Showing posts from July, 2007

Wake Up and Smell the Incense

Rebecca just sent me this statistic, released on Friday from the Office for Research and Planning in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia:

"There are 1,204,818 registered Catholic parishioners in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In addition, in parishes where there is a large unregistered population, Pastors estimate that there are another 87,804 unregistered parishioners. There are other unregistered Catholic people living in universities, institutions and other group settings and others who identify themselves as Catholic but are not counted in this report. The most current estimate of all Catholic people (registered and unregistered) is 1,458,642."

That's just NUTS.

1,458,642 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia alone....

Not to don those 'ole cranky pants again, but..... what difference are we making?

Why is Philadelphia slowing becoming the murder capital of the country? Why is the "City of Brotherly Love" an expression always said sarcastically these…

You Never Know...

Last night ended the series I was invited to offer at my 'ole home parish in Browns Mills, New Jersey. That.... was... fun.

And it was so humbling to come home; to see so many of the faces I knew growing up, some never knowing by name, but by their faithful presence in the pew beside me. And here was this skinny, nerdy kid, now all "growed up" and not so skinny .... sharing faith and reflecting on living the Catholic life. You never know where life will take you! So humbling.... and I'm so grateful for that invitation.

Much has changed from the old L-shaped church with the rickety old pews and creaky wood floors that I grew up in before high school. I remember the smell of the Murphy's Oil and the old missalettes stacked up in the back. I think it was built in the 1920's? Or was it the 1930's? Affectionately known as "St. Ann's in the Pines," it was where I used to kneel and pray and daydream and drift at countless masses as a child. That'…

Going Home

Well, my home parish has invited me back to lead the Triduum for St. Ann next week. The mission runs in the evenings from Monday to Wednesday (July 23-25). If you're in that neck of the woods, feel free to stop in!

I'm very excited, despite the fact that Jesus said "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place." (yikes) ... and then they tried to throw Him off of a cliff. Nah, I'm not nervous.... because South Jersey has no cliffs! Hah Ha! That's right, we're flat-landers! The Pine Barrens, where I used to wander as a youth, has to be one of the flattest, most monotonous, and deeply beautiful stretches of God's green earth I've ever seen.

What a gift and an honor to be invited home! To offer some reflections on living a life of faith, of seeing this world of wonders, and each other, as gifts as well. Not to say the talks won't challenge us too... Would it be the Gospel if it didn't stir us up, shake us from our comfort …

NOISE - This Week's Radio Show

Hello All,
Here's the skinny from tonight's radio show:

Teresa Tomeo is a talk-show host, motivational speaker, and media consultant with more than twenty years of experience as
a journalist in television, radio, and print media. Teresa hosts the nationally syndicated radio talk-show The Catholic Connection produced by the Ave Maria Radio Network and heard on 125 stations through EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Satellite.

"As parents, educators, and consumers of the media, we have to get our media usage — and that of our families — under control. Otherwise, the media will control us, if it isn’t doing so already. In her new book, NOISE, Teresa Tomeo, a veteran broadcast journalist in both the Catholic and secular markets, makes a compelling and irrefutable case about the dangers of our dominant media culture — and the adjoining liberalism and immorality that comes with it."

Buy Teresa Tomeo's book NOISE here:

Resources for Balanced News:

Send in Your Questions about Harry Potter

In preparation for next Tuesday's radio show, (we'll be pre-recording this Thursday) I wanted to put out a request for any questions you might have on the Harry Potter books or movies and their impact on you or those you know. Is it dangerous, delightful, concerning, or a real quest that you or your kids have enjoyed and look forward to?

So send in any and all thoughts, questions, or concerns you'd like answered on the air to or simply post a comment here at the Heart of things blog! (


Here's a set of resources and articles on Harry Potter (pro and con)

Steven D. Greydanus on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Greydanus article on Gandalf and Harry PotterNo Catholic Consensus on Harry Potter

Michael O'Brien on Potter and the PopeJimmy Akin on Harry Potter and Pope BenedictBook for Catholic Families on Harry PotterImagining Faith With Kids: Unearthing Seeds Of The Gospel In Children's Stories From Peter…

Harry Potter

And now on the lighter side....Ah summertime, it allowed me the chance to see a movie Thursday at 1:10pm. It was me, an 80 foot screen and six other people. I made the brilliant decision to have a "kids snack pack" for only $23 instead of the adult equivalent popcorn and drink, which was about $26 dollars.WILD ABOUT HARRYThere's been boatloads of print (real and cyberish) on the so-called blessing and curse of the Harry Potter sensation, now nearly a decade long and going strong. The 5th movie opened this Wednesday at the witching hour, midnight. The first book in the series by J. K. Rowling "apparated" in the late 90's and took the genre of children's literature by storm. "This is unheard of," the literati exclaimed. "Children are reading on purpose! And these books have so many pages! WHA'S HAPPENIN'?!!"The first of the films materialized, I believe, in 2001.... and the literati said "Oh no! Now they'll just wait f…

What Does the 'Kingdom of Heaven' Look Like?

