Monday, June 30, 2008

To All Who Have Longed

Yesterday, the celebrations for the 150th Anniversary of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in NYC culminated with an 11 a.m. Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. It was also the first day of a jubilee year the Church has dedicated to Saint Paul on what we think is the 2000th anniversary of his birth.

The principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass was Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the papal nuncio to the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The second reading at the Mass was a memorable one. From the Second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy:

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.

From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.

And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.

To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Gospel at Mass featured Peter. From Matthew Chapter 16:

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples,“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said in reply,“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The image of Saint Paul above is from

Saturday, June 28, 2008

150 Years

This weekend, my parish here in NYC, the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Manhattan's West Side, has been celebrating the 150th Anniversary of its founding in 1858. St. Paul's is the mother church of the Paulist Fathers.

Last night, the church hosted a reception called "A Night Under the Stars." Bass-baritone Ricardo Herrera, a former cantor at St. Paul's who has sung with opera companies in Illinois and San Francisco, delighted the assembled parishioners with several beautiful selections.

Tonight, the celebration continued with an evening prayer vigil for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

The service was followed by a presentation of the 1989 film "Romero," a release of Paulist Productions on the life of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. It was the first time I had ever watched in full this powerful movie with Raul Julia in the title role. It left me thinking a lot about Christian non-violence as a means of social change.

Here's a clip:

(You can actually watch the entire movie on YouTube through 11 clips starting here.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Juror #9

I was already a fan of Pittsburgh's Bishop David Zubik.

The fact that he's doing his civic duty and serving on a jury only makes me more of one.

The bishop is one of nine Allegheny County residents seated in the case of three defendants charged with breaking into an apartment and threatening, beating, robbing and sexually assaulting various people inside.

The Post-Gazette and The Trib have the story.

A bit from Gabrielle Banks' P-G report:

As the trial progressed, courtroom observers and witnesses, who hadn't been alerted to the bishop's presence, seemed to note it all the same. One witness, who was subjected to rigorous cross-examination by Mr. Sheets, said seeing the man with the white collar, clerics and crucifix in the jury box kept him from losing his cool on the stand.

A friend of one of the co-defendants asked another person in the gallery, "Is that dude a priest?"

The photo above is from the P-G.


For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is Sarah McLachlan with "Answer."


Flashback: Some Comfort Here

An aside: I had wanted to post "The Mountains Win Again" by Blues Traveler for this week's clip. (I heard them do it concert once and loved it.) But, unfortunately, there's no good-quality YouTube video with the song that doesn't have embedding disabled (as does the official video).

Well, at least Sarah M. is also from the '90s.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chasing Waterfalls

Earlier tonight, after a great dinner at Barbarini Alimentari, some friends from the old NYU Newman Club gang and I checked out "The New York City Waterfalls."

It's a grand scale public art project of four man-made waterfalls rising from East River and the New York Harbor. We saw them from Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport.

Today was the first day for the waterfalls, which will flow through October.

Our favorite (and, frankly, the one we had the best view of) was the waterfall under the Brooklyn Bridge (pictured above).

The NYTimes photo above is credited to Vincent Laforet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Renew Pittsburgh

Speaking of positive news out of the 'Burgh ...

My friend Kevin Acklin is starting a new initiative there called "Renew Pittsburgh." They already have some neighborhood clean-up days planned, including one Saturday morning, June 28, in Brookline.

On the agenda is cleaning up Brookline Boulevard, removing graffiti from the business district, painting and cleaning fences and the war memorial, assisting the elderly with yard work and cleaning the playground at Brookline Park.

If you're in Western PA, please consider giving this worthy project a look.

For a preview, Kevin is speaking tonight (Wednesday, June 25) to the Allegheny County Young Republicans at an evening Happy Hour at Alto Lounge in Shadyside.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

12 - 5

Tonight, while I was on the elliptical at the gym, I was flipping through the channels on the machine's TV and happened upon the Yankees playing the Pirates at PNC Park.

I was pleasantly surprised to get the chance to see a game out of Pittsburgh and watch the teams of my two cities square off against each other in interleague play.

According to the Post-Gazette, it was the first time the Yanks played in Pittsburgh since the 1960 World Series. The paper also reports that the game drew the third largest crowd ever to PNC Park.

The Pirates bested the Yankees 12 - 5.

I admit I haven't been following baseball at all this year so I was pleased to learn the Pirates are only a few games away from the .500 mark. (To put how notable this is into perspective, the Bucs haven't finished a season above .500 since the year I got my driver's license -- and I'm turning 32 next month!)

Go, Bucs!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Proclaim on the Housetops

I had a very nice time yesterday at the Catholic New Media Celebration in Atlanta. A big thanks to its organizer, SQPN (Star Quest Production Network).

