Sunday, July 31, 2005

Founder's Feast

Ignatius of Loyola, also known as Íñigo López de Loyola (December 24, 1491? – July 31, 1556), was the principal founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus, a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church professing direct service to the Pope. Members of the order, which was established after St. Ignatius learned of discerment of spirits, worked to serve the Roman Catholic Church, and was very active during the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent Catholic Reformation, are called Jesuits.

Ignatius of Loyola was beatified and then canonized to receive the title of Saint on March 12, 1622. His feast day is July 31, celebrated annually. He is the patron saint of Guipúzcoa and Biscay as well as of the Society of Jesus.

For more, see a nice post on Ignatius and his spirituality at The Peeping Thomists.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Cutting Edge, Just Like R.C. Mommy

the Cutting Edge
(60% dark, 43% spontaneous, 5% vulgar)
your humor style:

Your humor's mostly innocent and off-the-cuff, but somehow there's
something slightly menacing about you. Part of your humor is making
people a little uncomfortable, even if the things you say aren't in and
of themselves confrontational. You probably have a very dry delivery,
or are seriously over-the-top. Your type is the most likely to
appreciate a good insult and/or broken bone and/or very very fat person

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: David Letterman - John Belushi

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on spontaneous
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

A Firm and Reasonable Response to Israeli Accusations

via Amy Welborn

VATICAN CITY, JUL 29, 2005 (VIS) - Following comments made by Nimrod Barkan, an Israeli foreign ministry official, which appeared in the Jerusalem Post newspaper on July 26, the Holy See Press Office issued the following note yesterday afternoon:

"The untenability of the groundless accusations directed against Pope Benedict XVI for not having mentioned - in comments following the Angelus prayer on July 24 - the July 12 terrorist attack in Netanya, Israel, cannot but be clear to the people who made them. Perhaps it is also for this reason that an attempt has been made to uphold the accusations by shifting attention to supposed silences of John Paul II on attacks against Israel in past years, even inventing repeated Israeli government petitons to the Holy See on the subject, and requesting that with the new pontificate the Holy See change its attitude.

"On this matter, it should be noted that:

"John Paul II's declarations condemning all forms of terrorism, and condemning single acts of terrorism committed against Israel, were numerous and public.

"Not every attack against Israel could be followed by an immediate public condemnation. There are various reasons for this, among them the fact that attacks against Israel were sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law. It would, consequently, have been impossible to condemn the former and remain silent on the latter.

"Just as the Israeli government understandably does not allow its pronouncements to be dictated by others, neither can the Holy See accept lessons and directives from any other authority concerning the orientation and contents of its own declarations."

The Holy See Press Office note is accompanied by a document recalling some of the statements made by John Paul II between 1979 and February 2005, a month and a half before his death, in which he condemned violence against the civilian population and affirmed the right of the State of Israel to live in security and peace.

"It is sad and surprising" the document concludes, "that it has gone unobserved how, for the past 26 years, Pope John Paul II's voice has been so often raised with force and passion in the dramatic situation in the Holy Land, condemning all terrorist acts and calling for sentiments of humanity and peace. Affirmations that run counter to historical truth can advantage only those who seek to foment animosity and conflict, and certainly do not serve to improve the situation."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Those Darn Jesuits: Hope and Healing in a Time of Plague

Thomas Worcester, S.J. is one of the curators in an art exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum, co-sponsored by the Jesuit College of the Holy Cross. The exhibition, entitled, "Hope and Healing," is the subject of a very interesting review in today's New York Times. Fr. Worcester gave me a personal tour, and I have to say it is very good. If you'll be in the vicinity of Worcester in the coming months, you really should check it out. Here's the review:

July 29, 2005
Desperately Painting the Plague

WORCESTER, Mass. — Some of us thought the end of a world had come when AIDS started picking off friends and lovers in the 1980's, and in a sense it had. A certain world really did end. Yet even that experience left us unequipped to imagine the kind of despair today blanketing parts of Africa, where the disease has spread monstrously, reducing whole communities to less than a memory, to nothing.

