31 May 2008

With the rising cost of gas...

...at least Wal-Mart is helping the lil guy out!


30 May 2008

28 May 2008

Still Dreamin'

"The Impossible Dream"

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star


26 May 2008

Best. Toy. Ever.

Won't be seeing a doctor for decades...

Can you spell E-U-R-O-C-E-N-T-R-I-C?

"Baptism of Pocahontus" hanging in the US Capitol Rotunda.

(Making her an Anglican named "Rebecca")

Exactly 57 years ago, today...

May 26, 2008
Monday of the 8th Week of Ordinary Time
1 Peter 1:3-9; Mark 10:17-27
Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

It was on this date in 1951 that a small band of white-robed monks processed to the top of the ridge overlooking the property they had acquired with the help of Porter and Gabriella Chandler. There Fr. Gerard McGinley planted the foundation cross, on which were inscribed the words: "Foundation of the Monastery of Blessed Mary of the Genesee, May 26, 1951. May God be glorified in all things. Serve the Lord with gladness." We are heirs to the monastic journey that was begun by those heroic and visionary pioneers.

The hymn of praise they intoned that spring day is ours to continue and to pass on to future generations of monks who will come after us. Following their example we proclaim with joy and heartfelt abandon the words written by St. Peter. "All honor, glory and blessing be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead" (1Pet. 1:3). As monks, we have dedicated our lives to "run on the path of God's commandments, allowing our hearts to overflow with the inexpressible delight of love " (RB, Prol. 49).

As disciples of Saint Benedict, we are to act in accordance with the Law of the Lord and to listen attentively to the Word of God. Our commitment to the Opus Dei and to Lectio Divina bears witness to the importance of placing the Word of God at the center of all things. Our lives are rooted in the Gospels. For us, the Gospel is the supreme rule. By preferring nothing to the Gospel our vocation remains vital and life-giving.

In Chapter 73 of his Rule for Monks, St. Benedict wrote: "The reason we have written this rule is that, by observing it in monasteries, we can show that we have some degree of virtue and the beginnings of monastic life. But for anyone hastening on to the perfection of monastic life, there are the teachings of the holy Fathers, the observance of which will lead him to the very heights of perfection. What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life? What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?" (RB. 73. 1-4)

In order for our lives to bear fruit for the salvation of the world, we must grow in our love for the Rule, in our love for the place, and in our love for the brethren. By cooperating with the grace of God we are transforming this valley that once had been the Eden of the Seneca Indians into a claustral Paradise, dedicated to the Mother of God and to the service of Christ our true King. Gathered on these "Pleasant Banks" we fix our gaze on that other shore in our heavenly homeland. We are called to follow Christ without compromise, even though we may be burdened with trials and hardships.

This monastery has been built on the Genesee bottomland, but our humble and hidden service to the Father raises us to the heights of the heavenly kingdom. It is here, in this place, that the genuineness of our faith, that is of greater value than fire-tested gold, will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed at the end of time (Cf. 1Pet. 1:7). By the power of the Holy Spirit our monastic observance becomes a living exegesis of the Word of God and a continual manifestation of the presence of the risen Christ is our day.

We live by faith, not by vision. We are all familiar with these beautiful words taken from the Letter the Hebrews. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not yet seen" (Heb. 11:1). Even though we never seen Christ, we love Him and follow Him wherever He may lead. This is underscored by these words we just heard from the first Letter of Saint Peter. "You have never seen Him, yet you love Him. Without seeing Him, even now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible joy that has been touched with glory" (1 Pet. 1:8). This monastery was founded so that men of faith could live the fundamental values of the Gospel. By so doing, we grow in union with the Triune God and cultivate fraternal communion among ourselves. The more perfectly we become the Church that has been established in the Valley of our Lady's Smile, the more authentically we will proclaim to all baptized Christians and to all seekers of the Truth that they are brought together by the Word, to be conformed to the Word and to walk by the light of His face.

We should always keep in mind the little detail Saint Mark included in his account of the encounter between Jesus and the rich young man. "Jesus turned His face towards the young man and looked intently at him. As He gazed upon the youth he was filled with heartfelt love for him" (Mk. 10:21). We nourish our faith by our daily celebration of the Eucharist, by our chanting of the Opus Dei, personal prayer and by listening to the Word of God in Lectio. By a hidden apostolic fruitfulness we become beacons of hope for all of humanity and glorify our Heavenly Father. Our way of life is strongly committed to the realization of the Kingdom of God. I will let St. Benedict have the final word in this homily. "Are you hastening toward your heavenly home? Then with Christ's help, keep this little rule that we have written for beginners. After that, you can set out for the loftier summits of the teaching and virtues we mentioned above, and under God's protection you will reach them. Amen" (RB 73. 8-9).