Gashwin and Amy both have good posts on the event. It was a pleasure meeting both of them and so many others, including Rebecca and Ouiz.

Mass at the CNMC was celebrated by Fr. Roderick Vonhögen, CEO of SQPN and host of several Catholic podcasts. He gave a very good homily on a Gospel that happened to be quite appropriate for Catholic communicators.

From Matthew Chapter 10:

Jesus said to the Twelve:

“Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

"Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

Music for the CNMC was provided by Popple. They were cool. Here's a video of one of the songs they performed yesterday (produced by SQPN's Greg Willits):

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I'm in Georgia today through Sunday where we are exhibiting at the huge Archdiocese of Atlanta Eucharistic Congress and attending the Catholic New Media Celebration.

Please pardon the name dropping: This evening, I had the chance to personally meet Atlanta's Archbishop Wilton Gregory. He seemed like a good guy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below are two mellow versions of the great John Denver tune "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

Pace e Bene:

Go here for the original.

An aside: I once conducted a telephone interview with John Denver. It took place during one of the summers in the mid-'90s when I worked as an intern at the Observer-Reporter of Washington, PA, prior to one of Denver's concerts at Star Lake Amphitheater. We talked about his support for environmental causes and NASA.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

#23, Point Guard

Senator Barack Obama chatted with Jimmy Kimmel the other night, mostly about basketball. The honorable gentleman from Illinois even referenced this. (!)

Good TV:

Hat-tip: The Crossed Pond

The Harvest

The Brits are frickin' nutty.


Hat-tip: Andrew Sullivan who got it from Mark Shea.

The Large Table

Catholic News Service is reporting some of the text from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's homily today at the funeral Mass of NBC's Tim Russert. As always, it sounds like the cardinal hit just the right notes.

His conclusion:

"All that remains is to say thank you to the good and gracious God who gave us Tim Russert for 58 years and to pray that the beloved anchor of 'Meet the Press' is now sitting at the large table of the Lord to begin a conversation which will last forever."

Senators McCain and Obama sat next to each other at the funeral. CNN's Wolf Blitzer reports that, from his vantage point, they seemed to have a good conversation prior to the start of the liturgy.

I like that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Boundary Against Boundless Power

In today's Washington Post, columnist George Will rightly called out Senator John McCain for being too quick to attack last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Key graphs:

The purpose of a writ of habeas corpus is to cause a government to release a prisoner or show through due process why the prisoner should be held. Of Guantanamo's approximately 270 detainees, many certainly are dangerous "enemy combatants." Some probably are not. None will be released by the court's decision, which does not even guarantee a right to a hearing. Rather, it guarantees only a right to request a hearing. Courts retain considerable discretion regarding such requests.

As such, the Supreme Court's ruling only begins marking a boundary against government's otherwise boundless power to detain people indefinitely, treating Guantanamo as (in Barack Obama's characterization) "a legal black hole." And public habeas hearings might benefit the Bush administration by reminding Americans how bad its worst enemies are.


Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister has a good reflection at National Catholic Reporter on the untimely passing of NBC's Tim Russert.

One passage:

His kind is rare on U.S. television. We have other such journalists, of course, but we are more inclined to consign them to public radio and television rather than to make thinking the coin of the realm. To the mass of the public, television throws snippets of answers, bits of trivia, or 30 second snatches of ideas rather than serious conversation. For most audiences, the news media write sensational headlines or they dally in gossip.

Russert took on the significant issues of the day. He pursued them relentlessly. He refused either to talk down to the public or to talk over our heads. He enabled people to see the significance of what could seem like remote issues to their own lives.

Tim Russert was trying instead to make citizens out of voters, thinkers out of listeners. He was trying to form a real democracy rather than simply throw pottage at herds of politicized sheep.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lakefront Congestion

On Friday, this blog turned two years old. I'm proud of the anniversary. In blog years, that's pretty old.

It's ironic that the milestone occurred at the start of one of my longest lags (more than three days) in posting. This past weekend, I was on retreat at Lake George in Upstate New York's Adirondack Mountains. It was rural but they still had limited Internet access. What kept me off-line was a nasty head cold that I developed on Saturday and has persisted to the present moment. (I come to you now courtesy of Tylenol Cold.)

Despite the nasal congestion, I greatly enjoyed the retreat at the Paulist Fathers' scenic and peaceful lakefront property called "St. Mary's on the Lake," located near the southern end of Lake George.

The theme of the retreat, directed by Paulist Father Ken McGuire, was "Spiritual Discovery Through Movies."

We watched four movies during the retreat and then discussed the faith and spirituality themes in each. And, these weren't safe Christian movies, either. The films (in the order presented) were "Brokeback Mountain," "Whale Rider," "Into the Wild" and "Inherit the Wind" (the 1960 black-and-white version with Spencer Tracy).

