Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

The original name of this blog, that first came out in 1997 was The Graven Image Journal...taken from the great Jewish Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the greatest spiritual writers of the last century...who said in one of his writings that God broke His own commandment when He created man and woman in His own image...just that thought alone is enough to give you an insight into the remarkable thought of this great figure of the last century.

From USA Today:

This year at the centennial of Heschel's birth, Jews and gentiles alike are remembering him as more than one of the most influential theologians of the 20th
century. For people of varied backgrounds, he also is an enduring role
For the centennial, academics will debate Heschel's significance at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., on March 11-12. Another conference is Sept. 7-9 at the Thomas Merton Center at Ballarmine University in Louisville. Yale University Press will release Volume 2 of his biography.
Scholars will have plenty to discuss. Heschel's classic titles, including The Prophets and God in Search of Man, have made him a staple of undergraduate courses on religion.
Yet unlike his colleagues at New York's Jewish Theological Seminary, who
commonly regarded God as a set of abstract principles, Heschel wrote passionately about the Sabbath and the quest for a personal God in ways that earned him a broad appeal.
"Heschel's central idea … was a God of pathos, a God of emotions, a God who cares about human history and what human beings do, even individuals," says biographer Edward Kaplan of Brandeis. "It's a kind of astounding doctrine."

Pope: "Discord and Controversies Arise"

Even among the saints...from the Wednesday Audience:

Barnabas "was one of the first to embrace Christianity," the Pope explained, "and it was he who guaranteed the sincerity of Paul's conversion before the Christian community of Jerusalem, which still distrusted its one-time persecutor". The Holy Father also recalled how Barnabas had participated in the Council of Jerusalem, at which it was decided "to distinguish the practice of circumcision from Christian identity." However, Paul and Barnabas "fell into disagreement at the beginning of the second missionary journey because Barnabas wanted to bring along the young John Mark, and Paul did not."

"Even among saints differences, discord and controversies arise," commented the Holy Father. "And I find this a consolation because we see that saints have not 'come down from heaven.' They are people like us, with problems, even complicated
problems. Sanctity does not consist in never having made mistakes or sinned,.
Sanctity grows in the capacity for conversion and penance, of willingness to
start again and, above all, in the capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness."

Silas, also known as Silvanus, communicated the decisions of the Council of Jerusalem to the Christians of Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. "Evidently he was
held to be capable of mediating between ... Jewish Christians and Christians of
pagan origin, thus serving the unity of the Church in the diversity of her rites
and origins."

Apollos was a "cultured man well-versed in the Scriptures," the Pope continued. He preached in Ephesus and also in Corinth where, however, his success "had problematic overtones because some members of the Church there, fascinated by his oratory, in his name set themselves against the others."

"Paul ... expresses appreciation for Apollos activities but reprimands the Corinthians for being divided. ... He draws an important lesson from the whole affair: Both I and Apollos, he writes, are no more ... than simple ministers, through whom you have come to the faith. ... All have different tasks in the field of the Lord."

The Holy Father concluded: "These words are still valid for everyone today, for Popes, for cardinals, bishops, priests and lay people. We are all humble ministers of Jesus. We serve the Gospel to the extent that we can, according to our gifts, and we pray to God that He may make His Gospel and His Church grow today."

Behind Every Private Audience with the Pope

There is someone in the hierarchy who got you there...

The strange case of Terry McAuliffe as interviewed by Hugh Hewitt:

TM: In fact, I’m up to be on the Knights of Malta right now. They’ve just asked me to join the Knights of Malta.
HH: Oh, we’d better put out a word.
TM: Are you one of those?
HH: I’ve got friends in the Knights of Malta, yeah. You might not come back from your first trip to Rome.
TM: You need to go into the Knights of Malta.
HH: Huh?
TM: And as you know, the
Holy Father himself, John Paul II, blessed my wife’s engagement ring when I
wound up being at a private Mass for us in his private chapel.
HH: Nice picture. I know. Did he know about your supporting late term abortions?
TM: Sure, he knew he was.
HH: Is that teaching optional, Terry McAuliffe?
TM: Is what teaching optional?
HH: The Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life?

TM: Hey, listen, I have my views on my religious beliefs, Hugh, you’ve got yours.
HH: But I’m asking, do you think it’s…
TM: And you know, if you want to do a show on religious teaching, that’s fine. I’m talking about my book.
HH: Well, it’s in the book all the time.
TM: I make my statements, you write your book.
HH: No, but it’s in the book all the time about how Catholic you are.
TM: It’s not how Catholic I am. I’m an Irish Catholic kid from Syracuse. It’s probably mentioned five times, Hugh, so please don’t incorrectly characterize my book to your listeners.
HH: Well, it’s in here a lot…
TM: If you want to talk about the book, talk about the facts as they exist. I know you’re a right wing whacko, but don’t make things up.
HH: All right, let’s got to Page 113. Oh, I just quoted to you the page that that was
TM: That’s one page. That’s through the whole book? You just said it’s through the whole book, you don’t even remember what you just said. What did you? Go have a martini at lunch or something?

Now, who do you think got him that audience with John Paul? How serious are some bishops about the sanctity of life? Why is there such a disparity among the hierarchy in defending this teaching? Look below at Father Drinan's funeral arrangenments--who will show up in Washington and Boston to sing the praises of a priest who voted pro-choice across the board? Will anyone pray for his soul because of this?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rev. Robert Drinan Dies

Roman Catholic priest elected as voting member of Congress dead . Amy and I were talking about him yesterday and then last night I heard that he had died.

One cannot understand the Democrat Catholics who hold views contrary to the what the Church teaches without understanding that behind everyone of them stands a priest. Fr. Drinan is a great example of that--the Paulist Center in Boston is another example when it comes to John Kerry. It is for that reason that I think that if the U.S. Bishops want to get a handle on Catholic politicians they will have to first get a handle on priests. As an old Latin sayings says, I give you the English equivalent, "Every heresy comes from the altar."

There isn't a good faithful priest out there who doesn't have to spend a good deal of his time undoing the damage done by those who are less sure about their Catholic identity.

Pray for all of them.

Update: Funeral details:

At Georgetown University:

Wake: Wednesday, January 31, 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Wolfington Hall Jesuit Residence Funeral Mass: Thursday, February 1, 9 a.m. St. Aloysius Church, 19 Eye Street, NW

In Boston:

Wake: Friday, February 2, 7-9 p.m. St. Mary’s Hall, Boston College -- Lying in State: Saturday, February 3, 9-11 a.m. St. Ignatius Church, Chestnut Hill, MA -- Funeral Mass: Saturday, February 3, 12 p.m. St. Ignatius Church, Chestnut Hill, MA (followed by burial at Campion Center, Weston, MA)

New Bishop for Youngstown

Who happens to be the current bishop of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands...mmm Northern Ohio from the VI, not sure this is a promotion.

