Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cast The Net, Tend My Sheep

Today is the third Sunday of Easter. The Gospel at Mass brings the Risen Christ and the disciples back to the seashore.

From John Chapter 21:

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We also will come with you.”

So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”

They answered him, “No.”

So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”

So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish.

When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”

So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”

And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

The image above is a photo of Vincent van Gogh's "The Stevedores in the Arles" or "Men Unloading a Boat at Arles" (1888). The painting lives at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Spain.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The English Department

Today's New York Times carries an important story by Marc Santora and Christine Hauser about how students and faculty of the Virginia Tech English Department had interacted with the student who Monday carried out the mass murder on that campus.

Please read the whole story but there's one part that sticks with you:

Ross Alameddine sat a few feet from Mr. Cho for months in a class examining contemporary horror films and literature. Both students were required to keep what were known as “fear journals,” where they chronicled both their reaction to the material covered in class and their own fears.

Mr. Alameddine, according to classmates, made an effort to speak to Mr. Cho on several occasions, trying to draw him out of his closed world and his refusal to interact with other students.

On Monday, Mr. Cho shot and killed Mr. Alameddine.

There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Cho targeted his classmate, but it is the first time one of the victims has been connected to Mr. Cho before the shootings.

Into Great Silence

On Sunday, I ventured out into the Nor'easter to see "Into Great Silence" at the Film Forum.

The nearly three-hour documentary film, with no voice-over or added music, follows the lives of the Carthusian monks (hermits?) at la Grande Chartreuse, a monastery in the French Alps.

The filmmaker, Philip Gröning, lived with the brothers for the six months he made the documentary (with no artificial lighting or extra cameras).

He shows them at prayer, in choir, eating solitary meals and one common meal. He also shows their rare occasions of social interaction, including enjoying the snow of the Alps.

The only thing omitted was the making of the Chartreuse liqueur.

It was difficult sitting through almost three hours of near silence -- made you wonder how these unique men spend nearly their entire lives practicing it in the hope of achieving such great intimacy with God.

Peace Be With You

I've been remiss this week in posting one of the readings from the Sunday Mass. The Gospel was a good one -- "Doubting Thomas." From Chapter 20 of the Gospel of John:

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 midst and 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.

Catholics now call the second Sunday of Easter "Divine Mercy Sunday."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I'm finding it difficult to concentrate today, attempting to focus on work while mentally processing the mass murder that occurred yesterday at Virginia Tech. I once attended a conference on that campus and the building names being repeated in the news reports are familiar to me.

This morning, while on the train to Yonkers, I read this reflection by Lucinda Roy that appeared on The New York Times commentary page. A quote:

"But Blacksburg isn’t a place of massacres — Blacksburg is my home in southwest Virginia. It’s boring — that’s why I like it. We are Virginia Tech, the fighting gobblers, the ones who wear the funny turkey hats and plant tasteless turkey sculptures all over town. We are not the stuff of massacres."

The NYT photo above is by Todd Heisler.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Main Street Plans

Mike Jones wrote in Friday's O-R about a meeting tomorrow night at the Midway Fire Hall on a way the boroughs of McDonald and Burgettstown could work together to improve their business districts.

While I'll be out-of-state tomorrow, I hope many local residents attend this important community meeting!

From Mike's article:

Two northern Washington County boroughs are working together to take advantage of a state program designed to spruce up small-town business districts.

The Pennsylvania Regional Main Street Program provides funding assistance for hiring a manager to plan economic development and revitalize smaller communities. While most Main Street managers oversee development in just one town, borough officials from McDonald and Burgettstown are discussing sharing a manager because of their size.

On Tuesday, officials from both boroughs will meet with state and county redevelopment planners to learn more about the program. The public and representatives of other area municipalities are also invited to attend and discuss the plans during the 6:30 p.m. meeting at the Midway fire hall.

“Surviving the Blitz”

A few days back, Catholic Online posted a story on the remarks of Tom Brady, Sr., at a recent Catholic men's conference in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The father of the Superbowl-winning quarterback of the same name, he spoke about how prayer and faith can help with "blitz-like pressures we all encounter in everyday life."

Good quotes:

"There’s no Pollyanna in the Brady family,” he said. “We have in our family experienced the pain of divorce, the anguish of family feuds. We’ve been addicted with the Irish flu - or perhaps that’s alcoholism. And other addictions as well.” He added that he himself was abused as a child.

Brady, 62, did not speak specifically about the well-publicized news that son Tom and his former girlfriend, actress Bridget Moynihan, are expecting a child outside of marriage. But Brady did note that this isn’t the first time this has happened in his family.

“When it comes to grandchildren being born outside of wedlock, we’re three for three,” he said. “There’s disappointment there because that’s not really kind of the way it’s done. But I love the fact that they’re here with us - rather than the alternative that so often happens in society today.”

Sunday, April 08, 2007

They Remembered His Words

From Luke Chapter 24:

At daybreak on the first day of the week the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.

They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”

And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others.

The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

The image above is Maurice Denis' 1894 oil on canvas "Holy Women Near the Tomb/Saintes Femmes au tombeau."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Triduum

For Catholics, the Season of Lent ended Thursday evening at dusk and the "Easter Triduum" began -- our three-day commemoration of Jesus Christ's Last Supper, Agony in the Garden, Suffering, Death, Entombment and Resurrection.

These days have been Spirit-filled for me. On Thursday evening, I attended a tremendous Holy Thursday Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church, a few blocks west of Union Square in Manhattan. For Good Friday, I spent about six hours at St. Patrick's Cathedral -- for the solemn "Three-Hour Meditation on Christ's Seven Last Words" and for the traditional Good Friday service.

At last year's Easter Vigil, Pope Benedict XVI spoke these words about what all this means for our world:

"If we may borrow the language of the theory of evolution," Benedict said, "it [the Resurrection] is the greatest 'mutation,' absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development. … It is a qualitative leap … towards a new future life, towards a new world which, starting from Christ, already continuously permeates this world of ours, transforms it and draws it to itself."

A blessed Easter to all!

Monday, April 02, 2007


Yesterday evening, we saw "Reign Over Me," which stars Don Cheadle as a Manhattan dentist who tries to help his old dental school roommate, played by Adam Sandler, come to grips with the death of his wife and daughters.

Overall, "Reign Over Me" was a decent film despite seeming to drag at times. Cheadle was quite good. Sandler's performance was passable but I can't help thinking that perhaps stronger actor could have been found for the role.

A.O. Scott's somewhat critical review of "Reign Over Me" in the New York Times was deserved, I think -- although I appreciated Liv Tyler's small role more than he did.

The Stones Will Cry Out!

Yesterday was Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion, the first day of Holy Week. From the Gospel of Luke Chapter 19, we recall Christ's entry into Jerusalem:

Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.’”

So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them.

And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?”

They answered, “The Master has need of it.”

So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount.

As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen.

They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”

He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”