Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Should Never

Quote of the day:

" ... bravery in service of evil should never be commemorated. ... "
-- Ta-Nehisi Coates, in this post

Being 100% There

Some good food for thought by Pamela Gorman in a tribute to a friend:

... Have you ever been so fortunate to cross paths with a person who is completely “there” when you are with them? So many of us are busy with our mind elsewhere. Some of you even have the audacity to stop midsentence to join a different conversation on your electronic gadgetry (you know who you are). But, there ARE those rare individuals who have an uncanny ability to stop their minds from wandering and really just be there with you.

Christopher Smith was one of those rare birds. ... He looked me in the eye and we talked about real stuff in the midst of whatever chaos we found ourselves in. When I would arrive home from one of the various political events and someone would ask who was there, the name “Christopher Smith” would come first to mind. It wasn’t until he died a week ago that I realized he may have often been the only one in the room who was 100% “there.” ...

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Miracle on 22nd Street"

A Christmas story:

Hat-tip: Fran via Deacon Eric

To Honor Him

Another Christmas Eve. Another day to ponder the belief that, some 2,011 or 2,015 years ago, God entered the world in the form of a baby.

Things had gone wrong in the relationship between God and men and women, we believe. And God personally came upon the earth to forever heal the relationship.

From the accounts in two of the four Gospels, it seems that God attempted to break the fourth wall quietly -- being born to a humble woman in a humble structure in a backwater of the Roman Empire.

But the angels sang out to shepherds in the fields. The great star appeared in the night sky, spurring wise men of the East to set out to pay homage. This great occurrence in the history of the universe would not be an altogether silent night.

For this Christmas Eve edition of the "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is Jars of Clay with a song about paying homage to the Christ Child.


Song hat-tip: Bill Buran

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Handel in the Food Court

I need to get myself into a flash mob.

For example:

Hat-tip: Deacon Eric

In Tribute: Ken Tuma, who taught the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah" to generations of Fort Cherry students. (I still know that bass part.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

A New Template

I began this blog approximately four-and-a-half years ago in June, 2006. Its content has evolved quite a bit – adapting from a campaign blog for my State House race to a review of my thoughts on faith, politics, music and more.

But, the appearance of this space always stayed the same -- the old Blogger template of light blue on a dark blue background.

Today, I made the change to one of the new Blogger templates with a dominant background image. I also added my Twitter feed in the sidebar. (The Twitter feed refused to load in the old template.)

I struggled with the choice of an image. Perhaps this "view from the airplane window" sky is meant to symbolize the "between" of Between The 'Burgh and The City.

Thanks for being with me on the journey.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Wind Is Blowing

Wednesday, in the late afternoon, I braved the dark winter skies and frigid temperatures to do some business at the U.S. Post Office in Yonkers (across the street from my office).

Playing as background music in the large old lobby was Frank Sinatra's rendition of Irving Berlin's 1937 tune "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm."

It's the perfect offering for this chilly week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Bonus: Billie Holiday's take:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Photo of the day, via a post Sunday at Fr. Stephen Wang's excellent blog Bridges and Tangents:

"An Everlasting Itch for Things Remote"

An epigraph:

"With other men, perhaps, such things would not have been inducements; but as for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts."

-- Herman Melville, as quoted in a tribute in today's Wall Street Journal to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who died this week at age 69.

Digital Nativity

This is brilliant:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good Pastures

Verse of the day:

“They found abundant and good pastures, and the land was spacious, quiet and peaceful.”

- 1 Chronicles 4: 40

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hear Them Ring

I have been writing today from the kitchen table in my mom's house outside of McDonald, PA. I can report that it's a wet, dreary day in Western PA.

Since I'm in the ole hometown, I'm obliged to again present "Silver Bells" for the "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend." Regular readers of this space will remember that this Christmas classic was co-written by another McDonald native, Jay Livingston (1915 - 2001).

Many musical artists have done versions of "Silver Bells." But, to my mind, the best remains its debut presentation by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the mostly forgotten 1951 comedy film "The Lemon Drop Kid."


In Memoriam: Bob Snatchko, 1936 - 2010

On Thursday, the same day my Uncle Dave passed away, one of my great uncles, Bob Snatchko, also died. He was 74 and also had been in poor health for some time.

Uncle Bob was my paternal grandfather's youngest brother. He and his late twin sister Betty were the last of 15 children born to Charles Snatchko and Anna Kargle Snatchko.

