Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday

Today is the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the Church's new liturgical year.

I went to the 8:30 a.m. (!) Mass at my hometown parish, St. Alphonsus, in McDonald, PA.

Please check out last Sunday's entry if you were a reader of my weekly Sunday Gospel posts.

Flashbacks: First Sundays of Advent 2008, 2007 and 2006.

A Concord Pastor has several posts for the start of the new season.

The photo at right is by Corey.

Friday, November 27, 2009

You Know I'm Bound

I'm writing today from the Panera at Settlers Ridge, a new shopping and entertainment development southwest of Pittsburgh. I've been in PA since Wednesday evening for the long Thanksgiving weekend.

In keeping with the holiday, I wanted to choose a tune related to "giving thanks" for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."

So, below is Natalie Merchant's 1998 ballad "Kind and Generous." It's cheesy but appropriate.


Hat-tip: Ed

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kissinger on Obama

From an elder:

“He reminds me of a chess grandmaster who has played his opening in six simultaneous games ... But he hasn’t completed a single game and I’d like to see him finish one.”

-- Henry Kissinger on the POTUS, as quoted here.

Hat-tip: Sully


Quote of the week:

“An alcoholic is someone who can violate his standards faster than he can lower them.”

-- Robin Williams, from "Opening Wide His (Repaired) Heart" in Sunday's New York Times

The NYT photos above by Jay Paul.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Soar to Uncreated Light

In the spirit of mixing it up ...

Tonight, I went to the 7 p.m. Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in SoHo/Nolita. I'm pleased to report that the number of young adults at this new Mass time for Old St. Pat's continues to grow.

The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Jonathan Morris. In his homily for this Solemnity of Christ the King, Fr. Morris spoke of how, unlike the great kings of history and their elaborate thrones, Jesus' throne is the Cross.

For the offertory hymn, cantor Joshua South beautifully sang Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

Here's that piece as performed by some other guy named Josh:

Jesu, joy of man's desiring
Holy wisdom, love most bright

Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned
With the fire of life impassioned
Striving still to truth unknown
Soaring, dying round Thy throne

End of The Cycle

For Catholics and some other Christian traditions, this Sunday is the final Sunday in the liturgical year. On this day, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Next week, a new liturgical year begins with the First Sunday of Advent.

So today, this blog marks a milestone. It marks the end of three years of posts on the Sunday Mass readings, most of which included the full text of the Gospel passage.

I began posting on the Mass on the First Sunday of Advent 2006. It was a significant move for the blog that previously had been used to promote my 2006 PA State House race.

Looking back, I can't remember my thought process on expanding into topics of faith and spirituality on the blog. But, I'm certainly glad I did. And, of course, the change came shortly before my professional move from political campaign management to Catholic publishing.

But, since the scripture readings at Sunday Mass are presented in a three-year cycle, I have decided that now is a good time to end my weekly feature with the text of the Sunday Gospel -- mostly because I'm afraid I might begin to repeat myself.

It's quite likely I will still post an entry on many Sundays about that day in the liturgical year or about something I saw or heard at Mass. I'm just going to mix it up.

This Sunday's Gospel at Mass is certainly a good one with which to conclude the series. In the passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus talks about the nature of his Kingdom and why he came into the world.

From John Chapter 18:

Pilate said to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?"

Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?"

Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?"

Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here."

So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?"

Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

A Concord Pastor has posted a good homily for today's solemnity as well as several versions of the hymn "Crown Him With Many Crowns."

As part of this concluding weekly feature, it has been my honor to recommend several other bloggers who comment on the Sunday Gospels. In addition to the good pastor from the Bay State, these fellows have most often included Deacon Greg, Fran and Mike. Please be sure to keep them in your favorites list.

The image above is from here.

REM on the Red-Eye

This morning, I flew into JFK on the Delta red-eye from San Francisco. It was probably the first time I achieved REM sleep on an overnight flight (which I usually try to avoid).

I was in northern California since Thursday exhibiting for my gig at a multi-diocese faith formation conference in Santa Clara.

This last business trip of 2008 was uneventful. The conference had a disappointing attendance on Friday but was quite good on Saturday. On Friday evening, we had dinner at the Mediterranean restaurant Thea in San Jose. Enjoyed it.

Perhaps the most interesting moments of the visit came on the Super Shuttle to and from the airport. On the way to Santa Clara, we passed through the very attractive and pedestrian-friendly downtown of Mountain View, the home city of Google.

