Monday, April 28, 2008


Congratulations to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has just given birth to her fifth child, who has been diagnosed with Downs Syndrome. Governor Palin, a committed pro-life Catholic, and member of Feminists for Life, is the youngest Governor in the United States and consistently the most popular. She is pro-life, staunchly conservative, anti-tax, a member of the NRA - sounds like just the VP ticket a certain John McCain needs!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Sweet and Strong"

Managed to watch a little of the beautiful Ordination ceremony in St. Peter's today, where the Holy Father ordained 29 new priests. I was powerfully struck by the time he took ordaining each one - he really prayed over them - there was no rush, it was deeply impressive. As with all Pope Benedict's homilies, there was much to ponder over in his words to the newly ordained. He dwelt particularly on the profound silence of the imposition of hands filled, as he said, with an "extraordinarily dense spirituality." He told the new priests, "you must frequently return to this moment." I was taken back to the moment of my ordination, nearly 14 years ago - it was both humbling and extremely beautiful to see this mysterious moment - I noticed one of the new priests with tears in his eyes, tears of joy and peace. The Pope's final words; his 'wish' or desire for these new priests, is a wonderful description of what all of us who have been blessed by the Lord with the gift of the priesthood should be aspiring to - and what I would hope the people would want from their priests. If you want it from your priests - pray this for them!

"May you always be wise and generous givers, sweet and strong, respectful and confident."

Friday, April 25, 2008


There have been various reports circulating about the web - like a few months ago - that the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman was to be beatified. Is this actually confirmed? If so, when - and where? Will it take place in Birmingham (England, not Alabama)? If so, it will certainly be one of the most important occasions in the life of the Catholic Church in England in the last 100 years. I must investigate ticket prices......

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Time to read

Spot the Bishop of Burlington in this picture!

Having not managed to see many of the events during the Papal visit, I think that I, along with everyone in the Church here in the United States, need to spend a considerable amount of time actually reading what he said. I am still profoundly struck by his call for penance as a central theme for the revival of the Church: I wonder if we (Me!) will take this to heart? Then the strong encouragement to strengthen Catholic identity and to propose the joy of a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. Despite what some bloggers may feel, it was, indeed, curious, to say the least, that the Pope's explicit comments - and directives - about music were ignored at the Washington Mass. As Father Richard John Neuhaus so wittily said on the 'First Things' blog, the Holy Father got to experience "aspects of the aesthetic suffering endured by the faithful in America." However, given my experience of what the young people who are really committed to their faith (real young people - not people in their early thirties!) seem to be asking for - that "aesthetic suffering" will, in God's good time, be relieved more rapidly than the Washington Mass would have us believe. It might have been the death rattle of the soft-rock crooners!

The meeting with victims of sexual abuse was stunning - even more stunning was the report of healing and reconcilation - yes, the Sacrament of Reconciliation - that was celebrated by one of the victims - that was truly a moment of wonderful grace - prior to his meeting the Holy Father. At the risk of irritating certain people in the blogosphere, I still wonder when there will be some semblance of justice - within the Church - and outside it - for men who have been accused, not found guilty, not been charged, not been able to defend themselves - but who have been abandoned by all who should take care of them - there will be no real reconciliation or justice until that injustice is addressed. Is there an advocate for the falsely accused priest-victims? - and if not - don't talk about justice, because it's hollow talk.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Real Owl

The admirable Father Dwight, who spends a considerable time on his cranium, claims to have snapped a picture of the Owl in Greenville. Whoever the grim fellow is, I have supplied a picture of the real Owl, during a post-prandial 'riposo.' The other fellow must be an imposter, a knave and a rogue.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why no Eskimo music?

Just time for a quick post on the visit so far: Happy-looking Pope - beautiful welcome from the President (when will he become a Catholic? - according to the Sainted Pastor of Park Avenue, a personal friend of the Commander-in-Chief - "when the Bishops become Catholic!)

Beautiful Vespers - good words to the Bishops. Washington Mass (!!) - let's be charitable - apart from the Altar, it was not what the Holy Father has written about/asked for - Fr. Neuhaus was very witty on EWTN - bongo drums during the Veni Creator! The serious point is - you cannot mix all those cultures and expect an organic unity - imagine making a supper with one dish, and putting Mexican, English, African, Chinese etc, etc, into one pot - it would be very unsavoury - because all the tastes would clash. We most certainly can celebrate diversity - but this did NOT work! Great homily - very strong on "Catholic identity," - passing on the Faith - and - very powerful (can't remember the exact words) - something about the real future of the US Church coming from a re-discovery of Penance. Still - these are glory days with our Holy Father among us - in beautiful sunshine!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Christ Our Hope

The Holy Father arrives on these shores in a few hours. Despite press reports, there is more to American Catholicism than the sex-abuse crisis, in fact the real story, if they wanted to report on that angle now, would be the story of greedy lawyers and innocent priests being victimized. The Pope comes to bring life, with the beautiful theme "Christ Our Hope." There is much to be proud of in the US Catholic Church, I pray these days will be grace-filled and will lead to a fresh and confident revitalization of the Catholic community here in the land of the free.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Goodness, Truth and Beauty

"What the Church can do today is to reform herself by repeating like a mantra the words "only the best will do": the best intellectually, morally, aesthetically."

