Showing posts from 2006

Call Me "Bookey"

I had a great time in Maine. Left this morning at a frosty 19 degrees. Hit north Jersey and it was 54! By the way, why does the Jersey Turnpike ALWAYS back up at exit 8A? Please post your insights because we'd ALL love to know the answer to this mystery!Seeing my dad, brother, sister-in-law, and the little niece who calls me "Bookey" made a long trip more than worthwhile. Yesterday we wandered in the woods of the 10 acres my brother owns; bundled and thinsulated up to our eyes in fleece. They have the crystal cold gift of 500 feet of stream weaving through those woods. It was still moving in its deeper parts, even in 19 degree air. Smooth rocks and sand the color of tea below, and along the edges where Finnegan the cat followed us, the ice was woven in criss cross patterns, jutting out like a fortress of solitude. I loved watching my little God-daughter, Ella, at one and a half years old, making her way through the balsam and oak. Of course "Bapa" carried her m…
Breakfast Conversation

The famous "Come Spring" diner of mid-coast Maine has switched owners, and my dad will never forgive them. Gone are the deep fried homefries! Gone the heaping six egg omelets! Gone the pancakes that would taper off the edges of a large dinner plate like a tablecloth (they've been minimized to the size of half-dollars, he says).

I thought the "country skillet" breakfast was pretty dang good. Just go easy on the cheese if ever you order it.

There was a funny note on the "new" menu that sparked our breakfast conversation this morning: "The food may be undercooked or raw...."

What the? Which food? All of it?

We questioned the waitress about it, and she said it was a "state thing." Huh? That unleashed a stream of ridiculous extremes; things we thought would be appropriate and helpful in our dumbed down, "do I have to spell it out to cover all my bases so I don't get sued" society.

- On a glass of juice: &q…
The Maine Attraction

Christmas vacation! Woohoo! That's right. Two weeks off for the teachers at a certain private boys school which will remain unnamed due to the jealousy that might ensue! Only bummer is, Mrs. Donaghy does not have two weeks off. So... I decided to "pop in" on my family up in Maine, unannounced, hah hah! for a two night stay. What's a 600 mile drive when you've got a double CD of Greg Brown, (which lasted until Massachusetts), the best of the Indigo Girls (finished it in New Hampshire), and a 16 part lecture series on Ethics by Dr. Peter Kreeft on audio CD? (still some left for the ride home) I made it in under 8 hours; no lunch, and no questions asked, capish? Yup, 8 hours alone in a steel and fiberglass motorized shell hurtling north. I had alot of quiet time. Greg Brown and the Girls do that to you. Their lyrics drop like honey on the heart and you just have to turn off the radio and savor the imagery. Let the thoughts bound up by busyness go…
We're relaxing at mom's on this Christmas Eve, and this show comes on. Amazing! Did any one else see this?

"In the 8th Century, near what are now Scotland and England, Benedictine monastic scribes created a Bible that today is one of the longest surviving monumental manuscripts in the Western world.

Nearly 1,300 years later, renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson approached the Benedictine monks of Saint John's University and Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, with his life-long dream: to create the first handwritten, illuminated bible commissioned since the invention of the printing press. The Saint John's Bible uses ancient materials and techniques to create a contemporary masterpiece that brings the Word of God to life for the contemporary world."
And the Word Became... an Embryo

We heard it a million times when we were young: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" As I was growing up, I wanted to become (correct me if I'm wrong, mom) a fireman, then a jet pilot, a cartoonist, and a Jedi knight. I still want to be a Jedi knight. Mostly, I wanted to have that freedom to do whatever I wanted; to roam the world, to explore, to create, taste and see, experience life in all it's richness, and to see what pattern I could weave as the spool of my years unraveled into the fabric of human history.

