30 November 2007


ORDER NOW in time for X-Mas!

Pope Innocent III Action Figure
Introduce this Pope Innocent III Action Figure to your other figures and watch the spiritual sparks fly! Armed with his formidable power of excommunication and an intimidating scroll inscribed with Latin text, this 6" tall, hard plastic model of the 176th Pope will soon have all your other action figures lining up for confession. Read the back of the illustrated blistercard and you'll find that Pope Innocent III was a good guy in all respects. He was a patron of the arts, cared about orphans, built a hospital and reunified the Papal States! Comes with removable fancy Pope hat.

Well, isn't it?


Yes - We couldn't be happier,
Right, dear?
Couldn't be happier
Right here
Look what we've got: A fairy-tale plot
Our very own happy ending!

Where we couldn't be happier
True, dear?
Couldn't be happier
And we're happy to share our ending vicariously with all of you

We couldn't be happier because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true!
That's why I couldn't be happier
No, I couldn't be happier

Though it is, I admit, the tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn't be happier
Simply couldn't be happier
Well - not "simply"
'Cause getting your dreams
It's strange, but it seems
A little - well - complicated
There's a kind of a sort of : cost
There's a couple of things get: lost

There are bridges you cross
you didn't know you crossed
Until you've crossed
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn't thrill you like you think it will
Still - With this perfect finale,
The cheers and ballyhoo
Who Wouldn't be happier?

So I couldn't be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn't it?

A Victory for Holy Mother Church!

News item from the National Catholic Reporter:

"A letter from the Bishop of Boise. ID, may have provided the gravitas a campaign needed to persuade the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to change the name of a hill 38 miles north of Pocatello, ID, to St. Mary's Knoll. It had been called St. Mary's Nipple, which Bishop Michael Driscoll said needed to be renamed out of respect for all women. A local group had been petitioning for a change since 1995. In June, after the Board deadlocked over the name change in a 4-4 vote, Driscoll wrote the Board urging the change."


Next campaign: All places named "Maidenhead" (eg, in England and, I believe, Cape Cod). We all know what THAT means!

Our Lady of Victory

"Among the churches of America, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Victory is, for many reasons, to be counted as one of the greatest. This sanctuary is truly a masterpiece, in the nobility of its lines, in the splendor of its marbles, in its massive solidarity, and in its artistic finish.."

-Quoted from the Apostolic Decree by Pope Pius XI which elevated the Shrine of Our Lady of Victory to a Minor Basilica on July 20, 1926.

Buffalo's Own...

Prayer for the Canonization of Father Baker
Lord, you gave us Your Servant Nelson Baker as an example of service to the poor, homeless, and young, By 'Father Bakers' ardent concern for those in need, inflame our hearts and lives with compassion for the poor, justice for the oppressed, hope for the troubled, and courage to those in doubt. We pray through the intercession of Our Lady of Victory, if it be Your will, that Your servant, Nelson Baker, may one day be canonized. Amen.
(Glory Be... 3X)

Buffalo's Own...

Sister Karen Klimczak, SSJ

In 1985, Sister Karen Klimczak founded HOPE House on Sycamore Street in the City of Buffalo. This project was started to provide transitional housing to inmates being released from correctional facilities. During Sr. Karen’s work in the prison ministry, she felt that there were not enough services available for these men upon their release. In 1987, Father Joseph A. Bissonette was murdered in his rectory at St. Bartholomew’s church at 335 Grider Street, also in the city of Buffalo. Sr. Karen relocated HOPE House to this location and renamed it Bissonette House as a way of paying homage to the slain Fr. Bissonette. It is at this location that Bissonette House continues to operate. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Bissonette House and also the 22nd year of Sr. Karen’s work with recently released parolees.

Sr. Karen’s reach throughout the City of Buffalo and Erie County is second to none as she started the “Nonviolence Begins With Me” and “I Leave PeacePrints” campaigns with attractive yard signage in the hopes that these campaigns would spread her desire for nonviolence throughout the region. This campaign is still very much active today through these yard signs, community events in honor of Sr. Karen and the unveiling of billboards throughout the city that bear these sayings.


A great, but tragic, story if you don't know it. Do your Google research.


"It will not do to leave a live dragon out of your plans if you live near one."

- J.R.R.Tolkien from The Hobbit

Give up or Let go?

