Friday, February 27, 2009

Dead Poets Society

Dead Poets Society was on TV tonight, and I had forgotten how much I loved the last scene.  It brought me back to my days in College Seminary.  A whole bunch of junk that was going on, stuff that had me down, and how, with the help of some very good friends, we were able to look it in the face and kick it in the - well, shall we say, "onions".

Awesomely inspiring.

Since today is a "fish" day...

From the Brit tabloid The Sun:

Fisherman found my lost phone in the belly of a 25lb cod ...and it still works after a week in the fish

Hmmm, 7 days in the belly of a fish; can anyone say "Jonah-phone"?  Can't you just see the marketing campaign?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Leo on Lent

"Dear friends, at every moment the earth is full of the mercy of God.

But with the return of that season marked out in a special way by the mystery of our redemption, and of the days that lead up to the paschal feast, we are summoned more urgently to prepare ourselves by a purification of spirit."

Pope St. Leo the Great
Today's Office of Readings

Lenten reading

Looking for a book to read for Lent, without spending a lot of money?  Ignatius Press has a sale page of books and videos that are on sale.  Just a suggestion.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday, 2009

Click HERE for this year's Lenten message from Pope Benedict.

Click HERE for a past blog entry with a great quote from Papa Ratzinger on the Lenten season.

Click HERE for an article by a Benedictine about just what is to be gained by "giving something up" for Lent?

Click HERE for a past blog entry in which a Cardinal of the Church gives his thoughts about what goes through your mind if it's your duty to impose ashes on the Pope!

Click HERE for a part of the website of the North American College in Rome, which explains the ancient devotion of the "Lenten stational churches".  Each of the 44 churches are listed, along with their history and some pictures.

Click HERE for a link to a "virtual Lenten retreat" being posted on the internet by a group of Dominican students.  Each day during Lent, a new entry will appear with scriptural readings, reflections, etc.  Their website is called "Godzdogz" (think about it: God = Domini, and dog = Cane.  So Godzdogz = Dominicanes.  Get it?)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pictures from yesterday in New York

Photo from Teme/Getty Images

Photo from Yana Paskova/NY Times

Photo from Brigitte Stelzer/NY Post

Photo from Harbus/NY Daily News

Cardinals promoted

Remember my blog entry yesterday about Cardinals and the only time a change of their titular church occurs?  You don't remember?  You don't read me every day?  Of course you do, I know.  But here's what I said...
Cardinals keep their titular for life, even in retirement from "active ministry".  The only exception being if they are promoted within the College of Cardinals, in which case they receive another titular church from the Holy Father.
Sure enough, in this morning's "bolletino" from the Vatican, two members of the College of Cardinals have been promoted.

The Prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, José Cardinal Saraiva Martins, having been created a Cardinal-Deacon by Pope John Paul back in 2001, has jumped two notches, and been raised to the Order of Cardinal-Bishop.  As such, he has been given a new titular See (Cardinal Bishops do not get titular churches, but essentially a whole diocese) of Pallestrina.  This titular See became vacant when the previous holder, Bernardin Cardinal Gantin, died in May of 2008.

The Pope's Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome, Agostino Cardinal Vallini, created a Cardinal-Deacon by Pope Benedict in 2006, has been raised by the Holy Father to the Order of Cardinal Priest, though it was announced he would keep his titular church of St. Peter Damian.  This is normally a church assigned to a Cardinal-Deacon, but in the bulletin it was announced that "pro hac vice" ("for this turn") the church will be the titular of a Cardinal-Priest.

The interesting thing to wonder about is that Canon Law (350, paragraph 5, to be exact) allows Cardinals to petition the Holy Father for promotion within the College of Cardinals only after ten years of serving in their current rank.  Since both of these men fall under the ten year mark, this came on the Pope's own incentive.

Now, you may ask yourself, "Who cares about this stuff, really?"  My response is, "Look, I'm less than 24 hours away from Ash Wednesday, a day I'll spend with a dirty thumb, watching loads of people come out of the woodwork and behave almost un-Christian in their behavior both in church and in our parking lot, all in the effort to have ashes imposed on their foreheads so they can repent by promising not to use foul language and stop eating candy until Easter (then I suppose they'll cuss whilst popping Hershey bars), so humor me if I want to think about something other than, 'Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel', or, 'Remember you are dust, and unto dust you shall return', ok?"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sirius Catholic Radio's Egan/Dolan interview

In a joint interview for Sirius/XM's Catholic Channel, Rob Astorino had the chance to sit down this morning with the 9th and 10th Archbishops of New York.  They don't have a direct link to the audio interview, but it is easily findable by clicking on THIS page.

