Posts

Showing posts from January, 2007

Putting on the Brakes

Image
God speaks in the silence of the heart, and we listen. And then we speak to God from the fullness of our heart, and God listens. And this listening and this speaking is what prayer is meant to be...

- Mother Teresa

I'm feeling the lack of quiet in my life these last few weeks. Just too busy, not putting on the brakes when I know I should, or maybe it's more a turning of the wheel into the Silence more often. So here's an old formula for building the Quiet Inside, and what to do when you get there: Remember when you're feeling Life is pushing you too fast, just slow down and rush..... that's R-U-S-H.

R-EST your senses. Close your eyes!
- Slow down!
- Be attentive to your breathing

U-NPACK your heart, lay it on the altar
- Read the Book of Your Life with God
- Read the Book His Life in the Gospels
- Or just relax and look at the pictures!

S-ILENCE
- Do nothing but breathe
- Listen for your heartbeat
- Listen for His heartbeat
- See if the rhythms match

H-OLY SPIRIT come! …

Starved for Beauty

Image
When they told him this, Ransom at last understood why mythology was what it was - gleams of celestial strength and beauty falling on a jungle of filth and imbecility. - Perelandra, C.S. Lewis

How often have you found yourself out at a movie or watching the television, perhaps just flipping through channels in the hopes of finding "something good," and you actually find it?

Does it grab you? Is it like the sensation C.S. Lewis describes above? A new power descends and lifts you up... a fragrance you once knew and loved returns and floods your mind? For me, it seems so often I stumble through the media with boots on, wading through the equivalent of sewage, and then fresh water comes in like a stream from the mountains. And I know I've found the Good Stuff...

Shawshank Redemption is good stuff. It's the film based on a Stephen King novella (he sold the movie rights for $1 to writer/director Frank Darabont): a heart-wrenching work with themes of endurance…

Search Engine for the Catholic Catechism

Image
What a treasure the CCC is! I've always loved the power in the prologue:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

Thanks to the Knights of Columbus, we can now perform a lightning fast word or topic search through the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church. Check it out at this link -
http://www.kofc.org/publications/cis/catechism/index.cfm

Dave Wilcox

Found a sweet video of Dave doing a Musicfest in Canada. Since there's a Canadian David Wilcox, he doesn't often go north... it's just too confusing! But here he is, invited up anyway according to the host. And the clip of him singing is one of my favorites: Get On... so enjoy!

View the Great Isaiah Scroll

Image
"For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies. But this you did not wish."

The Great Isaiah Scroll was found in the Dead Sea Caves in 1947 and it is dated at around 200 BC. This is the oldest copy of Isaiah known to exist. Get an up close and personal view of the Great Isaiah Scroll by clicking here

A Brief History of the Middle East

Who has conquered the Middle East over the course of world events? See 5000 years of history in 90 seconds! Visit the home of this map at http://www.mapsofwar.com

Education in Beauty

Image
Pope Benedict XVI posted his address for the World Day of Communication. He mentioned a favorite theme of mine; that of educating the young in truth, beauty, and goodness.
Check out the article at www.zenit.org

Full text of letter is at the Vatican site here.

The Wedding Singer and Divine Intimacy

Image
How close do you want to be with God?
I guess it depends on where we are in this sometimes amazing, often confusing, maybe mundane or heart-wrenching journey of life. I think in the beginning that question can send a little shiver up the back of our necks. Intimacy with God? Yikes. God is just a Big Person, and we're like little kids in the Principal's office. Intimacy isn't in the vocabulary yet.
As we mature and "find ourselves," maybe we see God differently. But we're afraid that He will take over, take all of me, in the relationship. "Be all demanding and stuff." What about my freedom, my personality, my style? Will there be anything left in me but a bland sort of niceness? Will God just pour "holiness" into the mold of my being while the flavor that is me slowly dissipates?
"Oh, yeah. He used to be so much fun. Then he became.... a Christian."
I think in our American culture, so focused on ME that we forget about the OTHER, the …

On Snowflakes and Beyoncé

Image
"How full of the creative genius is the air in which these are generated!I should hardly admire more if real stars fell and lodged on my coat."
- Henry David Thoreau

Ken Libbrecht, professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, is a snowflake expert. He's taken phenomenal photographs of actual snow crystals and flakes, even creating a "Field Guide to Snowflakes" that showcases these miniature masterpieces. On his website, www.snowcrystals.com, he basically affirms the old saying that no two snowflakes are exactly alike. But let's let Ken speak for himself!

"The number of possible ways of making a complex snowflake is staggeringly large. To see just how much so, consider a simpler question - how many ways can you arrange 15 books on your bookshelf? Well, there's 15 choices for the first book, 14 for the second, 13 for the third, etc. Multiply it out and there are over a t…

Pipe Dream: A feast for the eyes and ears!

