View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

James haiku

James types without
looking at his keyboard –
girl passes window

(Inspired by an incident yesterday in which I was outside with some students for art, and James was in typing class watching.

He liked the haiku.

So did the girl.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Haiku published

Three of my haiku have been published in the just-released issue of bottle rockets magazine. I printed versions of two of these poems in earlier posts. The first was written during the conclave that elected Pope Benedict.

April morning –
cardinals in conclave
at the bird feeder

leaving the vet’s
without my daughter’s cat –
chilly wind

animal carcass
on shoulder of the road
I don’t look – I look



I’ve been thinking about Heaven lately.

No, not because death is knocking at my door.

Actually, what prompted it was reading some articles about people trying to get small businesses or their musical careers off the ground.

These folks are doing everything they can to make their businesses or careers successful – with such goals as wealth, independence, and stardom.

They work long hours.

They prioritize their activities and spending, eliminating those things they don’t really need to do and the things they don’t need to spend money on.

They study and read.

They practice, and critique themselves, and try to improve.

And they are passionate about what they do and their goals. They are driven.

That’s when I thought of heaven.

It is the ultimate goal, the ultimate success.

It is where we can have the “unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).

Yet am I passionate about getting there – and doing everything I need to do about getting there?

Am I working and studying and trying to improve?

Am I prioritizing my time and gifts?

Or am I just coasting in a comfortable Catholicism that assumes that if I don’t do anything particularly bad, I’ll be okay?

Do I act as if I really believe there is a Heaven?

I think of people who are passionate about faith, who are striving for that heavenly goal.

They are saints – recognized and unrecognized. They are passionate. They are driven.

They make the rest of us uncomfortable.

Because we sense deep inside that is what we are supposed to be like.

We should all be living our lives with passionate intensity, with our eyes on that ultimate goal.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Priest sued for saying Christ exists

VITERBO, Italy (AFP) An Italian magistrate mulled whether a 75-year-old Roman Catholic priest should stand trial for asserting the existence of Christ.

The case was brought by atheist author Luigi Cascioli, who told reporters Friday he was happy the case, first brought in 2002, had come to court.

"Christ never existed, but is an invention of the Church," said Cascioli, accusing the priest, Enrico Righi, of misleading the public by presenting Jesus as an historical figure.

Cascioli, 72, said Righi in his role as parish priest had violated article 661 of the Italian penal code which, under the term "abuse of popular gullibility", sanctions people who mislead others.

Cascioli, an agronomist by training, used the occasion to promote his book "The fable of Christ" in interviews with foreign journalists intrigued by the case.

The priest did not appear for the preliminary hearing at the court in Viterbo, but was represented by his lawyer.

Righi had asserted the historical existence of Christ in a parish newsletter.

Judge Gaetano Mautone adjourned the case after the behind-closed-doors hearing on Friday in which he heard legal argument from lawyers for both men.

Imagine if the judge rules against the priest, and it becomes a crime to affirm the existence of Christ!

Pope Benedict might run into a few problems.

Well, Italy is part of the EU, and some folks in that organization want to make it basically illegal to oppose gay marriage.

I'm reminded of the 1990s version of "The Miracle on 34th Street" and how the judge in the movie got around the question of the existence of Santa Claus.

I hope the Italian judge saw that movie.

Dad update - prayers welcome!

My father is still in the hospital.

He was taken there two weeks ago, bleeding anally. They found various infections, which they have since quelled.

But the battle left him in weakened state. He can't get out of bed on his own to get into his wheel chair, nor can he get off the chair onto the toilet on his own.

The adult home where he lives requires that he be able to do those things- it is not a nursing home - so he can't go back until he can do them once more.

We are waiting for a bed to open in rehab center. There, he will undergo physical therapy, and build up his strength. It will take a month or two - if all goes well. If not, then we have another issue to deal with.

Please say a prayer for him.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Flying to the top of the charts

Who cares who’s on top of the Billboard pop charts?

We now know who’s topping the liturgical music charts.