Dolan on You Tube

Just some past video of the new Archbishop of New York, for those who have read about him, but may not have seen him in action:

So what does a former Archbishop of New York do?

Whilst much of the media will be focusing on the New York's incoming Archbishop, New York's outgoing Archbishop is also about to make history this coming April 15.

When Archbishop Dolan takes the reins of New York on the Wednesday in the Easter Octave, Edward Cardinal Egan will become the first and (so far) the only "former" Archbishop of New York.  All of his predecessors, all eight Archbishops (O'Connor, Cooke, Spellman, Hayes, Farley, Corrigan, McCloskey, and Hughes) and three Bishops (Dubois, Connolly, and Concanen) died in office.

And, since Egan will still be alive, what this also means is that, when [yes, I know that's an "if and when"] Dolan is created a Cardinal, for the first time in over half a century, the Minor Basilica of Saints John and Paul will not be available.  Cardinals keep their titular for life, even in retirement from "active ministry".  The only exception being if they are promoted within the College of Cardinals, in which case they receive another titular church from the Holy Father.

Look at the case of Cardinal Law, who was named titular of Rome's Santa Susanna when he received the red biretta as Archbishop of Boston in 1985.  Like Sts. John & Paul, Santa Susanna had a similar affinity with the Archdiocese of Boston, having been the titular of Boston's Cardinals Cushing (1958-1970) and Medieros (1973 to 1983).  Even when Cardinal Law was named Archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore in 2004, he kept Santa Susanna as his titular church, something which continues until today.  What that meant was, when Cardinal O'Malley was elevated in 2006, Santa Susanna was not available to him.  Amazingly, the church right across the street from Santa Susanna was, and so Cardinal O'Malley is the titular of Santa Maria della Vittoria.

But I digress.  When Archbishop Francis Spellman was created a Cardinal in 1946, Pope Pius XII showed his affection for Spelly by naming him the titular of the church of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo, which he himself (as Cardinal Pacelli) had served as honorary pastor/protector.  Since then, the church on Rome's Celian hill has become part of the patrimony of the New York Archdiocese.  Cardinal Spellman paid for the restoration of the church's facade and portico as well as the costs of opening the excavations underneath the church to the public (which allows one to visit the ruins of the house in which Saints John and Paul, officers of the Emperor Julian, lived, were killed, and buried).

If they want to go farther back in history, there are a two other places they could choose.  From 1924-38, Patrick Cardinal Hayes' titular was Santa Maria in Via.  From 1911-18, John Cardinal Farley's titular was Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which was also the titular of his predecessor, John Cardinal McCloskey, who served Sopra Minerva from 1875 to 1885.

Even though he'll soon be relieved of the day to day operations of the New York Archdiocese, Cardinal Egan still serves as a member of the Vatican's Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.


The coat of arms of (if everything goes according to plan tomorrow) Timothy Dolan, the tenth Archbishop of New York, combining the arms of the Archdiocese on the left with Dolan's personal arms on the right.  The Milwaukee Archdiocesan website has this explanation of Dolan's personal arms:
Archbishop Dolan’s motto is “Ad Quem Ibimus,” translated “Lord, to whom shall we go?” It is taken from the Gospel of John 6:68. This phrase, spoken by St. Peter to Christ, highlights our Lord as one true savior who alone has the words of everlasting life and commemorates the primacy of St. Peter and his successors among the apostles.

The archbishop’s personal emblem ... features in part the traditional coat of arms of the Dolan family. The shield is royal blue, with a silver horizontal bar, called a fess, across the middle. Placed in the center of the fess is a red crown, which is borrowed from the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Archbishop Dolan's home diocese. The position in the center emphasizes the importance of the centrality of Christ in our lives and his kingship over all. On either side of the crown, in the fess, are placed natural scrolls. These items represent Archbishop Dolan’s baptismal patron, St. Timothy, a disciple of Paul and recipient of two of his pastoral letters.

