Showing posts from December, 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…