Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cardinal Newman on Theology

Food for thought -- on theology:

"Theology cannot always have its own way; it is too hard, too intellectual, too exact, to be always equitable, or to be always compassionate; and it sometimes has a conflict or overthrow, or has to consent to a truce or a compromise, in consequence of the rival force of religious sentiment or ecclesiastical interests; and that, sometimes in great matters, sometimes in unimportant."

-- John Henry Newman from here.

Flashback: Kindly Light

Sophia Would Be Pleased

The great blogger Amy Welborn and her family have been vacationing in Sicily. It's made for quite enjoyable reading.

Flashback: Tipici Siciliani

Monday, June 29, 2009

"A Deeply Painful Process"

Bad news last week from my one-time employer of fond memory:

Observer Publishing Co. eliminated 12 positions at its newspapers Wednesday.

Most of the jobs eliminated were from the editorial department of the Observer-Reporter, which serves Washington and Greene counties daily. One position was dropped at The Almanac, the weekly newspaper serving the South Hills.

"The economic downturn has resulted in lower advertising revenue, and we - like most other newspapers - have had to adjust," said Observer-Reporter editor Park Burroughs. "This is a deeply painful process, but we have an obligation to remain this area's main source of local news."

Observer Publishing Co. employees 184 people at its offices in Washington, Waynesburg and McMurray.

Park Burroughs elaborates further on the cuts at his blog.

Mike Jones, one of the O-R staff writers to get a pink slip, has started "The Bread Line Blog." His goal: "I hope this blog will explain the story of unemployment and the journey of finding a new job in this environment."

Memo to my family members and friends in Washington County: now would be an excellent time to begin home delivery of the O-R.

That 201-year-old newspaper needs your support. Without a daily newspaper, the county would be a weaker place politically, economically and culturally.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Do Not Be Afraid; Just Have Faith"

This weekend, my parish here in NYC -- the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Manhattan's West Side -- has been celebrating the final days of the Catholic Church's "Special Jubilee Year to the Apostle Paul."

Friday evening, the celebration at St. Paul's included a reading of the entire text of Saint Paul's Letters to the Colossians. Saturday (really Sunday) at midnight, the parish began an all-night Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Along with other young adults, fellow parishioners and guests, I attended the adoration from midnight to 2 a.m. Fr. Stan Fortuna, C.F.R., led us during those hours with song and reflections.

Today, St. Paul's is having special Masses at 11 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. -- both to be followed by parish socials. I'm assuming that the Gospel readings proclaimed at these Masses may be the passage designated for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (which falls on Monday).

Most Catholics, however, will hear proclaimed this Sunday at Mass a very powerful Gospel passage in which two Jewish women are healed through the power of Christ. It's such an important passage I did not want to miss the opportunity to post it here.

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.

One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live."

He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.

She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."

Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.

Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?"

But his disciples said to Jesus, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'"

And he looked around to see who had done it.

The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.

He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith."

He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.

When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.

So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep."

And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out.

He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was.

He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"

The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded.

He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

Fran has an excellent reflection on this passage at the Parish Blog of St. Edward the Confessor.

The image above depicts St. Paul prior to his beheading by sword. It is a detail of "The Martyrdom of St. Paul" by the American impressionist Robert Reid (1862-1929). The painting is on the wall at southwest end of the nave of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in NYC. St. Paul's is the mother church of the Paulist Fathers.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

McSummerfest 2009

I have noticed an increase in blog traffic in the last day from folks searching for information on McSummerfest, the week-long concert series and carnival held in my hometown of McDonald, PA. The annual event is organized by the McDonald Volunteer Fire Department.

This blog is coming up high in the Google and AOL search results due to this post from last year as well as some campaign posts from 2006.

So, as a very, very small bit of a community service, I am pleased to provide a link to the schedule for McSummerfest 2009. Looks like a great line-up!

I regret I won't be able to make it back home for the festivities this week as I already have a trip planned to Western PA July 9 to 13 for a cousin's wedding.

I'm especially sorry to be missing the performance tonight at McSummerfest by The Clarks. (I had a great time at the band's December concert here in NYC.)

But, in honor of the occasion, here is a great live performance (recorded at Mr. Small's in Millvale) of The Clarks with "Born Too Late":

And, for good measure, here is the video for The Clarks' tune "Better Off Without You":

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Man in the Mirror

In 1988, I turned 12 years old. It was a big year for my pre-teen self -- I transitioned from 6th Grade at McDonald Elementary School to 7th Grade at Fort Cherry Jr./Sr. High School.

