Friday, February 27, 2009

Braddock, PA, on Colbert

I'm in Anaheim, CA, through Sunday for the L.A. Religious Education Congress. It's the third year that I've been here exhibiting with some folks from my gig.

Yesterday, on the JetBlue flight west, I had the chance to watch Stephen Colbert's interview with Mayor John Fetterman of Braddock, PA, a depressed steel town outside of the 'burgh.

Check it out:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c

I'm impressed. Mayor Fetterman seems to be the kind of dynamic young leader with drive and creativity that's much in need in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

I've only been to Braddock once, I think. When I worked for the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, we visited the Carnegie Library of Braddock with guests from the Carnegiestiftelsen of Sweden. Braddock's library was the first Carnegie Library in the United States.

The Jive Five

It's oldies for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend." Per the suggestion of my cousin Luke, here is the 1961 tune "My True Story" by The Jive Five.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Hear Us, Lord"

A Lenten hymn for this second day of the sacred season:

"Attende Domine" = "Hear Us, Lord"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Nanny, nanny, boo, boo!"

Stephen Colbert says Fr. Jim Martin, S.J., was "poor before poor was cool":

Fr. Jim apparently also has a new bullet for his resume: "Colbert Report chaplain."


Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It's the 40-day season that many Christians set aside to prepare spiritually for the commemoration of Jesus' Last Supper, suffering, death and resurrection.

Receiving ashes on one's forehead is an important part of Ash Wednesday for many people. In the Catholic tradition, the person distributing ashes most often states "remember you are dust and to dust you shall return" when making a cross on each foreheard. Deacon Greg meditates on these words in his homily today.

A Concord Pastor has posts with prayer, scripture and other details for the day and the season. Aggie Catholics has a "Lent 2009 mega post." And, The Anchoress has two posts for Ash Wednesday and Lent.

I'm giving up bagels and cream cheese again this year as part of my Lenten observance. (Quickly grabbing a New York bagel from Zaro's in Grand Central is a cherished part of my weekday morning commute to Yonkers.) I'm also going to work harder at being more patient with someone in my professional life who I often find frustrating.

Please pray for me.

Flashbacks: Ash Wednesdays 2007 and 2008.

image above is from Sully. It is credited to Luis Liwanaga/AFP/Getty.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

Joyous Mardi Gras!

Bridgeville, Pennsylvania

A wintery scene from my old Western PA stomping grounds made the "The View From Your Window" feature Monday over at Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish:

Sully's caption: "Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, 11.45 am"

Flashback: South Side View?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Honoring the Slumdog

In honor of "Slumdog Millionaire" taking home the Academy Award for "Best Picture" of 2008:

Flashback: My review.

A Warm Welcome to the Big Apple

This morning, it was announced in Rome that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee has been named the new archbishop of New York.

On April 15, Archbishop Dolan will take the helm from Cardinal Edward Egan, who will retire shortly after his 77th birthday. It will be the first time a cardinal-archbishop of New York has retired -- all of the previous archbishops died while serving.

Whispers in the Loggia is not to be missed today for many more details.

God bless you, Archbishop Dolan. A warm welcome to the Big Apple.

The photo above is from Whispers. It's a view of Archbishop Dolan this morning at Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Carried by Four Men

Earlier tonight, I attended the Sunday vigil Mass at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. The first cathedral of the Archdiocese of New York, it's located at the corner of Mott and Prince streets, not far from my new pad.

Old St. Patrick's is an anchor parish of a newish Catholic young adult group called The Catholic Fellowship of New York, which hosted a very nice reception and concert after Mass. (That's the group's logo above.)

For a third Sunday in a row, the Gospel at Mass brings us Christ the healer. In the homily I heard at Old St. Patrick's, we were called to consider the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus and the risks that they took. The point: How are we today like those four men? What risks do we take to bring the spiritually paralyzed to Christ?

From Mark Chapter 2:

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home.

Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them.

They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven."

Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?"

Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk?' But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth"—he said to the paralytic, "I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."

He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone.

They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

Deacon Greg remembered Amy in his homily for this Sunday.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"I've Seen It All"

I recently attended an event that included an interpretive dance set to "I've Seen It All" as sung by Bjork and Thom Yorke. It's from the film "Dancer in the Dark." (Bjork sang it at the Academy Awards in the famous swan dress.)

