Monday, March 30, 2009

Most Rev. Vincent D. Breen (1936-2003)

In your prayers today, please remember the repose of the soul of Bishop Breen.  Today is the sixth anniversary of his death.

The third Bishop of the Metuchen Diocese, he was the only one of our bishops to actually be ordained a Bishop in our Cathedral, back in September of 1997. And, of the four men who have served as Bishop of Metuchen, he is the only one who is deceased.

In May of 1998, Bishop Breen ordained me to the Priesthood.  In all, he ordained ten Priests during his tenure in Metuchen; at the time, we were known as the "Breenie Babies".

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pro-Life movement in Israel

Check out this website for אפרת

"Efrat" is a website for a charitable organization that provides financial and social support for pregnant women in Israel.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WSJ op-ed

Notre Dame alumnus Bill McGurn has an editorial in today's Wall Street Journal, in which he gives a bit of a timeline to what I feel is the larger issue:  the chess game for Catholic identity I hinted at in my previous blog entry about the Notre Dame's invitation to the President.

Well what are you waiting for?  Go read it.

War of the Worlds

As the weather is becoming more spring-like than winter-like, I'm spending more and more of my days off wandering on the back roads, away from the big highways that transect New Jersey.  Yes, the highway will get you there faster, but the "road less traveled" is much more fun.

Yesterday I meandered southward, and found myself in the town of Grover's Mill.  THE "Grover's Mill, New Jersey".

Anyone?  Anyone?  (the hint is in the title of this entry)

It was in the town of Grover's Mill that Orson Welles told listeners invading Martians had landed, during Mercury Theater's October 30, 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.  They've even got a monument to commemorate their role in this national panic (it is said that twelve million people heard the broadcast and feared for their lives).

NOW, lest I start to get the "Father, whaddya do that's, y'know, priestly?" queries, last night was our Lenten penance service.  Not a bad crowd, considering we had a huge turnout for confessions a few weeks ago at our parish mission.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Whaddya think?

All of this talk about the President's use of a TelePrompTer makes me wonder:

What about for homilies?

For the laity: How would you feel if you were at a Mass, and the Bishop/Priest/Deacon preached a homily using a TelePrompTer?

For clergy: Would you be open to using it?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama at Notre Dame: What if?

Yes, the Catholic world in the United States is in an uproar about Notre Dame giving an honorary degree to perhaps the most pro-abortion President that the United States has ever had.

It's the latest move in a "chess game" that's been being played in the United States for years, perhaps even decades.  The title at stake: Catholic.  What does it mean to be a Catholic? Who gets to call themselves Catholic?  The game started back in 1968 with Humanae Vitae, and still goes on today.  It comes down to the question of whether a Catholic can hijack Our Lord's words, "You have heard it said ..., but I say to you ...", when it comes to dissent from Church teachings.

Now, what can happen here?  Notre Dame can change their mind. Bishop John D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend could forbid it to happen within his diocese.  Archbishop Sambi could, in an unbelievable coincidence, happen to have his car break down in front of the Main Building, and ask to use the phone in Father Jenkins' office (whilst Father is still in there).

Would the President be offended if Notre Dame rescinded their invitation?  Probably not. The White House, better than most others, understands that symbol trumps substance when it comes to images. If you don't believe me, ask yourself why there's no photo ops with the President and Rush Limbaugh?  If the university wants to award the President an honorary degree, they can certainly do so in the Oval Office.  Alumni can make their feelings known to the Notre Dame administration about that. 