Uncle Bob was a good, cheerful man. He brought that joyful attitude to his work as a huckster. At least in the Western Pennsylvania lingo of the last century, a huckster was someone who delivered fresh fruits and vegetables house-to-house. His father had done this kind of work, too.

Uncle Bob had a good number of regular customers who looked forward to his weekly visits. As a kid, I saw him most often when he came each week to my maternal grandmother's home to deliver a brown bag full of tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas and the like.

Please keep Uncle Bob's wife, Rose, his two sons and his four remaining siblings in your prayers. He will be missed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

In Memoriam: Dave Snatchko, 1944 - 2010

My dad's oldest brother, Dave Snatchko, passed away yesterday afternoon. He died at age 66 after several years of declining health.

Uncle Dave was the first born child of George Snatchko and Anna Summerville Snatchko. (They had nine children in total -- seven sons and two daughters.)

It's appropriate that when I travel to Western Pennsylvania tomorrow for the viewing and funeral service, I'll fly on USAirways. Uncle Dave worked many years for the airline at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Uncle Dave also will be remembered for the decades he spent playing softball, notably for his leadership of the "Snatchko Brothers" team in the sport's golden age of the 1970s and '80s. (The photo above illustrates this part of his life.)

Please pray for my Grandma Snatchko and Uncle Dave's wife, children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters in the days ahead. He will be greatly missed.

Viewing and funeral service details can be found here.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Baby Mine

There's still a little more time left in the weekend (technically, at least).

So, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is "Baby Mine" as performed by MissBroadwayDork.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today, December 1, is the annual observance of World AIDS Day.

A Concord Pastor has two posts to mark the day.

And, some numbers from Catholic Relief Services:

UNAIDS estimates that 33.2 million people globally are living with HIV. This number includes an estimated 2.5 million children under the age of 15 years.

The number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries has increased tenfold since the end of 2001, almost to 3 million. However, only 31 percent of people in need of treatment are currently receiving it.

Flashbacks: World AIDS Days 2009, 2008 and 2007.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Remembering Dorothy Day

Today, November 29, is the 30th anniversary of the death of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and one of the great figures of the church in the 20th century.

Fr. Stephen Wang has penned a tribute to Dorothy at his fine blog.

On November 9, I attended a vespers service in memory of Dorothy at the Church of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village (home of the Catholic campus ministry at NYU).

The evening included a powerful homily by New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan in which he outlined six insights from Dorothy's life that "could be enlightening to us right now."

For your consideration:

6 Insights from the Life of Dorothy Day from Province of Saint Joseph on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent 1

Another Advent begins today. Another four-week period of pondering over The Incarnation.

Today's Gospel reading at Mass, from Matthew 24, includes Jesus' powerful admonition to his disciples:

" ... Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. ... "

What it mean to be "awake" or perhaps "spiritually awake"? How does this happen?

The really hard times in life can knock you awake. We all know that.

The really good times can, too. Myself, I am in a period in which I am intensely aware of my blessings and of how (I think and fervently hope) God has answered my particular prayer to be in a good relationship.

I suppose the challenge is staying spiritually awake in moderate times, on normal days.

How do we keep the rust from building in our relationship with God?

For reflections related to this question and more for the First Sunday of Advent, visit Deacon Greg, Fran, A Concord Pastor, The Anchoress, Mike and City Father.

Flashbacks: First Sundays of Advent 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Night Music

Friday night, we saw the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's 1973 musical "A Little Night Music" at the Walter Kerr Theater on 48th Street.

The show was quite good. Bernadette Peters was superb in the leading role of Desirée. Her stirring take on the Act II ballad "Send In The Clowns" will stay on the brain for quite some time.

A sample:

Many famous singers (female and male) have recorded "Send In The Clowns" since the '70s.

According to on-line sources, Sondheim specifically tailored "Send In The Clowns" to match the vocal capabilities of Glynis Johns (the first Desirée). (Johns is perhaps most well known as the mother in the film "Mary Poppins.")

So, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," cue the original Broadway recording of "A Little Night Music."


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fun and Persuasive

Some weeks back, over at Twitter, I stopped "following" another user. It wasn't a big deal. The man had tweeted something I found slightly offensive and I also wasn't interested in his usual topics. So, I utilized the "unfollow" option.

It happened that the man had activated an automatic tool that put all who unfollowed him into a list. In response to my "unfollow," he appealed to me by linking to my profile page and a clip of Smash Mouth performing their cover of the 1975 song "Why Can't We Be Friends?"

