Showing posts from August, 2008

10,000 Years

When we've been here ten thousand years Bright shining as the sun. We've no less days to sing God's praise Than when we've first begun.- Amazing GraceWhen I was in college seminary, our rector gave a homily that I've never forgotten. Well, at least the line I'll quote today. I remember it so well because I thought it was goofy when I first heard it. Really goofy. And I think he said the line three times. We all thought it was goofy, and had a good laugh afterwards (wasn't that very Christian of us?), thinking it was one of those "how not to preach" moments to keep in mind, should we be called all the way to ordination. But now, years later, having left those studies and discerned this beautiful vocation to marriage, having experienced so many joys and sorrows already that Life has spilled out before us, watching five fast years unfold like delicate wrapping paper from each "present" moment, the phrase from that homily has come back …

Augustine's Restless Heart

What better way to celebrate this great feast of St. Augustine, than to let him speak for himself. This excerpt from his classic book "Confessions" is by far my favorite of his, and one of my favorite writings from all of the saints. Learn more about his amazing story at American Catholic's link here. "Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace. "…

Nancy Pelosi is Misrepresentin'

I don't often get political in this blog for two reasons; 1. I don't follow politics, and 2. When I do, it seems like endless repetition without any fruition (like Ecclesiastes). But yesterday, a friend pointed out to me a little video clip of Nancy Pelosi, first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, giving her answer to the question "When does life begin?" (Please take 3 minutes and 23 seconds to view the video clip above). In watching this clip, I was stunned at the ignorance displayed and at the completely distorted picture of Catholic theology she offered. I actually laughed out loud once, but not a happy laugh. I don't want to attack this woman, or belittle, or throw sarcastic remarks around like little daggers. She is a daughter of the Father and loved deeply by Jesus. I just need to say that this is NOT what the Catholic Church teaches.... at all..... ever, never, past, present, future. Nancy, before this interview, you should have skimmed thr…

The Catholic Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien

"Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny. "- Pope John Paul II I had a wonderful conversation last week with Generation Life speaker Matt Chominiski on the Catholic vision of J.R.R. Tolkien. We blazed a trail with the characters of the Fellowship through some of the inspiring themes that made this novel a worldwide phenomenon, and a truly Catholic classic: Providence, friendship, love, loyalty, sacrifice, creation, stewardship, a touch of Chesterton's Distributism, virtue and vice, and the unfailing power of hope. For the podcast, visit iTunes and search the store for "The Heart of Things or Bill Donaghy" or just click here and listen right from the podcast website (the show is an hour long and may take some time to download). WEB ARTICLES AND ESSAYS: BOOKS on TOLKIEN: J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth, by Bradley J.…

Survey Says....

Yesterday's gospel reading from Matthew 16 contained one of my favorite dialogues in all of the New Testament. For me, it's like one of those "grasshopper" moments from Kung Fu. A great mystery is encountered, and questions like fingers fumble their way through the mind's knot. Possible answers start to unravel and shimmer on the surface of the soul, each inviting one to take hold of them. But which train of thought carries the precious cargo of the Truth? THE QUESTION: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Jesus, the Master Teacher, leads them into the Mystery. He doesn't blast a trumpet, pass out literature, get a lush campaign going to get everybody to follow Him. He just lives... exists... each day, preaching and teaching and walking and breathing, being Who He Is in utter simplicity. And those miracles aren't like flashy fireworks you know. Read the gospels. They fall from His fingertips so nonchalantly. No airs, just His actions. Wasn'…

"Embracing" Suffering?

I watch the movie The Passion of the Christabout six times a year; five times with the five sections of freshmen I teach at Malvern Prep, and usually once at home with Rebecca during Holy Week. Needless to say, the powerful images, encounters, music, and ancient languages in this film are deeply ingrained in me the way few things are. One of those images occurs as Jesus is pushed by the people outside of the walls of Jerusalem (and this image alone speaks volumes) and encounters his cross for the first time. One of other condemned criminals watches the Christ kneel and take hold of this tool of torture and press his face against it, almost lovingly. "Fool! Look how he embraces his cross!" I've been thinking about that line these days, now two weeks into our own way of the cross. When I was a kid, fresh from my own "awakening" to the reality of God and the call to a relationship with Him, I used to be perplexed by the whole "embrace your cross" ment…

Fireproof Movie

There is a new film called Fireproof coming out next month that brings a very positive message to marriage and family, and particularly to helping marriages that are failing. On the homepage of the website is a powerful video from the Christian band Casting Crowns (I thought I'd plug it in here). It holds a sobering message and one we all need to hear.... true love takes discipline, hard work, and an unfailing devotion to the beauty and truth of the other. Husbands, let's make this advice of St. John Chrysostom's to young husbands as our own! I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us.... I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you. - CCC 2365

What Amazes You?

So we closed off our vacation in NY last week with Holy Mass and the traditional Byrons Family Blowout Breakfast at Benny's Mexican-American Diner (you can have salsa withpancakes). I love Byrons Family Blowout Breakfasts (hereafter named BFBBs). Basically, they involve the peaceful takeover of small eateries by the Byrons boys, girls, babies, big and tall uncles and wonderfully affirmative aunts.... and Grandma and Grandpa B. You need (and we often exceed) at least a dozen souls for an official BFBB. Tables are pieced together like Tetris blocks, wait staff quail, menus get flipped and decorated with classy drawings, and the cooks run out of eggs real quick. This Sunday, Taylor Man (my 13 year old nephew with a rapier wit) was perusing the comics section in between his pancakes and Pepsi when I noticed the "Zits" column. I took it home with me and here it is above, thanks to the power of our HP scanner. If you click on the image it will become muy grande (which is Ben…

Where Do They Stand (or Fall)?

