Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve -
scattering resolutions
like confetti

Pax et bonum

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas movies sometimes forget what Christmas is really about

I was searching online for a new copy of A Child's Christmas in Wales, a wonderful television movie of Dylan Thomas' poem that was broadcast back in the 1980s. My wife videotaped it back then - we are still watching that tape, but I worry about it breaking.

No luck. It does not seem to be easily available except in used copies.

But as I searched I began to think about Christmas movies.

There are many good ones that I enjoy, but some of them have no sense of the true meaning of Christmas: The birth of our savior.  I love the original Miracle on 34th Street, for example, but God is missing.

God is there in a number of movies, at least indirectly in some cases, with prayer and angels - The Bishop's Wife or It's a Wonderful Life, to cite two examples. A pivotal scene in Home Alone takes place in church. A Christmas Carol mentions going to church (Bob and Tiny Tim do go at least), and, of course, there's Tim's famous line, "God bless us, everyone."

But where is God or Jesus in The Santa Clause? A Christmas Story? Or even the aforementioned A Child's Christmas in Wales?

Some movies really just focus on Santa, and not always in a positive way, (Mr. St. Nick) (which is a poor movie anyway) or romance (almost any tinsel-tinged Hallmark Channel movie), or the secular celebration of family rather than the holy day celebrating the birth of the Messiah.

Some movies are just downright bad as movies - The film version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or The Santa Clause 3, or Scrooged. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (yes, there is such a movie) falls into the bad movie category, but it is so bad it has it's own strange charm! 

And some movies promote a changing world view that is in contrast to the true Christmas story. The Santa Clause, a movie that I actually enjoy (forget the sequels), has some real issues when it comes to normalizing divorce, absentee fathers, and blended families. And that business of Santa dying, ech.

A Christmas movie does not necessarily have to be overtly religious, but there should be some acknowledgement of faith. After, all, that's what Christmas is really about - and without it, we wouldn't mark the day.

As for me, there are some Christmas movies I like despite the lack of religion. Some are really out there.

Ones I like and happily watch again and again:

Miracle on 34th Street (the original, not the remake)
A Child's Christmas in Wales
It's a Wonderful Life
The Bishop's Wife
A Christmas Carol - the Alistair Sims, George C Scott, and Muppet versions!
The Nativity Story
3 Godfathers - John Wayne as a cowboy, bank-robbing wise man??
The Homecoming (essentially the pilot for The Waltons)
Home Alone
White Christmas
The Santa Clause (despite the reservations)
Die Hard - (yes, even with the violence and language, it's a well-made movie set at Christmas time)
Joyeaux Noel - what if all soldiers just declared their own truce as they did in WWI? (I just wish they had not included that unnecessary sex scene.)

A couple of television shows make the list as well - the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Karloff is wonderful), Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and It's a Wonderful Red Green Christmas.

Hey, I never claimed to be normal!

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas books and gifts

The Christmas haul included a new hat, a framed picture of two of my daughters visiting me at the mall (ho! Ho! Ho!), a couple of nice Santa figurines, and two books. Oh, and a bottle of Scottish Ale.

The Santas join the hundreds of Santa items I have. If you're gonna have a collection, make it an interesting one! I'll  have to count how many I actually have at some point.

The books include a Santa one as well: Better Homes and Gardens Santa Claus Collection (volume 1).  I've skimmed though it - some nice images, and the text looks informative.

The other book is O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound by Garrison Keillor. I'm not a big fan of his poetry, but there are some amusing ones in this collection of poems that include a number that he read on A Prairie Home Companion. I'll go through it more carefully later.

A related gift - a gift certificate for the Catholic shop. Might be a book or two coming out of that!

I also scribbled a slug:

a slug among weeds
will happily imbibe a
cup of spiked eggnog

Mmmmm. I'll imbibe that later.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas stories and poems

Over the years I've written a few stories and some poems for Christmas. Some have been silly - the "bad haiku" contest entries -  some more touching - the story of a spirit Santa who helps the souls of children.

It's a mixed bag. But I'm thinking of combining them into a collection. Why not?

A Christmas book for next year? Hmm.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Though Santa gives so many gifts
he’ll always be outdone.
He gives clothes and toys and such,
but the Father gave His Son.

Merry Christmas!

Pax et bonum

Friday, December 6, 2013

A possible spiritual director in the works?

The woman who led our faculty staff retreat today is a spiritual director who runs a center that includes several other spiritual directors. And it turns out we actually met each other years ago.

I spoke with her after the retreat and plan to meet with her after Christmas to see about the possibility that she or one of the other directors might be a good fit.

Heck, she even plays guitar!

As for the retreat day, it went well. I'm so lucky to teach at a Catholic school.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

My latest fluff reading was a science fiction book I'd wanted to read for a long time, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. As the book jacket proclaims, it's "The inspiration for Blade Runner" - one of my favorite science fiction movies, and the main reason I've wanted to read the book.

The operative work in that blurb is "inspiration." It clearly did inspire the movie, and many of the characters are the same in name, but there are major differences.

To be honest, I think the movie is far better than the book. It has a sharper focus and greater depth, eliminated or changed some of the elements in the novel that would have gotten in the way, developed the characters in more intriguing ways, and transformed the dystopian world into something more interesting.

The book is not bad - it just does not match up well with the movie.

There are also some moments that left me scratching my head. At one point, for example, the main character when confronting an android begins to say things that don't make sense. There are actions in the novel that seem to be leading toward something, but then don't; and there is one seemingly significant character in the novel who's introduced, then dropped. The quasi-religion (Mercerism) in the book doesn't work - Kurt Vonnegut's Bokononism is better! - and reads more like a dated fixation of the time in which the book was written (1960s). (The religious elements in the movie were sharper and more thought provoking.)

I thought the character development in the movie was far better - particularly with the main character, Deckard, and the two main androids, Rachael and Roy Batty. You cared about them in a way you don't in the novel. The climax of the movie packs a punch; by comparison, the novel ends with a whimper.

Again, as a piece of 45 year-old science fiction it's okay, but it's not great literature. And my love of the film may be distorting my view.

