well today.

Imagine it: One family devastated by a tragic death; another family elated by the chance for life.  Both families in tears for very different reasons.  The heart that stopped beating becomes the heart that once again sustains life.  The death of one causes the life of another.  That's the Cross.

Crucifixion was meant to be a humiliating, extended, public death.  Even if they committed a crime warranting death, Roman citizens had the right to be exempt from it.  Yet this is how Jesus Christ died for us.  No lethal injection.  No falling asleep and not waking up.  Nothing quick and pain-free.  A humiliating, extended, public death, for you and for me.

In spite of this, though, Catholics do not shun the Cross as a reminder of Jesus' death sentence.  Rather, we embrace the Cross, display the Cross, even trace the Cross on our bodies as an outward gesture that accompanies our prayer.  Practically, it takes lots of shapes and sizes in our lives: inconvenience, delay, a change in plans, grief, sickness, death, financial worries, etc.

Today is a great Feast day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ode To My Splinter

This morning, I did some "home surgery" on my foot.

A few weeks ago, I took a splinter on the bottom of my foot here in the Rectory.  When I took my sock off, I saw a sliver of wood sticking out of my foot.  I took it out by hand, and thought I was done.  I was wrong.

It's been bugging me for about two weeks now.  Not bad, but just enough that I always knew something was still there.  Finally this morning after my shower, with bright sunlight coming through my window giving me the perfect light for home surgery, I decided to go exploring in my foot.  There it was.  Amazing how a half-centimeter sliver of wood could make itself known every time I took a step.

The moral of the story: Sometimes what we think is insignificant is significant.  Sometimes what we have dismissed as being just a small moment of our life is a big thing to our psyche.

Take care of the little things, and you'll feel better.  I know I do.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Harry Truman and cell phones

I'm reading this great book called, "Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure".  In January, 1953, Harry Truman went home to Missouri after 8 years as President.  He was an ex-President at a time when the government didn't provide them with a pension, office staff, or Secret Service protection.  An invitation to speak at a convention in Philadelphia gave him the idea for he and Bess to drive across half the country alone and unannounced, just two people on a summer vacation.  I can't tell you how it ends because, right now where I am in the book, they're only in Decatur, Illinois.

In researching the book, the author, Matthew Algeo, tried to retrace the trip, stopping in the towns and places the Trumans did.  One restaurant, though, was long gone; replaced by a McDonald's.  As the author sat and ate he endured what we've all had to: someone sitting alone talking loudly on a cell phone.  He wrote this:
"It made me wonder what Harry Truman would think of cell phones.  A nineteenth-century man stuck in the twentieth, Harry was a bit of a Luddite.  He didn't like using the telephone.  He wrote letters instead.  And he wrote them in longhand, with a distinctive slashing script.  Even the typewriter was a technology he could not bring himself to adopt.
The cell phone would not have suited Harry's personality.  He was preternaturally affable and thrived on human interaction.  He liked being around people.  The human race, he once said, was an 'excellent outfit.'  Whether playing poker with his cronies or riding in the car with Bess, conversation - face to face - was his raison d'être.  A cell phone isolates its user from those around him.  That's why people on cell phones are comfortable discussing, for example, the explicit details of a doctor's appointment in a roomful of total strangers.  They feel like they're alone.
I think it's safe to assume that Harry Truman would detest cell phones."
When I was elementary school-aged, the calculator came out and could be bought in the electronics sections of Korvettes, Two-Guys, A&S, etc.  We marveled at these digital adding machines, but weren't allowed to use them in school.  If we did, we'd never learn how to do basic math functions.  It made sense, and we knew it.  Sometime since then it was decided that children can use calculators whenever they wanted.  Today, the ones old enough to work a cash register at Taco Bell can't make change unless the machine tells them how much to give.

We're only now starting to see what cell phones and text messaging and Wii and Facebook and Twitter is doing to society.  We're losing the ability to make conversation, letter writing, eye contact, the ability to spell and properly form sentences, and think about something for more than one minute.  Children play games almost exclusively on the computer, so they're more obese than ever.  Plus, we're addicted to the internet.  Don't think so?  Turn your cell phone off for a day.  I'm honestly afraid to try it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sometimes stuff is just stuff

A friend of mine turned me on to this true story, made into a short film by a friend of his. He earned an M.B.A. from Harvard, and with it a six-digit debt. He set the goal to pay off the total debt in one year, and in doing so, reminds us all about how much we are being convinced to spend on a lot of stuff we don't really need.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

and now, the Carpathia.

Let me channel my inner "Lionel Ritchie":

"Hello. Is it me you're looking for?"

Wow, a month since I blogged.  I was surprised and slightly embarrassed when I checked saw the date of my last entry.  This morning, as I was reading some things about President and Mrs. George H. W. Bush's recent cruise across the Atlantic, these caught my attention, especially because my last blog entry had "Titanic" in the title.

The Cunard cruise line's website and blog has to very interesting entries about their own observance of the centenary since Titanic's sinking.  Their ship, the Carpathia, came to the rescue of Titanic's survivors.

First, click HERE for the link to the story of Carpathia.

