Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clerihews: A Martyr, a Papabili, and a Painter

As a youth St. Polycarp 
religiously practiced the harp. 
When a musical career proved a non-starter 
he instead became a martyr.

Boston's Cardinal Sean 
suddenly woke before dawn 
and prayed, "Oh Lord, I hope 
you don't want me to be the next pope. 

The folksy paintings of President Bush 
Don’t show his tush. 
But the subtlety and skill they lack 
do help to explain Iraq.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cardinal Biggles - papabili?

Okay, probably not. But he would bring a different fashion sense, eh?

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cardinal Seán (speaking about life)

Our next pope?

Pax et bonum

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley - Papabili?

I've been touting Father Robert Barron for pope - though I know that chances of that happening are almost nonexistent (barring the intervention of the Holy Spirit). He's an American, a knock these days, and he's not a cardinal. It's been a long time since a non-cardinal became pope.

The American cardinal most often mentioned (as a long-shot) is Cardinal Dolan of New York. I can't see him getting the nod. Nothing against him as a person, and not a criticism of his holiness, but he seems more like someone who would be loudly laughing at the head table at a Knights of Columbus fundraiser than addressing a papal audience. (Nothing against the Knights, by the way!)

But the other night I heard another name come up: Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, OFM Cap, of  Boston.

The minute I heard the report, my Franciscan heart danced - when was the last time we had a Franciscan pope!

As far as I know, there have been four Franciscan popes:

Nicholas IV OFM (1288-1292)
Sixtus IV OFM Conventual (1471-1484)
Sixtus V OFM Conventual (1585 - 1590)
Clement XIV OFM Conventual (1769-1774)

And I think there have been just two Secular Franciscan popes:

St. Pius X (1903 - 1914)
Blessed John XXIII (1958 - 1963).

To be honest,  don't know much about Cardinal O'Malley. He's been Archbishop of Boston (another plus!) since 2003, a cardinal since 2006. He has gotten praise for how he dealt with the sex-abuse woes he inherited, and was appointed as part of the apostolic visitation to Ireland to deal with the problems there. He sold the chancery in Boston to help cover the costs of settling the sex abuse suits, and lives in a rectory. He tends to wear his brown Capuchin robes rather than the usual cardinal regalia. He is apparently fluent in Spanish. And he blogs.

Plus, he has a beard.

I don't know if he has much of a chance - though he certainly has a better chance than Father Barron. I think I'll do a bit more reading about him just in case.

A Boston Red Sox fan in the Vatican? Hmmmm.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Father Barron: A Potential Papabili?

At Fishers of Men - our Saturday morning men's group - this past Saturday the topic of Pope Benedict's resignation naturally came up. Amid some thoughts about why he might have done it (with lots of sympathy and support for him), we also briefly talked about who the next pope might be.

The consensus seemed to be that it's up to the Holy Spirit, and whoever the next pope is he will be facing many challenges.

Then I tossed out a name.

Father Robert Barron.

As part of our meetings we are watching Father Barron's wonderful and informative Catholicism series. Prior to that he had produced great programs for EWTN, and has a channel with commentary on Youtube. He's personable, articulate, intelligent. He's also a teacher and the head of a major seminary (Mundelein Seminary in Chicago), and holds all the right graduate theological degrees. He's in his 50s - old enough to be seasoned, but young enough to bring some energy to the papacy.

I know - he's not a cardinal. But one does not have to be a cardinal to be elected pope. He also has the misfortune of being an American, which apparently is considered a liability in Church circles given this nation's super power status and the growth of the Church in places like Africa, Asia, and Latin America. But he has studied and taught in Europe, and is fluent in not only English, but also Latin (naturally), French, Spanish, and German. He is a world traveler, as evidenced in his Catholicism programs. He has been an educator and communicator, not a power player.

With the focus on evangelization, with a need for articulating Church beliefs in a way that appeals and can be understood, he's a natural.

So - Why not?

Of course, given my track record when it comes to Presidential candidates over the years (I supported only one winner in 11 elections in which I have voted or worked for candidates) my support may have doomed him before voting even begins.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 16, 2013

On Lenten Fridays - a little alligator?

Apparently, alligator is considered seafood, and can be eaten on Friday's during Lent.

I'll stick to haddock. Or macaroni and cheese.

Or maybe I'll just fast.

