Showing posts from February, 2007

The Tomb of Jesus - No Bones About It

How many people are deeply grounded in their faith today? I say "grounded" meaning educated in matters of faith, well versed in the Scriptures, Early Church Fathers, Ecclesial History? How many at least know to reach for the Catechism when a question arises? Not many, it would seem. I say this not in a condescending way. We're not all called to be teachers, scholars, canon lawyers. And the truth is, we don't need degrees in theology to have faith (thank God). But we are, all of us, called to be witnesses... we are called to receive the gift of faith.

We should all "be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope..." (1 Peter 3:15). Especially, I would add, in the wake of recent findings claiming to have found the One Whom the Bible said "is no longer here."

So, we should talk about this at the water coolers and through the Internet and at dinner tables. The key here, as St. Peter cautioned, is to do it "with ge…

And Now for Some Real History...

Wow there's been alot of words spit out about the tomb of Jesus in the last 72 hours. Here's some more. It's about the Holy Sepulchre, previously known as the tomb of Jesus.

From New Advent:
Holy Sepulchre refers to the tomb in which the Body of Jesus Christ was laid after His death upon the Cross. The Evangelists tell us that it was Joseph of Arimathea's own new monument, which he had hewn out of a rock, and that it was closed by a great stone rolled to the door (Matthew 27:60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53). It was in a garden in the place of the Crucifixion, and was nigh to the Cross (John 19:41, 42) which was erected outside the walls of Jerusalem, in the place called Calvary (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:20; John 19:17; cf. Hebrews 13:12), but close to the city (John 19:20) and by a street (Matthew 27:39; Mark 15:29)..... read more here

Getting Rid of Jesus - Part 2

Jesus Family Tomb Believed Found
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Feb. 25, 2007 — New scientific evidence, including DNA analysis conducted at one of the world's foremost molecular genetics laboratories, as well as studies by leading scholars, suggests a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem tomb could have once held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. The findings also suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have produced a son named Judah. The DNA findings, alongside statistical conclusions made about the artifacts — originally excavated in 1980 — open a potentially significant chapter in Biblical archaeological history.

Potentially significant? Yes, I would say "yes, that would be potentially significant."

Let's see what St. Paul says about this stuff: "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith." (t…

Spoon Trick

Brilliant and rustic slide guitar piece. From a film called Karoo Kitaar Blues that traces the almost forgotten folk music of remote regions of South Africa. Songwriter David Kramer and slide guitarist Hannes Coetzee move throughout the film, into the rugged landscape of Namaqualand and the Great Karoo weaving music and interviews with a host of violinists, guitarists, piano accordionists and mouth organ players who play what Kramer calls the Karoo Blues. This South African man above may not have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he sure can play guitar with that spoon... in his mouth.

Getting Rid of Jesus

Oh boy, I'll be blogging on this some more, but the quick "heads up" if you haven't already heard... The producer of the epic blockbuster Titanic, James Cameron and his director, Simcha Jacobovici, are making a movie that claims Jesus didn't rise from the dead. Yup. The film proposes that his burial cave was discovered just outside of Jerusalem. Here's my favorite part; Jesus had a son with Mary Magdelene. No way!

World, please hearken to this bit of a blog.

It's all been tried before. In Matthew's gospel, immediately following the most incredible event in human history, greedy, arrogant people who'd rather be gods than have a God to obey, tried to get rid of Jesus:

"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." While they were going, some of the guard went in…

"Yes Virginia, There is a Devil."

Wow. An intense gospel for this first Sunday of Lent. If we let ourselves really hear this one, picturing this encounter between the Son of God and the Prince of Darkness, it should give us chills.

But I suppose these Boogie Man stories about the Devil are just stories, aren't they? I mean, the Devil? Come on, it's 2007! A red cape, horns, pitchfork, sinister laugh.... Haven't we decided that the temptation of Jesus was really just a psychosomatic projection of the inner doubt in his messianic identity? A hallucinogenic epiphenominalism brought on by the desert heat and a lack of nutrients?

For many of us living in this pluralistic society, where we're encouraged to paint our own truth and happiness in shades of moral grey, this showdown between good and evil is a bold black and white. The devil is real? Are you serious? Yes, the Church teaches.... very.

The temptation of Jesus by Lucifer in Luke 4:1-13 gives us a much needed dose of reality, supernatural reality. It'…

It's Time for the Spiritual Olympics!

(The sound of trumpets, booming drums...)