I had never before seen "Whale Rider" or "Into the Wild" and enjoyed both. "Whale Rider" featured the most messianic character of all four films. While watching "Into the Wild," I couldn't help but thinking of Thomas Merton. If there are movies in heaven, he loved this one with its themes of solitude and man in nature.

Sunday morning, we went to Mass at the chapel on the property. The Gospel was from Matthew Chapters 9 and 10:

At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then he said to his disciples,“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon from Cana, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

The photo above was taken by a visitor to St. Mary's on the Lake in 2006.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oral Arguments

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Guantanamo Bay detainees may challenge their imprisonment in U.S. courts and have a right to habeas corpus.

The money quote out out of the ruling was this from Justice Anthony Kennedy (writing for the majority):

“The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”

C-Span is linking to the audio of the oral arguments that took place in that case last year. (Dork that I am, I listened to this last night while I was the elliptical at the gym.)

It's worth a listen here.

It's fascinating to hear the voices of the justices and their interplay with the attorneys. (Remember that the release of audio from the oral arguments is still quite new for a court that continues to refuse TV cameras to record its proceedings.)

You can read the Guantanamo Bay detainees decision in its entirety here.

The image above of the SCOTUS is from here.

Latte Love

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," I've decided to go in a somewhat different direction -- a song that's more light and humorous than chill.

Below is Kristin Chenoweth singing "Taylor the Latte Boy."


There's another good performance of "Latte Boy" here.

And ... a response here.

Hat-tip: Heidi Fedinetz Adomshick

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In a GOP World

This is very partisan -- and perhaps not that honest -- but I give the House Republicans credit for a well-done graphic that explains some of the questions surrounding rising gasoline prices:

Go here for the full scoop courtesy of The Anchoress.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is in Cairo, Egypt, talking to people there about the U.S. presidential election.

His column in today's paper, titled "Obama on the Nile," deserves a look. Some clips:

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Democrats’ nomination of Obama as their candidate for president has done more to improve America’s image abroad — an image dented by the Iraq war, President Bush’s invocation of a post-9/11 “crusade,” Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay and the xenophobic opposition to Dubai Ports World managing U.S. harbors — than the entire Bush public diplomacy effort for seven years. ...

Yes, all of this Obama-mania is excessive and will inevitably be punctured should he win the presidency and start making tough calls or big mistakes. For now, though, what it reveals is how much many foreigners, after all the acrimony of the Bush years, still hunger for the “idea of America” — this open, optimistic, and, indeed, revolutionary, place so radically different from their own societies. ...

That’s the America that got swallowed by the war on terrorism. And it’s the America that many people want back. I have no idea whether Obama will win in November. Whether he does or doesn’t, though, the mere fact of his nomination has done something very important. We’ve surprised ourselves and surprised the world and, in so doing, reminded everyone that we are still a country of new beginnings.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

He Got Up

The Gospel at Mass today is a beautiful one that can provide all men and women with a reason for hope.

From Matthew Chapter 9:

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.

He said to him, “Follow me.”

And he got up and followed him.

While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples.

The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today suspended her campaign to be the Democrats' nominee for the White House.

Her are some thoughts from Peggy Noonan on the end of the Clinton bid:

We will hear a lot of tasteful tributes this weekend to Hillary Clinton's grit and fortitude. The Washington-based media may go a little over the top, but only out of relief. They know her well and recoil at what she stands for. They also know they don't like her, so to balance it out they'll gush.

But this I believe is the truth: America dodged a bullet. That was the other meaning of the culminating events of this week.

Mrs. Clinton would have been a disaster as president. Mr. Obama may prove a disaster, and John McCain may, but she would be. Mr. Obama may lie, and Mr. McCain may lie, but she would lie. And she would have brought the whole rattling caravan of Clintonism with her—the scandal-making that is compulsive, the drama that is unending, the sheer, daily madness that is her, and him.

We have been spared this. Those who did it deserve to be thanked. May I rise in a toast to the Democratic Party.

They had a great and roaring fight, a state-by-state struggle unprecedented in the history of presidential primaries. They created the truly national primary. They brought 36 million people to the polls, including the young, minorities and first-time voters. They brought a kind of dogged brio to the year.

All of this is impressive, but more than that, they threw off Clintonism. They threw off the idea that corruption is part of the game, an acceptable fact. They threw off the idea that dynasticism was an unstoppable dynamic in modern politics, that Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton could, would, go on forever. They said: “No, that is not the way we do it."

They threw off the idea of inevitability. Mrs. Clinton didn't lose because she had no money or organization, she didn't lose because she had no fame or name, she didn't lose because her policies were unusual or dramatically unpopular within her party. She lost because enough Democrats looked at her and thought: I don't like that, I don't like the way she does it, I'm not going there. Most candidates lose over things, not over their essential nature. But that is what happened here. For all her accomplishments and success, it was her sketchy character that in the end did her in.