(Abbey News)

God's Posse'

The institution of the most holy Eucharist on the evening before the Passion cannot be regarded as some more or less isolated cultic transaction. It is the making of a covenant and as such, is the concrete foundation of the new people: the people comes into being through its covenant relation to God.

We could also say that by his eucharistic action, Jesus draws the disciples into his relationship with God and, therefore, into his mission, which aims to reach "the many," the humanity of all places and of all times. These disciples become a "people" through communion with the Body and Blood of Jesus which is simultaneously communion with God.

The Old Testament theme of covenant, which Jesus incorporates into his preaching, receives a new center: communion with Christ's Body. It could be said that the people of the New Covenant takes its origin as people from the Body and Blood of Christ; solely in terms of this center does it have the status of a people.

We can call it "people of God" only because it is through communion with Christ that man gains access to a relationship with God that he cannot establish by his own power.


Pope Benedict XVI

23 May 2008

Talk about an activist Bishop!


We are all called to be saints
We all have been created in the image of God to love and to be loved

Not one without the other..

"Love, tenderness and compassion are real justice. Justice without love is not justice. Love without justice is not love." -Mother Teresa

20 May 2008

Two Priest. Two Nuns. One Latin Phrase.

Two priests go to New York City for a fall weekend get-away. While there, the weather takes a seasonal turn for the worse. Realizing that they only brought spring outerwear, they head into a department store to buy fall overcoats. For obvious reasons, they tell the store clerk that they want black overcoats. The clerk brings them two wool overcoats.

While they like the style and fit, the priests note that the coats appear to be a dark navy blue and that they must insist only purchasing only black ones. The clerk says that the coats are indeed black but under the store's fluorescent lighting, they only appear to have a blue-ish tint. After a brief discussion between the priests and the clerk, the priests begrudgingly accept the sales clerk's assertion that the coats are, indeed, black. Still skeptical but trusting, the priests purchase the coats.

A short time later, the two priests are walking down the street wearing their coats when they run into two nuns from a nearby convent taking a walk around the block. "Excuse me, Sister," one of the priests says, "but would you be so kind as to tell me what color the coat I am wearing is?"

"It is navy blue, Father," replies one of the nuns.

The one priest mumbles something to the other under his breath. The two clergymen thank the nuns for their time, assure them of their prayers and continue on with their walk.

"How great it was to hear priests speaking in Latin," the one nun mentions to the other as they, too, continue on their walk. "But did you understand what they said?"

"No, Sister, I'm afraid I'm not that good with Latin. We will have to remember it so we can ask Mother Superior what it means when we return to the convent."

"Not a problem," the first nun replies, "I remember it exactly. The one priest distinctly said to the other: Neiman Marcus fuctus."

18 May 2008

Things not covered in seminary training...

Like a phoenix from the (soggy) ashes...

For most of the past four decades, all that has been visible of the village of Sant Roma has been the belltower of its stone church, peeping above the water beside forested hills from a valley flooded in the 1960s to provide water for the Catalonia region.
This year, receding waters have exposed the 11th-century church completely, attracting crowds of tourists who stand gazing around it on the dusty bed of the reservoir. (more...)

On the road again...

God brings Abraham out from among his family and sets him on certain path. When it comes down to it, everyone has to undergo his own exodus. He not only has to leave the place that nurtured him and become independent, but has to come out of his own reserved self.

He must leave himself behind, transcend his own limits; only then will he reach the Promised Land, so to speak - the sphere of freedom, in which he plays his part in creation. We have come to recognize this fundamental law of transcendence as being the essence of love.

And of course the act of one who loves me is an act of this type. He has to bring me out of the comfortable inclination to stay within myself. Isolation is contrary to man's inmost inclination. If isolation means not being loved, being abandoned, being alone on one's own, this situation is indeed the fear underlying all our fears.

Thus we can see again that man is constructed from within, in the image of God, to be loved and to love. At this point I believe we have to refer to man's being in the image of God.

God is love. The essence of love portrays its own nature in the Trinity. Man is in God's image, and thereby he is a being whose innermost dynamic is likewise directed toward the receiving and the giving of love.

Pope Benedict XVI


16 May 2008

Warnings for the Weekend

Mirror, mirror on the cross....

