Friday, July 31, 2009

Rain Rain Rain

Just close your eyes and listen to the first minute or so of this video and you'll swear you're in a summer thunderstorm. I love it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Small Wonders

I love taking pictures. I'm crazy about taking pictures. So I finally decided to get meself a Flickr account and share my little vantage point of this splendid reality with the world at large (you can check it out here). I've named the account "Small Wonders" because I think that pretty much sums up the little gems that surround us every day.
We must open our eyes to admire God, who hides and at the same time reveals himself in things, and introduces us into places of mystery... In reality, for those who know how to read in depth, each thing, each event brings a message that, in the final analysis, leads to God.
- Pope John Paul II
With the wonder of technology and the camera feature on so many of our cell phones today, we can all have the chance to capture the small wonders around us... even this close up of my neighbor's cucumber plant! So keep your eyes peeled and your heart ready for a game of Divine "Hide and Seek" with the Lord. He loves it when we take time to read His Love Letters, big and small.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Getting a Haircut vs Going to the Dentist

One of the most memorable scenes from the movie Always is the scene in which "Hap" is giving Richard Dreyfuss a haircut in the middle of the woods after he dies in a terrible plane crash (see video below).
Why such a random juxtaposition of events? What's a haircut have to do with the peace and rest and complete gift of the afterlife? If you're asking that question, clearly you've never had a good haircut. Clearly, you've never been to Troncelliti's, the last bastion for a good manly haircut in America.
Getting a manly haircut is a wonderful thing. I was reflecting on it yesterday as I sat in pensive apprehension in a similar sort of "chair" waiting for my dental exam (first one in over 3 years. Shame on me.) Yes, both involve sitting and being receptive, and letting something "be done unto you." Great opportunities for grace and reflection. But a haircut is something done for you. A dental exam is something done on you; heck IN you. The first is a gift, the second is an assault.
You see friends, a good manly haircut is like getting a massage for the soul; the gentle hum of the clippers, the metallic twittering of the scissors... Ah! in the right hands it's a symphonic experience! A dental exam, conversely, is akin to being abducted by aliens, then poked and prodded with yes, equally sharp metallic instruments, but this time they're.... in your mouth.
While getting a manly haircut, you might hear things like:
1. oldies playing in the background (lots of Sinatra and Glen Miller if you're at Troncelliti's), 2. debates over who had more RBI's in the 1957 World Series, or 3. silence.... which is my favorite.
A good manly barber knows you're not there for chit chat. You just want to float away to Happy Land on the scent of that talcum powder and the smell of that amber liquid they splash on your neck. You just want to BE.
While in the dentist's chair, you might hear things like:
1. drills, 2. drilling sounds, and 3. drills. Plus there are strings of words that make absolutely NO SENSE. In my visits to the dentist I have tried my darndest (?) to figure out their alien tongue, but have failed miserably.
Can someone translate this gibberish?
"1..2 2...3... cloobickle. 4...1 1...2 2.... clubickle... 5....1 2...cloobickle"
Now you're asking, where is this going? What deep spiritual insight can be gleaned from my reading this post today? The answer is: I don't know. But I do know this! On Thursday I go under the "knife" for a root canal. YIPPEE!! I'm really excited about it. I'm going to offer if up in union with Christ's sufferings and release hundreds of souls from Purgatory. And maybe I'll bring my iPhone and record what the "dentist" says as I slip into Numby Land. Can it be rendered in human speech? Is there an app for that? We shall see. In the meantime, I'm going to have some CHOCOLATE!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When Passion Meets Prayer

Did a Magdalene, a Paul, a Constantine, an Augustine become mountains of ice after their conversion? Quite the contrary. We should never have had these prodigies of conversion and marvelous holiness if they had not changed the flames of human passion into volcanoes of immense love of God.
- St. Frances Cabrini