It was a clever move the quickly regained me as follower.

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here below is that fun and persuasive tune.


An aside: I'm writing today from my mother's house outside of McDonald, PA. I'm in the finished attic that has been set up as a guest room.

I'm in Western Pennsylvania this weekend for an early Thanksgiving week visit. I'll be back in Gotham on Monday evening and for the rest of the week. (On Thanksgiving Day, I'm set to meet the steady's parents -- wish me luck.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Marvelous Love

Verse of the day:

“ … He has put into my heart a marvelous love
for the faithful ones who dwell in his land. … ”

- Psalm 16 (although not in all translations)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Subterranean Jazz

Regular readers of this quiet corner of the blogosphere know that I reside in New York City's Little Italy, which is located in lower Manhattan.

My steady lives in Hudson Heights, a charming hilltop neighborhood adjacent to Washington Heights. It's at the northern end of Manhattan (and also home to the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine).

So, for the past several months, we've logged more than few hours riding Gotham's A Train ("Eighth Avenue Express") north and south to reach our respective pads.

A talented Pittsburger named Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) composed a famous tune about this subterranean marvel called "Take the A Train."

Below are three versions of that jazz standard for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Saturday, November 06, 2010


I'm typing this late afternoon from Gate E14 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport while I wait for a flight back to JFK.

I was in Rosemont, IL, these past few days to exhibit for my gig at the Archdiocese of Chicago's annual catechetical conference. It was a good visit.

Since I'm in a spiritual frame of mine, here is Coffey Anderson again for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend" with his take on the catchy Christian praise anthem "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever."

Nice bit at 01:53.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Vote Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 2, is General Election Day 2010 in the United States. It’s going to be a historic one – and deserves a good turnout. Please remember to vote!

(Hey, moderates who only vote every four years for president, that means you! Remember, no voting = no complaining!)

Smart Voter is a great tool to see the names of all the candidates who will be on your personal ballot (you just plug in your street address and zip code).

If you live in Pennsylvania or New York, below is a list of candidates I think are worthy of support. Observant eyes will note the list includes Republicans, a Libertarian and a Democrat:

Tom Corbett for Pennsylvania Governor

Warren Redlich for New York Governor

Dan Donovan for New York Attorney General

Harry Wilson for New York Comptroller

Ryan Brumberg for U.S. Congress (NY-14)

Michel Faulkner for U.S. Congress (NY-15)

Nan Hayworth for U.S. Congress (NY-19)

Greg Deluca for Pennsylvania House of Representatives (46th Dist.)

Brandon Neuman for Pennsylvania House of Representatives (48th Dist.)

Richard Yeager for Pennsylvania House of Representatives (50th Dist.)

Janet Duprey for New York State Assembly (114th Dist.)

Paul Niehaus for New York State Assembly (73rd Dist.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

That Old Devil Moon

Friday night, the steady and I went to the Cheyenne Jackson and Michael Feinstein "Power of Two" concert at Carnegie Hall. The fine evening of music was filled with ballads from "The Great American Songbook" of the mid-1900s (lots of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, etc.).

One of the tunes performed was "Old Devil Moon" from the 1947 musical "Finian's Rainbow."

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is that song from the show's 2009 Broadway revival (also starring Cheyenne Jackson).


An aside: As a native of Western Pennsylvania, I struggled Friday with how to pronounce the concert venue. Was I at CARN-egie Hall (NY style) or Car-NEY-gie Hall (Pittsburgh/Scotland style)?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Like Love

Tuesday night, after work, I went to the Supercuts on University Place for a haircut.

During the wait, I pulled out the October 8 edition of Commonweal. My eyes fell upon an interesting piece called "How to Shut Up" by someone writing under the pseudonym Unagidon. The essay, subtitled "An Old Devotion Quiets A Modern Mind," is about the author's personal experience of praying the Rosary.

It included this great quote from Fr. Herbert McCabe, O.P.:

"Prayer is like love; you won't really begin to understand it until you actually do it."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hold Us Together

This weekend, I was in Dallas, Texas, to exhibit for my gig at the University of Dallas Ministry Conference.

It was my second time at this fine gathering of about 4,000 Catholic school teachers, catechists and other parish leaders sponsored by the university, the Diocese of Dallas and the Diocese of Fort Worth.