Next, click HERE for Cunard's remembrance of Titanic's sinking and the tribute to Carpathia's captain and crew.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Titanic Homily

Here, as best as I can recall (since I don't really preach from a prepared text), is my Sunday homily.  It contains not only what I said, but what I wish I had said to fill in details:

I'm sure many of you are joyous today, perhaps because there are a lot more seats open than there were last Sunday.  Or, maybe you had an easier time finding a parking spot in our lot, compared to last week.

There are lots of reasons to be joyful today.  First of all, we are still in the Octave of Easter, celebrating each day this week as if it was still Easter Sunday itself.  Easter is just too big of a feast to celebrate on one day.  Today is also the day we consider the mercy of God as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.  Our Lord appeared to a Polish religious sister, St. Faustina Kowalska, asking her to help promote this 2nd Sunday of Easter as a day to experience God's endless mercy.  It makes sense, after all, since we heard in today's Gospel the Lord give the Apostles the power to absolve sins: "Jesus breathed upon them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.'"

On our calendar, though, this is not such a joyous day.  Today is the 147th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln, following a gunshot to the head the night before.  Today is also the day, normally, that our Federal Income Taxes are due.  No one is happy about that.  But the biggest thing we commemorate today is that it is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, on its way from England to New York.

The story is told of a young man, Francis Browne, whose mother died when he was young and whose father died when he was a teen.  Francis and his siblings came under the guardianship of their uncle, who was a Catholic Bishop, the Bishop of Cloyne, Ireland.  Four of the Browne children entered religious life, including Francis, who felt called to join the Jesuit order.  While still a seminarian, Francis received a gift from his uncle the bishop, a ticket aboard the Titanic.  Not the whole trip, but the first leg, from England to Ireland.  On board, the seminarian made use of his camera and gave us what has become a priceless record of life on board the ship: the dining room, the radio room, on deck, even the gymnasium.  While on board, he made friends with a wealthy American couple who were bound for New York, and offered to pay for him to remain on the ship for the entire voyage.  He telegraphed his superior, asking for permission to extend his vacation, and his boss wrote back: "GET OFF THAT SHIP".  How he must've been disappointed, but he obeyed his superiors, and disembarked in Ireland.

How shocked he must have been when he got word, days later, that that great ship had sunk.  How it must have been unbelievable to him.  What went through his head?  "Impossible!  I was there!  I saw the size of it.  I heard about the safety features.  There is no way anything could have caused that ship to sink."  Just like Thomas in today's Gospel, Francis had seen too much evidence to the contrary to believe what he had heard.  Francis saw the steel; Thomas saw the wounds.  Francis saw the power; Thomas saw the Passion.  Francis couldn't believe they were dead; Thomas couldn't believe He was alive.

Records tell us that there were 3 Priests on board the Titanic's voyage across the Atlantic.

  • Fr. Juozas Montvila was a Lithuanian Priest who ministered to Roman Catholics in a place largely filled with Eastern Orthodox Christians.  The Czar's government wanted him out of the country, so he booked a ticket on the Titanic to make a new start, hopefully finding a spot among the Lithuanian communities in either Brooklyn or in Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • Fr. Joseph Peruschitz was a Bavarian Benedictine monk, and a teacher.  He had just been named Principal of a new school in Collegeville, Minnesota, and was aboard Titanic on his way to his new assignment.
  • Father Thomas Byles was an Englishman, a convert to Catholicism like his brother William.  William had gone to America, fallen in love, and asked his brother to come to New York to perform the marriage.
Eyewitness accounts tell similar stories about the Priests.  All of them made themselves useful on board, celebrating Masses and hearing Confessions of the passengers, all of them, from First through Third Class.  A few times they helped each other, delivering sermons in the various languages they spoke and the passengers knew.  Our 1st Reading today is from Acts of the Apostles, the beautiful story of the early days of the Church.  "The community of believers was of one heart and mind".  Though much has been written about the difference in classes aboard the Titanic, it's good to know that the Priests were shared by the rich and poor alike.

When the ship began to sink, the Priests helped in getting passengers above deck and to the lifeboats.  Eyewitness accounts say that each of them were offered a seat on a lifeboat, and each refused it in order to help remaining passengers.  What did the Gospel say?  "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own ... and they were distributed to each according to need."  Each gave away the way to stay alive, because (I hope) each had faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose to give us not just life in this world, but eternal life.  Witness accounts tell us the Priests led remaining passengers in the Rosary, in prayers, and then gave them General Absolution from their sins (see, THIS is when the Church says General Absolution is OK, when it's certain that most, if not all, will die).  How they must have been talking to the people about God's endless mercy and love for them.  Were they thinking of today's 2nd Reading, "This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood."?  All three went down with the ship, and were lost at sea.

Why do I bring this up?  Because we think we're unsinkable.  We might even make the mistake Titanic's owner did, saying, "Not even God can sink this ship!" (trust me, don't dare God).  We think we're self-sufficient and better, stronger, and more advanced than those who went before us.  But icebergs are out there, waiting, sneaking up on us.  Icebergs of sin, doubt, addiction, greed, selfishness, you name it.  We must keep lookout for these icebergs, in order to keep our ship afloat and safe.  Here and now, in this Easter Season and the rest of the year, too, we have to remember who died and rose from the dead: Jesus Christ.  Remember, Jesus and death had a fight, and death lost!  That beautiful re-translated opening prayer says it all: may we "grasp and rightly understand in what font [we] have been washed, by whose Spirit [we] have been reborn, by whose blood [we] have been redeemed."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Remember Mrs. Surratt and Dr. Mudd!

