31 January 2008


"Kolbe is the patron saint of our difficult century."
-John Paul II-

Buffalo: Then and Now


Finally the Catholics in Boston are outraged!

28 January 2008

"God in the Dock" - C.S. Lewis

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may at some point sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

27 January 2008

Monet Refuses the Operation

Monet Refuses the Operation
you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors:
Fixed notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night
to become the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent.

The world is flux,
and light becomes what it touches:
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow and white
and cerulean lamps, small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes to gases.

if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

~ Lisel Mueller ~

(Sixty Years of American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets)

Dearest Woman...

The phrase "Full of Grace" is in the passive: grace is something Mary has received. And the phrase is in the distant past, so it really means something like, "You have been loved for a very long time".

-Archbishop Carlo Maria Martini
(What a comforting thought! Could you imagine anything better than this to hear from God?)

Broken Bones of the Soul

As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another because this love is the resetting of a body of broken bones. (Even saints cannot live with saints on this earth without some anguish, without some pain at the difference that comes between them.)
There are two things that men can do about the pain of disunion with other men - they can love or they can hate. Hatred recoils from the sacrafice and the sorrow that are the price of resetting the bones - it refuses the pain of reunion.

-Tho Merton

24 January 2008

Point. Taken.

As on old friar once said to me: "In the book of Judges, we learn that Samson, armed only with the jawbone of an ass, slew one thousand Philistines. Now just imagine what God can do with a complete ass."

Well, if you put it that way....

During the Inquisition, Ignatius of Loyola was imprisoned for "teaching new ideas." He replied to his captors, "I didn't know that it was a new idea to teach Christians about Christ."
(nor to remind the Jesuits about him, I assume)


"Instead of choosing 'great' or impressive people in the eyes of the world, God uses the humble, the foolish, the weak and 'those who count for nothing' to accomplish his purposes. It is when we least expect it that the tiniest among us can humble the powerful."

-- Justin Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia (1/21/08)


23 January 2008

Patriarch in the Cathedral

The parish....

It’s in the parish where the loftiest of doctrines and the simplest of devotions both find their home. It’s where the believer and the uncertain can mingle and re-discover God together. It’s where the priest and the parishioner are neighbors, where tabernacles aren’t far from shopping centers, where sacrifices are offered daily in the midst of a bustling city. At times, it’s like a Trappist monastery, and at others, like a zoo. As my pastor once told me, “The parish is really where it’s all at.”

hat tip: Golden is Thy Fame

22 January 2008

Two from Anne Lamott

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
“You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

LEAVE ME ALONE!!!.... or not?

"Moses spent the last half of his life in the company of people who made demands of him and complained about everything to him. Yet, he flourished, reaching old age with "his eyes undimmed and his vigor unabated" (Deut 34:7). How did he do it? Perhaps when people came to him with demands, instead of thinking to himself, "Why are these people bothering me?" he said to himself, "These people need me. They depend on me. I am not a superfluous old man; I am an important contributor to their lives." When they complained, he might of thought to himself: "They have come to me to share their dreams about how life could be better."

Rabbi H. Kushner (Overcoming Life's Disappointments)

21 January 2008

Where "Faith" is a verb, not a noun...

From Steel at http://www.buffalorising.com/

This story started out as just another "look at this great building" story. My recent one-day journey through the East Side had brought me past many magnificent structures, many of them possibly facing sad futures as the Catholic Church embarks on a massive consolidation. The Sunday I was there, this church, St. Luke's was locked up with no one around. I assumed at the time that this was simply another grand Catholic church facing closure (if it had not already been shuttered). As I researched this piece I quickly realized that the story I needed to write was much bigger than architecture. The story became so big that it demanded two chapters. (more...)
and (St. Luke's Website)

18 January 2008

Wash over me...