My suggestion is if you have to pick between the two, select the movie.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation

Pope Francis has issues an Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), in which he outlines many of the themes he's been voicing and will likely continue to voice and develop.

From what I have read, he is not saying anything new or substantially different from what other Popes have said - but the secular media is treating it as a "bombshell;" I suspect they have not been paying attention! What sets this apart is it's said in his own particular style, which may help people to notice what he has to say just as they ignored similar pronouncements from his predecessors..

He criticizes rampant capitalism of the libertarian strain - as did, for example, Pope John Paul II. He reiterates the concept of the preferential option for the poor. He calls for just treatment of workers. He clearly states the Church's opposition to abortion and support for the sanctity of life. He addresses slavery and other forms of human trafficking, and the dignity of women. He discusses relations with other denominations and religions.

There's so much more. I have to read it all. But one of my favorite quotes addresses the notion that people of faith should just focus on their private devotional life and not comment on what's happening in the world:

"It is no longer possible to claim that religion should be restricted to the private sphere and that it exists only to prepare souls for heaven."

Ah, yes.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

C. S. Lewis - his legacy will last

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis.

It's also the anniversary of the death of John Kennedy, whose tragic death overshadowed that of Lewis.

Both men had an impact on the world, but I think that in the long run, Lewis's legacy will be greater.

Kennedy's legacy is based on his incomplete term as President. The record was mixed - but his assassination and the emotional impact of his death overwhelmed objectivity in assessing that record. He's a martyr, a romantic tragic figure. I suspect that when the dust of history settles he will be judged somewhere in the second tier of presidents (in the 14/15 range). One has to wonder  what he would have achieved had he finished out his term - and, as I suspect he would have - served out a second term.

But Lewis has only grown in stature since his death. His Mere Christianity is ranked as one of the spiritual classics of the 20th Century. His Chronicles of Narnia books and The Screwtape Letters also rank high. They -  and a number of his other books - continue to sell briskly and to influence people. Many people have discovered or rediscovered faith through his works, and, through the case of Narnia, the movies made from them.

I suspect years from now people will still be reading and cherishing his writings.

Long after Kennedy's achievements are relegated to the history books.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November windstorm

neighbor's raked lawn now
covered with leaves from my lawn -
November windstorm

Pax et bonum

Friday, November 15, 2013

Francis Fatigue

I admit it.

I'm suffering from Francis Fatigue.

I'm not being critical of Pope Francis. I like him. I'm interested in what he is doing and saying.

The problem is that because he does not use Carefully Couched Vatican Speak, or does spontaneous things, he is constantly being interpreted, translated, mistranslated, nuanced, distorted, and so on. Then folks on the left and right jump up and down and declare "He's on our side!" or "He's a danger to the Church!"

Meanwhile, non-Church people - like, most recently, Sarah Palin - base their comments on the way the secular media and folks in both extremes represent what he said and did. (Palin did acknowledge at the time that she was basing her concern on what's been reported, and later, apparently apologized.)

And then defenders have to come out to explain what he said and what he meant. Meanwhile some people - like some politicians looking for an out - vote against Church teachings because it seems as if Pope Francis gave them wiggle room.

As for me, I keep getting people asking me questions about whatever the latest news flash is.

I've gotten to the where I don't want to read news reports or commentaries about him. I inwardly sigh when people ask me my views.

Oh, I'll still read. I'll still answer when it seems the other person is sincere and not interested in starting a debate.

But I'm beginning to sense the same burned-out feelings I felt back in the 90s when I was a Catholic journalist for a diocesan paper in a deeply divided diocese.

I ultimately quit that job in frustration, and thought of leaving the Church.

It's not that bad now. But boy, I'm in a grumbling mood.

Thank God for my Franciscan Fraternity meeting tonight!

Pax et bonum

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

There is a genre of teen fiction I call the "Afflicted Teen Novel."

In the books of this genre, one or more of the sensitive teen characters are dealing with various afflictions - mental illness, drug addiction, abuse, suicidal thoughts, some disease, a physical disability, and so on.

In the worst of the books, we get a superficial and perhaps even improbable plot, a lot of whining, dense/smothering/absent parents, smart alec banter, and, very often, gratuitous abuse of drugs/alcohol and some sex.

In the best, we get some of the same teen fiction conventions, but in more restrained doses or they actually make sense given the characters or plot, and some depth of thought and feeling.

Some of the latter even get raised to the level of "literature" - think Catcher in the Rye.

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, falls into the second category, with cancer being the affliction of the moment.

It includes some of the usual teen affliction novel clichés, but handles them reasonably well, is not too unbelievable in terms of plot, and even includes intelligent references to literature - the title is a play on a line from Julius Caesar, and there are citations from William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, and a Shakespearean sonnet, and discussion of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Heck, there's even a reclusive writer whose book touches teen souls (Salinger?).

It remains to be seen if it will be embraced the way Catcher was, but it is certainly a far better read that most of the books in the genre - or even many adult works of so-called literature being foisted on us these days.

And oh boy, there's a movie coming out.

Green is a good writer, so it's an enjoyable read (if a book about people suffering and dying from cancer can be called enjoyable). Yes, there are bits of it that seem a little implausible. And the sarcastic lead teens and reclusive writer all tend to talk in the same smart alec well-read intelligent way - there were times I wondered if I could remove the name of who was speaking and not be sure which of the three was wise cracking and profounding at me. But I did want to read on, and not just to get it over with as I do with some books. Some of the dialogue really is clever and amusing. Some of the feelings and thoughts of the narrator came across as genuine and realistic.

A confession: I read the book only because several people had recommended that I put it on my senior English independent reading list among all the heavy works there (Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare, Conrad, etc.) to give a little variety and as something the less-motivated readers might actually read.  (Did I mention there's a movie coming out - a sure way to get teens reading?) I didn't add it to the list officially, but I said I would allow some other books if students came requesting them individually, and some girls did ask for permission to read it, which I granted. Book reports are due next week so I figured I better get to it.