Friday, July 17, 2009

How Babies Can Save the Human Race

First off, let's all agree that the world is presently screwed up. For proof, click here. We're too busy, too angry, too focused on work, too ignorant towards each other, too selfish, too lazy, etc... (or is it just me?)
Well, don't despair! I've discovered in the past 10 months that salvation is near at hand.
Oddly enough, you may have heard just the opposite. Some propose that babies eat up the planet's resources, that there is a "population crisis", and that we should all feel very, very guilty and irresponsible for not routinely contracepting and for ever considering having more than 1.5 children. Because aside from being stinky, babies leave a "carbon footprint" everywhere they go. As to the "population crisis" click here and check out Caritas in Veritate, section 44 to top it off.
But I believe the secret to building a happy, vibrant, life-affirming, love-soaked Civilization lies in a healthy abundance of those squishy Little People who are utterly dependent on us Big People. Here are Ten Reasons Why Babies Will Save the Human Race (feel free to add more reasons through the comment link below):
1. Babies make people talk to each other in parks, who normally might not give each other the time of day. Talking to people builds friendships, friendships build communities, communities build parks. Babies hang out in parks (and around and around we go!)
2. Babies learn EVERYTHING from their parents, by watching, listening, studying, and looking up at Mommy and Daddy.... and so should we.
3. Babies are the greatest "man-made" creations in the universe; they shall grow up and outlive the stars, each in their own way altering the course of human history, each absolutely unique and unrepeatable. How cool is that?
4. Babies are the fruit of the sexual union between a man and a woman. We need to be reminded that that's how it works.
5. Babies are aware of everything and everything amazes them: lights, noise, colors, tinfoil, keys. We could all stand to be amazed again by the ordinary things around us.
6. Babies smell really good.
7. Babies conversely can smell really BAD. They need us to clean up their "poopy." A constant reminder that we have our own "poopy" to clean up.
8. Babies are completely innocent, regardless of the way they were conceived, and have no guile, no sarcasm, no agendas. They are pure as the driven snow, fresh as a sea breeze, vulnerable as a flower. We need more purity, sea breezes, and flowers in this world.
9. Babies need us and we all need to feel needed.
10. Babies see the world as their playground, a wonderful gift made just for them. And so should we.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Radio Interview on the Catholic Connection

I'll be interviewed tomorrow morning on Teresa Tomeo's radio show "The Catholic Connection" We'll be discussing Pope Benedict's new encyclical Caritas in Veritate. You can listen live at 9:30am ET (Friday) here. Here are more details!
Show: Catholic Connection
Host: Teresa Tomeo Outlet: Ave Maria, EWTN Affiliates, Sirius/XM Date: Friday, July 17, 2009 Time: 9:30am ET Length: 30 minutes Guest: Bill Donaghy

Prayers for Little Mary's Family

For those who have followed the story of little Mary Coffey, please know that she went home to God yesterday morning. Having lost our daughter Grace this past January, their story has been especially close to our hearts. Grace lived just 10 hours, little Mary was nearly three years old, and now these precious ones will always be remembered... always! The cross of their pain and suffering has been planted deep in our hearts, and has already touched so many! Now Grace and Mary both dance in Heaven's Song; as Catholics we believe in this reality! But the notes to that Song can sometimes seem very distant. May God comfort the Coffey's now, and all who have lost a little one, with the healing balm of His peaceful Presence. 
My friend Tony has captured a beautiful memory of seeing Mary Coffey the day before yesterday  and I wanted to share it with you below. His blog is here - The Joyful Faith
WEDNESDAY, JULY 15, 2009 Mary Coppa Coffey
Our great friends Jim and Felicia lost their beautiful and wonderful daughter this morning. We are so sad to lose this amazing treasure, but as Jim said to me this morning, they are at peace knowing that they have a Saint in heaven watching over them forever. they have all ready fullfilled their role as parents, they raised a Saint, they brought to the world a saint, and now she will be spending her time in heaven doing good on earth for her family and for others. I wanted to relate a story about Mary, I went and saw her yesterday, and it was really a very meaningful experience for me. Here was a little child who just underwent heart-surgery, but she was performing heart surgery on me, literally, staring at her was ripping my heart open. In the 20 minutes I was with her, I was beginning to understand something of beauty, and how much the world needs Mary. I thought to myself many times, wow, she is so beautiful, it taught me an amazing lesson, to look past the surface and look right to the heart, look right to the soul. Her grandpop said something to me that also struck me, without souls like Mary, the world would fall apart," Its good for our human hearts to burst when we see such beauty.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Prayers for Little Mary