But the voters had to make the decision. So, to the Democrats: A nod. A bow. Well done.

May this mark the beginning of the remoralization of a great party.

Hat-tip: Sully, who also is rejoicing, while saying some nice things.

The photo above is credited to Doug Mills of The New York Times.

Drink Don't Drive

Check out this very telling shot about the current state of the U.S. economy from Travels with a Beveridge:

Berlin in Lights

A few weeks back, I mentioned Tarek Ibrahim, my one-time resident when I was an R.A. at NYU's Goddard Hall. Tarek is blogging again here.

In a lyrical post today, he reflects on his recent move from New York to Berlin.

Friday, June 06, 2008


This coming Sunday, my old high school buddy, Ed Gromacki, will take part in his first half-triathlon in Monroe, Michigan.

The event, which includes swimming, biking and running, is sponsored by Racing for Recovery.

Bona fortuna, Ed!

At My Most Beautiful

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below is "At My Most Beautiful" by R.E.M.


Hat-tip: Alarming News

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"The Right Thing To Do"

Today is the 40th anniversary of the shooting of Senator Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968, following his win in that year's California presidential primary. He died of his wounds in the early hours of June 6, 1968. He was 42 years old.

Whether a fan of the man or not, any observer would likely agree that the death of RFK was a moment that changed the course of U.S. history.

RFK gave many notable speeches in his life. One of these occured exactly two year prior to his death on June 6, 1966. The venue was the University of Capetown in South Africa. His powerful remarks from that occasion are known as "Day of Affirmation."

Here is one passage:

We must recognize the full human equality of all of our people -- before God, before the law, and in the councils of government. We must do this, not because it is economically advantageous -- although it is; not because the laws of God command it -- although they do; not because people in other lands wish it so. We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do.

An aside: Rose Kennedy once said that RFK was the most religious of her nine children.

Jesuit on Tour

Very cool:

This week, Jesuit Father Jim Martin, an editor of America magazine and author of the great book "My Life with the Saints," is doing a blog tour.

Tuesday, he copped a spot at A Nun's Life. Yesterday, he visited The Dawn Patrol.

Today, he's hanging with The Anchoress.

Tomorrow, the virtual tour concludes at The Happy Catholic.

A humble connection: Fr. Jim contributed a set of reflections for a new book from my gig.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In Memoriam: Sandy West, 1949 - 2008

Sandy West, a good friend from the Western Pennsylvania campaign trail, died Saturday at the young age of 58.

Sandy was a prince of a guy: generous, dedicated and soft-spoken. He was a true "gentle man."

I first met Sandy and his wife, Bonnie, at the annual Washington County Republican Party spring dinner in 2004. From there, the couple (pictured above) became active supporters of my State House races and other local GOP campaigns. They were instrumental in our grassroots outreach to Cecil Township, especially in their neighborhood, Georgetown Estates. Today, Bonnie ably serves as chair of the Washington County GOP.

One anecdote:

During my 2006 State House race, I was approached by a local volunteer fire department to help find funding for smoke detectors to be distributed at a rural elementary school in the wake of a house fire that took the lives of multiple children. I turned to Sandy, who I knew professionally sold smoke detectors and similar equipment. Without hesitation, Sandy successfully sought one of the local electrical firms with whom he did business to donate the smoke detectors. Today, many families are safer thanks to his intervention.

In the words of the concluding blessing of the Catholic funeral Mass:


May the angels lead you into paradise,
may the martyrs come to welcome you,
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.

Hat-tip: Thank you to my old campaign manager, Tom Baker, for tracking down the photo above. It was taken at the 2006 Cecil Township Fall Festival.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Continuing Chronicles

Last night, I saw "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." I thought it was quite good.

This is the second of C.S. Lewis' "Narnia" tales that the Walt Disney Co. and Walden Media have brought to the big screen. The first, "The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe" (2005), was also a quality film but I enjoyed "Prince Caspian" more. It's my own fault -- this was my first exposure to the "Prince Caspian" story whereas I was already very familiar with the first chronicle and spent that movie thinking of the differences between it and earlier incarnations.

A.O. Scott of The New York Times gave "Prince Caspian" a lukewarm recommendation. He also thinks "it is also in some ways more satisfying" than the first film.

Aslan, the allegorical Christ figure in "Narnia," does not have much screen time in "Prince Caspian." But that may be for the best -- it makes the great lion's triumphant return at the end all the more powerful.

Solidly On Rock

The Gospel at Mass today is another one with some startling words from Christ.

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

Hat-tip: The great "rain fell, floods came, winds blew" image above was blatantly stolen from A Concord Pastor.