“On Eagle's Wings'” by Father Michael Joncas

That’s the number one song selected by voters in a survey conducted by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

The top 10 songs in the survey are:

“On Eagle's Wings'” - Joncas
"Here I Am, Lord" - Dan Schutte (St. Louis Jesuits)
"Be Not Afraid" - Father Bob Dufford (St. Louis Jesuits)
"You Are Mine" - David Haas
"How Great Thou Art" - Stuart Hine
"Holy God, We Praise Thy Name"
"Amazing Grace" - John Newton
"All Are Welcome" - Marty Haugen
"Prayer of St. Francis" - Sebastian Temple
"Ave Maria" - Franz Schubert

I looked over the titles listed in the CNS article. We’ve sung many of them in our choir. In fact, in the last two weeks we’ve sung “Here I Am Lord" (2nd), "The Summons" (14th), and "Pescador de Hombres" (17th).

No mention of “Abba Father,” though.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

What's left of left?

N.Y. Senator Chuck Schumer – one of my Senators – has been shooting off his mouth again.

So what else is new?

He said of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, “Judge Alito’s record is out of the mainstream on issue after issue after issue.”

I think it’s the other way around.

Senator Schumer is out of the mainstream.

As a flaming liberal, he is even out of the mainstream in his own party – a party I think is itself out of the mainstream nationally.

And I’m a Democrat!

He is more pro-choice and pro-gay than much of the party. If you go to the middle of the country, Democrats there are what Republicans are in New York.

Unless the national party pulls back more into the mainstream, it will continue to suffer electoral failure after failure after failure.

Unless, of course, President Bush continues to screw up.

At least we have another Senator in New York.

Oh, right.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mother Angelica: The Book

I finished Raymond Arroyo’s biography of Mother Angelica last night.

I don’t have cable, and even when I did, I didn’t always have access to EWTN, so I had never had much viewing contact with her.

I hadn’t realized how much physical suffering she’s experienced most of her life.

The fact that she never let the suffering hold her back is admirable.

I hadn’t realized that she was a charismatic for a time. Given her personality, it made sense, but given her later traditionalist views and actions, I found it interesting. (I, too, was a charismatic – even speaking in tongues!)

I also hadn’t realized that some of her traditionalism was added later. I’d only known her to be that way.

In addition, I hadn’t realized how much of a struggle it had been to get EWTN on the air or to sustain it.

Because I was a Catholic journalist during the time of her battles with the U.S. bishops over her criticisms and the fight about CTNA, I was aware of them. The book filled in some gaps.

Basically, the book is a hagiography. The author clearly likes her (heck, she hired him to work for EWTN).

He paints her in a positive light, touching on some of her warts, but not really examining them.

The book basically reinforced the impression I’d had of her.

I suspect fans of Mother Angelica will like it.

Those interested in understanding some of the personalities and issues that affected and shaped the current U.S. Church will find it worth reading.

I found the information about her suffering, and the ways she offered it up and refused to give in food for some spiritual reflections. I was reminded of Pope John Paul II.

But on the whole, I found myself reading the last few chapters more for the sake of finishing the book than from a desire to learn any more.

The book did not turn me into a fan.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Who got the bill?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

U.S. Death Tolls

American Revolution (1775–1783) 4,435
War of 1812 (1812–1815) 2,260
Indian Wars (approx. 1817–1898) 1,000 (est.)
Mexican War (1846–1848) 1,733
Civil War (1861–1865) 364,511
Spanish-American War (1898–1902) 2446
World War I (1917–1918) 116,516
World War II (1940–1945) 405,399
Korean War (1950–1953) 36,914
Vietnam War (1964–1975) 56,167
Gulf War (1990–1991) 512
Iraq invasion (2003 - ) 2,212 (as of Jan. 12)
Abortion (Jan. 22, 1973 - ) 46,000,000 (estimated)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Lookin' for links in all the right places

Working for a public radio station on weekends, I have gotten used to begging, um, encouraging people to become members.

Now that I've been in the world of blogdom for a few months, I'm coming to you, my loyal readers and visitors, to ask for links.

That way, people who visit your worthy sites, will sometimes wander over to visit me. Then maybe they will also link.

As part of a matching link gift - link to me and I will link to you.

Think of how satisfied you will feel - helping to provide moral support for a site you read. Think of the pleasure you will get as people visit me, then check out the link to you!

So link, and let me know.

This could be the start of something special.

Poor old Judas

Heard the reports about the Church rehabilitating Judas?

Not so, says a Vatican official.

According to a Zenit article, questions arose after a report that a first century apocryphal "Gospel of Judas" is about to be published. The document will supposedly paint Judas in a brighter light - and perhaps help to support the notion that he was just playing a role in the divine plan.

A Times of London article about the "reevelauation" cites Monsignor Walter Brandmüller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

But Monsignor Brandmüller told Zenit, that "this news has no foundation."

