Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Merry Christmas!

I'm writing this Christmas afternoon from the downstairs family room of the steady's parents' home on the Lake of the Woods in northeastern Indiana (near the towns of Hudson and Ashley).  We are in the midst of a mid-day rest before more family arrives in a few hours for dinner and gift-opening.

Like last year, it's been an ecumenical Christmas.  Last night, we went to the 11 p.m. cantata at the First United Methodist Church in Auburn, IN.  And, this morning, we went to the 9 a.m. Mass at Saint Mary of the Angels, a tiny Catholic church a short drive "just down the road."

Perhaps many people will remember Christmas 2012 in association with the awful tragedy that occurred earlier this month in Newtown, Connecticut.  I pray that the people of Newtown, especially the loved ones of the adults and children who were killed, are someday able to again regain peace of heart and mind.

In prayer:

"May your Presence, Prince of Peace,
bless the world with peace
the poor with care and prosperity,
the despairing with hope and confidence,
the grieving with comfort and gladness,
the oppressed with freedom and deliverance,
the suffering with solace and relief."

The image above is "Adoration of the Shepherds" created in 1831-1832 by Johann Michael Wittmer (1802-1880). It is the property of the Bavarian State Picture Collections in Munich, Germany.

Saturday, December 08, 2012


For many Catholics, Mary, the mother of Jesus, will be on the brain frequently during the next five days.

Today (December 8), Catholics observe the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this day, we recall that God was preparing Mary to be the mother of Jesus even from her own creation in the womb. It's a reminder to us that God is preparing us for great things, too.

On Wednesday (December 12), the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- the appearance of Mary in 1531 in Mexico to Saint Juan Diego.  Long one of the great days of the year for the Church in Mexico, this feast is now widely observed in the United States as well.

In all of human history, few (if any) individuals have been more frequently depicted in paintings and sculpture than Mary.  And, after working in Catholic publishing for nearly six years, I've seen many of these renderings.  But, this photo of a sculpture of Mary and child did recently catch my eye: 

I love the statue's simplicity and the way it fits so easily into this modern chapel in southern California.

The statue is a fine representation of the Church's understanding that Mary's role is bring Jesus forward.  It aligns well with the Orthodox and Eastern title of Mary: Theotokos or "God-bearer." 

This photo is by Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP.

Flashback: "Bookends"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In Memoriam: Sam Amorose, 1921 - 2012

One of Southwestern Pennsylvania's great old-timers has finished the race.

Sam Amorose of Canonsburg, PA, died Sunday, September 30, at the age of 91.  He was a union leader, political activist and World War II veteran.

I came to know Sam in the late 1990s when I was a staff writer at the Observer-Reporter in Washington, PA.  I wrote a profile of him for the O-R's front page and covered his lobbying efforts with the United Labor Committee of Washington County.  Our paths continued to cross after I entered politics.

It's probably fitting that Sam died in the midst of a heated presidential race.  He loved politics at all levels of government.  Sam was a strong Democrat but he never gave a pass to an official or candidate of any party who was neglected the interests of working people, veterans and senior citizens.

If just 10 percent of the American people became 10 percent as politically aware and active as Sam was his entire life, we would have a radically different (and probably better) country.

This Christmas, I will miss my annual card from Sam.  May he rest in peace.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

In Memoriam: Julie Uram, 1925 - 2012

When I think back on the years I spent working in Western Pennsylvania politics, there are a handful of great personalities who stand out.  Julie Uram, who died Friday at the age of 87, is certainly among them.

Simply put, Julie was a dynamo.  Her obituary details the numerous charitable, religious and political organizations strengthened by her fundraising acumen and gift for building relationships.  To paraphrase Blessed John Henry Newman, Julie was "a link in the chain, a bond of connection between persons."

I became acquainted with Julie through the Washington County Republican Party, an organization dear to her.  I will long remember the wonderful holiday parties she hosted at her beautiful and unique home (and the gigantic live Christmas tree that dominated her high-ceiling living room).

Julie understood the importance of local politics.  She knew that meaningful support for a candidate begins in neighborhoods and among families and groups of friends.  (She was a seasoned practitioner of the phone tree.)

Julie's drive and dedication were an inspiration to me and many others.  Her leadership and presence will be missed.

From the prayers at the conclusion 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.

The photo above is from the Post-Gazette.

Monday, May 21, 2012

In Memoriam: Aunt Rosanna, 1916 - 2012

My great aunt, Rosanna Snatchko Edwards Pancirov, passed away Saturday, May 19, at the age of 95.  She died at her home in Midway, Pennsylvania.