"Letting Go" by Suzanne Marshall Lucas

Giving up is merely quitting. Letting go is sweet release.
Giving up is cries of anguish. Letting go is perfect peace.
Giving up is hard and heavy. Letting go is loose and light.
Giving up is simply failure. Letting go, success in sight.

Letting go I train my blueprint for a perfect pure design.

Giving up is very human. Letting go is most Divine.
Giving up is death at sundown. Letting go, the Rising Sun.
Giving up is "there, it’s over." Letting go, "I’ve just begun."

Proving Holiness

Sainthood documentary to air on WNED-TV

"Proving Holiness," a privately funded documentary produced by Daybreak TV Productions of the Diocese of Buffalo, will air Monday, Dec. 3 at 9:30 p.m. on WNED-TV (Ch. 17) in Buffalo. The 60-minute program defines the canonization process through the stories of Monsignor Nelson Baker, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and Saint Faustina.
Actor Martin Sheen narrates the documentary.

The founder of Baker Victory Services and Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, Father Baker's sainthood cause is being promoted by the Diocese of Buffalo. "It’s exciting that our community can experience the steps of canonization firsthand through the cause of Msgr. Nelson Baker," said Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, bishop of Buffalo. 'Proving Holiness' offers inspiration and a clear understanding of how sanctity is determined."

Following its airing on WNED, "Proving Holiness" will be made available to parishes, religious education programs and Catholic schools throughout the diocese. Plans also call for national and international distribution. www.buffalodiocese.org

29 November 2007


"Jesus is the most important person in the history of Christianity. If it wasn't for him, Christianity probably wouldn't be as popular as it is today."

-From a freshman essay in my "Intro to Religion" Class


Stained Glass Buffalo

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Cds

by: Cynnie Gaasch

from: buffalorising.com

"The BPO released a cd of works by Ottorino Respighi this month, featuring Church Windows, a piece that was composed for piano originally. Jeff Simon of the Buffalo News describes this piece, “Based on Gregorian themes introduced to him by his wife, it balances blazing orchestration with religious fervor in a way that superbly challenges any orchestra.” The orchestra recorded for this cd at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and photographs of the building’s stained glass windows are the cover art."

It is available on their website, or you can find them at most local cd stores.

28 November 2007

Which 20th Century Pope are YOU?


"You are Pope John Paul II. You are a force to be reckoned with."

You? Take Quiz

Have you found Jesus?

The Sea

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous
and the storm terrible,
but they have never found these reasons sufficient
for remaining ashore"
V. van Gogh

27 November 2007

Christ of the Breadlines


Sometimes a vocation is not a vocation. Rather...

"Oftentimes our attraction to a particular religious order, and/or aspects of the religious life, are God’s call to the soul to enter more deeply into prayer, as well as penance and a life of greater detachment."

Female Clergy

From the Deacon's Bench:

A woman, and a nun at that, has published a book on women and ordination. And Sister Sara Butler isn't necessarily saying what others in the sisterhood of feminism would like to hear. She was interviewed for the Advocate, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Newark:

"She said one common objection to the Church's teaching on female ordination is that the Catholic Church is patriarchal and not including women in the role of priests is sexist. "Most argue that the exclusion of women from a public leadership role is an injustice and explicit sexism. Some view that Jesus' choice of 12 men is irrelevant and that it is just an ecclesiastical tradition to have men as priests," Sister Sara said. However, she explained that the priesthood is a sacrament and that all priests are to follow in the tradition of the apostles who were all men."

Priestly ordination is a vocation to exercise Christian ministry through the Church. It is conferred by a sacrament instituted by Jesus and ordained ministry is traced back to the apostles. Priests are successors of the apostles," Sister Sara emphasized.

Women held roles of influence and had leadership positions in the early Church, Sister Sara stressed, and both female and male saints are represented and revered in the Catholic Church."The goal of a Christian life is not to be a priest, but to be a saint," she said. "Women have full participation in the Church and we are all called to live the Gospel to the hilt. It is not about a leadership position. Mary's dignity was not compromised because she wasn't a priest or an apostle and she is known as the 'Queen of All Saints.'"

Buffalo Sites

To Browse

Today? Tomorrow?

from: The Crescat

Teach or Preach?

"Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses." -Paul VI (1975)


"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A Thought:

There was a point in Chinese history when you paid the doctor when you were healthy. The moment you got sick you stop paying. If the local doctor wanted to get paid, it was his job to bring you back to full health.


