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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Guthrie: When a Soldier Makes it Home

Thank you to all who have served the country - and especially those who gave their lives.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Papal Blessing in Auriesville

On the way back from seeing youngest daughter graduate, the Good Looking One and I stooped at the the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville (near Albany).

To our delight, we found out the Shrine is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, and in honor of that Pope Benedict XVI bestowed his Apostolic Blessing upon the Staff and All Pilgrims for 2010. That included us!

If you have never been to the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, it's worth the stop - even more so now this year.

Daughter graduates (the last one)

Friday we were on the campus of Wellesley College for the 10th year in a row - though perhaps for the last time.

Youngest daughter was graduating - following in the footsteps of her oldest sister (Class of 2005).

Typical of youngest daughter's quiet, independent ways, she did not tell us that she was graduating with honors, including as a member of Phi Beta Kappa!

She is home for a week, then will be returning to the college, which hired her. A degree - and a job!

I'm so proud of her.

I'm also sad.

She already has an rented room, and will be taking her bedroom furniture with her when she leaves next Saturday.

No more trips to the campus to drop off or pick up a daughter.

And ... as of next Saturday, we will officially be empty nesters.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pray for vocations to the Priesthood

A nice vocations poster for the Diocese of Rochester. I hope it helps to draw more vocations to the priesthood here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Robert Duffy - another Catholic betraying his faith

Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy has been picked by N.Y. gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo as his running mate.

Duffy describes himself as Roman Catholic. He also says that he is pro-choice and supports homosexual marriage.

Sigh. Another Catholic betraying his faith while seeking public office.

The slug chronicles (37)

a slug among weeds
when faced with criticism
considers the source

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cowboy at the Pearly Gates

A cowboy appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

"Have you ever done anything of particular merit?" St. Peter asked.

"Well, I can think of one thing," the cowboy offered. "On a trip to the Black Hills out in South Dakota , I came upon a gang of bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen. So, I approached the largest and most tattooed biker and smacked him in the face, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground. I yelled, 'Now, back off or I'll kick the crap out of all of you!'"

St. Peter was impressed, "When did this happen?"

''Couple of minutes ago."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cuomo: Another "Catholic" for abortion

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, as expected, has announced that he will run for Governor of New York.

Given his popularity, the overwhelming Democratic majority in New York, and the divided Republican field, it's likely he will win, probably easily.

Cuomo is listed as a Roman Catholic.

But in the past, he has proven to be solidly pro-abortion. He has also endorsed homosexual marriage.

On both counts, he is going against clear teachings of the church to which he professes to belong.

Yes, there is in Catholic teachings room for following one's conscience - but it has to be a well-formed conscience. It takes study, thought, prayer - and humility.

My sense of most Catholic politicians who espouse pro-abortion views are that they have done little thinking other than about what would pass muster with a party and voters in their particular state or district.

It's more about getting elected than following one's faith.

But if they can't be true to their religion when it comes to such a clear and important teaching, how can we trust them to be true to their promises to us?

Planned Parenthood endorses Kagan

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, the billion-dollar abortion business, has issued a statement supporting Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court.

The pro-abortion Emily's List had earlier done so.

That's two knocks against Kagan.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Brother can you spare - $60,000

Every week I check out the collection figures posted in the St. Theodore's bulletin.

They are not looking good.

If the most recent weekly average holds up, we will end the fiscal year June 30 about $60,000 - or maybe more - below our goal.

That means a shortfall of about 11 percent.

Where does a parish that includes a lot of seniors, retirees, and working class folks get more money?

The diocese closed the regional junior high located in our parish school, so we lost that rent. The parish has had the old convent up for sale for a year now. No takers.

Father Steve is not one of those preaching for money types. He only occasionally brings it up. I think he knows that there are many people who don't have a lot more to give.

Yeah, I'm sure some people could give more. How many of us have cable, high speed internet, eat out, etc. - then toss in five bucks every weekend (as we've been doing for 20 years)?

But there are also people who have cut back already at home. Giving more would be difficult.

The parish has tried various events and fundraisers, but the money is not forthcoming.

The staff has already been reduced: It would be hard to make more cuts. What programs can we let go?

Something has to give.

I'd hate to be a pastor trying to keep a parish in the black these days.

So what to do?

We need a Father O'Malley writing a song about swinging on a star.

I wish I had $60,000 to spare. Imagine the look on Father's face if our weekly collection suddenly jumped to $69,000 one week.

Anyone out there have a few extra dollars hanging around? Visit St. Theodore's some Sunday and toss them into the collection basket.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The slug chronicles (29)

a slug among weeds
is by his very nature

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The slug chronicles (28)

a slug among weeds
knows that truth will set him free
but it still might hurt

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The slug chronicles (27)

a slug among weeds
never took a language class
but he understands

Monday, May 17, 2010

Diocese to ordain a former Protestant minister

Looks like the Diocese of Rochester will have a priestly ordination before 2013.