Pandemics of one kind or another have always terrorized human history. And where science has been helpless and politics mute, religion and art have responded. That response is the subject of "Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a Time of Plague, 1500-1800," at the Worcester Art Museum, a small, penumbral, single-minded exhibition that does at least one thing museum shows almost never do.

It presents mainstream Christian "high art," church art, in terms of function rather than form. The 35 paintings included are considered as devotional icons rather than as old master monuments. They are viewed from an existential rather than a doctrinal or sociopolitical perspective; through the eyes of a believer for whom a picture of the Virgin is a moral lesson and an emotional encounter before it is a Tiepolo or a Tintoretto . . .

Read the rest here.

Summer Reading, Light

Looking for something to read this summer, but not ready to tackle that 800-page best seller? It's always nice to have a few thinner volumes around to glance at and not feel overwhelmed. This summer, I'm currently reading a few:

Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions, edited by James Martin, S.J.

Basil in Blunderland, by Cardinal Basil Hume

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott (and her Traveling Mercies, also a thinner volume, is one of my all-time favorites).

Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton (this one, though short, is a bit slower going)

Others that I recommend:

The Strangest Way, by Fr. Robert Barron

Return of the Prodigal Son, by Fr. Henri Nouwen

Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, by Kathleen Norris (not a thin volume, but each essay is only about 2-5 pages long and written masterfully!)

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L'Engle

Armchair Mystic: Easing Into Contemplative Prayer, by Mark Thibodeaux, S.J.

Lying Awake, by Mark Salzman

Atticus, by Ron Hansen

In the Heart of the World, by Mother Teresa

A Generous Orthodoxy, by Brian McLaren

God Underneath, by Edward L. Beck, C.P.

Contemplatives in Action, by William Barry, S.J. and Robert Doherty, S.J.

Flannery O'Connor: Spiritual Writings, Edited by Robert Ellsberg

I'm not going to take the time to give you all the links. Sorry.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Trip Down MEMEory Lane

Karen has tagged me with the following questions:

What were you doing ten years ago? I was beginning work as Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at Saint Peter's Catholic Church in Columbia, SC. Doing classwork for my uncompleted PhD in English at the University of South Carolina. Starting to do some freelance writing for The New Catholic Miscellany, the newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston. I was invited to be a facilitator for the Loyola Institute for Ministry's Columbia, SC learning group, and made my first ever trip to New Orleans for training. Picked up a brochure on the Jesuits at Loyola's campus ministry office while there. Turned 28.

What were you doing five years ago? I'd just finished my first year of Philosophy studies at Fordham University, and spent the summer in Bolivia studying Spanish. Turned 33.

What were you doing one year ago? Lots of proofreading! I spent the summer in New York City working as an intern at America magazine. I went to an old friend's wedding in Brooklyn, brought a date (my sister). Saw a couple of shows. Wrote some stuff for America and Busted Halo. Turned 37.

What were you doing yesterday? Working on writing my book for Saint Anthony Messenger Press. Prayed. Read a couple of chapters in Father Joe. Exercised. Watched the not-so-great "Out of Time" starring Denzel Washington and Eva Mendes (but at least she's cute!), plus some welcome comic relief from John Billingsley. Posted a couple of things to my blog. Still 37 for a few more weeks.

Let's see, who can I tag?

How about . . . Sean and MamaGiglio.

Who Knew? A Place for Prayers

I discovered via Steve Bogner's blog that my very own Jesuit province is now offering an on-line "prayer circle" where you can post prayer intentions. Now that I'm aware of it, I'm going to check it regularly for prayer intentions, and perhaps add a few myself. Check it out: New Orleans Province Prayer Circle.

Those darn Jesuits!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Safety At Any Price?

Call me naive, but when did protecting human rights become a usurpation of the President's authority?