Pope Benedict XVI appoints Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. as Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown

Please Remember in Your Prayers

Gaurav Shroff's father Economist Manu Shroff passes away

And my godfather Clarence Grover

#1 Catholic Bestseller on Amazon

Thanks to the readers of Amy's blog and this one.

The Gift of Faith

Ranked 454 out of the millions of books that Amazon sells! You have displaced Gary Wills' What Paul Really Meant as the #1 Catholic title....a real service to those who don't know much and will now encounter a very solid and life changing book, rather than an opinionated version of what St. Paul would have meant if he were Gary Wills.

Monday, January 29, 2007

One of the Best Books on the Spiritual Life

I've ever read...

(Michael Dubruiel - 2007)

I have a M.A. in Christian Spirituality and have read a ton of books on the spiritual life, but I would have to say that The Gift of Faith by Father Tadeusz Dajczer is in a class all by itself.

I only came to know of this book a week ago, when I met the founders of In the Arms of Mary Foundation when I was attending the Catholic Marketing Network trade show in Birmingham, AL. Lisa Hendey has interviewed the organization for more about them.

Now, what I came to know about the organization is that they read The Gift of Faith by Father Tadeusz Dajczer and it changed their life. As a result they began translating his book and those by a disciple of Father Dajczer's S.C. Biela (See God Alone Suffices as an example).

What will you find in Father Dajczer's book a revolutionary way of looking at your spiritual life. If you feel stuck, or like you are just aimlessly moving about in your relationship with God, you need this book!

Interestingly it was a meeting with St. Padre Pio that changed Fr. Dajczer's life and outlook and one of the interesting anecdotes in the book is about a scientist who presented Padre Pio with his opus vitae, his life's work--two volumes that he wrote over his lifetime and wanted Padre Pio to bless. Padre Pio's reaction to this is worth the price of the book alone.

It was providential that this book fell into my hands at this time when Father Benedict Groeschel and I are working on a Q and A book on the spiritual life that will come out this Fall--and also while I'm working on a "pocket guide" to Confession. Fr. Dajczer points out there are two ways to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance--in an egocentric way or a theocentric way. The egocentric way of course focuses on oneself--we go to confession in order to feel better about ourselves, its all about us (of course the antithesis of the spiritual life, where we are to die to ourselves in order to live for Christ), the "theocentric" way is to be focused on Christ--what have our sins done to Christ? Are we sorry that we have betrayed him, broken our relationship with Him? Is that the goal to once again mend the broken relationship with Christ and His Body the Church?

I confess that I recognize that my own celebration of the sacrament has been more "egocentric" than God centered and of course that is a huge problem if one is seeking spiritual growth--to come closer to God.

Fr. Dajczer points out that the egocentric model in the Scriptures is Judas--who expresses sorrow for his betrayal of Christ, returns the thirty pieces of silver to the Priests, then "repents onto himself"--not to God or Christ--this is suicidal--we can not save ourselves! Peter who also betrays Christ, denying him three times--comes to Christ and expresses his love for Christ, "Lord, you know that I love you."

Check this book out for a real life changing book!

Please pray for my Godfather

...who died this morning after 94 years. He would have been 95 if he had lived one more month.

Who Could be New York's Next Archbishop?

Cardinal Egan retires on April 2nd.

From the New York Magazine:

1. Edwin O’Brien, 67Archbishop of the Military Services of the United States O’Brien was passed over in 2000 in favor of Egan, but his name frequently surfaces as a possible successor. A native New Yorker, he is now head of the military vicariate, the nonterritorial archdiocese that serves the spiritual needs of Catholic U.S. service personnel stationed around the world. While not an over-the-top presence, O’Brien has extensive seminary experience and powerful connections in Rome.

2. Timothy Dolan, 56Archbishop of Milwaukee Dolan is a mediagenic defender of orthodoxy who tows the Vatican line but doesn’t come off as stern. He’s long been considered a favorite for New York, owing to his Irish heritage and his experience as head of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. With connections to powerful prelates from the Tiber to the Hudson, Dolan is a something of an Establishment candidate.

3. Gerald Walsh, 64, and Dennis Sullivan, 61 New York auxiliary bishops The clubhouse favorites among local priests. Both are New Yorkers from Irish working-class stock and have done their time in the vineyard of parish work rather than the libraries of Rome. Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants, served for many years in the same Washington Heights parish where he grew up. Sullivan, the Bronx-born son of a cabdriver, toiled in the Bronx and Lower East Side. He knows how to lead a flock and manage a big operation; he oversaw the parish-reorganization effort for Egan. Both are considered long shots—auxiliary bishops are rarely promoted to cardinals in the same city.

4. Henry Mansell, 69Archbishop of Hartford The former auxiliary to O’Connor was reportedly on the terna last time around, while he was bishop of Buffalo, but instead was sent to Hartford in 2003. A New Yorker by birth, Mansell is popular with the clergy and is seen as a safe choice.

5. Roberto Octavio Gonz├ílez Nieves, 56Archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico While the Catholic hierarchy is sorely in need of Latinos to minister to a flock that’s becoming steadily more Spanish-speaking, Gonz├ílez—a New Jersey native—may also be tapped for the Southwest, where the need is greater. What’s more, Catholic power and money in New York still derive from the Church’s Irish roots; in 200 years, New York Catholics have had only one leader who was not of Irish stock, an ill-fated Frenchman in the early nineteenth century.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pope: St. Thomas Aquinas Model of Dialogue

From Asia News Italy:
The Pope made an appeal today against violence in Lebanon and Gaza, for leprosy patients on World Day of Leprosy, but above all to scientists and men and women of culture “not to be afraid” of the dialogue between faith and reason so that we can avoid the risk of “schizophrenia”, irrationality, and the conflict with cultures in the south of the world.

To talk again about the issue of “faith and reason”, which he so skilfully addressed in Regensburg, the Holy Father used as his starting point today’s saint, the philosopher and theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas, “a compelling model of harmony between reason and faith, dimensions of the human spirit, that are fully realised in their meeting and dialogue.”

“The relationship between faith and reason,” the Pope stressed, “represents a great challenge to the Western world’s prevailing culture and for this reason, the beloved John Paul II devoted an encyclical to the issue titled just that: Fides et ratio – Faith and Reason. I, too, recently took up the issue in my address at Regensburg University.”

The problem is that today man often reduces himself “to think only about material and experimental objects and shuts himself off from the main questions about life, himself and God” and therefore “becomes poorer”. Benedict XVI calls this situation, “schizophrenia”.

“In reality,” he said,” modern scientific development brings innumerable positive effects and this must be acknowledged. At the same time however, we must admit that the tendency to consider true only what can be demonstrated experimentally represents a limitation of human reason and causes a terrible schizophrenia in which rationalism, materialism, hyper-technology and unrestrained instinctiveness” live side by side.

