Thursday, September 27, 2012

A new way to sing...

in a movie musical. Rather than going into a studio to record the songs and then lip-synching when it comes time to sing on film, the movie version of Les Miserables is being sung live.

The actors are allowed to express their characters in a whole new way...and to interpret the wonderful, heartbreaking music that is "Les Miz". Don't know about you but I can't wait until it comes out!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Return of the Prodigal

Henri Nowen describing Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son:

In Latin, to bless is benedicere, which means literally: saying good things. The Father wants to say, more with his touch than with his voice, good things of his children. He has no desire to punish them. They have already been punished excessively by their own inner or outer waywardness.The Father simply wants to let them know that the love they have searched for in such distorted ways, has been, is and always will be there for them. The Father wants to say, more with his hands than with his mouth: "You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests." He is the shepherd, "feeding his flock, gathering his lambs, in his arms, holding them against his breast."

Page 96 in The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nowen

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ruling out God?

According to an article I read recently, science doesn't need God to explain our universe, or how it came to be...

Over the past few centuries, science can be said to have gradually chipped away at the traditional grounds for believing in God. Much of what once seemed mysterious — the existence of humanity, the life-bearing perfection of Earth, the workings of the universe — can now be explained by biology, astronomy, physics and other domains of science. 

Although cosmic mysteries remain, Sean Carroll, a theoretical cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology, says there's good reason to think science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever.

Carroll argues that God's sphere of influence has shrunk drastically in modern times, as physics and cosmology have expanded in their ability to explain the origin and evolution of the universe. "As we learn more about the universe, there's less and less need to look outside it for help," he told Life's Little Mysteries.

....Judged by the standards of any other scientific theory, the "God hypothesis" does not do very well, Carroll argues. But he grants that "the idea of God has functions other than those of a scientific hypothesis."
Psychology research suggests that belief in the supernatural acts as societal glue and motivates people to follow the rules; further, belief in the afterlife helps people grieve and staves off fears of death.

"We're not designed at the level of theoretical physics," Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan, told LiveScience last year. What matters to most people "is what happens at the human scale, relationships to other people, things we experience in a lifetime."

So, I'm supposed to believe that our the earth, the perfect environment for human life just happened? One little shift, this way or that, and it just doesn't work? Sounds cold, calculating and clinical to me. Scientists can explain away God but they can't explain:
Why cat's purr...
How a bicycle works...
Why there are lefties and righties...
What causes static electricity...
Why yawning is contagious... 

I'm not trying to undermine science...our world should be studied. Just wish they'd stop trying to undermine my God.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Here’s a photo of an incredible ambiguous sculpture crafted and then submitted to us by Francis Tabary. I believe the sculpture is self explanatory; the only thing worth mentioning is that the mirror reflects the “cross” sculpture as seen from a different angle.

This could well be the beginning of some enlightening debate!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Etch A Sketch

Just for fun on a Saturday afternoon...

Awesome Etch-A-Sketch Art

(written by Mike Smith)


No childhood toy box is complete without an Etch-A-Sketch. Invented by French electrician AndrĂ© Cassagnes in the 1950s, popularized by the Ohio Art Company during the 60s, and esteemed as one of the western world’s favorite toys ever since, it’s a true classic.

It’s not exactly the easiest of toys to use, however. Sure, it’s not too hard to sketch out a few squares or a few crooked lines, but actually producing a piece of art? Forget about it.

Or so you might assume. Unlikely though it seems, there are a number of artists for whom the Etch-A-Sketch is their chosen canvas -- and they’re unbelievably good. Check out some of their finest work:

By J. Gagliardi
 By George Vlosich III

There's more here...

The night sky

Although breathtaking in and of itself, there's more to Yosemite than the landscape. If you should find yourself in the park after dark, you may well have the opportunity to view this:

Because the park is not polluted with urban light, the Milky Way, Ring Nebula, M50 Galaxy, Andromeda Galaxy, limitless many others are there for your viewing pleasure.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I've been a fan of the University of Tennessee all of my adult life. Several friends and relatives (including my son) have graduated with pride from this university. 

Needless to say, it does my heart good to see what the UT Chancellor has to say about prayer.

