Friday, July 27, 2007

Papal View

An interview with Pope Benedict XVI's personal secretary, Msgr. Gaenswein. C0urtousey of Stella Borealis (a MN Catholic Blog). Put on your best German accent...

Msgr. Gasswein on the Right.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter and Absolutes- No Spoilers

Just some thoughts from the the 7th Harry Potter, nothing too serious, yet. I read it in a little over two days. I'd like to review it again, even take notes (I'm still a nerd!) and bring up some issues. I'm starting in general terms for those who haven't read it and are anxious to begin.

I've enjoyed the series.

I don't know if this surprises anyone. I know some people reacted vehemently against HP, usually from what they claim is a Christian perspective. I originally refused to read HP, not on religious or moral principle, but from my teenage streak of contrary behavior. The same behavior that made me scorn Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and especially Bush- in the 90s. I still have a hard time listening to popular radio for that reason.

When I finally picked up HP, it was out of desire to know what my parishioners are reading. I was quite surprised to find, from the beginning, a Christian view of good and evil. From the final confrontation in HP: and the Sorcerer's Stone, we receive a nascent view that evil cannot be used to accomplish good. That I did not expect. I was entrigued.

As the books developed, and got darker, this theme of absolute good and absolute evil are fleshed out. The choice for the hero is whether and how to direct himself toward goodness- love of friends and fellow man- especially in Goblet of Fire- where Harry grows in altruism/charity. Are there moments of immaturity, yes! But Harry is a teenager.

The notion of horcruxes, introduced in the Half-Blood Prince, develops the real difference between good and evil. It is the really evil actions of Voldemort that damage his soul, his being, to the point that he is fractured- not his whole self anymore- and able to be parceled into several horcruxes.

Broad overview? Certainly.

But does it correspond to the reallity of the novels? Mostly.

There are many passages in the seven book series that we can use to illustrate a Catholic Vision of right and wrong, good and evil. Freedom only makes sense, is only all it was meant to be, when it chooses well. And I'll take every moment, every opportunity, to teach that to my children.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Haunting, huh?

No, not a Harry Potter post...though I have finished and might add some thoughts.

But for now, this Quebec (yes) music video is quite haunting.

I am unfamiliar with this band, their previous work, their views, politics, whatever. And, as I'm unfamiliar with French, I have to rely on the subtitles. But the stark, mournful, almost despairing sound just gets me- even without the translation.

The floor tom intro, the solo voice building to voices in harmony. Simple and unadorned. The slow build throughout giving an anthem feel and going to a vital intensity that suggests that something greater is at stake. The video echoes that as well, as the actions become frantic and walks become runs. They grasp at something in the dirt, a memory in a photograph that they plant as a seed of hope. But what is that hope?

The translation then fleshes this out an a postmodern way- wondering if the seeming brutish and backward ways of the past had something missing in their current life- angst, dissatisfaction, and disorientated. Not simply relating to abortion, but that something is missing and they are searching. According to the subtitles it ends in what seems like escapism- as my favorite band sings "eat, drink and be merry; for tomorrow we'll die." But could there be something more in that?

What is that green sprig of hope?

From a Catholic Vision, we recognize that this beautiful, frightening, joyous, and sorrowful world is not as it should be. What is the correction, where is it to be found? If we never begin that examination, we will never arrive at the best of answers.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Warm Welcome

I love to cook. Why?

I love to eat!

So I was filled with some trepidation as I visited our local Kessler's Grocery store and couldn't find my favorite hot sauce- Tapatio: "Es una salsa, muy salsa!" (website opens to a catchy jingle)

One week later, not only do they have Tapatio, but the never before seen 10oz size!

Homily Note

I'm adding my homilies as a weekly post. If you are unfortunate enough to hear them at Mass, they might be different. Generally I won't write them out until after my Masses. I pray, I study, I think out...but I generally don't write out. I only am doing this for Catholic Vision, but also to improve my writing skills. In theory...