Having read it, I can see why it is popular and recommended. But I do have some reservations. The language is sometimes vulgar, though not consistently or blatantly offensively so, and, sadly, realistic for many teens. There is a loss-of-virginity moment involving a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old that's handled discreetly, though as if it's a normal part of dating life and separated from moral implications. I'm sure it will get praise for the use of a condom - SAFE SEX! - but also that few will notice the fuller implications of the choice the young couple makes and its potential influence on young readers.

I don't know if I will permit it next year. Still mulling that one over.

I also don't know if, given the genre, adults will want to read this book unless, like me, they have to.

But given that 50 Shades of Gray and its vile sequels are still on  best seller lists, this book would be a better choice. There's no perverse sex, and some Shakespeare gets sprinkled in.

Pax et bonum

A Salute to Dad and all veterans

On this day I honor my father - a Korean War veteran - and all those who honorably served their countries.

Yes, I know not all wars have been just, but many men and women were not aware of or caught up in all the debates. They just did their duty to their nation, and they did it to the best of their abilities.

I respect that.

As for Dad, he never talked too much about what he did during the war. I know he was an underwater demolition expert. I know there were some missions behind enemy lines before landings. I know he was injured. I know he lost some friends. I know he had some medals and decorations; I found them once, but he quietly put them away and didn't want to talk about them.

I also know he was a fleet heavyweight boxing champion. I know his boxing career ended when a pro heavyweight boxing champion trounced him in an exhibition match. I know he made lots of money from card games - in his last years in the nursing home part of our Sunday ritual was to play cards, and even after the strokes he was a sharp player up until the last few months. I know that a stop in Scotland led to him meeting and later marrying a certain Scottish lass. I know the story about one man who dared to flirt with his newlywed bride, and the former fleet boxing champion came home, found out, tracked the guy down and laid him out (dad never told me that one, mom did, with a gleam in her eye!). I know his last duty was in Boston which meant I was born in the naval hospital there and can claim Boston as my place of birth. Thanks to Dad I am a life-long Red Sox fan.

I salute you Dad.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Johnny Cash - Ain't No Grave

I was listening to Cash's last album as I was grading a set of papers.

Don't worry - the music did not influence the grades!

Pax et bonum

Great Audrey Assad interview

Singer/songwriter/musician Audrey Assad - currently on my loaded in my car cd player - gave an insightful interview in the Nov. 5 The Catholic World Report. If you haven't discovered her music, check out some of her videos online - then think about buying her albums. Fortunate Fall is wonderful for prayer time.

You gotta love a modern young woman who lists Leo Tolstoy as her favorite author - and then names as others Jane Austen, Sigrid Undset, and C.S. Lewis.

And I appreciate her comments about "Christian music."

Making music that is not intended for Church use, but is intended only for Christian listeners, is not a Catholic approach to art and never has been, in my opinion. Let’s learn from the mistakes of Christian subculture in the West and seek to achieve something brighter, higher, and better—let’s be artists, makers, and creators out in the culture doing good work with the best of them, witnessing in our very pursuit of excellence and integrity to the Beauty that is most full in the Sacrament. Let’s not be followers, but leaders. And above all let’s not use “Christian” or “Catholic” as marketing terms, speaking only to our own, and “being combers of sheep”, as Pope Francis put it.* I think we would impact the culture at a much deeper level if we learned to be great at what we do and stopped sitting around combing each other’s hair—er, fleece. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it!

Pax et bonum

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mayor of New York out to get pro-lifers

The un-Democratic Party's death march apparently continues with a new operative.

NY Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has reportedly said that he's going to help Planned Parenthood and related death merchants to expand their disservices, and that he's going to go after pro-life pregnancy centers.

Vile. But typical of the path being taken by the Party of Death.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, November 7, 2013

He's not even installed, and already ...

Bishop Salvatore Matano isn't scheduled to be installed as Bishop of Rochester until January 3, but already the pickers of nits on the left and the right are searching for nits on him to pick.

Too conservative. Not enough parish-level pastoral experience. Too many ties to the hierarchy. Shielded diocesan assets during the sex abuse settlements in Vermont.

Someone even made a crack about his hair. Oh, and he's short.

And, of course, there are the gratuitous digs at Bishop Emeritus Matthew Clark.

Jeesh. Give Bishop Matano a chance to get here and get his suitcase unpacked.

Then you can crucify him.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Habemus Episcopi

Today we learned of our new bishop, Bishop Salvatore Matano. He is set to be installed January 3.

I don't know much about him - I'll have to do some digging!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, November 3, 2013

No Shave November? Capuchins got ya!

Pax et bonum

"Life" counts even in local elections

I live in a town that's run by a supervisor and a town board. Whenever there is an election, I always study the candidates' stance on the issues as stated in ads and on their websites. If they come campaigning to my door, I always ask questions.

One issue I always consider and raise is abortion.

I've gotten some puzzled responses. After all, the town board doesn't vote on laws directly related to abortion.

But that doesn't mean the town board - or a city council, or a school board - doesn't vote on issues related to abortion.

Suppose Dr. Death wants to open a practice providing abortion services in the town. The board may not vote directly on whether or not abortions can be performed, or can't put limits on abortion, but it can make zoning decisions. A town board might be able to effectively block the opening of a death center. Similarly, the board could rule on zoning issues regarding a Planned Parenthood clinic.

A board could vote on measures regarding buffer zones for pro-life prayer vigils and even protests.

A board could vote on what services to contract with to give presentations in youth programs. Planned Parenthood likes to offer "health" talks during which they promote their pro-abortion, pro-contraceptive views, so a town board member can have a say about whether to allow them into the youth center to speak, for example. When it comes to school boards, they can decide who comes into the schools to speak. I remember a public school where I taught where they contracted with Planned Parenthood, and the PP representatives blatantly distorted the facts when it came to abstinence and birth control. When I challenged the PP representatives, they admitted they had not told the truth, but argued that young people would not be able to understand the full truth.

In some towns, they regularly pass measures in support of or opposed to various issues or to honor individuals. They are non-binding measures, but they still send a message. So a town board member could then propose or oppose measures that tread into the abortion waters.

