Saturday, April 30, 2011

Deus Ibi Est

There is much to pray for today.

Hundreds were killed this week in the southern states by storms and tornadoes. Prayers are needed for the dead and those who mourn them, as well as for the hurt and the homeless.

While in London and Rome, it is a time of great events. Prayers would be appropriate for popes, princes and the great throngs of people.

So, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below is a "new-ish" setting of the hymn "Ubi Caritas" by the 35-year-old Welsh composer Paul Mealor as it was heard Friday in Westminster Abbey.


In English:

"Where there is charity and love, there is God."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Monday

In many Christian traditions, Easter (or "the Easter season" or "Eastertide") lasts for 50 days until Pentecost.

So, to help continue the celebration this Easter Monday, below is a video featuring the song "Christ is Risen" by Matt Maher.

For your consideration:

Flashback: 2009

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mandate of the Marys

Happy Easter!

Last night, I went to the Easter Vigil at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Manhattan's West Side. It was a fine Mass clocking in at three hours in length (owing to nine scripture readings plus Psalms, two baptisms, five confirmations and a choir performance of "The Hallelujah Chorus").

The Gospel passage at this year's vigil was from Matthew Chapter 28. It's powerful in so many ways -- the resurrection of Jesus being the greatest, of course.

But, perhaps we also need to consider the actors in the miraculous account.

At this ultimate moment in salvation history, the apostles are not present. After all the teachings they had heard and the miracles they had witnessed, the men who had been closest to Jesus did not automatically go to the tomb on the third day. They were hiding.

It was the two Marys who had the faith, courage, determination and love to return to the place where Jesus' body rested.

And, for this, they were blessed with an interface with the angel and then Jesus himself:

Then the angel said to the women in reply,

“Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.”

Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

In this passage, the greatest charge of evangelization in all of human history is given to two women. It is the two Marys who are being told to proclaim the greatest of good news.

My question: What does the role of the two Marys on Easter morning in Ancient Israel have to teach the Church of today? Do women have a mandate from Jesus himself to preach?

For more on Easter, visit the Concord Pastor, Deacon Greg, Mike, Brother Dan, Rocco, Deacon Scott, McNamara's Blog, Father Stephen and Blue Eyed Ennis.

And, courtesy of Dan Sloan on Facebook, here is some Bach for Easter:

Flashbacks: Easter Sundays 2010, 2009 and 2008.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fine Company

Of all the Lenten observances I've seen in 2011, the best has been Mike Hayes' "50-Day Giveaway" at his blog Googling God. From Day 1, the vlog series was consistent, creative and heartfelt.

Yesterday, in Mike's giveaway for Good Friday, I was honored to be among five bloggers to receive gifts. The others were Fran, Deacon Greg, Brother Dan and the Concord Pastor. (What fine company!)

Check it out:

Thank you, Mike! I know I will enjoy that book. Ray Suarez is a fellow NYU Arts & Science alum. I was pleased to speak to him at an event a few years back.

Holy Saturday

It's a rainy Holy Saturday afternoon here in northern Manhattan. The steady and I just had a late breakfast and are lingering over Facebook, YouTube and various blogs.

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below is a piece perhaps appropriate for these hours of waiting prior to the Easter Vigil. It's a setting of the "Angus Dei" by J.S. Bach.


In English:

Lamb of God,
You take away the sin of the world,
Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,
You take away the sin of the world,
Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,
You take away the sin of the world,
Grant us peace.

Hat-tip: Beth Connors

Friday, April 22, 2011

Our Homeland

Why did there need to be a Good Friday?

One man's answer:

“ … God migrated to humanity so all of us in turn could migrate back to God. …

“ … God in Jesus Christ so loved the world that he left his homeland and migrated into the far distant territory of humanity’s sinful and broken existence. There he laid down his life on a cross so that we could be reconciled with God and migrate back to our homeland where there is peace, harmony, justice and life. … "

- Fr. Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C., from an article in the February 7 edition of America

Flashback: 2010

The painting above is "The Two Marys Watch the Tomb" by James Tissot. It's from the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Love Held Him There

Good Friday thoughts:

... God was so engrafted into humanity that one who was both God and human ran like one in love to the shameful death of the cross.

This incarnate Word wanted to be engrafted onto that tree. And it was not the cross or the nails that held him there. These were not strong enough to hold the God-Man.

No, it was love that held him there.

- Saint Catherine of Siena, d. 1380, Doctor of the Church. The quote is from "Letters of St. Catherine of Siena" translated by Sr. Suzanne Noffke, O.P. (The paragraph breaks are mine.)

The image above is "It Is Finished" or "Consummatum Est" by James Tissot. The image lives at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday.

"How shall I bury you, my God, how enfold you with the shroud? What chant shall I intone, sorrowing on your funeral way?"

The image above is "Crosses," created in 1981 or 1982 by Andy Warhol. It lives at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. (It may not be shown above in the direction originally intended by the artist.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


This Spy Wednesday is turning out to be a damp, gray day here in the New York City area.

Reynor Santiago captured this well this well in a photo he took this morning on the grounds of St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers:

"One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the Chief Priests ... " (Matthew 26: 14)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Okay With That

There was a fine post today by Ree Drummond at her blog Confessions of a Pioneer Woman called "A Palm Sunday Baptism."

The post concluded with this intriguing prose and photo:

When I walk into a Catholic church, whether it’s in Pawhuska, Oklahoma or Dallas, Texas, a lump immediately forms in my throat and I have to swallow hard to keep the tears from flowing. The lump doesn’t disappear until I walk out of the church.

I’ve thought about it a lot, trying to figure out the reason for this response, over which I’ve found I have absolutely no control.