From this comes the Pope’s appeal to “rediscover in new ways human rationality that is open to the light of the divine Logos and its perfect revelation Jesus Christ, Son of God made man. When the Christian faith is true it does not mortify freedom and human reason. If so, why then should faith and reason fear each other when meeting and engaging in dialogue can enable them to express what is best in each other? Faith supposes reason and perfects it, and reason, enlightened by faith finds the strength to rise to the knowledge of God and spiritual reality. Human reason loses nothing by opening up to the contents of faith; on the contrary, the latter need its free and conscious adherence.”

Referring to Saint Thomas Aquinas, who in the 13th century was able to achieve a synthesis of Christian, Islamic and Jewish cultures, Benedict XVI noted that by rediscovering reason open to faith it is possible to engage in dialogue with non European cultures which view with concern and fear the atheistic culture of the West.

“With far-sighted wisdom,” the Pontiff explained, “Saint Thomas Aquinas was able to fruitfully relate to the Arab and Jewish ideas of his time so much so that he can always be considered a relevant teacher of dialogue between cultures and religions. He was able to achieve that admirable Christian synthesis between reason and faith which represents a precious heritage upon which Western civilization can draw and which can be used effectively to engage in dialogue the other great cultural and religious traditions of the East and the South of the world.”

The Pope ended saying: “Let us pray that Christians, especially those that operate in the world of academe and culture, can express the reasonableness of their faith and bear witness to it in a dialogue inspired by love. Let us ask the Lord for this gift by the intercession of Saint Thomas Aquinas and especially of Mary, Seat of Wisdom.”

Pope's Latinist: "He Won't Do It!"

Extend the use of the Tridentine liturgy...

From the much loved Carmelite Fr. Reginald Foster, as recorded in the Telegraph:

"He is not going to do it," Fr Foster said. "He had trouble with Regensberg, and then trouble in Warsaw, and if he does this, all hell will break loose." In any case, he added: "It is a useless mass and the whole mentality is stupid. The idea of it is that things were better in the old days. It makes the Vatican look medieval."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Right Now its Snowing in Winchester, NH

How do I know? The Weather Channel's new interactive map lets you zoom in to anywhere in the world. A fascinating way of connecting two technologies!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Martini's Annunciation

Christians are “too silent” in Bearing Witness to the World

Pope Benedict's message to close the week for Christian Unity. The address as remarkable as any this Pope gives raises interesting questions about the ecumenical movement in this country. Have we joined forces to speak out against politicians who continue to support abortion--or have we chosen to observe a polite silence--that is impolite to the many lifes destroyed by the policies of those who support abortion.
Have we joined forces with those who reject war and violence?
Have we raised our voice with those who stress forgiveness to the penitent?
Have we ?

From Asia News Italy:

Christians must ask themselves if they “have become too silent” and “lost the courage to speak and bear witness”. The Pope raised these questions in his address today during vespers on the Feast Day of the Conversion of Saint Paul, apostle, which is the traditional event that marks the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Rome’s Basilica.

In addition to the need to pray, engage others in dialogue, ask for God’s help and better know our fellows in the faith, the Holy Father laid emphasis on the need to “bear witness” and of doing so together.


“But the seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit (cf Mt 13, 22). We must ask ourselves: Have we Christians perhaps become too silent? Have we lost the courage to speak and bear witness?”

“Our world needs this witness. It is especially waiting for Christians to bear witness together. Hence listening to God who speaks requires us to listen to others and to the other Churches. An honest and loyal dialogue represents the typical and essential means to seek unity. The Decree on Ecumenism by the Second Vatican Council II emphasised that if Christians do not know each other progress towards communion is unimaginable. In dialogue we listen and communicate, we compare and, with God’s grace, converge around his Word, accepting its demands, which are valid for all.”

Silence Makes a Return at Catholic School

So teachers can hear if a student is choking...

From the International Tribune:

Alarmed by three recent incidents of choking in the cafeteria, a Catholic
school set a new rule this week: Silence at lunch.

All three students are fine, but "if the lunch room is loud we cannot
hear if a child is choking," school Jeannine Fuller, principal of St. Rose of
Lima School, said in a letter to parents.

Any child who breaks the rule will be put in lunch detention the
following day, Fuller's letter said.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pope Benedict Condemns Violent Video Games for Children

Theme: "Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education":
While affirming the belief that many people involved in social communications want to do what is right (cf. Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Ethics in Communications, 4), we must also recognize that those who work in this field confront "special psychological pressures and ethical dilemmas" (Aetatis Novae, 19) which at times see commercial competitiveness compelling communicators to lower standards. Any trend to produce programmes and products - including animated films and video games - which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behaviour or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion, all the more repulsive when these programmes are directed at children and adolescents. How could one explain this ‘entertainment’ to the countless innocent young people who actually suffer violence, exploitation and abuse? In this regard, all would do well to reflect on the contrast between Christ who “put his arms around [the children] laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing” (Mk 10:16) and the one who “leads astray … these little ones” for whom "it would be better … if a millstone were hung round his neck" (Lk 17:2). Again I appeal to the leaders of the media industry to educate and encourage producers to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family.

Seminary students welcome sacrifices

Interesting story, I include a few snippets--but go to the link to read the whole thing. This seminary in South Florida was not all that long ago surrounded by farm land (mostly eggplant fields), now it is surrounded by activity. I taught there for two years in the early 90's--the student enrollment was double what it is now.


The men of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary know many Americans think their choice is unconventional. But they think they represent a Catholic revival: a youthful, conservative, energetic, in-your-face love of God and the gospels.
"I want to be the coolest priest possible," said seminarian Michael Nixon, 24, who calls his life before seminary "wild and crazy."
The future priests know about the financial scandals, pedophilia accusations, girlfriends on the side and other lurid accusations that plague the church. Still, they are drawn to Jesus, the rhythm and majesty of Mass, the sacraments and the social work that they believe can change the world.
Parishes in Florida and across the country are in desperate need of these men. While the number of American priests has fallen from about 58,000 to about 42,000 over the past 40 years, the Roman Catholic Church has added almost 1,000 parishes. More than 3,000 churches lack a resident priest, according to Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

And further down:
St. Vincent de Paul's five-year graduate program, with 64 students, is designed for men who attended college but still need the theological grounding and real-world experience to minister to a parish. Owned by the seven dioceses of Florida, the 43-year-old seminary, surrounded by shopping centers and housing developments on Military Trail, offers theology courses, spiritual direction, retreats and community internships to its future priests.
Because of the shortage, the church has welcomed older men it may not have sought to recruit in years past. The average age at ordination has risen from 32 in 1984 to 38 in 2006.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Global Warming in the Desert

Tuscon, AZ (looks a little bit like here--minus the cactus)

