Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Like a Man Traveling Abroad"

For many Christian traditions, today is the First Sunday of Advent, the holy season of anticipation and preparation for the coming anew of the Christ Child at Christmas. It also is the first day of the new liturgical year.

The Gospel at Mass today finds Jesus giving a strong warning to his disciples and "to all."

From Mark Chapter 13:

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.

"It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

"Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.

"May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.

"What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’"

At A Concord Pastor's parish, the deacon used the song "Something's Coming" from "West Side Story" in his homily, connecting it to this Sunday's First Reading from Isaiah.

"Hunting" at Heinz Hall

I have been in Pittsburgh since Wednesday for the long Thanksgiving weekend. On Friday evening, my cousin Barbara and I headed to Heinz Hall to hear works by Mozart and Strauss (Johann Jr. and Josef) performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

It was a delightful concert that included Mozart's well-known Concert No. 21 in C Major and several of the Strauss brothers' great polkas. The PSO was under the baton of its new music director, Manfred Honeck. Lars Vogt was at the piano for the Mozart.

Honeck smiled as he remarked from the stage that the PSO's performance of the Strauss polka-schnell "Auf der Jagd" (Hunting) coincided with the opening day of Pennsylvania's deer hunting season on Monday. A PSO member in white tie even donned an orange hat and some camouflage and walked among the orchestra members, raising a rifle in the air at the "firing" moments of the piece.

For this week's very belated "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is a version of "Auf der Jagd."


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Steel City, Steel Circle"

At the end of a post today about the Funeral Mass in Pittsburgh of PA Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll, Rocco Palmo (a son of Philly) made this observation about the Steel City:

In a nutshell, this is Pittsburgh -- everything and everyone is melded into one big circle...

Very true.

While I have been interested in the passing of this most prominent woman in Keystone State politics, I have refrained from commenting on it.

Longtime readers of this blog will recall that CBK actively campaigned against the election of yours truly a little more than two years ago.

But, I do pray that the Lieutenant Governor is now in the warm embrace of our Heavenly Father. I also pray that many other women follow her example and seek high political office in Pennsylvania.

Requiscat in Pace, CBK.

Sunday Rituals

Deacon Greg and Christian have both been following the story of President-Elect Obama's current and future Church attendance.

It seems that the Big O has spent the past few Sabbaths worshiping at Our Lady of the Treadmill.

This past Sunday, I got a very late start and ended up spending about an hour-and-a-half at the gym prior to going to the 6 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph's in the Village. Even though it was a good Mass with uplifting music, I still felt a little off-kilter -- always do when my first major outing of Sunday is to somewhere other than Church.

Here's a prayer that the incoming First Family soon finds a good new faith community -- both in Chicago and in Washington, D.C. Big O, we can't have you off-kilter.

The photo above is online in several places. I am uncertain of its origin.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Standin' Beside You

The frigid temperatures have arrived too early on the streets of Manhattan. The economy is in the toilet. It's Monday morning.

Yeah, we need a lift to start this Thanksgiving week.

How about "Suddenly Seymour" from "Little Shop of Horrors"?:

A Golden Straitjacket


has come out in favor of President-Elect Obama's possible appointment of Senator Hillary Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State.

Key graphs:

... The biggest shock, of course, is the tapping of Hillary Clinton for secretary of state. I say shock because no one expected it, including Her Imperial Highness of Appalachia. But the more you think about it, the less surprising it is. Clinton remains the biggest domestic threat to the Obama presidency. The Republicans, decimated by the feckless campaign of John McCain and the malign incompetence of Karl Rove, have become a toothless, bitter rump. The Clintons, however, retain a following in the Democratic party and the Senate, and Hillary, left to machinate on Capitol Hill, would be angling to put her stamp on healthcare reform and run against Obama in 2012. At every stage, he would have to watch his back. And front.

Earlier this year, it seemed a good idea to plonk her on the ticket to defang the threat. That would have followed the “team of rivals” concept that Obama wanted to purloin from Lincoln. It would also have given the Clintons an independent claim on power. By winning without them and even, in some measure, despite them, Obama can now bring the Clintons into the power structure while retaining clear dominance. The State Department appointment is prestigious enough not to be condescending, yet also keeps Clinton off the Washington circuit more than any other position. She’ll be on a plane or abroad a great deal. Extra bonus: Bill will just love that. Sending his wife to the Middle East is the ex-president’s idea of a good time.


He makes some interesting points. But, here's hoping Team Obama has also read this cautionary column by Thomas Friedman that appeared last week in the NYT. Friedman wisely wonders if foreign leaders would believe a Secretary Clinton would have the future president's ear.

