Showing posts from March, 2008

The Real Jesus

The song is by "downhere" and the video from Kelly Wicoff, who packs a powerful lesson in the images she chooses...

Tonight's Radio Show - Theology of the Body for Teens

Tonight's guest on the Heart of Things radio show is Brian Butler, co-author of the new Theology of the Body for Teens program.

From the TOB for Teens website:

A New Language for a New Generation
"Theology of the Body for Teens presents the two hottest topics on the planet - God and sex - and "marries" them through Pope John Paul II's compelling vision for love and life. Using a great mix of stories, real-life examples, activities, prayers, and references to the culture that teens understand, Theology of the Body for Teens answers the questions teens have about their own bodies, issues on sexual morality, and how they were uniquely created for greatness."

Theology of the Body for Teens answers questions such as:

• Why did God give us our sexual desires?
• What is the difference between love and lust?
• Can Christ bring healing to me if I’ve already “messed up”?
• How far is “too far”?
• How can teens remain pure in our oversexed culture?
• Is there any hope f…

He Is Risen!

Seven Stanzas at Easter by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall. It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours. The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that - pierced - died, withered, paused, and then regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose. Let us not mock God with metaphor, analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door. The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day. And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,

God Sleeps in the Womb of the Earth

Yesterday Christ died. He said "It is finished," and He gave up His spirit. The great Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Alpha and the Omega, the Morning Star was Himself extinguished by the Darkness.

So now we wait, and weep, and wonder. Has Death won? Is faith just a futile attempt to hold off the inevitable night, like a match lit for a brief moment, surrounded by impenetrable shadow, for a few seconds of illumination, until all is night? We wonder if there's more. We wait, we watch, like Mary by the tomb.

I see her sitting there, still stunned by the events of that Dark Friday, a whole cut into her heart, scraped clean. Open hands, cupped, lying on her lap, still breathing out the sweet smell of myrhh and oils from the Jewish burial custom. She stares blankly over the distance between the shade of an olive tree and the Roman guards moving about their watch, mumbling in a language she doesn't know. She is there keeping vigil, but she is not there. She is nowhere, she …

Passion Reflection #3 - Veronica's Veil

(Kindnesses small as seeds can stand as long as mountains, and be remembered until the end of an age... Such is the motion of a woman's veil, cupped in trembling hands upon the Face of the Man of Sorrows).

She stood out in a crowd.
It was the eyes above all
A stream of compassion
That flowed through the wall
Of hatred and anger
Jealousy and fear
Veronica saw Suffering
and dared to draw near.

Here the drama unfolded that has since been remembered, through time and through tales her act has engendered the same look, the same leap
Out of self, out to others,
To the small and the sorrowful, to the least of our brothers.

To ease the world's wounds is the saint's vocation.
To make a veil of the heart and the mind is our mission.
To catch tears and calm fears turns our pride to submission.
And in every small act of mercy or compassion,
His Face shines again from the servant-heart's passion.

Passion Reflection #2 - Peter and the Battle of Prayer

What a scene the Passion of the Christ begins with; tension, fear, foreboding from the first few seconds of the film.

On the night Jesus was handed over, he made his way to the Garden of Gethsemane, taking with him his three closest friends; Peter, James, and John.

How beautiful that Our Lord has these levels of intimacy; the family friends of Bethany, the Twelve, and these three men who have walked with him now from the beginning. (What are the levels of intimacy in your life? Do you have a trinity of souls to share your sorrows with? Two friends? Even one is a tremendous blessing).

But in the mystical, moist night air of the Garden of Olives, Christ is alone. His friends sleep while he burns in the fires of sorrow. Pressed down by the weight of the world's sin, he is living out in his body what the name of this place embodies; Gethsemane is a Hebrew word meaning "olive press." Jesus is fully man, and fully God, and he knows what is coming. Yet blood flows from his anxiety…

Passion Reflection #1 - From Palms to Poison

(The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson's blockbuster movie from 2004 focusing on the last 12 hours of the life of Christ, will be the source for this week's meditations. If you haven't seen the film yet.... shame on you. It's a priceless work of art).

There's a scene in the movie where Jesus first takes up his Cross, and in those first few steps, surrounded by a swirling, spitting, angry mob, we see his eyes, swollen and bloodied, looking out to see palm branches being laid at his feet. For just a few seconds, we see what he saw just five days before. Palms laid out before a King. Cheers and cloaks and green palms falling before the grey, stiff ears of the colt He's riding. Then, in a flash, we're back to the painful, poisonous glare of the crowds. Five days. Just five short days was all the difference there was between praise and utter rejection. How fickle we can be. "How torturous is the human heart, who can understand it," one of the p…

Going Up....

I'm heading north to see the family today. Dad, Sean, Amy, Ella and Seamus. I haven't been to Maine since who knows, last winter? Ah Spring Break! A week off from Malvern and two from Immaculata U! I can't wait to see the family, though I wish Rebecca were with me. She's got to work. I'll stay up north until Holy Thursday.

