Monday, December 31, 2007

Family and Friends and Blessings at the end of 2007

Sarah, Grandma and Andrew...
I think someone is shrinking and others are growing..
Andrew are you cheating ?
(You can click on the picture to make it bigger)
Five Exhausted people in front of "The Tree" in NYC.
Take my advice don't go to New York the day after Christmas...
(You can click on the picture to make it bigger)

Deana and so much Grace
Brad and Deana you do good (GREAT )work
(You can click on the picture to make it bigger)
Sheila beautiful James and Ryan
What resturaunt did you take him to ?
(You can click on the picture to make it bigger)

Stephen and Christine...
Thanks so much for the hospitality and wonderful friendship
(You can click on the picture to make it larger)
Greg, Vincenzo, Lucio and Carrie
"Those boys could not be loved anymore than they are"
(You can click on the picture to make it larger)
The Newly Weds... John and Stephanie..
So happy to see you..
(You can click on the picture to make it larger)

Olivia, Chris, and Karin
You (Plural) are so beautiful... and I'm not talking about you Chris
Praying for you...
(Click on the picture to make it larger

Julliette, Bret, Megin and Lincoln
Could you be happier ?
(You can click on the picture to make it larger)
Bonnie, Penny and Joe
One day God looked around the world for two people with huge hearts who weren't afraid to make heroic sacrifices
You are two of the finest parents
I know and I'm sure you'll agree...
She was worth every sacrifice
(You know the drill)

Blessings indeed....

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I'm home...

I had a wonderful Christmas and will be sure fill you in ASAP

Saturday, December 22, 2007

(Somethng to think about for sure)

If it says the video is not available try again later.. I think it is getting a lot of plays during the Christmas Season

Friday, December 21, 2007

Let's Set the Record Straight

Yesterday at Mass Fr. O'Connell presented "me" with the Benemerenti Award from Pope Benedict 16. I am indeed honored and humbled by such a gracious gesture. However, I feel compelled to set the record straight. We all know that everything that has been accomplished in Campus Ministry here at The Catholic University of America is the fruit of the labors and sacrifices of many, every Campus Minister and every Student Minister who served here. Every retreat leader or Renew Leader has contributed to the success of the pastoral life on campus. Each and every person who has worked in our ministry is real a recipient of this award which as the name implies recognizes a job well done.

"I received" this award because of your hard work and sacrifice, because you have been touched by God's love for you and you want to share it.

Be assured that I accepted this award in all of your names. I recognize all of your achievements and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work and sacrifices.

When you love God you cannot be quiet.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Struck me this morning.... during our community prayers

Pour forth
We beesech you O Lord
Your Grace into our hearts

So that we to whom the incarnation of Christ
Your Son
was made know by the message of an Angel

May by his passion and cross
be brought to the glory of His Ressurrection

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On Patience and People

Now that the students are gone and the week winds down there is more time to think and write

People are not static things.... they are alive... they move and change, adapt... their motives their dreams all evolve. Sometimes we think can just "fix" person like with fix a thing. Just hit it or nail it or glue it or whatever and he or she will be like we want them to be or like the should be.

Nope it just doesn't work that way with people
They need to be guided or corrected or challenged or the best of all options they need to be inspired. Inspiring is not easy but it is definitely the way to go. When you inspire someone you win their heart.

Most of all when we deal with each other we need to love others like God loves us, Patiently.
Patience being patient, giving them time to grow, see and understand that's the only way you can really deal with people. We should forgo patience only in the most difficult of circumstances. Otherwise we risk losing not only our purpose but also the person.

Once upon a time in Danbury Connecticut on one of my walks I met an old Portuguese man who after many years was finally able to buy a house. He was a farmer by nature and by birth but he now worked in a supermarket... his garden was an incredible source of vegetables and fruit strawberries and blueberries as perfect as I've ever seen. There was even a fig tree(not the one in the picture) which had grown crooked over the years and was quite ugly no longer bearing fruit.

