Showing posts from August, 2007

Look at All the People

This week at Black Rock Retreat Center near Lancaster, PA, there's a retreat/course on the Theology of the Body. It's led by Christopher West and an amazing team of pray-ers, planners, and supporters with the Theology of the Body Institute. I had the grace to come down yesterday and spend the night, and now I'm sitting in a cozy chair on the edge of the main sitting room as the sun peeks through the woods surrounding this holy place. And the coffee is gooooood.
As a speaker for the Institute, I get to spend the day, just listening in, meeting people, and hopefully touching base with Christopher at some point. The main thing is prayerful support and witnessing to the great stuff that's happening through this revolutionary teaching on human sexuality, the meaning of the body, and God's plan for man and woman. (If you're new to reading this blog, and want a sweet and concise summary of Pope John Paul II's scriptural reflections on Genesis and the meaning of be…

Another Tribute to Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers

Tommy passed away earlier this month, but this vintage video brings him back, with a host of sweet tunes. Finding this video this morning was like finding the pot 'o gold at the rainbow's end! (Thanks for the tip, Marty F.)

Pro-Life Commercials?

On last night's radio show, I interviewed Dr. Pia de Solenni, a spokesperson for Vitae Caring Foundation. We spoke of the great work of this pro-life advertising initiative. Here are some of the bullet points and resources we discussed on the show:

About Vitae

The Vitae Caring Foundation is a not-for-profit, tax deductible organization, focused on educating the public about the value and sanctity of human life and restoring this value as a core belief in the American culture. The key focus of the Vitae strategy is to use mass media, namely television and radio, as the venue of choice for airing educational messages (commercials).

• Vitae has developed close to 30 unique television ads, including ads in Spanish
• Vitae has placed purchased ad time in sixty-five television markets around the United States
• 4,700 calls to Atlanta pregnancy resource centers we're made in 2006 after Vitae’s ads aired
• The New York City, Spring 2006 campaign increased calls to pregnancy he…

Tommy Makem, May the Angels Sing You Home!

I just heard today that earlier this month, Tommy Makem, whose music and poems fired up a love for Ireland in me, my brother Sean, and countless others, passed away beyond the Green Hills. May he rest in God's Mercy and Love. Thanks, Tommy, for the music and the memories you've given me!

Sean, if you're reading this, I think we should raise a pint next weekend for the Bard of Armagh! Read the tributes on Liam Clancy's message board here.

"I've a fine, felt hat
And a strong pair of brogues
I have rosin in my pocket for my bow
O my fiddle strings are new
And I've learned a tune or two
So I'm well prepared to ramble and must go...."

Unicorns are Fake and So is God, says Learned Man

In Richard Dawkins' depressing and rather angry book "The God Delusion" (in which he declares God, faith, religion, and the supernatural to be, in general, absurd, pointless, and a hindrance to the elevation of man) there is one section that made me particularly sad, and confused.

It's the piece on the summer camp he's helped create for the children of secular humanists, atheists, and "free" thinkers. Called "Camp Quest" with the tag line "It's Beyond Belief", this camp's main objective is to strip children of a sense of the supernatural. One exercise the kids embark on is trying to disprove the existence of Unicorns. Doesn't that sound fun? But what, you ask, is the connection between Unicorns and God? Well, for Christians, nothing. For Richard Dawkins, the two are practically synonymous.

This rather learned evolutionary biologist equates our belief in a Creator God Who made us, guides us, inspires us, and pours out swe…

Happy Friday.... It's Friday, right?

Happy Friday to all! I mention this because soon, I will have a keen interest again in the phenomenon known affectionately as "Friday."

You see friends, school starts up again in less than two weeks. Yippee! But I need to get over the amnesia that strikes teachers every summer. That's right! Throughout the summer, we teachers are on a perpetual Friday feeling! We lay around in lawn chairs and eat chips, drink mojitos, and absent ourselves from the stress of paying bills, grooming, and other basic forms of hygiene! Now I need to wake up and remember those other four days of the week again: Mumday (sp?), Toosday, Miercoles, and Thursaturthsday or something!