Go Vols! 

God and Humor

Yes! It's perfectly okay for Christians to smile, giggle, laugh and be happy! Many believe that we have just too many rules to be a joyful people, how I wish we could show them the truth. 

Cardinal Dolan shared the following in a speech recently at Fordham University:

My assignment was to share with you for a few moments what you might call the theological reasons for laughter.  Why would a person of faith be cheerful?  Why is a crabby believer a contradiction?

Here’s my reason for joy:  the cross.

You heard me right:  the cross of Christ!

See, when Jesus suffered and died on the cross on that hill called Calvary, on that Friday strangely called “Good,” literally, the “lights went out” as even the sun hid in shame.  Literally, the earth sobbed with convulsions of sorrow as an earthquake occurred.

Jesus, pure goodness, seemed bullied to death by undiluted evil;
Love, jackbooted by hate;
Mercy incarnate, smothered by revenge;
Life itself, crushed by death.

It seemed we could never smile again…

But, then came the Sunday called Easter!

The sun – S-U-N – came up, and the Son – S-O-N – came out as He rose from the dead.

Guess who had the last word? God!

Hope, not despair;

Faith, not doubt;

Love, not spite;

Light, not an eclipse of the sun;

Life, not the abyss of death.

“He who laughs last, laughs best…” …and we believers have never stopped smiling since that Resurrection of Jesus from the dead!

So, as the Bible teaches us, if God loves us so much that he didn’t even spare His only Son, well, then, “nothing can separate us from the love of God,” can it?

So, Good Friday did not have the last word…Easter did!  That why I can laugh.

Because I believe all is God’s providential hands, and, that – the Bible again –  “All will work out for those who believe.”

Lord knows there are plenty of Good Fridays in our lives…but, they will not prevail. Easter will. As we Irish claim, “Life is all about loving, living, and laughing, not about hating, dying, and moaning.”

That’s why a crabby, griping, whining believer is an oxymoron!

That’s why we say, “Joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence.”

I saw it in Haiti when I went there with Catholic Relief Services right after the devastating earthquake two-and-a-half years ago – crying, horror, death, anguish – you bet, in abundance.  But, still, a resilience and a hope in a people clinging onto faith after centuries of oppression and grind.

I see it every time I visit the pediatric oncology department at Sloan –Kettering – beautiful, little, innocent children, baldheaded, emaciated by chemo, but they and their folks still radiating an interior trust and calm such that they can smile while I’m choking up.

I see it every time I visit cloistered nuns.  Eventhough they posses nothing of earthly value, but the clothes on their back and the prayerbook in their hands; eventhough they live a life of silence, penance, enclosure and virginity, unknown to most of us, they still laugh heartily and, Stephen, they are the best audience I could ask for in roaring at my corny jokes.

A young man in college once approached me as a parish priest to say he wanted to become Catholic.  When I asked him why, he replied, “Last week I was at the wake of a Catholic man  I admired very much, who died suddenly, still young.  And his family, while mourning him deeply, could still laugh, as if they knew it would all be ok.”

Faith in the cross of Christ, and hope in His Resurrection, does that….

We Christians are a forgetful people, thanks for reminding us of our joy Cardinal!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Candy Corn Oreos?

Just in time for Halloween and sold exclusively at Target:
I'm just not sure...don't get me wrong, I love candy corn and absolutely ADORE Oreo's but that doesn't mean I want to mix them. Of course, I shouldn't pass judgement, I haven't tasted them. And most likely won't...the closest Target to my little town is about an hour and a half away.

I just wonder, who thought these up? Who sold Nabisco on the idea? And most importantly, why?


From a 1986 speech to Peace Corps Volunteers by Sargent Shriver:
“Stay as you are…be servants of peace…work at home as you have worked abroad, humbly, persistently, intelligently.  Weep with those who are sorrowful, rejoice with those who are joyful. Teach those who are ignorant. Care for those who are sick. Serve your wives…serve your families…serve your neighbors…serve your cities…serve the poor. Join others who serve.
Serve, serve, serve!

That’s the challenge.

For in the end it will be the servants who save us all.”

Noted in a book by his son Michael.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paparazzi turned....

