Showing posts from January, 2008

In the Spotlight

In the late 80's and early 90's, I was studying fine art at a community college; painting, drawing, sculpture and design. I loved it, and I often reflect on how I could just lose myself in an abstract watercolor or in the brushstrokes that leapt like flame from a canvas of sunflowers or a field of wheat by Van Gogh. It was always incredible to watch something come to life, so to speak, from my own paint-spattered or clay covered hands... to see it start to fill in and fill out of the void of a bleached canvas or a lump of clay.

I remember one project in particular; we were each commissioned to make a copy of the work of an old master. I chose a painting of Carravaggio's called The Lute Player. A great way to learn, in the way of art, music or for that matter the spiritual life, is to mimic the art of the masters, to trace the outlines of their marks and movements, and by habit to acquire some of their gift. We catch the sparks from the fire of their creative genius and carr…

That Miserable March for Life

We had a good trip down to D.C. this past Tuesday, January 22, for the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Over one hundred teenagers came along from Malvern and the Villa, and they were so good. With a three hour drive and no stops, walking to and standing in a cold field near the Washington Monument for an hour, then finally creeping slowly through the streets of D.C. for another hour or two, and back on the bus for the journey home (no stops).... it's a lot to ask anyone. I didn't hear a single authentic complaint. I'm proud of those kids!

For many of my boys, this was their first time at the March. I was hoping for a little more organization (always hard to manage with so many people), and for us to make it all the way to the Supreme Court building, which has been the custom for Rebecca and I each year. But things got a little off track and we needed to reign in the troops. At the same time, I suppose, letting them move through the crowds, listen, and look, and experience…

Can I Live?

New Year's Resolution #4 - Letting Go

Letting go of things is never easy.
Letting go of our addictions is never, ever, easy...
Even when they are burning hot Rings of Doom, made by the Enemy, emblazoned with the fiery script of the Black Speech of Mordor, and pretty much telling us in so many words that they are in fact Evil, we are loathe to part with our precioussss "fill in the blank."

We cling so often to what we know is not good for us, to what we know in our minds and hearts is unhealthy for us. We wantsss it, precioussss.... we wantssss it... Perhaps because it gives us a sense of control or some comfort or it nurses our pride, or becomes the envy of our enemy. What makes the letting go so difficult is the fact that we have poured so much of ourselves into the Thing (whatever, or whoever, it is), just as Sauron poured his malice and his cunning and all of his art, twisted though it was, into the Ring of Power. What happens when we pour ourselves into a creature and not the Creator? Then the possession, the c…

Contraception - A Hard Pill to Swallow, Interview with Nancy Valko

Nancy Valko, RN, is a contributing editor for Voices and long-time advocate of patients with disabilities, She writes the regular "Bioethics Watch" column for Voices. A Registered Nurse since 1969, she is president of Missouri Nurses for Life, a spokesman for the National Association of Pro-life Nurses, a board member of Missouri Right to Life, and past co-chair of the Saint Louis Archdiocesan Pro-Life Committee.

Our conversation on the Heart of Things Radio show last night centered on the ramifications of a "contraceptive mentality" - the outlook that fertility and pregnancy are first and foremost seen as a disease or obstacle to a woman's freedom and beauty. Nancy shared her personal stories and life experiences in a powerful way. Her sincerity and pursuit of the truth about the pill led her to become a voice for others, unpacking the lies so often told about the side effects of contraception. Nancy's writing can be found here at the website Women for Fait…

New Year's Resolution #3 - Get Dirty

When I was in college, they called me "Nature Boy." I had an adverse reaction to pavement. I would never walk on the sidewalks. This is true.

It wasn't exactly a conscious endeavor on my part. I just found myself off the beaten path (well, pavement) en route to another building in the middle of the day, or heading towards chapel as the sun was tipping over and spilling its liquid light over the horizon. Then a guy would yell out, "Hey Thoreau! See any slate colored juncos lately! Ha hah!" ... and stuff like that. I'd just smile and keep on.... meandering.

