Saturday, March 31, 2012

So f*** you

Across the street from Planned Parenthood this morning, a group us were saying the Rosary, when a woman got out of a car and started walking towards PP's entrance.

The way that she was walking suggested that she was upset. Then she started yelling at us. I couldn't hear everything she said (I was trying to pray), but part of it sounded like "abortion saved my life, and my baby's."

But I heard her clearly say, "So f*** you."

One of our group called out to her, "God bless you." She responded, "And I love Jesus, too."

Then she went in.

Pain? Fear? Anger? Regret? Guilt? Only God knows fully what was burning in that woman's heart.

I must acknowledge that possible snappy responses passed through my mind. I recognize that I am not the person of peace and love that I long to be.

I will pray for her. And her child.

And for healing and growth in me.

Pax et bonum

What entices and inspires?

We are not drawn to God by iron chains, like bulls and wild oxen. We are drawn by enticements, sweet attractions, and holy inspirations. – St. Francis de Sales

Ah, but what qualifies as “enticements, sweet attractions, and holy inspirations? That seems to vary from person to person. I might find a particular style of music inspiring, but another person might consider it noise and a distraction. I might think a particular piece of religious art is saccharine, another person might find it evocative. I might think a particular priest’s preaching nourishing and thought provoking, another person might find it dull.

That’s one of the reasons why I like to have different types of Masses each weekend to give people a choice.

Pax et bonum

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pete Seeger - "Forever Young"

92 - and still singing!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Poet's Diary (2)

If you're a poet at 20, it's because you're 20; if you're a poet at 40, it's because you're a poet.
- Joel Oppenheimer
The man who in his mind and thoughts never travel'd to heaven is no artist.
- William Blake
The mystic and the poet seek words to express that which cannot be expressed.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Poet's diary (1)

One doesn't make a living from poetry; one lives for poetry.
"I'd die without my cell phone"
- Female high school student
I write poetry because I'm alive.
Jesus wasn't a snowman.

Pax et bonum

Speed of Light by Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion

Papa (Arlo Guthrie) was a Secular Franciscan for a while back in the 70s - though I don't know if he was "official." Sadly, he later wandered off. But I love his music - and I'm a fan of  daughter Sarah and son-in-law Johnny.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Water - From the National Minister

Beloved National Family,

May the Lord bring us Peace!

As we all know from our Ash Wednesday Gospel of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18), the three great works of Lent are fasting or self-denial, accompanied by almsgiving or charity, only possible through prayer.

Therefore, with this email, I ask for your prayerful consideration of supporting either personally or with your local or Regional fraternity the NAFRA H2O Lenten Project 2012 as in the past.

Of course, there are many good charitable activities available this Lent, but I recommend this one because it offers the possibility of self-denial, leading to charity, only made possible through prayer.

The self-denial comes from trying for two (2) weeks this Lent or before May 1, 2012 to make water your only beverage. The charity comes from contributing the money you would have spent at the soda machine and coffee shop toward providing clean water for families most in need. I don't know about you, but for me to survive even one day only on water will take a good deal of prayer!

The idea here is that by actively fasting from all beverages except water, we might get a clearer idea of how important clean water is to our brothers and sisters around the world and thus gain a moment of solidarity with the poor as is called for within our Franciscan Charism: "A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ" (Secular Franciscan Rule 13).

In short, start fasting...start saving...never stop praying! And for encouragement and more information, visit the H2O website and see their video:

I ask that all contributions be sent to the NAFRA H2O Lenten Project 2012, c/o Dennis Ross, NAFRA Treasurer, 8933 Trailwood Court, Mentor Ohio 44060-2131. Make the check payable to NAFRA.

Unless I hear differently from the National Fraternity (the Regional Ministers and voting members of the NEC), the recipient of all NAFRA H2O Lenten Project 2012 donations will be, as last year, our Global "Courageous Inititatives" Partner: Catholic Relief Services, specifically for clean drinking water in Haiti.

Again, as last year, I would like to get the NAFRA family directly contributing to this effort as well, so I will ask the NEC to vote at our meeting to contribute $1000.00 from the NAFRA Donor Fund for the NAFRA H2O Lenten Project 2012. One reason that we can be generous with the NAFRA Donor Fund is because of recent, generous donations to the Fund. If you are reading this and have been one of these generous donors, thank you for your great generosity.

Finally, the great prophet Isaiah continues to challenge us: "Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own" (Isaiah 58:5-7).

"Not turning your back on your own" includes your family, which includes your Secular Franciscan family. As last year, I encourage myself and you, in our prayers, fasting and almsgiving this Lent, not to forget our local, Regional, National and/or International Secular Franciscan Fraternities. Do not forget our First Order, Second Order or Third Order Regular Brothers and Sisters. We are family. Please do not forget the Apostolates we have embraced at our NAFRA Gatherings: Franciscans International, Franciscan Action Network, Franciscan Mission Service, Franciscan Family Apostolate, Amazon Relief and the various “Courageous Initiatives” of Catholic Relief Services and the monthly United States Conference of Catholic Bishops programs in our Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) education series. Thank you for your prayers, self-denial and charity.