Just stumbled on this at Steve Ray's blog and was happily amazed. Enjoy!

Scrubs - The Musical

Image
We were in need of some light-hearted diversion last night, and it was Scrubs to the rescue. We're not a fan of much of the crass humor on the show; in fact, this was the first time we ever watched an entire episode. But I have to say, this one was HILARIOUS.

"Life is but a song as the cast of "Scrubs" star in a musical episode with songs written by the Tony Award-Winning composers of "Avenue Q," Robert Lopez and Jeff Marks -- Stephanie D'Abruzzo (an original cast member of "Avenue Q") guest stars - - Sacred Heart is turned into a full scale Broadway stage when Patti (Stephanie D'Abruzzo) checks in complaining of hearing incessant music. While trying to determine the cause of this strange complaint the residents of Sacred Heart star in their own musical. Carla and Turk tango over her decision to be a stay at home mom or to return to work, while Elliot struggles with telling J.D. that she doesn't want to be roommates with him anymore --…

A Work In Progress

Image
Hello Dear Friends Who Read This Blog Occasionally!

I've discovered the wonders of "labels" from our ole' pal Mr. Blogger.com (all those laughing at my johnny-come-lately naivete... please hush ya'selfs)

Labels are really clever little pieces of hyper-cyber-data that can take you to wonderful places on this blog. For example,

1. You go to my blog and

2. Scroll down on the right hand column past "Links" and the "Blog Archive"....

3. Then you'll find this snazzy NEW! section aptly labelled "Labels to More Posts on this Topic."

4. You see a huge list of words and choose one like "faith"

5. You click it in a curious kind of way and BLAMMO!

6. You're taken to any and all posts I've posted that deal with that topic!

I mean is this fantastic or what?! Who invented these things?! I wanna shake some hands! Somebody line 'em up... (now see, that was a quote from a James Taylor song from his Hourglass album which was AWESOME. S…

Amazing Resource

Just found an incredible on-line resource library on all things Catholic, and I mean ALL THINGS! http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_browse.cfm?browseby=category

Some Gems from Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Address - June 8, 1978

Image
"If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature.

It cannot (be) unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism."
Image
Is Now and Ever Shall Be

Death takes without our permission
Pulls from our hands treasured petals
Cools the warmth of hope
Shades the sun.

Without our permission...

Wordless, and sudden
smolders like thunder clouds,
dampens what is dear,
pours out what has been prepared
and day is suddenly night.

Hard pressed for poems
for Death now presses us,
we fall again into the Stream

Like stones heavy
like polished, cold stones into cold, white-brimmed water
clean, scraped, burnished by pain,
cold with sorrow, empty as water
we tumble.

What now will give us breath, set us free?
What is now and ever shall be?

This universe too groans for healing
for all that springs from her decays
She too withers and cannot offer peace.

Nor can any sprung from her womb;
the rose, wheat, salt, stars,
men and women, philosophy, poems and songs.

Our cure as is for every creature trapped in this time
must come from Outside, must come down
must enter the Stream
and take on sorrow too.

Incarnate Love...

This is the Spring unspoiled
bubbling up, fres…
Image
The Harmony of Unity

I love playing the guitar; that is, I love playing over and over again the half dozen chords I know really well, mixing them up in their respective keys, and throwing in a little picking and hammering here and there for style. Yup, pretty basic.

But there is harmony, and yes, "I've got rhythm." As basic as my guitar playing is, it is at the very least "melodious." Now enter our little niece Michaela. When she picks up that guitar and starts strumming it, as strong as her desire to make music is, harmony just ain't gonna happen. We all know this, as we watch and smile and encourage this beautiful little 2 year old to "play the guitar." Who cares about harmony? It's cute!

Now the funny thing is, Michaela seems to believe she's making music. She can't tell when something is off, out of tune, dischordant. All she knows is, sounds are coming out and people are smiling. Yeeeeaaaah! But suppose an adult were to take that gui…
Image
Back to the Brokenness

I needed to hear this one again today:

"As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour.

We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to accept and receive ourselves in its fires. If we try to evade sorrow, refusing to deal with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them.

Sorrow removes a great deal of a person’s shallowness, but it does not always make that person better. Suffering either gives me to myself or it destroys me. You c…

Brother Gabriel - The Skateboarding Monk

Brother Gabriel - The Skateboarding Friar Yes, it's for real, and yes he's a real Franciscan friar! I met some of the boys in the hood last night at a retreat center near Lancaster. Amazing men of deep faith. I mentioned the image I use of Brother Pio for my blog link, and they tipped me off to this. It's a wee bit long, but great stuff! Stay for the bloopers at the end! Pax, Bill
Image
Living Without Wax

Back in the old days, when sculptors would send their work to its home, the road could get rocky. A nick here and a chip there was bound to happen. But the messed up marble could be remedied almost seamlessly with a little wax. Some artists, supposedly, would apply the wax to their chipped work fairly often (Kind of like the modern use of duct tape, just much less obvious). Soon, the patrons of great works got wind of the practice and preferred the real deal, damaged or not, to a wax bandage. Hence the term "sincere" was born. From the Latin sine andcera - "without wax."