On Friday evening, I went to Matt Maher's concert at the conference. Among the tunes he performed was his original song "Hold Us Together." Here it is below for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Take My Hand

Today is the steady's birthday. To celebrate, we went last night to see the acclaimed musical "Next to Normal" on Broadway.

We liked it. The show has a compelling story. I did grow a bit weary of the high-pitched belting – but would recommend it nonetheless.

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is a piece called "A Light in the Dark" from "Next to Normal."


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Live It Again

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below is the beautiful standard "Autumn in New York."

I've used it before in this space -- and I try not to repeat. But, since it's such an appropriate tune for this time of year, I'll make an exception.

Cue Ol' Blue Eyes.


Friday, October 08, 2010


Great quote:

"A soul that is burning with love cannot remain inactive."

- St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Slovenian Sunshine

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is Perpetuum Jazzile with a fun, jazzy take on "You Are My Sunshine."


Thursday, September 30, 2010

On the Wings of the Wind

Verse of the day:

“You walk on the wings of the wind,
you make the winds your messengers
and flashing fire your servants.”

-- Psalm 104: 3-4

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Blazing Fire

Two weeks ago, at the wedding of my old college friend Pete in Burbank, CA, the first scripture reading was the passage from Song of Songs (a.k.a. Song of Solomon) that includes the verse "Set me as a seal on your heart."

I heard the same passage proclaimed last Saturday morning at the Mass of First Profession of Sr. John Paul Marie, C.F.R., at St. Adalbert Church in the South Bronx. (Sr. John Paul's college roommate is married to one of my high school buddies.)

In case you're unfamiliar, here are those beautiful verses:

Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.

Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked.

These words have been the inspiration for more than one than one piece of music, including a classical setting that is often performed by choral groups.

But, I think the song related to this scripture that I most appreciate is the contemporary take of Matt Maher. In honor of Pete and his bride, Sr. John Paul and everyone with a burning love, I post it below for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Monday, September 20, 2010

Here Comes Everybody

Quote of the day:

" ... old Polish ladies, tweedy gents from the shires, African hospital cleaners, self-consciously cool teenagers, Filipino checkout assistants and, as one of my friends put it, “some rather tarty-looking traveller women who’d obviously had a glass or two”. They don’t call it the Catholic Church for nothing ... "

-- Damian Thompson, in a post on B16's visit to the United Kingdom

Hat-tip: Deacon Scott on Facebook

The image above is from Flickr. The pilgrims at the Mass are reading from special editions published by my gig.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sentimental Reasons

I learned today that two of my friends here in NYC have gotten engaged.

To them, and especially to my own steady, I dedicate this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."

I have chosen one of my all-time favorites: Nat King Cole's rendition of "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons."


And another take:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Prayer of Remembrance

I'm writing today from the Starbucks at the Galleria in Sherman Oaks, CA. I've been visiting the Los Angeles area all week (following the SCRC conference in Anaheim) to attend the wedding of an old college friend tomorrow in Burbank.

It's been a great visit. But as the other old college friend with whom I'm staying doesn't have wifi, my infrequent time on-line has been limited to checking e-mail and the social networking sites.

And, while I missed the chance to do my usual post about Sunday Mass, I didn't want today to pass without a note here at the blog that today is the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States.

We must not forget.

Below, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," is a rendition of J.S. Bach's setting of "Dona Nobis Pacem." It is posted as a prayer of remembrance for all those who were killed that horrible day, for all who mourn them, for our nation and for peace in our world.


Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Age of Not Believing

Since I'm in Anaheim, home of Disneyland, it seems appropriate that this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend" be a song from a Disney film.

One of my favorite Disney movies is "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," the 1971 musical starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson.

Of the Sherman Brothers' many fine tunes in the movie, perhaps most memorable is the tender ballad "The Age of Not Believing." It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song.

Here it is below for your consideration.


Bonus: From a recital:

Friday, September 03, 2010

On Blogging and Humility

I'm writing tonight from Anaheim, CA. I'm here through Sunday to exhibit for my gig at the Southern California Renewal Conference. It's my second visit to this annual gathering of Catholic charismatics and my eighth occasion exhibiting at the Anaheim Convention Center.

This week, back in Gotham, I was remiss in doing my usual post on the Sunday Mass readings. My persistent lack of blogging is due to a few reasons.

First, a somewhat negative cause: I've become addicted to Twitter. I've been won over by the possibilities of the micro-blogging format and its potential for connection with many people from various walks of life.

