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.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Priests, religious and lay workers killed in 2009

The Congregation for Evangelization has published biographies of the 37 Catholics - 30 priests, two seminarians, two women religious, and three lay pastoral workers - who were killed in 2009.

As the congregation noted: "Some were victims of that very violence that they were fighting or the willingness to go to the aid of others, placing their own security in jeopardy. Many were killed in attempted robbery or kidnapping, attacked in their homes by bandits in search of elusive treasures who most often had to settle for an old car or the victim's phone, and yet taking with them the most precious treasure: a life given in love. Others were eliminated because they opposed hatred with love, despair with hope, violent opposition and the right to abuse with dialogue."

The congregation added, “Our list does not only include the names of missionaries ad gentes [to the nations] in the strict sense, but all pastoral workers who died a violent death. This provisional list compiled annually by the Fides News Agency must nevertheless always be added to the long list of many who perhaps will never be known of, who in every corner of the planet suffer and even give their lives for their faith in Christ.”

1. Fr. Giuseppe Bertaina, Italy, Consolata Missionary (IMC): Nairobi (Kenya) – Jan. 16
2. Fr. Eduardo de la Fuente Serrano, Spain, Diocesan: Havana (Cuba) – Feb. 14
3. Fr. Juan Gonzalo Aristizabal Isaza, Colombia, Diocesan: Medellin (Colombia) – Feb. 22
4. Fr. Daniel Matsela Mahula, South Africa, Diocesan: Bloemhof (South Africa) – Feb. 27
5. Fr. Lionel Sham, South Africa, Diocesan: Mohlakeng (South Africa) – March 7
6. Fr. Révocat Gahimbare, Burundi, Diocesan: Karuzi (Burundi) – March 8
7. Fr. Gabriel Fernando Montoya Tamayo, Colombia, Redemptorists: Vichada (Colombia) – March 16
8. Fr. Jesús Ariel Jiménez, Colombia, Redemptorists: Vichada (Colombia) – March 16
9. Fr. Ramiro Ludeña, Spain, Diocesan: Recife (Brazil) – March 20
10. Fr. Lorenzo Rosebaugh, United States, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI):
Alta Verapaz (Guatemala) – May 18
11. Fr. Ernst Plöchl, Austria, Mariannhill Missionaries: Maria Zella (South Africa) – May 31
12. Jorge Humberto Echeverri Garro, Colombia, Lay pastoral worker: Panama di Arauca (Colombia) – June 11
13. Fr. Habacuc Hernández Benítez, Mexico, Diocesan: Tierra Caliente (Mexico) – June 13
14. Eduardo Oregón Benítez, Messico, Seminarian: Tierra Caliente (Mexico) – June 13
15. Silvestre González Cambrón, Messico, Seminarian: Tierra Caliente (Mexico) – June 13
16. Fr. Gisley Azevedo Gomes, Brazil, Stigmatines CSS: Brazlândia (Brazil) – June 15
17. Fr. Mariano Arroyo Merino, Spain, Diocesan/OCSHA: Havana (Cuba) – July 13
18. Ricky Agusa Sukaka, D.R. Congo, Caritas Worker: Musezero (D.R. Congo) – July 15
19. Fr. James Mukalel, India, Diocesan: Mangalore (India) – July 30
20. Fr. Leopoldo Cruz, El Salvador, Redemptorists: San Salvador (El Salvador) – August 24
21. Fr. Cecilio Lucero, Philippines, Diocesan: Nord Samar (Philippines) – September 6
22. Fr. Ruggero Ruvoletto, Italy, Fidei donum: Manaus (Brazil) – September 19
23. Fr. Evaldo Martiol, Brazil, Diocesan: Santa Caterina (Brazil) – September 26
24. Fr. Oscar Danilo Cardozo Ossa, Colombia, Diocesan: Villavicencio (Colombia) – September 27
25. William Quijano, El Salvador, Lay, Community of St. Egidio: San Salvador (El Salvador) – September 28
26. Fr. Ed Hinds, Stati Uniti, Diocesan: Chatham (N.J.- USA) – October 24
27. Fr. Louis Jousseaume, France, Diocesan: Egletons (France) – October 26
28. Sister Marguerite Bartz, United States, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS): Saint Berard, New Mexico, USA – November 1
29. Fr. Hidalberto Henrique Guimaraes, Brazil, Diocesan: Maceió (AL), Brazil – November 7
30. Fr. Miguel Angel Hernandez, Guatemala, OFM Capuchin: Esquipulas (Honduras) - November 8
31. Fr. Jean Gaston Buli, D.R. Congo, Diocesan: Bunia (D.R. Congo) – November 10
32. Fr. Daniel Cizimya Nakamaga, D.R. Congo, Diocesan: Bukavu (D.R. Congo) – December 6
33. Fr. Louis Blondel, France, Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers): Pretoria (South Africa) – December 7
34. Sister Denise Kahambu Muhahyirwa, D.R. Congo, Trappist Nun: Bukavu (D.R. Congo) – December 7
35. Fr. Jeremiah Roche, Ireland, Society of St. Patrick for the Foreign Missions: Nairobi (Kenya) – December 11
36. Fr. Alvino Broering, Brazil, Diocesan: Santa Catarina (Brazil) – December 14
37. Fr. Jaramillo Cárdenas, Colombia, Diocesan: Santa Rosa de Osos (Colombia) – December 20