But growing in faith, taking this spiritual life (which in essence is the whole life) seriously, I'm discovering that the question is actually backwards. What will I become when I get bigger, older, wiser? St. John the Baptist said it so well in his mantra that should become the soundtrack of our modern lives; "He must increase, I must decrease." Because to such as these "little ones" is given the Ki…
Great thought from Pope Benedict today, urging us to behold in the little babies the reminder of what Our God has become for us! "The wonder we feel before the enchantment of Christmas is reflected in a certain sense in the wonder that every birth arouses and invites us to recognize the Child Jesus in all children, who are the joy of the Church and the hope of the world." - Pope Benedict XVI To such as these belongs the Kingdom of Heaven! May we imitate their innocence, be as wide-eyed in our wonder at the world, and allow ourselves to be just as unconditionally loved by God as they are loved by us!

Into the Mystic

I'll always remember the moment when I first became a Van Morrison fan. I was maybe 19 years old, home from college and flipping through the channels when a movie called "Immediate Family" came on. I don't know anything about the film (I just looked it up a moment ago to be sure of the title). What struck me was the song playing during a powerful mother/daughter/healing scene. The song was Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic."

There was something magnetic and mystical in that song that made me stop my surfing in mid-click. Maybe it was the slow and steady ryhthm of the guitar, or the line "Hark, now hear the sailors cry, smell the sea and feel the sky." It could've even been the spaces between the words and the music that opened me up to sweet contemplation. Isn't it always the silence, the rest within the notes that moves us most? Whatever it was, it sent me on a journey to the music store, to pick up the Moondance album and a host of Van&…
For Frances
Here is the link to a previous post on this beautiful painting of the Annunciation by the African American artist, Henry O. Tanner -
The original is hanging in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (O. Tanner was a native of Philadelphia). It's huge and incredibly moving to stand in front of!

My Frosty Can Beat Up Your Frosty... Any Day!

Well friends, Christmas fever has once again gripped the nation, and it's hotter than a string of big bulbed Christmas lights from the 70's! I think you'll agree with me in noting that THIS Christmas is going to be bigger, bolder, and brassier than ever! Why? Because of INFLATABLE CHRISTMAS LAWN ART!! (The aforementioned oddities will hitherto be referred to as ICLA's)

Now I don't know if the ICLA's have invaded neighborhoods west of the Mississippi yet, or even across the sea (any reports?) but let me tell YOU.... they are crawling all over the mid-eastern seaboard. Maybe they came from Sweden? IKEA? ICLA? Whatever the case may be, these massive Christmas mutants are taking over! Picture Godzilla with a wreath around his neck! Big, puffy pieces of plastic in yuletide shapes. We've got Santas, Frostys, Elves, and Reindeer.... even the Grinch gets a spot on the lawn!

Sure, they seem kinda cute, but don't be fooled America! Remember the story of the Trojan …

Gaudete Means "Woohoo!"

This Sunday (the Third Sunday of Advent) has been traditionally referred to as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for "rejoice" and it comes from the first word that appears in the entrance antiphon for this Sunday's Mass: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near."

I love Gaudete Sunday. It's our B12 shot for the winter. It carries us through the long shadows of these December days and reminds us that the dawn of our salvation is near! REJOICE!

But let's be honest. This is easier said than done. For the reality is, we live in very dark times. The weight of this blanket of fear seems almost too heavy to pull off. "To rejoice always" seems impossible, to even try it seems a little naive. We are surrounded by war, division, family strife, daily stress, and tragic deaths; another shooting took place in one of our schools just three days ago. The senseless violence continues, a rampant disrespect for the person rages…
I Passed By Grace

I passed by Grace the other day
she wanted to talk but I couldn't delay
Stuff to do, calls to make
She knows I'm working for heaven's sake!

So I kicked out some e-mail
I checked off my list
I ran and I ran
with my stomach in a fist

The day moved along
I had a tune in my head
Grace was singing that morning
Not sure what she said

Some words about life
there was water and bread
something simple, so simple
It wouldn't leave my head!

At the end of the day
standing by the gate
She said "Sit for awhile, love
you won't be late."