And, en route back to SFO last night, we stopped on the campus of Stanford University (my first time there) near the end of the fourth quarter of the big game against Cal.

The four Standford guys in the shuttle (all headed back to the East Coast for Thanksgiving) were bummed to be leaving the campus in the final moments of the close game -- and kept checking on the score.

They were less disappointed to be leaving after hearing of their team's 34-28 loss. :-(

Friday, November 20, 2009

Strangers Waiting

Up until a year or so ago, I hated the old Journey standard "Don't Stop Believin'." I found Steve Perry's vocals grating and the lyrics downright cheesy.

But, as the tune has reemerged in recent years, I've come around. I've seen how many people enjoy "Don't Stop" as those first well-known notes are heard. It's undeniably catchy and even uplifting.

So, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here it is as performed by the famous PS22 Chorus.


For good measure, below is a clip of the PS22 Chorus showing their vocal talents on another hit from the early 1980s, "Eye of the Tiger":

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hawaiian Tropic Holy Oils?

Also from my Facebook page:

Wednesday morning, my friend Philip responded to my buddy Lara's take on Andrew Sullivan's recent statement of faith.

It's an interesting dialogue:


"That's unfortunate - it feels like "not 100% orthodox" = "knows nil about Catholic doctrine." Why the need to completely disparage people who disagree? I'd like to believe it's possible for two people to be equally serious and intelligent and yet disagree, but here on the Internets it seems like the choices are always either "agree with me" or "you're a moron.""


"Hey, now. Nobody called nobody no moron, and I certainly wouldn’t think that of anyone just because they hold different views from mine. My snotty high church Anglican upbringing precludes name-calling, and predisposes me to welcome joyfully any challenge to my imperfect understanding. Hurrah!

'I'd like to believe it's possible for two people to be equally serious and intelligent and yet disagree.'

Precisely the point I'm making is that Sullivan may be serious about many things, but Catholicism is quite obviously not one of them – unless of course “serious about Catholicism” can also mean “serious about reshaping centuries of tradition to suit my own narrow purposes” or “going to start calling my trips to the beach ‘The Eucharist’ (check it out, y’all! it looks like I’m sunbathing, but in fact I’m taking communion!)” Hawaiian Tropic should do a line in holy oils.

Anyway, as does most of Sullivan's writing concerning faith, this particular passage demonstrates a radical departure from basic – like, REALLY basic – doctrine. Even the Catholic Church in its present state isn’t “100% orthodox,” so I don’t expect Sullivan to be. But I’ll bet my hair and yours that an overwhelming majority of Catholics would find Sullivan’s seaside sacraments as hilarious-slash-horrifying as I do.

If you want different answers, or the freedom to behave according to your own set of precepts instead of those set out by your *chosen* faith (yes, we choose) then seek membership elsewhere. Don’t appropriate what has existed for centuries just because it offends your precious sensibilities. That’s the whole point of church, isn’t it? We’re supposed to cleave ourselves to her, not her to us. This, too, is so basic that it hardly need be said.

The Catholic Church isn’t good enough for Sullivan to worship comfortably in, but its respectability, centuries in the making, is good enough for him to arrogate and reprobate by turns, according to the whims of opportunism. I think that’s rude, just for starters. and expecting serious Christians to find common ground with a progressive faux Catholic is, to mangle a phrase, like asking a lamb and a wolf to agree on what to eat for dinner.

Pax vobiscum."


"I've read Sullivan for a while, and I see a man who is constantly struggling in his faith - seeking wisdom and understanding, trying to see how he fits in as part of the Church. I think what I'm reacting to is the way you seem to just completely dismiss what seems to be a very serious and earnest struggle, and one that I suspect many, many Catholics go through.

For instance, I don't get the dismissal of his line about the dunes and the water. Many great Christian writers have found grace in nature (see for instance Gerard Manley Hopkins, Jesuit and poet), and I don't get how allegorizing nature to the sacraments trivializes them. Nor do I fully understand why you claim that Sullivan knows nothing about Catholic doctrine. So all this leaves me with is that you find him boring and his logic irritating. These may be valid responses to him, but I hardly see how this makes him an unserious Catholic.

