Saturday, September 30, 2006


Well folks, today is the first anniversary of this blog! My first modest post was on September 30, 2005. [Seems fitting that I started blogging on the Feast of St. Jerome!]

This will be the 1143rd post. As of this posting, the blog has had 23,370 unique visits (not visitors!), and 41,296 pageviews. As blogs go, that's peanuts. The blog is also a Slimy Mollusc in the TTLB Ecosystem. So, we're slowly heading up the evolutionary chain.

But, it's not all about the numbers. I must say that I've thoroughly enjoyed blogging: it's provided a unique medium for me to blab on, (occasionally) to share my writing, a small but loyal (and greatly appreciated) readership, a way in which to stay in touch with friends, to share my travels, and my thoughts on anything. But especially: things Catholic, things Indian, and things various. :)

I also want to mention some fantastic folks who I'd never have come across (and I still have to meet. Some day, God willing), had it not been for this blog: Georgette, Maggie, Susan, Jason, Jennifer.

And here's to all of those great friends who're also in the blogosphere (see the "Name Dropping" section on the left sidebar.)

The past year has been one of great transition at so many levels ... and this has been a wonderful way to help keep afloat through all of that.

So, all you loyal friends and readers, many many thanks!

[And to all those who've come here via Google. Looking for Kevin Bacon, or Jaroslav Pelikan or Francis Kline, or secret cameras of couples caught in the act in Manori and other unmentionables(!) ... hope you liked what you got! :)]
Technorati Tags:

St. Jerome

Today is the feast of St. Jerome, principally known for his translation of the Bible into Latin from Greek. Also a master controversialist, with an acerbic tongue. One of his most famous quotes is in today's Office of Readings, from his commentary on Isaiah:
I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of Gods, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
There's tons of links at Amy's of course. Catholic Exchange has this neat article suggesting that Jerome was a proto-feminist of sorts.
One particular dispute that Jerome caused is what some have called “The Ancient Christian Feminist Controversy,” or, “Jerome’s Defense of the Feminine Mind.” The wrangle began when a number of monks noticed that their more famous and intelligent contemporary was spending much of his time writing to his lady friends. As if this breach in the monastic habit were not enough, Jerome even had the gall to teach them — and what is more, he taught them about Holy Scripture! This infamous trinity of vices caused many of them to write condemnatory letters to Jerome in Bethlehem as well as to spit every time his name was mentioned.

The monks’ grounds for disapproval were based on two things: both, in modern terminology, were a question of a woman’s abilities and a woman’s rights. A woman, they said, has no right to be taught anything by a man, especially a monk. Further, a woman has no need to be taught, especially something as holy as Scripture, because she cannot learn. Knowing how false and destructive these two claims could be, Jerome took up his pen like a sword and responded to his opponents as only a proto-feminist could.

And here's a poetic gem to remember this saintly curmudgeon: [Lifted from Happy Catholic]:
The Thunderer

God’s angry man, His crotchety scholar
Was Saint Jerome,
The great name-caller
Who cared not a dime
For the laws of Libel
And in his spare time
Translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage
All joys but learning
Jerome thought marriage
Better than burning;
But didn’t like woman’s
Painted cheeks;
Didn’t like Romans,
Didn’t like Greeks,
Hated Pagans
For their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all of his days.

A born reformer, cross and gifted,
He scolded mankind
Sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save
The world from the heathen;
Fled to a cave
For peace to breathe in,
Promptly wherewith
For miles around
He filled the air with
Fury and sound.
In a mighty prose
For Almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes,
Quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master,
Though with complaint.
He wasn’t a plaster sort of a saint.

But he swelled men’s minds
With a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds
To make a heaven.
It really is better appreciated read aloud. Here's the link to the audio of Mike Aquilina reading it aloud. (Last link at the bottom of the page.)

As for me, I ask for his intercessions especially that the Word of God might become better known among the faithful today, and various initiatives that seek to achieve this goal (such as EC!) might be successful.
Technorati Tags: ,

A call for dialogue ...

... well, more like a debate. This is from a journal for Pakistani expats published in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), about an Islamic scholar who wants to dialogue with, err... debate, the Pope.
Dr. Naik sees the Pope’s statement on Islam as pre-planned. "He (the Pope) knew very well what he was speaking at University of Regensburg in Germany on September 12," he said.

"The Pope’s apology to the Muslims was at all not an apology rather it was putting salt on the wounds," said Dr. Naik, adding that the Pope should have explicitly apologized and retracted his statement.

Benedict XVI seems to be toeing the same line of neo-con as that of President George Bush, he said.

Dr. Naik said if the Pope wants to initiate an authentic dialogue then he is more than willing to participate in such an inter-faith debate.

"I am more than willing to participate in the inter-faith dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI. I am ready on any topic he (the Pope) wishes as long as it focuses on Qur’an and the Bible," Dr. Naik said.

He said he can go to Rome or Vatican to meet the Pope.

"I can go to Rome and to Vatican on my own expense if an Italian visa is arranged for me," he told ONLINE after delivering his lecture on "20 most common questions about misconceptions of Islam," organized by Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh, attended by a number of ambassadors, diplomatic staff and members of the Sri Lankan community.
I can see it now ... the Pope and Dr. Naik duking it out on the steps of St. Peter's (shades of Elijah and the priests of Baal?) Dr. Naik also goes on to suggest that the Western media is biased and reports truth as untruth. Quite possibly. Of course, the media in the Muslim world is pure and objective. Especially when it comes to the Grand Jewish Conspiracy, and condemning any and all violence in the name of religion. He also suggests that people shold not be saving their money in dollar accounts. I guess he wants to tell that to His Holiness too? :-) Ok, I'll stop.

