Friday, May 23, 2008

Dear Reuters,

Yes, I know Christie. Yes, she is my friend. Yes, I have a personal relationship with her and even talk with her sometimes. I do not see her, no, but I have every faith that I will one day. At the beginning of July 2008, to be precise. We all know how often those dates prove to be wrong, yet I am convinced that Christie reads and understands every word that I write and will bring this to pass lest my faith be in vain.

I have yet, however, to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christie. Because Christie is my university classmate, and not my God. He would be, in the Latin and the context, Christi. Please, Reuters. I understand that you are not writing about Islam, thus accuracy in detail is not essential to life and limb...but still I beg you. Correct that photo caption.

Christ is making waves in Germany!

Corpus Christi procession in Seehausen, Germany. Hat tip to Amy Welborn for the photo!

So Philosophy, Astronomy, and Quantam Mechanics walk into a bar...

Me: [on phone to Elder Sister] "Oh, I found this book at the library called 'Is Pluto a Planet?' I may have left a slip of paper inside answering yes..."
E.S.: "Pluto isn't a planet."
Me: "Yes, it is. It's a planet."
E.S.: "It is a planet, and it isn't a planet."
Me: "It can't be both a planet and not a planet, [E.S.]."
E.S: "It's Schroedinger's planet!"
Me: "Schroedinger's planet...populated by cats?"
E.S.: "We don't know. Not until they're observed."
Me: [hastily changes subject]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And serious again.

Just - pray for Burma/Myanmar and Sichuan, China. Pray that their leaders remember that they are not the victims; they are not dying beneath rubble or for lack of food or clean water or shelter. Two disasters; one with maybe 100,000 dead and the other with as many as 20,000...two corrupt governments. Myanmar is evidently keeping the aid donated for its military and instead passing out rotted food, and China? I can't really expect much better. Their biggest concern is saving "face" ahead of the Olympics this summer - though maybe that will work in the victims' favor. They'll want to look good with all eyes trained on them. I lived in Yantai, China for five months...far north and east, on the Yellow Sea, but still. The people are not their government - but they don't...always...have the Western idea of compassion for the weak. I've seen how disabled people in China were discarded and treated as nonpersons, as a commonplace. (If you're in a wheelchair, well, hope you like your apartment!) That sort of callous attitude - it can't be isolated to one area. Or at least I don't see how it can. Pray for them. And send what help you can where you can.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord have mercy, Christ hear us. Christ, graciously hear us!

Well...maybe just a break from serious blogging.

In aid of absolutely nothing at all, I offer the following vignettes from Today At The Beach. The following account is absolutely true in detail and essential chronological order...any judicious omissions and quiet rearrangements are of course my own.

Act 1, Scene 1: At the Beach. Sunrise. East Coast Extra is convinced I'm Sawyer from Lost. That's what I get for sitting in a folding chair - at the beach - reading. Saying Morning Prayer, really, but does that stop him? No. He keeps coming over and demanding to know where the guns are; then, when I tell him they're "back at the caves," he stalks off yelling for Kate. (At least he doesn't cry?) He's not being conducive to quiet recital of the Office, AND he's blocking my view of the ocean sunrise. Especially that hat of his. Move it, Panama Jack!

Act 2, Scene 1: At the Beach. Afternoon. E.C.E. and I are having a spirited discussion. Elder Sister is threatening to crush us like the clump of sand she's holding if we don't cease discussing. Classically, E.C.E is now trying the same thing - and the sand went right in my face. Absolutely typical of him.

Act 2, Scene 2: At a Restaurant. Late afternoon. E.C.E. is insistent that I bear in mind that after sand got under my eyelid and scratched my cornea, he not only lent me his sunglasses, but offered to buy a pirate patch from CVS and decorate it. Elder Sister and I finally flushed out the sand in the sink here, however, so the tearing is about done and the swelling should go down soon. Still, he's right: I shouldn't forget that part. (Oh, alright, he was not responsible for the sand that got in my eye.)