So what's up with us? Are we sincere? Are we ready to show ourselves just as we are in the full light of day, faults and all? Can we fess up to our shortcomings in ourmingling with others? Admit when the chip or scratch is ours? Or are we still trying in vain to patch it up, cover over the nicks and dents in our personalities that tell the world we are frail, often tempted, but…
Image
Will There Be a Happy Ending?

A week into this new year, and today is the Feast of the Epiphany. But we look around and there seems nothing new. Death and destruction, abuse and abominations still abound in the world. There was no epiphany, no awakening in Iraq, or Darfur, or on the streets of our major cities. When we look at the world at large, we see guns are still in angry hands, the powerful still prey on the weak, and fear is still in our hearts. Despite our efforts, sickness still riddles the broken body of humanity.

Is this life just a "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," as Shakespeare once pondered through his character MacBeth? Can we ever escape from our own mortal weakness? Be set free finally from the tyranny and terror of ourselves?

Despite all the lies and the heartache and the pain, I believe we still deep down want the fairy tale to come true. We know in our hearts that something is wrong in the universe that should be right. Bu…

Apocalypto: A Review

Image
"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."
- Will Durant

I recently saw Mel Gibson's new film, Apocalypto.

There's been plenty of talk about this film (actually, the talk has been mostly about Mel and his issues). I've read both sides; those who feel the Mayans got misrepresented as pure savages, and those historians who feel Mel actually went a little light on the brutality they were known for enacting on their victims. I can't argue those points, as I'm not an expert on Mayan culture. But I will talk about this incredible film, which I believe, despite intense and often gratuitous violence, every man, husband and father should go and see with his man, husband, and father friends... (please heed the USCCB's complete review of the film's graphic content. Click here for a full review)

Mel Gibson's intent seems to have been to create an action-adventure film rooted in an ancient culture about a m…
Image
New Year's Revolutions

It's not a typo... it's a revolution! Yes, New Year's "resolutions" are wonderful things; they're great ideas, but they seem to so often remain (for me anyway) just that - ideas. Nice thoughts, bold aspirations, but made up in the mind and after a few weeks, if that, I find they haven't trickled down to the bones and the blood.

So... desparate times call for desparate measures! If I'm ever to overcome my laziness, whining, or my malicious mediocrity, if I'm ever to escape the clammy claws of my physical and spiritual quagmires (love that word!) and for once perhaps in my life rise up, shine like silver, live clear as crystal, and become my very best self (aka "a saint"), then I need a revolution.

So here's my New Year's revolution.... here's where I plan to stir up an uprising, raise a ruckus, and build a barricade. I'll turn my gaze not to the carbs, candy or even the consumer culture first, or ev…

Rest in Peace, Dom Lettieri

Image
For 30 years, a small, steady voice has been sending out the gospel message through the AM airwaves in the Philadelphia region. Today, those airwaves are silent, but the voice of Dom Lettieri is singing in Heaven.

I didn't know Dom well, but I was blessed to meet him twice at the radio station in Rosemont. Once with Fr. Paul Dressler to speak about the New Evangelization and young adults, and the second time was in the middle of the DaVinci Code fever. Each time Dom had me on his show, he struck me as a man of deep peace and a rock solid faith. A conversation with him was always very warm and personal. And he had such a look of wonder in his eyes. I remember that. Wonder at the beauty and privilege of being Catholic. Wonder and dismay at the culture he tried so hard to reach, a culture that seemed to choose the selfish path over the way of the Cross, the way towards Jesus. For Dom, that was the definition of disaster. So he got on the air, and he talked about Jesus.

Dom was deeply s…
Image
A Heartbreaking Tale from the Sea

I thought I'd share the bitter sweet tale of Kagan and the Wind. It's classic storytelling and the first time I heard it read and sung by Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, it stirred the heart and blood. I wish I could find it again, but the tape has vanished...



Peter Kagan and the Wind from the Makem Brothers

It is said that the seals have the ability to take on human form. The seal people, though they like to live near the sea, dare not ever go back into it, or else they immediately revert to their original form and lose the ability ever to take on human form again.

Peter Kagan was a lonely man in the summer of his years. One day he got tired of being lonely, and he went away, off to the east. And when he came again he had a wife. She was strange, but she was kind and people liked her. She was good for Kagan. She kept him company and winter come to summer they were happy.

Kagan had a dory then, with a lugsail on her mast. He used to go offshore three,…

Revolutionizing the Ukulele - Jake Shimabukuro