Lest we be overcome by all the Titanic references this week, remember that today is the 147th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Priest who got off Titanic

Fox has a story about Father Francis Browne, SJ, who was a passenger on the Titanic on the first leg of her voyage, from Southhampton to Cherbourg to Cork, before she sailed towards America (and into history).

More Importantly, Father Browne was an amateur photographer, and took a number of photographs on board Titanic.  His photos, and the memoirs he later wrote about the experience, has been published and is for sale.

A great site that shows the pictures and explains the backstory with just how close Fr. Browne came to death can be found HERE.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Priestly Presence on the Titanic

Msgr. Owen Campion has an article, briefly describing three Priests who were passengers on the Titanic.  THought you'd be interested.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Holy Thursday

No blog entries since mid-March, and here we are at the start of the shortest liturgical season.  It's five minutes to six; just over an hour to go until Mass starts.  Before I head over to church I want to let you know (1) I'm still alive; (2) I'm not bored with blogging; (3) I'm thinking of all of you while at Mass tonight and during the Triduum.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ZENIT - Papal Address on Sacrament of Confession

B16: "You [Priests and future Priests] will therefore be collaborators and protagonists in as many possible 'new beginnings' as there are penitents who come to you, knowing that the authentic meaning of every 'newness' does not consist so much in the abandonment or the denial of the past, as in welcoming Christ and opening up to his Presence, ever new and able to transform, to enlighten all the regions of shadow and to continually open a new horizon."

Read it all!

ZENIT - Papal Address on Sacrament of Confession

Friday, March 09, 2012

Still looking for a Lenten penance?

From "Friends of God" by St. Josemaria Escriva (No. 138):

"Are you trying to make sincere resolutions? Ask Our Lord to help you to take a tough line with yourself, for love of him; to help you apply, with all naturalness, the purifying touch of mortification to everything you do. Ask him to help you to spend yourself in his service, silently and unnoticed, like the flickering lamp that burns beside the Tabernacle. And if you can't think of anything by way of a definite answer to the divine guest who knocks at the door of your heart, listen well to what I have to tell you.
Penance is fulfilling exactly the timetable you have fixed for yourself, even though your body resists or your mind tries to avoid it by dreaming up useless fantasies [IMAGINE - GIVING UP THE 'SNOOZE BUTTON' FOR LENT!!!]. Penance is getting up on time and also not leaving for later, without any real reason, that particular job that you find harder or most difficult to do.
Penance is knowing how to reconcile your duties to God, to others and to yourself, by making demands on yourself so that you find enough time for each of your tasks. You are practising penance when you lovingly keep to your schedule of prayer, despite feeling worn out, listless or cold.
Penance means being very charitable at all times towards those around you, starting with the members of your own family. It is to be full of tenderness and kindness towards the suffering, the sick and the infirm. It is to give patient answers to people who are boring and annoying. It means interrupting our work or changing our plans, when circumstances make this necessary, above all when the just and rightful needs of others are involved.
Penance consists in putting up good-humouredly with the thousand and one little pinpricks of each day; in not abandoning your job, although you have momentarily lost the enthusiasm with which you started it; in eating gladly whatever is served, without being fussy.
For parents and, in general, for those whose work involves supervision or teaching, penance is to correct whenever it is necessary. This should be done bearing in mind the type of fault committed and the situation of the person who needs to be so helped, not letting oneself be swayed by subjective viewpoints, which are often cowardly and sentimental.
A spirit of penance keeps us from becoming too attached to the vast imaginative blueprints we have made for our future projects, where we have already foreseen our master strokes and brilliant successes. What joy we give to God when we are happy to lay aside our third-rate painting efforts and let him put in the features and colours of his choice!"

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Rags to Riches (or the other way around)

This morning's 1st Reading at Mass is pretty amazing.  The Hebrews, reduced to absolute slavery in Egypt, are about to become "a people peculiarly [God's] own", to be "raised high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations he has made."  A huge move up, from the bottom of the food chain to the very top!  This is the Cinderella story we all love to hear about.

But what if it went the other way?  What if the story was about someone on the top of the scale who ends up on the bottom?  Not very exciting.

How appropriate today, as we celebrate the Feast of Saint Katherine Drexel.  Part of Philadelphia society, she left it all to enter religious life.  The money that would have given her a guarantee of lifetime comfort and security (as well as make her quite a catch to any man seeking the same) went to establish schools, hospitals, orphanages, etc.

In this pop culture that adores and glorifies young women with no other skill other than being born with the last names of "Hilton" or "Kardashian", let's remember one of the good girls who won't be remembered for being married for 6½ minutes or the intellectual brilliance of the phrase, "That's hot", and is held up as a Saint of the Church.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just what can the Devil do?

