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.