"Christians are the light for the whole world. If we are Christians, we must look like Christ."

15 May 2008

No Your Beatitude*, we can't golf tomorrow...

...it looks like rain.

(* "Your Beatitude" being my favorite suppressed title of the Western Church. While still in use among the East -- it was the customary conversational greeting for an Archbishop, along the lines of Your Excellency, His Eminence, and His Holiness, etc...)

He's back....

...and he is m-a-d!

(Do ya feel lucky?)

Cellular Focus

The Secret of a Monk’s Cell
Rolheiser, OMI

Monks have secrets worth knowing, though sometimes the value of a certain secret isn’t immediately evident.

One such secret concerns the monk’s cell and the importance that classical spiritual writers attached to a monk staying inside his cell. For instance, Abba Moses, one of the great Desert fathers, would counsel his monks: "Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything." Other Desert fathers coined lines like: "Go, eat, drink, sleep, do no work, only do not leave your cell." Or, "Don’t pray at all, just stay in your cell." Thomas a Kempis, in The Imitation of Christ, famously wrote: "Every time you leave your cell, you come back less a man."

Advice like this will probably strike us as unbalanced, unhealthily monastic, unhealthily ascetical, unhealthily other-worldly, or as simply unhealthy. At very least, it will strike us as having little or nothing to do with our own normal, busy, involved, red-blooded lives. What can advice like that possibly offer us? Aren’t we supposed to be in community with others?

Properly understood, the advice to stay in our cell and let it teach us everything offers some of the spiritual wisdom of the ages, of the masters. Staying inside our cell is one of the keys within the spiritual and human journey. But that needs to be understood in context.

This advice is being given to monks, to professional contemplatives, to persons living inside a monastic enclosure, to persons whose very vocation it is to live in solitude, to persons whose primary duty of state it is to pray in silence. In such a context, the word "cell" becomes a code-word that encapsulates the entire vocation and duties of state of a monk. Thus when Abba Moses says, "Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything" he is, in effect, counselling due diligence and fidelity. Do what you came here to do! To remain in one’s cell is synonymous with fidelity.

And that’s sound spiritual advice for everyone, not just monks. Our "cell" is another word for our primary set of responsibilities, for our duties of state, for due diligence and fidelity inside of our vocations, relationships, marriages, families, churches, and communities. To "leave one’s cell" is to neglect our responsibilities or to be unfaithful. To let "our cell teach us everything" is to have faith that if we remain faithful inside of our moral values and our proper commitments then virtue and fidelity will themselves teach us what we need to know to come to maturity and sanctity. Understood in that way, Thomas a Kempis’ warning that every time we leave our cell we come back less as persons becomes a practical warning: "Every time we flirt with infidelity and every time we neglect our responsibilities, we are less for that." Akin, I think, to what the Gospels mean when they say that immediately after Peter betrayed Jesus "he went outside". In monastic terms, he left his cell.

Inside of Christian spirituality and inside of the spiritualities of all the great world religions there is the common set of principles around this theme: Be attentive to your legitimate responsibilities, to your duties of state. Do cheerfully and faithfully what duty asks of you and that will teach you what you need to know to come to God. Fidelity to the demands of your life can be a deep form of prayer. Fidelity demands that you sweat blood sometimes; don’t leave your commitments just because they are difficult or the grass seems greener on the other side. And especially there is the principle: "Don’t be unfaithful! Fidelity to what God has called you to is ultimate virtue. The one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

"Our "monk’s cell" then is our marriage, our home, our nexus of relationships, our work, our private set of burdens and tensions, our truth, our virtue, and our personal integrity. The day’s duties are "your cell". The spiritual task is to remain inside of that, to let them teach you, to let them be a form of prayer, to not flirt with what’s outside of them, and to make fidelity to them your vocation. Stay inside your cell!

After Martin Luther King’s funeral as the television cameras were pulling away from the cemetery, one of the news crews spotted on an old man, standing by himself at the edges of the crowd, crying and praying. Live television loves real tears and so a microphone and camera were soon thrust inside this man’s private grief: "Why are you sad? What did Martin Luther King mean to you?" they asked him.

His answer: "The man we are burying today was a great man because he was faithful, he believed in us even when we stopped believing in ourselves, and he stayed with us even when we weren’t worth staying with!"

Had he been a Desert Father or Thomas a Kempis, he might have simply said: "He was a great man - he stayed inside his cell!"

13 May 2008

In other words...

