Thursday, July 30, 2009


Quote of the day:

“The goal is to be awake in your own life. ... Sometimes you have to leave the country to jar yourself awake, and sometimes you have to just go more deeply into your own life.”

- Melanie Gideon, in a feature on her memoir, “The Slippery Year,” in today's New York Times

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"They Saw The Signs"

The Gospel at Mass today is the well-known passage on Christ's miraculous feeding of the 5,000 with the boy's five loaves and two fish.

From John Chapter 6:

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.

Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near.

When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”

He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”

One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”

Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.

When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.

When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”

Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

For good homilies on this passage, check out Cardinal Newman and A Concord Pastor and Deacon Greg and the Parish Blog of St. Edward the Confessor.

Flashbacks: This miracle has been described in this space before as it occurs in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

And, a video with this week's Gospel:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Victim of A Selfish Kind of Love

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is NYC-based singer-songwriter Jay Brannan with his chill take on "Man in the Mirror."


If John Allen had $10 billion ...

... he would put a nurse in every U.S. parish.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Kind of reminds you of the BNL song, huh?:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Him Whom My Heart Loves"

For many Christian traditions, today (July 22) is the feast day or memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene. She was the first evangelist of Christ's Resurrection.

One of the options for the first reading at Mass today is a beautiful passage from Chapter 3 of the Song of Songs that may evoke what Mary Magdalene felt in the garden on Easter Sunday morning:

... I sought him but I did not find him.

I will rise then and go about the city;
in the streets and crossings I will seek
Him whom my heart loves.
I sought him but I did not find him.

The watchmen came upon me
as they made their rounds of the city:
Have you seen him whom my heart loves?

I had hardly left them
when I found him whom my heart loves.

The Anchoress and Fr. Aquinas also have posts for today's memorial.

Regarding the image above: The name of the artist who created the image may be Jesus Martinez Gordo. However, as the Website where I found it is down, I cannot confirm this.

R.I.P. Frank McCourt

In a press release Monday, NYU marked the passing of one of the university's great alums: teacher and author Frank McCourt (NYU School of Education Class of 1957). McCourt died Sunday at the age of 78.

The release included this interesting video with some great old images of NYU and the Village:

Frank McCourt: The Journey of an Ordinary Teacher from NYU Steinhardt on Vimeo.

An aside: When I read McCourt's second book "'Tis", I was tickled by his passing reference to the NYU Newman Club.

See also: "St. Frank of Limerick" at Googling God

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No POTUS Fear?

Speaking of good lines in the NYT, columnist David Brooks provided this one today in a piece entitled "Liberal Suicide March":

Machiavelli said a leader should be feared as well as loved. Obama is loved by the Democratic chairmen, but he is not feared. On health care, Obama has emphasized cost control. The chairmen flouted his priorities because they don’t fear him. On cap and trade, Obama campaigned against giving away pollution offsets. The chairmen wrote their bill to do precisely that because they don’t fear him. On taxes, Obama promised that top tax rates would not go above Clinton-era levels. The chairmen flouted that promise because they don’t fear him.

"A World That No Longer Exists"

The editorial page of Sunday's New York Times included an "Appreciation" of Walter Cronkite, the famed television news broadcaster who died Friday at the age of 92.

I liked this line from the piece:

Some deaths end only a life. Some end a generation. Walter Cronkite’s death ends something larger and more profound. He stood for a world, a century, that no longer exists. His death is like losing the last veteran of a world-changing war, one of those men who saw too much but was never embittered by it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

He Began to Teach Them

Like several other places in the New Testament, the Gospel at Mass today leads us to think of Jesus as a "shepherd." The passage also speaks to the importance of going away, sometimes, to "a deserted place and rest a while."

From Mark Chapter 6:

The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.

He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.

So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Flashbacks: Previous "shepherd" passages on Good Shepherd Sundays in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Deacon Greg has posted his homily for this Sunday. Good bit:

One of the lessons of this Sunday’s gospel is that after the apostles have done their amazing work – we heard last week about the miracles they performed – they returned to Christ, who reminded them that the job of being a faithful Christian isn’t all work. It’s rest. It’s prayer. It is seeking out a deserted place to find peace.

In the chaos of daily life, each of us needs to return to Christ, and to find a deserted place to rest, a sea of tranquility for prayer.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Like the River Jordon

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," I tried to locate a high-quality a capella version of Michael Jackson's early 1990s hit "Will You Be There." Below are three versions that aren't too bad.