Honestly, it's been a good summer. A self-inflicted summer of work, with talks, writing, and podcasting for the first time, but I set my own pace and really enjoyed it. I love my Catholic Faith! God! Life! LOTS OF STUFF! So the work is my passion and my passion is this work! What'd ya gonna do?

The only thing is...…

Wow.... Fill Your Ears with This Stuff

Have to point this out again. Sonitus Sanctus: an incredible resource of Catholic audio files or MP3s for downloading to your computer or for your iPod.... from Fr. Groeschel to Dr. Peter Kreeft, Jeff Cavins, Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, talks on G.K. Chesterton, Belloc, Intelligent Design, Tolkien, Grace, Scripture, the Mass, Revelation, Stem Cell debate.... you name it! From priests and scholars, professors and prophets. This is nuts. Have fun. Edumacate yaself!

Google Looks to the Skies

This article from CNN today promises to lift us up; at least our eyes. The popular "Google Earth" program that allows users to view beautiful satellite images of everything from your backyard to the west coast of Ireland, will now turn our eyes to the skies.

LONDON, England (Reuters) - Popular mapping service Google Earth will launch a new feature called Sky, a "virtual telescope" that the search engine hopes will turn millions of Internet users into stargazers.

Google, which created Google Earth to give Internet users an astronaut's view that can zoom to street level, said the service would be a playground for learning about space.

"Never before has a roadmap of the entire sky been made so readily available," said Dr. Carol Christian of the Space Telescope Science Institute, who co-led the institute's Sky team.

"Sky in Google Earth will foster and initiate new understanding of the universe by bringing it to everyon…

On Star-Gazing, the Universe, and Other Mind-Blowing Cosmic Stuff

My guest for tonight's Heart of Things Radio Show (from 5 to 6pm on 800 AM in the mid-eastern US and live at is James Mullaney, and this show is gonna be outta this world.... literally.

Our topic is "Star-Gazing, the Universe, and Other Mind-Blowing Cosmic Stuff"

Jim is an astronomer, writer, lecturer and consultant who has published more than 500 articles and five books on observing the wonders of the heavens and logged over 20,000 hours of stargazing time with the unaided eye, binoculars and telescopes.

Formerly Curator of the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Pittsburgh and more recently Director of the DuPont Planetarium, he served as staff astronomer at the University of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory, and as an editor for Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, and Star & Sky magazines. One of the contributors to Carl Sagan’s award-winning Cosmos PBS-Television series, his work has received recognition from such notabl…

Irish Wedding

We were up in sunny Syracuse, NY, this past weekend for the wedding of two of Rebecca's college pals: Rufus and Sara.

Sara's maiden name is McVicker's, and Friday night it became McDowell. Not much of a cultural leap, huh? A bagpiper met us at the church and greeted everyone with a few jigs and airs as we filed in; the Guinness was flowing at the reception; and there was a live band called Kilrush who fiddled, piped, and played through the night a whole host of classic tunes; in the midst of which by the way, a trio of Irish step dancers exploded, feet dancing like flames, legs flipping up like swords. It was grand, as they say. Grand!

It got me reflectin' on me own Irish roots. Our music alone is a noble heritage. Somehow it just slips in, bypassing the reason and awakening the heart, taking hold of the spirit and reorienting it. Irish music stirs us from our slumber with mournful whistles in distant airs, coaxing us to look up, to taste that World beyond the Green H…

Poems, Prayers and Mary Song

This is the day of the wedding feast for Mary, her Assumption into Heaven, her home-coming, her reunion with Jesus, her union with God. This is a day for sweet hymns. Today we celebrate the icon, the perfect woman, the one who images us all at a level of such wholeness that we can only call it holiness! Mary....

So what better way to celebrate than to sing with a sweet hymn of words from the poet priest Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89).

Just a teaser here, but visit this link for more of his art!