The man's son wanted to take an ax to it and plant a new one but the older man attached several wires to the trunk and pulled them tight... he was always checking on the tree and. He attached wires with care always gently but consistently pulling the tree in the right direction. He was very careful he knew he explained that if he pulled to forcefully the limbs would snap. If he did not keep the wires tight enough the limbs would return to their old crooked ways. Patience was the key. After a couple of years the tree pruned and righted was beautiful to behold and it had great deep purple figs in late August

Trees and people have a lot in common.

I'm not the only one who tells stories about fig trees
Luke 13: 6-9.

BTW St. Paul reminds us "Love is patient"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On Men and Women

When the semester heats up and the students begin to feel the pressure of exams and papers etc. quite often other issues surface. Every human being has only so much energy and when academics makes its demands sometimes it is no longer possible to contain other worries or concerns.

One area which I have been hearing a lot about lately is relationships....
Who can figure them out?. There are so many variables, so many things to consider. A relationship between a young woman and a young man means so many different things to so many different people. Sometimes, sadly too frequently, it even means something different to the young man and the young woman in the relationship. Is it companionship, or more ? Is the relationship supposed to make me a better person or not? Does this relationship have staying potential or is it destined to be short term. Am I even in a place where I could consider giving myself to another person for the long term ? In other words its often important to ask yourself.. Have I even figured myself out enough to share myself with someone else?

Sadly sometimes when you ask couples in the same relationship the answers to these important questions are very different. Sometimes and even worse I might add, participants in many relationships calmly admit they never really took the time to think or talk about were they are or what they hope for. No commitment... no energy spent to even consider what this person means to me or where this relationship is going.

If I have learned one thing, I have learned that gender stereotypes do not hold a lot of water when you speak about relationships. It is too easy to say the man is the non-thinker, short termer, just in it for the moment person. Yes this is true sometimes but not always. Adversely it is not realistic to say that the woman is only in a relationship for the long term. Yes some women give their heart away too soon and yes some men don't even know that they have a heart, but frequently I have seen these roles reversed or even shared between the genders...

So what... What is the point of these few little sentences ?

1. It is so important to remember that
there is a person on the other end of that relationship. There is a person with feelings, passions, dreams and emotions who deserves to be respected and to be treated with dignity. Failing to do so is one of the cruelest things a human being can do.

2. If someone is in a relationship
it is essential that they take the time to think about it and evaluate it What are we doing in this relationship ? Where do we see it going ? Why do I spend so much time with you ? Going through the motions without thought or reflection just does not give the other person the respect they need or deserve.

3. It is VERY IMPORTANT to HONESTLY COMMUNICATE what you learned from your reflection. Everyone involved in a relationship should know what the other person's expectations are or what they are thinking (if they are)

4. It is important to try and stay at the same place as a relationship develop, in other words walk side by side as you go down the road of relationships. I know this is difficult but it is important to develop the relationship together if possible. It is very sad when one person is going through the motions and the other has already given their heart away.... (not a good situation) Those of you who have lived it know how consuming and painful it can be.

Relationships are great... they are essential to our development and good loving people. God created us to be in relationship a wide variety of relationships. We should be able to relate to a number people in different ways. Throughout our lives our relationships adapt and grow and change. Almost all of our most significant moments will always be in the context of a relationship with someone else or with God.

As one of my staff members just reminded me... In every relationship we have to practice the sacrificial love of Christ. To love is to die... die to yourself, die to your will, die to your interests. To love someone means to give them apart of ourselves... "Greater love than this no one has but to lay down their life for a friend" John 15:13... You can't love with out dying...

In other words:

Walk down the road together
Appreciate the experience...

My two cents.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I just don't want to let go....

Yesterday was Christmas Card Day... 187 Christmas Cards... as I sat there all day folding, licking, signing, and stamping for over 10 hours.. I wondered why I go through this every year ?

The fact of the matter is I just don't want to let go of some of the relationships/people/and moments I have shared in the past. I can't and I won't As I look at each label it reminds me of my time with that family or that person or that student. There are people who I send Christmas cards to whom I haven't seen in 20 years. One of the housekeeping ladies from St. Francis High School who is long since retired keeps exchanging cards with me. Nellie was a wonderful lady from Lackawanna who worked hard keeping St. Francis High School clean. She was always kind and generous with her warmth. I don't want to forget her. I don't want to forget her smile or her kind words. I don't want to let go of those moments. There are so many Nellies in my life. People I prayed with at an abortion mill in Port St. Lucie, people I studied with in Rome, people I worked with at John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce, people who refused to let me pay for my pizza. People who shared that beautiful ministry with me at Western Connecticut State. So many good people wonderful people.