Cardinal George: Second Vatican Council Did Not Intend to Make Catholics Protestants

From The Catholic New World:
There are many good people whose path to holiness is shaped by religious
individualism and private interpretation of what God has revealed. They are,
however, called Protestants. When an informed and committed group of Catholics,
such as the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, comes up with an agenda for
discussion that is, historically, Protestant, an important point is being made.
Catholics assimilated to American culture, which is historically Protestant, are
now living with great tension between how their culture shapes them and what
their Catholic faith tells them to hold.
This is not surprising. Many writers who claim to be Catholic make names for themselves by attacking truths basic to our faith. Without the personal integrity that would bring them to admit they have simply lost the faith that comes to us from the Apostles, they reconstruct it on a purely subjective, individualistic basis and call it renewal. The Second Vatican Council wasn’t called to turn Catholics into
Protestants. It was called to ask God to bring all Christ’s followers into unity
of faith so that the world would believe who Christ is and live with him in his
Body, the Church. The de-programming of Catholics, even in some of our schools
and religious education and liturgical programs, has brought us to a moment
clearly recognized by the bishops in the Synod of 1985 (when the Catechism of
the Catholic Church was proposed as a partial solution to confusion about the
central mysteries of faith) and acknowledged by many others today.
This issue of the Catholic New World is devoted to faith in education and to
celebrating our Catholic schools. They make us proud and grateful. Dr. Nicholas
Wolsonovich and others have placed Catholic identity and the handing on of the
apostolic faith at the core of his reform efforts for our schools. Discussions
about the identity of Catholic colleges and universities continue despite
opposition by some and lethargy by others. The nature of Catholic health care
has been well worked out on paper, but finds practical implementation difficult
for many reasons. We could go on with cases from every Catholic institution,
including parishes and dioceses themselves. The Church is and should be a very
big tent. But the posts are firmly planted in divine revelation and the Church’s
response to God’s self-revelation over two thousand years. It’s a communal
response; the individual and his or her self-expression are never normative.
That’s a hard saying in a culture shaped by Protestantism and the later Age of

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Next Book

Available in March....

Exclusive from Poland: Who Was Spying on Karol Wojtyla

Will make his canonization easier...had the devil's advocate working while he was alive.

From Sandro Magister:

“Wojdyla,” that’s how it’s written. In 1949, the future pope was a misspelled name in the reports sent to the secret police by a turncoat priest in the Krakow curia. But they would get to know him very well – and how to spell his name – over the next forty years, until the death of the regime, while his life was bugged, filmed, followed, and analyzed “24/7.” Day and night. Everywhere. In Poland, and in Rome. In the airports, and on the trains. It was an extensive network that involved, in an unbroken relay, dozens and dozens of agents, moles, priests, journalists, intellectuals, blue and white-collar workers, secretaries, administrators. They included acquaintances, neighbors, and even some friends who came with him to Italy.

This was already known, because it couldn’t have been otherwise. But now there is proof of the spider’s web spun around the seminarian, then the priest, then the bishop, then the cardinal, and then the pope, thanks to documents found among the 90 kilometers of papers in the Polish Institute of National Memory. This is the same institute that produced the dossier that forced the resignation, last January 7, of the newly named archbishop of Warsaw, archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus. Wielgus, 67, was forced out under charges of collaborating with the communist authorities. The institute’s documents have also led the Polish Church to dig into the past of all its prelates.

And this nugget:

It is estimated that 2,600 priests were collaborating with the communist government by the end of the 1970’s – that’s around 15 percent of the clergy in Poland. The curia of Krakow was truly a crossroads for spies, whether in clerical garb or not.

Grossman and Ex-Gators All the Rage

From the best sports writer out there Mike Bianchi (although I did start to rethink this title when he doubted that Florida belonged in the BCS game):

It had to be this way.

Even though Rex Grossman, one of the most castigated quarterbacks in the NFL, faced Drew Brees, one of the most celebrated quarterbacks in the NFL, you knew this is how it would end.

Even though Brees completed 16 more passes for 210 more yards, you just knew.

Even when Grossman was on his way to a subpar 11-of-26 passing day, you just knew.

You see, perceptions and statistics and reputations don't matter in today's sports world, where Gators karma supersedes all else. You know it, we know it, even Grossman knew it before leading the Chicago Bears to a 39-14 annihilation of the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game Sunday.

When asked before the game about the massive amount of University of Florida kismet and karma currently enveloping the sports world, Rex grinned a giddy Gators grin.

"Yeah, I'd love to tap into it," said Grossman, the first UF quarterback to ever take his team to the Super Bowl. "There's a lot of good things happening with the Gators. We [Gators] have the No. 1 football team and the No. 1 basketball team. I'm excited about being affiliated with that university."

Lions and Tigers and Bears -- and Gators. Oh my. No matter what we try to do to escape the infinite, incessant, imperishable Gators lovefest, we just can't. Baseball, basketball, football -- they're everywhere. The entire sports world is crawling with Gators -- chomping, chanting, chiding Gators.

The football team won the national championship.

The basketball team won the national championship.

UF alumnus David Eckstein won the World Series MVP for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Former Gators Udonis Haslem and Jason Williams were integral parts of the Miami Heat's march to the NBA championship. Even Gators grad Emmitt Smith won Dancing with the Stars.

I don't know about you, but my money is on Gators golfer Chris DiMarco to win the Masters. And if Bull Gator Bob Graham decides to un-retire and run for president, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama don't stand a chance.

"It's unbelievable," said Bears defensive end Alex Brown, who played at -- yep, you guessed it -- the University of Florida. "If you're a Gator, chances are something good is going to happen to you."

Grossman may be the most unlikely Gators success story of them all. Less than a month ago, Chicago fans booed him unmercifully and the Chicago media called for Bears Coach Lovie Smith to bench him.

"Blind Faith in Rex Will Cost Lovie," blared one newspaper headline.

"Hey, Lovie, Quit the Pampering, Dump Rex," bellowed another.

"Grossman Must Go," shrieked yet another.

Wrote one Chicago columnist: "To say he (Grossman) looks like a deer in the headlights would be an insult to the deer." Brown, Grossman's friend since college, laughs now at the many Rex revilers.

"Rex is taking us to the Super Bowl," he told a group of reporters in a jubilant post-game locker room. "What bad things are you guys going to write about him now?"

His teammates have rallied around Rex; his coaches have stuck by him. Lovie Smith has been around the league a long time and says he's never seen a quarterback savaged in the media like Grossman.

It's true. When you think about it, has there ever been more criticism heaped upon a young quarterback who led his team to an NFC-best 13-3 record? Even though Grossman is in his fourth year, he is a rookie in many ways. He was injured for most of his first three years and this is first full season.

"Redemption?" Grossman said when asked the inevitable question about answering his critics. "That's for you guys to write about. It doesn't get any better than this right now. It feels great to be NFC champions. This is huge." No, this is inevitable.