In one slick, subversive move, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone took a paparazzi moment and turned it into an act of kindness.

The celebrity couple used the set of photographers waiting outside their New York City lunch spot on Saturday to help raise awareness for charity. (see here)

Once the "Spider-Man" stars got wind the paparazzi wanted to snap the perfect shot, the duo decided to hold up signs advocating for Gilda's Club, which supports people living with cancer, and Worldwide Orphans Foundation, which provides health care, mentoring and education to orphaned children.

The couple's signs read:

"We just found out that there are paparazzi outside the restaurant we were eating in. So...why not take this opportunity to bring attention to organizations that need and deserve it? Have a great day!"


A friend and fellow Youth Worker posted this on his FB page. There's much truth here!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we all have a negative side. It may be made up of anger, anxiety, complaining, criticizing, procrastinating, controlling or any number of other emotions. It is usually a cry for help. Perhaps they are cries from early childhood, rising from emotional wounds that never healed. We are told to get over them, rise above them, forgive and forget, concentrate on the much so that we thrust these unhealed wounds down below our conscious level.

But wounds do not just go away. If unhealed, they cry like abandoned children in the dark, forgotten places within us. The only way they can make their presence felt is through these negative attitudes and our addictive escapes. Seen in the light of day we recognize they are all symptoms of pain.

For our own well being, we must take time to bring our wounds to the surface, face the cause and rely on God for peace and healing. While it's easy to speak, this is not an easy or welcome task. It takes time, commitment and courage. But, by the simple act of laying it all at the feet of Christ we can be healed, restored and made whole. After all, He knows a little about pain Himself.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


In solitude we realize that nothing human is alien to us, that the roots of all conflict, war, injustice, cruelty, hatred, jealousy and envy are deeply anchored in our own heart. In solitude our hearts of stone can be turned into a heart of flesh, a rebellious heart into a contrite heart and a closed heart into a heart that can open itself to all suffering people with a gesture of solidarity.
                                                          Henri Nowen, The Way of the Heart

Monday, September 10, 2012


In the midst of the extreme, sometimes painful, reality in which many of us live, we must teach ourselves to continually reclaim the truth that we are God's chosen ones. Even if it "feels" like our world does not choose us. As long as we allow our choseness to be determined by everyone who surrounds us but God, we will be suffocated by the agenda of others.

If we are the chosen of God, how do we claim it? Live it? One step is to affirm ourselves daily with the words that Jesus heard from above..."You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased." 

God loves us wherever we are in our walk with Him. He needs no convincing. We speak these words to convince ourselves that this unbelievable, unimaginable gift is ours. Everyday.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Seeker of truth?

I love coming across an article that makes me stop and examine life.

Not surprisingly, everyone I meet has a slightly different take on hell. But even though opinions differ, most people have at least one thing in common: they’re absolutely convinced their position is correct.

And why shouldn’t they be? If they didn’t think their opinion was the best option, why would they hold it? But there’s a big difference between believing your views might have a leg up on the competition and being absolutely certain of it.

In the first case, you hold your views with an open hand, realizing that you may have to modify or even jettison some of your beliefs in light of new information. In the second case, rather than welcome new information, you see it as a threat. New ways of looking at things—even old ways of looking at things—are deemed wrong by definition. So are the individuals who suggest such perspectives. And if you’re not careful, you find yourself making that subtle transition from “seeker of truth” to “defender of an idea.”

This article approaches one of the most controversial aspects of the Christian faith...a Father who loves us unconditionally and yet condemns us to hell.

You may want to spend a few moments reading, watching and pondering... I have not seen the movie referenced (Hellbound?) nor do I really know much about the author (Kevin Miller) of the article. What I do know is nuggets of truth can be found in most places, if you look hard enough.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The best treehouse!

The vision of one man has been shut down by the local Fire Marshall. While I do understand it's their job to keep people safe, this is a truly unique place that perhaps should warrant special consideration.

From the wooden sculptures by John Teeple representing the Lord's Supper,

 to the chapel (Horace Burgess, the creator of the Treehouse, sits in one of the pews),

to the really cool swing (you're looking down on it from the top),

 to the Bell Tower 97 feet up.