But what if a few other possibilities occurred when the President steps onto the campus in South Bend:

  • What if Notre Dame asked him to participate in a discussion about life issues: abortion, capital punishment, stem cells, etc. If you feel strongly about this, Mr. President, convince us of your beliefs.  Oh yeah, we're going to have a few of our "heavy hitters" on the panel with you who will be trying their best to change your mind.  No audience in the room (they can watch via closed circuit; no making this into a circus). Can you imagine if Notre Dame got some of the "best & brightest" in the Pro-Life movement something that the abortion lobby would go ballistic at: an hour of the President's time?   
  • What if the President used the commencement speech at Notre Dame to announce to all of us that he has seen the error of his ways, and he is now unashamedly, unabashedly pro-life?  He is cutting off all federal funding for abortions and embryonic stem cell research, both domestically and overseas.
Yeah, I can dream, can't I?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lenten Penance Services

I spent some time this afternoon hearing confessions at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, NJ (a school located in the Diocese of Trenton, but we have kids from the parish who are students there).  On the way home, I began to think of past blog entries in which I wrote about this time of year when communal penance service are abundant.  Check out these past blog entries:

Young Fogeys: Dec. 14, 2006 "Confessions: Quality or Quantity?"
Young Fogeys: Mar. 20, 2007 "Confession, Penance, Reconcilation, whatever it's being called this week"
Young Fogeys: Feb. 28, 2008 "Reflections on Penance Services"

The Catholic Truth

I was recently contacted by Gary Zimak, a parishioner at my classmate's parish in Riverton, N.J. (part of the Trenton Diocese).  He recently founded The Catholic Truth Lay Apostolate, and along with it, a website and a blog.  Check them out for a great example of how the People of God are making use of the internet for evangelization.

"Unless you become like this child..."

A lesson in kindness and humility yesterday.

Last week, a young lady from the parish dropped off a number of bag lunches to the parish office, intended for the four of us (Priests).  In each bag was a sandwich, a drink, yogurt, an apple, and some snacks. None of us was there to thank her, and we assumed she was doing it for either a service project for the Girl Scouts, or as a Lenten sacrifice.  My pastor sent the girl and her family a thank you on behalf of the four of us.  Yesterday, the girl and her family returned with more bag lunches for us.  These had sandwiches, tuna salad and crackers, bags of mixed nuts, more apples, chocolate, etc.  This time we got the chance to talk to her and thank her.

Want to know why she was making the meals?

A few days before, she heard a conversation with one of the Priests here in the parish.  Someone must've asked him about rectory life, and he mentioned that "We have one meal a day, and the rest of the time we're on our own."  Yes, this is true: the four of us eat lunch together every day (schedules permitting).  But other meals are had whenever we can squeeze it in, usually depending on our individual schedules (who has what Mass, appointments, meetings, etc.).  This girl understood it to mean that we only have enough food in the rectory to eat once a day, and for other meals we had to find food where we could.  She decided she would take it upon herself to feed her parish's Priests.

She saw a problem and decided she was going to solve it.  How many times do we over analyze a situation, ending up spending so much time micromanaging it that we end up creating more problems than we solved?

"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike."

Things you don't see in New Jersey

Father Daren Zehnle is a fellow Priest-blogger in Effingham, Illinois. In one of his recent entries on his blog, Servant and Steward, he wrote this:
"Somehow I have been given the charge to come up with a creative motto for the new bass fishing team at the high school."
A high school bass fishing team?  I love the midwest!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

No freakin' way!

Two weeks ago when I was in Philadelphia, I walked past a Whole Foods Supermarket.  Having heard good things about the chain, I thought about stopping in and looking around.  But then I thought, "If I stop in there, I'll just end up buying stuff, and do I really want to spend the rest of my day off hauling grocery bags around?"

Then today I came across this story from Drudge Report.  So much for me going to Whole Foods.  Heck, no!


Back in my room after Mass, I was just watching the opening of Hockey Night in Canada (which the NHL Network carries each week).  They've changed the opening credits to include Martin Brodeur clipping the netting out after breaking Patrick Roy's record last week.  A significant moment in hockey history.  (Photo - Associated Press)

POTUS at Notre Dame

From the White House website:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the White House daily press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that President Obama will serve as commencement speaker at ... the University of Notre Dame ...  this year. 
Hang on a minute, does anybody else hear anything?

OK, start the countdown

Yesterday, March 20, was the Vernal Equinox, meaning the sun spent the day passing directly over the equator.  This is significant for Catholics because it is one of three "landmarks" that determine the date of Easter each year.