These are two short clips of Senators Obama and McCain, each answering the very simple and direct question "At what point is a baby entitled human rights?" One answer lasts 1 minute and 25 seconds, the other 41 seconds (much of which consists of applause). For all of their individual weaknesses, on this point more than any other we need strength. If life is not reverenced, what are we living for? When the womb is no longer sacred, the world suffers.

All Shall Be Well

Today, Catholics throughout the world celebrate a feast and sing a
hymn of praise for the gift and beauty of the human body. This is a
feast of hope in the resurrection of the body, and our eyes are gazing
in wonder at the beauty of a human body: the Ark of the Covenant, the
New Eve, the Mother of Mankind, the Woman clothed with the Son. Mary.We revel in the beauty of her body, not as the world does, with a
beauty only skin deep; we see the big picture, not parts but the
whole. Like a crystal that shines throughout, it's the body "capax
Dei" - capable of the Divine. The body as a temple, God's dwelling
place, open to Grace, now glorified and divinized!Mary is taken up into glory today. And why should this seem so
unlikely, this mystery that seems not to appear in the Bible? Isn't it
in fact the Song that suffuses the entire Bible? This song is the
original music, the song of life, the Song of Songs, and the score
that sin tore apart and twisted. But w…

Covered in Grace

AN UPDATE: We've prayed about sharing so much of a very private matter in such a public forum. Rebecca and I have come to an awareness, though, that this is part of the mission of being "Snowflakes" parents (see previous post, and visit I believe that to get to the "heart of things" - of God and Life and everything - you have to take a path that leads to a kind of vulnerability; an openness that is painful but purifying too. The prayers and thoughts and stories of others who have heard our story has been so comforting and so beautiful, and we feel covered in Grace. In this open wound of suffering, these prayers are a powerful balm. So thank you to anyone who has whispered a simple "please God" on our behalf. This Wednesday's level two ultrasound confirmed the worst for the life of our little one, now over 17 weeks in the womb. There are three abnormalities, but the one that is life threatening is called "acran…

A Sorrowful Mystery

Rebecca and I believe babies are a gift and meant to be the fruit of a covenant of love. They come tumbling into the world and into a couple's lives reckless, utterly dependent, and babbling that inarticulate speech of the heart that only the Spirit can understand. A baby pulls two people in love into a deeper love, a love, they say, that seems scandalously deeper than even the love they have for each other. "Three is the magic number" - reflecting the Life and Love that is God. I think this is how God tries to make us holy, and whole, and unselfish by allowing us to cooperate with Love in making another self. There we get a taste of His Fatherly care. Rebecca and I know this, believe this, and since our wedding day five years ago this August, we've thirsted for this new life. A life wherein the word of our love becomes flesh. But the sorrowful mystery in our life's rosary is that we cannot have our own biological children. We knew babies were gifts nev…

Howard Jones and the Meaning of Life

Howard Jones. This name, depending on how "old" you are, may have stirred up images unbidden to your mind, images from a faraway past; images of parachute pants, breakdancing, big hair (exhibit A), scenes from random movies involving, perhaps, John Cusack or Sean Astin from Goonies. Ah yes, the 80's... I grew up in the 80's and was shaped by the soundtracks of John Williams, the movies of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and yes, the lyrics from songs like Pink Houses, Cherry Bomb, and artists like Bruce Springsteen, Journey, and Mr. Howard Jones. The 80's culture wasn't all squealing guitars and bad hair you know (except maybe Flock of Seagulls... Now that was some bad hair). As in every time and place, there were human beings with the same longings and desires of the heart for love and beauty and freedom that there are today. As I re-listen to the songs I used to love, I realize that there were some profound truths whispering through the big honkin'…

Hugging the Universe

I was reading the latest edition of Islands Magazine the other day (which we get for FREE for some strange reason which I don't object to at all because of the beautiful pics), and I came across a curious story. It was about a young woman who resides on one of the "10 Best Islands to Live On."

Meet Kate:She grew up in Georgia, graduated from college in 1991, and then spent four years traveling the globe, working in hospitality and tourism in the USA, Europe and Australia. "I have never really had any 'plans,' so life just seems to happen around me," says the 38-year-old. "I just grab ahold occasionally."

The article continues: But it seems Kangaroo Island grabbed ahold of Kate during her first visit in 1994. "I could have just kept moving, but I heard what my mind and body were telling me, and it was, 'Stay!' " says Kate. The following year, she moved to the island full time.... Overall, Kate's philosophy is to go with …

Three is the Magic Number...

Who knew back in grammar school, while munching down on me Lucky Charms cereal, waiting to make that hike into Alexander Denbo Elementary School (I was a "walker" not a bus kid), that there was a deep theological mystery being piped through the TV on that awesome cartoon between the cartoons - "Schoolhouse Rock"? I don't know who wrote this song, but it gave me a glimmer of the truth about God and ourselves.... in a Saturday morning cartoon! Just look at these lyrics... Three is a magic number,Yes it is, it's a magic number.Somewhere in the ancient, mystic TrinityYou get three as a magic number. The past and the present and the future.Faith and Hope and Charity,The heart and the brain and the bodyGive you three as a magic number.... A man and a woman had a little baby, Yes, they did. They had three in the family, And that's a magic number. ________________________________ So often we hear people say "Things happen in threes." Perhaps i…