"Reading the Times I discovered that a campaign exists to rehabilitate Judas and that I am the leader," the Vatican official said. "I have not talked with the Times. I can't imagine where this idea came from."

Sorry Judas. At least you got some good songs in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Black Jesus

I wonder how some fundamentalists with react to this one.

A South African film about to debut at the Sundance Film Festival depicts Jesus as a contemporary Black in an African state amidst war and poverty.

According to the accounts I’ve read about Son of Man, the movie sticks close to the basic Gospel message. Jesus' mother is a virgin. He teaches his disciples to put down their weapons - guns - and use non-violence. He is crucified by authorities who fear him. He rises from the dead.

Sounds fine to me.

Apparently there is some controversy, though, because of the political spin given the Gospel story.

"We wanted to look at the gospels as if they were written by spindoctors and to strip that away and look at the truth," director Mark Dornford-May told Reuters in an interview.

"The truth is that Christ was born in an occupied state and preached equality at a time when that wasn't very acceptable."

I wonder, too, if portraying Jesus as Black might not bother some folks.

By portraying Jesus as a black African, Dornford-May hopes to sharpen the political context of the gospels, when Israel was under Roman occupation, and challenge Western perceptions of Christ as meek, mild and European.

"We have to accept that Christ has been hijacked a bit -- he's gone very blonde haired and blue-eyed," he said. "The important thing about the message of Christ was that it is universal. It doesn't matter what he looked like."
(I agree.)

The article goes on to note, “His resurrection is meant to signal hope for Africa, the world's poorest continent which is sometimes dismissed by foreigners as a hopeless mess of conflict and corruption.”

I haven’t seen it. Based on what I’ve read, I think I will.

St. Louis Jesuits reunite: Time to tune my guitar

As a former church “folk musician,” I am happy to hear that the St. Louis Jesuits – all of them – have reunited to produce their first album in 20 years.

For those too young to remember, the Jesuits were the Beatles of liturgical music during their heyday.

A CNS article notes, “Fans of the St. Louis Jesuits' music will find comfort in the songs on Morning Light as its sound is much the same as their earlier sound. But there are some challenging and surprising pieces included as well, arising `from life experience and the ups and downs that we've all faced,' Father O'Connor said."

I’ll check it out.

Maybe we’ll see them on a PBS (or EWTN) fundraising special soon - like so many other golden oldies.

Perhaps we can even get Joe Wise to put in an appearance.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

That's gay

EU states warned to accept same-sex marriage

Strasburg, Jan. 19 ( - The justice minister of the European Union, Franco Frattini, announced this week at the EU parliament in Strasburg that member states which do not eliminate all forms of discrimination against homosexuals, including the refusal to approve “marriage” and unions between same-sex couples, would be subject to sanctions and eventual expulsion from the EU.

According to a report by the Archdioceses of Madrid’s news service Analisis Digital, the commissioner’s statements came as the governments of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland ruled against legalizing homosexual “marriage.”

“Homophobia is a violation of human rights and we are watching member states on this issue and reporting on cases in which our efforts have been unsuccessful,” Fratti said. In this way “the Commission and the European Parliament seek to make any refusal to grant homosexual couples the same rights as a married couple a crime of ‘homophobia’,” the report warned. …

The Catholic World News report goes on to note that Frattini “was elected EU commissioner after the EU parliament rejected the nomination of the Catholic intellectual Rocco Buttiglione because of his opposition to homosexual unions …”

In addition, “Some EU parliamentarians demanded specific sanctions against states that do not follow the anti-discrimination law and refuse to call homosexual unions `marriage,’ for example. Michael Cashman, President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights, proposed expulsion from of the EU of those countries that “do not adhere to anti-discrimination legislation.”

Pope Benedict - Beatles link

Pope Benedict XVI is about to release his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love). It’s due out January 25.

Speaking January 18, he said, "In this encyclical I want to explain the concept of love in its various dimensions. In today's terminology, the meaning of love often is far from that which we know as Christians."

"The church as church, as a community in its institutions, must love," he said.

While not specifically focused on ecumenism, he said the encyclical's foundation is ecumenical because "God's love and our love is the condition for unity among Christians and for peace in the world."

Wow. The man who was once labeled the “Grand Inquisitor” for his work under Pope John Paul II, who was feared for years, and whose election as pope was greeted with dread in some circles, is issuing a message to the whole world.

A message about love.