Maybe Dr. Naik could talk to the folks who're threating this French school teacher? [Via Amy]You know, tell them that Islam is not really about violence and hatred.
The teacher, Robert Redeker, 52, wrote in the center-right daily Le Figaro 10 days ago that Muhammad was “a merciless warlord, a looter, a mass-murderer of Jews and a polygamist,” and called the Koran “a book of incredible violence.”

The Redeker case is the latest manifestation in Europe of a mounting ideological battle that pits those who believe Islam and the Prophet Muhammad can be criticized in the name of free speech against those in the Muslim community who believe no criticism can be tolerated.
Immediately afterward, Mr. Redeker, who teaches in a public high school near Toulouse and is the author of several books on philosophy, began to receive death threats by telephone, e-mail and through the online Islamist Web site known as Al Hesbah, a password-protected forum with ties to Al Qaeda. The forum published photos of him and what it said was his home address, directions to his home and his cellphone number, according to the SITE Institute, which tracks violent Islamist groups.
Tell me. How does one dialogue with those who want to kill you and your family?

I'm sure there are those who will say that this schoolteacher's remarks were intemperate, or even bigoted. Well, how does one counter intemperance and bigotry? By death threats and public calls for his execution? [How did Catholics, for instance, respond to the mendacities of the Da Vinci Code? Anger, maybe. Or calls for dialogue. Or education. Or self-examination. Or even suggesting that Brown was on the mark and the Church needed to change. Did anyone threaten death? Violence? Anywhere? There were protests in the global South, I think. But calls for Brown's execution? I think not.]

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that we should not dialogue, not promote more peaceful relations with Muslims, not respect Muslims, even learn from their faith and understanding of the world,and so on. But such a dialogue has to have as its basis an atmosphere where opinions can be expressed freely, without fear of physical violence. We are far from that situation. Very far. Unless what we want to do is just meet for tea and biscuits and make nice. Or, worse, make nice because we're afraid we'll get killed. That is not dialogue. We have our part to play -- to promote the moderate voices in Islam, and in the West, promote peaceful co-existence and co-operation. But the greater onus, I think more and more, lies with the Muslim world.

That's exactly what Thomas Friedmann wrote in his column in the NYT yesterday: Islam and the Pope. [Not free]

Technorati Tags: , ,

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Feast of the Archangels

Up there among my favorites in the calendar.

Mike Aquilina gives the Patristic angle on the angels ... (heh. Too easy to resist :)).

Fr. Tom Euteneur of Human Life International has a neat reflection on the Three Flames of Divine Love in their latest e-newsletter.

Here's the famous Prayer to St. Michael.
Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio, contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae coelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
Finally, the Priestie Boyz (featured here before), have a neat number on their new CD: The Proelium Angelorum(The Battle of the Angels). At least the part on preview is neat! :)
Technorati Tags: ,

The Catholic World

The Catholic World was the publication started by Fr. Hecker in 1865. It was in publication till 1996, when, I believe, financial pressures lead to publication ceasing. Now, as the Society gears up for its 150th anniversary in 2008, the Catholic World has been re-launched online. It's being billed as "an internet journal at the intersection of faith and North American Culture."

The first issue is online. Check it out! Especially the historical piece from 1945 reacting to the use of the bomb. And a piece lambasting George Weigel for his uncharitable column on Cardinal McCarrick in the Denver Catholic Register. And a review (well, more a description than a review) of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen's new book, "Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny." [I still haven't read the Argumentative Indian which got mixed reviews in the subcontinent and in the West. One of these days ... Here's a review by Tunku Verdarajan at the WSJ.]

Here's the "about us" piece on the Catholic World by Fr. Paul Robichaud, editor.
Technorati Tags:

Lake George NY

The Paulists have a gorgeous house (well it's three buildings really) out at Lake George, some 50 miles north of Albany. Man, this place is beautiful! We're here for a brief visit, with a few talks being given by a visiting Sister of Charity. This is the last leg of the Grand Tour.

This house is the one that was built by the original Paulists. One of the rooms has a sign indicating that Fr. Isaac Hecker spent time there! Wow! The buildings are old, really neat with lots of character. And no heating. [Except for a fantastic fireplace in the common room]. Upstate NY in the early Fall is chilly. Brr.

The wirless modem is sucky as well. In fact, my laptop can only get a signal in the room with the router itself! Which happens to be the sacristy of the old house chapel (they built a new one at some point adjoining this building)! So I'm sitting on a chair in this old room with the obligatory old cards with the important parts of the Mass in Latin (I guess so the priest didn't ever forget? Or were they used as cheatsheets), with two little chapels to my left and right, with these quaint old wooden high altars. Ha!

We're going to have lots of down time to wander around so expect photos! Here's a couple.

The view from my window.

Technorati Tags: ,

The Freedom Trail

Decided to join a walking tour on the Freedom Trail yesterday afternoon ... it was fun. I could have used a little more historical stuff -- this was mostly really silly theater ... but still interesting. Photos are up at the Flickr page.
Technorati Tags:

Paulist Center: House Chapel

There's this little chapel in the priests' residence with some beautiful stained glass and a really beautiful old altar.