Rich, full and so fresh
She'd cooked us a meal
But for me the dollar menu
Was the reasonable deal

I hadn't the time
To sit and to sup
I McHurried along
With my bag and large cup

A pre-packaged bundle
And the lines weren't too long
I gulped it right down
Still humming that song

Some words about life
there was water and bread
something simple, so simple
It wouldn't leave my head!

The Straight Road

In Tolkien's mythology of Middle-Earth, he writes of a time before the downfall of humanity, when the world was flat. The Valar, angelic beings similar to the gods of Olympus but much more virtuous, were still present in the world. Their home was a paradise known as Tol Eressëa or the Undying Lands. Elves could reach her shores by sailing West into the sunset. After a vain attempt by mankind to seize the Blessed Realm, and immortality, by force (sound familiar?), this heaven was taken away and the World was bent. It took on the globed shape we know today, and mortals who sailed into the West simply circled the planet and eventually ended up back where they began.

For the Elves, however, a way was left open to return to the Undying Lands; it was known as the Straight Road. As if sailing on an invisible bridge, travelers could pass over the rough and mountainous seas and leave the bent world behind them. It was a grace afforded to only a handful of mortals. This was the road taken by…
Wrapped For Advent

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name.- Baruch 5:1-9

When I was young, I remember visiting with family around the holidays. The house was always full. Crammed with light and heat, food and drink, storytelling, laughing; music playing and televisions blaring. One of the things I loved to do in the middle of this happy chaos was to escape it. Just for a wee bit...

I'd wander, like Walt Whitman, out into the "mystical, moist night air." Out of the front door and into the wintry darkness. The thrill of the chill woke me up, coming out of a bustling and balmy house full of family. Into the darkened streets I'd go, gazing up at the stars, wandering and wondering, in concentric circles, past the quiet houses with their flickering blue lights from the televisions.

And just when the chil…

Two Spiritual Gems from Two Spiritual Giants

On this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I thought I'd just offer you a couple of thoughts from the Big Boys; St. Anselm (old school) and Bishop Sheen (new school, kind of). Today's celebration means that Mary, who was conceived through the loving embrace of Joachim and Anne, was kept free from original sin or its stain. This is what "immaculate" means: without stain. We believe that God gave her this grace through the redemptive death of Jesus in a pre-emptive way, because of her unique role in the history of salvation. So to Mary our Star and our Hope, thank you for your YES!

O Virgin, by Whose Blessing All Nature is Blessed!

Blessed Lady, sky and stars, earth and rivers, day and night – everything that is subject to the power or use of man – rejoice that through you they are in some sense restored to their lost beauty and are endowed with inexpressible new grace. All creatures were dead, as it were, useless for men or for the praise of God, who made them. The…

An Amazing Resource

An amazing resource for learning more about the Catholic Faith and a Catholic vision of the world. and the Insight Scoop weblog are online resources of Ignatius Press and are meant to assist readers who wish to learn more about the Catholic Church and her teachings, beliefs, practices, and history.

The Insight Scoop web blog features daily commentary from Ignatius Press authors and staff about theological issues, current events in the Catholic Church, and a host of related topics.

The Point Of It All

The Point Of It All by Peter Kreeft

This is a beautiful piece by one of my favorite authors. I just found it at and want to tuck it away for safe keeping!

Enjoy reading it here...

Advent and the Path to Peace

The word Islam has often been translated as peace, similar to the word shalom. The Arabic root for the word Islam, however, gives a fuller understanding; it means surrender or submission. This is the goal of Islam; the surrender and submission of everything to Allah, the One Who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing. Allah, the absolute Master and Ruler of the universe. It's believed that peace will come to the one who completely submits to Him.There is a clarity and a boldness that comes across in this teaching, especially in our pluralistic society. Our hearts are often dominated by a myriad of forces other than God. Many today crave the inner peace that comes from being focused on One, and the submission of the self under the power of Allah is appealing. To lie prostrate before Allah's power and to give all to Him is seen as a path to deep contentment.But there is another way to peace, subtle in its distinction, and yet revolutionary in the way it affects our understanding and ou…
Great Thought from Fr. CantalamessaOf a woman who is with child it is said that she is "expecting"; the offices of important persons have "waiting rooms." But if we reflect on it, life itself is a waiting room. We get impatient when we have to wait, for a visit, for a practice. But woe to him who is no longer waiting for something. A person who no longer expects anything from life is dead. Life is expectation, but the converse is also true: Expectation is life!- Father CantalamessaZenit News Agency 06120101