Homily, 16th Sunday C

Here is my this Sunday's Homily. Not my best, a little too moralistic and not as scriptural as I'd like, but it was convicting to me as I prayed this past week...

One aspect of my life as a priest that I immensely enjoy is visiting nursing homes. Elderly parishioners, with wisdom, suffering, joys and perspective enrich my priesthood. Whenever I visit, I remember a brother priest’s story of his own visits. He had one parishioner, we’ll call her “Ethel,” who was very sharp in her old age, and she was over 90. Ethel’s body was failing but both her mind and mouth was spot on, so she would visit with Father. Ethel was frustrated by her failing strength. Her hands, which had raised her large family, held her husband, and spoiled her grandchildren mourned for her past years.

One day, in frustration, Ethel said “Father, you know how St. Paul says that we are the Body of Christ? Hands and feet surround Christ our Head? Right now I feel like the appendix of the Body of Christ. I feel useless.” My brother priest looked at Ethel and loved her and said: “Ethel, you couldn’t be farther from the truth right now. You have the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus- to be at the heart of the Body of Christ. You are free to be where all of us should be.”

As my priest friend realized, poor Ethel was stuck in our American vision of a valued life. Ethel thought that because she was unproductive by the world’s standards, she was now useless. Ethel worried and was anxious now that she was unable to care and serve the way she had lived.

Jesus gives Ethel and all of us a different vision of value. Value comes not from productivity, form practical measures, but from the worth God has placed in each of us.

All of us Americans, you and I, have a great practical sense. “Productive! Practical! Multi-tasking!” We use cell phones, Blackberrys, iPods (yes I have one!) to stay productive, even away from work. We have the Internet and even tabbed web browsers to double, triple our output. We fear that if we are not productive members of society then we will have no value.

St. Luke’s Gospel is great at challenging the assumptions of the world. Martha is so worried, “Lord don’t you care?” Jesus does care and does help Martha- but in an unexpected way. It is as if Jesus says, “My love, my care for you is not based on your efforts, the only effort you need is to sit at my feet and hear my words, that is the only needed thing.”

To sit at the heart of the Jesus and know his love. That is the source of all Christian vigor and virtue. Mother Teresa, perhaps the greatest saint of our century, knew this truth. She fed the poor, card for the dying, and received the orphan, working at a pace that few of us could match. She and her sisters began each morning with a Holy Hour of prayer and then the Mass. She knew from where her strength came- not her own energies but Christ’s!

There is a story that one day, as their efforts expanded amongst the poor of Calcutta, a sister came to Mother with a request. “Mother, we are so busy and there are so many poor to love and serve. Could we miss the Holy Hour and so get to work sooner?” She wanted to be more productive, more practical in her day. Mother Teresa looked at her and loved her and said, “If we are that busy, then we should spend two Holy Hours!”

How often are we tempted to put the practical in place of God? As a priest I have taken a vow to pray the Liturgy of the Hours throughout my day: Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer. Five chances to be enriched by the Word. I’m often tempted to rush these moments of prayer- “How fast can I get it done, how fast can I return to my real work?”

There is no more real work than to “waste time” with Jesus in prayer. Maybe you are tempted the same way? Whether it is a funeral, a wedding, a baseball game, you might think it more practical not to go to Mass. If Jesus really is who He says He is, if the Mass really is what Jesus says the Mass is, then there is nothing more practical or productive than to waste time finding the Church and going to Mass.

So this Sunday, as you approach the Heart of Jesus in Holy Communion, ask Him to give you the strength, the courage, the imagination to be impractical. Don’t fear being labeled as an “appendix” by the world, for it means you are at the heart of Jesus.

What's the delay?

"You say you are starting a blog but then don't post anything for 2 months!"

Sorry. I was just getting onto my MacBook back in May and then getting ready to be reassigned. What can I say. I'm now feeling settled in at my new assignment, St. Mary's in Aberdeen, SD.

More later today...

Friday, July 20, 2007


After much hemming and hawing, I think I'm ready to go. I'll shoot for 2 posts a week. One homily (after Sunday) and one thought. Maybe some others for fun as we go.