In a world locked in laziness, on a people weighed down by cookies and creme-filled donuts, a light of hope dawns. Yes, it's LENT, otherwise known as... the Spiritual Olympics!

That's right America! The 40 days of You-Know-What are glaring up at us from our crumb-covered, soda-stained desktop calendars. The opening ceremonies have already begun, we've been stamped (on the forehead) and now we have complete access to the Olympic stadium. Here are some suggestions on how to secure a * medal for yourself:

It's basic but bold. Try cutting some of those ties, those seemingly thin cords that might actually be holding you prisoner to yourself. Is it always ME first? Do I ALWAYS have to put in my opinion, seeming to listen to others but actually just waiting until they're done talking so I can talk?

Try letting go of the preciousssss, the one thing you feel you're entitled to every day wit…

Just Passin' Through - Ash Wednesday Meditation

It's not by coincidence that our ancestors in the faith were a Pilgrim People, wandering for 40 years through the Sinai Peninsula. Their journey through the desert, both literal and historical, is relevant to us today, as a parable that's allegorical.

All of life is a kind of purification; a breaking of the self that's meant to blossom into selflessness, a stripping away of all encumbrances. Life is meant to be a walk that turns into a run, the crossing over of a Red Sea of suffering and slavery to a new birth; it's a darkened and dangerous path that breaks open into fertile fields of supernatural milk and honey.

As the great sculptor Michelangelo once said, "beauty is the purgation of superfluities." The desert has a way of cleansing us of excess clutter. We must travel light or trudge behind! The nomadic life and the daily manna of the Children of Israel are all reminders for us not to settle down in this world. Even the Presence of God, the Tabernacle in the…

Fat Tuesday and Stuff

A wee bit of Catholic Trivia from the folks at American Catholic:

"Mardi Gras... has grown in popularity in recent years as a raucous, sometimes hedonistic event. But its roots lie in the Christian calendar, as the "last hurrah" before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. That's why the enormous party in New Orleans, for example, ends abruptly at midnight on Tuesday, with battalions of streetsweepers pushing the crowds out of the French Quarter towards home.

Mardi Gras literally means "Fat Tuesday" in French. The name comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival.... Carnival comes from the Latin words carne vale, meaning "farewell to the flesh."

The day is also known as Shrove Tuesday (from &…

From the Inside Lookin' Out

With all the words thrown around about the relevance of the Church today, who knows what faith is really all about? And where will the clearest picture come from that allows others to make a full ascent? Von Balthasar nails it in the quote below; demonstrating the fact that Christianity can only be fully understood (as much as the Mystery of a Person can be understood) from the "inside" - from the vantage point of the person who has entered beyond the veil in the relationship with Jesus. All other assessments, insights, and impressions are as clear as a call made from a balcony seat when the play is as tight as an inch.

"Christian truth... can be discerned only from within, in being carried out in faith and action, not from outside, from a box seat in the theater. Nor by a partial identification (with the reservations that implies), but only out of a total, universal, and, therefore, catholic identification with God's ways in the flesh."
- Fr. Hans Urs Von Baltha…

The Polar Bear Plunge of 2007


It's 2:23pm and the insanity is already over. We just witnessed hundreds of people of all ages and in various costumes (like Scottish Braveheart look-a-likes, clowns, M&Ms, astronauts, a Chinese Dragon, etc) run willingly into the freezing waters of the Atlantic ocean.

That was crazy fun! Maybe next year we'll get enough courage to come down here again and... watch people jump in... again.

Safety First? Nah… How About Jesus?

I was in a unique meeting last week with a handful of faith-filled souls; we were discerning what to do with an issue that's weighed down with debt, filled with a foggy future, and stymied by staffing problems. There was lots of concerned talk, lots of questions, and then... there was prayer.

We had reached a point where our words ran dry, when suddenly God opened up the floodgates of grace. We said, "Come, Lord Jesus!" And He came. It was like the dam bursting and the clear water of the Entwash flowing in over the failed machinery of Isengard. The last ten minutes of that meeting was something so invigorating, so refreshing, that it made me deeply sad to think of the times I've failed to let Him in, how many times we as a Church have kept Him out.

It's ironic, I know, to keep from a meeting the very One Whose Name you are working in. But in our blindness we can block the influx of grace, the flow of the Spirit, the fire of the New that can rekindle our Old. Why do…

The Best Worst Coffee in Avalon

Providence and the wonderful generosity of a friend have conspired! Rebecca and I find ourselves in a wonderful shorehouse in Avalon, NJ for a nice long weekend.