Broken and Beautiful

A few weeks ago, family friends came down from NY (the mom was running in the Philadelphia Marathon) and we met them for dinner in the city. A stream of events happened from there that I can only show as fragmented stills, like works in a gallery; some beautiful, others disturbing, as we brushed past them on the way to somewhere else.

The first frame is of a smiling soul, a homeless man who sat outside the Hard Rock Cafe where we met the family for dinner. He asked for money as we passed by, and he started singing "There they go, just a-walkin' down the street! They look good, they look fine, as they walk, down the line!"

Rebecca asked if he'd like something to eat. "A double cheeseburger and an orange soda!" he beamed. We hit the McDonald's on Market and 11th.

Next frame was a cabdriver; his accent thick and lyrical, even though he's been here 27 years! He left Trinidad when he was 7, and now has 4 kids and works a crazy midnight shift. We know all th…
Reflections on the Word - 1st Sunday of Advent December 3, 2006 - Reading 1 - Jer 33:14-16 What are you waiting for? What are you looking forward to? What is the star you are following? When I was young, I had my markers, my signposts that kept me moving, getting up out of bed every morning through those groggy teenage years. I loved the idea, the sense, the feeling of expectation. So often I would project my thoughts into the future and dream of that next good thing. From the ridiculous to the sublime; getting an Atari 2600 for Christmas (what a classic!) or maybe it was the next Star Wars movie (we had to wait 3 stinkin' years for the Empire Strikes Back!). Perhaps it was the next Sunday, when I might catch a glimpse of the Mysterious Girl Who Always Sat on the Far Side of Church. Oh those nerdy, self-conscious high school years! "The days are coming," says the Lord. So begins the Prophet Jeremiah in this first Sunday of Advent. The days are coming... Jeremiah puts…
Floundering Faith

When I was young we used to love to go "fluking" at Captain Mike's. We'd get up around 5am and drive through the Pine Barrens to the Jersey shore, to a smelly strip of weathered old buildings on the green fly infested edge of Tuckerton. We'd rent a little boat for the day and tool around the salt water channels, catching the drifts, and catching some rays. Our mornings were spent slicing up squid into slippery strips, and then baiting our hooks with them, as well as the ever faithful "keelies" which were sure to be wasted on the sea robins (very cool to look at but not to eat, by the way). All the while we'd be stuffing chips and sandwiches into our faces with our unwashed hands. Ah, what fun! Makes you want to throw up, doesn't it? Needless to say, it was Dad who took us "fluking." And we LOVED IT.

We'd bring the old radio and pop in our Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem tapes, or maybe some John Cougar (Mellancamp)…

Minimize Me!