I'm still reading Cardinal Schönborn's "The Joy of Being A Priest" whilst in the Confessional.  I'm towards the end of the book, when he does a Q&A with the Priests who are attending his retreat.  A question came up about exorcisms, and this was part of the Cardinal's answer.  I think it's important to always remember, but most especially as we go through Lent and do battle with sin:
"It is also necessary to know one very important thing that Saint John of the Cross and the great masters of the spiritual life have always said: the demon has no access to a person's heart, to a person's inmost being, to the soul; he can attack only through the senses.  This is what we see in our own temptations: they always involve pride, vanity, gluttony, lack of chastity, hardheartedness, everything that comes to us from our sensibility; this is the field in which the Tempter operates.  The soul is in God's hands, and only God has access to the holy of holies, to that deepest, most intimate part of the human person.
... The demon is a reality, but it is not a reality that should obsess us.  In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read:  'The power of Satan is ... not infinite.  He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature.  He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign.  Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature - to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history.  It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but 'we know what in everything God works for good with those who love him' (Rom 8:28)."   CCC par. 395

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Still need Lenten Resolutions?

I found this on the blogsite of a friend of mine, Father Greg Schaffer, who does great work at George Washington University as their Catholic Chaplain.  It may be geared for 20 somethings, but we can all pick something of use to us out of it.

The following is an excellent list of fasting ideas from “Catholic School Chronicle"

101 Practical Fasting Ideas for Lent February 24, 2009
By Nick Senger
[Note: I've updated this list with 10 more ideas at One Catholic Life - February 17, 2010]

Fasting, praying and almsgiving are the three penitential practices that we are asked to engage in during Lent. In addition to fasting and abstaining with the rest of the Church on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent, we are also challenged to make individual sacrifices appropriate to our own spiritual condition. However, before we choose something to give up for Lent, it’s important to assess our current spiritual state:

  • What habits do I engage in that are destructive to my spiritual health?
  • To what material things am I too attached?
  • What areas in my life are unbalanced?
  • To what do I devote too much or not enough time?

Only after asking questions like these are we are ready to decide what to give up or what to add to our lives during Lent. The following list is meant to be an aid in this process. Use it as you need based on your current circumstances.

“Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.” –Pope Benedict, Lenten message, 2009

1-10: The Usuals:
1. Give up candy/sweets.
2. Give up television time.
3. Give up eating snacks between meals.
4. Give up or limit soda or coffee.
5. Give up or limit video games.
6. Spend more time with family.
7. Give to the poor.
8. Do an extra chore each day.
9. Perform a random act of kindness.
10. Spend more time in prayer.

11-20: Prayer
1. Pray a book of scripture using lectio divina.
2. Attend Mass on a weekday (every day if possible).
3. Pray the rosary each day, alone or with your family.
4. Prayerfully read Abandonment to Divine Providence.
5. Make a special prayer notebook and list all the people in your life who need prayers; pray for them each day. Add someone new every day.
6. Learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
7. Make a commitment to attend Eucharistic Adoration regularly.
8. Commit to examining your conscience each evening.
9. Pray the Jesus Prayer throughout the day.
10. Pray the Angelus each day at noon.

21-30: For Those Addicted to Popular Culture
1. Switch from regular radio to Christian music radio or Catholic talk radio.
2. Avoid shows with gratuitous sex or violence.
3. Give up or limit watching sports on television.
4. Listen to only classical music for the next 40 days.
5. Drive to work in silence each day.
6. Read a work of classic literature.
7. Read a Catholic classic.
8. Read a story to a child.
9. Sit in fifteen minutes of silence each day.
10. Write a letter to God each day.

31-40: For Internet Users/Bloggers
1. Set time limits on overall online time.
2. Limit Facebook time.
3. Limit Myspace time.
4. Resist making or adding to lists that rank people.
5. Share one spiritual video with your online network once a week.
6. Blog about the poor once a week.
7. Add a spiritual blog to your blog reader.
8. Subscribe to a prayer podcast like Pray As You Go or Pray Station Portable.
9. Leave an encouraging or positive comment on a different blog each day.
10. Help a new blogger by sending traffic their way.

41-50: For Those Who Need to Be More Grateful 
1. Each week, write a letter of thanks to a different member of the clergy, beginning with your bishop and parish priest.
2. Each week write a thank-you note to your parents.
3. Write a poem of praise for each person in your family.
4. Get a stack of sticky-notes and write one sentence of thanks each day and stick it to the bedroom door of each person in your family so that by Easter they each have 40 sticky-notes.
5. Find the psalms of thanksgiving or praise in the Bible and pray them.
6. Write a list of the ways God has blessed you and add to it each day. This could be done in a notebook or on a big poster hanging on your wall.
7. At dinner each evening ask your family to share one thing for which they are grateful.
8. Make a CD or iPod playlist of praise and worship music and listen to it each day.
9. Make a point of saying “Thank You” a certain number of times per day.
10. Help your children write thank you letters to their teachers.

51-60: For Those With Lives Out of Balance
1. Go for a walk each day with a loved one and talk about life and faith.
2. Take the kids to the park each week for some carefree time.
3. Give up fast food and give the money to charity.
4. Exercise each day.
5. Spend at least half an hour each day in meaningful conversation with your spouse.
6. Go on a Lenten retreat.
7. Pray with Sacred Space each day.
8. Commit to a daily 3 Minute Retreat.
9. Begin the online 34-week Retreat for Everyday Life.
10. Give up your most unhealthy habit.