"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." --Albert Einstein


Priesthood is not a convenient, historically conditioned form of Church organization, but is rooted in the Incarnation, in the priesthood and mission of Christ himself.
Arthur Middleton


“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

-Kahlil Gibran


Spiritual writer Brennan Manning reminds us of that wonderful scene in the play, Gideon, written by Paddy Chayefsky. Gideon is out in the desert in his tent a thousand miles from nowhere, feeling deserted and rejected by God, a feeling that is no stranger to many of us from time to time, and others most of the time, maybe even all the time.

One night, God breaks into the tent and Gideon is ravished and overcome, burnt by the wild fire of God’s love. He is up all night, pacing back and forth in his tent. Finally dawn comes, and Gideon cries out:

“God, oh God, all night long I’ve thought of nuttin’ but You, nuttin’ but You. I’m caught up in the raptures of love. God, I want to take You into my tent, wrap You up, and keep You all to myself. God, hey God, tell me that You love me.”

And God answers: “I love you, Gideon.”

“Yeah, tell me again, God.”

“I love you, Gideon.”

Gideon scratches his head and says: “I don’t understand. Why? Why do You love me?”

Then God scratches His head and answers: "I really don’t know. Sometimes, My Gideon, passion is unreasonable.”


Writers do not have the same social skills that other people have, because we spend so much of our time alone and so we're very intolerant of people who are loud or pushy, who are deceitful and especially people who are deceitful in flattering us. I find that very painful. - GK

"The rules for marriage are the same as for a lifeboat. No sudden moves, don't crowd the other person, and keep all disastrous thoughts to yourself. ... Misery is the secret of happiness in marriage. Go make yourself miserable and then come home. " - GK

Dolan in Milwaukee

a la: Whispers

"They say that, “Once you’re a bishop, you never have a bad meal, or hear the truth.”The first I can live with; the second, I cannot!I have to admit that the human side of me gets frustrated and exhausted with the avalanche of criticism that is falling upon bishops, priests, and the Church today. Everybody at times seems angry, fed-up, aggrieved, and my mail is proof of that. As one of my nieces observed to me, after spending a few days visiting, “Uncle Tim, you sure have an easy job. Everybody knows how to do it better than you!”

While my human side can get exhausted by the constant criticism, my spiritual side welcomes and needs it. I want people to tell me the truth, even if they know it might be upsetting for me to hear.


Well, for one, a bishop needs to listen. His people, his priests, his consecrated religious, the pastoral leaders, are as much a part of the Church as he is. They, too, have insights that arise from the graces of Baptism, Confirmation, and their own vocation. It is good for me, and good for the Church, to listen attentively and respect the people who share in my love of the Church.

Two, it helps my humility. It is good for me to acknowledge that I do not have all the answers, that my pride can get in the way, that I may be blinded on some issues of pastoral concern. To listen to criticism and unpleasant advice is good for my humility, a virtue very pleasing to Jesus, who is “gentle and humble of heart.”

Recently, in the Liturgy of the Hours (the daily prayer that bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated religious and an ever-increasing number of God’s people daily pray), the Office of Readings posed two examples of critics.

The first instance came from the Second Book of Samuel. King David was fleeing Jerusalem, and a man named Shimei followed him on the side of the road, yelling at him, cursing him, criticizing him, even throwing stones at him. The royal guard wanted to “lop off his head,” but King David stopped them, acknowledging that it was good for him to hear such criticism, as obnoxious as it was, and that being the object of such attack could help him do penance.

Then there was Micaiah, the prophet. The first book of Kings tells us that King Jehoshaphat consulted all the other prophets about the wisdom of waging war. All of them were “yes men” and told the King what they knew he wanted to hear. Not Micaiah. He told the king the truth, even though the king resented it.

I guess we all need a Shimei in our lives; we certainly need a Micaiah. Maybe our critics are really blessings.

Naysayers seem to be in particular abundance in the life of the church, and one wouldn't be chided for thinking that, these days, the internet has caused a million more of 'em to bloom.

Then again, as a veteran prelate once told me: "I get a lot of letters here -- and, more often than not, they're not all nice ones. Most of them aren't nice at all."

But I'd rather get those than nothing at all.


Because if they don't write, it means they don't care anymore."

And, indeed, that'd be the worst thing of all...

Buffalo's Past IS Its Future?