The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we Breathe

...My lung must draw and draw
Now but to breathe its praise,
Minds me in many ways
Of her who not only
Gave God’s infinity
Dwindled to infancy
Welcome in womb and breast,
Birth, milk, and all the rest
But mothers each new grace
That does now reach our race—
Mary Immaculate,

Merely a woman, yet
Whose presence, power is
Great as no goddess’s
Was deemèd, dreamèd; who
This one work has to do—
Let all God’s glory through,
God’s glory which …

Something About Mary - Tonight's Radio Show

In tonight's radio show, on this eve of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, we'll dive into the great mysteries of death, heaven and the resurrection of the body.

My guest is Sister Sheila Galligan, an Immaculate Heart of Mary sister who is currently the Chairperson of the Department of Theology at Immaculata University. Sr. Sheila studied for her Master's at St Charles Seminary and completed her doctoral work at the University of St Thomas (the Angelicum), in Rome. She focused on the writings of C.S. Lewis.

We'll take an in-depth and wonder-filled look at this teaching of the Church on the glorified body and heaven, how it came to be understood, and why it's so crucial that we understand Mary's Assumption and her role in our life today. What happened to Mary is part of God's plan for all of us! Tune in and find out why!

"God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a …

Smells Like Thoreau

I went to the woods the other day.

The walk was intoxicating... It was clear and cool and I loafed in slow staggering steps, down a wooded trail along a babbling brook in a state park not far from our home. When's the last time you loafed, America! Can everybody say saunter? It was high time I just lollygagged (is that a cool word or what?) because the summer is slipping away and I've been Mr. Productivity too long.

There's a page in the Fellowship of the Ring where, touching the bark of a tree in Lothlorien, Frodo is deeply moved at how alive it feels, an ancient and vibrant life flowing through its veins. Amen, Frodo! Amen, little man! The time the Fellowship spent in those enchanted woods, under the protection of the Lady of the Wood, was timeless. Sam often wondered about it. It was as if they were in a different world altogether, not bound by the tick of clocks or the ringing of bells. The Greeks called it kairos time (human, creative, qualitative periods), as opposed t…

Calling All Lovers of the Universe!

Don't forget to take a power nap this Sunday afternoon to prepare your hearts, minds and bodies for a sweet stellar display. The Perseid meteor shower is hitting a sky near you this weekend. It reaches its peak tomorrow night, and you can expect to see a few dozen meteors per hour. There's no moon in the sky, so the moonlight won't outshine the meteors. For more details on the Perseid Meteors, visit

"All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever."
- Daniel 3:61-63

The Death of Marriage

This is not a gloomy post. Sure, the "death of marriage" is a pretty dramatic title, but I just needed to catch your eyes. This one is meant to edify! To fire up husbands and wives and prospective husbands and wives! To lead them up the Mountain of Love that is Calvary, not down some primrose path with a white-picket fence that just feels nice. Those of us in the club know what I'm talking about: the secret to a joy-filled married life is... death.

So yeah.... Today, Rebecca and I celebrate 4 years of marriage... woohoo! So I went digging through the 'ole journals and this is something I found, written a few months before the BIG DAY...

"I am going to die." (I was ridiculous back then, wasn't I?) "It's not long now; just a couple of months. August 9th, to be exact. I'm getting married. Now this thought may not seem like your traditional “jitters” or cold feet. It’s a wee bit extreme, huh? But it’s true. I am going to die. I am moun…

True Knights - Tuesday's Radio Show

This week's guest on the Heart of Things radio show was Ken Henderson, founder and president of, a ministry "dedicated to leading all men to fight against the increased "pornization" of our culture and take the lead in being True Knights by being sacrificial, spiritual and protective leaders for their families."

Here's a list of resources and links we mentioned in the show:

Ken's website and blog:

True Knights
True Knights Blog

E5 Ministry for Men
Theology of the Body
That Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden

Other Resources:

The King's MenCatholic Men's Quarterly
Real Catholic Men
Catholic Men's Ministry of Oklahoma

More Links.... Thanks to the King's Men Website

Ladies out there, we love you …

Something's Cooking!