Scott Caton, a former Protestant minister who converted to Catholicism 12 years ago, will be ordained a transitional deacon June 5 of this year, and a priest in 2011.

He's married with six children. He will serve as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Church in Rochester while waiting for his priestly ordination.

Caton's ordination was approved by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and then by Pope Benedict XVI.

As a married man, his ordination is permitted under an exception permitted to the Church's rules regarding priestly celibacy - an exception that has allowed some married former ministers to become ordained Catholic priests.

It's good to have an ordination in the works. I don't know much about him and his beliefs. I'd be curious to find out more.

The slug chronicles (26)

a slug among weeds
eschews tobacco products
but will chomp on chard

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A nightmare - a gift?

I awoke shortly after 3 this morning.

I'd had a weirdly detailed nightmare.

I dreamed that as I was driving to school I felt strange, disoriented. I got to school, and the students arrived. Class was about to begin.

And I realized I couldn't talk.

It hit me that I was having a stroke.

I wrote on the board for the kids to get one of the other teachers. I wrote him a note asking him to call an ambulance and what I feared was happening.

I wrote a couple of assignments on the board for my classes to do.

And I wondered if I would ever be able to speak again.

I thought about the fact that I might have to give up teaching in a regular school. I thought about not being able to sing at church or with Rock of Faith. I thought about not being able to lector. I thought about trying to learn to talk again.

I wondered if I could even play guitar any more.

But I knew I could still write, and that was a comfort.

In the dream I wasn't afraid. I wasn't panicked. It was just realizing that my entire life was about to change.

I lay in bed trying to get back to sleep. I tossed and turned until I heard the Sunday paper being delivered. I got up, and read it.

I tried not to make any noise - I didn't want to wake my wife.

But I also realized that I was not saying anything.

Like in the nightmare.

It was just a dream. But given what's happened in my family over the years, given what happened to my dad, a possible reality.

As I sat there I thought about taking better care of myself - just in case. Losing weight. Exercising more. (Who am I kidding: STARTING to exercise!) Watching my diet.

Then I felt grateful that I can still speak. That I can sing. That I can write.

I even felt grateful that in the nightmare I could still write.

And knowing that like so much else in life, it could all be gone in a flash.

Strange dream.

I wonder if like so many dreams in the Bible it's a warning?

A gift rather than a nightmare?

Pro-life March June 12

Local pro-lifers are planning a pro-life march and rosary June 12 - and it's in my own neck of the woods.

The march and rosary will begin at 9:00 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church, 2400 W. Ridge Rd. in Greece. The march will proceed to the Planned Parenthood offices at 2824 W. Ridge Rd.

St. John's has an 8:15 Mass on Saturday mornings; marchers may want to arrive early to attend the Mass.

The church is about five minutes from my house and the 8:15 Saturday Mass is one I often attend - my parish does not have a Saturday morning Mass - so I would normally be there anyway. The Mass always ends with recitations of St. Michael's Prayer and a Hail Mary for the end of abortion.

I'm pleased that I'll be able to add a rosary and support for life to my Saturday morning Mass going.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Catholic Rock: Ocean of Mercy (The Thirsting)

Another nice tune from The Thirsting.

Sottile's 50 Reasons to Write Poetry

My poetry friend Joe Sottile (described as "Rochester's Poet for Kids") penned the following.

50 Reasons to Write Poetry

1. To bear witness to life, the good, the bad, and the ugly
2. To discover what I feel
3. To express my feelings
4. To corral my experiences
5. To discover what I think, know and care about
6. To get life’s pain out
7. To use what hurts positively
8. To enjoy the power of words
9. To share serious thoughts
10. To define who I am
11. To be seen and heard
12. To open minds and change the world
13. To make sense of the world
14. To understand the human condition better
15. To stay engaged with my own divinity
16. To be authentic, genuine and real like Holden Caulfield
17. To avoid Depression
18. To build bridges with words
19. To keep my brain alert and alive
20. To keep Alzheimer’s at bay
21. To have something positive to daydream about—writing…
22. To recite my own poetry in traffic
23. To be part of various poetry groups and writing organizations
24. To be a leader instead of a follower
25. To conduct poetry workshops
26. To be anything I want to be in writing
27. To make others laugh
28. To share life’s wisdom and insights
29. To reveal to others what I think is truly ironic
30. To share what I am thankful for
31. To honor others
32. To get published in journals
33. To create books
34. To stretch my sensibilities
35. To keep on growing as a writer
36. To give back to others
37. To have new poems to read
38. To create publishing dates
39. To make poetry accessible to others, especially kids
40. To live life’s good parts again and again through my poetry
41. To be a local celebrity
42. To do in writing what I once thought impossible
43. To get faster to life’s “Bottom Lines” like Charlie Rose
44. To leave a record of my life
45. To perfect my “Last Lecture” with each poetry performance
46. To create some spending money
47. To make my mark on the world
48. To leave a legacy for my kids
49. To create a more interesting income tax return
50. To be of interest to the ladies (Shhhhhhh! Keep this a secret!)