How Buffalo Get a Warhol?
Reflections on a Postmodern City

by Craig Reynolds (spring 1997)

THE ARGUMENT: Buffalo provides a challenge, not a legacy; it taunts the uninspired until they flee to a city where legacy’s flow will carry them along, like New York, San Francisco or Seattle. Buffalo requires a substantial commitment, like that of a drowning man to his condition. In Buffalo, we wrestle with God, Job’s God, and the fact of being is enough.

I begin to understand this after asking my 2 friends visiting from Seattle how they like the Albright Knox Art Gallery, the first stop in my weekend tour of Buffalo’s monuments to greatness. Pointing at Andy Warhol’s 100 Cans, they ask, “how Buffalo get a Warhol?” making me realize: 1) my friends aren’t exactly Peggy Guggenheims, but that’s perfectly a–okay; and 2) even after enjoying firsthand some of the greatest paintings anywhere, the misconception that Buffalo couldn’t possibly be significant remains even still.

It is a Saturday morning late in the football season and the museum is relatively empty, so one guest poses the inevitable question, “where is everybody?”––but rather than waste energy answering it, we who are not somewhere else do what we always do when queries like that arise: lean forward as far as we can without stubbing our noses on cold marble or bronze or drooling all over the paintings we risque absurdity to love, muttering under our breaths: “my God . . .”


A few hours later, after a quick architectural tour beginning on the gallery’s rear steps and ending downtown, we wind up at the waterfront, where we enjoy the cacophony of winds whistling through the car’s window casings. Naturally, being downtown, there’s no–one around . . .

Except a pack of wild dogs . . .

Wrestling savagely beside an over–turned garbage can on the corner of Erie and Lakefront Boulevards.

I go absolutely nuts to myself realizing I live in a city where wild dogs roam the streets, where the only activity is the impossible action of postmodern comic strips and outlandish science–fiction fantasies. I explode with delight realizing just how primal things have become, how ugly, how real.

Society has no claim on Buffalo anymore. We’re alone and that’s happy. We’re all gonna die and that’s happy. The empty storefronts that line Main Street dot sentences that ceased being written in earnest decades ago (anybody who writes them still invites the cancer that threatens to devour America). Buffalo is a grand Dadaist joke played on the American dream. What to do now is anybody’s guess––

My friends and I drive off wildly into the tangled maze of industrial nothing and bliss. “Not much happening here!” I shout and take a robust pride in its being true.

1.3 million people live in the greater–Buffalo area and all I see is not much happening here. I see empty factories overlooking empty lakes and rivers. I see empty streets leading nowhere but to other empty streets, empty parking lots in the shadows of empty churches.

Buffalo is the most spiritually evolved city in America. Like Christ, we have sacrificed everything for a better line on the suffering we always sensed was the only truth. In Buffalo, it’s man against God. Leaving your house mid–January is a Grecian odyssey all in itself––


Soon enough, my friends begin to enjoy the sense of release our inevitable expiration arouses––

We drive on, past half–full warehouses and factories pumping loose, disjointed rhythms into the vast, inhuman night.

We drive on, through the staggering corpses of unused grain elevators, pure surrealist monuments to nothing.

We drive on, past windowless bars where solitary patrons try to trap oblivion in the bottoms of their beer glasses, but never succeed (oblivion).

We drive on, alongside vestigial railroad lines but tonsils were always my favorite body part so who am I to complain?

We drive on, past the leftover remains of Bethlehem Steel’s old headquarters, a creepy mansion on the hills only it’s all alone on the banks of Lake Erie and the dirt is deep like on the buildings in Paris.

We drive on, past the dilapidated cruise ship imported extra–special from Cleveland to collect spiders and rats on the polluted shores of eastern Lake Erie, also creepy.

We drive on––

We drive on––

Until we reach Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica and the trumpets begin to sound. And the angels on its rooftops sing: “everything you ever thought was true is wrong!”

Five minutes later we are standing dumbstruck in the center of the cathedral’s magnificent atrium, where the walls and ceiling exude the strange inner light the images painted on them ache to depict. Everybody in our group is amazed, silently gaping with eyes large like the black hole that is Buffalo.

“What is a beautiful, amazing place like this doing in Lackawanna?” my one friend asks.

