Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
off, it was strategically placed by our pilgrim ancestors on a
Thursday, which was brilliant. It means we ALWAYS get a four day
weekend. That's right! It's not like one of those "floating" holidays,
where you so often get stiffed; like Christmas on a Monday.
The other thing is, Thanksgiving involves large portions of food,
which is a thing everyone I have ever met is deeply interested in.
I've never met anyone who said to me, "Food? Never touch the stuff."
Finally, Thanksgiving is about family, and family is foundational.
Your family is the launch pad from which you blast off, the
springboard which you leap off of, sailing out into the Big Wide World.
Families are like seedbeds, little gardens wherein we start to grow.
They come in a million different varieties, shapes and sizes, but each
hold the same fundamental responsibility; to care for and to cultivate
the beauty of life.
So let us cherish the vocation and the vacation that this Thanksgiving
is all about. And in the midst of it all, let us eat, drink, and be
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I've always loved this line, taken from a scene in Peter Jackson's film "The Return of the King." In a darkened tent where the army of Rohan encamps on the side of a mountain, Elrond speaks a word of challenge and invitation to Aragorn. He is the descendant of a royal line who has for too long wandered and waited for his vocation to be actualized.
In this scene, the Ranger from the North takes up his forefather's sword and takes hold once and for all of his high calling. He rises with a new name, Elessar, and a new mission. Since the adoption of our son last month, I've been feeling the weight of a call; of a new vocation. I think something was activated in me just a few weeks ago, something that has perhaps lain dormant until now, like a seed that was planted but never cracked open until God knocked on the thin shell of my heart and whispered "Let there be life."
It's the glowing ember of fatherhood, which was nearly snuffed out in these past years of trial, of purification and waiting. But now it's stirred by the breath of the Spirit and the gift of this adoption. In our sad experiences of miscarriage and loss, and in the midst of our unborn baby's condition in the womb, I have always felt this vocation growing. Our prayer for a miracle for Baby Grace continues, but it's as if in this time I were looking through a clouded glass, slightly removed, distant in a sense from this new act of "fathering." I know in my heart I am a father, but until now I've been standing in this "Waiting Room," pacing about, back and forth.
A mother's vocation seems to be woven and spun so early, as the little ones are knit together in the womb. For a father, the world is like a second womb; he must wait to receive the new life in its second stage. (I think our Heavenly Father waits at the world's end to receive us all. And what a happy, expectant Father He is! I wonder if God is pacing the halls of Heaven overjoyed for that moment when we are born into the Light of that Unending Day! Maybe all of the angels get cigars when someone enters Paradise?)
Right now, a child sleeps just feet away from me. Unbelievable. My vocation has made its "quantum leap"... has passed a test and is being given a new one. I feel this inspired instinct, this primal proclivity to guard and protect, to sacrifice and to serve my family at a new and deeper level than before. It's amazing! And I can see the design here, the plan of God that allows us massive opportunities for grace. Life is meant to be, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, an "an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God." It can begin in the self-gift of marriage, and continue for a couple in the gift of children.
Thank God for this plan, the plan of fatherhood and motherhood, of self-gift and self-emptying love! Like the vocation to celibate love, to spiritual fatherhood and motherhood in the priesthood and religious life, the vocation of marriage allows us to break free of the bonds of self-gratifying gravity and into the Great Wide Open of Selfless Love. It is this kind of love that makes the world go 'round, and that builds a culture of life and love. May we all become what we were born to be!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This is a flashback episode, as just this morning I discovered the clip referred to in Shawshank Redemption on YouTube! Enjoy...
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 a new power descending and lifting you up... a fragrance you once knew and loved returning and flooding 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 in the midst of suffering, hoping against hope, and the heart's yearning for beauty and freedom.
There's a scene I love where Andy Dufresne, the falsely accused prisoner, sneaks into the warden's office and blasts a Mozart aria on the record player. He sets it in front of the microphone so that the music pours through the loudspeakers, soaring over the prison like the hymn of angels. The tough, grey-faced men in the yard all lift up their heads and listen, as innocent and open again as children. For so long they have been in darkness, now a light from some "undiscovered country" dawns.
Morgan Freeman plays the character Red, a kind of narrator throughout the movie. He remembers the scene: "I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can't be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free."
We know beauty when we see it, hear it, taste or touch it. We are made for beauty, and beauty is clean, pure, and good. Beauty is a gift. It's really what the human heart craves more than anything. I firmly believe that deep down, in this culture so full of noise and distraction, greed and grasping, madness and materialism, we all pine for the fresh water of Beauty to wash over us. And it's out there, in a million different places. As the Bible says, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." Like little birds we can turn to our Lord and let Him feed us.