61-70: For Those Who Need Spiritual Nourishment 
1. Read the documents of Vatican II, especially Gaudium et Spes.
2. Read The Cathechism of the Catholic Church or The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.
3. Sign up for adult formation classes at a local parish.
4. Join a Bible study.
5. Attend Stations of the Cross at a local parish.
6. Find a spiritual director.
7. Read The Imitation of Christ.
8. Listen to a free Catholic audio book from Maria Lectrix.
9. Read Introduction to the Devout Life.
10. Read a spiritual autobiography (i.e., Augustine’s Confessions, Story of a Soul, Journal of a Soul, Witness to Hope)

71-80: For Those Who Need to Increase Their Service to the Needy
1. Volunteer at soup kitchen or other food program.
2. Coordinate a food drive at your parish, school or place of employment.
3. Find out who in your parish is sick and offer to visit them or bring them food.
4. Call your local Catholic Charities office and volunteer.
5. Begin making visits to a nursing home.
6. Help an elderly or disabled person in your neighborhood with yard work or other difficult chores.
7. Become a hospital volunteer.
8. Become part of a prison ministry team.
9. Coordinate a clothing drive.
10. Make rosaries and give them away.

81-90: For Those Who Need to Be More Active in Their Parish
1. Become a lector.
2. Volunteer to become an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist
3. Volunteer to help with the parish youth group.
4. After each Mass stay awhile and introduce yourself to someone you don’t know.
5. Join the Knights of Columbus.
6. Offer to be a Confirmation sponsor.
7. Volunteer to be an usher.
8. Offer to help with funeral dinners.
9. Help with the RCIA program.
10. Volunteer to do lawn work, cleaning or other needed maintenance for the parish. 

90-101: Potpourri
1. Begin to receive the Sacrament of Penance weekly.
2. Give up foul language.
3. Give up gossiping.
4. Read and study Healing the Culture.
5. Study the life of a different saint each day.
6. Cook dinner each night for your family if someone else normally does.
7. Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
8. Carry extra food in your car, purse or backpack to give to street corner beggars.
9. Begin practicing socially conscious investing.
10. Spend a week meditating on each of the seven principles of Catholic social teaching.
11. Make breakfast each morning for your family.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weigel on Clerical Narcissism

George Weigel has a piece in First Things magazine which I think is worth a read.  Here's a piece if it:
"But, objectively speaking, he's a prime example of clerical vanity: a man who imagines that his chirpy personality is the key to what Vatican II called the people's 'full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations.'"
Check it out HERE.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Which is easier?

A great Gospel passage for today's Mass.  One of me favorite passages to preach upon.  In the end, Christ's words to the Scribes can be asked of every group present at the Lord's house in Capernaum:

  • The people in the house might have complained it was too crowded, or too warm, or there were no snacks to be had.  They might have even walked out early, before any miracles happened.  It was harder to stay put.
  • The friends who brought the paralytic might have had second thoughts when they saw the lines of people waiting for their moment with Jesus.  Certainly carrying their friend wasn't easy.  Lifting him onto the roof couldn't have been, either.  Taking the roof apart and lowering him had to be hard to do.  But they did it.
  • The paralytic must've been terrified.  To be hauled onto a stretcher and bumped along as they walked around people had to be scary.  Having people stare and murmur had to be humiliating.  He had to be thinking it would have been easier to stay at home, stay in his misery, stay injured.  Now you've been dropped in front of Jesus, a man you don't know, feeling helpless and exposed.  Imagine the feelings going through his head when Jesus asks him to rise up?
Lent is coming; time for resolutions.  We can pick the easy ones (those are the ones that we're going right back to, once Easter comes), or we can dig deeper.  Like that roof, what do we have that has to be "broken through" to bring it to Jesus?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What makes one "Catholic"?

A quote I have used often comes from a confrere of mine here in the Diocese of Metuchen:

"Going to Mass every Sunday does not make you a "good Catholic"; It just makes you "Catholic".

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Ode to a Popover

The popover.  Did God make anything more perfect, more tasty, more scrumptious?  Outside, golden brown and a bit crusty.  Inside, soft, warm, hollow, ready to accept a slab of butter to soak into all that goodness.

The readings at Mass today reminded me of popovers.  The Queen of Sheba travels north because she has heard of this King named Solomon who is wise unlike anyone before him.  She brings with her loads of treasure, because even then there was "no such thing as a free lunch", and she expected to have to pay to have this wisdom all to herself.  When she gets there, she's impressed by the palace, the servants, the food, the tableware, even what the waiters wore.  But more than what she saw externally, was Solomon's wisdom.  "King Solomon explained everything she asked about, and there remained nothing hidden from him that he could not explain to her."  Like a popover, what came from inside Solomon was more impressive than all the bling outside.

Jesus in the Gospel today tells the people not to worry so much things of the outside world being "bad".  We shouldn't underestimate what he said today; it would have left Jews who heard it drop their jaws in disbelief.  "Whoa, no more bad foods?  The Maccabees died for these laws of clean and unclean animals; you're saying they don't matter?"  He changed it all: now uncleanliness is not about what goes into the body but what comes from a man's heart.  Again, the popover.

Fast forward to now.  Yesterday the Giants had their victory parade.  Along either side of the "Canyon of Heroes" and filling up MetLife Stadium were loads of people who, at least on the outside, looked like fans of the Giants.  But how many of them know the players' stats?  Or where they went to college?  Or who was the starting quarterback before Eli Manning?  I'm sure there were plenty of diehard fans at the events.  But I'd venture to say there were plenty of people there who looked good on the outside, but are pretty "hollow" on the inside.  Again, the popover.

