Monday, March 31, 2008

In Memoriam: Larry Hawk, 1932-2008

Word came today of the death Saturday of Larry Hawk, a former colleague of mine on McDonald Borough Council. He was 75.

Larry's obituary describes his long service in the U.S. Armed Forces and his receipt of the Purple Heart.

During his five years on McDonald Council, Larry devoted many hours to coordinating the borough's public works department.

Please remember Larry's wife, Lucy, and their family in your prayers.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Changed My Mind"

Richard Mellon Scaife has a column in today's Tribune-Review on his meeting this week with Senator Hillary Clinton.

From the column:

The very morning that she came to the Trib, our editorial page raised questions about her campaign and criticized her on several other scores.

Reading that, a lesser politician -- one less self-assured, less informed on domestic and foreign issues, less confident of her positions -- might well have canceled the interview right then and there.

Sen. Clinton came to the Trib anyway and, for 90 minutes, answered questions.

Her meeting and her remarks during it changed my mind about her.

Walking into our conference room, not knowing what to expect (or even, perhaps, expecting the worst), took courage and confidence. Not many politicians have political or personal courage today, so it was refreshing to see her exhibit both.

Sen. Clinton also exhibited an impressive command of many of today's most pressing domestic and international issues. Her answers were thoughtful, well-stated, and often dead-on.



Perhaps there will be peace on earth one day.

Hat-tip: GrassrootsPA

The Trib photo above is credited to Sidney L. Davis.

On The Contrary

Over at A Nun's Life, Sr. Julie had two interesting posts this week on nuns, sexual urges and relationships.

She titled the second post: "Do women become nuns because they can’t “get a guy”?

In that post she made the strong point below:

Too often people assume that nuns are women who couldn’t “get a guy” or who broke up with someone they thought was “the one” and was left with no alternative. Nuns are also stereotyped as sexually repressed, dowdy women who lack passion and care only about piety, cleanliness and order.


On the contrary …

Women do not become nuns because they had a bad relationship or because they don’t like sexual activity/energy or because they "can’t get a guy". Nuns are women who would have made wonderful lovers, wives, and mothers. Still we choose to respond to God’s call to a different way of life, a way of life that is just as full and natural as single or married life.

Life In His Name

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter or what Catholics call "Divine Mercy Sunday." The Gospel at Mass brings us Jesus appearing to his disciples and the story of "Doubting Thomas".

From John Chapter 20:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midstand said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.

Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

The photo above from the Houston Chronicle is of the 40-feet high by 20-feet wide "Resurrection Window" of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston. The new co-cathedral will be dedicated on Wednesday.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thomas Merton's Voice

Andrew Sullivan yesterday brought attention to a series of YouTube clips in which you can hear recordings of Thomas Merton teaching the novices at the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky. Like Sully, I have read Merton's works but this was the first time I ever heard his voice. It was quite different from what I expected. It was deeper and had more confidence than I had imagined.

In the clips, Merton lectures on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas on "The Ways of God." His observations are solid, often profound and sometimes humorous.

To quote Sully, "I know you probably don't have time today but if you are curious about what an open, beautiful faith Christianity can be, do yourself a favor" and listen below:











Sully also had a follow-up post yesterday with an interesting e-mail from a reader.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Research

Some folks at the NYU Psychology Department are in need of people to take a fairly quick on-line survey.

If you would be willing, please check it out by going here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Capitols

This week, while we were in Indianapolis for the NCEA convention, we had the chance for a very brief late-afternoon tour of the inside the Indiana State House. From my hotel room window, I had a good partial view of the capitol building -- which we passed en route back and forth to the convention center.

Here's how it looked (images from other sources):



An aside: While Indiana's State House is certainly quite nice, the Keystone State still has 'em beat.

New Soul

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below is Yael Naim with "New Soul."

Peace:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Amazing Grace

Yesterday (Tuesday) morning here at the NCEA convention, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati was the principal celebrant of the Opening Mass. In his homily, the archbishop reminded the NCEA members that the continuing celebration of Easter trumps any other feast that may occur in the Church's calendar this week. He stressed the need to remember that the reality of Christ's resurrection impacts all we that do -- even our secular work.

In that spirit, below is a YouTube clip of a pretty good guitar rendition of "Amazing Grace."

Deo Gratias:



An aside: Archbishop Pilarczyk may be retro without knowing it. He wears cool '50s-style glasses with the heavy black rim on top.

It's a good look.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hell Freezing Over

Did you hear the news? Hell froze over today.