Number by category of pastoral workers killed in 2009
Priests: 30 (19 diocesan, 1 Fidei donum, 3 Redemptorists, 1 Consolata Missionary, 1 Oblate of Mary Immaculate, 1 Mariannhill Missionary, 1 Stimmatini, 1 White Father, 1 of the Society of St. Patrick, 1 Capuchin)

Seminarians: 2

Women religious: 2

Laity: 3

God be with them all - and let us pray for those who attacked them as well.

Haiku - or is that "Carku"?

at the repair shop
waiting for wife to arrive -
gray skies


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fantasy time

I play fantasy sports - for fun, not money.

This football season, I had three teams in three different leagues. The Geneva Spiders (from my hometown and an old nickname); Huckabee's Hawks (gotta keep his name out there!); and the Holy Rollers (okay, my sense of humor).

All three were in the title games in their respective leagues this past weekend (fantasy season ends earlier than the regular season).

Two of them won!

The Geneva Spiders and Huckabee's Hawks both finished 12-4, and league champions.

The Holy Rollers finished 10-6, and lost in the title game.

Okay, it's silly, but I like sports.

No fantasy over the winter (waiting for baseball season). But the Syracuse men's basketball team remains undefeated, number 5 in the polls, and number 1 in the Sagarin rankings!

Go Orange.

A Parish Prayer of St. Francis

(Here's a version of the Prayer of St. Francis from our parish bulletin this past weekend - It's been in others as well.)

Lord, make our parish the instrument of your presence.
Help us to depend not on collections and committees
but on a lively faith.
Keep us open to build bridges between people,

and not isolate into factions.
Guide us to find words that encourage and affirm

rather than criticize or belittle.
Give us the sensitivity to listen to the needs and hurts of others

and not to react with cynicism or selfishness.
For we believe that it is ours to build community

where there is isolation,
To proclaim gospel wholeness

where there is brokenness,
And to replace the shallow promises made by our world

with the promise and the presence of the Risen Lord.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New "Catholic Courier" website

The Catholic Courier, newspaper of the Diocese of Rochester, is apparently planning some changes to its website that offer some intriguing possibilities.

In an e-news release, the paper announced that it will be allowing for greater reader content - including submitted articles and pictures, and even blogs. They said it will be unveiled next month. I'm assuming that's when we will get more details. (Ironically, the website is down this morning so I can't bring the article back up! Shadows of things to come?!)

There are many things that the Courier currently does not cover - due to space, availability of staff, whatever - that could possibly now get in. Pro-life events? Catholic organizations' activities? Parish news? Why not?

So the kinds of things I post on my blog about the 40 Days for Life, the annual Good Friday March for life, my Secular Franciscan Order group and more might be able to get in. Other people might be able to promote speakers, Latin Masses, novenas, conferences, and so on.

And with the possibility of blogs, groups (such as the SFOs) might be able to have a regular presence. We would be able to announce events, describe activities, recruit. Maybe some intrepid souls could start a catechetical blog explaining Church teachings. Hmmm.