This is incredible.

This is unavoidable.

This is just the way it is in a sports world that has utterly and completely gone Gator.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Abbe Pierre Dies

From Yahoo News:

The frail priest, who spent most of his life protecting people dumped on the margins of Western life, was little known outside France but was cherished at home as a modern-day saint.

"Abbe Pierre represented the spirit of rebellion against misery, suffering, injustice and the strength of solidarity," Chirac's statement said.

Born in 1912, Henri-Antoine Groues was the fifth child of a silk merchant but gave up his comfortable life to become a monk.

He took his nickname Abbe Pierre -- "abbe" is a traditional title for priests -- as a resistance chaplain during World War Two, when he forged ID papers to smuggle refugees out of France.

He began campaigning for the homeless in 1949 and shot to fame in 1954 when he went on air to demand shelter for thousands of people threatened with death during a bitterly cold winter.

His appeal set off a wave of sympathy, and his Emmaus chain of hostels for the homeless now covers 41 countries.

Most outside of France are likely to concentrate on his odd public confession late in life and his promotion of married and female priests.

Day of Penance and Prayer

From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass “For Peace and Justice” (no. 22 of the “Masses for Various Needs”) should be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day.

Roe's 34th year sees a new Washington

From The Washington Times:

The pro-life community -- participating in the annual March for Life today
-- is readying itself for Democrats seeking more funding for groups that support
abortion and perhaps lifting restrictions on federal funding for abortion.
But pro-life leaders note the House will still take a pro-life stance on many issues and that President Bush will likely veto objectionable legislation.

"We just need to do all we can to make the case that abortion exploits
women and destroys children," said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey
Republican and chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

Mr. Smith also expects some Democrats -- especially those with their eyes
on the White House -- to strike a moderate, seemingly pro-life tone on abortion.

"There may be a bogus attempt to claim common ground while money is being
given to Planned Parenthood," he said, warning pro-lifers to be skeptical.

Meanwhile, activists on both sides are awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court, expected before June, on whether to uphold a federal law banning an abortion procedure sometimes called partial-birth abortion.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Christian Unity

Subject of today's Angelus from Asia News Italy:

Christians are “heirs to past divisions,” but “Christ can do anything, he ‘makes the deaf hear and (the) mute speak’ (Mk 7, 37),” he can instil in Christian the ardent desire to listen to and communicate with one another and speak together with Him the language of mutual love.” It is with this heartfelt emphasis that Benedict XVI referred to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual event that will be celebrated by many Christian denominations from January 18 to the 25.

“It is my intention to comment at length on this biblical subject,” said the Pope, “next January 25, liturgical feast of the Conversion of St Paul, when, on the occasion of the end of the ‘Week of Prayer,’ I shall preside over Vespers celebrations in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, starting at 5.30 pm. I expect you to come in great numbers to that liturgical meeting since unity can be especially achieved through prayer, and the more prayer is unanimous, the more it is appreciated by God.”

John Paul to be Beatified this Fall?

According The Times the late Pope John Paul could be a Saint within 18 months...

From The Sunday Times:

This weekend the cardinal in charge of the process said he expected the
checks performed by the local dioceses on all three miracles to be complete by
April. A formal announcement is expected on April 2, the second anniversary of
John Paul's death, and senior Vatican sources expect him to be declared a saint
within 18 months.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Families of Nazareth Movement

An interesting group that I met with at the Catholic Marketing Network trade show in Birmingham. I'll post a review of a book that they publish, but for now here is there web site. Well worth taking a look at, as well as checking out some of the titles which are excellent translations of spiritual writings that originally were published in Poland.

The Families of Nazareth Movement

Many readers of this blog would be helped by reading this book:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Nun's Super picks are in: Bears, Colts

From the USA Today, today:

Sister Jean Kenny, Catholic nun and football prognosticator, has made her pick for Sunday's NFC Championship Game: Chicago Bears 27, New Orleans Saints 24.
"Isn't that something? Most of the time, 99.9% of the time, I'm for the Saints, but not this Sunday," Kenny says.

Kenny, 57, based in her hometown of Chicago, is a Bears fan. She says she puts that aside when she makes her picks. She correctly has picked the winners of 17 of the past 21 Super Bowls.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament (Revisited)

Mother Angelica's Monastery.

If you have been to Medjugordje, you know the story about the church and the painting. The church it seems was built to accomodate a huge crowd that didn't exist in the tiny village. The painting of Our Lady appearing over the village was painted years before anyone ever claimed to have seen the virgin.

A visit to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament reminds me of both. The complex nestled well off the beaten path (or in this case cow patch), likely one day will reflect Mother Angelica's visionary foresight. This is a place that was built to hold a liturgy of papal proportions--will that happen one day here.

On this cold January day there were six cars in the parking lot that could easily accommodate 1,000's. The piazza that could rival St. Peter's was empty. The large Church included three novices, a professed, three young men, a Franciscan and me.

I was here to attend Vespers, but had left my copy of the Office in the car thinking that there would be books available in the Church similar to what you would find if you visited a Benedictine monastery. There were none though, and despite the reminders of Our Lord's Passion visible--I poor sinner that I am, did not feel like walking that 3/4 of a mile back to my car in the cold to get it.

Enter Deacon Bill Steltemeier who graciously got out of his wheel chair (a sight right out of the Gospels or at least a Holy Ghost revival) and walked over and offered me his extra. Then stood beside me to help me negotiate the specific feast for the Franciscan martyrs (something I would not have known otherwise since it was a feast pecular to Franciscans). Deacon Bill also helped me to see where the nuns were since, I confess for the first ten minutes I could not understand what they were saying--their chant was indecipherable to me, until I finally tuned my ears to the high pitched tone--then I could follow, although still with great difficulty.

At the conclusion of Vespers, we immediately did Compline. I was a little surprised at this--I wonder if it is a Franciscan practice? That was followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

The magnificence of the Shrine itself is something to behold. The central focus is the Eucharistic Lord and it is a real blessing to all who visit. And if you are there for Vespers--you might even have a Deacon to help you!

Benny Parson RIP

Benny Parsons Dies (1941-2007)

Met him once for a fleeting second at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway about 10 years ago. Nice guy, great announcer--he'll be missed--and that's all any of us can hope will be said about us.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"We were waiting for the kids to die"

Senior divorce rates on the can't make this stuff up!

From Kane County Chronicles:

A couple in their 90s who had decided to divorce sought the advice of a lawyer. “You’ve been married so long,” said the lawyer. “Why on earth would you split up now?”

“We were waiting for the kids to die,” came the reply.

Call it “late-life divorce black humor.”