Pax et bonum

Pray Unceasingly - Brother Lawrence

We should try unceasingly to allow each one of our actions to become a moment of communion with God: not a studied act, but just as it comes from purity and simplicity of heart.

~Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

A nod to Franciscan Quote of the Day.

Pax et bonum

Friday, February 15, 2013

February Break

Our part of the country still has February break - a week off from school that started out as a way to save energy because schools don't need to be heated (thank you Jimmy Carter), and now codified in union contracts and habit.

Whatever the roots or what keeps it in place, it is o0urs to enjoy.

In my case, time to help the Good Looking One with as she continues to recover from surgery, and to start physical therapy. And time to correct a substantial stack of student essays.

Hey, who said I was just going to relax?

But it also means I can get to daily Mass. I can do some more spiritual reading. I have time to take the dog on longer walks. I can prepare some poems I was planning to submit. I can also work on that new song with which I'm wrestling.

Who knows: Maybe it'll snow and I'll get a chance to do some shoveling!


Pax et bonum

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bite your tongue time

After Pope Benedict announced he would be resigning, there was an outpouring of appreciation and praise for him in some circles.

Alas, there was also in some circles an outpouring of mockery, insults, lies, and anti-Catholic remarks.

Being me, I argued  back.

Being me, not all of my remarks were temperate.

It's fine to debate in a civil manner. My manner is not always civil, though.

I thought of Saint Francis. He accepted, even welcomed abuse. And he did not argue back or defend himself.

The Pope has modeled that behavior. He has been the target of abuse for years, but he has not fired back.

And then there is the model Jesus gave us.

If I can have an intelligent discussion with someone where I can clarify misunderstandings, I will. But I will not seek out arguments about this. And I will watch what I say.

Lord, I may need some help with this one!

Pax et bonum

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict resigns

Wow. Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign effective February 28.

I wonder who will be elected next?

I wonder if a Bishop of Rochester will be appointed before the Pope steps down - or will it have to wait for the new Pope?

Still mulling all this over.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, February 10, 2013

One Shovelful At A Time - Roy Hurd

One of the wonderful discoveries from our visits to the Adirondacks (Lake Placid region) is Roy Hurd, a folk singer who returned to his mountain home after time in the music industry and who specializes in regional songs.

With the Good Looking One still recovering from her wounded wing we dug out a DVD about him that we'd bought last summer when we saw him in concert. We hadn't watched it yet. It was a delight.

The above song was one he sang on the DVD as well - and I thought of all the folks to our east digging out from that snow storm. (And all the digging I did over the past two days.)

He's what folk music is about. Not big labels. Not platinum records. Not flashy light and stage shows. When we saw him last summer it was in a small church converted into a community center in a little town, with about 50 people in the audience. We all had a grand time.

Some people refer to him as John Denver lite. I don't think that's fair. He has his own niche, and he fills it well.

If you are ever up Lake Placid way and you have a chance to see him, do so.

Pax et bonum

Droning on


Thanks to Jill Stanek.

Pax et bonum

Snow doubt about it - rain is on the way

Typical of recent winters.

Between Friday and Saturday we officially (at the airport) had 13.1 inches (with the 10 inches on Friday setting the record for that day). Areas north of the airport - like my driveway - got more. I'm thinking we were in the 14-15 inch range.

Not as bad as they got Boston way. I can deal with this.

But ...

The forecast for today calls for sunshine and temperatures hitting the upper 30s. There's a chance of freezing rain overnight. And tomorrow, just rain and the 40s is in the forecast.

A lot of that snow from the storm last week will end up as water trickling into my basement.

By Wednesday, below freezing again. Icy roads?


Why have winters been so squirrelly in the last few years? (Wife keeps saying: Climate Change.)


I'd just like a good snow that sticks around for a while so we can get used to it.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The whole world as a cloister

This approach to ministry is one that places relationship and community above one’s personal faith journey and conversion. In fact, one’s own conversion, if indicative of a Franciscan hue, should lead toward humanity and away from only one’s self. It is for precisely this reason that Francis insisted that the friars were to remain mendicants and not monks, to live as if the whole world were a cloister and not be limited to the four walls of private religious life.

~Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith by Daniel Horan OFM

Pax et bonum

Friday, February 8, 2013

If ya gotta go, let it snow

We are on the periphery of that massive East Coast snowstorm the talking heads have been hyping. It did cause problems on the way home from school, with my normal 20-minute drive turned into an hour-and-a-half stop and go.

And when I got home, there was about a foot of snow in the driveway waiting to be shoveled.

The thing is, I like to shovel. I enjoy the exertion. I savor the satisfaction of seeing driveway reappear from beneath the snow. I relish the cool air. I use the time to think, to hum, to pray.

The Good Looking One, still recovering from surgery and hence grounded at home, went off on one of her regular frets - saying we should hire a plowing service, that at 57 I'm too old to shovel, that men my age and younger die of heart attacks.

She is one of those people who if she has something to say, she has to say it six times, or more. I'm one of those people who believes you should say what you have to say once, then move on.

I know: She's motivated by love. But she is also a chronic worrier. My bride is one who if there is a cloud on the horizon is certain a storm is coming and that it will bring down on the house the tree in the front yard, and the dog will then get loose and lost, and that insurance might not cover everything, etc. All of which she has to voice.

She finally stopped talking about plows and heart attacks when I suggested that maybe I should just go for a drive in the storm to enjoy some silence.

Then I went out and shoveled the driveway. Not all of it. I'm not crazy. I cleared just enough to get the cars out easily. About 45 minutes of slow shoveling.

There's also something my lady doesn't realize.

Shoveling snow is one of the things I wouldn't mind dying while doing.

As I said, I enjoy shoveling, and keeling over with a shovel in my hand would be fine with me. Other things I wouldn't mind being caught doing by the Grim Reaper: Walking in the woods. Sitting reading a good book. Watching an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

After walking the dog around 9, I did some more shoveling. Another few inches of snow had fallen, covering the area I'd shoveled earlier.  I cleared the new snow, and enlarged the shoveled area. I'll have the entire driveway done before noon tomorrow.

I'm stubborn, but not stupid. When I can't do it any more, when I feel the strain is too much, then I'll hire a plowing service.

But for now, give me a shovel. And if the Boss wants to call me home while I'm doing something I enjoy, I have no objections.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Man Who Is Thursday

Years ago, I was invited to become one of the contributors to a blog called Chesterton and Friends.

The blog is devoted "G.K. Chesterton, his friends, and the writers he influenced: Belloc, Baring, Lewis, Tolkien, Dawson, Barfield, Knox, Muggeridge, and others."

There were several writers involved when I  joined - some quite prominent in Chesterton circles - and each of us was assigned a day. We were free to post on other days, but our day was the one for which each one of us was responsible for providing content.

I was assigned Thursday.

I was delighted at that - having enjoyed Chesterton's novel, The Man Who Was Thursday.

Alas, some of the regular writers drifted away, posting decreased, and the days were neglected. I continued to post, but not as regularly as I should - and certainly with no concern for making sure Thursday had some content each week.

I was thinking about this this morning. I am home - my wife had surgery and I'm out of school for two days to make sure she is doing okay, to make her cups of tea, and to say comforting things as she deals with post-operative pain and queasiness.

I brought school work with me. While she was in surgery yesterday, I was grading a set of student clerihews. As I made suggestions and comments, I thought of my own clerihews. I've been fortunate to have some of them published in Gilbert. One of my back-burner projects was to compile a collection of some of the better ones and to self-publish a chapbook. So this morning I went to a file where I had haphazardly compiled various poems - clerihews, limericks, and haiku mostly. I created a new file just for the clerihews and did some cutting and pasting. I then went through and culled some duplicates, weaker efforts, and those that are more topical in nature (about local elections, for example).

As I did so, I realized I was missing some. Since I'd posted a number of them on that blog, I went searching for them. I also read some old posts by myself and others. There were some good, enjoyable pieces posted there over the last eight years. We had a good set of writers and Chestertonians contributing. I hope those who are no longer active there are doing well.

As I was searching, I thought of Chesterton and the efforts to compile his works. People keep finding essays, reviews, letters, and poems by him - sometimes long forgotten or published in obscure places. He likely forgot about them; he was not noted for his organization when it came to such matters. I share that trait with him.

I now have a file with most of my better clerihews. There may be others I haven't found yet. There's about 40 that I deem worthy of including in my little book. I also found some that I had intended to submit to Gilbert, but never got around to doing so: Watch out Gilbert editors!