As for "expecting serious Christians to find common ground with a progressive faux Catholic" - yes, that's exactly what I expect. Is the church truly universal, or is it just a cozy club for like-minded people? Is the goal of church simply to find a comfortable, non-challenging home? If so, then Sullivan should leave for another faith. But if the goal of church is to be a source of inspiration, challenge, and catalyst for spiritual growth (which often means discomfort and struggle), then I'm not so sure we should be trying to kick anyone out. In fact, if you are NOT made uncomfortable and are not challenged in your spiritual home (you general, not specific here), then maybe it's time to look for a new church."


"Here is the passage entire:

(Andrew Sullivan:) 'We all have aspects of ourselves that the church considers inadequate or wrong. They come as a package. In my own accounting of my sins, sex does not feature much at all. Sometimes I seek a space in St Francis' chapel, a saint I have long loved. And I try to listen to God, and pray the Lord's prayer and meditate for a while to center myself before or after mass. I go much less frequently than I used to, which is the main expression of my alienation, I suppose. In the summers I barely go at all. For me the dunes are the sacraments and the water and air the incense, and the reeds the vestments, and the tides a remembrance of the change that persists. I grew up in a rural woodland and always associated it with religion and the presence of God.'

And here is your comment: 'I don't get how allegorizing nature to the sacraments trivializes them.'

If he were merely allegorizing then I might even find his sentiments quite sweet, if a bit threadbare. But he isn’t. In his own words: the dunes ARE the sacraments, the water and air ARE the incense, the reeds ARE the vestments. He is, in other words, quite purposely and *in fact* substituting the holiest act made available to us on Earth with something he has decided is equivalent. It’s not quite nature worship. It’s worse. He returns to the Eucharist when summer is over, or when the fancy (which he calls "need") takes him, whichever comes first. His needs, not God’s. “I grew up in a rural woodland and always associated it with religion and the presence of God.” As if that explains anything.

You read Sullivan and perceive an “earnest Catholic … constantly struggling in his faith.” I read him and perceive a man struggling desperately to convince himself (and no doubt his readers) that his self-centered life works better than a God-centered life. 'In my own accounting of my sins, sex does not feature much at all' says it all. His rules, not God’s.

To address your point about spiritual challenges, help me understand something: you believe the role of the Church in our lives is to provide spiritual growth in being made uncomfortable by the likes of Andrew Sullivan? If not, I’m sorry for misunderstanding you. If so, how bizarre. You go to church to be made uncomfortable by your fellow parishioners? Poor you! Or do you go there to make others uncomfortable? Such a pity! One should first contend with God-given challenges before presuming to assert oneself as a source of challenge and struggle to the Church and one's fellows, no?

And who said anything about kicking people out? If God says believing in space aliens is a sin, and I then go about proclaiming my unrepentant belief in space aliens in church and to fellow Christians, do I not remove *myself* from their fellowship and God's, even if no person bodily "kicks me out"?"


"I think my fellow believers are, and ought to be, a constant challenge to me. For instance, right now I'm having to think and consider more, by having this conversation, than I would otherwise. If I am to take seriously the idea that God speaks to us through the church, and that the church consists of all of our fellow believers, then I must take your understanding of faith and spirituality seriously. And in doing so, yeah, it's challenging and uncomfortable - it'd be much easier if you were to just agree with me.

Likewise with Sullivan. I can't just dismiss him - not if I am earnest about taking my fellow believers' faith seriously. I believe God speaks, not just through the liturgy, but through our fellow believers (indeed, through our fellow human beings).

As far as whether or not people remove themselves, perhaps it's just the way it comes across to me, but it sure *seems* like there's a lot policing of the gates going on here. The tone feels very much like "don't let the door hit you on the way out." Perhaps that's not the intention, but it comes across that way."

Philip again:

"I was thinking a bit more about your last paragraph and people removing themselves, rather than being kicked out. I think I have a better illustration of my problem with that.

Let's apply that standard consistently across the board to Roman Catholics (that's what I know - can't say much about Anglicans). Anyone who consistently and unrepentantly holds to beliefs that contradict Catholic teaching has kicked themselves out.

Let's start with the church's ban on all forms of birth control (except NFP). That removes something like 60 -70% of Catholics, maybe more, at least in America. Actually, expand that to sexual teachings in general, and most Catholics world-wide have "removed themselves."

What about abortion? According to some rather vocal American bishops, that excludes any Catholic in the Democratic party.