Monday, January 15, 2007

Preface to Pope's "Jesus" Book

From Sandro Magister's chiessa:

I came to this book about Jesus - the first part of which I now present to the public – after a long interior journey. In the time of my youth – during the
1930’s and ‘40’s – there was published a series of exhilarating books about
Jesus. I recall the names of just a few authors: Karl Adam, Romano Guardini,
Franz Michel Willam, Giovanni Papini, Jean-Daniel Rops. In all these books, the
image of Jesus Christ was outlined beginning with the Gospels: how He lived upon
the earth and how, although He was truly man, He at the same time brought God to
men, being one with God as Son of God. Thus, through the man Jesus, God became
visible, and beginning with God one could see the image of the just man.
Beginning in the 1950’s, the situation changed. The rift between the “historical
Jesus” and the “Christ of faith” became wider and wider; the one pulled away
from the other before one’s very eyes. But what meaning can there be in faith in
Jesus Christ, in Jesus the Son the of living God, if the man Jesus is so
different from how the evangelists present Him, and from how the Church
proclaims Him on the basis of the Gospels? Progress in historical-critical
research led to increasingly subtle distinctions among the different levels of
tradition. Behind these layers, the figure of Jesus, upon whom faith rests,
became increasingly more uncertain, and took on increasingly less definite
outlines. At the same time, the reconstructions of this Jesus, who had to be
sought behind the traditions of the Evangelists and their sources, became
increasingly contradictory: from the revolutionary enemy of the Romans who
opposed the established power and naturally failed, to the meek moralist who
permitted everything and inexplicably ended up causing his own ruin. Those who
read a certain number of these reconstructions one after another will
immediately notice that these are much more the snapshots of the authors and
their ideals than they are the unveiling of an icon that has become confused. In
the meantime, distrust has grown toward these images of Jesus, and in any case
the figure of Jesus has withdrawn from us even more. All of these attempts have,
in any case, left behind themselves as their common denominator the impression
that we know very little for sure about Jesus, and that it was only later that
faith in His divinity shaped His image. This impression, in the meantime, has
deeply penetrated the general consciousness of Christianity. Such a situation is
dramatic for the faith because it renders uncertain its authentic point of
reference: intimate friendship with Jesus, on which everything depends,
threatens to become a groping around in the void.
* * *I felt the need to provide the readers with these indications of method because these determine the route of my interpretation of the figure of Jesus in the New Testament. For my presentation of Jesus, this means above all that I trust the Gospels. Naturally,I take for granted what the Council and modern exegesis say about the literary genres, about the intention of various expressions, about the communitarian context of the Gospels and the fact that they speak within this living context.
While accepting all this as much as possible, I wanted to make an effort to
present the Jesus of the Gospels as the real Jesus, as the “historical Jesus” in
the real sense of the expression. I am convinced – and I hope that I can also
make the reader aware of this – that this figure is much more logical, and from
the historical point of view also more understandable, than the reconstructions
we have had to confront in recent decades. I maintain that this very Jesus – the
Jesus of the Gospels – is an historically sensible and convincing figure. His
crucifixion and the impact that he had can only be explained if something
extraordinary happened, if the figure and the words of Jesus radically exceeded
the hopes and expectations of his time. Around twenty years after the death of
Jesus, we find already in the great hymn to Christ in the Letter to the
Philippians (2:6-8) the full expression of a Christology, in which it is said of
Jesus that He was equal to God but stripped Himself, became man, and humbled
Himself to the point of death on the cross, and that to Him is due the homage of
creation, the adoration that in the prophet Isaiah (45:23) God proclaimed as due
to Himself alone. Critical research quite rightly poses this question: what
happened in those twenty years after the crucifixion of Jesus? How did this
Christology develop? The action of anonymous communitarian formations, whose
representatives are being sought out, in reality doesn’t explain anything. How
could unknown groups be so creative, how could they be convincing and impose
themselves? Isn’t it more logical, even from the historical point of view, to
suppose that the great impulse came at the beginning, and that the figure of
Jesus burst beyond all of the available categories, and could thus be understood
only by beginning from the mystery of God? Naturally, to believe that even as a
man He was God, and made this known by concealing it within parables while
nevertheless making it increasingly clear, goes beyond the possibilities of the
historical method. On the contrary, if one begins from this conviction of faith
and reads the texts with the historical method and with its openness to what is
greater, the texts open up to reveal a way and a figure that are worthy of
faith. What then becomes clear is the multilevel struggle present in the
writings of the New Testament over the figure of Jesus, and despite all the
differences, the profound agreement of these writings. It is clear that with
this view of the figure of Jesus I go beyond what Schnackenburg, for example,
says in representation of a good portion of contemporary exegesis. I hope,
however, that the reader understands that this book was not written against
modern exegesis, but with great recognition of all this has given and continues
to give to us. It has made us familiar with a great quantity of sources and
conceptions through which the figure of Jesus can become present to us with a
liveliness and depth that we couldn’t even imagine just a few decades ago. I
have sought only to go beyond mere historical-critical interpretation, applying
the new methodological criteria that allow us to make a properly theological
interpretation of the Bible that naturally requires faith, without thereby
wanting or being able in any way to renounce historical seriousness. Of course,
it goes without saying that this book is absolutely not a magisterial act, but
is only the expression of my personal search for the “face of the Lord” (Psalm
27:8). So everyone is free to disagree with me. I ask only that my readers begin
with that attitude of good will without which there is no understanding. As I
said at the beginning of the preface, my interior journey toward this book was a
long one. I was able to begin working on it during summer vacation in 2003. In
August of 2004, I gave definitive form to chapters 1 through 4. After my
election to the episcopal see of Rome, I used all of my free moments to carry
the project forward. Because I do not know how much more time and strength will
be granted to me, I have now decided to publish the first ten chapters as the
first part of the book, going from the baptism in the Jordan to the confession
of Peter and the Transfiguration.
Rome, the feast of Saint Jerome September 30,2006

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Comet--A Sign?

Has anyone spotted this commet yet? The pictures all seem impressive. I remember trying to find Halley's comet in a very clear night sky--one might remember the Miller Lite commercial with Bob Ueker trying to spot it.."there it is, there it is" and then he bends down to get a Miller Lite and it goes swooshing over his head--well I had a similar experience minus the Miller Lite and it swooshing over my head.

Anyway in ancient times these sightings would portend something big happening on the earth and of course in the past cults have used them for horrible undertakings.

I must say, though that the pictures I've seen of this one are impressive.

Pope Appeals for Just Treatment of Migrants

Many of whom in Europe are Moslems and of course many of whom in this country are Catholics.

From Asia News Italy:

The Pontiff mentioned the international scope of migration. “According to
United Nations estimates, there are almost 200 million migrants, about 9 million
refugees and 2 million international students;” to these we must add, “a great
number of brothers and sisters who are internally displaced people or
irregular”, and especially remember that to each “corresponds, one way or
another, a family”.