Nothing in the world
Is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet, for dissolving the hard and the inflexible,
Nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard;
The gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true.
But few can put it into practice.
-Tao te Ching-

One Thing First

"Happiness and Freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principal: Some things are within our control and some things are not."

Epictetus (stoic philosopher, 1st c.)

Kickin' it Old School.... today....

Most photos like this are from the past.
This one is from the present.
A monk-cook turns hermit-carpenter and, somehow, the Kingdom of God is made a little more whole.
And while many will reflect on the nostalgia and romanticism of it, what should never be lost is the mystery of it...

Br. Elias at work in the Abbey of the Genesee carpenter shop.
Before moving out to the hermitage
he was one of the cooks for the community.
After becoming a hermit he did wood working for the community working in solitude most of the time.
"We can see in the Rule of Saint Benedict how nothing that is truly human ever becomes old-fashioned. Anything that really comes from the depths of our being remains a counsel of life that is always relevant...

This is a rule that springs from what is truly human, and it was able to formulate what was truly human because it looked out and listened beyond what is human and perceived the divine. Man becomes really human when he is touched by God."
Pope Benedict XVI

Seeking the Seeker

If you want God, and long for union with him, yet sometimes wonder what that means or whether it can mean anything at all, you are already walking with the God who comes.
If you are at times so weary and involved with the struggle of living that you have no strength even to want him, yet are still dissatisfied that you don't, you are already keeping Advent in your life.
If you have ever had an obscure intuition that the truth of things is somehow better, greater, more wonderful than you deserve or desire, that the touch of God in your life stills you by its gentleness, that there is a mercy beyond anything you could ever suspect, you are already drawn into the central mystery of salvation.
The Coming of God Maria Boulding, OSB

17 January 2008

Whole(y) Wheat Bread

Monk's Bread

Good Guys. Good Bread. Could use your support.

Good thing they don't chant while making potato chips.
singing chip monks?

16 January 2008


What if the bread and wine change and we don't?
Godfrey Diekman, OSB

+Edward Dennis Head (1919-2005)

Were John Wanye a bishop,
he would have been Edward Head.
Physically he was a giant among men.
(At 6'8" without his mitre on,
Pope John Paul II once told him he was the world's tallest bishop)
Pastorally and Theologically, and as a Shepherd and Leader,
he was equally imposing.
A man's man.
A priest's priest.
A giant in the age of giants.
When priests were manly men.
Larger than life in so many ways.
And yet, when he died,
and the archives were scoured to find a photo
that would capture the man:
his power, his ministry and his priesthood,
the picture decided upon wasn't regal;
showing strength, power, or ego.

The one that served him best was this...
always living his motto:
Charity Seeks Not Her Own
Talk about an episcopal portrait! And it was not staged.
(A few more like this wouldn't kill us...)

The Slow Work of God

Patient Trust In Ourselves & The Slow Work Of God
By Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are all, quite naturally,
impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being
on the way to something unknown,
something new,
and yet it is the law of all progress
that is made by passing through
some stages of instability
-and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.

Your ideas mature gradually –
let them grow,
let them shape themselves,
without undue haste.

Don't try to force them on,
as though you could be today
what time
(that is to say, grace and
circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you
and accept the anxiety of
feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

15 January 2008

a la' Jacob

A young man spent a summer in a monastery during which he had a series of conversations with an old monk. One day he asked the old monk: “Father, do you still do battle with the devil?”

The old monk replied: “No, I used to, when I was younger, but now I have grown old and tired and the devil has grown old and tired with me. I leave him alone and he leaves me alone.”

“So your life is easy then?” remarked the young man.

“Oh no,” replied the monk, “it’s much worse. Now I wrestle with God!”

-Report to Greco, Nikos Kazantzakis

Little Nellie of Holy God

With all due respect, I would be remiss if I did not point out that dying at age four does tend to make sanctity a wee bit easier. It is usually the stuff that we do after turning four that challenges our attempt at heaven.