As I read about God is Love, I suddenly had a flashback. (No, not the kind brought on by certain, um, “experimentation” I did when I was young and stupid.)

On June 25, 1967, the Beatles performed on the first ever live global television link. Some 350 million people watched them perform their new song, “All You Need it Love.”

“Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.”

Those who spend their time analyzing pop songs have pointed to the spirituality that can be read into the song.

“No one you can save that can't be saved.” – Salvation!

There's nothing you can know that isn't known. – God knows all.

Nothing you can see that isn't shown. - God sees all.

And there’s that message of togetherness (“All together now”).

The broadcast – and the song – are credited with helping to launch the hippie movement, giving them a slogan.

“Love is all you need.”

Could Pope Benedict’s encyclical have a similar effect, helping to launch a world-wide Catholic version of the hippie movement?

The roots are already there.

The Church is countercultural, after all.

We have our own version of Love Beads – the Rosary.

We have Little Flower Power.

We believe in love and unity among all people.

We believe in worshiping together.

We believe in communal living.

We burn incense.

We have a Sign of Peace.

We believe in salvation.

And think of the connections.

John and Paul are credited with giving us the song. John Paul II gave us Pope Benedict.

June 25. January 25.

Both Benedict and Beatles begin with B.

Far out, man. It's Karma.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Lion vs. the Brokeback boys

The Golden Globes are behind us, with Bumboy Mountain taking top honors.

That may provide a boost for a film that ranked only 9th in box office earnings the weekend of January 13-16. The movie earned just over $7 million, bringing its six-week total to $32 million.

In contrast, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ranked 4th, bringing in just under $13 million. Its six-week total is $264 million.

The top grossing movie for the weekend was the historical, feel good sports film Glory Road ($16.9 million), followed by the children’s movie Hoodwinked ($16.9 million), and the PG-13 comedy Last Holiday ($15.5 million).

Narnia trails only Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in total earnings, the Potter entry earning $284 million in nine weeks. (Bumboy Mountain ranks 20th.)

I guess gay, adulterous cowboys just don’t have as much appeal for the average moviegoer.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Priest/bikini flap

OSLO (Reuters) - The Church of Norway forced a priest to resign on Friday from a panel set to judge bikini-clad women competing to be the country's Miss Universe contestant.

Einar Gelius, an Oslo Lutheran vicar, has said it was his right to do as he wished during his spare time, but church members said that as a clergyman he always represented the Church and should not be seen to be judging other humans.

"This competition represents a view of humans that is not in accordance with the Church's," said Arne Groeningsaeter, head of the Oslo diocese council, a state body that hires priests.

"The Church should preach that we are all equal and this competition's view of woman is particularly disturbing."

The panelists will judge 12 women between the ages of 17 and 22 in Saturday's televised show in order to choose a Norwegian contestant for the global Miss Universe final. The show's audience will get to choose which woman will become Norway's contestant for the
Miss World competition.

The women will parade in front of the judges first in fashion wear, then in evening dress and finally in bikinis.

Gelius resisted pressure to resign for a week until he was asked to do so by the Bishop of Oslo.

On one level, I fully understand why he could not be a judge.

After all, staring at women’s barely clad bodies in a contest is offensive. Why doesn’t he just do that by watching television like the rest of us?

Of course, it could have been worse.

He could have been looking at nuns in bikinis.

Or men in bikinis. (Oh, right, that wouldn’t have been a problem in Norway. They allow gay marriage there.)

Or he could be wearing bikinis under his robes when he preaches.

I don’t know if this is the last we’ll here of this issue.

The Book of Daniel needs some more plot twists.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

old woman at church (haiku)

old woman at church
stares at a young family –
sits by herself

Alito limerick

Pro-choicers are feeling dismayed,
Alito, it seems, can’t be stayed.
Though they worked hard and fought,
It was all for naught:
The other side worked hard – and prayed.

A little Sunday morning humor

After the Baptism of his baby brother in church, little Johnny sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car.

His father asked him three times what was wrong.

Finally, the boy replied, "That priest said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys."

Saturday, January 14, 2006


This morning at 5:30 when I left for the radio station, it was raining and the temperature was in the upper 40s.

By the time my shift ended at noon, it was snowing.

It is now in the upper 20s, with ice coating the driveway, the mailbox, and the back door, and an inch or two of snow on the ground.

Ah, January in Western New York.

We average about 100 inches of snow per winter, by the way. So I expect more snow.