The cold snap in the Gehenna coincided with the visit today of Senator Hillary Clinton (D-Desperation) with the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review -- house organ of what First Lady Hillary Clinton once called the "vast right-wing conspiracy."

During her visit to the Trib, which she described as "actually very pleasant," Senator Clinton went on the attack regarding the Barack Obama - Jeremiah Wright situation. Here's the YouTube clip:



Wow.

Here is Senator Clinton answering a question directly posed to her by one-time Clinton arch-nemesis and Trib publisher Richard Mellon Scaife:



Just goes to show: In politics, anything is possible.

Hat-tip: Jay.

NCEA in Indy

This evening, we arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana.

We're here through Thursday to exhibit at the 105th Annual National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) Convention & Exhibition.

It's my first visit to Indianapolis.

A slight Pittsburgh connection: Archbishop Donald Wuerl is the chairman of the NCEA board of directors.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Man for All Seasons

Paul Scofield, the great British actor, died Wednesday at the age of 86.

He was perhaps most famous for bringing to life St. Thomas More in the '60s play and movie "A Man for All Seasons." In fact, Scofield won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the portrayal of this chancellor of King Henry VIII of England.

I suppose it's fitting to recall Thomas More on Easter Day. He went to his death attempting to do what he thought he was right as a Christian.

Here are some clips from "A Man for All Seasons":













An aside: I remember first watching "A Man for All Seasons" in late May or early June of 1991 when I had was homebound with full-blown chicken pox. (I was in 9th grade and extremely frustrated to be missing all of the end-of-the-school-year activities.) The video tape was a loaner from the McDonald Free Library in my hometown of McDonald, PA.

"Just as he said"



Tonight (yesterday technically), I attended the Easter Vigil Mass at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Manhattan's West Side.

It was a powerful liturgy that included the service of light and the blessing of the Easter candle; the singing of the Exsultet (sample in the clip above); the seven readings from scripture accompanied by beautifully sung psalms; and the welcoming of eight new people into the Church.


I served as a sponsor for one of the men who received the Sacrament of Confirmation and came into full communion with the Church. This was my fourth time serving as a confirmation sponsor but my first time doing so for an adult who had gone through the R.C.I.A. program. It was a great blessing to to me personally.


The Gospel at the Vigil Mass was from Matthew Chapter 28:

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow.

The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.”

Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.

They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. Today, we remember the execution approximately 2,000 years ago of a carpenter from a remote outpost of the Roman Empire. It is an event that changed all of human history and, for believers, human nature itself.

Will I be changed by this day? Will you?

(Image above from A Concord Pastor. Artist unidentified.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Triduum

This evening -- Holy Thursday -- the season of Lent came to an end and the Church entered the "Triduum," the three days during which we mark Christ's last supper, agony in the garden, trial, suffering, crucifiction and resurrection.

So, for this week's YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to share this setting of the "Lamb of God."

Pace e Bene:



For more on the Triduum, check out this good blog by a Boston priest: "A Concord Pastor Comments."

(Hat-tip to Rocco at Whispers in the Loggia for the link.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Frida in Philly

This Saturday past, while in Philadelphia, we visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Despite having lived in Pennsylvania 26 of my 31 years (albeit on the western edge of the state) and having visited the City of Brotherly Love on multiple prior occasions, this was my first ever visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The huge building may be most famous for its front steps which Sylvester Stallone triumphantly scaled as Rocky Balboa in "Rocky."

We went to the museum to see its special exhibit on the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907 - 1954).

The exhibit brilliantly brought together many of Kahlo's self-absorbed but original and stirring paintings. I was particularly interested in how Kahlo showed that the circumstances of her own life were part of creation -- part of the earth.

Here is some of what we saw:





Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fourth & Walnut

For those interested in the life and writings of Thomas Merton (1915 - 1968), a Trappist monk who is regarded by many as one of the great spiritual writers of the 20th century, today is an important anniversary.

Today (March 18) is the 50th anniversary of the day Merton experienced what has in turn been called "a sudden insight," "a clarifying moment" and "an emotional and intellectual epiphany" while standing on a corner of the intersection of Fourth and Walnut streets in Louisville, Kentucky.

From Merton's journal:

Yesterday, in Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, suddenly realized that I loved all the people and that none of them were, or, could be totally alien to me. As if waking from a dream—the dream of separateness, of the “special” vocation to be different. My vocation does not really make me different from the rest of men or put me is a special category except artificially, juridically. I am still a member of the human race—and what more glorious destiny is there for man, since the Word was made flesh and became, too, a member of the Human Race!