Paulist Center Boston

The Catholic Information Center (for decades better known as the Paulsit Center) at 5 Park St. (right on the Boston Common) is prime real estate. The story of how the Paulists acquired it is fascinating. They were invited by Cardinal Cushing to start ministry in the 1940s, who purchased three houses on this strip of Park St. by proxy. This was the heart of Boston, right next to Beacon Hill, and anti-Catholic prejudice was still quite high. He then gave the proprety to the Paulists. Three rhouses not being the best setting for ministry, they tore them down and built the Center (a 6 story structre), which was dedicated in 1956. The Chapel was designed very intentionally in a low-key Puritan style and dedicated to the Holy Spirit. It's sparse, but appealing. I even found the modern crucifix (and normally I'm not a huge fan of modern art) to be quite beautiful and (importantly, given its setting) to help inspire prayer.

The priests live on floors 4 & 5 ... and the fifth floor has this amazing patio overlooking the Common.

Here's a few photos. Several more can be found on my Flickr page. [Ok that's the last time I try to align the photos to the left. Am too tired and the connection too slow for me to try and change it. This looks better in IE than Firefox. I should add that the stained glass is one of four interesting pieces at the back of the Chapel. This one depicts St. Paul, and also Fr. Isaac Hecker, the founder of the CSPs, at the feet of Pius IX, getting permission to start his missionary congregation.]
Technorati Tags: ,

Thursday, September 28, 2006


:: UPDATE 2 :: What a nerve-wracking game! I was pacing the room up and down, trying to keep my voice down in that last drive of the 4th quarter. And when have you seen so many 4th-down conversions in a drive, let alone a game? Except for that very last one ... but man! Was that a good game or what? Yes we lost, but I'm darn proud of them. This was not the blowout that everyone predicted. We came witin five frickin' yards to tying the game. 24-17 against No. 2 Auburn. That's pretty darn commendable. Now to keep up the pace. And Blake -- sit out. Seveille Newton is the man. [And screw that onside kick!]

:: UPDATE :: I cannot believe how dirty they're playing. An onside kick in the middle of the third frigging quarter? Go **** yourselves! I'm proud of the Gamecocks ... they've done darn good in the first half.

I'm in my room here with the TV tuned to ESPN waiting for the kick off of the USC-Auburn game, a glass of wine at my side. [I didn't want to inflict Gashwin the Gamecock on the rest of the house, so I'm watching this in my room here :)] Here's to hope!

Apparently it looks like rain at Williams Brice. Peter just called and I gave him a weather update ... don't you love technology! And I just got a txt msg from him with the pictures of the clouds. The best part was apparently that a little downpour started just as the Tigers players came on the field for their warmups. Ha!


Technorati Tags:

Lebanese Christians help their neighbors

From Christianity Today. The article focuses on evangelicals and other Protestants. No mention made of Maronites or other Catholic or Orthodox groups. I find it hard to believe that CT couldn't find any of these Christians for their story, but I guess their readership is evangelical. Anyway, it's still a powerful story of witness and hope in a very troubled part of the world.
Costa recounted a story involving a Baptist youth minister who met the father of a 17-year-old Shiite youth killed in an Israeli air strike on a southern Beirut suburb. During the burial ceremony, Israeli jets attacked the funeral procession and sent mourners scurrying to safety.

Later, the father asked the youth minister, "Why are Christians helping Muslims?"

The minister shared the story of the Good Samaritan and asked, "Who was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The father responded, "The one who had mercy on him."

The youth minister then recited the words of Jesus in Matthew 5: "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."

Touched, the father of the deceased boy said, "We have many Christian friends. But we never knew that you have these teachings."
That last line really struck me. I guess there's always a tendency of well-established Christian Churches to lose their evangelical edge (and, at an extreme, to reduce to a form of cultural Christianity). I can certainly say that is to some extent true of my experience in India, for instance. And in the US too, for that matter. There's also this:
But Kassis and other Lebanese evangelicals expressed concern that their very witness as Christians in the Middle East may be undermined by perceived Western, particularly American, evangelical support of Israel and its military actions against Hezbollah and Hamas.

"We evangelical Christians are working for peace and reconciliation in our land—also for understanding and tolerance. This war has shaken us to pieces. I was shocked to see some of our American brothers and sisters supporting Israel's disproportionate response," Kassis said.

"The father of one of our students, a 10-year-old Shiite girl, was shredded into pieces by a bomb that exploded at a mosque. How can I say to that girl that many evangelicals in the U.S. support what Israel is doing?" he said. "We are in a very hard position because of the killing of so many civilians."

Technorati Tags: ,

The car of the future ...

A hydrogen powered sci-fi-ish thang. [Hat tip to Tom J] Wowzer. Let's wait till the price-tag comes down a bit. £5m is a bit steep. :)

Does Gmail not know I'm in seminary?

So, you know how Gmail populates your browser screen with ads based partly on the text of the email you're reading? You also have the opton of having a news-feed on the top of the page. I have it set to give headlines from my favorite blogs and news sites. And periodically, something random pops up. Like this link: - top 99 most desirable women online.

Ordinarily, I don't think I'd even have glanced at that ... until I remembered (it's still been only a month you know) that I am offiially a novice now, so it became quite amusing.

Go figure. Maybe it's a sign -- to quote St. Peter (whose admonition shows up at as a reading at Compline with ominous regularity): "Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in faith." (1 Peter 5:8-9a)

[Time to slink off to bed. Donning the breastplate of faith and all that ... :-D]

Jews arrested for inciting anti-Semitism

Things like this make me so glad that there is something called the First Amendment in effect in the United States. Jews arrested for inciting anti-Semitism. Do what? Yes, you read that right ... go read it!

The Pope and Islam ... some more stuff

Well two articles, from some more left-leaning places ... (I hate these labels but sometimes they're useful shorthand). An interview with Fr. Daniel Madigan SJ in Commonweal ... and a piece by Fr. Tom Ryan CSP, the Paulists' chief interfaith relations guy, at Busted Halo [Link corrected.]