Of course, I'm sure there would be some restrictions. Probably no offensive content would be allowed. There would likely be limits of uncharitable attacks/criticisms of the diocese or diocesan staff, or individuals in the diocese. I'm not sure yet how far things can go. I know I got booted from a D & C forum for saying something that was critical of that newspaper. (I suggested that because my paper arrived consistently late I could just cancel it and get the news online as that was faster and more up-to-date anyway!)

I also have no idea how many people actually read the website or would do so once it's expanded. When this blog was more topical and argumentative, I used to get 5-6,000 visitors a month - a newspaper might well get lots more.

A lot of newspapers are going this route as print circulation decreases. Online news sources are replacing not only newspapers and magazines, but even television news.

As for this initiative, I await details. When I know more, I'll bring it up with my SFO group as a possible outlet. Maybe I'll start a blog of my own. Certainly I intend to post articles and pictures.

That's all I need - another way to spend time on line!

Monday, December 28, 2009

No Christmas Church Services for the Obamas

President Obama and his family are off to Hawaii for a Christmas, um, Holiday vacation.

News reports say they did not go to church for Christmas. Time, for example, reported, "But there's one common Christmas practice not on the First Family's schedule: a visit to Christmas Eve church services."

Now, President Obama is a Protestant, so Christmas is not a holy day of obligation as it is for Catholics. Indeed, there are many Catholics who don't go to church on Christmas (missing Mass without having a good reason, by the way, is a sin, possibly mortal, if one understands the rules!).

No sin on the Obamas' part here. It's just sad that a man who in the past claimed to be a devout Christian couldn't get to church on this holy day.

Of course, President Reagan was not a big church goer at Christmas time either. Nor is regular church-going a guarantee that a President's actions will be wise or moral.

Now maybe there were concerns about security, or causing a crowd. I can understand that. And maybe President Obama went for a walk on the beach to have to quiet prayer times. If so, good.

But given their non-attendance of church in general, I suspect getting to church at Christmas was not a high priority.

Maybe next year. Another year of serving in one of the the most difficult and stressful jobs in the world just might make him seek strength and comfort from faith.

I sent him a Christmas card, as is my policy.

No "Happy Holidays" from me: Merry Christmas, Mr. Obama.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blessed John XXIII

A happy bit of trivia regarding Blessed John XXIII, whom I would love to see declared a saint (along with Venerable John Paul II).

Good Pope John died the evening of June 3, 1963. The way the Church generally designates a saint's feast day is that it is the day of the saint's death - or, if you prefer, the day of his/her transition into eternal life. When the death occurs in the evening, the feast day is often the next day as the Church says days begin the evening before. (That's why a 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday counts as a Sunday Mass).

To give an example, St. Francis of Assisi's death is technically on October 3, but since he died in the evening, his feast day is celebrated October 4.

Depending how the Church dates it, then, and assuming he will be declared a saint some day, St. John XXIII's feast day would be June 4.

My birthday.

I'd be very happy to share it with him!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where oh where can more Franciscans be found?

Today I was thought about a conversation I had with our formation director at my Secular Franciscan group.

I am the only person currently in formation. Since I joined the group in September of 2008, only one other person has joined, and she was already far along in the formation process, so she was able to join the group scheduled to profess in August of 2009.

I remain the sole "new" person.

The formation director and I talked briefly about why the group is not attracting new members, while the other local group (out in Hilton) is.

I have my own ideas.

The Hilton group is parish-based, ours is not. We meet at a hospice. Their group has a natural, steady and large recruiting base.

Moreover, the parish is the home of a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal who stops home periodically. And his parents are members of the Hilton group.

In addition, the pastor of the Hilton parish is a member. We have a priest affiliated with our group, but he no longer attends on a regular basis, and has many parish duties at an inner-city parish. It would help if we had a priest who was active in our group.

Why does all this matter? On one level, it would be nice if there was someone else in the formation class, if only to lead to more discussion.

I am also at 54 one of the youngest - if not the youngest - members of the fraternity. That does not bode well for the future. We could use some new members.

So what to do?

We could wait and let God prompt people to seek out the Franciscans. That's how I ended up there.