Good thing I like winter.

Today’s shift was a milestone one.

I began working at the station January 12, 1985.

21 years.

Coincidentally, the station is WXXI - as in XXI (21). That was the number on the television dial for public television station we are affiliated with.

Today I provided some training for a new announcer.

After going through all the technical details of the shift and showing him how to operate the board, somehow the issue of faith came up.

He remembered me from when I worked for the diocesan newspaper.

He’s currently a fallen away Catholic. He’s been hurt by some of the Church’s actions. He’d checked out a few other churches. He said that while he found community in those other churches, they did not satisfy him. Something was missing.

It was bothering him.

I offered a few suggestions about local parishes he could try where the priests are sensitive to some of the things that had estranged him from the Church, but I could sense that he was not ready for that step.

So I told him to keep praying and maybe in time he would feel ready to return.

I will pray for him as well.

I have struggled with my own commitment to the church in the past, so I understand a bit of what he is going through.

But I know that no matter how much pain and confusion we experience, God is waiting for us. He has a way of reeling us in when we least expect it.

We just have to keep the door open.

I’m as confident of that as I am that we will get more snow.

After all, part of my job is doing weather forecasts.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Mortality sends a reminder

Last night I went to visit my father at the adult home where he now lives. He was in bed, having suffered from dysentery all day. I kept the visit short.

A little after midnight, I received a call from the home. He had begun to discharge some blood, so they were sending him to a hospital as a precaution.

I decided not to go to the hospital. It did not seem too serious. Besides, what could I do at that hour?

This morning when I woke, our 16-year-old cat was waiting for his breakfast. He has only three teeth left, and has lost so much weight in the last year or so that we call him “Old Bone.” We’ve been expecting him to go any time.

Maggie, my 11-and-a-half-year-old dog was also waiting for breakfast – and her morning walk.

She is limping and walking more stiffly these days. Arthritis. I’ve heard dogs her size tend to live only 12 or so years.

I thought of dad. I wondered how long he has. He’s already been hospitalized twice since mom died in October. He clearly has gone downhill.

I also thought of Nana, 91, losing weight, getting frailer, walking more and more unsteadily, becoming more and more confused in her thinking.

It dawned on me: In 2005, I lost my mother, and Hannah (my daughter’s cat); in 2006 I might face four losses.

I know death is part of the rhythm of life.

As a Christian, I also believe in eternal life, so I know death is a passage to another phase in our spiritual lives.

That provides some comfort. But dulled sorrow is still sorrow.

I went to see dad tonight. The bleeding has stopped. They did a colonoscopy and hope to figure out what caused the bleeding. Dad kept drifting in and out of sleep. When he was awake, he was happy to see me. He apologized for not being good company.

I told him I was glad to be there.

They plan to keep him for a day or two until they figure out what happened. Then he will, hopefully, go back to the home.

But at some point in the future, he won’t be able to go back.

I fear that day is growing closer.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alito: Just wondering

I had a chance to listen to some of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

I wonder if Pope Benedict is listening, too.

He could learn a lot about pontificating.

Tragedy in Mecca

There are news reports that 345 Muslims have been trampled to death in a stampede during the annual hajj in Mecca.

I said a prayer for them.

No word yet from Pat Robertson about whether they deserved it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Agca to be released

The man who shot and nearly killed Pope John Paul II in 1981 is scheduled to be released from prison January 12.

Mehmet Ali Agca has completed his sentence.

The Vatican has declined to comment on the matter, leaving it to the courts to decide.

But then, Pope John Paul II has already made his position known regarding Agca.

He forgave him.

As Catholic World News reports:

“Shortly after the near-fatal shooting in May 1981, Pope John Paul II said that he had forgiven his assailant and was praying for him. In 1983, the late Pope met with Agca in his Italian prison cell. The Turkish gunman-- whose own explanations of the assassination attempt have been wildly inconsistent-- later described the Pope as his "spiritual brother," and unsuccessfully sought permission from prison authorities to attend Pope John Paul's funeral.

“From Krakow, Archbishop Stanislas Dziwisz, the longtime secretary to Pope John Paul, told the Italian press agency Apcom that the Turkish court decision was a secondary consideraton. `John Paul II has already pardoned Ali Agca, a long time ago,’ the Polish prelate said. `Now, in heaven, he is praying for him.’

Speaking as the brother of a murder victim, I think we should follow Pope John Paul’s lead.