Torture? Most Catholics in the Republican party have removed themselves as well.

That doesn't leave too many people. And I've only touched on the obvious, relatively cut and dried topics where the Catechism explicitly forbids certain activities.

So is this the vision of the universal church, a place too small for anyone but a tiny handful to find a spiritual home?"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"A More Clever Devil"?

Over at my Facebook page, where posts from this blog automatically appear as "Notes," my friend Lara took issue with my post from yesterday quoting Andrew Sullivan.

It was such a strong and thought-provoking comment I've decided to post it here:

"I really don't get your thing for Andrew Sullivan, Pav. Bad enough he's totally self-referential in his irritating illogic, why must his writing be so desperately boring in the bargain? Anyone who calls himself a "religious secularist" with a straight face can't be taken seriously for even a moment. On top of all that, he knows less about Catholic doctrine than I do about cold fusion (which is to say, nil). Just goes to show, Oxford plus Harvard plus a blog plus some name recognition demonstrably do not equal goodness, rightness, or intellectual rigor.

And where's your love for the last great Christian writer, Clive Staples Lewis, who perhaps had the likes of Mr. Sullivan in mind when he wrote "Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil"?

The Eucharist is the only means by which new life is transmitted to us, and the Sacrament is the most holy object we encounter in this life. There is no substitute. But your Andrew Sullivan sees with eyes that make "dunes the sacraments, the water and air the incense, and the reeds the vestments, and the tides a remembrance of the change that persists." I laughed when i read this, then stopped when the seriousness of his mistake came into view.

He calls himself a Catholic, but I discern no evidence of it in his outpourings. All he wants are bells and smells, all the ritual and genuflection, without the nuisance of having to embody Christian precepts. It's evil, man. Just evil."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Edge of the Frame?

Film critic A.O. Scott penned a piece for yesterday's New York Times Magazine about his "Screen Memories" from the years 2000-2009. (This first decade of the new millennium is coming to a close believe it or not.)

Near the end of the essay, Scott made an interesting point about womens' roles in the decade's comedies:

... There is something profoundly regressive in the vision of a civilization stripped down to an essentially violent core, so it is perhaps not surprising that regression of another kind provided the movies of the era with their richest vein of humor. Devotion to playthings and playmates, a fascination with bodily fluids and a queasy obsession with sex — these were what defined a movie hero not preoccupied with killing bad guys. Traditional romances and sex farces were supplanted by comedies of arrested male development, defensive glorifications of the right of boys to be boys, occasionally informed by the serious question of what it might mean to be a man.

Some of these — “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Step Brothers,” “Nacho Libre” — were among the funniest movies of the decade, but like the geek-revenge dramas and the child-friendly fantasies with which they shared box-office ascendancy, they pushed women to the edge of the frame. Movies seem to be, increasingly, for and about men and (mostly male) kids, with adult women in the marginal roles of wives and mothers, there to be avenged, resented or run to when things get too scary. ...

He may have a point. Off the top of my head, only "Juno" would be an exception.

The NYT illustration above is credited to Cristiana Couceiro.

"Something Unanswerable"

More from Sully yesterday on his faith:

"... it also true that absence from the sacrament of communion is for me an unbearable thing after too long. Perhaps this answers something unanswerable and helps explain how many of us actually do try to live faith rather than merely assert it."

The image above is from here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The End?

The days grow short. The liturgical year grows old.

And, in the Gospel at Mass today, Jesus speaks of end times.

From Mark Chapter 13:

Jesus said to his disciples:

"In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

"And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

"Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near.

"In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.

"Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

A Concord Pastor offers some background on today's Mass readings.

In his homily for this Sunday, Deacon Greg smartly observes that this Gospel passage "sounds like the preview for the new movie '2012.'"

The photo above is by Marco Bellucci.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Safe From the Pain

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend" here is Dave Matthews with a solo performance of "The Space Between."



Hat-tip: Cousin Casey

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why Sully Stays

Why remain a Catholic?

... Maybe I am too weak to leave and be done with it. But in my prayer life, I detect no vocation to do so. In fact, in so far as I can glean a vocation, it is to stay and bear witness, to be a thorn in the side, even if the thorn turns inward so often, and hurts and wounds me too.

I stay because I believe. And I stay because I hope. What I find hard is the third essential part: to love. So I stay away when the anger eclipses that. But the love for this church remains through the anger and despair: the goodness of so many in it, the truth of its sacraments, the knowledge that nothing is perfect and nothing is improved if you are not there to help it.