Thank God! Thank God! I am only another member of the human race, like all the rest of them. I have the immense joy of being a man! As if the sorrows of our condition could really matter, once we begin to realize who and what we are—as if we could ever begin to realize it on earth.


A full description of the event with two versions of Merton's account can be found here.

Fr. Jim Martin, S.J., also has a good post on the anniversary at In All Things.

According to Fr. Jim, the moment at Fourth and Walnut, "... set the agenda for the rest of (Merton's) life. From this inspiration would come much of Merton's writings on war and peace, civil rights, religious freedom and, in general, spirituality for the modern world."

In Memoriam: Janny DeJohn, 1958 - 2008

Janet "Janny" Zombeck DeJohn, a friend of my family, died Saturday in a car accident in the village of Primrose outside of the town of Midway, Pennsylvania.

Janny was just 49 years old. Please keep her family in your prayers.

May she rest in peace.

Saturday in the 'burgh

An image from the St. Patrick's Day parade Saturday in Pittsburgh:

Hat-tip: American Papist.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Palm of His Hand

A blessed St. Patrick's Day to all!

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"There were many women there"

This weekend, I was in Philadelphia with Anthony and Heather for a long overdue visit with Sr. Thomasmari Gore, M.S.B.T., who was our campus minister at the Catholic Center at New York University in the '90s.

This year, Sr. Thomasmari is celebrating her 60th anniversary of religious life. (The Diamond Jubilee celebration is next month.)

Sr. Thomasmari grew up in Maine before entering the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity in 1948. She was an educator for decades (abroad and in the United States) before becoming a campus minister at NYU in 1988. Among the many hats she wore, Sister provided determined and faithful leadership of the Catholic Center's soup kitchen Mondays at lunchtime.

Sr. Thomasmari is still tutoring in addition to being in her community's ministry of prayer.

It was great getting to see her again -- and to meet some of the other sisters who live at the M.S.B.T. motherhouse on Solly Road in northeast Philadelphia. We went to Palm Sunday Mass in the motherhouse chapel.

Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. The Gospel at Mass was the Passion narrative from the Gospel of Matthew.

From Matthew Chapters 26 and 27:

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, (My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’”

The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve.

And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?”

He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”

Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”

He answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.”

Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, “This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed; but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.”

Peter said to him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.”

Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

Peter said to him, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.”

And all the disciples spoke likewise.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress.

Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.”

He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”

When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”

Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again.

Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people. His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.”

Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.

Jesus answered him, “Friend, do what you have come for.”

Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear.

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?”

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me. But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.”

Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

Peter was following him at a distance as far as the high priest’s courtyard, and going inside he sat down with the servants to see the outcome.

The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward.

Finally two came forward who stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.’”

The high priest rose and addressed him, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?”

But Jesus was silent.

Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?”

They said in reply, “He deserves to die!”

Then they spat in his face and struck him, while some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy for us, Christ: who is it that struck you?”

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard.

One of the maids came over to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean."

But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about!”

As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.”

Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man!”

A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away.”

At that he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know the man.”

And immediately a cock crowed.

Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”

He went out and began to weep bitterly.

When it was morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”

They said, “What is that to us? Look to it yourself.”

Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself.

The chief priests gathered up the money, but said, “It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood.”

After consultation, they used it to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: 'And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of a man with a price on his head, a price set by some of the Israelites, and they paid it out for the potter’s field just as the Lord had commanded me.'

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus said, “You say so.”

And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer.

Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”

But he did not answer him one word, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner whom they wished.

And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.

So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Which one do you want me to release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”

For he knew that it was out of envy that they had handed him over.

While he was still seated on the bench, his wife sent him a message, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man. I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”

The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.

The governor said to them in reply, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”

They answered, "Barabbas!”

Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”

They all said, “Let him be crucified!”

But he said, “Why? What evil has he done?”

They only shouted the louder, “Let him be crucified!”

When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.”

And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.

Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand.

And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head.

And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha —which means Place of the Skull —, they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall. But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.

After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there.

And they placed over his head the written charge against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.

Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left.

Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, and come down from the cross!”

Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. So he is the king of Israel! Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him.

For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

The revolutionaries who were crucified with him also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “This one is calling for Elijah.”

Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink.

But the rest said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”

But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed.

But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said,‘After three days I will be raised up.’ Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This last imposture would be worse than the first.”

Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go, secure it as best you can.”

So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Stanley Ann

More from The Times: a beautifully-done piece by Janny Scott on Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro.

Here's one passage:

She became a consultant for the United States Agency for International Development on setting up a village credit program, then a Ford Foundation program officer in Jakarta specializing in women’s work. Later, she was a consultant in Pakistan, then joined Indonesia’s oldest bank to work on what is described as the world’s largest sustainable microfinance program, creating services like credit and savings for the poor.


Visitors flowed constantly through her Ford Foundation office in downtown Jakarta and through her house in a neighborhood to the south, where papaya and banana trees grew in the front yard and Javanese dishes like opor ayam were served for dinner. Her guests were leaders in the Indonesian human rights movement, people from women’s organizations, representatives of community groups doing grass-roots development.


“I didn’t know a lot of them and would often ask after, ‘Who was that?’ ” said David S. McCauley, now an environmental economist at the Asian Development Bank in Manila, who had the office next door. “You’d find out it was the head of some big organization in with thousands of members from central Java or someplace, somebody that she had met some time ago, and they would make a point of coming to see her when they came to Jakarta.”

No More Prosecutors

Gail Collins had a good column in yesterday's New York Times on the Spitzer scandal.

Money line:

No more electing prosecutors to high office, people. Too high strung.

It's 3 a.m.

... but the little girl sleeping in the ad is now 18-years-old and serving as an Obama precinct captain:



Hat-tip: Wilshire & Washington

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Waking

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below is Kurt Elling with "The Waking."

Peace:



I first heard this song during last year's Busted Halo retreat.

"We never noticed ... "

An apologetic message from the Clinton media strategists:



Hat-tip: Andrew Sullivan

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Food Court Musical

Have you heard of Improv Everywhere? It's the group of "agents" that carried out "Frozen Grand Central":



... and invaded Abercrombie & Fitch:



Here's their latest offering: "Food Court Musical":


Hat-tip: The Anchoress

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Rodhams of Scranton

Earlier this week, The New York Times took a look at Senator Hillary Clinton's family connection to Scranton, PA. They've even got some home movie footage.

From Katharine Q. Seelye's article:

Mrs. Clinton’s great-grandparents came to Scranton in the 1880s in steerage from Wales. Her grandfather, Hugh S. Rodham, began work as a boy at the Scranton Lace Company, once the world’s largest producer of Nottingham lace, now a shuttered hulking behemoth, on track to be redeveloped as an arts space and apartments. Mr. Rodham and his wife, Hannah, raised three boys here, including Hillary’s father, Hugh E. Rodham, who went to Penn State University, where he played football (and made bathtub gin, according to his daughter).

“The Scranton of my father’s youth was a rough industrial city of brick factories, textile mills, coal mines, rail yards and wooden duplex houses,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in her memoir, “Living History.”

An aside: I have two friends who grew up in Scranton. One, a woman in her early 20s who just moved back to Scranton after a year-plus of living in NYC, is supporting Senator Barack Obama. The other, an attorney in her 50s who now lives in Western Pennsylvania, is a die-hard Republican who would never cast a vote for the former First Lady. A small sampling to be sure, but I thought I'd share.

Flat-footed

After so many years of learning the nuances of Pennsylvania politics and its varied players, I have to concede that, when I moved to New York last year, I was in no hurry to study up on the Empire State's machinations.

Albany would be worse than Harrisburg, I reckoned.

So, I was left flat-footed when the big news broke yesterday. I did not even know the name of New York's lieutenant governor.

These are the kinds of days that the headline writers at The Post ("Ho No!") and The News ("Pay for Luv Guv") must dream about.

And ... The Anchoress says she never liked Spitzer.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Flood

At the retreat, we reflected on the Easter Vigil reading from Exodus Chapter 14. To begin the reflection, we listened to "Flood" by the band Jars of Clay.

Check it out:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

And Jesus Wept

This weekend, I was on retreat with the catechumens and candidates from the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program at St. Paul the Apostle Church. I am serving as a sponsor for one of the candidates who will be received into full communion with the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass on March 22.

The retreat was held at Jogues Retreat, a big old house on the western side of the Hudson River in Cornwall, NY, near Bear Mountain. It's owned by the Jesuits.

On Saturday, fog descended all around the house. Here's how it looked:

By Sunday morning, the fog lifted:

During the retreat, we contemplated the Gospel at Mass for the fifth Sunday of Lent. It was the detailed and emotional story of Jesus raising his friend, Lazarus, from the dead.