For the full story, go to (

Monday, January 09, 2006

Umm, I don't think I needed to know this...

Since my mother passed away last fall, and my dad moved into an adult home, I’ve had all their mail forwarded to my house.

Amid all the bills, bank statements, health insurance statements, etc, there are catalogues.

Lots of catalogues.

Catalogues for country notions, gift items, clothes, healthcare items.

I think I’ve averaged a dozen catalogues a week, all addressed to mom.

Today I got a catalogue from “World Famous Catalogues.”

I opened it.

There are listings for glass gifts. Spring styles. Nautical gifts. Mystique’s Natural Nude Beauties DVD. Specialty Teas.

Wait a minute: Mystique’s Natural Nude Beauties??

And Graphic Novels, Erotic Art Books?

Bondage gear?

Swankyville Adult Videos?

Swedish Sex Formula?

Naughty Teens???


See, we never really know our parents.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

An Epiphany

With the Feast of the Epiphany, we have finished the Christmas season for this liturgical year.

We meet the last of the cast of characters associated with Christmas: The Wise Men, and Herod.

In previous readings – and in other cycles – we meet the other folks traditionally associated with the season.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, of course.

The angels.

The shepherds.

The keeper of the inn in which there was no room.

Simeon and Anna.

There have even been some other characters added to the story (even though not in the Bible): The third wise man, the animals, the midwives, etc.

Traditionally, the Wise Men represent the nations of the world. Christ came to save not only the chosen people, but all nations. The Wise Men came on our behalf bearing gifts.

I welcome their visit to the Holy Family in my name.

But I also think of the other folks who are left out of the stories.

The workers at the inn conscientiously serving their guests.

The shepherds who could not respond to the angels’ song because of immediate danger to the flocks in their care.

The mothers and fathers of Bethlehem with infant sons who needed their constant care – little knowing that shortly jealous Herod would claim their infants’ lives.

So many other people who could not be there, but who were presenting their own gifts to the Infant through their loving attention to the needs of others.

Those caring souls represent me as well – maybe even more directly than the Wise Men.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pope John Paul II and St. Joseph

This year I have set more spiritual reading as one of my goals. Thanks to Moneybags, I’ve been assigned St. Joseph as my special saint for the year, so it seems natural that I would devote some of that reading to him.

As I looked into St. Joseph, I discovered that Pope John Paul II had written about him in Redemptoris Custos - Guardian of the Redeemer – in 1989 (

I will be reading that.

Meanwhile, Pope John Paul II later issued the following in a general audience on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Wednesday, 19 March 2003.

St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church

1. Today we are celebrating the Solemnity of St Joseph, the Husband of Mary (Mt 1,24; Lk 1,27). Scripture points him out to us as the "father" of Jesus (Lk 2,, prepared to carry out the divine plan, even when it eluded human understanding. To him, "son of David" (Mt 1,20; Lk 1,27), God entrusted the safekeeping of the Eternal Word, made man by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. St Joseph is described in the Gospel as a "just man" (Mt 1,19), and for all believers he is a model of life in faith.

2. The word "just" evokes his moral rectitude, his sincere attachment to the practice of the law and his attitude of total openness to the will of the heavenly Father. Even in difficult and sometimes tragic moments, the humble carpenter of Nazareth never claimed for himself the right to dispute God's plan. He awaited the call from on High and in silence respected the mystery, letting himself be guided by the Lord. Once he received the mission, he fulfils it with docile responsibility. He listens attentively to the angel, when he is asked to take as his wife the Virgin of Nazareth (cf. Mt 1,18-25), in the flight into Egypt (cf. Mt 2,13-15) and in the return to Israel (cf. ibid., 2,19-23). In few, but significant strokes, the Evangelists describe him as the caring guardian of Jesus, an attentive and faithful husband, who exercises his family authority in a constant attitude of service.

Nothing else is said about him in the Sacred Scriptures, but this silence contains the special style of his mission: a life lived in the greyness of everyday life, but with steadfast faith in Providence.

3. Every day St Joseph had to provide for the family's needs with hard manual work. Thus the Church rightly points to him as the patron of workers.

Today's solemnity is also a wonderful occasion to reflect on the importance of work in the life of the human person, the family and the community.