In that final full year of the Reagan administration, I lived with my mother, brother and sister in the upstairs apartment of a little yellow-siding house on Grant Avenue. My favorite pastime was going to the library just down the block.

And, hands down, my favorite song of 1988 was the Michael Jackson hit "Man in the Mirror." If memory serves, I even had a black t-shirt with the King of Pop's face on the front.

I couldn't helping thinking of that tune today following the news of M.J.'s death at age 50.

So, for old times sake, here is "Man in the Mirror" for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend." May the voice behind it rest in peace.


Monday, June 22, 2009

e-Thought Bubbles

Quote of the Day:

“You’ll have half the participants BlackBerrying each other as a submeeting, with a running commentary on the primary meeting ... BlackBerrys have become like cartoon thought bubbles.”

-- Philippe Reines of the U.S. State Department in "Mind Your BlackBerry or Mind Your Manners" in today's New York Times

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Even Wind and Sea

In the liturgical year, today is a Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today's Gosepl at Mass is a passage about trusting in God.

From Mark Chapter 4:

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: "Let us cross to the other side."

Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him.

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up.

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"

He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!"

The wind ceased and there was great calm.

Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?"

They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"

The image above is from A Concord Pastor who has a good homily on today's Gospel. Deacon Greg has a good one for this Sunday, too.

An aside: Happy Father's Day today to all fathers, grandfathers and Godfathers! A special greeting to my friends who are becoming fathers this coming year. God bless you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Today, before the matinee performance of "Next Fall," one of the songs playing in the theater was "Wordplay" by Jason Mraz. Here it is for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


6/21 aside: "Word Play" is the name of my friend Heather's blog.


Since Tuesday evening, I have been on a staycation ("stay-cation?" "stacation?") here in NYC.

Staycations, "a period of time in which an individual or family stays at home and relaxes at home or takes day trips to area attractions," have been much in the news this recession.

My staycation was prompted by the coinciding visits of Mischa, an old college comrade who lives in Los Angeles, and Ed, an old high school buddy from Pittsburgh. Both have been crashing here at the ole' pad in Little Italy.

Mischa is in NYC for the wedding this weekend of Sarah and Jesse.

Ed's motivation to visit the Empire State was the USGA's U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park on Long Island.

I joined Ed at the U.S. Open (thanks to some affordable tickets from StubHub). We attended the practice round on Wednesday as well as the competitive round on Friday. I had an excellent time -- I find watching golf to be very relaxing -- even if I do have a sunburn to show for it.

Thursday, we also journeyed north on the 4 train to the new Yankee Stadium only to be disappointed by the rain delay. After about an hour of checking out the Yankees' new digs, we decided to head back into Manhattan and spent the rainy afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Lots of walking around the city, dinners with other assorted friends and bar-hopping also have been on the agenda. Tomorrow, we're catching a matinee performance of the new Broadway play "Next Fall."

So, no, I'm not on a sunny beach or visiting a glittering European capital. But, I'm ruling my staycation a success.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Prayer Request

Today, a cousin of mine is having a serious investigative surgery to determine the nature of a large growth in her chest.

Please keep her and her family in your prayers.

6/20 Update: My cousin came through the surgery well, two hours less in duration than expected. The growth was removed and the doctor's initial reaction was that it was not cancerous. Thanks to all for your prayers!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Iranian Green

Sully, who has been providing excellent coverage of the situation in Iran, has gone green in solidarity with the protesters there:

Here, here.

Could now be a historical turning point in Iran?

Like The Anchoress, I'm praying for the people there -- prayers for freedom, liberty, democracy and peace.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Most Holy

For English-speaking Catholics, the proper name of today's Corpus Christi feast is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It's a day set aside to celebrate our belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist (the bread and wine used during Communion).

The Gospel at Mass today was from Mark Chapter 14:

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"

He sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"' Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there."

The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is my body."

Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

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

For good homilies today, be sure to check out A Concord Pastor and Deacon Greg.

I especially appreciated the beginning of Deacon Greg's homily, in which he remembered Dorothy Day's devotion to the Eucharist:

Back in the 1970s, when there was a lot of liturgical innovation going on, Dorothy Day invited a young priest to celebrate mass at the Catholic Worker. He decided to do something that he thought was relevant and hip. He asked Dorothy if she had a coffee cup he could borrow. She found one in the kitchen and brought it to him. And, he took that cup and used it as the chalice to celebrate mass.