[I haven't yet read either but wanted to put them up ... feedback welcome if you get a moment! I'll get around to normal life ... well, my new normal life i.e. ... next week when we're back in DC ... and, that means, hopefully, to having some time for regular reading. With the busy schedules on the Grand Tour, I'm just glad to be able to pray the Hours every day!]

The Apostle of Doubt

From today's Catechesis by the Pope:
Benedict XVI, citing the example of the Apostle Thomas, recommended that believers in times of uncertainty have the courage to tell God they don't understand him and need his help.

"In this way, with such frankness, which is the authentic way to pray, to converse with Jesus, we express the littleness of our capacity to understand, but at the same time we assume the attitude of trust of one who expects light and strength from the one able to give them," the Pope said.
Add this to the long list of wisdom from this Pope's mouth (and heart and head).
Technorati Tags: ,

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Red Sox Game

Well, I've never been to a baseball game before. Nope. All these years living in the US. A few years back, a friend (thanks Tom J!) had sat me down and explained the game to me. Everyone says it's like cricket. Well, it involves guys batting and balls being pitched and running. That's about it.

So, what better place to get a Baseball 101 Lesson than at historic Fenway Park? [Dogwood called as we got to the stadium. His wife is from New England. "You lucky SOB!" Sorry! :)] Novice brother Tom did a fantastic job explaining the game to me, and I definitely have a better appreciation for the national sport. [Besides, this might help on the citizenship test, perhaps? :-)]

That's the Red Sox star hitter David Ortiz.

It's a much slower paced sport. (Well, not as slow as cricket, where a Test Match lasts five days, and the "short version" lasts a full day) Very different from football (that's American Football for those outside the US!) ... not as high energy, and longer. But still, well, fun.

I'm also always struck by how sporting events are such patriotic events. The colors are displayed. The national anthem sung. Tonight, jets from a nearby airforce base did a fly over. Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor from the New England region were honored.

And, yes, this was actually my first time singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame! :)

Oh, the Tampa Bay Devils completley wiped out the Red Sox. 11-0 in the 7th inning (When I left. The rest of the guys wanted to sit out the whole game. So yeah, I'm not a diehard fan. :))
Technorati Tags:


Harvard Square and the Out of Town News

Well, I didn't actually go to Harvard, but was in the vicinity, since we had the afternoon off, and it's just a brief ride from Park St. on the T. This part of Cambridge is quite familiar: two very good childhood friends (known to all their friends as The Twins) lived here for years. In fact, when I first arrived in the States as an adult (gosh, over twelve years ago!), I flew into Boston and stayed with these friends. And I'd barely gotten off the plane when The Twins and parents whisked me off on a drive to Salem.

Today, I had lunch with a good friend from SC who now lives in Cambrdige, and friend (and blogger. Maybe ex-blogger? He said he's not missing it. :-( ) Mark Mossa. Mark gave me a tour of Weston Jesuit afterwards. Afterwards, I hung out with another good friend (a theology student at BC, who lives off Harvard Sq.), which turned out to be a great conversation and dialogue, a portion of which touched on the subject of, just what does it mean to be in communion when there seems to be such polarization in the church. [His dissertation is in this area!]

Just finished Vespers ... now, thanks to some generous parishioners, the novices have tickets to a Red Sox game! :)

[That's the spire of Park St. Congregationalist church, rising up at the intersection of Park and Tremont, which is one end of the Common.]

Technorati Tags: ,

The Falls

Well, as promised here are some shots of Niagara Falls, taken from the Canadian side. Yesterday was really a beautiful day! [The last one was taken while we were going across the Rainbow Brdige to the US.]

  Posted by Picasa
Technorati Tags: ,

Deliver us from evil

A film about a pedophile priest. The scoop at Christianity Today: apparently the trailer got an R rating! Haven't heard anything else about the movie ... and am too tired to Google right now.

[Apropos of nothing, I happen to be writing this from the ground zero of the scandals: Boston.]
Technorati Tags: ,

Maybe this explains it?

Google's been sending a huge amount of traffic this way (increasing over the past week), of people searching for "Kevin Bacon" and "Columbia" or "SC." I think all they got was my meager little post here. Here's a story in today's Gamecock about the ongoing filming of "Death Sentence." Seems like it's the story back home. Lights Camera Action. (Free registration required)
Technorati Tags:

Ridiculously long drives ...

... as Jennifer mentions in the comments below, it ought to be grounds for canonization. The miracle can be that we haven't killed each other yet. Nah, just kidding ... all of us think we're getting along pretty darn well. [What our Novice Master thinks, we don't know! :)]

Boy, I'm exhausted. We left Toronto at 7:00 am and pulled up to Park St. in Boston at a little after 6:00 pm. About 45 minutes spent at Niagara Falls (the weather was fantastic), and a couple of short pit stops along the thruway after that. New York is a big state! Spent the evening chilling with the novice bros (well, I guess one of the goals of this trip was to get us to gel, and it's working!), shootin' the breeze over bottles of Samuel Adams in these absurdly comfortable reclining chairs in the common room. [Strangely enough, my first thought was, "dagnbait, I need to be able to afford to fly Business class to India!" Obviously, I'm in the wrong line of business ... :-)]

More photos (of the Falls and the Boston chapel) later. Now to catch up on the zzzs.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Spotted on a pavement ...

... at Trinity College in the U. Toronto area.


[Interestingly, and this has no real bearing on the above statement, two of the priests we spoke with (or rather, who spoke to us) didn't feel that Canada was that much more secularized than the US. I guess they've never been to the American South ... or Quebec, for that matter! Or maybe my own views are colored by my right-leaning views ... ?]