White House Aims to Block Legislation on Detainees

By Josh White and R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, July 23, 2005; Page A01

The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual.

Vice President Cheney met Thursday evening with three senior Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to press the administration's case that legislation on these matters would usurp the president's authority and -- in the words of a White House official -- interfere with his ability "to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack."

Read the rest here.

With thanks to Bill Cork for the link.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Move Over Muppets: Potential Pigs in Space

Among those things being launched into space in the coming months:

James Doohan's remains.

Pig Sperm.

That'll be it for Scotty, but the sperm will return to earth for tests.
(Don't worry, your tax dollars are not paying for this, it's a Chinese thing)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

If Starfleet Had a Chapel . . .

Ave Maria has unveiled its new plans for its oratory. Apparently, they decided the huge panes of glass in the previous design might be of some concern during a hurricane. But as I looked at the new design, something seemed familiar. Do you think Starfleet's on the job?

Maybe someone there is a Star Trek fan?

I told you I was a sci-fi geek.

Would You Change?

Every once in a while a song really catches my attention and ends up being a good aid to prayer. This week it was Tracy Chapman's new song "Change":

If you knew that you would die today, saw the face of God and love, would you change?
Would you change?
If you knew that love could break your heart, when you’re down so low that you cannot fall, would you change?
Would you change?
How bad, how good, does it need to get?
How many losses?
How much regret?
What chain reaction would cause an effect?
Makes you turn around.
Makes you try to explain.
Makes you forgive and forget.
Makes you change.
Makes you change.
If you knew that you would be alone, knowing right, being wrong, would you change?
Would you change?
If you knew that you could find a truth that brings a pain that cannot be soothed, would you change?
Would you change?
How bad, how good, does it need to get?
How many losses?
How much regret?
What chain reaction would cause an effect?
Makes you turn around.
Makes you try to explain.
Makes you forgive and forget.
Makes you change.
Makes you change.
Are you so upright that you can defend, if it comes to blows?
Are you so sure you won’t be crawling?
If not for the good, why risk falling?
Why risk falling?
If everything you think you know, makes your love unbearable, would you change?
Would you change?
If you’ve broken every rule and vow, and hard times come to bring you down, would you change?
Would you change?
If you knew that you would die today,
If you saw the face of God and love,
Would you change?
Would you change?
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you saw the face of God and love,
If you saw the face of God and love,
Would you change?
Would you change?

Well, would you, punk? [editorial addition]

Thursday, July 21, 2005

New Novices, They Go To Eleven

Eleven men have been approved to enter the New Orleans Province Jesuit novitiate in Grand Coteau, LA this August. Among them are bloggers Sean Salai and Jason Brauninger who, alas, will have to give up their blogging ways, at least for the two years of novitiate. (Perhaps I could sneak in a note from them now and then.) They really are quite a diverse group, take a look at their bios and photos on our province website. And pray that they all safely arrive at home with their new family on August 14.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Scotty Has Beamed Up

Here's to you, Scotty!

As a certified sci-fi geek, I must take a moment to note the passing of James Doohan, the beloved comic relief of the original Star Trek crew. He was 85.

His remains will be launched into space.

I don't think there's a rite for that.

If they're were, how might that go?

Dangerous Devotions?