We've all grown up with pictures of Heaven in our heads; white robes, floppy little wings, Clarence, fluffy clouds, a harp maybe, Warren Beatty in a running suit, big shiny gates attached to.... more fluffy clouds?

One of the daily Gospel's this week was from Matthew 10. Jesus is sending out the 12 Apostles (like the 12 tribes of a New Israel) and He tells them to pass this on: "As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"

Great! It is? Where would that be? As we look around, heaven is not always clearly seen. At least, not the vision of heaven that perhaps we thought heaven was...


I'm half way through Pope Benedict's new book (it's fantastic). With nearly every page I find myself pausing and going "whoa... I never thought of that before." The Pope weaves together both Old and New Testaments like a fisherman weaving his net, and according to one article I read, he's catching some new readers…

Sorrow Wide and Deep

I've been consistently silent about what I'm ready to share today. It's kind of ironic that this blog, this year of sharing thoughts and experiences on the web, has been called the Heart of Things, and yet all the while something at the very heart of our life has been hushed over. It's a source of suffering that I think, in retrospect, has fueled all of these reflections on God, life and everything in between.

This weekend, I was reading in Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth, about God's great kenosis, or self-emptying. The Pope talks about how God has been pouring Himself out in super-abundance for us since the beginning, even before Jesus. Our God Who is Love has always made this move, this condescension; to get down to our level, to speak our language, to give us His hand as a Father coming down to caress his child's face. All of this simply so that we could know and love Him, see Him for Who He is.

Pope Benedict said that each descent of God (into th…

Could You Do Me a Favor?

Well friends, it's been over a year now with this here blogging initiative. Thanks for the feedback over the last 12 months, to those who've posted comments here at the actual blog, and to all those who have replied to the blog posts that have gone out through the Mission Moment e-mail. There are now over 360 different reflections posted and archived on the Heart of Things blog! From topics as varied as beauty, BeyoncĂ©, and the Bible, to C.S. Lewis, family, and the Theology of the Body. I've talked about Tolkien, trust, truth, and TV... weakness, witness, and wonder (my favorite topic). Now I wanted to ask a favor. If ever in the course of this year, some random thought has touched you, made you go "hmmpph..... yeah, I concur!", or led you to pass the thought on to someone in your address book, then I'd ask you to consider nominating my blog at the prestigious "Blogger's Choice Awards" website (yes, I'm seriou…

Quick Thought on Quick Decisions

Friday's Gospel was from Matthew 9:9-13: "As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him."I love it. It takes me forever sometimes to make a decision. I mean the big ones. Breakfast at a diner, easy. I don't even look at the menu anymore. But with those biggies.... I often peruse the poolside way too long, as if the water will get warmer the longer I wait. But sometimes I do get the grace to respond to the grace to just JUMP IN. Sometimes we wait too long. We wait until all the reports are in. Then we wait even longer, because we need to verify those reports, and then get them copied for the "committee" to look over and then form a "follow up report".... Aboulia is defined as the loss or impairment of the ability to make decisions or act independently. Did you ever have a case of aboulia? Did you ever get stuck in your own head, doing mental gymnasti…

Wacky Wacky Stuff

A friend just sent me this CRAZY tune on the Lord of the Rings. Hilarious, and the clips from the films is well done too! Enjoy!

Tony Melendez Plays for the Pope

Maybe you've seen this classic footage of Tony, the beautiful soul, born without arms because of thalidomide taken during pregnancy, who played for Pope John Paul II in LA, 1987. Here are two songs of his, and halfway through you'll see the actual film of John Paul II coming down to embrace Tony after he played. Be sure to read the synopsis of Tony's amazing story in the sidebar of the video.

Catholic American or American Catholic? Church and State on Today's Radio Show

Gerald Russello was my guest on the Heart of Things Radio Show this evening. He is a Fellow of the Chesterton Institute at Seton Hall University and editor of University Bookman, as well as the editor of "Christianity and European Culture: Selections from the Work of Christopher Dawson." He lives in Brooklyn, New York. As promised, here are some links to his new book, an article and more! Gerald's new book "The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk" - article on "Tearing Down the Wall" - on Russell Kirk - on G. K. Chesterton - More on the University Bookman -

"Can I Get a Witness?" - The Feast of St. Thomas

I heard a preacher once who made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It was years ago; a Saturday as I remember. I was in my dorm room at Overbrook flipping through radio stations when I came upon the burly, gravelly voice of a man on fire.

He was preaching to a gathering in a church somewhere in the city, and suddenly, I was a part of the congregation. He started slow and steady, in a thick, southern rumble, black and smokey. My hand stopped spinning the dial.

"... Now the next Sunday," it broke in... "Thomas was at church....(uh huh, amen, gushed the crowd)... "Ya see, Jesus had appeared after the Resurrection... but Thomas was outside a church that Sunday (mm hmm, oh no).... Now y'all know the difference in ya life when you at church, and when you away from church?" (oh yes, amen!).... "Well the next Sunday, Thomas was at church... and the doors were locked. Can I get a witness? And Jesus.... well, He just showed up...." (This brought a su…