The Cathedral of St. Michael, Toronto

We had a few spare hours in the afternoon, so while some of the guys went to the CN tower (been there, done that), I took the subway to Dundas St. from where it's a short walk to the quiet neighborhood where the Cathedral of the Archdiocese is located. It's a magnificent structure, 14th century English gothic in style (without the transepts though, so it's not really cruciform).

The entire set of photos is at my Flickr page.

At the end of the right nave was a beautiful atlar where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed (this used to be the high altar. It was moved to the side nave after Vatican II). Maybe half a dozen folks were scattered through the pews in adoration. (With the Sacrament exposed, I didn't feel comfortable taking a photo.)

One of the most interesting things was a side altar with a Shrine to the Mother of God with the most gorgeous wood-carved statue of the Blessed Mother, against a beautifully painted fresco. Each of the corners there is an angel holding a model of the church of a shrine associated with a Marian apparition: Czestohowa, Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima. Below is a detail of the one showing Lourdes.

Above the altar in the sanctuary area I noticed this Cardinal's galero hanging. According to one of the Paulists here, it belongs to Gerald Emmet Cardinal Carter, the most recent Archbishop of Toronto. :: UPDATE :: From Kim in the comments below:
Actually, I'm quite sure the galero suspended from the ceiling belonged to James Cardinal McGuigan, who was our archbishop from 1934-1971. It was hanging there well before Cardinal Carter died. As you may know, it sometimes used to be humorously asserted that the galero's owner would be stuck in Purgatory until the rope holding it up turned to dust. Well, whoever hung up Cardinal McGuigan's hat seems to have made use of a steel cable! Hoo boy, guess they didn't like him? :)

To the left of the altar on a pillar was a decree in Latin from Pope John Paul II, raising Archbishop Aloyisius Ambrosic (the current ordinary) to the College of Cardinals (if I understood the Latin correctly).

From the Cathedral I walked a block down to the Methodist Church, the headquarters (?) of the United Church of Christ Canada. It's in a park, and there were a couple of stone benches where several old men were gatherd playing and watching chess. Some homeless folks were sleeping on the church steps. The building itself was locked. However, the entire time I was in the neighborhood, the carillons of this church were ringing forth a joyous melody.

St. Peter's Church, Toronto

Front of the church. I don't know the technical name for the architectural layout ... rectangular box. No transepts.

Detail of one of the stained glass windows showing the repentance of St. Peter. Each of the side stained glass has scenes from the life of St. Peter.

I just put a bunch of photos of St. Peter's Church in Toronto up at my Flickr page. Check them out! (It's such a pain to get the photos on blogger and for some reason I can never get more than 5 at a time per post).
Technorati Tags: , ,

Another earthquake in Cheraw ...

Matt B left a msg on my phone at about 1:45 am EDT, just after another noticeable earthquake in the Pee Dee. (The last one was last Friday). Here's the data on this one from USGS: 3.7 magnitude, shallow focus (about 3 miles depth). Here's the epicenter map, clearly they're on fault lines close by (or even on the same one). Here's the past six months of seismic activity in the Central and Soutehrn US: notice the clusters: the Appalachians, the Adirondacks (rebound seismicity, as the earth slowly rebounds after being compressed for all that time under ice), the Mississippi Valley. The Carolinas are moderately active, but there's been no significant recent activity. [I think for the USGS, a quake becomes "minor" if it's mag. 3.0 or greater on the Richter. Recall too that the Richter scale is exponential, so a mag. 5.0 releases a heck of a whole lot more energy than a msg. 3.0, for instance.]

Don't ask me what this means -- I'm not a seismologist. Earthquakes are practically impossible to predict, as in, "there will be one of this magnitude at this time at this location." I don't know anything about the more recent seismic activity of the Carolinas ... obviously devastating earthquakes can happen, as the Charleston quake of 1886 shows. The region is moderately active with respect to seismicity, so a few minor tremors here and there are hardly unexpected. It's good to keep a perspective based on geologic time on these things! :)

[Both earthquakes made The State. However, clicking on each headline opens a blank page in both browsers that I use. Or rather, a page loads with everything on there, including the headline, but no story! Weird.]

More info on SC seismicity at the South Carolina Seismic Network at USC.
Technorati Tags:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A walk through downtown Toronto

After dinner, we took a walk through downtown. The parish is at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor, which is one of the main drags of the city, with cafes and internet lounges and discount shops and bookstores galore. We walked East, past Spadina (just north of which, if I recall correctly, is a little B&B I stayed at with a friend back on my firist visit in 2002) and then cut through the U. Toronto campus to the Newman Center [The Newman Center was once run by the CSPs, but they ceded to the Basilian Fathers in the 1930s or 40s, who eventually let the Archdiocese take over the ministry at some point]. This part of the walk brought memories flooding back of World Youth Day 2002.

Illuminated portraint of John Henry Cardinal Newman on the outside of the Newman Center. My batteries were low so I didn't try any other shots.

We'd been hosted at the Newman Center (and slept in dorms at Wycliffe College just down the street). I recall the energy of the daily prayers and catechesis there quite fondly -- our three Bishop catechists were Bishop Linus Roach of Leeds (now the chairman of ICEL I believe), Archbishop Exener of Vancouver and the then newly appointed Archbishop Dolan of Milwaukee. Just down from the Newman Center at Queens Park was the beginning of the ecumenical Way of the Cross with Pope John Paul II.

Our dear late Pope is a lot on my mind this evening!

And boy, the U. Toronto campus has such an English feel about it! :)

We continued through Queens Park back on Bloor to Yonge (ducking into a used book shop where I managed to leave with only a paperback collection of Shakespeare's Sonnets nicely priced at $1 Cdn), then traced our steps back.