And some of those town board members will later run for higher office - county legislature, state legislature, Congress, and more. We want to give them the message right from the start that life is an important issue. We want pro-lifers starting up the political ladder so that we can turn this country around.

So as we vote for town board, school board, city council, we need to keep "Life" in mind.

Pax et bonum

Nit picking a candidate's grammar

In a recent article concerning women candidates/elected officials in New York state, Lovely Warren, the winner of the Democratic primary for mayor in Rochester, N.Y. - and given the party control of the city, the likely winner in the general election - observed of political women who went before, “I think we have just started to turn the tide in politics, and we stand on the shoulders of many other great women that have ran for offices in New York state.”

Have ran?

Given that it was an interview for which she presumably was prepared, as opposed to an off-the-cuff remark, her grammatical slip is regrettable. Now I'm an English teacher, and when I'm talking in front of my class I make errors. In private conversations, we all break the rules. But for an interview, for something that's going to be published, I would be far more circumspect. Moreover, having heard her speak before, this kind of an error is not an anomaly.

But  what makes this really embarrassing is that part of her campaign is the deplorable state of the Rochester City School district. How can she credibly speak about improving the English scores on standardized tests - Rochester ranked at the bottom of the state results - when she speaks in public like this? What kind of an example is she setting for grammatically-challenged youth?

Oh, and don't give me "Black English" argument. She was speaking publicly to a multi-ethnic reading audience. Good grammar counts. Impressions count.

I also wondered about why our local paper not only included the quote, but also chose to use it as a pull quote. Did they not recognize the error? Did they not care? Were they trying to make her look less educated?

Maybe she will be fine mayor. Maybe she will be forgiven for minor grammatical errors like some regular foot-in-mouth politicians (Joe Biden, for example). But given her political allies, the way she has handled her election campaign, and the enormity of the task she faces in a troubled city with a dysfunctional school district, I'm not overly optimistic.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brother Slug Opining `bout Dining

Our local newspaper today offered an article about dressing up the dinner table. It contained all sorts of tips about searching for and creating decorations, presentation, and so on.
The more I read of the gushing prose, the more my snorting side reared its unpleasant head.

For me, dining is about eating to fill my stomach and feed my body. I want good food well prepared, but it certainly does not have to be gourmet. Macaroni and cheese is just fine, for example, and that cheese doesn't have to be imported cheddar. Or the broccoli I love can be prepared simply - steamed or stir fried, for example - without a special sauce you need hours to prepare.

As for presentation - I'm just going to shove that food in my mouth. It doesn't matter how pretty it looks. I barely notice that. Nor do I need crystal and fine china - a plastic cup and a paper plate work. Heck, some nights when I'm eating alone I just eat right out of the pan the food was cooked in. Fancy linens and napkins - you just have to wash them anyway.

I like manners, for they help to make the eating go more pleasantly - I hate to be around noisy slurpers or people who blow their noses at the table, urgh! - but it doesn't have to involve all the folderol and rules about things like which fork to use and so on.

Now I'm not mocking the people who are into such things. If it makes them happy, fine, I'm happy for them.

I can even accept there are special occasions when you doll things up - I love Babette's Feast.

But for the kind of regular dining the article was talking about, I don't think there's any reason to waste money and time on all that fluff: Just give me my grub.

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nana's Radio

Nana's radio is playing.

Technically, it's not the radio portion that's pouring out music. It's the cd player in it.

John Michael Talbot.

I bought the combination radio/cd player for her when she was living in an assisted living facility. The radio was a replica of those old-style radios from the 50s that sat on kitchen tables in Ozzie and Harriet homes. I thought she'd enjoy it. She listened to some oldies stations on it a few times, but as she gradually withdrew from conscious reality she stopped caring for music. When she died, I inherited it.

Now the radio sits to my left on top of a small bookcase in my office hermitage that used to be my middle daughter's bedroom.

Talbot. Audrey Assad. The Carolina Chocolate Drops. America. Seals and Crofts. Caedmon's Call. Garnet Rogers. My mood determines whose voice issues forth from my borrowed replica.

To the left of the radio-bearing bookcase a small mirror is hanging on the wall. It was my daughter's mirror. I looked in it the other day and as I studied my face I thought of her staring into it studying her face years ago.

She no longer lives at home. She hadn't slept in the room in nearly a decade. Over this past summer I gradually turned her room into my office hermitage. A small table to work on. Several bookcases full of my favorite novels, Chesterton, poetry, religious books, music books. I left up a few of pictures that she had put up on the wall, and a dream catcher. When I look at them, I think of her.

While cleaning out some boxes full of things that had belonged to my parents, I found a small Infant of Prague that I'd searched all over for for my mother. It was meant to be worn about her neck. It's still in the jewelry box; I think she never wore it. Every now and then I look at it and remember her. She loved the Infant of Prague.

I also found a small plastic viewer. When you look through it you can see a picture of my father from back when he was a successful insurance salesman. It looks like it was taken at one of the many conventions or conferences that he attended. He regularly won trips and awards for his prowess as a salesman.

There are more inherited things in this room. I don't feel that it's my room yet - even though I own the house. It's still my daughter's room.

For now.

But that radio and that Infant and that viewer and that dream catcher will always be theirs.

I'm just grateful they've let me share them.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Unintended Racism at Mass?

We had been away from our parish for a while - a nearby parish has an earlier Sunday Mass that fits better with my wife's schedule, and since I left the choir I haven't had the desire to attend the normal "choir" Mass. Awkward.

Besides, the parish has had liturgical dancers, so I've been avoiding them. And the last time I went to Mass there, I had been called and asked to pinch hit for a lector who couldn't make it. I then had to suffer through a lay person preaching.

Anyway, we went to the Saturday Mass this week. Everything went fine until the end of Mass when Father generally makes announcements. He also has a habit of telling jokes - on top of the announcements.

This week's joke involved two men wearing hoodies and sagging pants showing up at the Pearly Gates. Hoodies and sagging pants? Could that be taken as referring to a certain ethnic group? And the punch line involved them stealing the Pearly Gates.