"Respect for the Deposit of Faith should not be called 'Conservatism' in the pejorative sense but simple loyalty to the Word of God." -Avery Cardinal Dulles

Wednesday Humor-ish

12 May 2008


"The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr." -- Mohammed

Still waiting

"I'm waiting for the day when the rich will envy what the poor have already got" - Anon.

Loking for a return on your investment?

"God has invested all of his love in creating human life." Mother Teresa

10 May 2008

What would you do-oo-o for a Holy Card?

Our Lady of Good Humor...
(h/t of a h/t )

... pray for us!

08 May 2008

Truth in Advertising...

Into the woods...

I'm sorry, were you just talking?

"Let us not live distracted lives. Let us know ourselves so that we can better understand our sisters and brothers. If we want to understand those with whom we live, we need to understand ourselves first of all." -Mother Teresa

07 May 2008

BVM, in her spare time....

Great Occasions...

Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak, and at last some crisis shows us what we have become.

-Bishop Westcott

06 May 2008

Auggie, Auggie, Auggie! Oy! Oy! Oy!

"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others."

"If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself."


05 May 2008

Funny 'cause it could be true...

Church transforms into coffee chain

DENVER — Connection Metro Church, which used its foyer coffee bars to attract visitors to its eight satellite churches in the Denver area, has decided to abandon ministry altogether to focus on coffee. "People liked the coffee a lot better than the ministry, according to congregational surveys, so we’re practicing what we preached and focusing on our strengths," says former teaching pastor and now chief marketing officer, Peter Brown.

Many in the congregation seem downright relieved.

"The sermons were okay, but the vanilla frappes were dynamite," says one woman who regularly attended the church for two years so she could enjoy the special brews. "I even brought my Jewish neighbors and they loved them."

The staff of Connection Metro Church began noticing last year that more money was coming in through the coffee bar than in the offering. "People complimented us about the pastries and mochas but didn’t really mention the teaching," says Brown. "After feeling disappointed, we got pragmatic about it and realized God was telling us where to put our efforts."

The church renovated each of its locations into Connection Coffee Houses and removed most traces of its spiritual past. Now crowds are up and many former members are flourishing. "Who knew I was so gifted at making foam?" says the former head usher, now the head barista, as he makes a heart-shaped design on a cappuccino.

The church’s small groups have been turned into neighborhood reading clubs, with some reading Christian titles and others following Oprah’s recommendations. The only visible remnants of the coffee house’s past are the offering bucket which serves as a tip jar, and the greeters stationed at the door to give a more welcoming feel than the nearby Starbucks. (more...)

04 May 2008

Do you see what I see?

St. Ann's, Broadway

Buffalo Lens

Hey diddle-diddle...

"Thomas Merton wrote: "There is always the temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues." There is always an enormous temptation in all life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down saying, I never merited the grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days...

... We are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Lazarus!"

Annie Dillard "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

Peck, M. Scott...

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

“We must be willing to fail and to appreciate the truth that often "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived."

“Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”

"There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.”

“Life is difficult. This is the great truth, one of the greatest truths—it is a great truth because once we see this truth, we transcend it.”

"The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual - for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.”

“Love is not a feeling. Love is an action, an activity. . . Genuine love implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom. . . . love as the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth.....true love is an act of will that often transcends ephemeral feelings of love or cathexis, it is correct to say, 'Love is as love does'.”

Christ and a monk and two shepherds...

"At the top of this miniature, Christ and a monk hold up an abbot's crozier, symbolic of a shepherd's crook. Below on the left, sheep and ar vigilant shepherd and dog represent a good flock. On the right, a slumbering, neglectful keeper and his seated watchdog fail to monitor a herd of bad goats. The only full-page miniature in the manuscript, this frontispiece heralds Hugo de Fouilloy's Treatise On Shepherds And Flocks, a mystical commentary on certain verses of the Roman author Virgil's Ninth Eclogue. The illumination draws its imagery of Christ as a shepherd and the separation of sheep and goats from the Bible. In Hugo's discussion, Christ is a model for an abbot who is shepherd to his monks. The two shepherds depicted represent the qualities of vigilance and neglect." {At the Getty...}

Great Popes. Great Artwork.

(10 min... and some ain't popes - but still nice)

02 May 2008

Let's not...

"Let us not pray long, drawn-out prayers, but let's pray short ones full of love."

-Mother Teresa

01 May 2008

Feast of You and I (the workers)

"I have no doubt, and I will go to my grave believing, that we can build the new Jerusalem... if we want to." - James Baldwin