A weird display on Bloor St. ... a table with a Lamborghini on top, supported by, no kidding, four tea cups! Go figure ...

Overall, a nice post prandial jaunt in the brisk fall air.
Technorati Tags: ,

Grand Rapids Catholic churches

A little bit of Grand Rapids history ... apparently the Catholic quarter, made up of German, Irish, Polish and other immigrants was on the other side of the river from downtown ... and there's three really beautiful churches there. St. James (which I didn't get a shot of), which served the Irish community, St. Mary's (below), which served the German community and St. Adalbert's (also below) which served the Polish community, and which was raised to the dignity of a minor Basilica by Pope John Paul II.

St. Mary's

Facade of St. Adalbert's. It started raining heavily just as I took this shot (you can see a blurry blob on the top right where a drop hit the lens), so I couldn't get a view of the three lovely domes on the other side.

The interior of St. Adalbert's (we got there just before the Saturday vigil started)

All three churches are within a mile of each other. Ah those old days of the ethnic immigrant church!

Interestingly, there's a lot of Vietnamese in the Grand Rapids area (it was one of the places for refugee settlement in the Vietnam war), and over 10% of the active Dicoesan clergy is of Vietnamese descent. In fact, it seems that Vietnamese Masses are a lot more common than Spanish ones!
Technorati Tags: ,

More from the Ford museum ...

A few things I forgot to mention:

These verses from the Book of Proverbs were very significant in the life of President Ford. The Bible on which he swore the Oath of Office is displayed, opened to this page.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)
Wisdom, indeed!

I had no idea that Betty Ford was instrumental in starting a group for pro-choice Republicans!

And finally, the special exhibit was entitled "Play Ball Mr. President" and was a photo exhibit focusing on the relationship of various Chief Executives to the national sport. And underneath a photo of President Reagan was this quote,
"He's sitting over there [by his desk in the Oval Office] and says, 'Hey Grover Cleveland. I played him in the movies!' I said no, you played Grover Cleveland Alexander, the baseball player. And then I knew the nation was in tough shape from that moment." Tip O'Neill about Ronald Reagan.
:-D (Right next to it was a panel with a poster for the movie in which Ronald Reagan starred as Grover Cleveland Alexander.)

Who is Mark Warner?

Well ... imagine my surprise when I logged into Facebook and saw this ad. Talk about trying to be hip and reach out to young voters. Well, I guess internet politicking, "netroots" and so on is all the rage ...

[I know of one of my loyal readers who might be leaning towards Mark Warner. Even though he doesn't like him ;-)]
Technorati Tags:

O Canada!

Well here we are in Toronto at the rectory at St. Peter's. Feels like I've gone across the pond and am at an English vicarage, with all these old-style stone buildings (yes, photos will be forthcoming of course). I've been put in a tiny room with the beer fridge. Heh. :-)

The drive was uneventful, the border crossing smooth. This is going to be a short visit ... I believe Tuesday morning we hit the road again for the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to Boston. [It's a little infuriating how little time has been scheduled for Toronto. One day, which will be spent listening to various priests, and that's it. Oh well -- I'm not in charge anymore! :-)]

Well, that's obviously not Canada. Somewhere in Michigan where we stopped to fill up. The clouds today were just fantastic.

Going over the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron MI/Sarnia ON

Looking south from the Blue Water bridge.

The Canadian side. [Yes, we hid the camera before getting to the window :) And no, it didn't seem to matter that the two brown guys -- Rene and yours truly -- were sitting upfront :-p)

Technorati Tags:

Gerald R. Ford Museum: II

More photos. Off to Canada on the morrow!

Recreation of the Oval Office.

The Presidential Seal reflected in the window.

Looking out across the Grand River.

  Posted by Picasa
Election poster from 1976 (which he lost to Jimmy Carter). Ford remains the only president never to be elected to office.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Gerald Ford Museum: I

Spent several hours at the Gerald R. Ford Museum today. I had no clue that the 40th 38th President was from Grand Rapids, MI.

This was also my first visit to a Presidential Museum (well, I'd been to Hyde Park but I was 13 and not really interested.) -- there was a lot of stuff about the Nixon years and Watergate. All in all quite an interesting visit! Here's some pictures.

A chunk of the Berlin Wall (given as a gift to the American People)

The implements used to break into Watergate!

Facsimile of the letter of resignation of President Nixon.

  Posted by Picasa
The staircase used in the evacuation of Saigon.

Hard landing

Here's a pretty detailed description by an airline captain (and a great writer) of one of the hardest landings he ever made (hard as in the plan landing with a hard thud, not hard as in difficult; though it was difficult) in high crosswind conditions. I think everyone would have been scared out of their wits on that aircraft ...

Man, I love flying!
Technorati Tags:

Mass ... and a Tornado?

The 5:00 pm Saturday evening Mass just got out ... they introduced us novices and we stood outside greeting people afterwards. Boy, did that bring back some memories! :)

And now, it seems there's a Tornado watch for the county ... small tornadoes sighted, one just touched down in a place called Caledonia. Lots of rain and lightning outside.

This brings back memories of being stuck in Colby, KS in a gas station off I-70 with golf-ball sized hail coming down outside. Luckily the Suburban was under the gas station canopy. The gas station attendant was on the phone locating her kids. "This happens here all the time right?" "Yeah," she goes. "I'm still scared." So, I sent postcards to people. Now, I'm blogging. Guess that's progress.

That was back in 1996 ... so I also guess I'm on a one tornado a decade count. I'm ok with that.