Bill Cork and Fr. Jim Tucker both have posts related to the recent article in U.S. Catholic, "Let's Not Be Hopelessly Devoted to Devotions." While the article offers some prudent cautions about excess, and while well-intentioned, it strikes me as another example of the knee-jerk fear of anything traditional typical of some Catholics today. While all Catholic young people may not be like those in Colleen Carroll's The New Faithful, there is a growing recognition of a strong desire for the transcendent among young people which draws them to contemplative and devotional forms of prayer. This is not just true of Catholic teens and young adults, but Protestant ones as well (see Kenda Creasy Dean, Practicing Passion, and Dan Kimball, The Emerging Church). We have legitimate resources in our tradition to respond to that desire, and we should offer them to young--and not so young--Catholics, not in the service of any ideology, but in the service of God. Too many for too long have taken the "we know better" attitude and denied the riches of our tradition to themselves and to our young people. This is in part a response to efforts of some, who also feel they know better, to beat people over the head with their insistence on devotional practices which, in the end, sometimes had the same result, alienating people. Both impulses are strong, and need to be tempered. I know, because I've been in the middle of too many fights about such things. Now, I'm not the most pious Catholic, and I don't consider myself a conservative (or a liberal), but I get much spiritual consolation and benefit when I have the opportunity to spend some time in Eucharistic adoration, and I encourage others to do the same (but I don't insist on it). I guess my point is that the rich devotions of our tradition should be offered and encouraged, but not insisted upon; but also approached with the necessary prudence, while not discouraged because of the possibility of excess (that's like never taking a drink because you might perhaps one day get drunk).

Lately, I've been reading Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions, edited by Jim Martin, S.J., which I think offers encouraging and balanced reflections on many of our more popular devotions. It has certainly encouraged me to consider incorporating more devotions into my own spiritual practice and prayer.

Consider this excerpt from a reflection on The Sacred Heart of Jesus by Chris Ruddy, 33 year old professor of theology at the University of Saint Thomas:

"I did not grow up with any devotion to the Sacred Heart, and it is only in the last few years, as I have struggled with vocation and the demands of family life, that the practice has spoken to my own heart: the fearful heart that paralyzes me when I think of the future, rendering me unable to open myself in trust to God; the cramped heart that refuses to admit my wife and infant son but clings to my own prerogatives, choosing to watch Peter out of the corner of my eye as I read the morning newspaper rather than get on the floor and play with him; the oblivious heart that holds forth at dinner on the recording history of the Beatles' Abbey Road but forgets to ask Deborah how her class went that afternoon. At times like these I wonder, Have I really let into my life those I love so much? Have I gone out to them? Are they part of my flesh or merely fellow travelers?
On a particularly difficult afternoon las summer, I took Peter for a walk. We wound up at a church in our neighborhood, and, almost unable to bear the despair and self-loathing that were consuming me, I went in to pray. I lit a candle before Mary for my wife and one for myself before Joseph. Almost accidentally, I stopped in fron of a woodcarving of the Sacred Heart. Caught somewhere between rage and tears, I looked up at the heart and, for the first time, saw beyond the barbed-wire crown of thorns encircling it, into its gentleness. A prayer rose up in me: Jesus, give me a bigger heart. I looked at Peter in shame and in hope, and I went out into the day.
I remain irritable and irritating. I continue to struggle with a stoniness that shuts out so many. I know ever more clearly my deep sinfulness. But in continuing to pray to the Sacred Heart, I have also come to know God's still deeper mercy. I am strengthened by a heart pierced but unvanquished. I am welcomed by a heart that knows only tenderness and so makes me tender. I look on that pulsing, fleshy heart: courageous and vulnerable, compact and capacious, never one without the other."

My Kids

Since I've bragged on my brother Jesuits, I also should brag on my kids (don't worry, that's just my affectionate term for them). I have had the privilege of working with some great young people in my years of teaching and youth and young adult ministry.

Last year at this time I was writing about a particular group of students I worked with the past two years. That became the article entitled, "Both Gen-Y and Catholic," which appeared in America magazine. This year I'm missing them, as it sinks in that I won't be back at Loyola with them this Fall (I'm on to studies at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, MA). Here are a couple photos of the crew (the two old guys in the back are my friend Bill Farge, SJ, a professor of Japanese at Loyola, on the left, and that's me on the right):

And here's a quote from the conclusion of the article:

My experience this past year has taught me a few things. When it comes to these students, ultimately it is not a matter of who is on the right or the left, or even who’s right or wrong, but of who they are and, to invoke the old Baltimore Catechism, who made them. The biggest detractors of these students were those who had made no effort to get to know them. The prejudices against them are born of old fights, old animosities and anxieties that too much love for the institutional church will somehow force us through a time-warp back to the 1930’s. That may be the desire of some of the Baby Boomers, but that’s not what these young people want. Rather, they want to be connected to their Catholic tradition in an age when it sometimes seems we are meant to apologize for it. Perhaps they have a rosary tucked in their pocket next to their cellphones and P.D.A.’s, but these are 21st-century kids. They have never known a time without John Paul II, the Internet, vernacular liturgy or the pop singer Madonna, even if they are more partial to the mother of God. They are their own new breed, thoroughly modern and unapologetically Catholic—which you will find out for yourself, when you get to know them.

(Lest I provoke some needless debate, I should note that I wasn't saying all young Catholics are like this, just this particular group, and a significant number of young people like them)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Courage, Pilgrims!

If you've been making your way through Saint Ignatius' pilgrimage along with me, you might be interested to know that we've just passed the halfway point!

So, How about a pilgrimage prayer:

As we continue our journey, we should remind ourselves of the reasons for our resolve to go on this holy pilgrimage. The journey we take is a monument to the devotion of the people of God. Many have taken similar journeys to be strengthened in the Christian way of life and to become more determined to devote themselves to the works of charity. We must also try to bring something to the faithful who live outside the blogosphere: our example of faith, hope, and love. In this way both they and we will be enriched by the help we give each other.

May all who take this journey be blessed and be a blessing for others!

Adapted from the Book of Blessings.

How Long Must We Sing This Song?

According to BBC News, nearly 25,000 civilians have met a violent death in Iraq since the war began.

Please pray for peace.

Those Darn Jesuits . . . Hopeworks N' Camden

R.C. Mommy has suggested I make you aware of the great work of Father Jeff Putthoff, S.J. and the rest of the staff at Hopeworks N' Camden. They are bringing wonderful opportunities to at risk youth, as described below:

The mission of Hopeworks is:

• To reduce the high school dropout rate for African-American and Hispanic
youth in Camden, New Jersey.
• To create hope for the future, good-paying jobs, business development and educational opportunities for Camden's young people--specifically African-American and Hispanic youth between the ages of 17 and 25 who have dropped out of school. There are 8,000 such young people in Camden.

Hopeworks exists because these are the crises our youth face in Camden:
• The high school dropout rate is more than 70%.
• 34% of the city's young people are unemployed.
• Nearly 50% of the city's young people live in poverty.

Empowering Youth with skills and confidence to build their future.

We accomplish our mission through a three-part program:

1. An advanced technology training program with two tracks-web site design and geographic information services

2. Two non-profit businesses that generate revenue and provide trainees with opportunities to work on real client projects as part of their training:
o A web site design business
o A geographic information systems services (GIS) business

3. An internship, job placement, and educational growth program

Read more about Hopeworks in their most recent newsletter.

Read a nice reflection on his work in Camden by Father Jeff.

If you have suggestions of people or places to feature in "Those Darn Jesuits . . .," please let me know.

The Perils of Spell Check

As one who is picky about grammar and spelling, I have to say I appreciate the following "poem." I'm definitely going to save this for when I'm teaching again!

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly Marx four my revue
Miss steaks eye can knot sea.

Eye strike quay and type a word.
And weight four it two say
Weather I eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is made
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the era rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter- perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

-Source unknown

via The Peeping Thomists, with thanks.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Living Faith

You may have seen these little Catholic devotional booklets around over the years called "Living Faith." Each day, a reflection is offered on the readings of the day, by several different contributors. Almost a year ago, I was invited to be one of those contributors, and my first contributions are in the latest issue (July-August-September), along with those of many others, holier than I, that have been at this for a while. You might want to think about subscribing. Each booklet covers three months. For those familiar with the Catholic blogosphere, or blogheaven, you might be interested to note that Amy Welborn is also a contributor.