Second, a very positive cause: I'm dating someone. It's going well. And, this leaves less solitary time for writing.

But, I'm determined to keep this blog alive. It's been a labor of love for more than four years.

In that spirit:

On Sunday, I went to the 7 p.m. Mass at Old St. Pat's.

The day's scripture readings focused on humility. The Gospel, which I posted in 2007, was from Luke Chapter 14. In the passage, Jesus said:

"For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

This is something I need to remember -- while exhibiting, tweeting, dating, blogging and all the other parts of this blessedly full life.

For reflections on Sunday's scriptures, visit Fran, A Concord Pastor, City Father, Fr. Mulcahy and Bishop Gumbleton.

The image above is from Evan.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Sometime last week, I noticed that Jason Mraz's cheerful love song "Lucky" has been translated into Spanish with Ximena Sariñana on the female vocals. Liked it immediately.

Since I've already posted "Lucky" in this space before, I passed on using it for last week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."

But, I had a great date tonight that left me feeling quite blessed. So, here is "Suerte" for this weekend's musical entree.


Here's a live version:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In Memoriam: John Tobin, 1935 - 2010

Word has come of the death Monday of John Tobin, a friend from my hometown of McDonald, PA. He was only 74.

Soft-spoken and generous, John was a true gentle-man.

While I knew John as a child and a teenager, I came to know him well as an adult through activities at our parish, St. Alphonsus Church.

John had been a member of St. Alphonsus' parish council and was an acolyte at funeral Masses. But, in actuality, he did so much more for the parish over the years -- quietly lending a hand in many anonymous capacities.

I also knew John through the McDonald Lions Club, a fraternal organization dedicated to community service with a special emphasis on serving the blind. He was the kind of Lion that makes the organization work -- through faithful attendance at the regular gatherings and always volunteering at special fundraisers and events.

Please keep John's wife, Roberta, his children, grandchildren and all of his family members and friends in your prayers. His passing leaves a void and he will be missed.

From the prayers at end of the funeral Mass:


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.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Last and First

For Mass today, I went to the 12:45 p.m. liturgy at Old St. Pat's. After two weekends on the road, it was good to able to just walk to Church in my 'hood.

Today's Gospel passage, which I posted in 2007, was from Luke Chapter 13. It includes Jesus' well-known words of warning:

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate ... "


"For behold, some are last who will be first, and some who are first will be last."

For reflections on these verses and the rest of today's Scripture readings, visit Fran, City Father, Bishop Gumbleton, Fr. Jboy and Fr. Mulcahy.

The narrow gate pictured above comes via A Concord Pastor.

24 - 17

Yesterday evening, my friend Michelle and I took NJ Transit trains from Penn Station to The Meadowlands to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the New York Giants in a preseason game. Michelle is a fellow 'Burgh-area native who went to NYU in the '90s. We scored some last-minute, inexpensive tickets.

It was a good game. The Black and Gold trumped Big Blue 24 to 17.

The new Meadowlands stadium was impressive (it has four jumbotrons). And, I can report that, despite being fairly high up, we could easily see the action on the field. Two views:

An aside: A bottle of water at the stadium ran me $4.75. And, if that wasn't bad enough, they take the cap off for you -- and keep it!

Unbelievable. Precaution taken to an outrageous extreme.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


This morning, some Internet surfing led to the blog of St. Mary's Church of Westfield, MA. I noticed that, a few weeks back, St. Mary's used a clip featuring the singer and guitarist Coffey Anderson.

He seems to have a wonderful, joyful style. (He starts his videos with a resounding "Hello!".)

So, here is Coffey with "Open the Eyes of My Heart" for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."



Coffey's take on "Lord, I Lift Your Name On High":

Thursday, August 19, 2010

His Promise of Mercy

On Sunday, the day after my high school class reunion in Western Pennsylvania, my maternal grandmother and I went to the 10:30 a.m. Mass (a.k.a. "the late Mass"!) at St. Patrick Church in the village of Noblestown.

On the liturgical calendar was the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the day Catholics celebrate our belief that, after her time on earth was complete, the mother of Jesus was assumed body and soul into heaven.

Sunday morning's Gospel reading was the account from Luke Chapter 1 in which, after learning she was to be the mother of Jesus, Mary "set out and traveled to the hill country" to the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

The passage provides much of the Hail Mary prayer as well as Mary's beautiful (and revolutionary) proclamation known as The Magnificat:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

For reflections on Sunday's scriptures and the Assumption, visit City Father, Deacon Greg, Father Mulcahy, Bishop Gumbleton, Busted Halo, Fr. Jboy, Sr. Jo-Anne and Fr. Tito.