Pope Benedict just published his letter for the 41st World Communications Day. In it he said "Beauty, a kind of mirror of the divine, inspires and vivifies young hearts and minds, while ugliness and coarseness have a depressing impact on attitudes and behaviour... Media education should be positive. Children exposed to what is aesthetically and morally excellent are helped to develop appreciation, prudence and the skills of discernment."
He continues; "Any trend to produce programs and products - including animated films and video games - which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behaviour or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion, all the more repulsive when these programs are directed at children and adolescents..."
Above all, God wants to give us beauty, truth, and goodness. He is the very fullness of all three! And the Church desires to share with us a vision of human dignity! We are made for eternity, and for housing within us eternal truths! Like a mother, the Church knows what is best for us and she lays out a table of rich food and drink; this banquet of beauty, truth, and goodness is the meal that will really satisfy us! Much (by no means all) of what the media culture has been offering us is junk food, fast food. Let's try and shut down the pipes that are pouring the wrong stuff into our nice, clean living rooms. Let's turn to the rich and ever-growing, overflowing streams of Beauty that are coming from so many directions; art, music, poetry, prayer. What a rich history we have in the Church! Looking to Her, we never need to go hungry.
Looking for that aria that was played in Shawshank Redemption?
Here is the opera in it's entirety.
And here's the single aria on iTunes.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
FOCA would go well beyond the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in imposing an extreme abortion regimen on our country. No other piece of legislation would have such a destructive impact on society’s ability to limit or regulate abortion. It would eliminate a broad range of laws - informed consent laws; parental involvement laws; laws promoting maternal health; abortion clinic regulations; government programs and facilities that pay for or promote childbirth and other health care without subsidizing abortion; conscience protection laws; laws prohibiting a particular abortion procedure (e.g., partial birth abortion); laws requiring that abortions only be performed by a licensed physician; and so on. For a careful legal analysis of FOCA by the USCCB’s Office of General Counsel, see: www.nchla.org/docdisplay.asp?ID=190. A summary fact sheet for general distribution can be found at: www.nchla.org/docdisplay.asp?ID=194
In a September 19 letter to Members of Congress, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, raised grave concerns about any possible consideration of FOCA. The Cardinal declared: “We can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion.” He urged all Senators and Representatives “to pledge their opposition to FOCA.” For full text of the letter, see: www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCArigaliltr.pdf.
Recommended Actions: Contact your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators by FAX letter, e-mail, or phone. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202.224.3121; or call Members’ local offices. Full contact info can be found on Members of Congress’s web sites, at: www.senate.gov and www.house.gov
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I don't know where you are, reading this right now. But right now, in southeastern Pennsylvania, USA, the leaves are beginning to lose their grip, the wind is breathing cooler, and the earth smells soooo good. We have a cycle of seasons; they rise and fall from spring to winter like the very lives we live. And every season is a chance for us to taste again the sweetness and the sorrow, to pass through ourselves a life in miniature; to hear again that "still sad music of humanity." From the green fire of a youthful spring, to the ripe joys of summer, and into the contemplative colors of fall... we prepare ourselves for the quiet sleep of winter. I love the fall most of all. The very air has such a richness to it; the leaves are burning in a last shout of glory, and their earthy incense is a melancholic fragrance. It draws us into our past. The burnt gold of the evening horizon, the red-rimmed maple trees, the barren branches with their hundred tiny fingers, stretching out into space, stark against a deep night sky. For me, there is something ancient in this season, something somber. And yet pointing towards a promise, even through the cloak of brown leaves and misty mornings.
Tomorrow, I'll begin again a journey through my favorite book, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. That journey begins in the autumn of Middle-Earth, a season and a place that Tolkien says is our own, just deeper into the pages of history than can be remembered. The time is a sad one; the Elves are moving through the Old Forest. And with them something of the magic of the world, the ancient ways, the high poetry is leaving too. They are moving towards the Grey Havens, singing hymns of Elbereth and Earendil, leaving Middle-Earth forever. As I sit on the shores of this new millennium, just beginning, and look back at the 20th century and so many gone before it, I see much that once was has been forgotten. In our noise and haste, lessons are left unread and unlearned. In my own life, and the cycle of its seasons, how many times have I forgotten the wisdom that came through the Woods. Through the leaves that rustled with Truth, the Beauty that came to me in every Sun rising. But what lies ahead is the journey. For the Elves, and for the Fellowship of the Ring as they begin their heroic walk, the journey is one of hope. A hope "beyond all memory." A hope that what is evil in the world can finally be overcome. A hope that Good can prevail, and the ancient wisdom, the Music that made the world can be played in all it's fullness. Let the journey begin!
Monday, October 06, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
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PREAMBLE: Before we even begin today's reflections, I have something to smell you, I mean tell you. One of the coolest things about Pa...
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