Hoodies. Sagging pants. Stealing.

Come on Father. I know you did not mean it, but do you realize how that joke could be taken? Even if it wasn't racism, it is stereotyping.

I thought of saying something to him to prevent him repeating the joke, but wife was not feeling well and wanted to get out of there.

I probably still should have said something, but given that we've only seemed to butt heads lately, I didn't feel like approaching Father with what seemed like yet another complaint or criticism.

The music group I still belong to is scheduled to play next Sunday, but at a Mass with liturgical dancing. I won't play. And it's not scheduled to play again until January.

So at this rate I may not attend Mass at the parish again until Christmas.

Maybe Father will have a questionable joke about elves in store for us.

Pax et bonum

I hate grading

I love to teach. I love to interact with students. I love their ideas and energy and idealism. I love to see their faces light up when they suddenly understand something. I love to share my joy of literature and good writing with them.

I hate grading.

As a teacher, I have to grade. I have to be able to mark something on that report card. I have to give the students feedback that they can value or can understand, and grades are what our society has foisted on them.

Oh, I don't mind reading and correcting papers, making suggestions, helping the students to improve their writing or increase the depth of their understanding.

But putting a letter or number on an assignment is hard. I see the looks on their faces when they get a poor grade for something they really did try to do well. The pain. The defeat. The failure.

Part of it is my own personality. I like to make people happy. Intellectually I know it's all part of my codependent background (yech, psychology).

But I also genuinely like my students and I feel bad when they feel bad.

I try different strategies. I grade differently. I try to emphasize what is good in their work. I try to limit the negatives I point out.

But there are still grades that need to be assigned.

If I had the time and energy to sit down one-on-one with them and go through their work helping them, I'd love it. But with 109 students it can't be done.

So what this means is that on a Sunday morning (I went to Mass last night) I have some 44 student essays I want to avoid.

Essays waiting for grades.

And I've finished this blog post, so I need to get to those essays.

I hate grading.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Drones: Weapons of Terror

At men's group this morning, the video we were watching talked about the cross as not only an execution device, but also a device designed to inflict terror.

During our subsequent small group discussion, I made a point that, admittedly, offended one man. I linked the use of the cross as a weapon of terror to the use of drones. I pointed out that our drone strikes are meant not only to take out enemies, but also to put fear in their hearts that they could be hit any time, any where, without warning. I also observed that drones killed innocent people as well.

I know - there are arguments for the use of drones (the battle of Baghdad comes to mind, though I view that overall war as unjust) as a way to save lives in combat. While I don't like war, I acknowledge there are circumstances under which war can be just, and if drones prevent higher losses, then I can see their use.

But they are also being used to make surprise attacks on known or just alleged terrorists. The targeted people may be guilty, but they have never been tried or convicted. There are also those other people killed - some innocent, some guilty, but not of the crimes with which the targeted people are accused. Yes, in war sometimes the innocent are killed, but in a just war we seek to avoid that.

Even if the drones are efficient at taking out alleged enemies, they are also efficient at creating new enemies. They are increasing resentment toward the United States - as Noble-nominee Malala Yousafzai reportedly told President Obama last week: “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people."

The fellow who took exception at the men's group contended that drones are better than crashing planes into buildings. Yes, they are killing fewer people and they are not targeting just civilians. But the people we are currently targeting aren't necessarily even the ones who were involved in the September 11 attacks 12 years ago. Again, not having the benefit of a trial, they have not been convicted of those crimes.

We are executing them without trial.

We are doing what terrorists do.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Haiku Apprentice

I heard in passing of a book called The Haiku Apprentice by Abigail Friedman. It sounded interesting, so I ordered a copy.

I'm glad I did. The book is subtitled Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan - specifically haiku, of course - and it is a wonderful, honest exploration of her exploration of haiku while serving as a diplomat in Japan. She began just as someone who had read haiku, but had never written any. She learns about the true nature of haiku, as opposed to the 5-7-5 Zen nature poetry "rules" enforced in most American schools.

It made me want to write more haiku!

I highly recommend it for anyone interested in haiku - or even in Japanese culture.

Pax et bonum

Alas, Poor Blog

I have a confession to make.

I have been unfaithful.

I have become distracted by those sirens, Twitter and Facebook.

Yes, they were so alluring, so quick and easy. They offered so many temptations - to waste time, to read endless drivel, to get caught up in pointless arguments where it was easy to say harsh, unkind, sarcastic things.

I should he known what would happen, given my own weaknesses.

But no, I strayed.

No more.

I have cut of contact with them.

I will remain faithful to this blog and the two group blogs to which I contribute. Now I will have more time to give them the devotion they deserve.

And if I want to chat, maybe I'll call them or go out for coffee with them.

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy, Happy, Happy

Amidst all the heavy duty reading and grading I've been doing, I took on some lighter fare.

Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson (with Mark Schlabach).

It's your basic I'm-suddenly-famous-so-I turned-out-a-book-to-make-money book.

That's not necessarily bad. Nor is the book bad.

Robertson is the bountifully bearded pater familias of the Duck Dynasty gang. In this "autobiography," he tells how he rose from poverty to playing college football, teaching, marrying young and fathering four sons, creating the Duck Commander company, and making a fortune. He worked hard. He earned the money. And with this book, the merchandising, the hit television show, he continues to make money.

He had his struggles with alcohol, and he's not afraid to discuss his failings. But he found faith and now is a devoutly religious man - something he's passed on to his children. He genuinely cares about his wife and family, and it's pretty clear they are all close. 

You come away from the book liking the guy.

And I liked the book. Great literature? No. But a quick, enjoyable, and informative read.

Plus ... I like the beard.

Pax et bonum

End of the book

just before dawn
saving the end of the book
for later

Pax et bonum

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lazarus and the dogs

Sunday readings thought -
dogs licking the poor man's sores
offer him comfort

Pax et bonum

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rochester Chesterton Conference: The Morning

As is typical of Rochester Chesterton Conferences, there's so much to a talk about after this year's gathering - talks, books, conversations, jokes, being around fellow Chestertonians, and more. The 2013 edition - the 10th - focused on "Points of Light: Literary Voices Against the Darkness". For me, the highlights were the morning talks about JRR Tolkien, Ronald Knox, and Hugh Benson.