Act 3, Scene 1: At the Hotel. Evening. E.C.E is threatening a blogging war. We shall see!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.

For your love is better than life, my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life, in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy.

On my bed I remember you. On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast.


Stepping away from it all for a few days - specifically, stepping away to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, courtesy of my older sister (one of 'em) and East Coast Extra. A week at the ocean, off a small island, ahead of the real start to tourist season...Mmm. :) Back next week!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Love me, love my flock

*stretch* Great morning along the sea of Galilee. The fishing's been good, I had a nice invigorating swim, and Jesus was on the beach cooking breakfast while we were out in the boats. Perfect weather. Nice day for relaxing and casual conversation. Oh - Andrew, Christ wants me to walk down the beach with Him. Be a good little brother and work on gutting these fish, alright? Thanks. Won't be long, He's always got somewhere to be these days. Just a quick chat...


“Simon, son of John, do you love Me [without reserve*, and] more than these?” Do you love Me as I love you? Do you love Me more than you love these others? I could not ask for that total love unless I first had it for you. Can you return it?

“Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [as best I can*].” I love You as a man does a friend. And I do love You more than these. But still not totally; still not as You love me. Before, I would have said yes. Before I fled. Before I denied knowing You. Before You turned and looked at me.

“Simon, son of John, do you love Me [without reserve]?” I know your weakness. I knew it from the beginning, and I knew it when I called you. Can you not give Me the love I give you?

“Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [as best I can].” I know my weakness too; my sin is ever before me. I can only say that I will try my best to love You. Once I swore to You rashly. I will not do that again.

“Simon, son of John, do you love Me [as best you can]?” I do love you without reserve, and so I will accept whatever you can give. But are you giving Me all you can?

“Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [as best I can].” Have You now ceased to expect as much from me? Am I less in Your eyes? I can only give what I can give. I can only say that I will try. You know that. You will send Your Spirit, and then my love will be strengthened: later, I will speak of that as being the beginning. But I do not yet know any of that. I only know my poor human love and my weakness. I only know my desperate need for You.

“Amen, amen, I say to you,…when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Indeed, you will be strengthened, and you will yet love Me totally. You will lay down your life for Me, in the same manner as I did for you, and there is no greater love than that.

"........." Next time, I'll gut the fish!

“Follow Me.”

*(There are two different words at play here, in the Greek: 'agape', or unconditional, total love; and 'philia', the not-total love of friends. Christ asks for the one. Peter can only respond with the other.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008


By Denise Spencer:

They sit alone,
in silver silence gleaming
through the thin, white shroud
that covers them with gentle folds.
Within them wait the wafers and the wine,
a symbol lingering through the years
to make a memory come alive.

He lay alone,
in shadowed silence resting
‘neath the thick, pale wrap
that bound Him up, His body dead.
But then within, the man began to stir,
returning through the door of death
to prove the power of our God.

I stand alone,
in spellbound silence wondering
at the thin, dim veil
that keeps Him from my seeking eyes.
Beyond, with arms outstretched, He beckons me
to rise above this wordly wall
and let my soul commune with His.

-Denise Day Spencer

Help Neven Pesa become a priest

A university classmate of mine, Neven Pesa, has been accepted to a seminary in Pennsylvania and plans to enter this fall. Of course...the same pre-theologate studies that have helped prepare him for this have also gifted him with an enormous tuition bill that must be paid in full. By September. His full story can be read here, and I ask you to please give it a look. As I said before, if you can't give money, prayers are free - and you know you'll have his!

He's also selling an album he (mostly) wrote and recorded, samples of which can be found off his page. (Click here for the direct link.) He's Eastern Catholic, and the songs reflect that - some contemporary; some traditional Byzantine; with Hebrew and Croatian tossed in.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Still better than being lukewarm.

"Ice deserves no credit for being cold, nor fire for being hot; it is only those that have the possibility of choice that can be praised for their acts."