It's an odd song but still rather haunting and memorable. Here it is for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pez High

Line of the day:

From Frank Bruni in his NYT review on Shang, a new restaurant in NYC:

Shang isn’t one of those Asian extravaganzas that looks as if it were designed by second graders on a Pez high.

In second grade, I was more of a SweeTarts guy myself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"They Walk with Him"

In processing her own feelings, Amy has given a great gift to the rest of us.

From a new post yesterday at Charlotte was Both:

For years - 26, to be exact - I have practiced letting people belong to God, not me. It is my mode of parenting, to try my hardest to respect the child as a child, first of all, of God. The road was seriously paved for this when my oldest left home for college 8 years ago, totally on his own journey. And as he and the others grow and developed, I worked harder and harder on it inside my soul.

Let go. They are the Lord’s. They walk with Him, they do not belong to you, they do not exist for your satisfaction or pleasure or entertainment or for any affirmation of anything you have done. They are the Lord’s.

Little did I know, never could I have imagined that this effort of mine would be so deeply put to the test - most deeply put to the test - not by my children’s lives, but by my husband’s.

The image above is "Femmes au tombeau" by Maurice Denis (1870-1943).

Tall Stands the Tree

Lately, I have found myself pining for the warmer temperatures of spring and the easier living of summer.

Here is some verse as inspiration for this chilly Wednesday in February:

Tall stands the Tree beside the stream,
Where living waters flow;
Wide-flung the branches, cool the shade,
Where all the weary go.

Fresh green the leaves for healing giv'n,
Bright gold the new-pressed oil
That runs as balm upon the banks
Toward which the weary toil.

Deep-scarred the bark, but sweet the wine
That pours down, last and best,
And rich the table spread below,
Where all the weary rest.

Sing praise to God, the gardener
Whose labors never cease
To make beneath the Tree of Life
For all the weary, peace.

-- Sr. Genevieve Glen, O.S.B. (Copyright 1999 by the Benedictine Nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga, Virginia Dale, Colorado. Published by OCP Publications. Be sure to check out Sr. Genevieve's selections at OCP.)

The photo above is from here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For the Patient and the Sentimental

A few days back, I finally caught "The Reader," the only one of this year's "Best Picture" Oscar nominees I had not yet seen. I thought it was a good and touching film. But, I understand why many have not been enthralled.

Based on the 1995 German novel of the same name by Bernhard Schlink, "The Reader" stars Oscar-nominated Kate Winslet as an illiterate, working-class woman in post-WWII Germany who has a sexual affair with a teenage boy (portrayed by David Kross) who reads to her. A decade later, the woman goes on trial for standing by as some 300 Jews burned to death when she was a wartime concentration camp guard. Ralph Fiennes plays the boy as an adult.

"The Reader" takes its time. You need to be at least a little patient -- and sentimental -- to appreciate it. And, it probably would help if you can have sympathy for someone who has made mutliple very poor decisions in life.

Folks with drama-free lives, this isn't the movie for you.

In a recent America magazine podcast on The Oscars, Fr. Jim Martin, S.J., said he thought it was odd that more has not been said about the movie's handling of the sexual relationship between a 35-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy. "It's essentially about sex with a minor. ... If you put a (clerical) collar on Kate Winslet would it be 'Doubt'?" Fr. Jim asked.

It's a good point -- and not something to be glossed over. I think the lack of attention this aspect of "The Reader" has garnered demonstrates the different way in which society looks at pedophilia when the adult is a woman. Perhaps it's also is due to the way the film paints the power roles of these two characters -- and the way Kate Winslet so ably makes you care about this woman. There may have been more controversy had a lesser actress attempted the role.

"The Reader" also has been accused of Holocaust revisionism -- that the main character is made out to be a "nice Nazi." It's a charge that does deserve reflection.

As of this writing, this film has a 60 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. That's too low. This one is worth checking out in the theaters.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Candle Lighting

I learned today of the death February 3 of Elsa Delisio, the mother of my old college buddy Alicia. Mrs. Delisio, who lived in Hawaii, died at the young age of 66 from cancer.

Please keep Alicia and her family in your prayers.