Above the fess is a silver crescent, which symbolizes Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States. This is taken from the coat of arms of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where Archbishop Dolan studied for the priesthood and served for seven years as rector. The other crescents are gold and are retained from the traditional Dolan coat of arms to honor his family, particularly his mother and father.

Oh, and lest you think that only the "eliteziest" bloggers were in Manhattan tonight in preparation for the announcement, perish the thought.

I, too, was in Gotham this evening, only in my case I was at Madison Square Garden for the Rangers/Maple Leafs game (thanks to the generosity of a parishioner).  

C'mon, MSG on the night they honor Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell?  An "Original 6" matchup with the Leafs wearing the retro jerseys?  Getting beer spilled on you by a drunk Gen-X'er sitting behind you?  Good times, good times.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Father Landry on "Octomom"

Father Roger Landry is the editor of "The Anchor", the newspaper for the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts.  Though we missed each other at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, we got to know each other at retreats and other events.

I came across his website recently, and amongst the things he keeps there are the weekly editorials he writes for the Anchor.  I've put a permanent link to those editorials on this blog (under "Catholic Links").

This week his editorial looks at the media hype over Nadya Suleman and her octuplets.  If you need some incentive, here's a piece of it:
Conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby picked up on this pro-choice connection in a February 11 column in the Boston Globe when he wrote, “What are we to make of all this criticism? Is it once again acceptable in politically-correct society to disparage other people's unconventional or unwise reproductive decisions? … It was only a couple of weeks ago, after all, that the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade was being commemorated with the customary paeans to the right of American women to make their own decisions about pregnancy and parenthood. Haven't we been told for years that society has no authority to second-guess what a woman does with her own body? Haven't the champions of ‘choice’ and ‘reproductive freedom’ repeatedly instructed us that what happens in a woman's womb is between her and her doctor? How is it that so many feel free to pass judgment on the choices made by Suleman and her doctors, let alone to call for new regulations banning such choices in the future? … 

NY Times article: Confession Makes a Comeback

Check out the article in today's Times, even if it means you have to deal with the usual "I'm right and you're wrong" quote from Fr. Richard McBrien.  If you get nauseous easily, maybe take a Dramamine before exposing yourself to McBrien's predictable pessimism.

"Saint-Elect" de Veuster

Another Saint with an American connection is on his way.

At an Ordinary Public Consistory this morning, Pope Benedict announced his decision to canonize ten "Blesseds" of the Church, among them Blessed Jozef (who, in religious life, took the name Damien) de Veuster, a Belgian who worked amongst the lepers on the island of Molokai in Hawaii, before succumbing to the disease himself on April 15, 1889 at the ripe old age of 49.

His canonization will take place on Sunday, October 11 of this year.  His feast day is celebrated annually on May 10, except in Hawaii, where it is celebrated on April 15 (to coincide with "Father Damien Day", which is already a state holiday).

In 1936, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (of which Fr. Damien was a member) brought Fr. Damien's body back to Belgium, where he remains today.  However, following his Beatification in 1995, his right hand was brought back to Hawaii, where it was reinterred in his original grave.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

They wouldn't make it if nobody ate it.

Ladies and gentlemen,
"hand held heart attack":
The Bacon-Cheddar-on-a-Krispy-Kreme burger

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Paper Chase on DVD!

This morning I got an e-mail from that put a smile on my face.

Some of you may remember the 1973 movie, The Paper Chase, the story of first year law students at Harvard, and their incredibly tough teacher, Professor Charles Kingsfield (played by John Houseman, who won an Oscar for the role). I never saw the movie (in the early 70s, Mister Rogers Neighborhood was more my style).  But a few years later, while I was in high school, Showtime aired "The Paper Chase" the TV series!  They even had John Houseman come back to reprise his role as Kingsfield. It was right when I was facing some tough teachers who tested my disdain for school work, kicked my butt, and made me work my brain.  I instantly loved the show, which ran for four seasons and ended with Hart, Ford, and Bells' graduation from law school.  It even got me, for a little bit, to think about going to law school.

But back to the smile.   This morning's smile on my face came to me because the first season of that series is now being released on DVD.  It's due for release on April 7.  Yay!!!