Remember last year, when Easter was so early?  In 2008, the Vernal Equinox fell on March 20, and the full moon fell right on its heels, on Friday, March 21.  The next Sunday after that was Easter, March 23.

You can read it like a treasure map:  Start at the Vernal Equinox (which falls on either March 20 or 21 each year), travel onward to the next full moon, and then move to the Sunday after that, and THAT's Easter in a given year.

OK, so we've passed the 2009 Equinox.  The US Naval Observatory reports that next full moon comes on April 9, a Thursday.  Therefore, Easter Sunday is on April 12, the Sunday right after it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bishop Finn - Take the Family to Confession this Lent

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph has an entry on his diocesan blog (yes, a diocesan blog) about the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Definitely worth a read.

The Catholic Key Blog: Bishop Finn - Take the Family to Confession this Lent

Another first: a run-in with a Capuchin

Another first in my life.  No, not with the Franciscan kind (though I've had my share of those).

My day off last week was uneventful.  I really didn't have anything planned, and so I ended up taking a ride out west to Peddler's Village. On the way back, I stopped at a French Bakery on the Delaware that makes these great sandwiches on baguettes baked right there.  I was in heaven, or rather le ciel.

As I'm waiting for my sandwich, a man comes in with a monkey on his shoulder, a Capuchin Monkey.  Five other people in the shop - a mother and son sitting at a table, an elderly couple looking at the cakes behind glass, and the owner himself - aren't looking the least bit excited or phased. I mean, there's a FREAKIN' MONKEY in the store.

Oh, and the monkey is staring at me.

You think he reads the blog? 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Shouts" is back!

After a little hiatus, my pal Fr. Guy Selvester has gone back to blogging, as "Shouts in the Piazza" makes a return to the internet.  If you were like me, and you checked the "Shouts" webpage every so often, hoping to see something other than a picture of a coat of arms, your wish has come true.  Click on the link to the right to be transported to his blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Martin Magnifique!

photo - John Munson/The Star Ledger

Congratulations to 38 year old Martin Brodeur for his 552nd career win, the most ever by an NHL goaltender.

March 18

Remember St. Cyril of Jerusalem today.  It's his feast day, and he often gets lost in the shuffle between St. Patrick and St. Joseph.  If you weren't a "middle child", think "Jan Brady" and you get the idea.

Back in June of 2007, Pope Benedict dedicated his Wednesday Audience catechesis to St. Cyril.  Read it by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saint Patrick's Lorica

Follow this link to read the wonderful prayer for "spiritual armor" written by today's Saint.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Year of the Priesthood!

This morning's press bulletin from the Vatican had this announcement (roughly translated by me, so it could be off a bit):
"On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the holy Curé of Ars, Jean Marie Vianney, His Holiness announced this morning that, from June 19, 2009, to June 19, 2010, there will be a special Year of the Priesthood, that will have the theme: 'Fidelity of Christ, fidelity of Priesthood'.  The Holy Father will open it, presiding at the celebration of Vespers on the 19th of June, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Day of Sanctification of Priests, in the presence of the relics of the Curé of Ars brought by the Bishop of Belley-Ars; He will close it, June 19, 2010, taking part in a 'World Meeting of Priests' in St. Peter's Square.

During this jubilee year, Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Jean M. Vianney, 'Patron of all Priests of the world'.  Moreover, there will also be published the 'Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors', together with a collection of texts from Popes on the essential themes in the life and Priestly mission in our times.