Our Lady of Victory is a typical Buffalo achievement in so far as there’s absolutely no reason why it should exist . . . but it does . . . just like Buffalo does . . . and the reason why is that Father Baker had a vision and committed himself wholeheartedly to its fulfillment. Buffalo is ripe with enigmas and why here?s––and the answer always comes back “because” (Buffalo precedes all rational explanations). There is a fine line between something and nothing and Buffalo manages to walk it straight despite the large quantities of alcohol it consumed in hopes of blurring that line just a little wider. Unlike other cities, where it’s easy to sink into the flow of everything’s fine, in Buffalo, you must be a prophet or drown in utter mediocrity. Buffalo demands existential authenticity, and the rock we push up the hill (only to have it roll back down over us time and time again) is our only salvation. Like Rimbaud in the gutters and back–alleys of Paris, in Buffalo, you have no choice but to remake life; there’s no bullshit left to buy, no palace gates to hide behind (I endure Siddhartha Gautama’s 4 passing sights whenever I walk out my front door). Buffalo is the most advanced city in America; we progressed beyond progress. Our truth is grounded on an intense understanding of everything that is false (or an intense understanding that everything is false). We don’t need to realize the ultimate insignificance of the world; our world realizes it for us. Not only does Buffalo’s faded, tattered industrial landscape prefigure a dawning, postmodern art and architecture, it augers a new way of being. I mark in every face I pass marks of weakness, marks of woe––the sane, saintly sufferings of Christ. In Buffalo, we have exhausted all the tired cliches of American culture, but who needs them anyway? I’d rather run with wild dogs through silent streets than jump from old mall to new mall hopelessly fleeing my own inevitable collapse.

It doesn’t vex me that the world has abandoned Buffalo to the cold, hard night of passing time, impermanence and irrelevance; it just means I have an art gallery of incalculable merit all to myself, a downtown whose jewels were left for me to reap, a lake like a vision and the wind that blows across it proves that I’m alive, a discarded history so rich I feel privileged to watch it unfold. In Buffalo, we have turned something inside out, revealing the paradoxical everything of nothing. Our insignificance is of such great consequence it weighs on me like death; next stop: illumination.

AND NOW, FOR THE FORCED FINALE THAT’S TRUE NEVERTHELESS: in the growls of wild dogs I hear the song of the new American frontier, where being and not–being fade into the fact of we’re here anyway so what are you gonna do about it?––where significance and insignificance meet on weekends for an illicit drink (before returning to their established corners in time for tenure–track office–hours on Monday). We are the still point at which all contradictions meet and become one. I don’t care if you don’t care. The past, present and future is Buffalo’s essence. Someday you’ll join me in eternity.

Two From Big A

The house of my soul is too narrow for thee to come in to me; let it be enlarged by thee. It is in ruins; do thou restore it. There is much about it which must offend thy eyes; I confess and know it. But who will cleanse it? Or, to whom shall I cry but to thee? Cleanse thou me from my secret faults, O Lord, and keep back thy servant from strange sins. I believe, and therefore do I speak. But thou, O Lord, thou knowest. Have I not confessed my transgressions unto thee, O my God; and hast thou not put away the iniquity of my heart? I do not contend in judgment with thee, who art truth itself; and I would not deceive myself, lest my iniquity lie even to itself. I do not, therefore, contend in judgment with thee, for if thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? "Confessions" - St. Augustine

"Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.” - Saint Augustine

On the Fence

“A sense of deep sadness comes over me when I thing of how Christians sit on the fence. What is the matter with us? Have we forgotten that we are the followers of a crucified Christ? Have we forgotten that he was just the son of a carpenter, himself a tradesman, a strange itinerant preacher who crisscrossed the tiny country of Palestine, preaching his gospel to the poor? Have we forgotten that from the moment he began preaching he walked in the shadow of death? Have we forgotten that following him means to take the greatest risk that one can take? Have we forgotten that following him means living dangerously? - T. Radcliffe

Variations on a Theme?

Six Sentences, One Meaning?

- The children the world almost break become the adults who save it.

- Sometimes, God answers prayers by giving us the tools to take care of ourselves.

- You will learn how to help yourself. It will break your heart, and it will make you strong.

- Once I found myself, I realized God was there all along (i felt both terrified and reassured.)

- It is our ability to remember that sets us apart.