NOW, for those of you who do remember the show and need more of a "fix", here's links to the show's theme music:

Finally, for those of you who don't remember the show, but whose interest is piqued, there's a clip on YouTube (which practically mirrors a scene in the 1973 movie).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pope's remarks

Here is a link to the text of Pope Benedict's address to the delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.  The meeting took place yesterday.

Doing your Dolan homework

If the rumors are true, that Pope Benedict is about to name St. Louis native and former U.S. Nunciature official, NAC Rector, St. Louis Auxiliary, and Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan as Archbishop of New York, you may ask yourself, "What makes him tick?"

If you've never met the man (and been charmed by his smile, his optimistic personality, and his true welcoming spirit), two books will help you do your research on the presumptive heir to Egan, O'Connor, Cooke, Spellman, Hayes, Farley, Corrigan, McCloskey, Hughes, Dubois, Connolly, and Concanen.  One will let you into his mind, the other into his heart:

  1. Priests for the Third Millennium, first published in 2000 by Our Sunday Visitor.  It's a collection of Rector's Conferences given by then- Monsignor Dolan to the seminarians of the North American College.  It'll give you a glimpse into is writing and speaking style, as well as the way he lures you into a story to make a point about the life of parish Priests.
  2. New Men: Inside the Vatican's Elite School for American Priests, published in 1997 by the Diane Publishing Company.  OK, I've got a little problem with the North American College being called an "elite school" for a bunch of reasons, first among them that the NAC is not actually school but the place where the seminarians live.  The seminarians live at the NAC, but actually go to a number of schools in Rome (the Angelicum, the Gregorianum, San' Anselmo, etc.).  Sorry, my "Mount Pride" kicked in.  But besides that, the book is essentially following the seminary years of a group of "new men" just beginning their studies in Rome, their struggles, hopes, experiences, etc.  The book has a few great passages about Abp. Dolan, who was Rector at the time.  It gives you insight into his personality, his care for the students, his sense of community building for Americans who may be out of the country for the first time (and maybe a bit homesick).
These are available from a bookstore, or online.  I think you'll find them useful.

THIS JUST IN...   This LINK will take you to a resource page from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that has some more of Abp. Dolan's writings and speeches.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

And while we're at it, Happy Birthday, Vatican City!

Besides "Honest Abe", today is also the eightieth anniversary of the signing of the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and Italy, which recognized the Vatican City-State as a sovereign nation.

Rome Reports (who also does a half hour weekly show that airs on EWTN) has a clip on YouTube about the celebrations honoring the anniversary.

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln!

On today's 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, I found an interesting tidbit about Lincoln's attempt to get support of the war amongst Catholics:

"The Catholic Church was a more difficult case. Many Catholics were Irish or German. Irish-Americans had long strongly supported the Democratic Party and German-Americans had been less fervent Democratic supporters whom Republicans sought to attract. President Lincoln was not above using members of the clergy for his purposes and the purposes of preserving the Union. Roman Catholic Archbishop John J. Hughes was requested by President Lincoln to serve as an envoy to France to plead the Union's cause. The New York City archbishop dutifully visited France, Italy and Ireland because of the President's personal intervention:
"It was proposed by the cabinet that I should accept a special mission to England and France in connection with very important national questions between the United States and these powers. I declined until it was made known to me that the President of the United States made it a special request that I accept, and if possible render some service to the United States in the present condition of public affairs. I could not refuse this request, and at the same time I imagined if any success should attend my mission, it would redound to the benefit of the Catholics, and to the promotion of the interests of the church."
The President was not close to Archbishop Hughes, but Secretary of State William H. Seward had friendly relations with the Catholic Church dating back to Seward's years as governor of New York. "I am sure you will pardon me if in my ignorance I do not address you with technical correctness," Mr. Lincoln began a letter to New York Archbishop John Hughes in October 1861. He requested that the New York archbishop submit to him names of "one or more suitable persons of the Catholic Church" who could be appointed as hospital chaplains. He closed the letter by giving "thanks for your kind, and judicious letters to Gov. Seward...which he regularly allows me both the pleasure and the profit of perusing." A year and a half later, President Lincoln submitted a list of appointments for West Point - one of which had been recommended by "Bishop Hughes."