Sully credits the photo above to Brendan Smialowski of Getty.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One of the Least Brothers of Mine

Jesus in a bread line

For many Christian traditions, today is the Feast of Christ the King. (Catholics formally call it the "Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King.") It is the last Sunday of the liturgical year.

The Gospel at Mass today contains a powerful reminder that Christ the King may be found in the bread lines.

From Matthew Chapter 25:

Jesus said to his disciples:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.

"And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

"Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

"And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

"Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’

"He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

"And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

A Concord Pastor's homily on this Gospel is called "On the importance of being a sheep."

The image above is known to me as "Jesus of the Bread Line." It's online in a few different places. I am uncertain of its origin. My apologies to the creator.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"It Was Then"

Thursday's Washington Post carried an interesting article headlined "Faith-Based Initiative." It's about Chase Hilgenbrinck, a Major League Soccer player who retired from the sport to enter the seminary for the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois.

The Post was actually playing a bit of catch up -- looks like Fox News had this story some months ago. Fr. Aquinas blogged about Hilgenbrinck in July, too.

What struck me in the Post article was the importance of Hilgenbrinck's college Catholic campus ministry experience in his faith journey:

It wasn't only his soccer career that took off at Clemson. Being on his own for the first time, Hilgenbrinck discovered new depths to his Catholicism. He became actively involved in the Catholic student organization. As a freshman, Hilgenbrinck volunteered to lead his teammates in a prayer before each game.

"I grew up Catholic, but it was an inherited faith," he said. "I believed because my parents believed. . . . It was [at Clemson] that I didn't have to be there [at church]. I didn't have to believe anything. It was then that I really made the faith my own. I would say that's the first step toward what I am doing today, although at that time I still didn't feel that I was called [to be a priest], nor did I want to be."

Hat-tip: Perez Hilton

I just noticed Christian
picked up on this story as well. Christian is a friend from the Catholic student organization at our alma mater: The Newman Club at NYU.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Totally unbelievable (beginning around 03:10 in the clip):

What was she thinking?!

Boy, did I call this one wrong. I can overlook a lot of the guv's missteps but knowingly stupid press isn't one of them.

Pyramids Along The Nile

One morning earlier this week, I was (too slowly) getting ready for work and happened to catch an interview on The Today Show with the Italian-born model-turned-singer Carla Bruni.

Bruni, who also happens to be the First Lady of France, was promoting her 2008 album "Comme si de rien n'etait" ("As if nothing had happened"). What caught my ear was the inclusion on the album of a cover of the smooth 1950s pop ballad "You Belong to Me."

I wanted to post Bruni's mellow rendition of the tune here for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," but there is not yet a version on YouTube with any suitable accompanying images.

So, instead, here it is as sung by the great Patsy Cline. As a kid, I often heard this one coming from the tape deck of my maternal grandmother's car.


Update (12/1/2008): The Patsy Cline video above has been removed at YouTube. But, to hear another version of the song from the same era, check out how it was done by The Duprees.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


A Concord Pastor gave this blog a nice shout-out today -- as well as an add to his links list.

I'm very honored.

To illustrate the post, the good pastor found this great old-time road map (at right) from the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Association.

The map shows the route from "Pittsburg, Pa. to New York City" (434.3 miles) with a branch to Philadelphia.

The map is from that brief period around the turn of the last century when the Steel City went without an 'h' in its spelling. According to this Wikipedia entry, the 'h' made a comeback in 1911.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Formerly Middle Class"

David Brooks' column in today's NYT is downright depressing.

Some graphs:

They will suffer lifestyle reversals. Over the past decade, millions of Americans have had unprecedented access to affordable luxuries, thanks to brands like Coach, Whole Foods, Tiffany and Starbucks. These indulgences were signs of upward mobility. But these affordable luxuries will no longer be so affordable. Suddenly, the door to the land of the upscale will slam shut for millions of Americans.

The members of the formerly middle class will suffer housing reversals. The current mortgage crisis is having its most concentrated effect on people on the lowest rungs of middle-class life — people who live in fast-growing exurbs in Florida and Nevada that are now rife with foreclosures; people who just moved out of their urban neighborhoods and made it to modest, older suburbs in California and Michigan. Suddenly, the home of one’s own is gone, and it’s back to the apartment complex.

Finally, they will suffer a drop in social capital. In times of recession, people spend more time at home. But this will be the first steep recession since the revolution in household formation. Nesting amongst an extended family rich in social capital is very different from nesting in a one-person household that is isolated from family and community bonds. People in the lower middle class have much higher divorce rates and many fewer community ties. For them, cocooning is more likely to be a perilous psychological spiral.