-- Andrew Sullivan, earlier today.

No Capital to be Claimed

Today, November 11, is Veterans Day. It is day to remember the men and women who have served, and serve today, in the Armed Forces.

And, it is a day to pray and work for peace and non-violence -- for a world where there will be no more war.

On Wednesday, the POTUS spoke at Fort Hood for the memorial service of those killed in a shooting there last week. In his remarks, he referenced today's observance:


"In today's wars, there is not always a simple ceremony that signals our troops' success - no surrender papers to be signed, or capital to be claimed. But the measure of their impact is no less great - in a world of threats that no know borders, it will be marked in the safety of our cities and towns, and the security and opportunity that is extended abroad. And it will serve as testimony to the character of those who serve, and the example that you set for America and for the world."

Hat-tip: Sully

Monday, November 09, 2009

"Inertia and Diplomatic Habit"

In a NYT column this weekend, Thomas Friedman stated that it is time for the United States to get out of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Makes sense to me:

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has become a bad play. It is obvious that all the parties are just acting out the same old scenes, with the same old tired clich├ęs — and that no one believes any of it anymore. There is no romance, no sex, no excitement, no urgency — not even a sense of importance anymore. The only thing driving the peace process today is inertia and diplomatic habit. Yes, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has left the realm of diplomacy. It is now more of a calisthenic, like weight-lifting or sit-ups, something diplomats do to stay in shape, but not because they believe anything is going to happen. And yet, as much as we, the audience, know this to be true, we can never quite abandon hope for peace in the Holy Land. It is our habit. Indeed, as I ranted about this to a Jordanian friend the other day, he said it all reminded him of an old story.

“These two guys are watching a cowboy and Indian movie. And in the opening scene, an Indian is hiding behind a rock about to ambush the handsome cowboy,” he explained. “ ‘I bet that Indian is going to kill that cowboy,’ one guy says to the other. ‘Never happen,’ his friend answers. ‘The cowboy is not going to be killed in the opening scene.’ ‘I’ll bet you $10 he gets killed,’ the guy says. ‘I’ll take that bet,’ says his friend.

“Sure enough, a few minutes later, the cowboy is killed and the friend pays the $10. After the movie is over the guy says to his friend, ‘Look, I have to give you back your $10. I’d actually seen this movie before. I knew what was going to happen.’ His friend answers: ‘No, you can keep the $10. I’d seen the movie, too. I just thought it would end differently this time.’ ”

This peace process movie is not going to end differently just because we keep playing the same reel. It is time for a radically new approach. And I mean radical. I mean something no U.S. administration has ever dared to do: Take down our “Peace-Processing-Is-Us” sign and just go home. ...

The photo above is from here.

Caption: "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister-designate Benyamin Netanyahu shake hands before their meeting, March 3, 2009 in Jerusalem, Israel. Clinton is at the start of a two-day visit to the region during which she will hold talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu before meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas." (Photo by Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv via Getty Images)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

All She Had

Mass-goers will have widows on the brain today. Both the first reading and the Gospel passage mention them.

This Gospel account is sometimes called the "Lesson of the Widow's Mite."

From Mark Chapter 12:

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.

"They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation."

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.

Many rich people put in large sums.

A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.

Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."

The image above is from A Concord Pastor.

Fran has provided an artistic rendering, too.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Chorus Angelorum Te Suscipiat

On Thursday afternoon, at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, 13 people were killed and some 30 others were wounded in a senseless shooting spree.

I dedicate this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend" to the victims and their families.

Below are two settings from the beginning (first clip) and end (second clip) of the Requiem Mass.


"Rest eternal grant them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on them.
To thee praise is due, O God, in Zion,
and to thee vows are recited in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer;
unto thee all flesh shall come."

"May the angels lead you into paradise,
may the martyrs receive you
in your coming,
and may they guide you
into the holy city, Jerusalem.
May the chorus of angels receive you
and with Lazarus once poor
may you have eternal rest."

The translations above are from here.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Championships Abound

This morning, it occurred to me how great a year it has been for professional sports Between The ‘Burgh and The City.

Teams from Pittsburgh won both the Superbowl and the Stanley Cup. And, last night, one of the teams of my adopted city won Major League Baseball’s World Series. (Way to go, Yanks!)