Alive and Kicking

For those of you who are devotees of Rocco Palmo at his blog, Whispers in the Loggia, this "I'm still alive" entry will sound awfully familiar.

I apologize for going silent over the past week, especially with everything hitting the blogosphere about things like the lifting of the excommunications of the Lefebvrite 4 and the revelations about Fr. Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

Such is the life of a parish Priest.  That, of course, is my first obligation and so sometimes this blog must suffer.  Other times there's just so much being written about a topic that I don't see the need for writing (or rewriting) what has already been said.  And, other times something is going on in my life that I know, if I were to sit at the keyboard and start typing, I'd be telling you all the lurid details about (and, believe me, you wouldn't believe me if I told you).

So I will talk about something I like to talk about - hockey.  Last night I went to the Prudential Arena in Newark to see the New Jersey Devils play the New York Islanders.  A great friend of mine (also a Priest), himself a fan of the Isles, suggested we go.  What a great time we had!  It was nice to get out and watch a pretty good game.

SO, what about those two big events I passed up talking about?  At the risk of being superficial, let me say this:

On the Lefebvrite 4: The excommunication came to Bp. Williamson and 3 others, not because of any personal beliefs they have, but because, in 1988, they were ordained Bishops without a Papal mandate.  The Holy Father's lifting of the excommunications had nothing to do with Bp. Williamson's opinion about the historical facts of the Shoah (read this article).   Is the bishop out of line with his beliefs about the holocaust?  Of course!  But our Church is full of people who, though they think (and say) pretty dumb things, are still in Catholics in good standing.  I myself have said some pretty odd things occasionally (I know, hard to believe, but trust me  :-D).

On Fr. Maciel:  Scandalous?  Yes.  Horrible.  Tragic for the order.  But I will say this:  In my experiences with the members of the Legionaries of Christ, I have never found a more inspiring, intellectual, prayerfully devout group of young men (I'm over 40 now, I think I can call them "young men") living their vocations to communal religious life.  They are only now experiencing the glares and stares that parish Priests have faced for the past eight or nine years of the sexual abuse scandal.  The stare that says, "You're one of his followers, aren't you?"  (St. Peter got that same question on Holy Thursday night).  My heart breaks for these young men, and I pray they'll persevere in their vocations, which ultimately came from Christ Himself, and not from any one man.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Baby Bishop

This was in this morning's press bulletin from the Vatican:

"Il Santo Padre ha nominato Vescovo di Gallup (U.S.A.) il James S. Wall, del clero di Phoenix, Vicario Episcopale per il clero della medesima diocesi. James S. Wall è nato l’11 ottobre 1964 a Ganado, Arizona, nella diocesi di Gallup.

Dopo aver frequentato la scuola superiore a Chandler High School, ha conseguito il baccalaureato presso l’Arizona State University. Entrato poi nel seminario, ha ricevuto un Master in teologia presso il St. John’s Seminary a Camarillo in California. Ha poi continuato gli studi presso il Liturgical Institute in Mundelain.

È stato ordinato sacerdote per la diocesi di Phoenix il 6 giugno 1998."

Your Italian does not have to be excellent to see what I saw:  The Bishop elect is 44 years old, and was ordained to the priesthood in June of 1998 (A week after my ordination; this makes him the first bishop I know of ordained less time than me!)

The recommendation must've come from the Bishop Elect's Ordinary, Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix.  The Diocese of Gallup has been without a bishop for a while, with Bishop Olmstead serving as Administrator.  Bp. Elect Wall is the Vicar for Clergy for the Phoenix Diocese.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Bowl Commercials

  1. NBC refused to show a commercial from about the sanctity of human life, but I just watched a commercial for the movie Angels and Demons, which talks about the destruction of Vatican City and shows St. Peter's Basilica exploding.
  2. How many commercials involves people getting really, really hurt?  I mean, the Bud Light guy getting thrown out of a window, the Doritos guy getting smashed by a bus, and the Pepsi Max guys having all sorts of stuff happen to them.  This was the kind of stuff that used to happen to the coyote when he chased the Roadrunner on Saturday morning cartoons.
  3. Commercials with animals seem to be big this year.  The Pedigree adoption one was great.  Budweiser always has great ones with horses.