In this recession, maybe even more than other ones, the last ones to join the middle class will be the first ones out. And it won’t only be material deprivations that bites. It will be the loss of a social identity, the loss of social networks, the loss of the little status symbols that suggest an elevated place in the social order. These reversals are bound to produce alienation and a political response. If you want to know where the next big social movements will come from, I’d say the formerly middle class.

I already live in an apartment building so no worries there.

But, I'm really gonna miss Starbucks. Of course, I never really could afford Whole Foods, or as I like to call it "Whole Wallet."

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Over the weekend, The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny reported on the possibility that President-Elect Obama may have to stop using a personal e-mail account (most notably through his personal BlackBerry).

Nut graph:

But before he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off. In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A decision has not been made on whether he could become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that seemed doubtful.

This is bogus. The U.S. government should have the security capabilities to make it possible for the president to have an e-mail account (for official business and personal use).

And, the POTUS should know how to use e-mail in a way that would not get him in trouble during his time in office and on the historical record.

Yes, he can.


The Gospel at Mass today contains the "Parable of the Talents."

In the parable, the term "talents" is used to represent an amount of money. But, it may not be a bad idea, when considering how to apply to today's Gospel, to substitute our modern use of the word "talents."

It's tempting to try to sketch out of the passage some thinking of Christ on investing money wisely -- especially in light of this year's global financial crisis. But, it is probably better to simply say that this parable is calling us to grow the gifts and skills that God has given us -- and not bury them.

From Matthew Chapter 25:

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

"A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.

To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one -- to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five.

Likewise, the one who received two made another two.

But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master's money.

After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.

The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’

His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.’

Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, 'Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.’

Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, 'Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.'

His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?

'Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'"

The image above (a stained-glass window showing the master and his three servants) is used today by both Deacon Greg and A Concord Pastor to illustrate their homilies on this Gospel.

And, Mike Hayes considers this Gospel in the context of his high school reunion over at Googling God.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Morals of Kevin Smith

Last weekend, while I was home in the 'burgh, we caught Kevin Smith's new romantic comedy, "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks.

"Zack and Miri" had two draws for me. First, it was shot in the Pittsburgh area (and set in Monroeville). Second, I usually appreciate Kevin Smith movies.

Smith has spoken repeatedly about being a practicing Catholic and a regular Mass-goer -- to the surprise of many religious organizations and people of faith who have criticized the lewdness and language of his films.

Kevin Smith films, while nearly always superficially offensive, often have an underlying moral with a fairly "Catholic" world view about friendship, community and the search for God.

But, I digress.

First, a few disclaimers about "Zack and Miri," which the U.S. Catholic Bishops gave an "O" rating (morally offensive):

I AM NOT endorsing the premise of this movie (make porn when you can't pay your water and electricity bills). Pornography is dehumanizing, especially for women. No one should take part in pornography when they are down on their luck. I am likewise not endorsing promiscuity or anything else objectionable in this film.

Also, I AM NOT endorsing the language in this movie. This movie is not for grandma or the kids. The language is vulgar on several levels.

And, there is one PARTICULARLY DISGUSTING thing that happens in "Zack and Miri" (near the end). If particularly disgusting things bother you, don't put this one on your Netflix list.

OK, having said all of that ...

I laughed a lot during "Zack and Miri" (which at this writing has a 64 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes). The dialogue was funny, the characters were sympathetic and there was that Kevin Smith moral that -- in this one -- really wasn't underlying at all. Smith clearly points out that casual sex can have consequences for the people involved and that there's a difference between having sex and making love.

Smith also brought together a good ensemble cast playing an ensemble cast (in the porno) who come to support one another in multiple ways -- demonstrating the importance of friendship and community.

FYI: Barbara Vancheri penned a fairly positive review of "Zack and Miri" for the P-G.

Jurassic Soaring

The death last week of the author Michael Crichton, at the young age of 66, was obscured by the historic day on which it took place: Election Day, Tuesday, November 4. Crichton was the author of the science fiction novel "Jurassic Park" in addition to other notable creations.

James Fallows of The Atlantic penned a tribute to Crichton here.

Crichton's death put me in mind of the composer John Williams' soaring main theme from the 1993 film adaptation of "Jurassic Park."

Here it is for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kiss a Wookie


A one-man a capella tribute to the tunes of the great John Williams:

A Real Horse

Yesterday, the Church celebrated the memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, a 4th century French bishop.

While the memorial passes by fairly quietly here in the United States, it's apparently quite a happening at a particular preschool in northern Germany where yours truly has a cousin among the student body. They even have a parade with a real white horse.

Very cool in my book.