When it was over, Dorothy picked up the cup, found a small gardening tool, and went to the backyard. She knelt down, dug a hole, kissed the coffee cup, and buried it in the earth.

With that simple gesture, Dorothy Day showed that she understood something that so many of us today don’t: she knew that Christ was truly present in something as ordinary as a ceramic cup. And that it could never be just a coffee cup again.

She understood the power and reality of His presence in the blessed sacrament.

The photo above shows the 1648 painting "Chalice and Host surrounded by garlands of flowers" by Jan Davidsz de Heem (1606-c. 1683). I found this photo at Idle Specuations.

One Bread, One Body

I know it's already Sunday evening but, for good measure, I thought I would still post a "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."

Since today is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, here is "One Bread, One Body" by John Foley, S.J., as sung by John Michael Talbot.


As Grain Once Scattered

I'm coming to you live from the airport in Atlanta, GA, while waiting for a flight back to LaGuardia.

I was here this weekend exhibiting for my gig at the Archdiocese of Atlanta Eucharistic Congress.

It's been a good visit. The Congress drew a very large and diverse crowd both in terms of ethnic background and age. I was especially impressed by the young adult gathering on Friday night.

But, with much respect for a Eucharistic Congress held on the vigil of Corpus Christi, a part of me did wish I could have been in Pittsburgh Friday night for the celebrations after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup championship in Game 7.

Congrats to the Penguins and everyone back in the City of Champions. Superbowl and Stanley Cup wins in the same year -- good news for a great city.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Any Club That'll Have Her

From the cool new blogs file:

"Clubs are Trump"

It's subtitled "The Club Sandwich Tour of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas."

Hat-tip: Heidi (who I wish was still blogging herself and who, coincidentally, once worked at Gullifty's).

What is in the Water?

Sam (a buddy from church) and his family welcomed a new baby a few days ago:

Welcome to the party, Olive Sophia! May the Holy Spirit always be your guide.

I have at least six other friends expecting babies this year. This is in addition to the birth of my sister's daughter in April.

What is in the water? (I'm jealous, if you can't tell. Can men have biological clocks?)

Scenes from a Retreat

Some scenes from the weekend retreat at St. Mary's on the Lake:

Created by: Christine C.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


For Catholics, today was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

I went to Mass while on a relaxing retreat at Lake George. We had Mass at the lakeside with the Adirondack Mountains in the background. It was beautiful -- and seemed to fit well with today's readings.

The Gospel at Mass was from Matthew Chapter 28:

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.

When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

The photo above is again shamelessly cribbed from an archived post by Gashwin. I'm using it again because these beautiful morning scenes from the bedroom windows remain such a dominant memory of a trip to the Paulist Fathers' house on the lake.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Merciful and Mighty

This weekend, I'm heading to Lake George, NY, for a retreat with the young adult group from the Church of St. Paul the Apostle. We'll be staying at St. Mary's on the Lake owned by the Paulist Fathers.

This will be my second visit to Lake George. I went to a "movies retreat" there last summer.

Tomorrow, as part of morning prayer, we plan to open with "Holy, Holy, Holy" in the style of Sufjan Stevens. So, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is that tune. It's fits perfectly for the eve of Trinity Sunday and also isn't a bad retreat song.


Please pray for us!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Spirit of Truth

I have been remiss this week in posting the Gospel from Mass for Pentecost Sunday. I attended the 10 a.m. liturgy at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Manhattan’s West Side followed by a party to mark the end of the parish’s R.C.I.A. program for the year.

Leaving St. Paul’s, wowed by the sunshine and warm temperatures, I decided to scrap the indoor plans I had for the day. This led to unexpectedly seeing a bit of the Israel Day parade on Fifth Avenue and a beautiful walk around Central Park.

Good for the body and soul – but bad for the prospect of some new posts on the ole’ blog.

So, playing some catch-up:

The First Reading at Sunday Mass contained the story of the Pentecost itself -- the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days after the Resurrection.

Parishes had two Gospel passages from which to choose for Mass. In one of the passages, Jesus speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

From John Chapters 15 and 16:

Jesus said to his disciples:

"When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.

“He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

“Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."