And I guess this puts a damper on the Notre Dame - Michigan St. game in Lansing. Kick off is at 7:00 pm Eastern.
Technorati Tags:

The resurgence of Calvnism

Well here I am in Grand Rapids, which is, apparently, the headquarters of the Christian Reformed Church, the bastion of Calvinism. Catholics are 20% in the metropolitan area and about 8-10% in the Diocese. Wow, who'da thunk! Especially since we're like 2 hours from the Catholic stronghold of Detroit ...

Anyway, given my current whereabouts, this piece in Christianity Today caught the eye: Young Restless and Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback, and shaking up the church. Interesting reading! I've heard the TULIP thing before ... but that total depravity thing (no matter how many times I might feel that way, especially as I line up for Confession, or when I read the news) just doesn't seem right.
Technorati Tags:

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Pope and Islam: Colbert

And to round up this night's single-issue blogging: Stephen Colbert. Not his best, but definitely funny! :)

The Pope and Islam: John Allen ...

The kind of superb analysis we've come to expect.
Technorati Tags: , , ,

What started this? The Tablet last week ...

So, in the house at Grand Rapids I spent a few minutes reading last week's issue of the Tablet. Robert Mickens has a report on Pope Benedict's visit to Germany: Bavaria's Benedictfest. And you know what? There's not a single word about Islam in there. The story has a dateline of Sept. 16. I guess it went to press before the sh*t hit the fan. This is what Mickens has to say about the famous address at Regensburg:
Later, in what was easily his most weighty speech, Pope Benedict delivered a public lecture to professors and academics at the University of Regensburg. He offered what he defined as a "critique of modern reason" painted "with broad strokes". His basic point was that a gradual de-Hellenisation of Christian faith, still in progress, had reduced faith to something unreasonable. "This ... has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age," the Pope insisted. "The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application," he continued. And he repeated that the West would continue to have difficulties with other cultures as long as it marginalised religious faith. "A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures," he warned.
Islam is not mentioned at all.

A journalist of the stature of the Tablet's Robert Mickens didn't see anything intrinsically anti-Islamic in Benedict's address. [Unfortunately, this week's article by Mickens, "Anatomy of a Crisis" is not available online for free.]

So, how did this start? What am I missing?

Pope and Islam: Mercator Net

A series of articles from Mercator Net on the Pope's speech. [Hey, I'm not an expert in Islam or medieval thought ... just passing these along.]

Islam's Eclipse of Reason gives a brief overview of the history of Islam's "prophets of reason." (the suppression of the Mutazilites and Al-Ghazali's anti-Hellenistic victory; and notes how Christianity avoided similar temptations in the medieval age.)

.. another piece highlighting, again, that Benedict's main target, so to speak, was the "Enlightenment Project."

... and, can Christians and Muslims actually dialogue? Well, it's difficult, it seems.

The Pope and Islam continued ...

Well, it is the story, and really focuses on one of the fault-lines of the 21st century.

Sandro Magister has a collection of articles in his newsletter, including a piece by himself: Why Benedict XVI did want to fall silent or backpedal. The reference to Islam was intentional and calculated, and probably was intentionally not screened by the Secretariat of State.
The masterful lecture that the pope-theologian delivered at the University of Regensburg really did send shivers throughout the world. Because what Benedict XVI said there is just what happened afterward. The pope explained the distance that runs between the Christian God, who is love, immolated in Jesus on the cross, but also “Logos,” reason; and the God worshipped by Islam, so transcendent and sublime that he is not bound by anything, not even by that rational assertion according to which there must not be “any coercion in matters of faith.” The Qur’an says this in the second sura, to which the pope conscientiously made reference, but it then makes other and opposite statements. And the violent eruption in the Muslim world against the pope and Christians confirms that this other tendency has the upper hand, giving form and substance to the way in which myriads of the faithful of Allah view the world of the infidels. The other side of pope Joseph Ratzinger’s lecture in Regensburg is the blood poured out in Muslim Mogadishu by sister Leonella Sgorbati, a woman veiled and yet free, a martyr whose last words were addressed to her killers: “I forgive you.”

In reality, almost the entirety of Benedict XVI’s lecture in Regensburg was addressed to the Christian world, to the West and to Europe, which in his view are so sure of their naked reason – too sure – that they have lost the “fear of God.” But here as well the pope’s words found their confirmation in the facts. Hand in hand with the swell of verbal and physical violence on the part of Muslims, on the other side, in theory his own side, the pope was the target of incessant volleys of friendly fire. Just as the sagacious companions of Job attributed the blame for his misfortunes to him, so also Benedict XVI was surrounded by a veritable whirlwind of advice and rebuke of the same sort.
When it comes to Realpolitik, the Pope sees a broader picture:
But realism isn’t everything for Benedict XVI. The dialogue with Islam that he wants to create is not made of fearful silences and ceremonial embraces. It is not made of mortifications which, in the Muslim camp, are interpreted as acts of submission. The citation he made in Regensburg, from the “Dialogues with a Mohammedan” written at the end of the fourteenth century by the Christian participant in the dialogue, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologos, was deliberate choice. A war was on. Constantinople was under siege, and in a half century, in 1453, it would fall under the dominion of the Ottoman Empire. But the learned Christian emperor brought his Persian count to the terrain of truth, reason, law, and violence, to what marks the real difference between the Christian faith and Islam, to the key questions upon which war or peace between the two civilizations depends.