I don’t know if it’s because of my Episcopalian upbringing; maybe being in a Catholic church takes me back to my childhood.

Or maybe it’s the history of the church itself, that it’s survived through the ages and is always, always the same.

It could be that I feel the presence of the saints, whose images can be seen in the stained glass windows.

Or, more likely, it’s something more mysterious…something I’ll never exactly understand.

And I’m okay with that.

But one thing I discovered yesterday: throw a gummy-mouthed, beautiful, smiling baby into the mix, and the lump very quickly gives way to tears.

Copious, salty, dripping tears.

Yes, I’m a mess.

But I’m okay with that, too.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tried for Three Years

Another Palm Sunday. Another Holy Week begins.

This week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend" should help set the mood. So here is a 60-something Ted Neeley with "Gethsemane" from "Jesus Christ Superstar." In the first moments, you may be skeptical. But, keep going to around 3:00. It's worth it.


Song hat-tip: Deacon Greg

Flashbacks: Palm Sundays 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reason vs. Imagination

Quote of the day:
“The heart is commonly reached not through reason, but through imagination.”
Blessed John Henry Newman, from here.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Rayos de Canción

On Thursday night, the steady and I went to "Rayos de Canción," a concert of classical music at the Church of Saint Paul the Apostle.

The evening was organized by Matthew Wright, a flute virtuoso, to benefit a mission trip to Antigua, Guatemala. Matthew was joined in performance by five of his fellows from The Julliard School.

One particularly beautiful part of the program was the Andante section of the Flute Sonata in E Minor by J.S. Bach. I liked it so much I thought I would share it as this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Wisdom of the Other Side

There's an excellent new offering at Salon called "I can't believe my best friend is a Republican." The author is Taffy Brodesser-Akner.

I loved this paragraph:

... I think having a Republican friend is making me a better liberal. We need friends who differ from us. It's easy to watch Republican extremism and think, "Wow, they're crazy." But when someone is sitting face to face with us, when someone we admire and respect is telling us they believe differently, it is at this fine point that we find nuance, and we begin to understand exactly how we got to this point in history. We lose something critical when we surround ourselves with people who agree with us all the time. We lose out on the wisdom of seeing the other side. ...
Amen to that.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A Particular People

Some food for thought on the subject of tradition:

"It is not of advantage to us to indulge a sentimental attitude towards the past. For one thing, in even the very best living tradition there is always a mixture of good and bad, and much that deserves criticism; and for another, tradition is not a matter of feeling alone. Nor can we safely, without very critical examination, dig ourselves in stubbornly to a few dogmatic notions, for what is a healthy belief at one time may, unless it is one of the few fundamental things, be a pernicious prejudice at another. Nor should we cling to traditions as a way of asserting our superiority over less favoured peoples.

"What we can do is to use our minds, remembering that a tradition without intelligence is not worth having, to discover what is the best life for us not as a political abstraction, but as a particular people in a particular place, what in the past is worth preserving and what should be rejected, and what conditions within our power to bring about, would foster the society we desire."

-- T.S. Eliot, from "After Strange Gods"

Hat-tip: Tim T.

Stacks and Stacks

Having moved three times in the past four years, I've had ample opportunity to ponder the nature of personal belongings, a.k.a. "stuff."

I generally try follow the two year rule: If you haven't worn, read or used an item in two years, you probably don't need it. But, I have to admit, I'm thankful for the large attic at my mom's house in Pennsylvania where all evidence of my life before 2007 now resides.

In the new edition of U.S. Catholic, editor Bryan Cones takes this topic for a drive and discovers something about himself.

Here is part of his fine Lenten column "Boxed In":

... I lived for a year without half my things, and I never really needed them. When I finally unpacked the dozens of boxes, I wondered why I had wasted hundreds of dollars storing them. There were mementos from high school and college, knickknacks from trips, old videos, and CDs. But most of it was books, books, and more books, along with notes from college classes and papers I had written more than a decade ago.

Why was I keeping all this stuff? Did I really think I was going to take up biblical Greek again, or that I had a use for a 10-pound German dictionary? An anatomy textbook? Really?

I used to watch TV reality shows about people who have collected so much that they’ve become completely overwhelmed, prisoners of their own treasured possessions. They couldn’t allow themselves to throw anything away, and they couldn’t say why. Inevitably, once the work of clean-up had begun, the reason became obvious: grief and regret embodied in so many knickknacks, feelings that suddenly burst forth when the show’s host suggested that Aunt Edna’s broken teapot might be ready for the trash heap.

As I looked at my books and papers—almost all of them from my seminary and theology school days—I was surprised by my own unacknowledged sadness. Most of that library was a collection of dreams unfulfilled or only partially so, visions of myself that weren’t to be: me as a priest and pastor, as a theologian and college professor.

Even more, carrying them around—hundreds and hundreds of pounds of them—was wearing down more than my back. There was regret, disappointment, even a sense of failure that I hadn’t lived up to expectations. And as long as they were there in front of me, living where I live, I wasn’t going to move on. They were taking up the space where new life could have a chance to grow—my own little spiritual tomb built in stacks and stacks of paperbacks. Cue the soft rock. ...

Friday, April 01, 2011

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Earlier this week, my co-worker Liz was playing music in her adjacent workspace. During one stretch, all of the tunes were from the "Gray's Anatomy" soundtrack.

One in particular caught my attention: "Breathe In, Breathe Out" by Mat Kearney. It had a relaxed, meditative feel. (And, honestly, it sounds a lot like many of the ballads sung by one of my favorites, Chris Martin from Coldplay.)

So, for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here it is below.