The day began with Lou Horvath providing an introduction to the day, then his lovely wife providing a humorous introduction to the first speaker - Joseph Pearce, author of too many books to count, who discussed Tolkien, with a focus on The Hobbit. I read that book years ago, before I read The Lord of the Rings, and, to be honest, after reading the trilogy I relegated it to the children's literature shelf. Foolish me.

Joseph Pearce and Dale Ahlquist

Pearce pointed out the complexities of the story that got me thinking. The journey of Bilbo, as he notes, is one of "sin to virtue" that parallels the journey we must all undergo. He also addressed the subject of "luck" in the book, noting that what seems to be luck for the hero is linked t the vice of the opponent. The opponent's vices - Gollum's especially, but also Smaug's - lead them to make poor choices that allow the hero to win. Think of the riddle game where each time Gollum is on the verge of winning his vices lead hints that help Bilbo to solve each puzzler.

There was more, but basically Pearce inspired me to dig out my copy of The Hobbit and to add it to the pile of books I need to read/read again.

By the way, the consensus among the speakers was that the recent film, The Hobbit, did not do justice to the book, and does not measure up to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I agree.

Pearce was followed by Deacon Nathan Allen who discussed Knox and Benson. The Deacon was an entertaining speaker, but what made his talk stand out for me was that while I had heard the names of both of his subjects, I knew nothing about them. It was fascinating learning the stories of these two converts and the suggestions about which of their works to read. I liked his comments that "you will know Chesterton better when you know the people he read." I own none of their books; I'll be on the lookout now.

There's more delightful from the day, but these morning talks stood our for me.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Chesterton Conference

"So, where is the report about the 2013 Rochester Chesterton Conference?"

(More to come!)

Pax et bonum

Rochester Chesterton Conference Today

Off to the Rochester Chesterton Conference.

Chesterton - JRR Tolkien - Benson - Knox - Dickens - Solzhenitsyn - Ahhh.

Report later.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What about those miracles?

I don't doubt that there are miracles. Not only are they part of church teachings, but history is full of them. Take something like the Stigmata. That people have manifested the wounds of Christ is documents. There are multiple witnesses. There are pictures. There have been many stories of healings that defy normal explanation.

But what about those other miracles - the ones that seem almost legendary?

I think some of them are legendary, part of the treasury of hagiography attached to certain saints.

For example, there is a story of St. Nicholas who somehow grabbed an enslaved child by the hair and flew/teleported him to outside the church to be reunited with his parents. Much as I admire St. Nicholas, that one seems a bit far-fetched!

My questions isn't about the miracles per se. It's about who believed the more legendary-sounding ones.

How did the great Doctors of the Church regard some of the legend-like stories? Did they believe them? Did they suspect they were not true but kept quiet so as not to harm the faith of those who do believe them?

I suspect some of them did discredit such tales, but I don't have a document from one of them in front of me.

There are certain things I'm not big on. Devotions, novenas, the old Latin Mass. I don't mock them or in any way try to belittle those for whom such things are important.  If such things help them to grow spiritually, to worship God, to find peace, then God bless them!

Perhaps that's the stance that those wiser and holier than I have taken.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pray for peace - and life

Since last I wrote, school has started, and my laptop came out of the repair shop - and went right back in for the same problem.

I'm writing this on wheezer, our old desktop computer. It's making noises at me right now.

Today men's group began - followed by Mass. At Mass, the homily focused on the Pope's call for prayer for peace in Syria and around the world. We also said a prayer for peace.

I then went to a perpetual adoration chapel to say a Rosary for peace and life. I say that not to brag, but to point out that there are people like me in my region and across the world praying today. I salute them - and thank the Pope for making this call.

I just wish our government would listen.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rescue Rochester Refuses

One of the local anti-abortion groups is Rescue Rochester. Back in July, it staged protests in conjunction with Operation Save America.

Those protests involved the use of graphic pictures of aborted children.

One of the places they protested was at the Planned Parenthood in Greece New York - the same clinic at which Catholics have been praying every Saturday for years. I have been part of that Catholic group for a while. The RR/OSA group decided to stage their protest at the same time we normally gather to pray. I showed up the day of the protest, saw their aborted baby pictures, and left.

I find such signs violent and counterproductive. They might work when viewed by women who are considering abortion, but they are likely to harden hearts and minds with people who are not. Such images are particularly inappropriate at this Planned Parenthood site - directly across a busy street from a plaza and a food market. On Saturday mornings at the time of the protests many families with young children - people who have nothing to do with Planned Parenthood - drive by and see any signs on display. As a parent myself, I would have been upset if such images had been inflicted on my children.

I was out of town after that protest and missed the next Catholic prayer vigil. But when I returned the following week, I discovered the Rescue Rochester people were continuing their protests. (I later discovered that they have decided to be there every Saturday, and that their protest times will overlap ours.)

They had aborted baby pictures. I was offended by them, and did not want to be associated with such violence. I left.

The following week, the signs and pictures were fine, so I remained. But I determined that if they should have those offending signs I would go over and ask them to not show them.

That was the situation today.

I approached them and went to the person who appeared to be the leader of the group.  I explained who I was, and thanked them for joining us in our efforts. I then said that the aborted baby sign was distressing and wondered if they could put such signs away while we were there.

He refused.

I explained that I found such signs violent and not appropriate there. He defended them. I pointed out it would be different if this were at the main Planned Parenthood offices, but that here innocent people would see them.

One of the other men mentioned violent images on the evening news and asked if I'd ever written to them. I noted that while I had not seen the particular images he was referring to, I had indeed written on previous occasions. Then the leader cited his own 9-year old daughter's knowledgeable response to the image. I was horrified that he had let her see the image - I never would have let my daughters see such horror when they were 9, but I did not say that to him.

