Showing posts from December, 2009

The Christmas House... Reloaded

The "CHRISTMAS HOUSE" is an incredible experience. Nestled on a dark street in a quiet little town called Washingtonville, NY, it is Christmas on steroids. And that's just the outside of the house... Every room inside is loaded to the gills with Christmas doodads and whatzits. Classic stuff too; trains, little villages, a hall of thematic trees like the Irish Tree, the Sports Tree, the Penguin Tree, and... the Creepy Singing Tree Which Has Lips and Big Eyes (my personal favorite. I'm not going to explain it to you. Just go! You'll find it downstairs and to the right. Or should I say, it will find you!) Each year, before heading home from NY, my wife, myself, and a bunch of the family make a pilgrimage to this mecca of music and lights. It's open from December 20 to the 30th, from 7pm to 9pm. The CHRISTMAS HOUSE: It's mind-boggling, it's sensory overload! The Palmer family will greet you, dressed all in North Pole attire. And donations are gratefully…

Open Up and Say AWE - from the CS&T column "Catholic Currents"

One of my favorite words is... sehnsucht. I realize you probably weren't expecting that one, and you may have trouble even figuring out how to pronounce it. My apologies. Sehnsucht is a German word that captures (and at the same time can not actually capture) that mysterious longing in the human heart for Something More. In a sense, it's a uniquely human word. It describes the human condition. It names us and claims us as the special ones in the galaxy; the ones whose “hearts are restless until they rest in"... well, let's get to that answer in a moment. All of us at some point or another have experienced sehnsucht. Many of us feel it intensely at this time of year. It glimmers in the anticipation of Christmas and it can also elude us as Christmas slips away again. It is the proverbial wind in the hand, moving past us and through us but never remaining too long within us. Sehnsucht is like feeling nostalgia for something you actually never had in the first place, but…

Merry Christmas to All!

We were so proud of our little drummer boy, who sat for this homemade photo shoot (though truth be told it lasted about 36 seconds.) It's amazing what a hand towel, bathrobe, old belt and bed sheet can do in a fix! Wishing you all a truly blessed and faith-filled season of Light. Thanks for following the Blog! The way to begin healing the wounds of the world is to treasure the Infant Christ in us; to be not the castle but the cradle of Christ; and, in rocking that cradle to the rhythm of love, to swing the whole world back into the beat of the Music of Eternal Life. - Caryll Houselander

Night Vision

(In the spirit of "going green" this Christmas, parts of this reflection have been constructed from recycled material) What a bizarre time this is; the Christmas season. Never is there a period of such polar opposites as there are at this time of year. All around us we are bombarded with the imperative to consume, collect, grab, and grasp. There are lines of impatient, honking, beeping, cranky souls snaking through the shops and malls all around us. Incredible pressure is laid on people to find this or that gift for this or that niece or nephew, cousin or coworker. It can bring out the absolute worst in people (and let me add, the best). THE WORST: I watched a woman in her 50s sitting in her car with her elderly mother curse out a car behind her for honking at her... one honk. And it was one of those friendly little honks too. Grandma just kinda slid deeper into her seat, clutching her purse. When Sunday comes, we roll off to Church and hear just the opposite. "It is be…

Our Lady of Guadalupe

For an amazing website all about Our Lady of Guadalupe, click here.

The Boy Wonder Chronicles - First Steps!!

Juan Diego, The Walkin' Man

Yes, the strains of James Taylor’s famous tune “Walkin’ Man” came to me as I was reading about our “saint du jour” today, and you’ll soon see why. Juan Diego was born in 1474 in what today is a part of Mexico City, Mexico. He lived a simple life as a weaver, farmer, and worker. He was baptized at the age of 50 by a Franciscan missionary, and so began a faithful “walk” with God each day…15 miles to be exact! Every day, and mind you he was in his fifties at this point, Juan would walk to Mass. 15 miles! He is more famous for the amazing miracles he witnessed at the hands of Heaven; Our Lady appearing to him, the roses the bishop asked for blooming in winter, and the magic of the tilma, a stunning work of art painted by Heaven itself on his burlap clothing (which still exists today, defying all scientific comprehension and study). We’ll hear more on that one this weekend - The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. But in all this, it was still his walk that struck me. The dedication, the p…

Grace is Everywhere

Hello All, We've shared this invitation/request with a few friends and family already, but we are "sending" it out officially now. Last year, we lost our precious baby daughter Grace Elizabeth. She was born on January 4 and died the same day, just 10 hours later. The full story of our day with Grace is linked here - Needless to say, those 10 hours, and the 9 months she lived with us in the womb will never be forgotten. To celebrate her short life on earth, and especially her peace and joy now in Heaven, we want to invite you to "seek grace" with us in the signs all around us... literally. If there was anything that Grace taught us (and there was so much) it was that most blessings in life are unseen, or easily missed, passed by, or even unlooked for. So now, let's look! If at any time you see a "Grace" sign, ie. Grace's Nails, Grace's Deli, Grace's Chapel, please take y…


Have you ever been captivated by a word, a phrase, a song? Has it drawn you in? Do you return to those words, that music, again and again? I have books that are weathered, crammed with bookmarks and holy cards, pages dripping with the ink of my notes, and the faded glow of a highlighter. I have songs that if they were still in cassette form, would sound like they were singing underwater! Like a thirsty man, I return to the sweet ambrosia of Jesus, John Paul II, John Mellancamp, Thoreau, Kreeft, Sheen, Morrison, Einstein and others again and again. There are thoughts and ideas, insights and inspirations that do not age. There is Truth and Beauty in our midst, wrapped in immortality as in a robe, shielded from our mortal weakness. They are here to warm us in a post-modern age that has too often stripped life of its transcendent truth and meaning. Today’s saint was one who was so clothed. Ambrose was ambrosia to those around him. He hailed from the 4th century, a bishop and teacher, an…

Irish Soul - Liam Clancy and the Passing of an Age

It's with a sad and heavy heart that we see the passing of the Irish troubadour Liam Clancy, last of the Clancy Brothers, who died this past Friday at the age of 74. Liam, with his brothers and Tommy Makem, lifted Ireland's heart high in the folk music revival of the last century, and brought much of Ireland's soul to America. This music fed me for many's the year, and many's the meandering through green fields and woods. Their music hits the heart, and leads the mind into open spaces and forgotten things. The things that shaped a people, and continue to shape them. In our day of glitzy pop music, pyrotechnics, and shock and awe lyrics, the Clancy Brothers are a refreshing blast of salty air from the Irish Sea. Enjoy this classic tune "Red is the Rose" and a real gem; the Brothers being interviewed on a Scottish program, speaking on their art of folk music and the need for the genre now more than ever.

This Week's Mission Moment - December 7

When we leave the holy banquet of Communion, we are as happy as the wise men would have been if they could have carried away the Infant Jesus. St. John Vianney