He's a wonderful guy, a dedicated poet, and has kept on nurturing children's creativity long after retiring from teaching.

And best of all, he's not afraid to be silly.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blood Money: A film we all should see?

It looks powerful. When I get a chance I will see it to see if it is truly effective. Maybe this is something to screen at churches, to take youth groups to.

If anyone else sees it, let us know what you think.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A tardus inter runco persolvo (yeah, slugs again)

Years ago when I was a reporter at a Catholic newspaper we received a copy of a book by a Rochester spiritual writer, Father Thomas Green, SJ. (God rest his soul.)

The book was Weeds Among the Wheat.

Being a wise guy - and not intending any slight against Father or his book - I quipped that if I ever wrote an autobiography it would be called A Slug Among Weeds.

The Slug part is a given. Slug suggests a slothful, lazy person, an idler. That's me.

It's also a lowly creature. Also me. Some wags might even call me slimy.

I think of St. Francis calling his own body Brother Ass. At least he was worthy of being a mammal.

When it comes to Weeds - I have an affection for them (as my neighbors might attest). I'm not one of those herbicidal maniacs out to massacre every non-grass plant on my lawn. I like dandelions, chicory, Queen Anne's Lace.

From a theological point of view, there are many folks who have been (and are) considered "weeds" by others - lepers, prostitutes, drunks, tax collectors, fishermen, shepherds, pro-lifers, and so on. So A Slug Among Weeds makes sense.

As for the sluggy haiku, well, I think many purists would not consider my 17-syllable scribbles proper haiku, although a few of my creations might flirt with the literary boundaries. I certainly would not submit them to haiku journals.

I'm simply playing with the words and images, having a grand old time, nurturing my Dada side and my inner slug.

And besides, it's better than sitting around obsessing over the perceived sins and faults of others.

I'm a slug, after all.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

My Mother and my Nana have both passed away, but I still think of them often.

On this day, I offer prayers for them- and for all mothers.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Archbishop Dolan, Knights, Sisters start National Prayer Campaign for Life a

N.Y. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, along the Knights of Columbus and the Sisters of Life, have launched a National Prayer Campaign for Life.

The Campaign was announced at a Mass May 3, the tenth anniversary of the death of Cardinal John O'Conner, a staunch supporter of pro-life activities.

The campaign calls for people to recite the following prayer on a daily basis:

Eternal Father, Source of Life,
strengthen us with your Holy Spirit
to receive the abundance of life you have promised.
Open our hearts to see and desire

the beauty of your plan for life and love.
Make our love generous and self-giving so that we may be blessed with joy.

Grant us great trust in your mercy.
Forgive us for not receiving your gift of life

and heal us from the effects of the culture of death.

Instill in us and all people reverence for every human life.
Inspire and protect our efforts on behalf of those most vulnerable

especially the unborn, the sick and the elderly.

We ask this in the Name of Jesus,who by His Cross makes all things new. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

For more information, go to the campaign site.

There are some folks who can march, hold vigils, lobby, and so on for life. But there are also many good people who can't do so. This gives them another powerful - the most powerful, really - way to work for life.

I believe in the power of prayer. Only through God's power and grace can the hearts and minds of those trapped by the Culture of Death be changed.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The slug chronicles (16)

a slug among weeds
read the liturgical norms
but prefers green leaves

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Catholic Punk Rock!

A few Catholic converts

Alleluia! Welcome home.

The slug chronicles (15)

a slug among weeds
unconsciously knows Dada
is as Dada does

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The slug chronicles (14)

a slug among weeds
will tolerate spring cleaning
but welcomes decay

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Stick to guitar, son

They managed to record a few of the pieces we played at the last Mass - including one on which I sang lead on a couple of verses.

Okay for folk singing, maybe (in the mold of Dylan, or a grizzled old folkie), but not for worship.

I should probably just stick to playing guitar. I offend enough people that way.

The slug chronicles (13)

a slug among weeds
may not hear the singing birds
but they are still there

Monday, May 03, 2010

There's enough food to feed everyone

Why are people hungry? It's not overpopulation.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Dady Brothers: A Place in the Choir

Ah, local talent.

Now off to play and sing with the choir!