Three championships in one year for this modest blog's coverage area. Not bad at all.

Yesterday evening, I was at the young adult Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the early innings of the Yankees game. At the end of Mass, Archbishop Timothy Dolan jokingly observed that the Phillies fan may want to stop by the cathedral’s statue of Saint Jude.

An aside from the world of sports: On Friday, The New York Times again ran a long feature on the Avella High School Eagles football team. The piece referenced the long-suffering Eagles’ recent surprise victory over that of my alma mater, Fort Cherry High School.

The NYT photo above is credited to Chang W. Lee. Caption: "Mariano Rivera, who got the final five outs, holding the trophy as the Yankees celebrated their first title in nine years. For Rivera and three teammates, it was their fifth championship with the team."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Voting at Breakfast

My move to Little Italy earlier this year meant that, today just before 9 a.m., I cast my first ballot as a resident of Manhattan’s 34th Election District.

The polling place was located in the small cafeteria of P.S. 130 (The DeSoto School) on Baxter Street.

And, even though there was no school today because of the General Election, many children were in the cafeteria eating breakfast while we voted.

In Pennsylvania, polls are open until 8 p.m. In NYC, you can vote until 9 p.m.

Don't forget to vote!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tuesday is Election Day 2009!

Tomorrow (Tuesday, November 3) is General Election Day 2009. Don’t forget to vote!

If you live in New York City, please consider the candidacy of Alex Zablocki for NYC Public Advocate. I have had the chance to meet Alex (pictured at right) and think he would serve us well in this important watch-dog / mayor-in-waiting role. By now he certainly knows the city backwards and forwards as he’s been campaigning hard in all five boroughs.

If you live in the City of Pittsburgh, I would recommend Kevin Acklin for mayor. I’ve known Kevin for several years and can attest that he is a good man who cares deeply about future prosperity in the Steel City.

Kevin (pictured at left), an attorney and community activist, is running for mayor as an Independent. He was a generous supporter of my PA State House race. I’m proud to support his efforts today.

If you live in Pennsylvania, read up on the Republican slate for the state-wide judicial offices. In particular, please check out Templeton Smith for PA Superior Court. I met Temp in 2005 when we worked together on an Allegheny County judicial race.

Wherever you live, please give serious thought to municipal and school board races. The POTUS and the U.S. Congress are important. But, it’s really local government and school boards where the rubber meets the road.

If you live in the 3rd legislative district of Herkimer County, NY, please consider young veteran Steve Keblish when you vote tomorrow for legislator.

If you live in North Fayette Township, PA, I recommend Roxanne Buckels for township supervisor and Bob Doddato for township auditor.

If you live in Moon Township, PA, please cast your vote for Cathy Tress for tax collector.

Like Kevin and Temp, I was blessed to meet Roxanne, Bob and Cathy on the campaign trail back in the foothills of the Alleghenies. I met Steve this year here in NY.

They are all good people worthy of your support.

Vote tomorrow!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Thanking the God of Surprises

This morning, I went to the 11 a.m. Mass at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Manhattan's Upper East Side at which Fr. James Martin, S.J., professed his final vows as a member of the Society of Jesus (the "Jesuits").

The Mass was beautiful. And, it was quite fitting that the author of the bestseller "My Life with the Saints" professed his final vows on the Solemnity of All Saints.

Fr. Jim gave an excellent homily on today's Gospel. He concluded it by reminding us that the Greek word for "blessed" (as used repeatedly in the passage) can also be translated "happy" -- and how happiness and joy are important for a life pointed toward sainthood.

At the end of Mass, as Fr. Jim concluded his remarks of appreciation by thanking "the God of surprises." (I need to do that more often.)

In case you're not familiar with Fr. Jim from his appearances on The Colbert Report, check out this clip:

Ora Pro Nobis

For Catholics, today (November 1) is the Solemnity of All Saints, a day to celebrate all of the saints in heaven -- both those who are canonized and those whose names we do not know.

Today's Gospel at Mass is Christ's pronouncement of the Beatitudes, the qualities of those who are working to be saints.

From Matthew Chapter 5:

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.

He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Fran has All Saints on the brain here and here.

Mike too.

At Mass today, most churches will sing the Litany of Saints. There are many musical settings for the litany. Below are two of the newer versions:

A Concord Pastor gave us some brass for All Saints: