Showing posts from December, 2007

Good Talk and the Goal of Art

One of my favorite Christmas traditions, after a short night of sleep, staying up into the wee hours with my wife's family in NY state, nestled in that warm house in the cold, quiet of Montgomery, are my late morning talks with my father-in-law.

It's St. Stephen's Day, December 26, and like clockwork, I go for coffee and donuts (vanilla iced with sprinkles for the womenfolk) and make it back just as he stirs (the ladies won't be up for another hour). Then the talk begins, slow and rambling at first, like a rain stream. Then a clear path is cut by a strong river of serious thought, as we sip our coffee and look out on Eager Road.

Our topics string together like a strand of lights, the classic bulbs, big, bright, and heavy-laden. Then we sit back and watch the glow before the Christmas tree, from the couches in the living room. Our thoughts launch out and hover in the air - on music, books, theology, faith, the world as it is... as it was.... as it should be.

This morning w…

The Christmas House

Do you get all goosey when you see Inflatable Christmas Lawn Art? Does the glow of lights on an otherwise drab house set your heart pumping? Do you find yourself driving the long way home from work in the winter just to catch some extra yuletide wattage? Well we've got the house for you! Getting there is a real journey, but for those intoxicated by Christmas lights and 6 foot Frostys, you can't beat the "CHRISTMAS HOUSE."

It's nestled, oddly enough, on a dark street in a quiet little town called Washingtonville, NY. The house to the left has a porchlight and a wreath, the neighbor to the right is cloaked in shadowy shrubs. But it would take a city of Wal-Marts to beat out the brightness of the CHRISTMAS HOUSE!

And that's just the outside of the house... Every room inside is loaded to the gills with Christmas doodads and whatzits. Classic stuff too; trains, little villages, a hall of thematic trees like the Irish Tree, the Sports Tree, the Penguin Tree, and... t…

A Scandalous Love

For a little reflection this Christmas Eve, I'd like to direct our eyes to some achingly beautiful, wonderfully scandalous passages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Here's a book that I think is too often passed over as heady, theologically dense, or something only for CCD teachers, sisters, priests, academics or theology students to ponder. But the Catechism is for believers, all believers, to leap into, pour over, pray over, and chew on as an essential part of one spiritually nutritious breakfast! The word catechism comes from the Greek root meaning simply "an echo." And that's all it is - an echo of the Truth and Beauty and Goodness of salvation given to us in the Bible. So here we go... chew slowly and enjoy!


457 "Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again... Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior... Are the…

Finally! The Hobbit is Coming to the Movies!

Just heard on Fr. Roderick's podcast "Daily Breakfast." An agreement has been made between New Line Cinema, MGM, and director Peter Jackson! There will be 2 separate Hobbit films, filming begins next year! More later!

Seeing and Serving Christ in the Poor

My guest tonight was Katie Sullivan, Director of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry, which serves our suffering brothers and sisters in three locations: Kensington in Northeast Philadelphia, PA, Wilmington, Delaware, and Camden, NJ.

"The Franciscan Volunteer Ministry is a group of lay men and women, living in community, who dedicate themselves to ministry in the Church in collaboration with the Franciscans of Holy Name Province. Based on the Gospel message to express love in action, it provides an environment that fosters service to the marginalized, personal and interpersonal development, spiritual growth, and an active prayer life."

We had a great conversation on Katie's own journey to join in the mission of the Franciscans, as well as sending out a challenging message for all of us to live the Gospel in a new and radical way. The podcast of our show will be up by the weekend!

Here is the list of needs for St. Francis Inn that Katie mentioned on the air:

- p…

I Love Darkness

I've always loved darkness. The crisp, cold dark of winter, the thick, warm darkness of sleep, the pre-dawn darkness that shrouds the morning. Sound creepy? Nah... it's creative. Think about it. All things good, true, and worthy of our contemplation spring from darkness.

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss...

It seems darkness is the prerequisite of light. The very stars we love to count sprang from the dark womb of the universe. The flowers and trees we marvel over were born in the seed crushing stillness under the earth; in the wet, dark fodder of fecundity that lies beneath our feet.

Our lives began in darkness. We squirmed and struggled, wound and wrapped up in tiny balls of pulsating blood, brain, bone and tissue, and spirit breathed fresh into that darkness from God, in the wombs of our mothers. Our spiritual birth comes so often from the darkness of doubt and of fear, leaping up fr…

When You Gotta Go....

I was perusing through a closet for something the other day and found an old sketchbook of mine from art school. This is a cartoon I did around Christmas, circa 1990! I call it "When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go."

I suppose it was a remnant of one of my deepest childhood questions on the plausibility of Santa and his ability to make it round the globe without a pit stop. Other thoughts considered the possibility of built-in plumbing on the sleigh, but I won't bore you with those blueprints...

White Christmas

Oh you just can't beat Bing Crosby's voice in this classic.... it's like butta'!!

Thanks a Million (I mean.... 20,000)!

It was on December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, that I put a hit counter on my blog. I'm pleased to say that in the year that has passed since then, (and we'll round off the hits in that first half a year without a counter) there have been over 20,000 visitors to The Heart of Things Blog!! Woohoo! So thanks for stopping by, for passing stuff on, and for the sporadic comments. They are always welcome!


Teaching keeps me pretty busy, but I am hoping to publish a book soon (soon meaning "before death") encapsulating the most reflective of these reflections... skipping the random allusions to YouTube videos, cheese, and HomeStarRunner... well, maybe we'll keep the silly stuff in there for good measure.

Would you read a book like this? With a few hundred one to two page reflections on God, Life, and Everything in Between? I hope so. I figure that's what I like; short and sweet, but meaty enough to get me through the day. The podcast is comi…

Random Stuff I've Been Meaning to Share

1. iPods are amazing.
2. Podcasts are FREE... and amazing.

What's an iPod? Well, officially, an iPod is a portable media player (music, videos, movies, even photos) designed by Apple and about the size of a pack of gum. It was first launched on October 23, 2001. I have a video iPod that now holds EVERYTHING... family photos, music from Springsteen to Mozart, John Cougar to the Crouching Tiger soundtrack! Talks by Peter Kreeft, Bishop Sheen, Scott Hahn, Christoher West, Scripture readings, episodes of Lost, Scrubs, the Office! Gregorian Chant, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Barry Manilow (yes, real men listen to Barry!), U2, Dave Wilcox, Greg Brown, Charlie Brown Christmas Album, Movie sound bytes that make me laugh, and... and.... lots of stuff! Like podcasts....

What's a podcast?
A podcast is like a broadcast, only one that you the listener can actually control. You can pick it, play it, pause it, or peruse it at your leisure. You can listen to a podcast just like you listen to your mu…

New Narnia Trailer is Out!

The new trailer for the next Narnia movie, Prince Caspian is out! Have a look! May 16 is the release date...

Baby in a Box...

A POWERFUL little video from to prepare our hearts for the Right to Life March in D.C. next month. Please be sure to pass this link along! Beautiful... and subtle in its efforts to lead us to the truth about Life.

Grace Upon Grace

Well, I'm blogging while my Immaculata students take their final exam. Is that irresponsible? Heck no, 'cause they're a group of amazing young people who can take a test despite the feverish click and clak of these keyboard keys! Yeah!

It's been an awesome experience, teaching at a University level this semester. And the provident convenience of Immaculata U. being just 7 minutes and 32 seconds from Malvern Prep was another convenience. I'm looking forward to next semester already, though the Christmas break will be nice.

This was a course on Marriage and Family, with a strong emphasis on the Theology of the Body. We read the thoughts of Pope John Paul II, Mary Healy, Christopher West, we critically watched film clips, listened to popular music, and had discussions on the meaning of being human, the reason we are alive, the battle between love and lust. What better way to spend a Tuesday night from 7:15 to 9:45 I ask you!? To be honest, being home with Rebecca would…

Nothin' Says Christmas Like an Archway Cookie!

I'm serious. (And I promise to post a more substantial reflection soon, not that enough of these cookies aren't substantial. Just been real busy with teaching, grading, podcasting, blah, blah!) We ran a few errands Saturday after a beautiful Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. As I zipped through the aisles of Acme, seeking out the 2% milk (though I'm partial to the scandalously retro Whole Milk; feels rebellious just typing it!) I passed by a display of Archway cookies. This was an almost religious experience for me. I don't know why but I often forget about my friends at Archway throughout the rest of the year. Well, once in the middle of summer I had a craving for those massive iced oatmeal cookies and some cold milk. Wow. So if you're out and about this season, look for the "cashew nougat cookie-ball looking things" - they are amazing!

An O'Henry Christmas - Review

"The poorer you are the more Christmas does for you."
- O.P.
The little stage in Lansdowne's 20th Century Club is intimate; a theater in the round, and all of us gather 'round a cluster of crates and a barrel lit within with faux fire. But the real warmth comes from the characters that soon appear; Marguerite, Agnes, Fran, Grover, Hal, Dinty, Guido the cop, and finally, the master storyteller - O.P. In their rags and wrinkled suits, they are the poor, and it's Christmas Eve, and this is where they'll hold their vigil. It's Howard Burman's play, "An O. Henry Christmas," playing this weekend and next in Lansdowne, PA (details following).

On a railroad spur, on the tattered fringes of New York City, 1893, a group of homeless souls carrying nothing but their own mental baggage, have clustered about this fire seeking its heat for their bodies and, perhaps subconsciously, some warmth for their souls. Suddenly, a stranger appears. In an exchange for f…

Blogging, Believing, and the Blessed Mother - An Interview with Mark Shea

This week's show was an interview with Mark Shea, a popular Catholic writer, speaker, and blogger. In addition to being co-author of the smash bestseller A Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions About The Passion of the Christ, he is also the author of The Da Vinci Deception: 100 Questions About the Facts and Fiction of The Da Vinci Code (Ascension), Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did (Basilica), By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition (Our Sunday Visitor) and This is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence (Christendom Press) An award-winning columnist, he contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register.

Mark is know nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio and he is also a guest each Tuesday on "Heart, Mind, and Strength" radio with Dr. Gregory Popcak. He has also appeared num…