People from all over the country have enjoyed spending time in this remarkable place. I will really hate to tell our young people we can't go back. 

Read more here...

Friday, September 7, 2012

How insignificant...

we humans can be when compared with so much of God's creation. Take, for instance, the Redwood tree...

Can you see the gentleman in the middle? How small he is compared even to the trunks of the fallen trees? This made me think of the Joyce Kilmer poem:

 I think that I shall never see
a Poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is 'prest
against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
and lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
a nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain,
who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
but only God can make a tree.

If you'd like to see more pictures like the one above, visit here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A brush with nature...

in the form of lightning in West Yorkshire, England!

A man cheated death by seconds when a freak lightning bolt sent a tree branch hurtling through the rear of his car. Bernard Williams had just removed his gym bag from the boot during a rainstorm when the bolt hit an adjacent willow tree catapulting a 10-foot long piece of wood across the road. The branch smashed into the car’s back window – directly where Bernard had been standing - and ended up in the alleyway next to the house after taking a tail light with it.

You can read the rest here...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Part of the human conundrum is the fact that we are often self-centered, worried about how something might affect only us. Even in the church (especially in the church!) this plays out in various ways, as the above remarks make clear. But the fact is that the Church was never intended to be all about “me” or even all about “us.” It has always had as its mission “all about others.”

Excellent article entitled "Holding the Church Hostage" that should be read by all members of the congregation. This can be a heart breaking (and sometimes church breaking) situation. Each side should spend time in prayer before making or reacting to such statements. Power plays often backfire. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Humans and Angels

There are humans and there are angels and it's a divide that neither can cross. But then, there are times when humans can take on some of the aspects of an angel.

During each of our lives there are inevitable moments when someone comes into our life at precisely the right time and they say or do precisely the right thing. Their words or actions may help us perceive ourselves more clearly, remind us that everything will turn out for the best, helps us to cope with life's difficulties or see us through hard situations. These people are human angels. They come when we least expect them and when we can most benefit from their presence.

I have been blessed to know a few human angels in my life. Some are close to me to this day and others have come to me only for a time and have long since moved on to others. But I  do remember them all and thank God for their presence as well as their faith and courage. God asks them to reach out to others in need, and they respond. I pray my ears will be open to hear that call if it comes.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Church is a community of believers. It shouldn't be about what I GET out of the service, but rather, what do I ADD to the service. Is it better and more fulfilling because of my presence or my voice? It should be a gathering of individuals who unselfishly give to each other of themselves. If I am not in church, I'm taking away what I can add to the service.

When we are in church we often lose focus on the idea that we are not an audience. God is. We cannot equate going to church with going to the movies. We are not there to be sung to, preached to or prayed for. God is there to be sung to, prayed to and praised. We, as the congregation, are every bit a part of the service as the organ, the preacher or the special music. If we stop thinking that church is for us and what we get out of it and start thinking of what we give to God, then the "what we get" comes back to us from God and not from the sound system.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The written word...

I read the following piece, written by Rabbi Lewis, several years ago. And even after all this time, I still find that the message is to be savored. This unique form of writing uses only 1 syllable words. This is an ancient discipline which is meant to be simple but not simplistic.

What if God were to speak to us now; to give us a fresh look at what's real, true and the core of our world? Might God say, "Be just, be kind, care, share, give, take, love, laugh, cry, feel the pain and dance in the time of joy"? And what would we hear? Would it be what we want to hear or what was said? Could we each hear in our own way? Must we all be of the same mind? Must the one who hears at 12 feet fight with the one who hears at 12 yards? Will the black one and the white one and the child of the land all know God in
the same way? And if not, will they fight?

What if God said, "I grant you a gift: a world full of peace, health and food for all. I give you a time, now, when each may sit by his vine and by her fig tree and none will cause you fear"? Would we heed the words? If God came to each of us in a dream, would we hold the dream in our hearts and souls, or would we cast it off as just a dream? What would it take to look deep within, where we live and know truth, and there to
find the one God, who cries for us and waits and hopes and says, "I am here. Do not fear. Live, love, talk and walk hand in hand with me. Let no child learn war anymore, but let each bring what is right and just in his home and in her land"!