Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I was at a planning meeting for our local 40 Days for Life campaign. They were talking about the kick-off rally. Speakers had been asked and agreed to talk, a short video had been selected, a candle-light vigil was discussed, and then ... the subject of some music for the rally came up. One of the planners said, "We have someone here who plays guitar."

They all looked at me.


Um, well, ah, I agreed.

If God gave me the ability to play and sing, shouldn't I use it for His work? That's a debate I have with myself all the time. Being in a band or the choir is one thing - I can hide behind the other musicians. But me solo? At my fraternity the possibility of me providing music has been raised. I've just smiled and avoided it so far.

But as for the rally - what do I play??

I kidded that I could rewrite a Lennon tune ("All we are saying, is give life a chance ...").

As I drove home I thought maybe I could try to write a song. I started running through some images and ideas. Nothing gelled, though I did get some line ideas, and a working title: "The Choice."

When I got home I searched online for pro-life songs. None hit me as tunes I could do or would feel comfortable doing. I did see one 40 Days rally with "They'll Know We Are Christians." I suppose if nothing else comes up I might consider that one.

Still mulling, this morning I thought of "Open the Eyes of My Heart" as a possibility. I always liked it, and I have music for it. I practiced it for a few minutes before Mass, transposing it to a more comfortable key for me. It might just work.

At Mass, suddenly I got an idea of what to do with the lines I came up for the original song. Three verses and a bridge. When I came home, I even tested out a bit of music that could go with it. Maybe ...

Assuming I finish the song and it's not too sappy, and I do sing "Open the Eyes of My Heart, I would still probably need a third song.

"Imagine there's no Planned Parenthood ...."

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A question - and a response

At a discussion site, I was asked the following:

Your Morning Mass Thingy--

I never understood the people who go to church merely for the fact that they believe if they do not go then they will go to hell.

I go to hear an informational, maybe uplifing, homily and to listen to the readings.

I usually try and take the message of the week and apply it in my world.

Never do I feel bd when I do not go.

What's your take??

I responded:

I go to Mass not because it's an obligation, or a rule, or a sin if I don't go. I go to be with the one I love and the one who so loved me He created me and was willing to die for me. I WANT to be there, just as I wanted to be with a girlfriend or my wife - only more so! I want to spend time with Him, to thank Him, to talk to Him, just to be with Him. Yes, I can be with Him in the woods, or on a mountainside, or while walking the dog, but Mass is a special time - a "date" of sorts. I go to hear a homily, to be with like-minded people, to feel a sense of community, to sing, true. But even more I go to be with my Lord, and so even a lousy homily, terrible music, irreverent people can't ruin it. I'm with HIm. When I miss Mass, I feel a sense of loss, just I have in the past when away from my family, my wife, my loved ones.


My response was hurried, and perhaps not worded in the best way. Someone said some positive things about it, noting though that it was a bit "over the top."

I replied:

Over the top? Perhaps - but then, don't we celebrate passionate love?

Litany of the Love of God
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
Thou Who art Infinite Love,
Have mercy on us.
Thou Who didst first love me,
Have mercy on us.
Thou Who commandest me to love Thee,
Have mercy on us.

With all my heart,
I Love Thee, O My God
With all my soul,
I Love Thee, O My God
With all my mind,
I Love Thee, O My God
With all my strength,
I Love Thee, O My God
Above all possessions and honors,
I Love Thee, O My God
Above all pleasures and enjoyments,
I Love Thee, O My God
More than myself, and everything belonging to me,
I Love Thee, O My God
More than all my relatives and friends,
I Love Thee, O My God
More than all men and angels,
I Love Thee, O My God
Above all created things in heaven or on earth,
I Love Thee, O My God
Only for Thyself,
I Love Thee, O My God
Because Thou art the sovereign Good,
I Love Thee, O My God
Because Thou art infinitely worthy of being loved,
I Love Thee, O My God
Because Thou art infinitely perfect,
I Love Thee, O My God
Even hadst Thou not promised me heaven,
I Love Thee, O My God
Even hadst Thou not menaced me with hell,
I Love Thee, O My God
Even shouldst Thou try me by want and misfortune,
I Love Thee, O My God
In wealth and in poverty,
I Love Thee, O My God
In prosperity and in adversity,
I Love Thee, O My God
In health and in sickness,
I Love Thee, O My God
In life and in death,
I Love Thee, O My God
In time and in eternity,
I Love Thee, O My God
In union with that love wherewith all the saints and all the angels love Thee in heaven,
I Love Thee, O My God
In union with that love wherewith the Blessed Virgin Mary loveth Thee,
I Love Thee, O My God
In union with that infinite love wherewith Thou lovest Thyself eternally,
I Love Thee, O My God
My God, Who dost possess in incomprehensible abundance all that is perfect and worthy of love, annihilate in me all guilty, sensual, and undue love for creatures. Kindle in my heart the pure fire of Thy love, so that I may love nothing but Thee or in Thee, until being so entirely consumed by holy love of Thee, I may go to love Thee eternally with the elect in heaven, the country of pure love. Amen.

His Holiness, Pope Pius VI, for private use

And then I cited:

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height 
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight 
For the ends of being and ideal grace. 
I love thee to the level of every day's 
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. 
I love thee freely, as men strive for right. 
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. 
I love thee with the passion put to use 
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. 
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose 
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, 
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, 
I shall but love thee better after death.

Ah, but I only wish I could be conscious of that love every time I go to Mass!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Franciscan Prayer for School

One of the great things about the school where I'll be teaching this year is that we can pray before every class. I'd been looking for a short Franciscan prayer - and then found just what I needed

St. Francis: Prayer Before the Crucifix.

Most High,
glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart.
Give me,
right faith,
sure hope,
and perfect charity.
Fill me with understanding
and knowledge,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.