So what if it's 19 degrees and a ghost town down here. It's kinda neat to see the seagulls sitting on the ice of the bay saying "What the?"

Rebecca says they could make a movie about the Rapture down here. It would be just us, cruising down Dune Drive past the salt water taffy shops and Irish flags hanging stiffly from vacant porches. The world around us sucked up into eternity! Abandoned beach balls roll down the boardwalk, brushing past our frigid feet. Us and Mr. Brady, that is.

Yes, he was the only other human I encountered this morning in my desperate search for coffee (except for the roofers working on these Avalonian mansions, but they're more like SUPERhumans - who else could smack nails into shingles in wind chills like this?)

Mr. Brady has a little shop on Dune Drive. His was the only one open this…

Don't Look Back.....

I first caught this on television about 16 years ago. There was a special on Van Morrison and he was singing with some of the all time musical greats. This scene always moved me. (Thanks YouTube! With all of the garbage, there comes an occasional treasure like this!). Listen to the tapping of Van's foot on the wide wooden boards of a dock on a lake somewhere in Louisiana. This is pure music; unplugged and slow-cooked, and NOT in a hurry. It reaches a crescendo when Van belts out his verses. Watch his intensity and reverent admiration for the Man of the Blues, John Lee Hooker. It's starts off low, and raises the volume. Enjoy the super close ups of these traditionally self-conscious and shy performers. Priceless!

Do You Love Me?

Ah, Valentine's Day! The Feast of Love! (Actually, the official Feast of Love is April 5th this year)

I love Love. It's an amazing thing. Think about it.In the midst of our massive cacophony of greed and exploitation, through the flying pieces of broken hearts rent by violence and hatred exploding off of nearly every page of the news today, still there comes, like a soft whispered wind through the leaves, Love. Even when our heads are buried deep in material pleasures and we're wrestling like Laocoön with the serpents of lust, Love knocks softly at the door of our hearts. And we know Who it is.

For me, Love and a day like today that celebrates Love is a proof for the existence of God. After all, isn't it always something above us, something we yearn for, look for, pray for, and thirst after? Love is something we believe will complete us, fill and fulfill us.

Even in our music, Love is "up where we belong, where eagles fly on a mountain high." It comes from the…


Well, we've let our students go at noon today due to the SNOW... or should I say, they let US go at noon today. We all know it's the teachers who are more excited about these frosted flakes of freedom. Come on! We're the ones up late checking the Doppler 7500's and prowling around the Weather websites, ravenously seeking those satellite images of whiteness hovering happily over our little piece of academia.

But I made it look good in the classroom this morning. I contained my inner joy at leaving early. I held fast during my last period. My infamous Yellow Group tried so hard to give up ("Mr. Donaghy, we're leaving early... we should just play a game." "Yeah, we should watch a movie." "Mr. Donaghy, I have to call my mom." "Mr. Donaghy, this is ridiculous...") but we pressed on, and in my heart, I knew it was ridiculous. Hah! But I laughed in the face of ridiculousness! I hushed and mushed this team of adolescent sled dogs (it&…

Theology of the Body in 60 Seconds or Less

I'm preparing for a talk in Kalida, Ohio set for tomorrow on the Theology of the Body. So tonight I'll be sitting on the plane for a few hours, yippee!

Who knows, maybe some fellow traveler will look over at me reading a large book with Michelangelo's Creation of Adam on its cover, as they pass the thimble full of ginger ale and the nano-sized bag of pretzels (are pretzels still legal on planes?). Maybe they'll ask "Tall man, what are you reading?" And I could say something like "It's Pope John Paul II's theological reflection on embodiment, conjugal love and the escatological realization of humanity."

But I won't say that. I'll say "It's called the Theology of the Body... it's about God, sex, and the meaning of life."

"God, sex, and the meaning of life?" Now the strangers' brow may wrinkle, the eyebrows lift, but I got 'em. I just dropped the 3 biggies that every human heart has an abiding interest…

Smells and Bells and Stuff Like That

OK America, I know you've seen 'em. And I think it's time we talked about this.

They're all the rage in churches these days. According to Abbott Church Supplies, they're "authentic, safe, and convenient." And they cost about $2890 for a set of 40. They're electric candles. That's right. ELECTRIC CANDLES.