Aunt Rosanna was an elder sister to my late paternal grandfather, George.  For many years, she had been "the oldest living Snatchko."

In the photo at right, Aunt Rosanna is the little girl in the white dress.  That's her mother, Anna Kargle Snatchko, in the black hat.  Anna and her husband, Charles, raised 15 children on Champion Hill in the small village of Sturgeon, PA.  To provide for his large family, Charles sold fruits and vegetables house-to-house.

Knowing Aunt Rosanna was a great blessing in my life.   She was an optimistic and cheerful woman, always sharing the funny anecdotes of life.  She had a tremendous love for her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends and co-workers.

Aunt Rosanna also had energy to rival someone half her age.  Into her late 80s, she worked at a part-time job at Thomas & Little Funeral Home.  Until a few years ago, she also drove a sharp new-model Volkswagen Beetle (bright blue in color).

A dedicated Christian, Aunt Rosanna was a member for most of her life at Noblestown Presbyterian Church. 

It's my prayer that she is now in heaven in the warm embrace of God.  While her passing is currently a source of sadness, her long life should be a cause for thanksgiving and joy.

To close, another photo below: Aunt Rosanna (second from left) is pictured with her surviving sister, Dorothy Leonard (far left), her mother and her late sister, Lorraine Dewey (far right):

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fire is Low

It's a beautiful spring Saturday afternoon here in New York City -- sunny and warm.  The day calls for a joyful "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."

 So, below is "Fire is Low" by the South African band Freshly Ground.


Hat-tip: Mercy Daramola, an NYU graduate student who I had the pleasure of meeting Thursday afternoon at the Plaza Hotel during the NYU Alumni Association's annual awards luncheon.  Mercy posted this tune to her blog.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Risen Today

Happy Easter!

A belated "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend" to mark the day:

For Easter reflections, visit the God Googler, Concord Pastor and Deacon Greg.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Upraised in Prayer

It is Good Friday morning.

From the archives of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, here is a rendering by James Tissot (1836-1902) of "Good Friday Morning: Jesus in Prison" or "Le matin Vendredi Saint: J├ęsus en prison":

The museum's description states:

"In a subject that he characterizes as 'rarely, if ever, treated,' Tissot paints Jesus in prison — bound to a stone post, his hands chained but upraised in prayer. The artist notes the white light shining down, a further indication of the early hour on Good Friday. While Jesus prays, his guards, wearing armor, slump over in pre-dawn slumber."

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Under the Arch

Yesterday evening, I attended the 100th anniversary party for NYU Journalism at the institute's swanky new-ish digs at 20 Cooper Square.  It was great catching up with Professor Pamela Newkirk, who taught several of my journalism courses at NYU ('94 to '98).  I also was pleased to speak for a few minutes with Professor Jay Rosen whose engagement on Twitter I admire.

After the party, en route on foot to the A train entrance at West 8th Street, I spent a few minutes listening to this cellist playing underneath the Washington Square Arch:

Saturday, March 31, 2012

He Who Comes

For Western Christians, tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week.

At the beginning of Mass, the suggested antiphon echoes the words of the crowds in the Gospel of Matthew 21: 9:

"Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord,
the King of Israel.
Hosanna in the highest"

The Englishman Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) was one of multiple composers through the centuries to put this verse to music.  For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is Chanticleer with that beautiful setting.


Saturday, March 03, 2012

So They Say

This week, I've listened several times to Morten Lauridsen's composition "Dirait-On" from his cycle "Les Chansons Des Roses" ("Songs of Roses"). The French lyrics are from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926).

At his website, Lauridsen states that "Dirait-On," "is composed as a tuneful chanson populaire, or folksong, that weaves together two melodic ideas first heard in fragmentary form in preceding movements."

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is this beautiful, enchanting piece.

From here, a non-literal English translation of the lyrics:

"Abandon enveloping abandon,
Tenderness brushing tendernesses,
Who you are sustains you
eternally, so they say;

"Your very being is nourished
by its own enlightened reflection;
so you compose the theme
of Narcissus redeemed."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

R.I.P., Etta James

The great singer Etta James died yesterday at the age of 73.

Etta's wonderful voice has been featured in this space before.  One Sunday night in March, 2010, shortly before I met the steady, I posted her rendition of the beautiful song of longing "A Sunday Kind of Love."

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here again is Etta with her take on the 1930s tune "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)."  


Sunday, January 01, 2012


Happy New Year 2012!

May it be a year filled with peace and joy the world over.