He then cited Ephesians 5:11 - Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose the ...." Okay - but do not pictures of living  babies, or words explaining what goes on in the clinics, or even the people standing praying expose what is going on? Violent images are not needed to expose. I also thought of Romans 14 - St. Paul's  advice not to put stumbling blocks in the way of fellow believers, as they were doing to me and some of my fellow Catholics who find the images distressing. But I did not want to get in a battle of Bible verses, so I asked if they would do it out of respect for my group. He again said no. He had also counseled the others to stop talking to me.

So much for being brothers and sisters in Christ.

I left and went to my parish's 24-hour chapel to pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet that I would have said with the group.

To be honest, there is another feeling at play in all this. Our group has been coming to the site for years. The Rescue Rochester folks are new on the scene, and they are imposing their style of protest, one not in keeping with ours. That seems to be a lack of respect for us and what we have been doing. Those tactics, the leader's response, indeed, his tone of voice and the look on his face, all made me feel as if I and my fellow peaceful protesters were being bullied. 

Now knowing that Rescue Rochester plans to be there every week at the time we are there I've decided it best not to go back. I will pray in the chapel instead, or outside Planned Parenthood at a different time. The 40 Days for Life campaign is beginning in September as well, and I'll take part in that.

Sadly, because of their insensitive tactics and their lack of respect for others who seek an end to  abortion, I have lost respect for Rescue Rochester.

I am pro-life, and that includes avoiding all unnecessary violence.

Pax et bonum

Friday, August 30, 2013

Seamus Heaney, RIP

One of my favorite poets, Seamus Heaney, passed away this morning. He was just 74.

When people ask me my favorite "serious" poets, Heaney was always one of the first I mentioned (Robert Frost always being first, though). Frost, Heaney, Emily Dickinson, Yehuda Amichai, and Pablo Neruda are generally my top five.

Raised an Irish Catholic (sadly, I understand he fell away from practicing the faith, though it did color his writing) he won multiple awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.   

So many wonderful poems. Here's a favorite:


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

And given my Scottish independence streak, I love that he turned down the offer to become Britain's poet laureate - he was Irish! - and then there is this little snippet of his:

Be advised my passport's green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
to toast the Queen.

Since my senior English class is British Literature based, I plan to sneak in a few of his poems.

May he rest in peace.

Pax et bonum

Monday, August 26, 2013

Didn't make that goal - time for a new one

I began the summer with a list of books to read. A number of them were related to the new course I was taking over that had a set summer reading list.

I didn't get through them all.

The woman who created the list had her own perspective on life and men. Last week I told one of my fellow teachers that just getting part way through the list left me hating men.

I got down to the last three books. Two I gave up on and just skimmed. Let's see: a clueless dad who sells his daughter into virtual slavery (not a bad guy, actually, just a product of his sexist society who later comes to regret his actions); several abusive husbands; two men who impregnate unmarried young women, then desert them; a suicide (pregnant unmarried woman); an abortion (ditto); a lesbian love affair, then, after lover dies, starts to fall for the brother of the lover who looks like the lover; general mistreatment of women.

And neither book was particularly well-written. Lots of clichés. Lots of dastardly men. The jerks.

The last book is much more interesting. The writer is also a published poet. That one I'll finish.

But bogged down in trying to get through those books, plus painting the stockade fence, cleaning out piles of old papers (we now house many boxes of papers from five deceased relatives - heck, I found tax returns from 1992 in one box), dealing with a heat wave, shoulder issues, putting together a collection of poetry (almost ready to go to print) and, well, too many distractions, I didn't get to all the books and things I wanted to.

And school starts next week. Gotta get my room and all sorts of packets for the students ready.

So summer goals have bit the dust.

But there are some books I do want to get to. Just got two in the mail, one about hermits. Yeah.

Another new distraction was my novel, a dark fantasy. I had been working on it on my old computer, which died. In addition, I'd hit a road block. So I stopped.

Five years ago.

I'll wait for the laughter to subside.

But as I read the novels for my class, I kept thinking, if I'm going to criticize these books, maybe I should finish writing my own. Put up or shut up.

I searched and fortunately found a disc I'd saved it on. Twenty-one chapters; 37,000 words.

I'm rereading the last few chapters to refresh my memories. I've already encountered a character I'd forgotten about. Maybe I'll kill him off just to make things simpler.

It is a dark fantasy, after all.

I wonder if I can involve a raven in some way. Hmm.

After the poetry collection is done I'll start writing the novel again.

Who knows: At the rate I'm going maybe I'll finish it in time to supplement Social Security. I could be the Grandma Moses of dark fantasy.

Pax et bonum

Some clerihews with "comic" intent

I've never seen Steve Martin
in tartan.
But to me he doesn't look right
in anything but white.

Kathy Griffin
Likes to joke about sexual sin.
But to be honest all she does is bore
When she tries to play the whore.

Steven Wright
Is right:
Boycott shampoo,
demand the real poo.

I sometimes think Frankie Boyle
Fills his mouth with soil.
As for his jokes, he’s out of luck:
I won’t repeat anything containing words like #@&!

Pax et bonum

Friday, August 23, 2013

Some Secular Franciscans

I know Arlo Guthrie was a Secular Franciscan back in the 1970s - don't know if he still is - but there have been plenty of famous Secular Franciscans over the years.