The image at right is from here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

In remembrance, and praying for peace, on this Veterans Day:

Image Hat-tips: Deacon Greg and A Concord Pastor

The Democrats' Muck

Of all the results of last Tuesday's election, I think I was most disappointed by the reelection of Rep. Bill DeWeese by about 54 percent of the voters of Pennsylvania's 50th legislative district. For the second election in a row, DeWeese lost the Greene County portion of the district but won the parts of the 50th in Washington and Fayette counties.

Surrounded by scandal on all sides, the verbose Democrat is the majority leader of the Pennsylvania House. He has been a state representative since the year I was born.

This morning I learned that, in the waning days of the campaign, the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee sent out this disgusting piece of attack mail against DeWeese's opponent, Greg Hopkins:

As someone who chose to move out of Southwestern Pennsylvania to achieve greater success professionally, I am offended by this mailing.

As someone who thinks the professional successes of Southwestern Pennsylvanians should be celebrated regardless of where they take place, I am offended by this mailing.

Bill DeWeese was the ugly man in this State House race. And that had nothing to do with his opponent's good looks.

Note to all my Democratic friends: Please recall this one the next time you're apt to think of your party as enlightened and above this kind of muck. The Ds aren't all like Obama.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Father's Houses

Yesterday, since I was back in Western PA for the weekend, I had the chance to go to Sunday Mass at my hometown parish, St. Alphonsus Church in McDonald.

It was the first time I had attended my old parish's new 8:30 a.m. Mass -- the only Sunday morning Mass (where once there were two) since St. Alphonsus and the parish in the next small town over began to share one pastor.

Ironically, as I was dwelling on the changes that have taken place at the church building where I was raised, yesterday was the day when Catholics celebrate the "Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran" in Rome (pictured above). It's another one of those feasts that trumps the observation of "Ordinary Time" when it falls on a Sunday.

The Gospel at Mass found Christ fighting for the sanctity of his place of worship -- but, in the end, reminding us that His Body is really what's at issue.

I recently heard an interesting saying on this passage: "Remember that when asking 'What Would Jesus Do?', the answer on rare occasions may be to get a little angry and overturn some tables."

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there.

He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'

At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?”

But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

Deacon Greg and A Concord Pastor have excellent homilies for this Sunday.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wedding at the Warhol

I'm in Pittsburgh today for the wedding of my old friend Heidi Price and her guy. Heidi and I were once reporters together at the O-R.

The nuptials are taking place on the North Side at the Andy Warhol Museum. Heidi says it's the first time that they've hosted a wedding in the museum's main hall.

I wonder if there will be hor dourves among the silver clouds?:

Friday, November 07, 2008


In the wake of a hectic week marked by Election Day, perhaps it would be good to go with some reflective classical for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."

Here is the "Canon in D Major" by Johann Pachelbel (1653 - 1706). It's a piece likely known to most folks for its use during weddings.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Offering Prayers

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., a native of Pittsburgh and its past bishop, today issued this post-Election prayer:

“We offer our prayers today for our nation and for our newly elected leaders, including President-elect Obama, as they take on their new responsibilities. We recognize that this election of the first African-American president is an historic moment in our nation’s history and we rejoice with the rest of our nation in the significance of this time.

"May our nation’s new leaders be guided in their decisions with wisdom and compassion and at the heart of all of their decisions may there be a deep respect for and commitment to the sanctity and dignity of all human life and support for the most vulnerable among us.”


Hat-tip: The comments section of this post by Deacon Greg.

The photo above, from the NYT Website, is credited to Spencer Platt/Getty Images. According to the NYT caption, it shows people waiting for the election results last night in Harlem, NYC.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Civic Duty

I voted today.

I did my civic duty sometime around 11 a.m., about an hour after arriving outside Coral Tower, the NYU dorm on 3rd Avenue that hosts (in its basement) some of the East Village election districts. (I'm a resident of the 57th District, myself.)

I can report that the line, while beginning down the block and slightly around the corner, moved quickly. I can further report that the good citizens in line were quite pleasant, resigned to the important task at hand. Some of them even greeted one another as if they were old friends. (Who says New Yorkers don't know their neighbors?)

The election workers, at least as of that late morning hour, seemed like they had a handle on things. I am very pleased to report that the young man working the 57th District table was wearing a Steelers #86 jersey (with a Yankees cap). I wanted to tell him "Go, Steelers!" but he was working on the "A - L" side of the table.

The only grump present was an older man with white hair and a trim white beard wearing a Sundance Film Festival hat. He complained repeatedly that there was no straight party lever and that he would have to "click" each of his chosen candidates' names. "I'm just going to vote for all the Democrats," he said in his cranky old man voice.