Or, if you're near a church, maybe light a candle:

Photo hat-tip: a post today at Happy Catholic. The photo is credited to Thomas L. McDonald and is captioned simply "St. Patrick's Cathedral."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sixth Grade Kickball

A Concord Pastor had a beautiful homily this Sunday, based on a day in his life when he felt like the lepers we read about in today's first reading and Gospel at Mass:

Let me tell you a story of when I was a kid, in the sixth grade. At recess time after lunch at the Great Oak School in Danvers, Kickball was the game the boys most often played.

I wasn’t very good at sports and as a result, when teams were picked by two captains, I could always count on being chosen last. It wasn’t pleasant but I became accustomed to it.

But one day something different happened.

The two captains were choosing teams and I was waiting to be picked last but when I was the only one left the captain who was about to end up with me said to the other captain, “You can have Austin.”

And the other captain said, “No, we don’t want him either.”

I walked off the playground and back into my classroom on what will always be one of the worst days of my life.

Remember the words in the first scripture today? The one who bears the sore of leprosy will cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" and he shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.

That’s how I felt that day on the playground: somehow marked by my athletic clumsiness, not clean enough to be chosen for a team, and banished from the playground, to spend recess outside the camp of the chosen.

If you’ve ever had a similar experience, or if my story reminds you of a time when you were a captain choosing up sides, then you have a window for understanding today's scriptures.

The aversion folks had in biblical times to scabs, pustules and sores wasn’t based on a fear that they’d catch what the sick people suffered - their experience taught them otherwise.

Rather, they feared that physical contact with the diseased, would render the healthy spiritually unclean: lost to God’s love – losers.

And that’s just what my classmates feared about me: if they let me on their team – they’d probably lose.

Children can be cruel in how they banish other kids outside the camp of a playground, cafeteria table or group of friends. Grown-ups are usually more subtle about these things but the sting of prejudice and exclusion still has power to deeply wound those who are rejected.

We have all manner of ways of defending our behavior when it includes some and excludes others.

I don’t think the kids on the playground at my school set out to hurt me – they just wanted to win a kickball game.

And therein lies the problem.

Our desire for something for ourselves, even something good, can so easily blind us to the hurt we inflict on others.

What Jesus does in the gospel story today was radical for his times: he stretched out his hand and touched a leper. He risked being perceived as unclean himself, a loser, for the sake of one who had been banished from the community.

And in doing this he clearly establishes a model for how we are to relate with one another.

There are many who perceive the Church, today, as an authority banishing to a place outside its camp, apart from its table, those perceived in some way to be “unclean.”

Such situations are not without subtleties but we need to heed St. Paul who wrote to us today, "Whatever you do, do everything for God's glory and avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks (the Gentiles) or the church of God."

Back in 1959 at the Great Oak School, my teacher, Mr. Silvernail, was in my classroom when I retreated there from my embarrassment on the playground. He listened to my story as I choked back tears and told me he’d take care of things.

I don’t know whom he spoke to, or when, or what he said, but the next day he encouraged me to go out to recess and I did. I was still the last kid picked for a team, but that was OK: I was chosen.

In so many ways you and I are unclean, and very often we are a bunch of losers, but that doesn’t keep Jesus from choosing us to be with him and it doesn’t keep him from choosing to be with us.

He stretches out his hand and touches us in the sacrament of his body and blood, at the table of his sacrifice. He chooses us for his own.

As he invites and welcomes us here, let us choose and welcome others into our lives, into our hearts and into the faith of our church.

Behind the Lens

I have added a new blog called "Behind the Lens" to the link list. It's the blog of Celeste Van Kirk, a photographer for the Observer-Reporter, my one-time employer of fond memory.

In "Behind the Lens," Celeste posts photos from her travels around southwestern Pennsylvania.

I particularly liked this shot that she posted last September called "Blending In":

Celeste's caption: "A bullfrog lounges in a pond on Harmon Hills Farm in Hopewell Township."

Here's another fine shot called "Seasonal Red Sea":

Celeste's caption: "Mary Zuchowski of Richeyville, is tending to a seasonal red sea of poinsettias at Litton's Greenhouses. Mary has worked at the Greenhouses for over half a century in Richeyville."

Reagan vs. Obama?

Yesterday, The Anchoress posted the YouTube clip below. It's a back-and-forth, edited compliation of public remarks by Ronald Reagan and Barack and Michelle Obama on topics related to the role of government -- notably on a government role in health care.