Friends of ours are going through a real Way of Sorrows right now, and they continue to plead for prayers from the larger Church for their baby girl. You can learn more about little Mary's story here but for now, this is the latest from the Coffey's:

"Today was a difficult day. Now is the time, everyone please, to form one voice in pleading to God for Mary's healing. Her surgeon told us today that he does not expect Mary to recover and it would be a miracle if she did. His words were kind, but the facts remain. Despite those facts, there is great cause for hope. God is good all the time. The doctors said she needs a miracle.. well.. there is no doubt that if Mary lives it will be all to the glory of God. So please pray hard, pray now, offer up whatever you can for Mary's healing, and we will leave the rest to God in His infinite mercy...."

You can find special prayers at the website just for this intention, and more on Mary's condition. This faith-filled family has been a powerful example to so many. Please remember them in your prayers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Daddy's Here.... Mommy's Here!

Our son is teething, which is the adult equivalent of having your skeleton slowly pulled to the outside of your body over a period of months. Needless to say, I'm glad I have no recollection of this happening to me. Perhaps this is why most of our first memories only go back to say, our 4th or 5th year of life.
So teething makes for some looong nights for all of us, especially mommy, who continues to amaze me with her lightning fast tenderness and penchant for turning anything into a soothing melody. We dole out lots of whispered songs and stories, walks down the hall and back again, and heartfelt assurances that "Mommy's here" and "Daddy's here." What else can we say?
We could try something like: "Listen little one, you're getting your teeth. You're going to love them! They will help you chew up your food. You'll be able to eat lots of new things with your teeth, things you couldn't eat before. Your teeth will help you talk to mommy and daddy and ask them all sorts of things because your teeth will work with your tongue to form words. And your teeth will bring a whole new gift to the world; your smile! It will be a way to let others know you are happy to see them or that something gives you joy. Teeth are a great gift! Trust me... it's going to be OK.... Daddy's here with you!"
And he would respond with something like: "AAAAAAAGHAHGHHGRR?#@!?WW"
I think we Big People can learn a little something about suffering from all of this pain our little ones go through. After all, I'm discovering that God the Father has written countless lessons for me right in the flesh and blood book of my family life.
"Everything speaks to me."
Don't we cry too in our moments of "spiritual" teething? We cry our, "God, why did such and such have to happen? Why didn't You stop this or that from happening? Why is there evil in the world? Why do the innocent suffer? And what is this painful longing and this aching thirst in me that I can never seem to quench in this world?"
The Father could try saying something like: "Listen little ones, you're getting your heart. You're going to love it! It will help you chew up the food of your experiences. You'll be able to taste lots of new things with your heart, things you couldn't swallow before. Your heart will help you talk to Daddy and Mommy and ask them all sorts of things because your heart will work with your mind to form words. And your heart will bring a whole new gift to the world; your spirit! It will be a way to let others know you are happy to see them or that something gives you joy. The heart is a great gift! Trust me... it's going to be OK.... Daddy's here with you!"
How do we respond to a Word like that?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rebecca Sings

Rebecca has such a gift for song - both in writing and in singing. I'm privileged to hear it every day, in the snippets and snatches of tunes she sings to our little boy. Now I finally caught her live at a coffee house we recently attended! The video was a little choppy, so I have tossed in a bunch of our pictures to set a nice "celtic mood" So.... here she sings! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Listen to Papa