Assumption Flashbacks: 2009, 2008 and Bertha.

The image above is "The Holy Virgin in Old Age" or "La sainte Vierge âgée" by James Tissot. It is from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

A Heart Resolved

Quote of the day:

" ... a heart resolved to love can radiate goodness without limits."

- Brother Roger of Taizé, d. 2005

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pull an Angelina

In what I think is a first since I began the series in October, 2007, I did not post an installment last week of the "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa.

Well, not really. I was on the road again sans laptop for another long weekend. This time I was in Western Pennsylvania for the 15-year reunion (a year late, by tradition) of the Fort Cherry High School Class of 1994. We convened Saturday for a family picnic at Mingo Creek County Park and an after-party at Cadillac Ranch.

Friday afternoon, en route on a JetBlue flight from JFK to PIT, I had the chance to listen to some XM Satellite Radio. (Why don't all planes have in-seat, personal entertainment systems?)

One of the tunes I most enjoyed was Travis "Travie" McCoy's single "Billionaire" featuring Bruno Mars.

I don't endorse the song's message or it's greedier lyrics (which certainly don't jive with the "treasure in heaven" message of Matthew 19 in the daily Mass readings yesterday and today).

But, "Billionaire" has a Mraz-esque mellow beat that's rather catchy. So, for your consideration, here it is as a belated "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend." (Advance apologies for the F-bombs.)


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do Not Be Afraid

I'm writing tonight from the lone desktop computer at the "courtesy wifi station" at my gym. I'm here, and not in the comfort of my pad, due to what may be the death of my laptop. After three-plus years of use, it looks like both the battery and charger are fried.

Ah, well. It had a good run. A new charger still may be in the offing. But, a replacement also is on order.

My week sans laptop has been a positive thing for book reading and getting more sleep. But, it's been a negative for blogging -- causing an already slow writing patch to get even slower.

I have been particularly remiss in recording that I paid a fourth visit last weekend to Wichita, Kansas. Once again, I visited that little city to exhibit for my gig at the Midwest Catholic Family Conference.

It was a fine gathering. I even met the members of L'Angelus at the hotel pool.

For Sunday Mass, I joined about 2,000 fellow conference-goers for the solid liturgy celebrated in the arena of the Century II Convention Center.

The Gospel passage, which I posted in 2007, was from Luke Chapter 12. It included one of the verses in the New Testament in which Jesus states:

"Do not be afraid ... "

It is a simple message -- but one that has helped to steady yours truly during some of life's challenging moments. I will never forget the Papal Mass in New York City's Central Park in October, 1995, when Pope John Paul II said four consecutive times, "Do not be afraid!" and concluded, "God is with you!"

For more in-depth take-aways from last Sunday's scripture readings, visit A Concord Pastor, Deacon Greg, Fran, City Father, Bishop Gumbleton, Fr. Mulcahy, Fr. Richard, Fr. Jboy, Sr. Mary and Fr. Larry.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tag, You're It!

On Tuesday, a little round of "tag" ensued at this end of the Catholic blogosphere. Those tagged were asked to name their five favorite devotions.

I was honored to be nominated by A Concored Pastor. He got the nod from Deacon Greg whose charge came from Julie, which wasn't at all Ironic.

(Jen was also among Julie's picks. Deacon Scott and The Anchoress were among Deacon Greg's selections.)

So, I should stop stalling ... hmmm ...

... My favorite devotions are:

1. Silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

2. Personal prayers that come to me in the morning on the subway and Metro North train from the city to Yonkers while I'm en route to work.

3. Personal prayers during Communion (sometimes after dedicating a particular reception of the Eucharistic to a need of my own or another).

4. Reading about the lives of saints, esp. those saints with whom I'm not already familiar such as the martyrs from Elizabethan England and 19th century East Asia. (Shameless plug: these readings often originate with my gig.)

5. Sharing some of the faith on-line. For me, this includes providing links on my blog to Sunday homilies as well as tweeting prayers and scripture verses here.

Now it's my turn to tap some folks. I choose my pals Fran and Mike. Tag, you're it!

The image above is from the Daily Mail (UK). It accompanies a February, 2007, article titled "Children banned from playing tag in school playground."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


On Sunday, I attended the 12:45 p.m. Mass at Old St. Pat's. The day's scripture readings touched on vanity, desire, possessions and wealth accumulation.