Pope Ratzinger sees modern times, too, as being fraught with war, and with holy war. But he asks Islam to place a limit of its own on “jihad.” He proposes to the Muslims that they separate violence from faith, as prescribed by the Qur’an itself, and that they again connect faith with reason, because “acting against reason is in contradiction with the nature of God.”
Then there is a piece by Pietro de Marco: "'The Axis of the Sacred' and interreligious criticism. Byzantium in Regensburg" looks at the analogy the Pope used, with the situation of the Emperor of Byzantium facing the Turkish armies at his doorstep. He starts by suggesting that the Pope wanted to build on the level of trust that the seemingly more conciliatory pontificate of John Paul II had achieved with the Islamic world. And then
Pope Benedict wants, then, to tell his Islamic listener today that Christianity and the West know that Islam is armed and, in part, at war; and that they will be able to respond to this, as has already happened, after and notwithstanding the fall of Constantinople. But the pope is pointing out in the first place to the faith and the doctrine of men and cultures that the terrain of the encounter of truth and for truth is different. It is that of the “Logos.” But Islam has also practiced the “Logos,” and at the service of faith, for centuries and everywhere, from Andalusia to Baghdad, from Cairo to Persia.
I think this part needs to be studied and understood carefully. Benedict was being intentional. And for him, dialogue is indeed a lot more than just simple platitudes and hand-holding, "let's all just get along." We should pay close attention to his words.

There's also a beautiful piece looking at the muder of Sr. Leonella, the nun murdered in Somalia.

Earthquake in Cheraw ...

Just got a msg from Matt B ... about a magnitude 3, this morning. A little reminder that the eastern seaboard is a moderately active area known for intraplate seismicity. Apart from the famous Charleston earthquake, there have been others.
Technorati Tags:

The Tablet's take on the recent brouhaha

A list of articles in their latest issue. The one I want to read, by Robert Milkens, is not for free. :: sigh :: ... but there's John Borelli (who's at Georgetown) and Mona Siddiqui.

It's almost lunchtime ... more later.
Technorati Tags: , ,

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Abbot Francis Kline: a memorial

A beautiful memorial to Fr. Francis Kline, the Abbot of Mepkin who died on August 27, 2006. Again, all of us from the Diocese of Charleston are so blessed to have had him serve the Church all these years, and I am particularly grateful for the times that I had with him.
There was the renunciation – music. Various combinations were tried, the practical problem of finding practice time in a highly structured monastic schedule that regularly prayed in the Church where the instrument was; in a Community which at that time was blessed with a very accomplished musician. In addition there were two or three others who played and who did need practice. Brother Francis as Joseph Kline had practiced eight to ten to twelve hours a day! But it was not the confusion of schedules nor just time that he needed, Francis was sure that God wanted him to surrender his music totally. The novice master had doubts. The practical reality was this meant a monk to work and not work time to practice organ.

This went on for weeks but there were rumors of the organ being played in the middle of the night; there was novice Francis sleeping over his reading. In one of the weekly session the topic of midnight organ recitals was brought-up. It wasn’t easy to convince him – radicalness of his commitment; his life as a monk depended on leaving everything. We reflected together on communication and how we communicate with God, how we say in all truth who we are. For Francis obviously music was his way of communication. There was an agreement to respond to the Lord by music and we would discern it again.
One is hard pressed to say what one force was the core of Abbot Francis’ spiritual response; certainly Jesus from the Scriptures. He was acquainted with modern biblical scholarship, but not impressed. His inspiration was the patristic literature. But perhaps even more it was his personal lectio – that monastic discipline of daily meditating on the scriptures. The Rule of Benedict was another source. He knew the Rule and used it constantly in showing others the monastic way. His priesthood was something of an identity for him, something to which he was always faithful and never hesitated to give witness. His love of the Church was central and above all the persons who are the Church. The list is without end. Whenever a person, a cause or an intellectual concern touched him, Francis was unstinting in his pursuit. If he was not interested, it was obvious. This was the case at most general chapters of the order and other such meetings. His very close friend Abbot Peter McCarthy described it perfectly in the funeral homily. “I have never before or since ever experienced anyone who could register near cosmic boredom in every facial feature no matter how sensitive the occasion might be.”
[Hattip to Catholic Sensibility]
Technorati Tags: ,

Grand Rapids MI

Not on the beaten path for sure ... Anyway, here we are in the heart of Michigan. It's also the birthplace of President Ford ... so there's a museum to see.
Technorati Tags:

Opening the Archives ...

Amy has the roundup. Let the historians at it and give us some good objective reports. Enough Hitler's Pope already.
Technorati Tags: ,

Italian Bishops criticize Western leaders

... for failing to speak up for the Pope as he faced insults and threats. Um, yeah!
Technorati Tags: , ,

The Common Ground of Islam and Christianity ...

... this is so twisted! (It's Jon Stewart after all) Go see!

Feast of St. Matthew the Evangelist

St. Matthew and the Angel from S. Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, one of my favorite Caravaggios.

Today's Office of Readings has a sermon by the Venerable Bede on the call of St. Matthew:
Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me. Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men.
He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: Follow me. This following meant imitating the pattern of his life – not just walking after him. St. John tells us: Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
And he rose and followed him. There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew’s assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.
As he sat at table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligation and thus grew in merit. To see a deeper understanding of the great celebration Matthew held at his house, we must realise that he not only gave a banquet for the Lord at his earthly residence, but far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart which he provided through faith and love. Our Saviour attests to this: Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
On hearing Christ’s voice, we open the door to receive him, as it were, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done. Christ, since he dwells in the hearts of his chosen ones through the grace of his love, enters so that he might eat with us and we with him. He ever refreshes us by the light of his presence insofar as we progress in our devotion to and longing for the things of heaven. He himself is delighted by such a pleasing banquet.

Technorati Tags: ,