The Congregation for Clergy, in consultation with Diocesan Ordinaries and Superiors of the Religious Institutes, will 'busy themselves' with promoting and coordinating several spiritual and pastoral initiatives that will take place to show the role and the mission of the Priest in the Church and in contemporary society, as well as to upgrade the permanent formation of Priests as connected to that of seminarians."
So, following the "Year of the Rosary" (October, 2002 - October, 2003), the "Year of the Eucharist" (October, 2004 - October, 2005), and the "Year of St. Paul" (June, 2008 - June, 2009), now we get a year to reflect on the Priesthood.  In fact, not just a year for Priests to reflect on who they are, but a year for the laity to do the same.  Nice idea, boss!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Fresh off of my trip to Philadelphia last week, I'm now obsessing on "The Sound of Philadelphia" music of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.  On my day trip last Thursday, we passed by the building which houses Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records, where many of these songs were recorded.  They even have a gift shop, which a guy opened up for us when he saw me peeking through the window.  If you're on Broad and Spruce.  Hmmmm, I wonder where American Bandstand was filmed?

Still trying to figure out my iPod, I was all set to buy some of the the music (The Stylistics, the O'Jays, Harold Melvin, the MFSB orchestra, etc.), when I found out I already had a bunch of the songs.  I just had to make a playlist for them, which beats spending another $1.06 per song just to find out you already had it.

In the meantime, this is just a taste.  Oh, who to dedicate it to? (he says with a sly grin on his face)

Third Sunday of Lent - A First

After almost eleven years of Priesthood (and, come to think of it, almost twelve of Diaconate), a first happened on Sunday.

I had two of our parish's Masses today, the 8am and the 11am.  The 8am was pretty straightforward, with the readings for cycle B (Jesus cleans house at the Temple).  At the 11am, we had the first Scrutiny for those who'll enter the Church this Easter. Because of that, the readings at the Mass were from cycle A (Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well).  What it meant was I had to prepare homilies for two separate sets of readings for the same Sunday Mass.  The Priesthood: A lot of things, but never boring.

The Cycle B reading of Jesus opening up a can of whoop-@$$ in the Temple is always fun to preach on.  This is not the "warm fuzzy" Jesus.  The laugh of it all is that my pastor here insists that the celebrant of the Mass make announcements after the closing prayer and before the final blessing.  It means that after I preach about how Jesus disliked seeing the Temple made into a marketplace, I have to tell the people at Mass that the Home School Association is selling raffle tickets, the Altar Rosary Society is selling religious goods, etc.  This ranks right up there with the morning that we get the Gospel about the rich man and Lazarus, and I have to stand there dressed in a linen alb and purple chasuble, and preach about the wicked rich man "dressed in fine linen and purple".

The Cycle A reading is also a neat one to preach on (or, if you want to be grammatically proper, a neat Gospel upon which to preach).  The Samaritan woman is great to study, because of the way you can track her conversion.  In the woman's conversation with Christ, Jesus goes from being "a Jew", to "sir", to "rabbi", to "a prophet", to "the Messiah".  With every exchange with Jesus, her awareness of just who He is deepens.

What about us?  Do we try to make Jesus Christ into an "adjustable Lord"?

Are there some times when we want Jesus to be "Messiah", and other times we just want Him to be "Sir"?  Do we love Jesus one moment and grumble against Him the next, like the Israelites did to Moses?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Catholic Philadelphia

Yesterday, my day off was spent in Philadelphia.  A Priest-friend of mine was visiting the city; He and I have both been there before and seen the mainstays of Catholicism: the Cathedral of Sts Peter & Paul and the St. John Neumann Shrine.  So I did some digging, looked at biographies of Neumann and Drexel, and picked the brain of my friend and former Church history professor, Father Michael Roach.  Having my list, my friend and I spent the day visiting some of the other interesting "Catholic" places that are worth a visit if you are in the city of brotherly love.

Our first stop was St. John the Evangelist Church, also known for a time as St. John's Pro-Cathedral, located at 21 S 13th Street (near City Hall).  As a young Priest, future Archbishop John Hughes was its founding pastor, naming the parish for his patron saint, in 1830.  Hughes had been an emigrant from Ireland in 1817.  His studies for the Priesthood took an unconventional route.  Unable to pay his way, he found a job as a gardner at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, eventually went to the college and seminary there.  Ordained to the Priesthood in Philadelphia in 1826, Hughes would leave 12 years later after being named coadjutor of New York (It was during Hughes' tenure that "Bishops" of New York because "Archbishops" of NY).  But back to the building.