It's Black Friday! Aaaaaggggghhhhhh!!! This is the day when millions of insane people (please don't take this personally) who were nestled in perfectly legitimate turkey comas and invited to participate in National Sleep In Day, willingly (WILLINGLY!) got out of bed at 3am and went shopping. They are out there right now. They are drinking lots of coffee. Don't get in their way. The following reflection was inspired by this secular feast day, but let it be known: I like a good deal as much as the next guy, and I too have been snared many times over by.... the BIGGIEMAN.Lemme 'splain...In mainstream America, we have BIG culture. I don't mean a lot of culture, I mean BIG culture. We love to maximize and biggie-size. We love those "Buy 6 get 1 free deals," even when the item is a cheese grater. When someone says "Do you want the Behemoth Burger and Jumbo Bucket o' Fries for only .30 more?"... generally we say "sure." This is not becaus…
Thank you President Abraham Lincoln! You made an inherently religious act a national holiday! Thanksgiving has indeed become one of the most sacred of secular holi(y)days for Americans. Not only does this day give us pause from our little rat races, but it draws us back to the family, where we reminisce, recreate, and invariably recline after some serious FOOD. This is so good, so warm, and so true. For it all, we are thankful. Not to the cold Universe, or to some vague Power, but to the Father, from Whom all good things come! The posture of thanksgiving is one of humility, and that too is so good. We look up with hands that were empty yet now are full and we say again one of the first phrases we were ever taught - "Thank you." Now here's a way to stay in that position, and it works wonders. I used to do this, and God has inspired me to kickstart it again; it's the Gratitude Journal. In this week of Thanksgiving, America, let's start a new tradition. Three t…
The Nativity Story: A Review We've just come fresh from a private screening of the New Line Cinema movie "The Nativity Story." The film chronicles that year in the life of Mary and Joseph that forever altered the course of human history. It's the Christmas story, told beautifully in rich, earthen tones. The journey takes us from a windy garden annunciation of Gabriel to the Holy Birth soaked in starlight, ending with the flight of Mary and Joseph with the Child into Egypt. First Impressions: For me, the real treasures of this film lie in its attention to detail; the humble village of Nazareth is recreated with such evident devotion that this alone makes the film a joy to watch. We are invited to enter into the daily life of Mary, Joseph and their kin. We move with their schedules, we perform their everyday rituals, and it slows us down. These scenes are so rich with authenticity! Mary's coarse cloak, handwoven and weathered, brushing past the wheat; Joseph at…

When Do I Have to Believe All This Stuff?

We are filled when we are young with all manner of information; people and places, dates, and diagrams, maps and mathematical formulas, theories and theorems. We are filled to overflowing with information. Then, in the middle of this cacophany of cognitive activity (we hope, we hope, we hope), something happens. Something wonderful. It's the something every teacher dreams of and looks for in his or her students, like a gold digger looks for sparkles in the glassy-eyed riverbed. It's the moment when the mind opens and the channel from the brain to the heart is cleared of obstructions. Information turns into formation. The heart hears, recognizes and responds. The pupil dilates, expanding to let in the light. I love teaching. LOVE it. I love to dive into a classroom of 15 year olds who have been drinking in the foul air of our culture and offer them the sweet fragrance that is Christ. The scent of eternity that the human heart, at every age, secretly and deeply longs for, thoug…
It's Stupid, Really Just when you think the secular media can't sink any lower (than using sex to sell M&M's), someone actually publishes and offers a timeslot for the following, just in from CNN: O.J.'s latest: 'If I Did It, Here's How It Happened'' LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- In a new TV interview and book, O.J. Simpson discusses how he would have committed the slayings of his ex-wife and her friend "if I did it." The two-part television interview, titled "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened," will air November 27 and November 29 on Fox, the TV network said Tuesday. "O.J. Simpson, in his own words, tells for the first time how he would have committed the murders if he were the one responsible for the crimes," the network said in a statement. "In the two-part event, Simpson describes how he would have carried out the murders he has vehemently denied committing for over a decade." I…

A Tale of Two Grapes, Part Four, The End...

Could this be the Something More? The Moment that Agapito the Grape longed for? In an act that would forever change him, he turned his face towards the Shape... And let go of the Vine. All that he knew brushed past him, then Hand took hold of him, and he fell into shadow.... Agapito found himself in total darkness. He could not remember much of the events of the last few days. There was fear, an exhilarating rush, and movements so fast his thoughts could not keep up with them. He howled past the leaves and branches of the Vineyard, the old latticework, and the hills. He saw new sights and heard new sounds, and he was full of the Mystery of it all. Everything was a blur, like the days on the Vine when Wind would blow and the leaves would sing. Then everyone would cry and cling to the Vine for fear of being torn from It. But it was those days, incidentally, that Agapito loved the most! He tried to piece it all together, and recalled that there were many others with him; a whole multit…