From John Chapter 11:


Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.

So the sisters sent word to him saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.”


When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.”


So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”


But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.

So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.”

So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.”

Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.”

As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him.


So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?”

They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”

And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”

But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.

Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.”

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone.

And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.”

And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.

So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Song to the Moon

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here's another piece from Antonin Dvorak: the beautiful aria "Song to the Moon" ("Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém") from the opera "Rusalka."

(Be patient -- it doesn't really get started until 1:23.)

Peace:



An aside: "Song to the Moon" was heard in the movie "Driving Miss Daisy."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"The New World" in North Korea

The New York Philharmonic last week paid a historic visit to North Korea. The visit had some political implications but was interesting musically, too.

In its Pyongyang concert, the philharmonic played Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World." In this space, I've previously shared the beautiful "Largo" section of that symphony.

Here it is as performed in North Korea under the direction of maestro Lorin Maazel (who grew up and was educated in Pittsburgh and was later served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony):



The Philharmonic also performed the overture to the operetta "Candide" -- sans conductor in homage to the piece's composer and the Philharmonic's one-time leader, Leonard Bernstein. (Sort of a "riderless horse" tribute.) Here's that clip:



The entire concert, complete with the North Korean and American national anthems and a Korean folk song, can be viewed in high-quality visual and audio at the New York Philharmonic Website.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

O-bam-a?

The Anchoress doesn't care for the Obama video below. Her words: "It stinks a bit too much of 'dear leader' to me." (By "dear leader," she means this guy.)

While I think The Anchoress is usually on the mark, I may have to disagree with her this time. I bet the video works with its intended audience.

You decide:



And, as much as it pains me to say this, I have to concede that I thought Hillary's Ohio victory speech tonight was pretty good.

(It drove Sully to do a shot of Jager.)

Not that this NYC-based registered Republican with doused libertarian dreams has a horse in the race any longer ...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

WWAD?


Who would Alex P. Keaton support in this year's presidential race?


I think his natural inclination would have been to go for John McCain. But, that would have been John McCain in 2000, when he was still talking straight: Jerry Falwell was an agent of intolerance, and waterboarding is torture. McCain going back on those two key points would have certainly kept Alex from pulling the lever for him now.


I think Ron Paul’s message is one that would resonate with Alex. And he would appreciate Paul’s intellectual power and his willingness to state his positions unequivocally and without regard to which way the political winds were blowing. I think he’d really like Mike Huckabee’s ideas of getting rid of the IRS. (I know I do.) But ultimately Alex likes to win, and I think that would have kept him from fully committing to either of those guys.


Hillary Clinton? I have to disclose that I’ve known Hillary Clinton for more than 20 years. I think she’s a warm, funny and caring person of formidable intelligence. I admire her, and I would love to be able to say that Alex would vote for her. But I don’t think it could happen.


So what about Barack Obama? I honestly don’t know. I think Alex is an independent now, and as deeply engaged in politics as ever. He would be intrigued by Obama — impressed with his eloquence and intelligence. He would be unhappy with his plan to tax the wealthy at a higher rate, but keenly aware that eight years of neglect and corruption and no-bid contracts have to somehow be overturned. And, I think Obama’s slogan is very similar to Alex’s own personal mantra: “Of Course I Can.”

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Clay With Saliva


Today's Gospel finds Jesus giving sight to the man born blind -- and the ensuing terse encounters with the religious officials of the day.


As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

When he had said this, he spat on the groundand made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.

So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”

Some said, “It is," but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”

He said, “I am.”

So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”

He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’

So I went there and washed and was able to see.”

And they said to him, “Where is he?”

He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.

He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”

So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.”

But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?”

And there was a division among them.

So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?”

He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.

They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?”

His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.”

His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.”

He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.”

The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.”

They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?”

Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”

Jesus said to him,“You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”

He said,“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

The image above is from
here.

Sleepers, Awake

Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent. The second reading at Mass today is from Ephesians Chapter 5. The final line of the reading (verse 14) states:

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”


This put me in mind of Bach's Cantata 140 known as "Sleepers, Awake."

Here's how it sounds on guitar -- via YouTube:

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Lift Your Gaze

This weekend, we are in Anaheim, CA, for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. At about 40,000 attendees, it's the largest annual gathering of Catholics in the United States.

The congress' them is "Lift Your Gaze ... See Anew!".

The recent Pew study on the religious affiliations of Americans is on the minds of many here. There's a good post on the study at The Deacon's Bench.