For Benedict XVI we must first look at this phenomenon in religious
terms and remember the Holy Family, “icon of all families, because it reflects
the image of God that is held in the heart of each human family even when it is
weakened and sometimes scarred by life’s experiences.”

“In this misfortune experienced by the Family of Nazareth [. . .] we
can catch a glimpse of the painful condition in which all migrants live,
especially, refugees, exiles, evacuees, internally displaced persons, those who
are persecuted. We can take a quick look at the difficulties that every migrant
family lives through, the hardships and humiliations, the deprivation and
fragility of millions,” he said.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Book--Highly Recommended

Vinnie Flynn has a beauitiful, meditative new book
on the Seven Secrets of the Eucharist. Check it out!

Friday, January 12, 2007

When Should a Liturgist be Prophetic?

My answer: Never! The 70's are fact that was last century.

Press release on Bishop Trautman's address:

The Catholic Academy of Liturgy met on January 4, 2007 in Toronto, Canada, prior to the annual meeting of the North American Academy of Liturgy. The keynote speaker was Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania and chair of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In his address entitled “When Should Liturgists Be Prophetic?” Trautman raised concerns about current directions in the revision now underway of the English edition of the Roman Missal being prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). The first edition in English of the Roman Missal was issued in 1973. Drawing on biblical scholarship, historical theology, and his many years of pastoral experience as a bishop, he contended that the new translations do not adequately meet the liturgical needs of the average Catholic and expressed fears that the significant changes in the texts no longer reflect understandable English usage. Trautman argued that the proposed changes of the people’s parts during the Mass will confuse the faithful and predicted that the new texts will contribute to a greater number of departures from the Catholic Church.

The Bishop cited various problematic texts, criticizing their awkward structure and arcane vocabulary that would be very difficult for the priest to pray aloud and for the people to follow. Just as problematic for Trautman was the recent decision to change the words of consecration that refer to Christ’s blood being shed “for all” to “for many.” That change could be easily misinterpreted as denying the faith of the Roman Catholic Church that Christ died for all people.

Bishop Trautman challenged Catholic liturgical scholars of North America to assist the bishops in promoting a liturgy that is accessible and pastorally aware. He urged them, in a spirit of respect and love for the Church, to be courageous in questioning those developments that would render the liturgy incomprehensible and betray the intention of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

I've spent a lot of time pouring over the new is faithful to most English translations of the Scripture--and that is what these responses that we are saying are taken from.

When we gather at Mass we gather as the Body of Christ--we die to ourselves. We do not speak our own words but by and large the Word of God taken directly from Scripture--as the Body of Christ we speak with His Word, not ours. We do not move as we'd like but our gestures in unison move as one Body--again the Body of Christ. I sure wish that Bishop Trautman had spent time encouraging liturgists to catechize people versus sowing discord among them.

By the way, if you don't want your parish to be blind sided by these changes--invite me to come to your parish and speak a very simple message about why they are being made and the nature of full and active particpation as the Body of Christ in the reformed Rite--my new book A Pocket Guide to the Mass will provide an excellent resource for those looking for the Biblical basis for the words we speak at Mass, as well as what the gestures and postures mean--look for it in March of this year.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Style Points

Bunches of them...

Florida 41,
Ohio State-invert that number 14

For all those who complained about Florida not having enough "style points" in their wins against a very tough SEC schedule--that includes a lot of rivalry games...well now you've got them and Florida could have given you a few more at the end of the game if you needed them.

Let's hope there is a playoff in NCAA in the future--so that teams that play weak schedules in big name conferences don't get all the glory--while teams like Boise State or Florida get bad mouthed by a bunch of no nothing sports writers and announcers.

Btw, Kurt (Herbstreit)now we know why you wanted a rematch so bad and why you thought Florida had no place playing your beloved Buckeyes! I'll bet reality bites!
Let's hear it also from the endless cries "does anyone think that Florida is the second best team in the country?" No, we think they are the best!

The question now must be raised after the bowls--does anyone think that Ohio State and Michigan were the two best teams in the country? Believe it or not I heard Tony Kornheiser say last night that he still thought the National Championship was played in November when Ohio State and Michigan played--is he Buckeye nuts?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


It's doubly great to be a Florida Gator.

One chomp, two champs.

Who would have thought that the national championship basketball coach -- Billy Donovan -- would live two doors down from the national championship football coach -- Urban Meyer -- in the same Gainesville neighborhood? Should be one hellacious Mardi gras block party.

Meyer's Gators came into this championship game billed as a team of destiny, but, brother, this was not destiny. This was domination. This was devastation. This was destruction. This was the antithesis of Nebraska 11 years ago in this very desert.

This is the 100-year anniversary of Florida football, and wouldn't you know it: The Gators pulled off one of the most shocking upsets of the century. Exactly 10 years after winning their first national title with a rout of No. 1-ranked Florida State, the Gators destroyed another undefeated team a decade later.

The naysayers said the Gators didn't belong in the game at all. The oddsmakers and media experts picked them to lose handily. But the Gators -- these gritty, gutty Gators -- did not care. Their fans were outnumbered, their team was outranked, but they believed. They believed in themselves. They believed in their coach. They believed in their quarterback.

Talk about validation and vindication, maybe now QB Chris Leak finally will get the credit he is due as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Florida and Southeastern Conference history.

And all those questions surrounding Meyer have been answered unequivocally. People wondered whether he was ready for a big-time job like Florida. People wondered whether his offense could work in the big leagues of a BCS conference. People wondered whether he ever could emerge from the immense shadow of Steve Spurrier.

Yes, yes and ohmygawd yes.

From Mike Bianchi (the greatest sports columnist out there) of the Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Listen to Me on KVSS This Morning

Talking about The Church's Most Powerful Novenas

Listen live...

New Bishop for Salt Lake City

Auxiliary Bishop John Charles Wester of San Francisco to take over the Salt Lake City Diocese.

Baptism of the Lord

Celebrated in the United States today-- but yesterday almost everywhere else in the world. The pope commemorated the occaision with a mass in the Sistine Chapel that included baptisms.

We'll commemorate the event by playing the BCS National Championship game tonight to officially end the Christmas season. Hopefully us Gator fans will have much to cheer about as we enter ordinary time (time without college football).

In Poland--Archbishop Resigns on Day of Installation

From Asia News Italy:

The resignation of Mgr Stanislaw Wielgus from his new post as archbishop of Warsaw is an “adequate solution” to the “confusion” created in Poland by accusations about his past collaboration with the secret services of the regime. But the resignation is also a new phase in the “war” declared against the Polish Church by a “strange alliance” that unites one-time Communists and “other adversaries” that could be the nationalists.