We could start a website or blog to help attract people.

We could write letters to the Catholic Courier, and maybe get notices in our parish bulletins.

We could individually invite people.

Of course, I am not an official in the group. I'm not even professed. So it's not my call.


Anyway, if you area Rochester-area reader of this blog, and if you have ever felt the Spirit moving you in a Franciscan way, consider it.


St. Nicholas's face

Thanks to forensic science - with the ability to reconstruct a face just from the skull - here's what St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) may have looked like in life (before God granted him the special grace to be Santa, of course!)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! (with Muppets and John Denver)

A classic!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yes, she voted for abortion

In case you wondered, New York's nominal "Catholic" Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, did vote for the health care proposal that the U.S. Bishops opposed, and which, if it gets through as a joint resolution and is signed by President Obama, will not only force us to help pay for abortions, but will not include a conscience clause for medical providers.

Her vote is not a surprise.

Nor will my vote be when she is up for reelection next year.


Bishops Oppose Current Senate Health Care Bill


That's how the chairmen of three committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops described the current health care legislation expected to be approved by the Senate this morning.

In a letter issued December 22, the bishops urged the Senate not to go forward -a request that, barring some last minute miracle, has apparently fallen on deaf ears (including some nominally Catholic ones).

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, of the Committee on Migration, said in their letter that the Senate bill “violates the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions and health plans that include such abortions -- a policy upheld in all health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment as well as in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program -- and now in the House-passed ‘Affordable Health Care for America Act.’”

They noted that under the Senate bill, “federal funds will help subsidize, and in some cases a federal agency will facilitate and promote, health plans that cover elective abortions.”

“All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions in a very direct and explicit way, through a separate premium payment designed solely to pay for abortion. There is no provision for individuals to opt out of this abortion payment in federally subsidized plans, so people will be required by law to pay for other people’s abortions.”

“This bill also continues to fall short of the House-passed bill in preventing governmental discrimination against health care providers that decline involvement in abortion,” the bishops said. And it also “includes no conscience protection allowing Catholic and other institutions to provide and purchase health coverage consistent with their moral and religious convictions on other procedures.”

They also brought in access to health care by immigrants - regardless of their status.

“Without such access, many immigrant families would be unable to receive primary care and be compelled to rely on emergency room care. This would harm not only immigrants and their families, but also the general public health. Moreover, the financial burden on the American public would be higher, as Americans would pay for uncompensated medical care through the federal budget or higher insurance rates.”

The letter is welcome, but perhaps the bishops need to be more forceful - such as saying the time has come for "Catholic" politicians to decide what is more important, their faith, or their elective offices.

To see the entire letter, go to

(UPDATE: It passed this morning.)

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pro-Choice Violence: Lila Rose assaulted

Live Action Films president Lila Rose has filed a police report after she was allegedly struck by a Planned Parenthood escort outside a San Jose abortion center.

Rose was on a public sidewalk outside the Planned Parenthood affiliate at 1691 The Alameda. She was praying with a group and offering information to women entering the abortion center on Thursday when she got into an exchange with a uniformed escort, who recognized her as the investigator in the Live Action videos, which expose Planned Parenthood workers breaking laws and lying to young women who say they are seeking abortions.

According to the police report filed at the scene - corroborated by witnesses - Rose said, "Sir, are you familiar with the abortion procedure?"

The Planned Parenthood escort allegedly approached Rose and said, "You idiot. You've caused so much trouble. You piece of crap."

According to the police report, Rose offered to show the escort a picture, saying, "Can I show you a picture of what it really does to a baby?"

At that point, the Planned Parenthood escort allegedly struck Rose's hand, knocking literature and a Bible to the ground. Rose then reportedly stepped further back onto sidewalk, and the escort, who was visibly upset according to the report, stepped towards her saying, "It's a woman's choice!"

Rose responded, "What about the baby's choice?"

At that point the escort said, "It's not a baby!" Then the escort walked away.

Police were then called and interviewed the Rose and several witnesses. Rose sustained no injuries from the attack. Charges of assault and battery are pending.

Maybe the escort's violent response was due to a nagging conscience that was trying to deny the reality of what he was helping to do to those babies. Let us pray for him and all others caught up in the violence of abortion.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Red Green Christmas

Last night we dug out the Red Green Christmas special.