Starting in 1838, St. John's served as the cathedral for the Diocese of Philadelphia.  Bishop Francis Kenrick had begun construction of a newer, bigger cathedral (the future Sts. Peter & Paul), but the building would not be completed until 1864.  When St. John Neumann was installed as Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852, it was at St. John's.  When Neumann died in 1860, one funeral Mass took place here, and another at the Redemptorist-run St. Peter's church at 5th and Girard (the current site of the Neumann Shrine).  Neumann had been a Redemptorist.  Today St. John's is served by Capuchin Franciscans.

Next we walked down Chestnut Street, past Independence Hall, making our way to Old St. Joseph's Church at the 
intersection of 4th and Walnut.  Founded in 1733, this was the first parish in Philadelphia, having been established by the Jesuits (who still serve the parish).  It was from this "home base" that Jesuit Priests travelled throughout New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and western Pennsylvania, in order to provide the Sacraments for the Catholic families that lived there.

Down the block from Old St. Joseph's is Old St. Mary's Church, located at 248 S. 4th Street.  This was Philadelphia's second parish, built in 1763 by the Jesuits as a bigger church for Sundays.  St. Mary's is rich in American history:
  • In 1779, the first public religious commemoration of the "4th of July" was held.  At the Mass were George Washington, the Continental Congress, and representatives of the Army and Navy, as well as delegates from Spain and France.  Once the United States was a sovereign nation, the first Ambassadors who were Catholic attended Mass here.
  • In 1781, following the surrender of the British, a Mass of Thanksgiving was held. Following the Mass, the flags captured at the surrender were laid on the steps leading up to the altar.
  • George Washington visited twice.  John Adams, at least once.
  • The St. Mary's Cemetery around the back is also worth a visit, most especially for the grave of Commodore John Barry, a parishioner of St. Mary's and the father of the U.S. Navy.

Around the corner from Old St. Mary's is Holy Trinity Church, built in 1789 for the Sacramental needs of German speaking immigrants; the first "national" parish.  It's located at the corner of 6th and Spruce Streets.  Unfortunately the church is closed during the week, so we couldn't get a peek inside.

There were other spots that I found that, though weren't really places to visit, come under the category of "it happened on this spot" places:
  • The house in which St. Katherine Drexel was born used to be located at 433 Race Street, the home of Francis and Hannah Drexel.
  • After Hannah's death and Francis' marriage to Emma Bouvier, the new couple along with Drexel's two daughters moved to a new home located at 1503 Walnut Street.  This was St. Katherine's childhood home that was often opened up to the poor a few times each week.
  • St. John Neumann died suddenly, literally collapsing while running errands.  According to historical accounts, Bishop Neumann was walking on the north side of Vine Street heading towards 13th Street when he collapsed on the steps of a home owned by the Quayne family.
As summer approaches, Philadelphia is definitely worth at least a day trip.  But bring good, comfortable shoes for your day.  Nothing was as nice as my train ride home, crossing back into the Garden State with those warm words of welcome...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I love this picture!

I didn't have much time to do this, so the camera is off-center a bit.  But I wanted a shot that showed my view of a game.

Father falls the third time...

...and a fourth, and a fifth. Well, I don't like to think of it as falling, as much as intentionally dropping down to my knees to stop some pucks.  Yesterday I played hockey at the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, home to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League.  As we did last year, the members of the Geezer Hockey League bought a group package of tickets, and so were able to play a game on the Penguin's home ice.  Here are some pictures.  More should be coming from the family members who were there taking pictures.

The arena

A group shot after the game.
I'm on the far right (no pun intended)

Friday, March 06, 2009

The true sign that Lent is here!

I just got back in my room after Stations of the Cross.  For Young Fogeys everywhere, you know Lent has truly arrived when your knees ache and your quadriceps burn after going up and down fourteen times for the recitation of the Stations (more if your parish included Benediction).