I post the clip without endorsement because its creator obviously has a preexisting bias in favor of President Reagan's view. (Just look at the differences in the photos.)

But, the audio content is still worthy of a listen and some thought:

"I Do Will It"

In the Gospel at Mass today, we again find Jesus healing.

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean."

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean."

The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.

He said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.

He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

The image above is from Deacon Greg.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thanks, Sherlock.

Each weekday, walking through NYC's Grand Central Terminal, I pass through a corridor (pictured above) with some nice shops selling luggage, eye glasses, men's fancy shaving equipment, decorative items, etc.

It's been a little alarming (if not surprising) in the past few weeks to see a few of these businesses closing or moving.

Peggy Noonan recently went for walk on Manhattan's Upper East Side and saw some of the same -- on some of the wealthiest blocks in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America.

She notes:

Politicians keep saying, "People have to begin to understand we're in bad shape," and "People should realize it's a crisis." I think they know, Sherlock. Do you? Our political leaders are like a doctor who rushes to the scene of a terrible crash, bends over a hemorrhaging woman and says, "This is serious, lady, you can't take it lightly." She looks up at him: "Help me, do something, I'm bleeding out!" The doctor, to the local TV cameras: "I hope she knows she's in trouble."

There's a sense that everyone's digging in. President Obama has dug in on this stimulus bill: Pass it or see catastrophe. Republicans are dug in: Pass it and see catastrophe. The digging in is a way of showing certitude, and they're showing certitude because they're lost.

We hire politicians to know what to do about empty stores, job loss, and "Retail Space Available." But they don't, and more than ever we know they don't.

I believe the photo above is by Patrick Andrade for The New York Times. It is from here.


A stirring passage from a post Wednesday at Charlotte was Both:

I was driving, Katie was in the front, and the boys in the back, of course. This is Michael’s car we are driving now, since it was the better car - the day he died, a notice came in the mail announcing it had been paid for. I saw the Bible he had on the ledge against the back window, and told Joseph to grab it and hand it to Katie.

Without thinking much about it, I told her to start reading from the Gospel of Mark. Why? There was a consciousness about it - both Michael and I love the Gospel of Mark. We liked talking about it. He was fascinated by what it reveals about Jesus and his disciples, especially in contrast to the popular view that what we have in the Twelve and the Master is a merry band of fellows completely in sync at all times. Well, when you read the Gospel of Mark, you see how false that image is. The apostles, besides being generally clueless, were also generally confused and intimidated by Jesus most of the time.

So I had her read aloud and after a couple of chapters, I stopped her, to see if she was paying attention to what she was reading.

“What word,” I asked, “are you reading over and over?”

She thought about it, and studied the pages.



Euthus. The Gospel of Mark is infused with a sense of urgency. Immediately he got up. Immediately they went out. Immediately.

And then…immediately the thought came to mind of how much this characterized Michael. As his friends said Sunday night, Michael was all about immediately. He was the one who got things going socially. At work, where ever he was working at the time, he was all about creatively assessing a situation, coming up with responses to those situations, getting this going and working hard to motivate others to get off their tails, get past their hesitancy and fear, and just do it. Immediately.

It struck me, partly in sadness, that it also characterized his way of going to Christ at the end. Immediately.

A Nod to the Romantic

So, I hear St. Valentine's Day is this weekend.

Ugh. For a singleton, the Hallmark holiday falling on a Saturday can be cringe-inducing.

But, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," I begrudgingly nod to the romantic. Courtesy of Anthony Johnson, a.k.a. woodlandcreature22, here is "I've Got You Under My Skin."


Thursday, February 12, 2009

A "Kumbaya"-singing Unitarian?

Today, over at Googling God, Mike shared one of the perils of blogging: the crazy comment. In this case, a rambling, poorly-spelled and annoyingly ALL CAPS comment.

Mr. or Mrs. ALL CAPS accused Mike of being a liberal Catholic.

In one of the more coherent bits, the person predicted that "... WATERED DOWN CUMBYA FEELY FEELY LEFTIST YUM YUM LIBERAL CATHOLICISM IS COMING TO A SCREECHING HALT... "

To quote Deacon Greg, this is another reminder that "while some blog readers may be Catholic, they at times forget they are Christian."