Just yesterday, I was contemplating the sad fact that I don't wander as aimlessly as I used to. I travel from Point A to Point B.... POW! Mission accomplished. I'm running over concrete towards a linoleum floor, then back to the asphalt for the ride home. At the illustrious private boys school where I teach, the students are not allowed to walk on the grass because, get this, thi…

NFP vs. Contraception Commercials

Here's a brilliant set of videos directed, written, acted, and edited by Catholic seminarians at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska. They're short commercials in the now famous Mac vs PC style, comparing NFP and Contraception. Just brilliant! I just wish they would upgrade the film and voice quality (it's a bit rough, but hey, they're seminarians without a lot of funding). These should be broadcast EVERYWHERE!

New Year's Resolution #2 - No False Gods

Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them.
- Wisdom 13:3

We're moving through Exodus in my biblical studies class (yes, I like to move slowly through the beginning of the Bible, everything happens in Genesis and Exodus anyway. The rest of the Old Testament right up to Malachi is just a vicious circle... until Jesus breaks in!).

So... presently we're looking at the idolatrous practices of Egypt, and Israel's addiction to false gods too. After all, it was the very air they breathed for 400 years, and the moment they are out of Egypt and left alone for a few weeks, they go and build a Golden Calf (aka, a tribute to the Egyptian cult of Apis, which is basically an obsession over sex, power, and wealth for the ancients). Israel falls right back into Egypt!

I like to tell my students how refreshing it is, how ennobling, that we can all look back and laugh…

Faith, Films, and the Culture of Life - Interview with Tim Drake

My guest on tonight's radio show was Tim Drake, Senior writer with the National Catholic Register and Faith and Family Magazine. He's also an award-winning journalist and author, having published more than 600 articles in publications such as the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Faith and Family Magazine, Catholic World Report,, Columbia Magazine, Gilbert! Magazine, This Rock Magazine, and many others.

Our conversation centered on the movies (a personal favorite of topics for me!) and the seemingly pro-life message in some recent works of the silver screen.

Here's the family friendly alternative to NETFLIX that we discussed:

Faith and Family

And the Vatican's list of the Best Films to date (and growing!)

ClearPlay DVD Player is the resource for families that will "clean up" those movies for family friendly viewing.

New Year's Resolution #1

Well, we never made it to the Outback Steakhouse this past Wednesday. It was Dad's birthday and we left the choice up to him. He chose simplicity; a night at Casa Donaghy with catered food from Paul Revere's (the local pizza place that Rebecca and I do in fact "revere." Man those Greek fries!).

But alas, the other night we were determined to hit the hallowed halls of Aussie Steakdom ('cause that gift card is burning a hole in our collective wallet!). So there we were, all gussied up and proper: and the sheila (that's Aussie for colleen, which is Irish for young girl) that took our name said, in her finest non-Aussie accent "It's a 2 hour wait."

Yup. 2 hours...

Consisting of 60 minutes each, by the way, for a grand total of 120 minutes.

Now you may be thinking, dear reader, that anyone in their right mind would 86 the place for a reasonable alternative (to which I reply, "Have you not tasted the Outback Special?"). But several factors like …

For Mary and for Us

On a darkened night 12 years ago, I first heard the Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, performed below by the Smoky Hill High School Symphonic and Chamber Choirs. When I first heard it performed, it was sung by the St. Charles Schola, a well trained group of seminarians who knew their Latin well! I had just wrapped up two years of studying the mother tongue myself, so it was with a deep sense of awe that I sat in my pew, after taking the Son of God into my heart in the Eucharist, and took in also the words of the Angelus sung in Franz Biebl's piece.

I was completely blown away that night. It was one of those wow moments that change your life, add a layer of gravitas, lift you up to a new plateau, shift the paradigm, and adjust the focus, so that suddenly what you thought you clearly knew about God and Life and Yourself was blown to bits and reconstituted before your very eyes; clarified and reconfigured, better than you imagined it ever was.

The most stirring moment of the song (captured mor…

Have Fun with This One... and Happy New Year!!