Ash Wednesday is coming.  A day when every Catholic comes out of the woodwork to make sure they have a ash-drawn cross on their forehead.  But what's on the inside?  How will they spend Lent?  As the "People of God" or just as "Popovers of God"?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Is this all a bluff?

Is President Obama really going headstrong with this attack on the Catholic Church in an election year?

Or in the summer (remember, the mandatory stuff doesn't kick in until 2013) does he ask for a sitdown with some Bishops, graciously agree to exempt the Church from having to pay for the morally illicit items, and come out looking like a "friend" to Catholics?

Does this get him a photo-op surrounded by Catholic hierarchy where everyone is smiling and shaking hands?  Does this get some Catholics to think "He's not so bad" just weeks before re-election?  Do they get all sentimental about why they voted for him back in '08?

Just wondering.

Conspiracy Theorist?

The media is going nuts with this JFK/19 year old intern story. Her story is everywhere, newspaper, TV, and each time with ALL the gory details/  What makes it odd is that the mainstream media is giving her airtime.  Remember, this is the same gang who all but ignored the Kinear/Holmes miniseries when that was going to air, simply because it implied infidelity (amongst other things).

Why suddenly throw JFK under the bus? They haven't run these kind of stories since the Clinton/Lewinsky stuff in the 90s.  Remember how we heard stories about Jefferson and Sally Hemings, Ike and Kate Summersby, FDR and Lucy Rutherfurd, always with the spin that this was normal for "powerful men" to do.  It just seems odd that they'd turn on the grandaddy of icons.   Unless something bigger was on the line.....

You heard it here from me. They're paving the way for something. Some big affair is about to hit the news that the media feel the need to dilute and get the people ready for.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Tim Tebow showing Alec Baldwin how to Tebow

Because, to Alec Baldwin and his crowd, dropping to ones knees to pray is funny.

While you're down there, Alec, why not seize the moment and pray for a "Hunt for Red October 2"!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

How much money does Komen really make (and how much of that did Planned Parenthood expect to get)?

May I direct you by this LINK to a blog entry that talks about the Komen/PP money trail.  Let me whet the appetite with one quote:
"...the millions of dollars that Susan G. Komen has given to Planned Parenthood over the years has helped subsidize innumerable abortions, whether we want it to or not.  That's just the way money works: if someone picks up the tab for your dinner, you can use your dinner money to buy something else, like dessert.  Only in Planned Parenthood's case, that money is going toward abortion, not dessert."

Mother Teresa's humility list

1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
15. Choose always the more difficult task.

The Feast of St. Agatha

February 5 is the Feast day for Saint Agatha (though this year we will lose it to the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time).  Agatha was married with 9 daughters.  Quintianus, a Roman Prefect, was in love with her and expected her to return his love.  When she refused, he condemned Agatha and her daughters to imprisonment in a brothel until she agreed to make sacrifices to Roman gods.  Continuing to refuse, she was tortured a number of ways, the most famous way by cutting off her breasts.  She died in prison in the year 253.

Because of the loss of her breasts, St. Agatha is the patron of some interesting things.  She is the patron of people who climb the Alps.  She is the patron of bell-makers.  Each year in Catania, Sicily, a 3-day festival honors the saint, with hundreds of thousands of people in attendance, who feast on pastries called “Le Minni di Sant’Agata”, or, “Minni di Virgini”.  You can imagine what they’re meant to depict.  Want to see them?  You know, my secretaries wouldn't let me put these pictures in the bulletin.

Most recently, St. Agatha is considered to be the patron saint of breast cancer patients, and her feast day can be a special day to remember in our prayers all those who are fighting breast cancer, those who’ve died from it, and even the caregivers of breast cancer patients.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

If only the Eagles were a better football team

From the Los Angeles Times Online, this morning:

From the Los Angeles Times Online, January 23:

Monday, January 30, 2012

A political rant

I don't care who Iowans voted for, nor do I care about whom the Republicans of New Hampshire or South Carolina chose.  I don't care whom Floridians choose tomorrow.  They live where they live, and I live where I live.  These different primary dates may have been necessary before instant communication technology, when candidates had to physically be in a state to be an effective campaigner.  But we don't need them anymore.

Let's have just one primary date in America, when all 50 states go to the polls to choose their parties' nominees for elected offices ranging from the President of the United States to local dog catcher and everything in between.  Boards of Education and Fire Commissioner elections usually have not only candidates on the ballot, but also the approval of their respective annual budgets; let's get a bigger turnout at those!

Please save me from hours and hours of pundits sucking up all the TV time telling me how a candidate did at a rally in Iowa and how it is supposed to affect me (I really don't care what they think, either).  He or she will likely be out of race before New Jersey has their primary.  Finally, I don't care how rich candidates are, how many speeding tickets their children have, or what they thought, said, or wrote any time before 2005.  I don't care if they're too fat or too skinny, how they dress, or what kind of pets they have.

Again I say, save me from the TV pundits.  They make me hate politics.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Great quote

Again, from the Schonborn book:
The priest puts on liturgical vestments "so as to distinguish himself from himself" -
Nikolay Gogol (1809-1852)

"Who is the greatest?"

When I'm not hearing confessions, I'm reading a book.  Currently, it's The Joy of Being a Priest made of the talks of a retreat for Priests given by Cardinal Schönborn in Ars, France.  I'm about two-thirds through it, and so far it had been full of the usuals: prayer is important, reading Scripture is important, etc.