The Gospel passage, which I posted in 2007, was from Luke Chapter 12. It included these verses:

“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

"‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

When I read or hear this verse, I usually content myself with the smug thought that I live a fairly simple life and don't have much in the way of earthly treasure.

Then I remember my 401k retirement account. There's not a lot there. But, does God see it as "stored up treasure"? It certainly would be to someone sleeping on the street.

I don't know the answer to this question. But, it's something we should think about.

For more reflections on Sunday's scriptures, pay a visit to Fran, Mike, Fr. Mulcahy, Fr. Richard, Fr. Tito, Fr. Jboy and Bishop Gumbleton.

The photo above can be found in a few places on the Internet, including here. My apologies to the creator for not giving proper credit.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

River Road

With the exception of old Patsy Cline ballads, I tend to not have an affinity for country music.

But, I am fond of one young musical group that's a little country: L'Angelus, a "Cajun fiddle swing band." As a matter of fact, I love the band's tune "Ca C'est Bon."

Next Friday evening, L'Angelus is slated to perform at a conference at which I'll be exhibiting for my gig.

So, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is the new pride of Louisiana with a fresh single called "River Road."


Thursday, July 29, 2010

He Opened The Scriptures

On Wednesday morning, I attended the funeral Mass of Paulist Father Lawrence Boadt at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Manhattan's West Side.

Fr. Larry died Saturday, July 24, after a struggle with cancer. He had been a priest for 41 of his 67 years on earth.

Until recently the president and publisher of Paulist Press, Fr. Larry and I met multiple times at the various Catholic conferences I attend for my gig. He also contributed several essays to our 2008 book "Praying with Saint Paul."

Fr. Larry was a noted scripture scholar and author of several books, including the widely-used text "Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction." He also was an active participant in Christian-Jewish dialogue, according a press release today from the Anti-Defamation League.

Fr. Larry's funeral Mass was a fitting tribute to the man.

The scripture readings were taken from Ezekiel; the 2nd Letter of St. Paul to Timothy ("I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."); and the Emmaus story from Gospel of Luke that included the quite appropriate verse:

"Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?"

For the historical record:

The principal celebrant of the liturgy was the Paulist Fathers' new president, Fr. Michael McGarry. A fine homily on the scripture readings was given by Fr. Michael Kerrigan, who worked with Fr. Larry at Paulist Press.

A large group of Paulists concelebrated the Mass. These included Fr. Frank Sabatté and Fr. Dave Dwyer.

Bishop Gerald Walsh, an Archdiocese of New York auxiliary bishop and the rector of St. Joseph Seminary, was in choir during the Mass and, near the end, led the prayers of commendation.

Fr. Larry's family members, friends, colleagues and other lay people filled the pews. Among the laity present were Mike Hayes and Bill McGarvey (two of the men behind Busted Halo) as well as Fordham University Theology Department Chair Terrence Tilley and Professor Maureen Tilley.

The liturgy also included many memorable musical selections. ("Be Not Afraid" was well utilized as an entrance hymn.)

Marty Haugen's setting of the 23rd Psalm was selected for the responsorial psalm. Here it is below in prayer and memoriam:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


On Sunday, having spent most of the day out-and-about in the city, I went to the 7 p.m. Mass at Old St. Pat's.

The Gospel reading was a discourse of Jesus from Luke Chapter 11.

The passage, which I posted in 2007, included some of the words of the Our Father as well this well-known verse:

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

It's a verse about prayer. For in-depth reflections, visit Deacon Greg, A Concord Pastor, City Father, Fr. Richard, Bishop Gumbleton and Father Mulcahy.

The photo above comes via A Concord Pastor.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Perri on Mraz

Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" has to be one of the most joyful love songs released in recent years. I shared it in this space in April 2008.

Here it is again for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," as interpreted by Christina Perri.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Soho & Screwtape

This was one of those weeks I wish I had the time to be a more regular blogger. There was so much happening in the news and in the city that could have been the subject of several posts.

But, before any more time passed, I did want to record that my friend Heidi Price-Brayer drove up from the 'Burgh last weekend for a quick visit. I've known Heidi since 1998 when we both were staff writers at the Observer-Reporter in Washington, PA.

We walked all around Soho, took in the Picasso exhibit at the Met, grabbed a bite at Island Burger and experienced a performance of "The Screwtape Letters" at the West Side Theater.