In case you are not one of the initiated (or had better things to do with your time), "Red Green" was the host of the Red Green Show, which lasted on Canadian television from 1991-2006, and was broadcast on a number of PBS stations. Red was a not-so-handy handyman who's favorite tool was the "handyman's secret weapon, duct tape." The show include a cast of regular offbeat characters, skits, bad jokes. I loved it.

In addition to the special, there were a number of Christmas episodes over the years. Here's one of the segments, a word game with series regular Edgar Montrose (yes, that's Graham Greene of Dances with Wolves and Thunderheart), an explosives enthusiast.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Popes John Paul II and Pius XII declared "Venerable"

The Vatican December 19 issued a number of decrees about the status of individuals on the path to being declared saints - including Pope John Paul II, Pope Pius XII, and Teresa Manganiello - a Secular Franciscan (and several other Franciscans).

Pope Benedict XVI recognized the "heroic virtues" of his to papal predecessors - the first step in the canonization process. They can now be called "Venerable."

He also recognized a miracle linked to Manganiello, clearing the way for her to be beatified.

Manganiello (1849-76) was noted for her prayers and spirituality. Already a devout Secular Franciscan, she and a few other individuals dreamed of creating the Franciscan Immaculatine Sisters. In 1875, she went to Rome and asked Pope Pius IX a particular blessing for the realisation of the projects. His Holiness blessed the effort, but before it actually came about, she died suddenly at the age of 27. The order was subsequently created.

The decision about Pope John Paul II comes as no surprise. The decree concerning Pope Pius will likely get some flak because of the false claims that he did little to help save the Jews during the Holocaust.

Five of the December 19 decrees testified to the authenticity of miracles attributed to candidates who have already been beatified, and are now qualified for canonization. They are:

Bl. Stanislaus Soltys (Kazimierczyk) (1433-89), whose liturgical cult was formally recognized by Pope John Paul in 1993
Bl. André Bessette (1845-1937), a Canadian renowned for his devotion to St. Joseph who developed a reputation as a miracle worker in his lifetime
Bl. Mary MacKillop (1842-1909), who founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart and will become Australia’s first canonized saint
Bl. Giulia Salzano (1846-1929), foundress of the Congregation of the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart
Bl. Camilla Battista da Varano (1458-1524), a Poor Clare nun.

The Congregation also approved five other candidates who, like Manganiello, have had a miracle linked to them, or suffered martyrdom, and who will now be scheduled for beatification:

Father Jerzy Popieluszkowhose 1984 murder by Communist intelligence officers was recognized as martyrdom
Father José Tous y Soler (1811-71), a Capuchin Franciscan
Brother Leopoldo de Alpandeire (1866-1956), a Capuchin Franciscan

Manuel Lozano Garrido (1920-71), a Spanish layman
Chiara Badano (1971-90), a laywoman of the Focolare Movement.

Pope Benedict also declared the heroic virtue of Bl. Giacomo Illirico da Bitetto, a Franciscan.

In addition, to the two popes, the heroic virtues of seven other individuals were recognized. Like the two popes, they may now be called "Venerable" and would be eligible for beatification pending approval of a miracle:

Father Louis Brisson (1817-1908), founder of the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales
Father Giuseppe Quadrio (1921-63), a Salesian
Sister Mary Ward (1545-1615), an Englishwoman who founded the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto Sisters)
Sister Antonia Maria Verna (1773-1838), foundress of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea
Sister Francesca Farolfi (Maria Chiara Serafina of Jesus) (1853-1917), foundress of the Missionary Franciscan Clarists of the Blessed Sacrament
Sister Enrichetta Alfieri (1891-1951)
Giunio Tinarelli (1912-56), a layman and member of the Silent Workers of the Cross.

Thank you Lord for these holy men and women who serve as models and inspirations for us all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Speaking of my poetry (and Chesterton)

The latest Gilbert Magazine came in ... and there I was.

One of my clerihews showed up in the "Clerihew Corner":

Albert Einstein
had to pay a traffic fine
for trying to reach the speed of light
in his Packard one night.