Christ's Peace and Love to all in this Holy Lenten Season,

Tom Bello, OFS

"I was thirsty and you gave me drink" Matthew 25:35

Pax et bonum

The (Obama) beat goes on

First there was the HHS birth control mandate.

Then there was the surcharge for abortion coverage.

Now there is the extension of the birth control mandate to student health care plans.

There will be no stopping this until either the courts rule the unconstitutionality of all this, Obama loses in November, or until the persecution of the Church begins to include threatened arrests and perhaps even actual arrests.

I'm inclined to think it will be the courts ruling, but you never know.

Pax et bonum

God, the perfect artist

God is the perfect artist. Every brush stroke is purposed. For today, give thanks to God for his handiwork. Give God thanks for the lovely creation that is you!

— from Weightless

Pax et bonum

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Seek to be uncluttered

Jesus invites us to the simplicity of an uncluttered life and, even more important, an uncluttered heart. Peace is found not in the abundance of goods but in an uncluttered heart devoted to the Lord.

— from The Sacred Heart for Lent

Pax et bonum

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On the road (with the Ten Commandments)

Imagine driving in a land where there are no speed limits, no traffic regulations, no right-of-way, no right side of the road to drive on, no roads for that matter.

It would be chaos. Driving would be dangerous, even suicidal.

Yes, some people grumble about traffic laws impinging on their freedom and interfering with their fun.

But saner, more mature people know we need traffic laws. Such laws help regulate not only what is allowed and not allowed, not only ensure safety and comfort, but make it possible to simply function on the roadways.

I have to know what the other driver is going to do under normal circumstances. That knowledge frees me.

I was thinking of that this morning while listening to today's reading about the Ten Commandments.

People grumble about the Ten Commandments being part of religion's obsession with controlling and limiting people.

On the contrary, the Ten Commandments free us. They give us limits so that we have a better sense of what we can do. That's a source of comfort. That allows us to perfect what we do. They also give us a sense of what other people are going to do. That is also a source of comfort. That also allows us to perfect how we interact with others. Indeed, they give us a sense of security so that we can function in society.

The Ten Commandments are among God's most freeing gifts.

Pax et bonum

St. John Ogilvie (1579-1615)

John Ogilvie's noble Scottish family was partly Catholic and partly Presbyterian. His father raised him as a Calvinist, sending him to the continent to be educated. There John became interested in the popular debates going on between Catholic and Calvinist scholars. Confused by the arguments of Catholic scholars whom he sought out, he turned to Scripture. Two texts particularly struck him: "God wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth," and "Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you."

Slowly, John came to see that the Catholic Church could embrace all kinds of people. Among these, he noted, were many martyrs. He decided to become Catholic and was received into the Church at Louvain, Belgium, in 1596 at the age of 17.

John continued his studies, first with the Benedictines, then as a student at the Jesuit College at Olmutz. He joined the Jesuits and for the next 10 years underwent their rigorous intellectual and spiritual training. Ordained a priest in France in 1610, he met two Jesuits who had just returned from Scotland after suffering arrest and imprisonment. They saw little hope for any successful work there in view of the tightening of the penal laws. But a fire had been lit within John. For the next two and a half years he pleaded to be missioned there.

Sent by his superiors, he secretly entered Scotland posing as a horse trader or a soldier returning from the wars in Europe. Unable to do significant work among the relatively few Catholics in Scotland, John made his way back to Paris to consult his superiors. Rebuked for having left his assignment in Scotland, he was sent back. He warmed to the task before him and had some success in making converts and in secretly serving Scottish Catholics. But he was soon betrayed, arrested and brought before the court.

His trial dragged on until he had been without food for 26 hours. He was imprisoned and deprived of sleep. For eight days and nights he was dragged around, prodded with sharp sticks, his hair pulled out. Still, he refused to reveal the names of Catholics or to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the king in spiritual affairs. He underwent a second and third trial but held firm.

At his final trial, he assured his judges: "In all that concerns the king, I will be slavishly obedient; if any attack his temporal power, I will shed my last drop of blood for him. But in the things of spiritual jurisdiction which a king unjustly seizes I cannot and must not obey."

Condemned to death as a traitor, he was faithful to the end, even when on the scaffold he was offered his freedom and a fine living if he would deny his faith. His courage in prison and in his martyrdom was reported throughout Scotland.

John Ogilvie was canonized in 1976, becoming the first Scottish saint since 1250.

- from

A Sottish lad! Now if only he'd been a Franciscan ...

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A potential option in 2012?

With a name like Vermin Supreme (legally changed his name) and that beard .... hmm.

