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.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Lands Afar and Mine

On Sunday, I went to the 12:45 p.m. Mass at the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. The liturgy was celebrated by Monsignor Donald Sakano.

The Gospel reading, from Luke Chapter 10, was the account of Jesus' commissioning of the 72 disciples. I posted the passage in 2007.

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

In his homily, Fr. Tito attributes a good quote on discipleship to Cardinal Seán: "We are fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium."

Mass at Old St. Pat's ended with the hymn "This Is My Song." I thought it was a fitting selection for a Sunday that also was Independence Day.

For your consideration:


This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth's kingdoms,
thy kingdom come, on earth, thy will be done.
Let Christ be lifted up 'til all shall serve him,
and hearts united, learn to live as one.
O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations.
Myself I give thee; let thy will be done.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


My post Thursday entitled "Abortion vs. Live Births" led to an interesting dialogue in the comment section between two bloggers.

You may want to read the exchange of ideas between Claire Bangasser, author of A Seat At The Table, and Kim Luisi, author of Faith, Fiction and Flannery.

I'm grateful to both women for their candor and the time they put into the discussion.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

Today, Independence Day, we Americans celebrate our freedom. We celebrate our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is good today to remember that, in other parts of the world, many men and women are not free.

In Mexico, political candidates are often subject to violence. Last week, a candidate for governor was gunned down.

In Iran and China, the government controls the press, censors the Internet and jails those who call for democracy.

In Saudi Arabia, women may not vote, drive a car or leave home without the permission of a male guardian.

In the Darfur region of Sudan, horrible violence to civilians continues unabated.

Yes, we indeed are a blessed people. Consider this a prayer that our peace and freedoms may one day soon be commonplace around the world.

A song of thanksgiving:

Saturday, July 03, 2010

What Might Have Been

In today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan recalled a wonderful bit of Thomas Jefferson's prose that didn't make it into the Declaration of Independence.

The whole column is worth a read. The heart of it:

Jefferson had, in his bill of particulars against the king, taken a moment to incriminate the English people themselves — "our British brethren" — for allowing their king and Parliament to send over to America not only "soldiers of our own blood" but "foreign Mercenaries to invade and destroy us." This, he said, was at the heart of the tragedy of separation. "These facts have given the last stab to agonizing affection, and manly spirit bids us renounce forever" our old friends and brothers. "We must endeavor to forget our former love for them."

Well. Talk of love was a little much for the delegates. Love was not on their mind. The entire section was removed.

And so were the words that came next. But they should not have been, for they are the tenderest words.

Poignantly, with a plaintive sound, Jefferson addresses and gives voice to the human pain of parting: "We might have been a free and great people together."

What loss there is in those words, what humanity, and what realism, too.

"To write is to think, and to write well is to think well," David McCullough once said in conversation. Jefferson was thinking of the abrupt end of old ties, of self-defining ties, and, I suspect, that the pain of this had to be acknowledged. It is one thing to declare the case for freedom, and to make a fiery denunciation of abusive, autocratic and high-handed governance. But it is another thing, and an equally important one, to acknowledge the human implications of the break. These were our friends, our old relations; we were leaving them, ending the particular facts of our long relationship forever. We would feel it. Seventeen seventy-six was the beginning of a dream. But it was the end of one too. "We might have been a free and great people together."

Friday, July 02, 2010

Army of Kings

Earlier this week, I got turned on to a musician named Shaun Barrowes. He has a tune called "Army of Kings." I'm not sure what the lyrics are about -- but I like the pacing of it.

Here it is for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Hat-tip: Greg W.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Abortions vs. Live Births

In a column in today's New York Post, John Wilson notes that today is the 40th anniversary of abortion becoming broadly legal in New York State.

I was startled by this graph:

According to the city Health Department, 2008 saw 89,469 abortions performed in New York City -- seven for every 10 live births. Among black women, abortions out number live births by three to two.

These rates are shameful. We as a society must do more to help women with unexpected pregnancies. We must find a better way.

I am especially stunned at the number abortions among African-American women. More than half of a generation is gone.

Where is the outrage?

Update: These statistics are from page 41 of this report.

The Kindest of Men

Yesterday, it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI has agreed to the retirement of Bishop Peter Rosazza, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Hartford in Connecticut. He is 75.

I came to know Bishop Peter (as everyone calls him) in the mid-1990s through the National Catholic Student Coalition, of which he is the longtime bishop advisor.

He is the kindest and most sincere of men. I will long remember the gentle way he celebrated Masses at many NCSC conferences through the years.

Students of Church history will recall Bishop Peter as a "Jadot Bishop," a bishop selected when Archbishop Jean Jadot of Belgium was Pope Paul VI's representative to the United States.

He also was one of the authors of "Economic Justice for All," the U.S. Catholic Bishops' 1986 pastoral letter on Catholic social teaching and the U.S. economy.

May God continue to bless you in retirement, Bishop Peter. Thank you for your great devotion to the People of God.