The pleasures of seeing my name in print, and reading essays about Chesterton, as well of selections of his own wit and wisdom ...


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Monday, December 14, 2009

Poetry has its own rewards

It's a major award!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa visits St. Theodore's

St. Theodore's Church welcomed a special guest December 5 - Santa Claus.

The big guy took a break from all his Christmas preparations to stop by and read a story, sing some carols, and visit with the children. Some 180 children signed up to enjoy Breakfast with Santa.

As an official "helper," I was there to assist with the celebrations (see if you can spot me - Ho! Ho! Ho!).

Planned Parenthood staff caught lying again

Live Action Films catches Planned Parenthood staff once again not telling the truth.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ho! Ho! ... Oh! - A Bad Haiku Christmas

Birthday shotgun

Clem’s birthday shotgun
provided the Christmas feast –
Rudolph’s final flight


Aunt Ann’s old fruitcake
arrived for Christmas again
(no, not Uncle Ed)

Scurry Christmas

over the river
and through the woods we scurry –
in-laws still find us

What’s the poop?

Next year, Santa, please
along with your reindeer bring
a pooper scooper

Stale Cookies

finding stale cookies
Santa raids the cheapskate’s fridge –
ah, a pecan pie


folks in their beds with
visions of credit card bills
dancing in their heads

Gingerbread cookies

half-eaten cookie
clutched in Santa’s stiff fingers –
wicked witch cackles

Ned makes the naughty list

prone beneath the tree
an unconscious Santa Claus –
Ned’s booby trap worked

Beep … beep

Christmas morning Mass –
during Father’s homily
beeps from new game boys

Practical joke

practical joke with
Ex Lax explains why reindeer’s
nickname was “Dumper”

(I was prompted to write these by a "contest." I will try to get to confession this weekend.)


Thursday, December 10, 2009

A morning encounter ... Jesus?

Yesterday morning we got our first coating of snow. Nothing really bad, but by the time I cleaned off the cars - my wife's back has been bothering her, so I didn't want her to do her own car - I realized I would be too late for the 6:25 morning Mass at a church I sometimes go to on my way to work.

I decided instead to spend a few minutes at my own church's perpetual adoration chapel.

When I got to the church, the church driveways and parking lot had not been plowed. I had to circle the long way to get in at the main entrance of the parking lot because I was afraid I might miss the driveway near the chapel and drive on the lawn.

The chapel was dark. Sadly, although it is open 24 hours, it is often empty of anyone offering prayers.

When I walked in, I spotted a man sprawled across the chairs, obviously sleeping. He immediately sat up and mumbled something about waiting for McDonald's to open (there's a McDonald's restaurant just down the road).

I figured he was a lost soul, maybe a homeless man, who had sought a warm place out of the snow. He continued to sit there.

I sat and said a few prayers. But I also kept thinking about him. He didn't seem dangerous, but you never know. Did he have a place to go? I thought McDonald's was already open to serve the morning commuters. Should I offer him a ride as I was going that way? Would that be a dangerous thing to do? Might he have a weapon? What would I do if he did?

Then I wondered what Francis would do. Was this Jesus sitting there?

After about 15 minutes I had to leave. The weather outside was still nasty. I asked him what time McDonald's opened. He said 6. I told him it was already 6:45, and asked if he would like a ride. He said yeah.

We got in my car. He started telling me a story about his car being hit and towed by a company on the other side of town. I asked why he ended up in my neck of the woods then; he just continued his spiel. He said he lived in a town in the next county and hadn't been able to get in touch with any friends from there to come and pick him up.

Having volunteered in homeless shelters and done stories on street people, I waited for the other shoe to drop.

Sure enough, as soon as we got to the McDonald's he asked if I had any money to spare. I said I never give money (I knew too often it went for drugs and alcohol) but I offered to go in and buy him a cup of coffee to warm up.

As we walked in, another fellow with the look of a street person greeted him familiarly. I was even more convinced that he was just scamming. I bought him some coffee and left.

As I drove away I thought that perhaps I should have gotten him something to eat, too. Francis likely would have. I felt guilty about judging him. Even if he was scamming me, he probably could have used some food.

I didn't turn around. I had a long way to go to get to work.