Here's a partial list:


Elizabeth of Hungary, W (d. 1231)?
Ferdinand II of Castile, C (d. 1252)?
Rose of Viterbo, V (d. 1252)
Louis IX of France, C (d. 1270)?
Margaret of Cortona, P (d. 1297)
Ivo of Brittany, C (d. 1303)?
Elzear of Sabran, C (d. 1323)
Rock of Montpellier, C (d. 1327)?
Elizabeth of Portugal, W (d. 1336)?
Conrad of Piacenza, C (d. 1351)
Bridget of Sweden, W (d. 1373)
St. Joan of Arc (d. 1431)
Catherine of Genoa, V (d. 1510)?
Thomas More, M (d. 1535)
Charles Borromeo, Bp (d. 1584)
Paul Suzuki, M (d. 1597)
Gabriel of Ize, M (d. 1597)
John Kinuya, M ( d. 1597)
Thomas Danki of Ize, M (d. 1597)
Francis "the Doctor" of Mikayo, M (d. 1597)
Thomas Kosaki, M (d. 1597)
Joachim Sakakibara, M (d. 1597)
Bonaventure of Mikayo, M (d. 1597)
Leo Kasasumaru, M (d. 1597)
Matthias of Mikayo, M (d. 1597)
Antony of Nagasaki, M (d. 1597)
Louis Iabaraki, M (d. 1597) .
Paul Iabaraki, M ( d. 1597)
Michael Kosaki, M (d. 1597)
Peter Sukejiro, M (d. 1597)
Cosmas Takeya, M (d. 1597)
Francis Fahelante, M (d. 1597)
Jane Frances Fremyot de Chantal, W (d. 1641)
Mary Anne of Jesus de Paredes, V (d. 1645)
Mary Frances of the Five Wounds, V (d. 1791)
Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, C (d. 1842)
Vincentia Gerosa, V (d. 1847)
Vincent Pallotti, C (d. 1850)
Emily de Vialar, V (d. 1856)
Jean-Marie Vianney, C (d. 1859) (Le Cure D'Ars)
Joseph Cafasso, C (d. 1860)?
Mary Joseph Rossello, V (d. 1880)
John Bosco, C (d. 1888)
Pius X, Pope (d. 1914)
Frances Xavier Cabrini, V (d. 1917)
John XXIII, Pope (d. 1963)

Blessed and Beatified

Viridiana de Attavantis, V (d. c. 1242)?
Humiliana of Cerchi, W (d. 1246)
Luchesio of Poggibonsi, C (d. 1260)
Gerard of Villamagna, C (d. c. 1270)
Novellone of Faenza, C (d. 1280)
James of Citta della Pieve, M (d. 1286)
Peter "the Comb-Maker" of Siena, C (d. 1289)
Bartholomew of San Gimigniano, C (d. 1300)
John Pelingotto of Urbino, C (d. 1304)
Amato Ronconi of Saldezzo, C (d. 1304)
Joan of Signa, V (d. 1307)
Angela of Foligno, W (d. 1309)
Chrisiana Menabuoi, V (d. 1310)
Ramon Lull, M (d. 1316)
Ubald of San Gimigniano, C (d. c. 1320)
Peter Cresci of Foligno, C (d. 1323)
Francis ("Cecco") Zanferdini of Pesaro, C (d. 1350)
Michelina of Pesaro, W (d. 1356) .
Delphina of Glandeves, V (d. 1360)
Charles of Blois, C (d. 1364)
Hugolino Magalotti, C (d. 1373)
Oddino Barrotti, C (d. 1400)
William of Scicli, C (d. 1404)
Jeanne-Marie de Maille, W (d. 1414)
Peter Gambacorti of Pisa, C (d. 1435)
Nicholas of Forcapalena, C (d. 1449)
Paula Gambara Costa, W (d. 1515)
Louisa Albertoni, W (d. 1533)
Hippolytus Galantini, C (d. 1619)
Leo Satzuma, M (d. 1622)
Lucy Freitas, W M (d. 1622)
Louis Baba, M (d. 1624)
Caspar Vaez, M (d. 1627)
Mary de Vaez, M (d. 1627)
Thomas O. Jinemon, M (d. 1627)
Francis Huhyoe, M (d. 1627)
Michael Kizaemon, M (d. 1627)
Luke Kiemon, M (d. 1627)
Louis Matsuo Soemon, M (d. 1627)
Cayo Jiemon, M (d. 1627)
Martin Gomez, M (d. 1627)
Thomas Tzugi, M (d. 1627)
Louis Maki, M (d. 1627)
John Maki, M (d. 1627)
Louis Higashi, M (d. 1628)
Francis Higashi, M (d. 1628)
Dominic Higashi, M (d. 1628)
John Tomachi, M (d. 1628)
Dominic Tomachi, M (d. 1628)
Michael Tomachi, M (d. 1628)
Paul Tomachi, M (d. 1628)
Matthew Alvarez, M (d. 1628)
Michael Yamada, M (d. 1628)
Laurence Yamada, M (d. 1628)
Raymund of Omura, M (d. 1628)
Louisa of Omura, V M (d. 1628)
Peter of Senday, M (d. 1630)
Thomas Sakujiro, M (d. 1630)
Peter de Betancur, C (d. 1667)
John Tchang, M (d. 1900)
Patrick Tun, M (d. 1900)
John Van, M (d. 1900)
Philip Tchang, M (d. 1900)
John Tchang of Nan-che, M (d. 1900)
Thomas Sen, M (d. 1900)
Simon Tcheng, M (d, 1900)
Peter U-ngan-pan, M (d. 1900)
Francis Tchang-iun, M (d. 1900)
Matthias Fun-te, M (d. 1900)
Peter Tchang-pan-nieu, M (d. 1900)
Contardo Ferrini, C (d. 1902)
Louis Guanella, C (d. 1915)
Erminio Pampuni, C (d. 1930).


Gregory IX (1227-41)
Blessed Gregory X (1271-76)
Pope Martin V (1417-31)
Innocent XII (1691-1700)
Pius IX (1846-78)
Pius X (1903-14)
Clement XII (1730-40)
Blessed Pius IX (1846-78)
Leo XIII (1878-1903)
St. Pius X (1903-14)
Benedict XV (1914-22)
Pius XI (1922-39)
Pius XII (1939-58)
Blessed John XXIII (1958-63)

Charles Borromeo
Henry Edward Manning
Herbert Vaughan


St. Elizabeth of Hungary
St. Elizabeth of Portugal
King Ferdinand of Spain
Queen Isabella of Spain


Dante Alighieri
Giotto di Bondone
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Franz Liszt
Charles Gounod
John Michael Talbot

Parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Parents of St. Maximilian Kolbe
Mother of St. Maria Goretti

Scientists and DISCOVERS:

Louis Pasteur, biologist
Christopher Columbus, discover of America
André-Marie Ampère, physicist

Pax et bonum