I heard about this from Fr. Roderick's "Daily Breakfast" podcast and had to pass it on. An American priest, Fr. Leo, has a mission: to bring families back to the dinner table to share a meal and share their lives again. Check out the trailer to the show here (it has yet to air).

From Fr. Leo's website:

"More than a Typical Cookbook "
Grace Before Meals: Recipes for Family Life is a new book that takes a unique approach to strengthening family relationships. By encouraging families to spend time together in the kitchen, Fr. Leo shows how easy it can be for parents and kids to find common ground through the preparation and enjoyment of a simple meal. Each chapter reflects on a variety of topics related to personal milestones, family holidays and faith observances. Short essays offer practical wisdom and ideas, so parents can create a comfortable environment for honest communication.

Great idea, Padre! (By the way, when he was younger, Fr. Leo used to teach Karat…

God in a Box

Rebecca and I had a talk about suffering last night after dinner. We had watched the new Padre Pio film - part one two nights ago, part two last night - and it stirred up some deep thoughts (to learn about this absolutely amazing man from southern Italy who died in 1968, visit this link).

We had breakfast for dinner, which I love to do. As we picked away at the remaining strips of bacon, and slid our chairs back from the table just a bit, thoughts began to form and the deep questions sizzle; "Does God want us to suffer? Why doesn't He stop us from being attacked, raped, abused? Why do innocent people get cancer, die in car crashes, and burn in buildings. And in a world where some see fertility and pregnancy as a hindrance or an imposition on their freedom, why do we carry the cross of infertility? We WANT children!"

We had strayed into Job territory. That burning furnace of Questions, the Problem of Evil that humanity has always struggled with throughout our history.


Wackiki Wabbit: Bugs Bunny at the Height of His Powers

This is it. There is no finer Bugs Bunny cartoon than this one. This is probably the most quoted cartoon for my brother and I, besides that hilarious and bizarre "Camel cartoon" with the original and rather slim Porky Pig (which I'm still trying to find). "Boots, boots, boots!"

All Because I Smelled Something

(Is that one of the best blog titles I've ever had or what!?)

I went to the local hospital chapel the other day for daily mass because:

#1. It's like 5 minutes away.
#2. It's a noon mass which means I can relax a wee bit more in the morning
#3. There's confession available just before the bells toll and I hadn't been in like 5 months.

So the chapel is on the 5th floor in the hospital; a beautiful little structure, Russian icon over the altar, and the stained glass is gorgeous. But it was about 103 degrees in there. No AC. Just big fans made of steel, back when fans were fans, if you know what I mean. The exhaust from a bunch of other fans and vents on the adjacent rooves (?) of other buildings outside the chapel added to the heat and the noise, seeping into our sanctuary through the open panels at the bottom of each stained glass window.

After Communion I smelled something like a rich tire rubber smell, not like a new floaty raft for the backyard pool smell, more like a …

The Exploding Whale Incident - A Bizarre and True Story

OK, this one is not for the faint hearted. I'm actually on the fence about putting in on my blog, which so often seeks to inspire and uplift its readers. OK, I'm off the fence now. This is too bizarre to pass up. It's a true story that truly took place in Florence, Oregon, USA, on November 12, 1970. A news crew, led by a REAL reporter known as Paul Linnman was on hand for this bizarre and TRUE event. They have the thing on tape. And so without further ado, here is the true story of the dead and beached whale that the Oregon State Highway Division decided to blow up with dynamite because it was really smelly. Your comments would be appreciated, because I'm speechless.

Pope-a-razzi - Even on Vacation, He's Living His Vocation

Pope Benedict on vacation in the mountains, meets some beautiful kids and prays the Rosary along a wooded path in this nearly 5 minute video. Thanks for the link Mary K!


Oh Danny Boy oh boy oh boy! Thanks to my brother Sean for the heads up on this ridiculously funny video from the Muppets. For those who love the Clancy Brothers, it's even funny-er.