A play based on the book by the great C.S. Lewis, "Screwtape" is easy to recommend. It's entertaining theater. It's not dated. And, for believers and non-believers alike, the play provides ample food for thought about the temptations of life.

Aside: I love this line from "Screwtape": "I do not expect old heads on young shoulders."

The photo above from "The Screwtape Letters" is from here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Only One Thing

I have linked before to Catholic Churches of Manhattan, the blog of a young man who went to Mass at all 96 Roman Catholic Churches in the Borough of Manhattan. "Andrew the Sinner," as he dubbed himself, finished that great work this April.

While I don't intend to duplicate that effort, I would like visit all of the parishes within an easy walk of my apartment in Little Italy. So, this morning, I went to the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Anthony of Padua at the corner of Houston and Sullivan streets in SoHo.

The Gospel at Mass, from Luke Chapter 10, was the account of Jesus at the home of the sisters Martha and Mary. In the passage, which I posted in 2007, Martha is busy serving while Mary sat at Jesus' feet listening to him.

The Franciscan Friar who celebrated the Mass at St. Anthony's observed in his homily that Mary, seated in the presence of the male house guest and actively following the conversation, was not conforming to the traditional role of a woman in Ancient Israel.

Perhaps, in addition to wanting help, Martha also was attempting to correct this faux pas, the friar speculated.

He added that, in Jesus' response to Martha, he is calling all people, regardless of gender or social status, to hear his message. That wonderful quote:

"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

For more reflections on today's scripture readings, visit A Concord Pastor, Deacon Greg, City Father, Sr. Kathy, Bishop Gumbleton and Fr. Richard.

The image above is "Martha" by James Tissot. It is from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Judd and Maggie

On Independence Day, during a barbecue at the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, I had the opportunity to meet Judd and Maggie. They had performed the night before at The Living Room.

Here they are for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All My Life to Live

The Anchoress, Deacon Greg and Dave have all pointed to a YouTube video of a Holocaust survivor and members of his family dancing to "I Will Survive" in front of concentration camps and memorials in Europe.

It is irreverent.

It probably should be a little controversial.

But, it also could be a joyful testament to the human race's ability to triumph over evil.

For your consideration:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Levite on the N Train

Saturday afternoon, I rode the N train from Manhattan to Coney Island in Brooklyn. I was en route to the fabled Big Apple landmark to take in a game of the Brooklyn Cyclones, a single-A baseball team affiliated with the Mets, as part of a friend’s 35th birthday celebration.

For nearly the entire train ride, I sat opposite a sleeping man who I perceived to be homeless. Hugging a large piece of yellow mattress foam, the man rested his head on a fairly large cushion he had wedged between the metal bars of the seat. A sheet covered his upper body. He had a bandanna around his bald head. A large man, he could have been 30 or 50.

Two massive garbage bags sat at the man’s feet. Two slightly smaller plastic bags and jugs of water were under the seat. He also had a cart that was full with assorted bags and belongings.

There was a bit of an odor at that end of the car but it was not overpowering.

As I sat there, I read the weekend Wall Street Journal (including Peggy Noonan’s column). But, it was hard not to stare at the man.

I prayed for him – Hail Marys, my go-to prayer when I don’t know what to do or say.

But, I didn’t do anything else. I didn’t wake him up and ask him if he OK. I didn’t ask him if he was hungry. I didn’t find out if he had a place to sleep Saturday night – or any night. I did nothing to address the immediate physical needs of a human being right in front of me.

When the train arrived at Coney Island, the man continued to snooze. I got off the train and went on my way.

For all I know, he might still be riding that N train between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Sunday evening, I went to the 7 p.m. Mass at Old St. Pat's. The Gospel reading, from Luke Chapter 10, included the Parable of the Good Samaritan. (I posted the passage in 2007.)

Thanks to my train ride the day before, it wasn't hard to see myself in parable. I'm the Levite – the religious man who walked right on by.

I pray for the courage of the Samaritan. I pray for the courage to reach out when faced with suffering.

Visit A Concord Pastor, Deacon Greg, City Father and Fr. Tito for homilies on the passage.

The image of the Good Samaritan above is by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863).

Friday, July 09, 2010

O Clouds, Unfold!

Yesterday, as part of a multi-blog discussion on hymns, The Anchoress mentioned that the English anthem “Jerusalem” was one of her favorites.

For this week’s "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is that stirring combination of music and poetry.



And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.