The crazy thing is I don't know how people get on my Christmas Card list. I think if I have their address I send them a card. Usually that means they sent me one first and I just added their address to my book. This year I finally got "organized" and fixed up my address book in November. When my cards come in I will check everyone's address and make the needed corrections. To be honest it is not even really that important if I get a card in return. I never really keep track of that. Most of the time the only way you get off my list is if your card comes back return to sender....

Nope I don't want to forget and I don't want to let go. I relish the memories of all the good people I have had the priviledge to cross paths with. Each one of them has been a gift and yes their memory is worth 10 hours of licking, stamping, folding and signing.. Worth every bit of it.

My two thoughts on Christmas Cards.

PS... I'm sorry I haven't been writing too much of late. I think I was just too busy going to receptions and parties etc. I also think I just didn't know what to write. Now that I have more time I may subject you with more ramblings.. The homilies will be on hold until the kids come back.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Does Microsoft really care about anything ?

I have been a "Windows Man" since my Apple IIe so that's a long time. There have been ups and downs with Windows but my relationship with the software giant has gone from mild disinterest to pretty strong resentment.

I can't stand the fact that I have to work like a mad man to make my posts look good. I gave up on the last one. I tried to publish it from Word 2007 and while it seemed to work all of the html codes showed up in IE but the page displayed perfectly in firefox. Go figure you would think it would have displayed perfectly in IE since it was published from Word 2007 silly me.

I am "testing" Vista and it is terrible. It crashes crashes crashes over and over again and Access 2007 is barely compatible with the products they sold us before. Word docx is not compatible with doc. and the new ribbon does nothing for me. Outlook is a disaster. If I walk away from my computer and it goes to sleep, forget it, I have to rebuild my Mail profile again and again and again.

At least Vista keeps a record of its crashes... my error report page is long. What prompted this tirade.... the look of my last post and having to reboot my computer for the 4th time today because it failed to wake up.

Offer it up.... yeah I could

But if I said Mass like Microsoft produces software I fear Jesus would not be present

Come on Microsoft does having a quasi monopoly really give you the right to keep producing things that crash and or just don't work as promised ?

Linux.... will you be my next computer OS we'll see.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Components of a Good Campus Ministry

Campus Ministry must be a mainstream part of the campus culture - Everyone has permission to participate

  1. The net has to be as wide as possible with a variety of worship styles and activities.
  2. There has to be a mainstream Student and Professional Staff who are able to relate to the largest number of people.

Faithful Model Communion

  1. Recruit staff who love the Church
  2. There cannot be any second agendas
  3. Go out of our way to model faithfulness by complying with guidelines of the Church
  4. Do all of this because it is just the right thing to do.

Top down Spirituality - Always begin with prayer

  1. Liturgy / Prayer / Bible Study
  2. Always begin with deepening a person’s spirituality
  3. Bring the sacraments to them Confessions in the Residence Hall are great ! Jesus did not wait for people to come to them. He went to them
  4. Spiritual component in everything we do

The Ministry must be relationship based with programming

Some of our Programs

  1. Retreats
  2. Friday Nights
  3. Community Service Initiatives
  4. Pro-life Activities
  5. Chastity Outreach
  6. Liturgical Ministries (Over two hundred)
  7. Community Service
  8. DC Reads

But there also has to be Ministry of Presence (Mop )

  1. Presence in our Residence Halls
  2. Presence in our Student Restaurant
  3. Presence at our Games / Plays / Library
  4. Presence where our students study ie the Architecture Building

Spirituality Based Groups Provide faith based programs where a diversity of students can share their faith.

  1. Esto Vir a Men's Group
  2. Gratia Plena a Women's Group
  3. Men’s Discernment
  4. Women’s Discernment
  5. Servi Advocatique a Nursing Spirituality Groups
  6. Knights of Columbus a Men's Group
  7. Renew Reflection groups and Bible study

There should always be a Service / Justice Component

  1. Our students are idealistic
  2. We need to show them that there is a possibility to live faith

Patience – Building a vibrant Campus Ministry takes years – Think long Range

What the future could hold for us at CUA....

Continuing integration in to Academic Community with discipline related spirituality groups

  1. Servi Advocatique (our New Nursing Spirituality Group)
  2. Education
  3. Music
  4. Social Work etc

Programs for Staff

  1. Catholic 101
  2. Renew Groups

Friday, December 07, 2007

Second Sunday of Advent Year A

Second Sunday of Advent Year A
December 7, 2007 - 9:00 PM Mass St. Vincent’s Chapel
The Catholic University of America

No hope
No future
No joy No happiness
Nothing but Despair
Kind of like rotting log,
a trunk of a tree lying on the ground
it appears to no longer contain any trace of life
It is dead
Dead and waiting to decay

The Prophet Isaiah is describing the terrible time in which he lived
Israel was affluent in his youth but fallen to the Assyrians
Judah later became the pawn of foreign powers
And even with all the compromises they had made with their neighbors
They too had fallen on very hard times later
All appeared lost
No reason to hope
Like the dead stump of a tree

But Isaiah promises
that one day from this dead stump
There will appear the tiniest of shoots.
It will seem like a miracle

All will not be lost
And as this tiny shoot continues to grow and develop
It will become clear that there is still indeed life
Life in the stump of Jesses

Jesses was the father of David,
the Shepherd boy who would later become King David
And in this beautiful text Isaiah prophesies the coming of the Messiah
And the founding of the God’s kingdom (God’s holy Mountain)

And as he writes he ponders what the Kingdom of God could be like
A world radically transformed by the power and love of God

Can you imagine a world where
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them

Can you imagine A world where justice reigns supreme
A world covered as if by the water
with the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.
You know
When water covers something it seeps into every little crack and cranny

The world of which Isaiah prophesies is a world saturated with God’s wisdom and God’s will

Holy Ones
Sometimes It is so easy for us to lose hope
It is so easy for to think that the trunk of the tree which lies on the ground is dead

In a world where violence is so present
In a world where a poor deranged lonely man can go into a shopping mall and just kill people

In a world which suffers with the holocaust of abortion every day
A holocaust which has taken its greatest toll on your generation.

In an affluent world where a few have so much
and so many have so little

In a world like ours it is so easy to ask ourselves is there any hope
Are we a stump
Is there any life left ?

It is so easy for us to believe that the world can never be a better place
It is so easy for us to think that we can never be freed
or forgiven of our sins

I’m sure that is how Isaiah felt
As his world fell apart and as his country disintegrated

But God placed in his heart this incredible prophecy
Of a world transformed by the power of love

Hope is the quintessential Christian virtue
The foundation on which our faith rests

Hope enables us to live through
and endure difficult times
Awful times

Hope gives us something to hold on to when all seems lost

Pope Benedict in his new encyclical states
Hope is more than just the belief that things will get better
Hope is the conviction that we are loved and cherished by God

And If we even for a moment understand how loved and cherished we are then our lives will never be the same.

What can touch us ?
What can harm us ?
What should we fear ?
What can we fear ?

We are not dead stumps
And our world is not a dead stump
There is always hope
We are loved by God indeed

Even on exam week

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Choral Version of the Marion Antiphon for Advent

Each liturgical season has a special hymn to Our Lady called the Marian antiphon. It is usually the final prayer of the day said after Compline or Night Prayer. The antiphon for Advent is called Alma Redemptoris Mater (Loving Mother of our Redeemer)
This is a choral version I prefer the plain chant but this is beautiful also
I put the full text of the antiphon under the clip...

Alma Redemptoris Mater
quae previa caeli
porta manes, et stella maris, succerre cadenti
surgere qui curat, populo
Tu quae genuisti natura mirante, tuun sanctum genitorem
Virgo prius ac posterius
Gabrielis ab ore
sumens illus Ave,
peccatorum miserere.