Oh, and he likes ponies and dental care.

Pax et bonum

St. Dominic Savio (1842-57)

So many holy persons seem to die young. Among them was Dominic Savio, the patron of choirboys.

Born into a peasant family at Riva, Italy, young Dominic joined St. John Bosco as a student at the Oratory in Turin at the age of 12. He impressed John with his desire to be a priest and to help him in his work with neglected boys. A peacemaker and an organizer, young Dominic founded a group he called the Company of the Immaculate Conception which, besides being devotional, aided John Bosco with the boys and with manual work. All the members save one, Dominic, would in 1859 join John in the beginnings of his Salesian congregation. By that time, Dominic had been called home to heaven.

As a youth, Dominic spent hours rapt in prayer. His raptures he called "my distractions." Even in play, he said that at times "It seems heaven is opening just above me. I am afraid I may say or do something that will make the other boys laugh." Dominic would say, "I can't do big things. But I want all I do, even the smallest thing, to be for the greater glory of God."

Dominic's health, always frail, led to lung problems and he was sent home to recuperate. As was the custom of the day, he was bled in the thought that this would help, but it only worsened his condition. He died on March 9, 1857, after receiving the Last Sacraments. St. John Bosco himself wrote the account of his life.

Some thought that Dominic was too young to be considered a saint. St. Pius X declared that just the opposite was true, and went ahead with his cause. Dominic was canonized in 1954.

- from

Wow, I look back at the kinds of things I was doing when I was 14/15. I am humbled.

Pax et bonum

Temple of the Holy Spirit

When we praise God and give him thanks, we usually count our blessings, such as our family, job security, health, or even a beautiful day. But how often do we thank him for our bodies?

— from Weightless

Thank you, Lord, for Brother Slug!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Money makes the parish go `round?

My parish has been struggling financially. Decreased attendance (half of what it was 15 years ago), a troubled economy, lots of seniors on fixed incomes, the diocese suddenly closing the parish school and upsetting a lot of people (the diocese took over all the schools for a while, a failed plan), a pastor who is a good man but doesn't always connect with people, and so on.

If the parish were a little more traditional and observant of the rules, that might help; it would certainly set us apart from the other parishes in our area, and might draw more people. It might fire people up.

But that's another issue. Or series of issues.

After avoiding "money talk" for a long time, the pastor has had to talk about finances in the bulletin and at Mass recently.

It has resulted in a slight increase in the collections, but not enough.

So now we are going with a cash raffle.

I don't object to raffles and pools per se. They can be fun - like the Super Bowl pool at work. But it's sad when a parish has to turn to them to pay its bills.

The Christian school where I used to teach was supported by the members of a small Christian sect who gave generously to the school and to their church. It's too bad Catholics don't seem to have that same sense of commitment any more.

(Or maybe that gets us back to being more traditional in orientation!)

I bought tickets. I'll support the parish. But it all gives me a sense of being in a death spiral. In our diocese, parishes have been clustering due to lack of priests. We avoided that in the last go round, but what about next time?

Hey, maybe we should have a raffle about when we'll have to cluster!

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What to play (for a pro-life service)

I got a call the other night from one of the organizers of the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross for Life. Every year we gather at a local Catholic high school for a prayer service, then a march - while reciting the Stations - to the office of a doctor where abortions are performed.

The organizer asked if I'd be willing to lead the music for the prayer service. She'd been at the kickoff for the 40 Days campaign at which I'd played some songs, so I suspect that's why she thought of me.

I said yes.


Being self-conscious about my playing, I've already contacted another guitarist to see if he will play with me - he might. I'd also like to line up a singer (so they don't have to rely on my voice!).

But I also have to come up with four songs appropriate for a Catholic pro-life service on Good Friday. Given the day and the nature of the event, I don't want the songs to be too uptempo. I also have to meet with the organizers to find out what the readings will be at the service; those readings might suggest a song or two.

Open the Eyes of My Heart?

We are Called?

Here I am, Lord?

Do my fellow pro-lifers and musicians have any suggestions?

Besides tune my guitar and practice, of course!

Pax et bonum

High winds

The weather people - and local news - have been hyping high wind warnings for today.

Mind you, we are not located in the areas being devastated by tornadoes - God be with the people in those areas - but still, locally winds might knock down some trees, blow away loose garbage cans, cause some power outages, etc.

Perhaps there will be problems, but more likely it will just give the local media more nervous viewers. Or maybe give the local stations something with which to fill air time.

I ran into the wind in a more direct way at Planned Parenthood this morning.

Thirteen of us gathered across the street to pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the victims of Planned Parenthood, as the winds gusts in the 40-50 mph range made it hard even to stand up. I weigh more than 200 pounds and I was being pushed constantly.

One person made a joke about the Holy Spirit passing through.

I pray the Spirit will stir the hearts and souls of those working in or entering the PP office.

Pax et bonum