Jennifer Hudson, of course, was the inspiration:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Front-Row Seat for Miracles

The July 20 edition of America magazine includes a good essay from Deacon Greg with observations from his two years as a permanent deacon in the Church.

These two items in his list of seven caught my eye:

4. Never, ever, under any circumstances, tell people in a homily that it might be spiritually enriching to pray for our enemies and then suggest a name. I did that once, mentioning Osama bin Laden, and the congregation actually gasped. I never heard the end of it.


7. But despite all that, no amount of preparation can prepare you for the miraculous. The first time I baptized a baby, I made a mental note to check out my eyeglass prescription, until I realized I was having trouble seeing because my eyes were blurred by my own tears. Ministerial life has been like that. I have been moved and inspired by the boundless joy of a couple on their wedding day, the giddiness of a mother and father dabbing the water from their baby’s brow on the day of his baptism and the heartfelt handshake of a man who was grateful for something I mentioned in the pulpit. I have dried tears at funerals (sometimes my own) and smiled at small children who trot around the aisles during my homilies. I have been reminded, week after week, at wakes and weddings, at fundraisers and first Communions, that I am a part of something that is, like the mysteries of the rosary, joyous, luminous, sorrowful and glorious.

I have had a front-row seat for the great milestones of life and have shared in the worries and wonders and hopes of the people in the pews. I do not know most of their names, but they know me, and they know my wife, and they wave at us in the supermarket or stop us on the subway and go out of their way to say hello or how are you or thank you. I have been doing this for only two years, but already I’ve witnessed more miracles than I can count.

Lizard Poisons Spock

I've been thinking that rock-paper-scissors needed an update:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Friday night, we caught a late showing of "Brüno" at Destinta Theaters in Bridgeville, PA.

"Brüno" is the latest gotcha comedy or "mockumentary" from Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of "Borat."

The film was offensive and shocking, especially the Ron Paul scene. But, admittedly, I laughed a lot -- although probably not $9.50 worth of laughs.

I just was not as interested in the outcome of Brüno's travels and trials as much as I was in Borat's American adventure.

Even if you're a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen, "Brüno" can wait for Netflix.

As of this writing, "Brüno" has a 69 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Take Nothing

This morning, my maternal grandmother and I went to the 8:30 a.m. Mass at my hometown parish, St. Alphonsus Church in McDonald, PA.

The Gospel at Mass included a commissioning by Christ of his apostles -- with some interesting instructions.

From Mark Chapter 6:

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick — no food, no sack, no money in their belts.

They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.

He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them."

So they went off and preached repentance.

The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

A Concord Pastor and Deacon Greg have posted their homilies on this Sunday's readings.

Powerful quote from Deacon Greg:

The gospel is meant to be lived on its feet -- taken to others, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. It is to be taken beyond places that are flat, and safe and comfortable, to deserts and mountains and plains, to places where you may find yourself tired, trudging, where the terrain may be rough and the hills steep. The trip won’t necessarily be easy.

But it is one we all are asked to take. It is the great adventure of living the Catholic Christian faith, and taking it into the world.

All you need are sandals. And a walking stick. And someone else to share the journey. Take nothing else. It is the journey itself, and the willingness to make that journey, that matters.

Need Look No More

I am on the road this week. On Tuesday, I left NYC for Las Vegas where one of my younger brothers, Cliff, got married on Wednesday. (Cliff is the proprietor of Big Shot Bob's -- be sure to stop by if you're ever west of the Pittsburgh and hungry for some excellent wings.)

The wedding was at the Luxor, which had very poor wifi access (hence the lack of blogging mid-week).

On Thursday, I flew from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh. This leg of the trip was for the wedding of my cousin, Ben, yesterday at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Burgettstown, PA.

While here in wonderful Western Pennsylvania, I've been staying at my mom's house in the village of Primrose, west of McDonald Borough. The house is situated in a spot with lots of trees and a small creek ("crick") abutting the back yard. Early Friday morning, I was pleasantly surprised by a symphony of birds out back.

But, while the nature is nice and all, mi madre has neither wifi nor standard Internet (hence the lack of blogging late-week).

So, tonight, I come to you live from Crazy Mocha on Pittsburgh's South Side. (They have wifi ... whew.)

I'm pleased to report that, in addition to Ben's wedding, this visit to PA afforded me the opportunity to meet Nora Louise, as well as catch up with Mariah Paige.

On Tuesday morning, the Delta flight to Vegas included personal television sets with satellite TV. Like many others on the flight, I watched nearly the entire CNN coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial.