Learn more: Little Nellie of Holy God


What if...

What if we all were more consistent? What if we all had wider loyalties? What if we were slower to dismiss others’ ideas? What if we took seriously the biblical idea that God’s revelation comes mostly in what is strange and foreign to us? What if we all took to heart the idea that a little learning is a dangerous thing, that a little ideology is more dangerous still, and that other peoples’ passion for truth might be just as real as our own? What if we all remembered that a heresy is a truth nine-tenth spoken?

What if?

What if the pious were to become more liberal and the liberals were to become more pious? What if those who are involved in prayer groups were to become equally as involved within social action? What if those with a passion for social action were to become equally as obsessed with private prayer and private morality? What if the pious and the liberal were to become more understanding of each other?
What if liberals were to become as known for their humility, respect of others, and personal prudence as they are known for their social concern? What if conservatives were to define family values widely enough to include the welfare of the poor and of all races? What if Evangelicals were to get serious about justice and justice groups were to get serious about Jesus?

What if liberals were to draw more prudent boundaries even as they challenge others beyond rigidity? What if conservatives were suddenly to push for a greater risk and openness even as they defend the hard-won wisdom of tradition? What if both liberals and conservatives were able to do as Jesus did and bring out from their store the old as well as the new?

What if Pro-Life groups were also to become as known for their defense of the poor, ethnic minorities, the ecology, and the imprisoned? What if Pro-Choice groups were to champion, in the name of women, the most defenceless of all groups in the world, the unborn? What if both groups were to become renowned for the gentleness, their respect of others, and their willingness to sit down and calmly discuss anything? What if these two groups began to pray together?

What if both women and men were to adopt an attitude of sympathy towards each other, recognizing as Virginia Woolf says, that "life, for both of us, is arduous, difficult, and a perpetual struggle"? What if both men and women were more gentle, less cynical?

What if the church began to challenge people to enjoy sex even as it teaches non-negotiably the value of chastity? What if secular culture were to preach the value of chastity even as it challenges towards liberation from sexual repression? What if both, the church and the world, recognized the importance of what the other is saying regarding sexuality?

What if all the Christian churches would begin to focus on the things we share in common (a common God, a common Christ, a common scripture, a common creed, many fundamental dogmas, 2000 years of mostly-shared history) instead of upon the things that separate us? What if all churches would focus as much on who is living in charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, long-suffering, fidelity, gentleness, and chastity, as on who is dogmatically right?

What if all the people on spiritual quests who are agnostic about their churches were able to understand the importance of involvement in a concrete historical community? What if we all understood more clearly that only obedience and genuflection can save us from being slaves to the pride and wounds of our own egos? What if the churches were to become as known for their challenge to be free-thinking as they are for their challenge to obedience? What if both, the churches and the emerging non-ecclesial spiritualities, were to be more self-effacing, less righteous, less judgmental?

What if theologians were to become as renowned for their children's stories as they are for their attention to hermeneutics? What scriptural fundamentalists were to read the scriptural commentaries of Raymond Brown? What if liturgists were appreciated as much for their practical judgment as they are for their sense of the tradition and aesthetics? What if those who planned the liturgies in your parish understood basic human boredom and tiredness?

What if religious writers were genuinely as interested in bringing God's consolation and challenge to the world as they are in their own reputations? What if all columnists and editorial writers simply forgot about the labels of liberal and conservative for awhile and wrote up things as they appear on a given day?

What if we were all able to stretch our hearts in new ways to be open to a God and a truth that is forever beyond us? What if we all took more seriously the fact that God is ineffable and all of our language about God is, in se, inadequate?

Certainly we would all be more compassionate - and considerably easier to live with!

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

14 January 2008


Whether called or not called, God is present

Cloister Walk

13 January 2008

What I want...

The line between good and evil, hope and despair, does not divide the world between "us" and "them." It runs down the middle of every one of us.