I decided on a train for this trip. It's cheaper than flying, and less hassle than driving, and the vistas are much better. They say you see more walking than you do in a car, and you see more in a train than you do in a plane. It's getting me ready for Maine, whose motto is "Life in the slow lane."

So the train is snaking along the coast of Connecticut right now, and I'm seeing some beautiful scenes along the way. What a treasure the sea is. Just the sight of water tranquilizes! Even the little Pakistani brothers who've been squealing and fighting since Philadelphia are wrapped in stillness right now, gazing at the big po…

Catholic Blog Awards... anyone?

One Week Left
Hello readers of my blog! I just discovered this poll, so sorry for the late notice. Please consider tossing up a vote for me if you feel this blog is worthy! Thanks! You can vote here.

From the Catholic Blog Awards site:
"This is just a quick reminder that voting will end on Monday, March 17 at Noon."

The Holy Spirit Has Ninja Moves

As I sat in the old "prayer chair" this morning and cracked open "Big Red" (the affectionate name I've given the lectionary of Mass readings Mrs. Reid bought me in memory of her husband about 11 years ago), I was struck by today's gospel in two places and rendered powerless, like when a Ninja hits two pressure points on your body and you freeze in mid-kick.

Jesus said... "You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world."

Whoa. He was talking about sin, saying it locks you down, blocks you in, closes off your vision of the starry sky and the home our hearts are always secretly longing for. Sin says it doesn't exist. But Jesus hints at the fact that this Place does in fact exist. In fact, it's where He came from. So the lens with which I see, blurred, cracked, and smudged up by my selfishness, got a little tweaking. The Holy Spirit blew the dust off of it, washed it up, first removing the lens cap, of course, that I someti…

Fr. Barron on the Lord of the Rings

I stumbled on these gems the other day. Great insights on the foundations of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, which Tolkien himself called "a profoundly religious and Catholic work." Enjoy! (for more of Fr. Barron's insights on a host of stuff, click 'dis.)

The Wound of Our Indifference

The other day a student of mine asked "What do you think would happen if Jesus came back today? Would people still follow him?" We had a little discussion about it, and this poem popped into my head. I first stumbled onto it through a tape I had of Bishop Fulton Sheen; he read it in the middle of a talk he was giving.

by G. A. Studdert-Kennedy

When Jesus came to Golgotha,
They hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet,
And made a Calvary.
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns,
Red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days,
And human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham
They simply passed Him by,
They never hurt a hair of Him,
They only let Him die;
For men have grown more tender,
And they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street,
And left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, 'Forgive them,
For they know not what they do!
And still it rained the winter rain
That drenched Him through and through;
The cro…

A World Away - Interview with Todd Smith on the New Series

My guest in this episode is Todd Smith, the new author of the Quest of Dan Clay series. He resides in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado, and works for the Archdiocese of Denver.

"Thirteen years ago, William Clay - then a mere child - disappeared from a nearby forest, never to be seen again. Only recently, his younger brother, Dan, acquired information on the forest fables from a questionable source. After analyzing fact and legend, Dan suspects that his brother may have fallen through a portal into a parallel world and is being held captive. Join Dan and three friends as they embark on an out-of-this-world journey where they are hunted by savage beasts along the footpath to a demonic castle..... Smith’s pages within are your passport to A World Away, where the unimaginable becomes reality, the unnatural becomes the norm, and the uninvited become fitting prey. " - from

To buy the book, call 1-888-361-9473 or visit…

Faults and Flames and Forgiveness

I normally start my mornings at Malvern Prep with daily Mass (and I feel it when I don't). Typically, there are about six or seven of us, sometimes just three, with Fr. Baker offering up the Perfect Prayer. With such a small number of people, it's sometimes kind of "weird" giving the responses at Mass... you know what I mean?

Once in awhile you miss your cue, or a word is off, or your mind wanders and sometimes slips up without the blanket of hundreds of other voices covering over your own.

"...and also with you." (easy)

"... thanks be to God." (piece of cake)

"May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands, for the praise (glory?) and glory (praise?) of His Name, uh, for our good and ... for the good? of all His (the) Church... I think." (dang it)

One of the awkwardly beautiful parts of this daily Mass of sometimes just four souls (and all of Heaven of course, smiling at us in our awkwardness) is the Lamb of God sequence. I was contemplat…

Is God a Big Meanie... or Something Else?

I don't know why but it seems so many of us still hold a 7th grade image of God in our minds. Maybe it comes from the misconception that Christianity is "all about rules and commandments and this is a sin and that's a sin and man, what's left... GOSH!" (insert Napoleon Dynamite accent).

Remember the movie Pleasantville that showed sin as being the great liberator, the thing that brings fun and color and woohoo! to life where the boring, rigid, dress pants wearing self-righteous only see black and white? Ugh... what a twisted movie. As twisted as sin.

Ooo there it is! Sin... that nasty three letter word is the quick answer as to why we have to struggle and work and sweat it out to get the true image of God back into our cloudy heads. Sin has distorted our vision; it tricks us into choosing lust for a pleasure over the love that we know really satisfies. It's that slippery slope that always and everywhere puts me first instead of the Other, like kids pushing arou…

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