The human being is the subject and the primary agent of work, and in the light of this truth, we can clearly perceive the fundamental connection between the person, work and society. Human activity - the Second Vatican Council recalls - proceeds from the human person and is ordered to the person. According to God's design and will, it must serve the true good of humanity and allow "man as an individual and as a member of society to cultivate and carry out his integral vocation" (cf.
Gaudium et spes, n. 35).
In order to fulfil this mission, a "tested spirituality of human work" must be cultivated that is firmly rooted in the "Gospel of work" and believers are called to proclaim and to witness to the Christian meaning of work in their many activities and occupations (cf.
Laborem exercens, n. 26).

4. May St Joseph, such a great and humble saint be an example that inspires Christian workers, who should call on him in every circumstance. Today I wish to entrust to the provident guardian of the Holy Family of Nazareth the young people who are training for their future profession, the unemployed, and those who are suffering from the hardship of the shortage of employment, families and the whole world of work, with the expectations and challenges, the problems and prospects that characterize it.

May St Joseph, the Patron of the universal Church, watch over the entire ecclesial community and, as the man of peace that he was, may he obtain for all humanity, especially for the peoples threatened at this time by war, the precious gift of harmony and peace.”

St. Joseph

This is my first attempt to download an image. I figure since I've been blessed with St. Joseph as my special saint this year, I'd try an image of him.

The book on Daniel

I watched The Book of Daniel last night.

I probably won't watch it again.

I wasn't offended. I've seen worse treatments of religion. I've even been guilty of crossing the line in some people's minds.

I just thought it wasn't very good.

Too many stereotypes and issues crammed in one episode.

Gay son.

Promiscuous adopted son (Chinese, too).

Drug dealing daughter.

Alcoholic wife.

Pill popping priest (Episcopal).

Crooked, unfaithful brother-in-law.

Theft of church funds.

Preaching a questionable homily while the bishop is sitting there (a female one at that).

Rich pushy parishioner (whose underage daughter is involved with promiscuous adopted son).

Italian priest with mob connections.

Oh, and Jesus popping in for pep talks and quips.


Or is it the pills the priest has been popping?

Anyway, I found it cliched, too busy, and not very well written. Even arguing that the episode was intended to give us exposition doesn't hold up. There are better ways to introduce us to characters and situations. And did there have to be so much dysfunction in one family?

Then again, given the melodrama in the Episcopal Church in the last year or so, maybe not too far from the truth of that denomination! (Heck, what can you expect from a church that started because a king couldn't keep his pantaloons up?)

If you're going to tweek religion, you should at least do a good job of it.

Where's Monty Python when you need them?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Pope Benedict and St. Joseph

Vatican , Dec. 19, 2005 ( - Christians should prepare for Christmas with silent recollection, to protect themselves from excesses of commercialism, Pope Benedict XVI told a public audience on December 18.

"During this period of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior meditation, in order to welcome and safeguard Jesus in our lives," the Holy Father said at his Sunday Angelus audience. He called attention to the example set by St. Joseph, who maintained an interior silence "interwoven with constant prayer" as he awaited the birth of Jesus.

"Let us allow ourselves to be infected by the silence of St. Joseph," the Pontiff encouraged his listeners. "We need it very much, in a world that is often too noisy."

Not surprising – considering his name is/was Joseph before he was elected Pope.

As for the message: “the silence of St. Joseph.” I like that image. He is a quiet saint, doing what needed to be done.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

St. Joseph and me

Moneybags ( has a Saints for the Year project going. I requested a saint, and got this response.

“Thank you for asking for a special patron saint for 2006 on my blog. A name was randomly drawn for you and the saint that chose you is St. Joseph! Congrats!

”Please just let me know that you receive this message and please let me know of any connections between St. Joseph and you.”

Wow. St. Joseph. I’ve always had a special affection for him. A dedicated father, a craftsman, a supportive husband, a man of faith.

A worthy role model.

Joseph was my brother’s middle name, so in tribute to him and to the saint, when I was confirmed many decades ago I chose the name Joseph.

Lee Francis Joseph Strong.

I’m pleased.

Sadly, my first marriage also led me to experience another series of connections to St. Joseph.

Living with the sense that no matter how much he loved his wife, her heart and mind belonged to Someone Else.

And given his wife’s “nature,” deprived of certain, um, marital benefits.

Yet willing to live with it all for the sake of the family.

I looked to him during those years as a model, though I fell short of his example.

Well, he was a saint!

So yes, St. Joseph and I do have some connections.

Thank you. I’m going to enjoy renewing my relationship with him this year.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's haiku

New Year's Eve -
scattering resolutions
like confetti