In addition, I've resolved to renew my commitment to posting at that blog on Thursdays. I also need to post more regularly here. I've done some cross-posting, and will continue to do so. (This post, for example, is substantially the same as one I posted there.)

I'll work on my clerihew collection for publishing later this year. I'm also going to compile a collection of my slug haiku (they all begin "a slug among weeds") - more on that later.

Maybe I'll talk about this other project next Thursday here and on Chesterton and Friends!

Pax et bonum

Surgery went well (scribbling)

Apparently the surgery went well, and we got out in relatively quick time. We find out today exactly what the doctor did and found, but from the nurses the reports were all positive. Now comes recovery for the Good Looking One.

As I often do when forced to sit still for a long period of time, I began to scribble some drafts of poems - in this case haiku and senryu.

waiting room -
artificial waterfall
numbs the pain

woman reading obits
in hospital waiting room -
I remember

elderly woman
with flaming red hair
winter sunlight

resigned to play
on albums that all sold well
muzak musicians

you tell yourself
at least I'm being heard
muzak musician

waiting room muzak
artificial waterfall -
sounds to silence

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Surgery today

The Good Looking One has had a wounded wing for quite a while - rotator cuff, plus possibly more damage. Today, she goes in for surgery.

Hopefully they can repair everything quickly and easily, and don't find any more damage.

I'm taking a couple of days off from school to accompany her, and to be with her for the first 24 hours after.

The pain she's been in puts my little aches and pains to shame!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Amusing Mass Moment (Santa!)

At our parish, the priests have a tradition of inviting children to come up, circle the altar, and hold hands while saying the "Our Father." (I know, some people object to this practice, but that's not the point of this post.)

Today, a father carried up a very young girl almost to the altar. She then climbed up the steps and took her older sister's had.

As we were saying the "Our Father," she looked over at where the choir and musicians were standing and praying. She looked at me, and her eyes widened. I could read her lips.

"Santa Claus!"

She turned to her sister, who said something. She looked back at me, a questioning look on her face.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Pax et bonum

A Clerihew Toast to Pope Benedict.

Some folks feared Pope Benedict
would be too strict.
But I knew we had nothing to fear
when I saw him quaff a beer.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 2, 2013

An odd thought (What's stigmata with you?)

A couple of months ago, my right foot began to bother me. It hurt when I walked, or when it was in any one position for long (such as when driving).

I thought at first I may have bruised it - maybe even to the bone - somehow. When the pain lingered, I began to wonder if maybe I had broken a bone, or perhaps it was an early sign of arthritis. I finally went to an urgent care center. The doctor examined the foot, and even took x-rays. Nothing. He gave me some medicine to see if perhaps it was just a matter of a muscle strain. The medicine didn't help.

The foot still hurts. A dull but persistent pain. I'm thinking of going to a specialist at some point.

Two weeks ago the left side of my chest began to hurt just over my heart. I thought maybe it was because I have been coughing so much that maybe I pulled a muscle, or perhaps even cracked a rib.

It hurts when I cough, turn suddenly, turn over on that side in bed, or sometimes even when I take a deep breath.  The pain is not debilitating, just sometimes sharp.  I'm waiting to see if it continues much longer. If it does, then maybe I'll think about seeing a doctor. Maybe.

Yeah, I know. It's a guy thing.

This morning an odd thought hit me. My wife has been watching a movie about St. Padre Pio. And last night we talked about offering up suffering at my Franciscan meeting.

Both St. Padre Pio and St. Francis had the stigmata.

And my foot - in a spot where my Lord was pierced by a nail - and my side - in a place where a spear was thrust into my Lord - were hurting.

It was almost as if I was experiencing a small taste of the stigmata.

Not that I believe I'm really having any such mystical experience. I am not spiritually deep enough, I am not prayerful enough, I am not so lost in love for the Lord for any such miracle to happen to me. And the pain that I'm experiencing is no where near the agony my Lord experienced, or even like that felt by holy stagmatists like Saints Pio or Francis.

But it occurred to me that I can still offer these pains up.

Of course, if my other foot and my hands start to hurt I'll begin to wonder if God is playing a little joke on me!

Pax et bonum

The Thirsting - Universal Youth (Official Music Video)

Okay, I have eclectic tastes. But Catholic punk rock fits right in with the history of the Church being "catholic."