Mike aptly replied to his correspondent (with the photo at right as evidence):

"I'm a Catholic. I love our Pope. I love Cardinals (see, here I am with Cardinal George). I love the church. And I hope our experiences can be less judgmental of one another and more focused on providing a window into where we all long for a connection for God."

Finish The Work

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Sully has some thoughts on Lincoln and warfare.

The ending of Lincoln's second inaugural address would make -- to borrow organizational parlance -- a good vision statement:

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

The image above is from here. Taken by Alexander Gardner on April 10, 1865, it is considered to be the last photograph of the nation's 16th president.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tipici Siciliani

Tuesday evening, some friends and I attended "A Taste of Sicily," a dinner of Sicilian foods and wines organized by Renee Restivo and the New York City Sicilian Food, Wine & Travel Meetup Group.

The gathering was held at Cacio e Vino, a small and friendly restaurant on 2nd Avenue between 4th and 5th streets in NYC's East Village. (Yes, my first Italian cuisine excursion after moving to Little Italy did not actually take place in Little Italy.)

It was probably one of the most delicious dinners of my life. Each offering was delectable -- many surprisingly so.

Cause I know you're curious:

Sicilian Tasting Menu

Selezione di antipasti tipici Siciliani
-Selection of typical Sicilian appetizers-

Sarde a beccafico, involtini di melanzane, caponata, panelle al caprino, arancina di riso allo zafferano

-Small plate-

Bucatini con le sarde
Bucatini pasta with sardines


Paccheri alla “Norma”
Paccheri pasta with eggplant, tomato, basil and ricotta salata cheese


-Small plate-

Pesce spada in “Salmoriglio”
Grilled swordfish in “Salmoriglio” sauce served with grilled mixed vegetables


Roasted loin of pork rolled with cured meat, Sicilian caciocavallo cheese with mashed potato cake and sautéed spinach

Small cannoli with caffé

White wine Cataratto & Red wine Nero D’avola

The photo above shows a miniature Sicilian cart. They had one like it at Cacio e Vino -- proof, said one of the guests at dinner, that it was a true Sicilian establishment.

Sophia Petrillo would be proud.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weird, Surreal, Odd

At the end of a post today at Charlotte was Both, Amy described something that I too have felt in the days after someone close to me has passed away:

There is one aspect of this that I could never have anticipated. You can anticipate grief a bit. Sadness. Loss. Even shock.

But what I could not have anticipated and find a particular mystery is the strangeness of it. Christopher kept saying, “I just don’t get it. It’s weird.”

It is confusing and strange. And here, I am not talking about the question of “Why did this happen?” or “What could I have done?” although those questions certainly recur.

It is surreal and odd. Here one minute, gone the next, without a chance to say goodbye. Sunday’s experience did not really help in that regard for as fearful as I was, anticipating, when the moment came, without getting too specific, the line from the gospel flashed through my soul, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” I could not connect that experience with the smiling face in the pictures surrounding us and the voice still echoing in my ears and memory. And the fear was gone. But the dissonance remained. And does.

To use the old phrase: It does not compute.

There is a mystery, as I was telling Dorothy, and what I feel driven to do is not “understand” it, really. It is not even to “accept” it. It is something different, and I don’t get what that is - where that space is and what it looks like.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

"For This Purpose Have I Come"

Like last Sunday, this morning's Gospel at Mass finds Jesus early in his ministry expelling demons. It also shows Him healing, at prayer in the desert and setting out for more.

From Mark Chapter 1:

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.

Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.

They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.

The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.

Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."

He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come."

So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

The image above showing Jesus healing Simon's mother-in-law is by Bertrand Bahuet. It comes via A Concord Pastor.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Mambo Italiano

This past week, I moved to a new apartment about 20 blocks south in Manhattan. I traded in my tiny studio near Union Square for half of a two-bedroom apartment at the corner of Mulberry and Grand streets in Little Italy.

To mark the move, for this week's YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend, here's the late great Rosemary Clooney with "Mambo Italiano."


Here's the longer version:

Friday, February 06, 2009


David Brooks asks an interesting question in his column in today's NYT:

Barack Obama is a potentially transformational figure. In political style and intellectual outlook, he is unlike anything that has come before. On matters of policy substance, however, he’s been pretty conventional. The policies he offered during the campaign matched those of just about every other Democrat.

So an important question for the Obama presidency is this: Will his transformational style eventually lead to transformational policies, or will his conventional policies eventually force him to shelve his transformational style?