I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you are willing to do about it. I do not want to know for what you hope. I want to know what you are willing to work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle. As the wagon driver said when he got to the bottom of the long, hard hill: "Thems that going with us - get out and push. Thems that ain't - get out of the way."

-Robert Fulghum.

Big Church. Very Big Church.

11 January 2008


There is a lovely Hasidic story of a Rabbi who always told people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on the hearts.

One of them asked, "Why on our hearts, and not in them?"

The Rabbi answered, "Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading the sacred text can put it on your hearts, and when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside."

-Anne Lamott

Letter of Reference

"Nobody gets into heaven without a Letter of Reference from the poor." - Rev. James Forbes

10 January 2008

Appeal 2008

Loneliness. Comfort it.
Neglect. Eliminate it.
Hunger. Nourish it.
Domestic Violence. End it.

09 January 2008

Christ Head

In the Garden

In the Garden

Eve bites into the fruit. Suddenly she realizes she is naked.

She begins to cry.

The kind serpent picks up the handkerchief and gives it to her.

"It's all right," he says. "The first moment is always the hardest."

"But I thought knowledge would be so wonderful," Eve says, sniffling.

"Knowledge?!" laughs the serpent. "This fruit is from the tree of Life."

-Stephen Mitchell

08 January 2008


by: C.P. Cavafy

When you start on your journey to Ithaka
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Do not fear Laistrygonians,
and the Cyclops and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty
if a fine emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Laistrygonians,
the Cyclops, and the fierce wild Poseidon
if you do not carry them within your soul
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will encounter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasures, such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.
Always keep Ithaka fixed in your mind.
To arrive, your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka will offer you riches.
Ithaka has given your a beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka has not defrauded you.
With great wisdom you have gained,
with so much experience,
you must sure have understood by then
what Ithakas mean.

The meaning of life...

"Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne. - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Conversation overheard at bus stop...

"Did Jesus ever have a friend? Oh sure he had followers and disiciples, but did he have a real buddy? No."
"But it's always lonely at the top."
"Yeah, it's lonely at the bottom, too, but at the bottom you at least got company."

-As heard by Robert Fulghum

07 January 2008

Here to pump -- you -- up!

Lil' Christmas...

Making a marriage

"What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."
-George Levinger

Never Alone...

"I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses."
-Taylor Caldwell


P1: Knock, knock.
P2: Who's there?
P1: Control freak. Now you say: "Control freak who?"

06 January 2008

Old Churches, New Life?

Great look at the historcial buildings of Buffalo, including the history and structure of most of Buffalo's Churches...


03 January 2008

It's cold here...

On the road to Papa's house...

I pity the fool...

...who sees this staring down at them from behind the altar.

Not "Change for the sake of change", but...

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will." --Mark Twain

02 January 2008

Are not our hearts burning within us?

As Christians, we believe that we bear the image and likeness of God inside of us and that this is our deepest reality. We are made in God's image. However, we tend to picture this in a naive, romantic, and pious way. We imagine that somewhere inside us there is a beautiful icon of God stamped into our souls. That may be well, but God, as Scripture assures us, is more than an icon. God is fire - wild, infinite, ineffable, non-containable" -Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

Even our worst days are good days...

photo: Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News

01 January 2008

Happy New Year, Buffalo...

Photo: 2008 First Night by Joe Cascio

Wait, what's my other option?

From CWN: " At least 21 Catholic priests, deacons, religious, and seminarians died for the faith in 2007, the Fides news service reports.Each year Fides, an arm of the Congregation for Evangelization, compiles a full list of the Church workers who are killed while serving the Gospel, particularly in missionary territories. The preliminary list includes 21 names-- not accounting for lay workers.The largest toll of clerics and religious who died for the faith came in Asia, where 4 priests, 3 deacons, and 1 seminarian were killed this year."

There really isn't one.

"There are many ways to loose your life. Death is just one of them." -Robert Fulghum