This, of course, is only the first part of the pain.  The next is to come tomorrow morning, when I get out of bed, take those first few steps, and wonder to myself, "Who came in here last night and beat my legs with a two-by-four while I was sleeping?"

Times like this I remember that, all over the country, there are people who pay top dollar to have a personal trainer make their muscles feel the way mine feel right now.

Ah, Catholic Pilates, um, I mean, Stations of the Cross.  Gotta love 'em!  Now if I could just come up with some devotional that works the abs.

Fr. Benedict: Our God suffers

This is part of a homily recently given by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, and comes to us through the Zenit website.  I thought this part was perfect for a Friday of Lent:

"If you look at the religions of the world, there are unique qualities about each of them, that were founded by sincere people, far away from Christianity, and perhaps with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in those cultures: Buddhism, for instance. And in those religions, God never suffers.  In the Jewish religion, from which we come, God gets mad. He gets annoyed. He also gets happy; he rejoices when things are going well.

But in Christianity, God suffers.  An incredible, impossible thought. The absolute, infinite, divine being, eternal, unchangeable... That he could weep: This is the mystery of the Incarnation. Christ comes and weeps with us. He suffers with us. We have the unthinkable reality of a God who dies.  Incomprehensible.

Theologically, we have explanations through the Councils of how it could happen, but it's a mystery of mysteries. And the devotions of the centuries, especially of the Sacred Heart, reveal that Christ in a mysterious way suffers with us today."

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A lenten prayer

A friend of mine recently sent me some gifts that he had meant to send for my tenth anniversary of ordination last May.  The package, all wrapped up, ended up in a closet with some things on top of it, and there, "out of sight and out of mind", it remained until he recently was doing some cleaning and found it.  Thank God he wasn't sending me a puppy.

One of the gifts was a book, My God, My Glory, which is a collection of prayers written by Eric Milner-White, who was Dean of York from 1941-1963.  It is a collection of prayers he had written for different feast days and seasons in the Christian year.  Here's a sampling:

Lord, bless to me this Lent.

Lord, let me fast most truly and profitably,
by feeding in prayer on thy Spirit:
reveal me to myself
in the light of thy holiness.

Suffer me never to think
that I have knowledge enough to need no teaching,
wisdom enough to need no correction,
talents enough to need no grace,
goodness enough to need no progress,
humility enough to need no repentance,
devotion enough to need no quickening,
strength enough without thy Spirit;
left, standing still, I fall back for evermore.

Shew me the desires that should be disciplined,
and sloths to be slain.
Shew me the omissions to be made up
and the habits to be mended.
And behind these, weaken, humble, and annihilate in me
self-will, self-righteousness, self-satisfaction,
self-sufficiency, self-assertion, vainglory.

May my whole effort be to return to thee;
O make it serious and sincere
persevering and fruitful in result,
by the help of thy Holy Spirit
and to they glory,
my Lord and my God.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Another Sunday, another game!

I forgot to mention that, for the second Sunday in a row, someone was kind enough to offer me a ticket to an NHL game: The Devils vs. Flyers!  This time it was a Priest-friend of mine, a fellow Devils fan, who had friends with tickets.  This is a picture I took from our seats. 

Between periods, I saw NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, but I was too fearful of appearing like a groupie to ask for a photo.  Now I wish I did.

Snow: Whaddya do with it?

This was yesterday's first reading at Mass:  
"Thus says the Lord:  Just as from the heavens the rain and the snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful ... so shall my word be that goes from my mouth;"
How appropriate to hear these words, especially here in New Jersey where we just experienced a snowstorm just as we thought winter was coming to an end.

So God's word comes to us like snow.  But let's remember just how we deal with snow in our "busy lives".  What do we do with it?  We shovel it out of our driveway, we plow it off of our streets, we want it out of our way. 

We want snow on our terms: Any time in the three days leading up to Christmas is fine, and then after that on the trees and grass and certainly the ski slopes, but no place where I'd have to deal with it.  In short: close enough to observe, but not close enough to get involved with it.