A few years ago, someone felt that we should no longer waste time and money on real candles in our churches because they discovered that candles...

1. burn down, and then you have to buy more
2. require expensive matches
3. make fire, which, as helpful as it's been for humanity in the last ten millennia, is downright dangerous

This is the 21st century. You want to light a candle and offer up a prayer? Plug it in! Flick the little switch to symbolize your aspirations before the altar. It's that simple! No fuss, no muss! (Just add a prayer that there's not a power outage, because "poof" there goes your intentions).

Now it may seem tha…

This Week's Mission Moment

I love it when one of pop culture's idols turns into an icon of something more. When a transfusion of the gospel slips into the mainstream of the media. I believe it happens more frequently than we know, it just gets unplugged so quickly by the media monster that we miss it. Wouldn't it be great if we could nail that moment down, capture the conversation, image or incident? Welcome to this week's Mission Moment, captured in full in this linked article by Christopher West!

"In a book-long interview with Michka Assayas, Bono reflects at length on his unconventional Christian convictions. And Assayas simply cannot understand how the world’s biggest rock star could believe Jesus is the Son of God. Nor can he understand how Bono has remained faithful to his wife of twenty-five years...." (read more)

Bobby McFerrin at His Best.....

Kind of a DEAD audience, huh? Wake up to the wonder of it all people!

On Tarantulas, the Missions, and Distractions in Prayer

I was visiting a missionary sister in a poor barrio called Los Alcarrizos in the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2000. Sister "Anita" (aka Sr. Ann Joyce-Peters) is like a superhero; Mother Teresa and Wonder Woman wrapped up in one. She works with the Haitian migrant workers, the poorest of the poor, in a batey on the fringes of a sugarcane plantation. And she is loved deeply by those whom she serves.

I had the chance to visit the batey a couple of times, getting there via "motorcycle taxi." (Imagine 3 people on a vehicle the size of a moped. The driver, Sister Anita, and me. Hilarious, death-defying, and the only way to experience life in the DR).

In her house, where she lives with an occasional missionary volunteer, other sisters, or just local helpers, she hosts a prayer night for the neighborhood. Once a week or so, a dozen people show up to read scripture or a reflection, or maybe to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

One of the days I was there, we gathered out o…

Inspired by Caffeine and Irish Soda Bread

My in-laws have descended for a visit from NY! We had a wonderful dinner at Romarco's last night (deep fried zucchini spears, nice!), rented the Illusionist (very good, creepy, and we love Paul Giamatti) and now morning is breaking.

I'm always up before everyone else. What can I say? The morning is the divine hour! It's the hour of awakening. And this morning is particularly crisp; sharp and bright as linen. Her face is freshly washed and she's got her blue dress on again, and no cloudy look to obscure that sunny smile.

I was just tossing up some morning prayer with a little coffee and some of my mother-in-law's famous and ridiculously delicious Irish Soda Bread, looking out our little window just above the front door, when I spied the old pine in the neighbour's yard. He filled the tiny pane of glass, waving his green good morning to the day. And this old swatch of a poem came back to me:

"Two men looked out through prison bars; one saw mud, the other stars.…

Another Poem

To be lost
To step away
into unplugged and mapless places

Away from the security of comfort
and into the deep Unknown

From the deadening buzz of lights, signals, arrows, bells, beeps
Into the Great Silence, into mist and shadow
Into the gnarled darkness of woods and the wet bark of trees

We should go
We should stand again beneath (at last beneath)
towering trees

To listen, to wait
for the creak of their bones

To see if we might find
In the soft whisper of branches
In the solemn cracks of old trees bones
A secret

Older than we are
Older than our generation
And our father's generation

A secret

Happy Birthday Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict!

I just read Amy Welborn's post on this happy fact (actually Pope Benedict's first letter was penned on Christmas Day, 2005, but we got it in print later). Here's a couple cool facts about it:

"It's been just over a year since its release, yet Pope Benedict XVI's first Encyclical letter continues to be a best seller. According to the Rome-based ANSA news agency the Pontiff’s profound discussion of human and divine love is proving to be one of the most commercially successful doctrinal tracts ever written by a Pope. The 72-page document, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), has been reprinted three times in the German Pope's own language, three times in Spanish and sold almost 1.5 million copies in Italian. Its success has also meant that, for the first time in modern history, the Latin version of a papal document has had to be reprinted. The initial run of 1,000 copies sold out in two months."
- from Amy's blog "Open Book"

And here's a cou…