"In fact, all the world came to Joseph to obtain rations of grain, for famine had gripped the whole world." - Genesis 41 Pope Benedict's new encyclical letter, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth), which was recently released, the G8 Summit, and the Old Testament story of Joseph have formed a triple play that has me dazzled by God's Providence. Popes often put forth encyclical or "circular" letters to the world, addressed most often to the faithful in the Church, and to "all men and women of good will." Essentially, they are like snapshots of the current state of affairs, seen through the eyes of Mother Church, intended to advise, instruct, comfort, and challenge Her kids to stay on the right path as we make our way through the world. The real gift of these letters is that they are soaked in God's Word (revelation, faith) and in the human experience (the social sciences, reason). The ink flows from the Church's unprecedented 2000 year old memory and experience. These letters are like pure gold. But, I must say, this gold lies too often in a treasure chest at the bottom of the sea of history, just waiting to be discovered. In light of the economic crisis recently gripping the world, we've all been given a healthy reminder of the fragility and transitory taste of earthly goods. Mother Teresa once put forth the idea that America, big, bold, and bright America, might in fact be an impoverished nation. Not of course in the material sense, but spiritually. We've lost our greatest treasure: each other. The beauty and dignity of the human person! "Man is not a lost atom in a random universe: he is God's creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom he has always loved." - Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI At the recent Group of Eight meeting, the leaders of the world's most industrialized nations gathered in Italy, to consider the future, to make decisions of incredible magnitude that will ultimately affect all of humanity. I pray that our leaders will pay heed to the words just penned by Papa Benedict. He wrote them with the greatest care and tenderness, with eyes that have carefully and prayerfully watched God's children fumble and falter through many recent sorrows and sufferings (many of which have fallen on us because of our own greed and short-sightedness). Finally, the relevance of the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. The world is hungry, and the world is seeking nourishment. Joseph has been put in charge of the world's grain. Joseph Ratzinger has been appointed the Chief Steward of God's Church on earth. Pope Benedict is offering us all food that will truly fill us, if we but have the humility to come to the Church and ask for this bread. Will the world's leaders read his words? I pray they do, for the charity and truth they reveal is exactly what we need in this time of great famine. "God is the guarantor of man's true development, inasmuch as, having created him in his image, he also establishes the transcendent dignity of men and women and feeds their innate yearning to "be more"." - Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pope's New Encyclical - Caritas in Veritate

Esteemed Catholic Nerds, The moment has come; our "sleeping bags on the cyber-sidewalk outside the Vatican at 4am moment" is over! Today the Pope released his 3rd Encyclical!! Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth) ... WOOT! WOOT! Benedict XVI has said "this document... intends to focus on some aspects of the integral developments of our time, in the light of love in truth."
"Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite."
"Charity in truth places man before the astonishing experience of gift. Gratuitousness is present in our lives in many different forms, which often go unrecognized because of a purely consumerist and utilitarian view of life. The human being is made for gift, which expresses and makes present his transcendent dimension."
- Pope Benedict XVI
The USCCB has a nice summary of CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING to give us some foundation on its blog here.
Peace and Incense, Bill

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Happy Dependence Day!

I think "independence" is overrated. Seriously. So we can vote, drive, use ATMs, and pick up an assortment of wine coolers at the Quickie Mart without question. Big deal! This independence thing has gotten a lot of us grownups into heaps of trouble, by the way.

I think we independent adults could learn a lot from the little ones here. We have a 10 month old baby boy, and he is radically dependent on us, his parents. He has no worries. No car payments. No mortgage. No meetings, no consequences (until the age of reason of course), and no one cares if he toots in public. In fact, we all think it's cute. Everything is cute. He is driven, coddled, cared for 24/7. We carry him, change him, feed him, and all he has to do is LET US DO THIS FOR HIM. In other words, be dependent on us.... Let us love him... Receive the gifts of his father and mother and just wallow in their superfluous care. Is anybody thinking what I'm thinking?

This radical "dependence" is the way to go! So I hereby declare this Sunday, the 5th of July.... Dependence Day! Dependence on Our Father Who Art in Heaven for everything. Dependence on our Blessed Mother Mary's care, who too was and is the model of dependence on the Father. Let us let them carry, coddle, and care for us in our deepest needs this day.

Isn't this the goal of freedom anyway? It's not a gift to be squandered on ourselves, but one to be given back in trust. I love you is ultimately to say "I am lying helpless in your arms. I depend on you. Have your way with me." Paradoxically, becoming dependent on God is what "liberates" us! The more I receive from Him, the more I depend on Him, the more I can give to my wife and son and the micro-world of persons I encounter in my daily walk. So Happy Dependence Day to all! Dependence on the One from Whom all Freedom flows!

Talking to Your Little Ones About the Big Topic of Sex

A much repeated sentence we hear at our Theology of the Body retreats and courses is "I wish I heard this when I was younger!" ...