This was the gist of a statement released yesterday by the director of the Vatican press office, Fr Federico Lombardi, about the resignation of Mgr Wielgus whose “conduct in past years during the communist regime in Poland gravely compromised his authority, also towards the faithful”. However there is more to what happened than a mere personal episode that sparked “confusion” among the faithful and that was concluded – at least for now. A wider issue is at stake here that regards the entire Polish church. “The case of Mgr Wieglus is not the first and probably not the last case of an attack against a church official based on documentation from the services of the past regime,” said Fr Lombardi. “There is endless material and in seeking to assess its value and to draw credible conclusions, we must not forget that this is a product of officials from an oppressive and blackmailing regime.”

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Pope Appeals to Today's Magi

Feast of the Epiphany, from Asia News Italy:

Benedict XVI dwelt on some features of the Magi (of then and now), namely
humility and passion to seek truth rather than wealth and power. The pope said:
“They prostrated themselves before a simple baby in his mother’s arms not in the
setting of a royal palace but instead in the poverty of a shed in Bethlehem (cfr
Mt 2:11). How was it possible? What convinced the Magi that that boy was the
‘king of the Jews’? Certainly they were persuaded by the sign of the star, which
they saw ‘rising’ and which stopped right on top of the place where the Boy was
(cfr Mt 2:9). But even that star would not have been enough had the Magi not
been people intimately open to the truth. As opposed to King Herod, who was
taken up by his interests of power and wealth, the Magi were looking towards the
end of their quest and when they found it, although they were cultured men, they
behaved like the shepherds of Bethlehem: they recognized the sign and adored the
Boy, offering him precious and symbolic gifts that they brought with

The mystery of the Epiphany “contains a demanding and ever
present message” for Christians too, who often whittle their faith and witness
down to activism or sentimentalism. The pope said: “The Church, reflected in
Mary, is called to show Jesus to men, nothing else but Jesus. He is the All and
the Church does not exist other than to remain united in Him and to make Him
known to the world. May the Mother of the Word incarnate help us to be docile
disciples of her Son, Light to the nations.”

Friday, January 5, 2007

"What Would Your Mother Think?"

One of the great preachers of our day is none other than the Archbishop of Milwaukee and again here he is at his greatest giving us a lesson on the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God...

From Archbishop Timothy Dolan:

I could not get out of my head the story I heard on Christmas Day from a good friend, Father Ron Ramson, now a missionary in Kenya, visiting me for the holidays.
Seems that a seventy-three year old Daughter of Charity, also a missionary in Kenya, walked into a burglary in process at a religious house in Nairobi. The thieves were rough, ruthless, vicious, driven by violence and probably drugs. After they had pillaged the house, one of the criminals turned to Sister and leered at her, “Pull up your dress.” His intention was clear: he was going to rape this seventy-three year old nun.
With all the calmness she could muster, she looked at him and replied, “What would your mother think of you?”
Can you imagine? To a raged, pillaging rapist, she says words you would use to chide a six-year old after he had said a nasty word: “What would your mother think of
And how did the potential rapist react? He stopped, looked at Sister, thought a moment, and left her alone . ..
Those simple words had worked. That appeal to his mother had been effective.
“What would your mother think of you?” It seems that, no matter how low we may sink in life, how many mistakes, sins, or crimes we may have committed, the thought of our mother brings back all that is right, good, decent, noble, and honorable.
Moms represent the way things should be, not how bad they are. Moms remind us that we are destined for greatness, for virtue.
Bring on Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, the Mother of us all. In her very person she reminds us of the dignity that God the Father intended for all of us: free from sin, close to Him, united to Jesus, taken body and soul to heaven. That’s God’s plan for us all, you know.

For more of Archbishop Dolan's writing, check out Called To Be Holy.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Pope: Jesus not a Fairy Tale Character

From Asia News Italy:

From rejection to indifference, from scientific atheism to the depiction of a “post-modernized” Jesus: a mere “teacher of wisdom” or so “idealized” that he seems like a fairytale character. These are some forms of “rejection of God” of our times: perhaps more subtle and dangerous than those in the past, they go against the welcome of Jesus we are called to extend at Christmas. This was the subject tackled today by Benedict XVI before 8,000 people who attended the first general audience of 2007. Last year, according to statistics of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, more than one million – precisely 1,031,500 – took part in 45 general audiences, while 3,222,820 people met Benedict XVI in Rome throughout 2006 in audiences, Angelus prayers and liturgical celebrations.

Music and choirs in different languages (five came from the USA) were all united in the Christmas spirit of the meeting that was mentioned by the pope who noted the Christmassy atmosphere of the audience. He said the atmosphere was an invitation to joy for the birth of the Redeemer who has “abundantly spread” goodness, mercy and love throughout the world.

The Pope coughed at times as he referred to the Gospel of John, dwelling upon the significance of Christmas as a manifestation of our being children of God, “because Jesus came to put up his tent among us”, to gather all peoples into one family, not into one people but farther still, into a single family.

But “the joy of Christmas should not make us forget the mystery of evil, the power of the shadows that seek to obscure the splendour of divine light”. And the “tragedy of rejection of Christ that expresses itself today in many different ways as it did in the past. Perhaps more subtle and dangerous are those forms of rejection of God in the modern era”, that range from “clear rejection to indifference to scientific atheism” to “the presentation of a modernized, or better still, post-modernized Jesus; Jesus as a man reduced to being a mere ‘teacher of wisdom’ and deprived of his divinity, or else a Jesus who has been so idealized that at times he seems like a fairytale character.”

But Jesus is “true God and true man” and he never tires of promoting his Gospel. At Christmas, then, it is clear that “now we know the face of God” and “the amazing announcement that God loves us”. “It was not we who loved God; it was he who loved us first”.

The Child who is born “asks that we make space for him in our hearts and society”. The pope added: “One cannot remain indifferent before Jesus” and “we too must take a stand all the time. What will our answer be?”

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Book Includes Novena's to This Week's Saints

As far as I know, my prayer book The Church's Most Powerful Novenas is the only one that includes novenas to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton whose Feast is January 4th, St. John Neumann whose feast is on January 5th and Blessed Andre Bessette's (Feast day January 6th) novena to Saint Joseph.

No Church Funeral for Right-to-Die Advocate in Italy

From the CWNs:

The Rome diocese declined to allow a Catholic funeral for Piergiorgio Welby, the Italian activist who died on December 21 after his doctor disconnected his respirator.
The Rome diocese explained that during his life, Welby had “placed himself at odds with Church doctrine” by his outspoken advocacy of assisted suicide. Having been a leading advocate of the “right to die,” Welby-- who suffered from muscular dystrophy-- became the center of a heated public debate on that issue when he asked his doctors to remove the respirator that was keeping him alive.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!!!


"O Mary,

you who have given birth to Jesus

help us to welcome the gift of peace from Him

and aid us in becoming sincere and courageous builders of peace!

-Pope Benedict XVI (January 1, 2007, Angelus)