Loving mother of our Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Assist your people who have fallen yet seek to rise again
To the wonderment of nature you bore your creator
yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting
have pity on us sinners.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Lost for a while but found for good...

Today I got a chance to visit with Kathleen, Barbara, and Diane ... they are Uncle Phil's daughters and my long lost cousins... Their nephew Michael and his family Theresa, Sarah and Shannon brought them for a visit. We toured the Shrine and said a prayer for all the deceased members of our family in Caldwell chapel.
Here they are.. I was wonderful seeing them

First Sunday of Advent Year A

St. Vincent’s Chapel 11:00 PM Mass
Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

From the very first moment of our life
Every single one of us begins a journey an odyssey
And as we progress along the way
We have more and more power over how our journey unfolds

A little child’s progress depends so much on his or her family
Slowly as a person grows older they are able to take their
life more and more in their hands.

All of us have to find our way home
Many seem to lose their way along the journey
Some don’t even understand that they are on a journey at all
Some even stop all together
Others get side tracked

It is almost as if they fall asleep
In the Gospel Jesus uses the example of
The people of Noah's time
They were caught off guard and did not expect the flood

The fact that a man and his sons were building and ark
in the middle of a field did not even wake them up.
They simply were not convinced
Sadly when the flood came and their journey ended
The people of Noah’s time were nowhere close to home.

They were lost
They had not climbed the mountain of the Lord or walked in his path

The man of the household was asleep
he was not ready to defend himself
He didn’t even know that some had broken in

Two men in the field one is ready the other not
Two women at the mill one ready the other not.

You see when we fall asleep in the present
It is not possible for us be ready for eternity.

Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies is to be
so immersed in the present that we forget eternity.

We forget that we are on a journey
We forget that our souls will only rest in God
We forget that our happiness lies in God alone
We forget that heaven is our home and our only true destiny

Sadly sometimes working for the things on earth
things for here and now
can take all of our energy or attention
What prophet a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul ?

So you see on this first Sunday of Advent the church asks us to ponder this very important question?

Are we awake
Are we making progress
Are we becoming better people
More generous people
Holier people

Sadly so many of us
Spend so much time asleep
On hold
Distracted from what is really important
So many of us are lost in the present
With no thought of the future
Lost in the moment with no desire for eternity

Some people sleep the greater part of their life
Never getting any better
Never making any progress
Never taking a step toward God

You know we always seem to think we will have more time
Or we convince ourselves that somehow

we can sleep now and catch up later
But because he loves us Jesus warns us so clearly in the Gospel
Son of Man will come when we least expect it.

We never really know how much time we have
We can’t afford to waste a minute

The only way home is to climb the mountain of the Lord
We must be instructed in his ways and walk in his path

How do we do that?

How do we keep from falling asleep ?

How do can we be instructed in the ways of the Lord and walk in his path?

Sometimes I feel like I preach on this every week..but here goes

To climb God’s holy mountain… to be instructed in his way and walk in his path

We must
Enter into worship by living lives of prayer
Practice living virtuously
Practice living virtuously
so that living good lives becomes second nature
We have to participate in the life of the Church

Walk with it as it prays and participate as it celebrates the sacraments
We must have special place in our heart for those in need
The poor
The handicapped
Those people who just never seem to fit in

We must develop generous loving hearts
And be willing to try and love like God loves
You can’t go to heaven if you don’t love

Holy Ones
It takes time to put on the armor of light
All of these virtues require practice and sacrifice
We can't become virtuous people in an instant
In a week or a year..... it takes a life time

Anymore than we can lift 200 lbs the first time we lift
Or play the piano the first time we touch the keys

We don’t have time to waste
We don’t have time to dilly dally as we journey home
We don’t have time to be complacent in our spiritual lives

On this first Sunday it is so important to take to heart the world of St. Paul
in the second reading

Now is the hour for you to awake from sleep.
For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
the night is far spent, the day is at draws near
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day

Are we awake ?
That's a very important question

How we answer it will determine our salvation


Psalm: Sunday 41

December 2, 2007
St. Vincent’s Chapel 11:00 PM Mass

Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2