It wasn't like that when we were kids.  When we were kids, snow was our friend.  We wished and hoped and prayed for it.  Waking up on
the morning of a school day and looking out the window to see a blanket of white stuff brought a joy rivaled only by Christmas morning.  We played in it.  We jumped in it.  We made snowballs and snowforts.  We took our Star Wars action figures outside (you know, the ones that are now worth like 3 billion dollars if you kept them in the original packaging - like that was gonna happen) and replayed the battle on Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back.  What, just me?

Yes, God's word is a lot like snow.  We can neither create it ourselves nor control where it goes.  We can fake it, come up with something that looks awfully like the real thing (ski resorts have huge snow making machines), but in the end those just satisfy a craving and not the appetite.  Snow lands on everything equally: trees, cars, roofs, sidewalks and streets, slums and estates, manmade and Godmade.

When grownups see snow, we think about its consequences: inconvenience, delays, treacherous roads and sprained ankles.  Sure, we like looking at it, when there's a pane of glass separating us from it.  When children see snow, they see only it; nothing else matters.  We want to surround ourselves with it, spend time in it, play in it, put it in our friends' faces, never wanting it to end.  Grownups see the snow and lament how it will affect them; children see the snow and plot how they can affect it.

This was a great reading for Lent, especially when people can hear about God's word being like snow, having trudged through the snow to get to Mass and then trudging through it to get home.

God's Word: do we shovel it out of our way or drive right through it?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Another St. Katherine Drexel factoid

On today's feast day, it's worth repeating the connection between the Drexels and Jackie Kennedy.

Katherine was the child of Francis Drexel and Hannah Langstroth Drexel.  Katherine's mother, Hannah, a Baptist Quaker, died only five weeks after Katherine's birth on December 30, 1858. 

One year and four months later, on April 10, 1860, Francis remarried, this time to Emma Bouvier at Old St. Joseph's Church, a Jesuit parish not far from Independence Hall.  Emma (1833-1883) was one of eleven children of Michel Bouvier and Louise Vernou Bouvier.  One of Louise's younger brothers was John Vernou Bouvier (1843-1926), whose son, John Vernou Bouvier, Jr. (1865-1948) had a son, John Vernou Bouvier III (1891-1957).  This was "Black Jack" Bouvier (called so because of his perpetual tan and flamboyant lifestyle) who had two daughters, Caroline Lee and Jacqueline, whom the world would eventually know as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.  This would mean that Saint Katherine Drexel is the great great great step-aunt of Caroline (Kennedy) Schlossberg.

There is no relation, however, to Patti and Selma Bouvier.

Happy Feast day, St. Katherine Drexel

Day Seven

This morning, the sun is out and the kiddies are back in school.  Yesterday at this time, though, we were getting the first serious snow of the season.  What a difference a day makes.

A "snowed in" day is a treat in a parish.  Things are a little quieter and you get the chance to tackle things that you may not have had time for previously.  For me, it was the day to do my income taxes.  The rule is simple in my life (and in my head it reads like a law):
"Taxes shall be done on the first 'snow day' of the new year, following the time when I have my W-2 forms.  If I get to April 1, and there have been no snowy days, then taxes must be done in the next available patch of three hours of open time."
So the first part of yesterday, following the 7am Mass in which 2 "diehards" came out in the snow for Mass, was spent with my calculator and a pile of receipts from 2008.

Today, Tuesday, marks "Day 7" since Ash Wednesday.  How is (are) the resolution(s) going?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Holy Father, Curia on retreat

The Vatican YouTube channel has posted a short video which gives you an idea of what it's like to be in the Redemptoris Mater chapel this week, as Pope benedict and the Curia complete their Lenten exercises.

In particular, notice how the Pope does not sit with the rest of the attendees.  To give him some privacy whilst on retreat (as well as to prevent him from being a distraction to others as they attend the retreat), he sits in an adjoining room that has a view of the sanctuary.