I have a long way to go when it comes to being a Franciscan - or a really good Christian - as well.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The 13th Day - Excellent

The Good-Looking-One and I watched The 13th Day last night. It deserves all the praise it is receiving.

It is a well-crafted film, shot creatively and artistically. The use of black and white - and the selective use of color when Mary appears - the overlapping of images, the framing of shots all jumped out at us.

We both want to watch it again.

I'd love to stage a screening at our parish!

Liam Clancy goes home

Irish music legend Liam Clancy died on Friday.

Thyank for all the wonderful music.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Manhattan Declaration: Support Life and Faith

The Manhattan Declaration is a document initially signed by a group of prominent Christians (Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical) to defend the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Since the initial signatures by many religious leaders and prominent Christians (I'm including a list of some of the Catholic signatories at the bottom of this post), and the Declaration's release on November 20, more than 250,000 people (including myself) have signed.

The Declaration reads in part:

"We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person. We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense. In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty."

The Declaration goes on to declare that the signatories will not comply with laws that violate their beliefs. Civil disobedience could be the result!

"Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s."

Imagine if we can get 500,000 or a million signatures?

Here's some of the original signatories who are Catholic:

Bishop Sam Aquila (Diocese of Fargo), Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (Archdiocese of Denver), Timothy A. Chichester (Catholic Family Association of America), Bishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone (Diocese of Oakland, CA), Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio (Diocese of Brooklyn), Bishop Timothy Dolan (Diocese of New York) Dr. William Donohue (Catholic League), Fr. Joseph D. Fessio (Ignatius Press), Dr. Peter Kreeft (Boston College), Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz (Archdiocese of Louisville), Adam Cardinal Maida (Archbishop Emeritus, Diocese of Detroit), Bishop Richard J. Malone (Diocese of Portland), Bishop Robert C. Morlino (Diocese of Madison), Archbishop John J. Myers (Archdiocese of Newark), Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann (Diocese of Kansas City), Archbishop John Nienstedt (Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis), Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted (Diocese of Phoenix), Justin Cardinal Rigali (Archdiocese of Philadelphia), Bishop Michael J. Sheridan (Diocese of Colorado Springs), Father Peter M.J. Stravinskas (The Catholic Response), George Weigel (Ethics and Public Policy Center), Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl (Archdiocese of Washington),Bishop David A. Zubik (Diocese of Pittsburgh).

Good company. Consider joining them

Go here to read the full Declaration, and to sign the petition.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Anti-Catholicism - It's out there

The Catholic News Agency is reporting that according to recent FBI statistics on hate crimes, in 2008 there was a nine percent increase in crimes against religious groups - and an almost 25 percent increase in reported hate crimes against Catholics.

The statistics show that there were 1,519 incidents classified as hate crimes based on a victim’s religion. About one third of those crimes were anti-Jewish. There were 75 such crimes against Catholics - up from 61 in 2007. That's obviously far fewer than the anti-Jewish acts, and represents only about 5 percent of the crimes.

But it is out there, and it did increase at a faster rate than religiously-motivated hate crimes in general.

Given Church leaders' opposition to some of the actions of the Obama administration when it comes to life issues, their stand against recent attempts to legalize homosexual marriage, and their ongoing concerns about health care reform, I would not be surprised if the number of anti-Catholic attacks increased again this year.

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

Some sublime works of art are beyond comment.

(A nod to Father Erik.)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Letter from Jesus about Christmas

Letter from Jesus about Christmas --

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember:


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

St. Padre Pio event December 6

If you are devoted to St. Padre Pio, Christmas, or Italian music, you might want to check out the Second Annual St. Padre Pio Italian American Christmas Music and Song celebration this Sunday at the St. Padre Pio Chapel.

The festivities get underway at 2:30 p.m.

The Chapel is in Gates N.Y. (a Rochester suburb) at 141 Frank DiMino Way (off Manitou Road.)

The concert with feature the Father Beatini Choir.

It's free and open to the public. Besides enjoying the music, you will get a chance to view the Chapel. I often go to the Chapel to pray, as it's not far from my home.

(I won't be there Sunday - mall duty! And I usually try to avoid events with lots of people. But my Good-Looking-One might just be there.)