The prayer is one St. Francis composed at the foot of the crucifix in the church of San Damiano, where he received the command, "Francis, go and repair my house, which, as you see, is falling completely into ruin."

Father Jack Wintz, O.F.M., includes this prayer in his book, Friar Jack's Favorite Prayers. He notes "each time I pray it, I am more and more convinced that it reveals the authentic heart of St. Francis."

It begins, he observes, not focused on "some dark misery of the soul. Rather it begins focused on the glory and sublime beauty of God."

Father Wintz says he likes the fact Francis asked God to enlighten the darkness of his "heart" rather than "mind," as "heart" seems more the real St. Francis.

"Heart suggests the complexities of human love and the mystery of one's innermost longing - with all its related joys and sorrows."

I like the request that God fill whoever is saying the prayer with the understanding and knowledge needed to carry out His command, which is to reach out to humanity with "perfect charity" - to show others the same kind of love God has shown us.

It seems appropriate to ask for knowledge and understanding in a school prayer - and with a reminder to me as the teacher to show charity for my students!

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ulp Moments

Teacher meetings are next week. Students arrive the following Wednesday. So much reading and prep yet to do!

I met with the former moderator of the school paper today. I'll be taking it over this year. I was concerned that she might not be happy about not moderating it, but she welcomed that.

She had plenty of good advice and suggestions. Great.

But it's going to take some work just getting it off the ground. Knowing she was not going to be moderating it this year, and not knowing what the new moderator would want, she didn't pick the new editors at the end of last year (as is normally done). That means that I have to take a week or so naming editors before we can even start planning issues. There are some good people who were on the paper last year who, hopefully, will want to return. If so, we'll be fine. If not - that's where an "ulp" comes in.

I'm looking at the paper as a long-term project. We'll make some simple improvements this year - getting out one more issue than last year, better photos, for example - then building it up more in the years ahead.

A lot of work.

Pretty exciting!

Pax et bonum

Monday, August 22, 2011


I was taking part in a discussion about Catholic school experiences. My fellow discussers were telling "horror" stories and generally mocking their experiences. I was pointing out all the positive experiences and effects my 12 years of Catholic schooling had given me.

Besides the fact that I as usual became somewhat defensive in my responses (sigh), it also hit me that our differing perceptions were in their own ways true, but that our "truths" were formed by what we chose to remember.

As I put it elsewhere: One thing I've learned is that how we perceive something depends in large part on how we choose to perceive it.

I thought of St. Francis and lepers.

When he was young, he abhorred lepers, as did many people in his society. They were ugly, deformed, diseased. They had open wounds. They were missing body parts. There were often dirty and smelled. They were treated as outcasts, as vile sinners.

But when he learned to look with the eyes of faith, he saw Christ in them. They were beautiful. They were to be loved.

The lepers had not changed. Francis did.

In the same way, saints over the years perceived the beauty in others the world often regarded negatively. Mother Teresa. Catherine Doherty. Dorothy Day. Father Damian. Peter Claver.

I think of so many good people today who run homeless shelters, health clinics, hospices, who work with the physically and mentally and spiritually ill.

These holy people are not blind. They see the sicknesses, the deformities, the sins. But they choose to focus on what is good and beautiful.

They choose to focus on Jesus in others.

I pray that I might find the strength to choose to see what they see.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spiritual reading - maybe something art related?

I've been doing a lot of school-related reading - I have to finish the summer reading books before I test the students on them in three weeks, after all! It's enjoyable reading, as is the reading of the works we'll be doing in class to start the year.

But I've been missing out on spiritual reading.

I tried some mystical Franciscan poetry, but found it hard to follow after reading all that school related stuff.

I looked on my shelf.

That's when I spotted one of those books I'd been meaning to read, but it got stuck on the shelf between some other books and was overlooked.

The Beauty of Faith: Using Christians Art to Spread the Good News by Jem Sullivan. With a forward by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. And the text of Pope John Paul II's 1999 "Letter to Artists."


It's short. I'll give it a shot. Then dive into something Franciscan.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Archbishop Romero on Peace

Peace is not the product of terror or fear.

Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.

Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.

Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.

Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.

It is right and it is duty.

-- Archbishop Oscar Romero

Pax et bonum


Over the years I have written several blogs - including a couple of group ones.

One of the blogs, my first one, was my main one. That one had more than 2,000 posts stretching back over six years. It included poetry, stories, silliness, music videos, and more. The "more" included views on politics and social issues - sometimes strong views.

I was hired this summer to teach at a school where the students are computer savvy, so I knew it was only a matter of time before they found the blog. I changed some things about it, but I and it could still be found online. So, after talking with my new principal, I retired that blog, and basically blocked it. I have kept the posts there only because there are some that I want to save - but I don't have time before the school year begins to go through more than 2000 to save the ones worth saving. I'm hoping all the things I've done to hide it and block it will be enough to prevent student access.

Then there's this blog.

It's less well known. It's harder to find. My name is not on it. And in this one I don't get into the political/social discussions I did on my other bog. The principal said that the group blogs - one devoted to Chesterton, for example, or one for my Secular Franciscan group, should be no problem. I'm hoping that's the case with this one.

And perhaps it is for the best. I tend to be a contentious person, and sometimes my views are not expressed in the most Franciscan-like ways. Plus, that blog was sometimes a way to show off or even to attack and goad others. Maybe God is using this to help me move away from such things - online, and in daily life.

For now, I will continue to post here on spiritual matters, especially ones focusing on my journey as a Franciscan.

Pax et bonum

Friday, August 19, 2011

Oh yeah?

I'm still working on this Franciscan thing. I like to argue and brag too much. I suspect I won't get it right until I go Home!

Pax et bonum