- You will be consoled according to the greatness of your sorrow and affliction; the greater the suffering, the greater will be the reward." -St. Mary Magdalen de'Pazzi, OCD

Totus Tous

Lord, I give this day entirely to You -- I retain none of it for myself. It is Yours. If on this, Your day, You send me joy -- I thank you. If on this, Your day, You send me loneliness -- I will draw closer to You. If on this, Your day, You send me sorrow -- I accept it. If on this, Your day, You send me peace -- I will share it with the anxious. If on this, Your day, You send me pain -- I will suffer it with You. If I accept good things from You, should I not also accept unpleasant? Since this is Your day, which You graciously have given to me, and which I now in intention return to You, help me to live it well; not to waste what You have given on idleness but to use it as You have designed. Help me to remember how well the day goes when it is given to You. I trust that You will give to me this day all that I need and that all that is given or withheld is for my good. With all this in mind, help me to live this day with You in joy. Amen.


"It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power." - David Brin

Like Air

“’It is important for men to pray,’ said Mom. ‘To submit themselves to Christ.’ Everyone must bend his or her will, but this desire to clean up one’s own spiritual mess seems a more masculine failing. From a distance, the danger is easy to see: ‘It’s my problem, I’ll deal with it,’ leading to, ‘It’s my soul, I’ll sanctify it.’ No, you won’t” – from Matthew Lickona’s, “Swimming with Scapulars”

All Alone or With All?

"The monk flees far from the world not because he detests the world, but because he loves the world and in this way he is better able to help the world through his prayer, in things that don't happen humanly but only through divine intervention. In this way God saves the world."
-Elder Paisios the Athonite

Two'fer Quotes

"We love God as much as the person we like least." - Dorthy Day

It is easy to do what Jesus would do when you are not where Jesus would be. The question is not 'What would Jesus do?' but instead, 'Where would Jesus be?' - Jerry Goebel

No Better Than a Dog

"Lord, since Thou hast taken from me all that I had of Thee, yet of Thy grace leave me the gift which every dog has by nature: that of being true to Thee in my distress, when I am deprived of all consolation. This I desire more fervently than Thy heavenly Kingdom!"
-Mechthild of Magdeburg:

Only This

"What does God want me to do? ...Be here or go there?…The answer was: God is not interested in where you are or what you do…He is interested only in the quality and quantity of the love you give. Nothing else. Nothing else." –Mother Gavrilia

B16 - Bingo!

"I hope you will allow me to recall on this occasion a few thoughts which I set down in my brief memoirs with regard to my appointment as Archbishop of Munich and Freising. I was to become, and did become, the successor of Saint Corbinian. From my childhood I was very much taken with the story that a bear had attacked and killed the horse on the saint was riding across the Alps. Corbinian severely scolded the bear and he punished him by loading him down with all his baggage and making him carry it all the way to Rome. So the bear, carrying the baggage of the saint, had to go to Rome, and only there was he allowed by the saint to go free.

In 1977, when I had to face the difficult choice of whether or not to accept my appointment as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, knowing that it would take me away from my usual work at the university and mean new work and new responsibilities, I had to do a lot of reflecting. And precisely then I remembered this bear and the interpretation of verses 22 and 23 of Psalm 73 that Saint Augustine, in a situation much like my own and in the context of his own priestly and episcopal ordination, had come up with and later set down in his sermons on the Psalms. In Psalm 73, the Psalmist asks why in this world good things often happen to bad people, while bad things happen to many good people. And he goes on to say: “I was foolish in my thinking, I stood in your presence like a dumb beast. But then I entered the sanctuary and I understood how even amid my troubles I was close to you and that you were always with me”.

Augustine loved this Psalm and often made reference to it, seeing in the words “I stood in your presence like a dumb beast” (in Latin, iumentum) a reference to the beasts of burden used in North Africa to work the land. In this iumentum he saw an image of himself as a beast of burden for God, someone burdened by his responsibility, the sarcina episcopalis. He had chosen the life of a scholar and God had called him to become a “beast of burden”, a sturdy ox drawing the plough in God’s field, doing the heavy labour assigned to him. But he came to realize: just as the beast of burden is very close to the farmer, working under his direction, so I am very close to God, because thus I serve him directly for the building up of his Kingdom, the the building up of his Church.With these words of the Bishop of Hippo in mind, I have found in Saint Corbinian’s bear a constant encouragement to carry out my ministry with confidence and joy – thirty years ago, and again now in my new task – and to say my daily “yes” to God: I have become for you a beast of burden, but as such “I am always with you” (Ps 73:23).

Saint Corbinian’s bear was set free in Rome. In my case, the Lord decided otherwise. "