But yesterday, it got "real".  He is talking about the institution narrative in Luke's Gospel, and I quote:
"But the fact that Luke places one of these rather ignoble discussions right after the institution of the Eucharist gives us pause.  How is this possible?  Jesus has just entrusted to them the most precious treasure, his testament, his life given and delivered up for the salvation of the world.  And a few minutes later they are preoccupied with precedence, a rivalry about who is greater, the all-too-human and all-too-clerical game of making one's importance felt, of claiming the spotlight, of vying for success, popularity, and worldly greatness.  How shocking!  A clerical tiff, an 'argument in the sacristy' in the Upper Room, the evening before Jesus' Passion, on the night he was betrayed, when he freely gave himself up to his Passion!  How many times have we left the church after Mass only to start up our rivalries immediately - if it had not already happened, surreptitiously, during the Mass itself!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Religion in the Modern World

For all those who've had to sit through seminars and workshops like this. This one's for you.

Mark 3:21

Snow finally caught up to us overnight.  Like others (especially Pastors), I had held out vain hopes that we'd get through a winter without any snow.  Don't get me wrong, it's pretty, it's scenic, it makes for great pictures (parents, get your kids out of bed, throw on their winter coats and send them outside, and go take your Christmas card picture for 2012!!!  You laugh now but you'll thank me next December).  Yes, an ontological change happens upon ordination to the Priesthood, we're all on the same page for that.  But something happens when you're a Pastor, a Rector, or anyone who has to keep to a budget. In the words of Ricky Ricardo, "Lemme 'splain":
You're a child and it snows = "Yay! No school"
You're a teen and it snows = "Cool, no school"
You're in college and it snows = "Wait, it snowed?"
You're a seminarian and it snows = Doesn't matter.  You still have classes.
You're a Priest and it snows = "Isn't it pretty?"
You're a Pastor and it snows = "How much will this cost to plow?"
OK, back to here.  I went over for the 8am Mass, not really knowing how many would be coming.  Only once in my time here have I had a Mass with no one present.  In all, 5 guys showed up (no, not the burger and fries people, though that would have been cool), including a seminarian who took it upon himself to shovel the front steps of church and lay down some salt - I love the zeal.

So what was the Gospel passage on the first snowy morning of winter?  Being the Feast of St. Agnes, I had the choice of the propers for her Feast Day, or the readings of the day.  When I saw the latter, I couldn't resist.  Mark 3:21 "...they said, 'He is out of his mind.'"  Your families, I told them, might have said the very things as you left in the snow this morning to come to Mass.  Certainly there must have been a few who thought young Agnes was out of her mind for not saving her own life by simply marrying the Roman Proconsul's son.  But there were undoubtedly those who saw her witness and became curious about Christianity.  Maybe they became Christians themselves, or maybe they just gained a new respect for Christians and their willingness to suffer for their beliefs.  Just like there may have been those in cars passing the church this morning, seeing the lights on inside (and maybe a person or two walking through the snow to Mass) and wondering why you'd do that?  We never know who we'll affect in life.  We never know who will see us in a random drive past.  But we do know God sees everything.  He saw Agnes give her life, and he saw you leave a warm house to come to Mass.

[I wonder how many people God is going to watch say, "It's too dangerous to drive to Mass", after watching the same folks spend the day driving their children to karate, dance, or go to the diner, the mall, or the movies?]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A football pitch, public land, and an interesting pro-life message

Here's the story: The London Telegraph has an article about an interesting situation involving a football [soccer] team's place to play.  The team has played on land which was donated to the soccer club in 1922 by a wealthy woman as a tribute to the bravery of the men of the village who fought in the 1st World War.

Here's where it gets interesting: The gift of the land came with the condition that, twenty-one years after the death of King Edward VII's last living descendent (a boy whose mother was Edward & Alexandra's daughter, Maud, and who would later become King Olav V of Norway), the land would change ownership and be owned by the town.  King Olav died in 1991, and so since then the town has been waiting for 2012, when the codicil would kick in and the ownership of the land would change.

Here's where it gets reeeeeeeally interesting: The club management is challenging the transfer in ownership based on the exact wording of the transfer.  The words technically says that ownership changes twenty-one years after the death of the last grandchild "in being" at the time the agreement was signed.  Taking "in being" literally, the lawyers are arguing, the actual last grandchild was the Earl of Harewood (a boy, George Lascelles, whose mother was Princess Mary, the granddaughter of King Edward and so a direct descendent who would later become the Earl of Harewood).  Lascelles was born on February 7, 1923, only a few months after the land gift was signed, and so was, at the time, in the womb of his mother.  Lawyers for the soccer club contend that he was the last descendent of King Edward "in being" at the time the gift took place.  Lord Harewood died last July, and lawyers argue THAT'S when the 21 year countdown to the transfer of ownership began.

Lawyers for the soccer team and the town, of course, take positions on both sides.  It will be interesting to see if English courts rule that a child in the womb (albeit 89 years ago) counts as "alive"?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Random thoughts

Thank you, Tim Tebow.  If you used to drop on one knee and pray to Jesus Christ, you were some sort of freak.  Tim, you "mainstreamed it".  Thanks.