... Barack Obama is not initiating events (he’s had surprisingly little influence on the stimulus bills’ evolution). But circumstances now present him with a precedent-setting moment of decision. Does he embrace the Gang System and try to use it to create a new style of politics? Or does he remain an orthodox Democrat, deferring to the Old Bulls on legislation, enforcing party discipline and trying to pick off a Republican or two here and there to pass laws?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"You Make My Heart Go-o Giddyup"

I wish this would happen at Grand Central:

Hat-tip: Jay

Poll Results

The results of a new Gallup poll on President Obama's first actions as president have been released. These two charts tell the story:

Survey Methods:

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,027 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

Hat-tips: American Papist and A Concord Pastor

"A Rockier Path"

Earlier this evening, on the train ride back to the city from Yonkers, I finally had the chance to check out the February 2 edition of America.

The edition's cover (at right) features a photo showing a youngish Fr. Joseph Ratzinger (now B16) with the late French priest and theologian Yves Congar, O.P. According to the credit, the photo was taken in 1962 during the Second Vatican Council (subject of the cover story).

The edition also features an intriguing essay by Rabbi Daniel F. Polish that coincides with the current blogosphere discussion on atheism. It's headlined "When a Little Unbelief Is Not a Bad Thing."

Some food for thought -- Rabbi Polish's conclusion:

Spiritual Humility

Jewish tradition also enshrines this faithful skepticism in its liturgy. Every Jewish service ends with a doxology called the Kaddish. Customarily thought of as a mourners’ prayer, it never refers to death at all; rather it is devoted exclusively to extolling God. Yet in the midst of its effusive exaltation, we find embedded the idea that God is not easy to grasp. At the brink of the service’s completion, as worshipers prepare to walk out the door, the liturgy reminds us that God is “beyond all the praises, songs and adorations that we are able to utter in this world,” reminding us not to leave the service feeling smug, as if we had said everything about God that could be said. We can only approximate God and acknowledge the paucity of our effort.

This is a most challenging kind of faith: to live with a God we cannot fully understand, whose actions we explain at our own peril. This God is at the center of our lives. This may be a rockier path to walk than that of either simplistic absolutism or of atheism, but it is the faith of honest men and women, a faith defined by spiritual humility. We can hope such a path leads to the destination promised in the Book of Psalms: “This is the Gate of the Lord, the righteous do enter it.”

The image above is from here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

R.I.P. Michael Dubruiel

Very sad news tonight at Charlotte was Both. Amy and her children are in my prayers.


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.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Steeler Nation Smiles

It's a wonderful morning to be a Steelers fan:

The photo above is credited to Michael Henninger of the Post-Gazette. Caption: Patrons of Peter's Pub in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland cheer Ben Roethlisberger's fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A Cheer from the Urban Canyon

It's rather odd being in NYC today. People are going about their ordinary business, happy to be out on a sunny, somewhat warmer day. No one or two colors stand out. There is no frenzied pace near grocery stores (or places where libations are sold!).

And, notably to yours truly, there was no mention of the Superbowl this morning at Mass (the 11:30 a.m. at Xavier), either in the homily or the prayers of the faithful.

How different from life this Sunday in the 'burgh!

My hunch is that many Pittsburgh priests somehow found a way this morning to integrate the Superbowl into their reflections on the readings.

The last time the Steelers were in the big game, I had a great conversation about the purpose of prayer with the 7th grade religious education class I was teaching at my old parish. Specifically, we discussed whether it was OK to pray for the Steelers. If memory serves, we reasoned it might not be such a bad thing if kept in the right perspective.

Ah, to be in the foothills of the Alleghenies on a Superbowl Sunday when the Steelers are in the game ...

The distance is great. But, from here in the urban canyons of Manhattan, we still will cheer.

Go Steelers!

"The Holy One of God!"

The Gospel at Mass today features a scene from the early ministry of Jesus.

From Mark Chapter 1:

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.

The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!"

Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!"

The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.

All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."

His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Deacon Greg has posted his homily for this Sunday. Fr. Aquinas has posted a discussion of the readings.

Photo hat-tip: A Concord Pastor. Caption: Remains of the synagogue built in Capernaum in the 4th century, over the remains of the synagogue of Jesus' time, the synagogue where he worshiped and preached. Image by πρώρα (Prora)