I know, I know. The coverage has been too much. MJ should not be seen as a role model. I agree. But, indulge me. For this week's rather late "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," I have chosen another MJ song: "Ben." (It fits rather well with the nuptials theme of this post.)

I actually had forgotten about "Ben." Dual hat-tip to my old high school buddy, Ed, and my cousin, Amy, for mentioning it.

There are YouTube clips of MJ himelf singing "Ben." But I think I prefer this newer, in-concert version by another vocalist (song starts after 0:19).


Monday, July 06, 2009


An essay in the technology section of Saturday's New York Times ended with this quote from Scott D. Anthony, president of Innosight, a consulting firm:

“You see again and again the companies that succeed are not the ones that have the brilliant strategy,” he said, “but the ones that course-correct along the way.”

Perhaps true for life in general, actually.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Baby Boom

The baby boom continues.

Late Sunday afternoon, my friends John and Allison Welch of Houston, PA, became parents to their second daughter.

Nora Louise Welch is pictured at right. She was born at Washington Hospital.

Welcome to the party, little Nora! May the Holy Spirit always be your guide.

Nora is a little sister for Molly, who was born exactly two-and-a-half years ago today.

Photo hat-tip: Grandpa Jack

His Native Place

Unlike last Sunday's Gospel, with its two great examples of faith and healing, Jesus has a more difficult time in this week's Gospel at Mass. And, in his hometown nonetheless.

From Mark Chapter 6:

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.

When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.

They said, "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?"

And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house."

So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.

He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Deacon Greg has a very good homily for this Sunday.

The image above is from A Concord Pastor.

A City Baby

Tonight, as I was walking into my apartment after watching the great fireworks display over the Hudson River, my cell phone rang.

The call brought the wonderful news of the the birth of a daughter to my friends Melissa and Tim. Ann was born at 2 a.m. on July 3.

Check her out:

Welcome to the party, little Ann! May the Holy Spirit always be your guide.

Melissa, who also grew up outside of Pittsburgh, told me that Ann is a true city baby. As Ann needed some coaxing to make her big entrance, Melissa and Tim were able to calmly take the N-W subway from Queens to the hospital in Manhattan for the birth.

Photo hat-tip: Waldie's World

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Liberty at Night

A very happy Independence Day to all!

For this Fourth of July, I thought I would give a brief report from an outpost of America's favorite pastime.

Tuesday evening, I went a game of the Staten Island Yankees minor league baseball team.

It was my first exposure to this Single-A franchise of the New York Yankees -- thanks to an invite from Mike and his friend Donna. We went to the game as part of a group from Regis High School.

The S.I. Yanks play in a great little stadium at the northeastern tip of Staten Island, conveniently located next to the ferry terminal. The stadium boasts beautiful views of the New York harbor and the Manhattan skyline.

It was great to be in a ballpark where you could see the action up close. And, I was very glad to see so many families with children there.

Watching the S.I. Yanks reminded me of the Washington Wild Things, the Frontier League team in Washington, PA, as well as some of the campaign events we held there. A lot of things on Staten Island actually remind me of Pennsylvania. Parts of the island have quite a small town or suburban feel.

We took the Staten Island Ferry back to Manhattan after the game. It may have been my first time in the harbor at night. The clear nighttime view of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry was beautiful:

Flashbacks: Independence Day posts for 2008 and 2006.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Bring Salvation Back

I can't deny that my inner-soundtrack this week has been dominated by the music of Michael Jackson.

An MJ-related song that I particularly like is "I'll Be There," a hit of The Jackson 5 from 1970.

So, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is a great take on that piece by the ACM Gospel Choir.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

"A Religious Man"

Sister Rose has recalled another instance when Karl Malden (1912-2009) portrayed a priest -- in what sources say was his last appearance on screen.

A scene from an episode of "The West Wing" called "Take this Sabbath Day":

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"It's a Crucifixion!"

The Academy Award-winning actor Karl Malden died today at the age of 97.

Over at In All Things, America magazine's blog, Jesuit Father Jim Martin has the goods on one of Malden's most memorable roles -- Father Pete Barry, the priest in the 1954 film "On The Waterfront." The character was was inspired by the real-life "Waterfront Priest" Jesuit Father John Corridan.

Here are two clips from that classic starring Malden and Marlon Brando:

Here is another famous scene (without Malden) from "On The Waterfront" with the oft-quoted line "I coulda been a contender":

Hat-tip: Deacon Greg