Thank you, Eli Manning, for reminding us that a "Hail Mary" every now and then won't kill us.  It might even change the course of the game.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Security System

Eager for his privacy, at an audience in the Vatican this morning, Pope Benedict accepted delivery of the first of what are rumored to be hundreds of crocodiles which will fill the newly installed moat at the summer residence of Castelgandolfo. (Thank you, Reuters, for the picture)

Wanna know how my brain works? (Warning: It's a scary place)

This morning's 1st Reading at Mass tells us "all Israel from Dan to Beersheba came to know that Samuel was an accredited prophet of the Lord." This got me wondering about Dan and Beersheba.

A map on Wikipedia showed the locations of the cities, Dan in the extreme north and Beersheba in the extreme south.

So there it is: The author was making the point of Samuel's renown from the very north to the very south.  I wondered how to convey that in my homily.  Use the geography of New Jersey?  How about the geography of the United States?  Samuel was recognized in the land from Maine to....

Which in my brain led to me singing this:

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday, New Jersey native Charles Addams

The Year of Faith: How to get ready

Ten months before it begins, the CDF today released notes with suggestions on how, on  levels going from the universal Church to local parishes, the Year of Faith should be marked.  Here are the parish suggestions:

IV. At the level of the parish/community/association/movement
1. In preparation for the Year of Faith, all of the faithful are invited to read closely and meditate upon Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, Porta fidei.

2. The Year of Faith "will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist." In the Eucharist, mystery of faith and source of the new evangelization, the faith of the Church is proclaimed, celebrated and strengthened. All of the faithful are invited to participate in the Eucharist actively, fruitfully and with awareness, in order to be authentic witnesses of the Lord.

3. Priests should devote greater attention to the study of the documents of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, drawing from them resources for the pastoral care of their parishes – catechesis, preaching, Sacramental preparation. They should also offer cycles of homilies on the faith or on certain specific aspects such as, for example, "the encounter with Christ", "the fundamental contents of the Creed", and "faith and the Church."

4. Catechists should hold more firmly to the doctrinal richness of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and, under the direction of their pastors, offer guidance in reading this precious document to groups of faithful, working toward a deeper common understanding thereof, with the goal of creating small communities of faith, and of giving witness to the Lord Jesus.

5. It is hoped that there will be a renewed commitment in parishes to the distribution of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and of other resources appropriate for families, which are true domestic churches and the primary setting for the transmission of the faith. This might be done, for example, during the blessing of homes, the Baptism of adults, Confirmations and Marriages. This can contribute to the deepening of Catholic teaching "in our homes and among our families, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times."

6. The promotion of missions and other popular programs in parishes and in the workplace can help the faithful to rediscover the gift of Baptismal faith and the task of giving witness, knowing that the Christian vocation "by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate."

7. During this time, members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life are asked to work towards the new evangelization with a renewed union to the Lord Jesus, each according to their proper charism, in fidelity to the Holy Father and to sound doctrine.

8. Contemplative communities, during the Year of Faith, should pray specifically for the renewal of the faith among the People of God and for a new impulse for its transmission to the young.

9. Associations and Ecclesial Movements are invited to promote specific initiatives which, through the contribution of their proper charism and in collaboration with their local Pastors, will contribute to the wider experience of the Year of Faith. The new Communities and Ecclesial Movements, in a creative and generous way, will be able to find the most appropriate ways in which to offer their witness to the faith in service to the Church.

10. All of the faithful, called to renew the gift of faith, should try to communicate their own experience of faith and charity to their brothers and sisters of other religions, with those who do not believe, and with those who are just indifferent. In this way, it is hoped that the entire Christian people will begin a kind of mission toward those with whom they live and work, knowing that they "have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man."

Ten months from now, there can be no use of the excuse, "Rome didn't give us enough time to prepare to do these things."  [That's me saying it; it's not in the document.]

Friday, January 06, 2012

Blessed Epiphany, everyone!

Whether you adhere to the traditional January 6th date, or you'll celebrate it on the transferred date this weekend, a blessed Twelfth-night to you all.

I apologize for being out of the blogosphere since Christmas.  Time moves fast, and I joined my fellow clergy in  enjoying a day or two (some considerably more) of "down time" following Christmas Eve and Day Masses.

I promise I'll try to do my best to pay attention to those of you hungry for the opines that come from my brain.  Until the next time, here are three gifts for you to ponder:

  • The translation transition went remarkably well, I think.  The worry about rioting in churches turned out to have the same roots in reality as those who felt coffee makers with electronic timers would stop working on January 1, 2000.
  • New Cardinals were announced today.  Congratulations to (in order of precedence) Archbishops O'Brien and Dolan.  The National Catholic Reporter has a piece in their usual cynical style, showing they either don't know their facts about the Church's Cardinals, or they do know and opted to do an article in "bitchy little nitpicky" style (is that the new Turabian?).  I won't put a link.  If you go to it they'll convince themselves that you reading it means you think like they do.  I've read it, and the people who comment are freakier than the reporter who wrote it.
  • NBC News in New York has been beautifully positive in covering the stories about the announcement of the new Cardinals (including Abp. O'Brien because he is a New York native himself).  I predict that, by the time the Consistory occurs on February, most stories in the secular press will also include the obligatory mention of pedophilia, Cardinal Law, the Crusades, Pope Joan, the Borgias, Pope Pius XII, or something down that road.