Father Aidan Nichols, OP.

On Tuesday, the man who is putting that "reform" into practice arrives here in the United States - the Vicar of Christ and Successor of St. Peter - Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope changes words of Creed

Pope Benedict - in new 'user-friendly' attire.

In a stunning move prior to his US visit next week, Pope Benedict XVI has decided to change the words of the Nicene Creed. Despite the fact that these words have been an affirmation of the Faith of the Church since 325AD, the Holy Father feels that the new words will help Americans feel good about themselves, which is, of course, the purpose of the Catholic Faith. For many years now, large numbers of Mass-goers have expressed difficulties, and had "issues," with some of the words in the Creed. Particularly troubling to many is the idea of hierarchy; why, they ask, in the New Millennium, are we still saying every week that we believe in "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church"? Even though we might have the evidence of both Scripture and Tradition, in the immortal words of 'Bishop' Vicky Robinson, "just because Scripture and Tradition say something is wrong doesn't mean it is wrong"! Despite the appeal of St. Ignatius of Antioch, writing in the year 100AD, exhorting the first Christians to unite around the three-fold ministry of Bishop, Priest and Deacon, the hierarchic leadership of the Church - Pope Benedict has decided that, from April 1st, 2009, the Feast of All Fools, we will now say every Sunday - "we believe in One, Holy, Democratic Church, however we each conceive it."

Also, on that date in 2009, Father Richard McBrien will be named the new Archbishop of New York, Sister Joan Chittister will be named the first female Cardinal and ABC News will be inundated with reports of flying pink animals in the sky, squealing and snorting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pundits Prepare

The members of the Commonweal Editorial Board, prepare their agenda for the Pope's visit.

Candidate discovers Irish Roots

Presidential candidate, Sean Patrick O'Bama

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Picture of Ted Turner

"In 30 years we will all be cannibals." Ted Turner

Everybody loves Raymond

Well, perhaps not everybody - Sheryl Crowe, for example. There is, as far as I am aware, no official 'Archbishop Burke Fan Club' - so it begins here. To be a member, you just have to applaud what the Archbishop is doing in his diocese, there are no membership dues, you can claim membership immediately! Not only has the Archbishop rightly challenged so-called Catholic politicians who openly support abortion - he has been unafraid of bad publicity and done his duty as an Apostle. Now he has opened an Institute for Sacred Music in St. Louis, which is following exactly what Pope Benedict has been asking the Church to do - and, incidentally, what the Second Vatican Council called the Church to do. He is providing the opportunity for parishes, and the musicians of his diocese, to not only learn Gregorian Chant, but to sing the Mass in English. Can it be long before we have 'Cardinal' Burke - or Archbishop Burke of New York? (That will, of course, spoil the chances of the sainted Pastor of Park Avenue, but I am sure he will be gracious.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Touching Greatness

Everyone of us, if we are lucky, will have at least one moment in our lives when we have, at least for a brief moment, been truly part of history. If we are even luckier, we will have had the opportunity to be close, to touch, or communicate in some way, with a person of greatness. Three years after the death of one of the greatest Popes in the history of the Church, two different sets of memories come flooding back. The first is of a young man of eighteen, on a small vocation pilgrimage to Rome. Through the good offices of the former Secretary of the Pope, Father, now Bishop, John Magee - our little group received the summons to be at the Papal apartment early one morning, to attend Holy Mass celebrated by the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II. To receive the Body of Christ from the Vicar of Christ; not a unique experience - many over the years were lucky enough to have had that same experience - but what an unforgetable experience! Pope Benedict, in his homily today said it was "enough to have seen him in prayer." Twenty-seven years later that is my abiding memory: "to have seen him in prayer!" Absorbed in prayer; caught up in prayer - completely unaware of our presence behind him in his little Chapel. He was, said Pope Benedict, a mystic; of that there is no doubt. Jump forward to April 2005: that same young man, now a priest (thanks be to God!) - is in Rome with two other priest friends, celebrating his 10th anniversary as a priest. John Paul is very sick - the morning we arrive in Rome, we receive what would be his last blessing from the window in St. Peter's - his last wordless blessing. Strange miracles begin to happen - things fall into place. TV crews arrive from all over the world to cover the story - is the Pope dying? The ten year old priest is interviewed by the BBC - twice! Wandering back from supper on the Saturday evening, we hear the bells tolling in St. Peter's. "It's just the hour," my priestly brother says - but the bells keep tolling. "Why are they tolling," I ask an Italian tv crew - "the Pope is dead!" We enter the square and join the thousands of people - mainly young, who are praying, crying - and some singing. The light is still on in the Holy Father's apartment - the one I was in 27 years before. Over the following days, millions joined us - to pray and to become pilgrims. I still remember waking up in the middle of the night and hearing the footsteps of people walking by in the street all night long - just five minutes from the Vatican. The night before we were due to leave, we get in to venerate his body at Midnight - because we are clergy, we are lucky enough to be allowed to pray beside his mortal remains. Has it really been three years since his death? As George Weigel once wrote, great times of crisis in the Church produce great saints: we have the great saint for the new Millennium - John Paul the Great!

Third Anniversary of the Servant of God, John Paul