A Tale of Two Grapes, Part Three

"We're meant to be raisins, old wrinkled and sweet So cling to this Vine and never retreat! When Hand comes to take you, hold tight or you'll die Stay safe in the Shadows, keep facing the SkyAs much as you can, beware of the Feet We're meant to be raisins, old wrinkled and sweet." Agapito sighed as the night breeze began to whisper through the Vine. Maybe there's another way to live, he thought. Maybe there's another Ancient Song, older than Adhaesio's. Maybe that Song is fearless.... The next morning, Agapito awoke with the other Grapes. The morning dew was heavy on their glossy skins and many on the Vine began their morning rituals. Drinking, slurping, growing fat on the Vine, and unfolding their leaves for the Sun to warm them. That Sun was just now glimmering on the Edge of the Vineyard. Suddenly, Agapito felt a strange trembling sensation in the pit of his little grape heart. A great wave was rising and rumbling through the Vine. Every Grape felt…

A Tale of Two Grapes, Part Two

From the corner of his eye, Agapito saw a shape moving quietly through the shadows below. It was a shape he'd never seen before; tall, free, and moving softly through the Vineyard. Something stirred in Agapito. Perhaps this was a sign of the Something More? The shape was gone in an instant, lost from his sight by the tangle of leaves and the rich clusters of other grapes all around him. Drawn deeper into his thoughts, Agapito grew silent and pondered what this might mean... Later that day, as the Sun tipped low in the sky, pouring its benediction of light over the Vineyard, Agapito the Grape was still deep in his thought. Gazing but not looking at a patch of dark leaves in the Vine, a sudden shock pulled him from his ponderings. He found himself staring into the oldest, wrinkliest pair of eyes he had ever... laid eyes on. "Wazzityooosed?" squeaked an old voice. "Pardon me?" said Agapito, aware now of an elderly Grape who was beside him on the Vine. It was so…