I wanted to turn around and point out to this man the utter stupidity of straight-party voting. But, still fighting that bout of food poisoning, I knew I wasn't at the height of my debating abilities.

Plus, I was loathe to create any tension in an operation that seemed to be running so steadily -- especially considering the potential drama of the historic day.

The image above is from here.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Food Poisoning & Prayer

Sometime early yesterday, I came down with food poisoning. My guess is the culprit was either mushrooms on some yummy pizza or a strawberry garnish on a delectable Margarita from a great bar in Nolita.

Regardless, the ferocious attach on my digestive system has kept me from following the news as closely as I would have liked in these important hours leading up to the big vote tomorrow.

For instance, I totally missed the news that the legendary Studs Terkel had died at the age of 96. If memory serves, I heard him speak once at the NYU J-Department.

In the haze of recovery, I have managed to watch John McCain's appearance on Saturday Night Live. Funny. But, I'm not certain if it did him any favors in the vote-getting department.

I also caught the audio of the prank perpetuated on Sarah Palin by a comedian in Canada. I actually don't think the guv did too bad -- it was certainly less damaging than the Katie Couric interview.

I must say I don't mind being down for the count as some of my usually-favorite bloggers continue to hyperventilate in favor of their preferred presidential candidates, i.e. Sully on behalf of Senator Obama and The Anchoress for Senator McCain.

My guess is that, however the people vote tomorrow, they will both come to regret some of their verbosity this campaign season -- on Wednesday morning and in the years ahead.

These final hours before the polls open seem to be more suited to prayer than attack. Thanks to Deacon Greg and to Rocco for reminding us of that:

Lord God, as the election approaches, we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city, state, and country, and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters, one and equal in dignity, especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.

We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned, men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.

We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.

We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Faithful Departed

For Catholics, today (November 2) is the "Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed" or "All Souls Day." The day falls on a Sunday in 2008 so it trumps what would normally today be a "Sunday in Ordinary Time."

Today, there are a few different passages which may be chosen for the readings at Mass. The Gospel below is one of those options.

Jesus said to the crowds:

“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

The image above is "Lost and Found" by Ira Thomas, who I found through A Concord Pastor.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


It's conventional wisdom among politicos that these final days prior to Election Day are a critical period for the success of campaigns. Many campaigns even have "72-hour plans" designed to win over the remaining undecided voters.

In that spirit, here's my down-the-homestretch pitch for some excellent candidates:

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett

Attorney General Corbett is standing for re-election to his second term. He has been a strong public servant for the people of the Keystone State, actively working to eliminate pubic corruption. He previously served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

I was proud to have Attorney General Corbett's support during in my '06 State House race and am pleased to give him my backing now.

Monica Douglas for Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Monica is seeking to represent PA's 39th Legislative District which includes parts of southern Allegheny County and northeastern Washington County. She is currently president of Elizabeth Borough Council and executive director of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County. She is seeking to oust a longtime incumbent far past his prime.

Monica has been a friend of mine since our first State House races in 2002. I can bear witness that she is a strong and determined person who would work tirelessly to make the 39th a better place.

Greg Hopkins for Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Greg is running in PA's 50th Legislative District, which is literally the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. The district includes small towns, villages and rural areas in all of Greene County and parts of Fayette and Washington counties.

Greg first sought this seat in 2006, coming up short by just a few percentage points. He again is working to oust a corrupt longtime incumbent who is a cancer on the Pennsylvania state government. Greg is a native of the 50th and would serve it well.

John Chromczak for New York State Senate

John is seeking to represent New York's 25th Senatorial District, which includes parts of lower Manhattan and western Brooklyn. A medical technologist by profession, John is a brave and tenacious person with the dedication and drive necessary to be a success in public life.

The good citizens of the 25th would do well by going against type in this open-seat race and giving John their vote.

Bill Buran for New York State Assembly

Bill is running in New York's 72nd Assembly District, which includes Inwood and Washington Heights in northern Manhattan. I first met Bill one day when he was working a table in Union Square Park for Congressman Ron Paul's presidential bid.

A small businessman, Bill is incredibly knowledgeable on the issues and is an excellent organizer. We are fortunate to have him as part of the democratic process in NYC.

Pray For Us

Many Christians celebrate today (November 1) as All Saints Day. It's a day set aside for celebrating those who we think with certainty are now in the warm embrace of God in heaven -- both the canonized saints and those who are unknown to us.

Deacon Greg has a memory of Thomas Merton in his All Saints Day post.

The painting above is by Fra Angelico (d. 1455).