-Bishop Fulton Sheen, Life of Christ

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Modest Proposal

“There are 200 million poor in the world who would gladly take the vow of poverty if they could eat, dress and have a home like I do.” - Bishop Fulton Sheen

Compassion isn't just aiding those in need. Compassion is, quite literally, suffering with them. Not that we should simulate having a cyclone destroy our home or neighborhood, that would be a bit problematic, but there are a few smaller things we can do: very, very small compared to what the people of Myanmar (and many other places) are going through, but not quite nothing either. Best thing is, you save money that you can then send on to them! ;)

Need to save money for gas? - Is there a bus that'll get you there just as well? Can you walk instead? (Feet were invented long before the wheel.)
That book/CD/movie you want to get? - Does the library have it? Are used copies available on Amazon or like sites?
Want to catch the latest blockbuster? - Wait a bit: you've already lived many happy, fulfilled years without seeing it. It'll be at Hollywood Video before you know it.
Must buy organic or national brands? -'s not going to kill you to buy store brand. Or canned goods instead of fresh.
Need to buy new clothes? - I worked at a Goodwill for a while. Trust me, you'll find bargains - it just takes a few minutes' work. And people will never know.
Need to buy new shoes? - Here I'm with the movies. Convicts/wanted men are forever escaping because nobody bothers to look at their nice, new shoes. They're down there, you're up here. (Somebody who talks to your feet is probably in need of your help too.)
Gotta have your Starbucks? - Coffee is just a caffeine-delivery system. Buy Folgers in bulk and brew your own.
Named Margaret Catherine? - Take your own advice.

22,500 dead in Myanmar; up to 41,000 missing.

The total could reach 50,000 - and that's just the dead, not the injured and homeless.

YOU CAN HELP - so do. One way or another. Find an aid agency and donate. Maybe you can't send more than a few dollars - but send it. You don't know how many others are only sending that much, and what it will end up being together. If you can't do more than pray, do that. Say a Divine Mercy Chaplet or spend an hour before the Sacrament: give of your time, for those too desperate to do so themselves - those too frantic with searching for missing family or for food or a place to sleep at night. Or look to see where the destitute are around you - and what you can do for them. We are called to give of ourselves; and we are never without the means of giving. Or places to do it.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Mysterious Disappearance of Paul of Tarsus

"Readers must not complain if the shadow which took his name does not amply fill the important part of hero for which he was originally cast." - Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall

In today's first reading, Acts 18:9-18, Paul might as well be named Paul Pennyfeather, the subject of the above quote; a man notable for his odd absence of self in a book in which he is the main character. (The book, by the way, is dry English satire at its devastating best. Tolle et lege!) Is there another passage concerning Paul, anywhere in Scripture, where he is so passive to the narrative - a "shadow that has flitted about [it]," indeed? Christ comes to Paul in a vision and tells him to stay in Corinth, to not be afraid; He is with Paul and none will attack him. This is the same Paul who not so long before got up from being stoned and went right back into the city that had just attempted to brutally murder him. The same Paul that, in one of his letters, gives a lengthy and blood-curdling list of all the persecutions he has been through. If he didn't group similar incidents together, most lectors would be needing a cup of water by the end. What in Corinth had him so frightened? Acts never says it out...Paul is only a shadow, given definition by the account of the vision. His following year and a half in Corinth is summed up in the words "he settled there for a year and a half and taught the word of God." Then he gets taken before the Roman tribunal by the Jews of Corinth - Paul, the master rhetorician and preacher; Paul who has Jesus' own gift of clever verbal escapes; Paul who is "about to reply" when the Roman official throws the case out of court. End of that story. Except for the part where the synagogue official he converted is promptly beaten - but oddly, not Paul. (Or not so odd, he being a Roman citizen and all that. Oops.) He stays on; says farewell; and sails away having not left any impression of himself that Luke troubles to relate. The end of the reading is the ever so bland recount of him having his hair cut "because he had taken a vow." And Paul. Only the flitting shadow that barely corresponds to the man of letters, or even the man shown earlier in Acts.