A Tale of Two Grapes, Part One

Once upon a time, there were two grapes. Their names were Agapito and Ampelio. Aren't those fantastic names? As the Sun rose one morning over the Vineyard, brilliant as ever, and the glistening dew warmed away from their shiny skin, as comfortably as ever, Agapito pondered their purpose in the Vineyard. "What's our life about, Ampelio?" he whispered, slightly conscious of the cluster of grapes around them. "I mean what is... Life?" "Eh? Life?" yawned Ampelio. "THIS is the life, Agapito. What else is there? To grow fat on the vine, to enjoy the Sunshine, to drink in the dew, to be talking with you. That's the life, Agapito. Any other questions?" Agapito looked troubled, as only a grape can. "But, I just get this sense sometimes... that were called to Something More." "Called?" cranked Ampelio, slightly disturbed, as the vague remembrance of Agapito's perplexingly ponderous personality came back to him. &qu…
Beauty that Burns: A Filmable! I was recently watching one of my favorite films, Hero. It's a patchwork quilt of stories, all woven around the same characters. Each story is from a different perspective, and in each retelling the figures are robed in a different color. Jet Li, the renowned martial artist (and he is an artist) is a central figure. In the style of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this film is visually stunning. It is a feast for the eyes. It's a heart-breaking story of sacrifice, honor, love for country and letting go. I think the Truth gets muddied along the way, and the conclusion seems to affirm a Communist China. But glimmers of the Good are seen along the way. In one poignant episode, a calligraphy school becomes a place of martyrdom when an army comes to shut down this oasis of Chinese culture. The white-bearded headmaster stands his ground and calls to his pupils to return to their places just as a swarm of black arrows descends upon them like locusts. …
Snowflakes A very short but sweet article on Catholic Exchange today, clarifying for us yet again on the embryonic stem cell debate. "It is that simple. Stem cell research is a good and it is moral according to Catholic social teachings. Many cures have been discovered through research on stem cells taken from umbilical cords or from fully developed persons. What makes stem cell research immoral is when it requires killing a living human being..." Read the article in full here.
Extreme Toothbrushes! I don't know if you've noticed, and here I speak to the older crowd.... but toothbrushes are out of control these days. I guess it was just the other day when I realized you should update your brush every ten years or so. To my surprise, there's a veritable army of brushes out there now.... fully loaded! They've got sparkles, gel grips, sportgrips, SpongeBobs, ScoobyDoos, racing stripes, ground effects... I think mine has voicemail, I just have to get around to activating it. Sportgrips? Come on! As if it could get away! How fast do YOU brush? Anyhoo, I was just noticing. I'm not going to make any profound connections to our fast-paced culture or anything (I guess I just did). I really want everyone reading this (all three of you) to wake up to the fact that our toothbrushes are intense! Just be careful out there everybody.
Holy Now There's a tune I first heard Dave Wilcox sing a few years back. It was a song called Holy Now by Peter Mayer. It struck me that night at an open air autumn concert as pure beauty. Sitting with the lyrics some more, I see some of the theology could get a little murky. It's not the truest sacramental vision that the Church holds as a treasure for us to open, but I feel the vision is still inspired. Here's my favorite verse: "This morning, outside I stood and saw a little red-winged bird, Shining like a burning bush, singing like a scripture verse. It made me want to bow my head, I remember when church let out, How things have changed since then… everything is holy now. It used to be a world half there, Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down, But I walk it with a reverent air ‘cause everything is holy now." Happy Sunday!
Circle Up It's early November. Crisp and cool the days are, and the leaves are letting go. The sun tips and pours his light into the nooks and crannies of trees, stone walls and ledges. The stars are fiery gems wrapped in the cloak of the night. Who can peer into the dark, cool waters of these days and not see reflected in their deep currents our own mortality? 'Tis the season to ruminate, contemplate, and conversate. I think we should have a bonfire. All of us. We could gather 'round, wrapped in sweaters, our breath coming out in puffs in the frigid night air. We could tell stories, all of us. Ponder the deepest of questions deep into the night. Watch the flames flash and glow, the waves of heat roll through the embers, shimmering liquid fire, and then the sparks pop and spin up into the "mystical moist night air." And we would soon be warm again. Warm with words and human company. We could watch and listen, as the great heart of humanity rose and fell, keepi…

A Dream for All Souls Day

In November of 1993, my grandfather died. Over the short time he spent in the hospital, the family was given the grace to come and see him. It was a chance to speak our goodbyes, but Grandpa was speechless. He could see us, his eyes could pierce our own with a sorrow and pleading that I never saw in him before that day, but he could not speak. The stroke had robbed him of words. So we gathered, and prayed. We told him we loved him, and he was given the Anointing of the Sick. In that month of the Holy Souls, my family hoped that he would make his peace with God, that he would be able to trust, to rest. A scapular was placed on the bed post. My father saw Grandpa try to make the Sign of the Cross once or twice, but those frail arms would not obey. Frustrated, locked in silence, this man of the Old Sod who fought in World War II, worked as a welder for over 30 years, raised ten children, and loved his John Wayne movies, gave up his last breath on a Saturday, Our Lady's Day, wearing …
It's the Feast of All Saints! Woohoo!This is yet another day, and there are many of them in the Church's calendar, when the "universal call to holiness" beeps in and says "Hello, are you there? Answer me." Holiness, sheesh... I'll just let that one go to voicemail. Heard it all before anyway. Being holy means I lose my individuality and get subsumed into a big mass of people who are all good with nice haircuts and see the bright side of things all the time, like Ned Flanders. Well, that ain't me. Some things just get me angry, or frustrated. Sometimes I doubt. Sometimes I'm afraid I could never reach such high standards. Sometimes I just want to be silly, goof off. Sometimes I just want to be me. I mean, I'm only human. Well, to be human should mean to be holy. "The glory of God," St. Irenaeus says, "is man fully alive." Do we know what this even looks like? We've been duped and the devil has distorted what it means …