On that note, I have to go. My contributions for the January-February-March issue are due today!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Our Seminarians, Young Brothers and Young Priests

I'm a member of the New Orleans Province of the Jesuits, where we are blessed to have a good number of newer members these days. Last I knew, had eleven men approved to enter our novitiate in August. Jesuit formation is grace-filled, but lengthy (I have been a Jesuit eight years, and will be ordained a priest three years from now). We can always use your prayers for perseverance, and for the variety of ministries we have an opportunity to do during our formation process.

I thought you might enjoy seeing a photo of me and my brothers. This is all our men in formation plus those who have been ordained in the last five years. I'm up top, in the center. (The picture is a little small, but you get the idea)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Buy a Vowell?: The Ten Commandments

While not theologically sophisticated, I think Sarah Vowell's reflection (if you don't dismiss it before you've read the whole thing) on The Ten Commandments debate is thoughtful, and well worth reading (from the New York Times):

Moses' Top Ten


The Ten Commandments have a shot at being named Time magazine's man of the year. This week, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that 63 percent of the respondents want President Bush to appoint a Supreme Court nominee who supports "allowing displays of the Ten Commandments on government property." The Conservative Caucus is even petitioning the president to appoint the former, as in fired, Alabama chief justice, Roy Moore, the legal whiz who defied a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of Montgomery's state judicial building.

The Supreme Court's ruling last month upholding the right of the Texas State Capitol to keep a Ten Commandments sculpture - sponsored by that great theologian Cecil B. DeMille to promote his Charlton Heston epic - on its grounds as an historical artifact is arguable from a legal perspective. But to the amateur historian and professional ironist, it's a delight. Because I've been to the Texas State Capitol, and that granite Moses movie ad is one of the least offensive things there.

To wit: there are two creepy monuments dedicated to the Confederacy, one of which features hand-carved testimonials from Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee lauding rebel soldiers responsible for the Gettysburg deaths Lincoln would hope were not in vain.

Then there's the memorial festooned with a man gripping a muzzle-loader to honor the Heroes of the Alamo, the men who died trying to steal Tejas from the Mexicans, who had taken it from Spain, which had grabbed it from the Indians in the first place. If I remember correctly, not stealing is one of your Top Ten Ten Commandments. One of these Alamo heroes, Davy Crockett, is said to have advised the men there, "Pierce the heart of the enemy as you would a feller that spit in your face, knocked down your wife, burnt up your houses and called your dog a skunk!" Does it get any less "thou shalt not kill" than that?

Another statue honors the beloved Texas cowboy. I happen to be descended from one of these. My Texas cowboy great-great-grandfather, John Vowell, abandoned his newborn baby, Charles, when his Seminole wife died in childbirth. Is it O.K. if I break the commandment about honoring one's father to point out that my great-great-grandfather was a deadbeat dad fiend?

Young Charles, by the way, did not follow in his daddy's cowboy footsteps; by the age of 8, the poor kid was earning a living as a shepherd. Until the range wars, when some of those beloved cowboys symbolized by that statue gunned down all his sheep. Probably not on a Sunday, though. Heavens, no - that's the Sabbath.

I am picking on Texas and its State Capitol only because of the specifics of this Supreme Court ruling. The fact is, any state government in the U.S. is going to look a little phony tacking up Mosaic Law on its lawn next to statues of whatever Puritans or Hawaiian-queen-kidnappers are responsible for any given state's eventual statehood. Maybe phony is not the right word. Maybe the right word is sad.

The other night I was flipping channels and stopped for a minute to watch Jim Jarmusch's documentary "Year of the Horse," about Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse. The band was on a tour bus somewhere in America, and Jarmusch and Young were discussing the difference between the Old Testament and the New. Young admits that he sometimes gets the two confused. Jarmusch replies that in the Old Testament, God is angry. Young wonders if this is because man "turned out to be man."

I'm guessing that my fellow citizens who want government employees drinking out of taxpayer-supported Ten Commandments coffee cups and using Ten Commandments ballpoints to take While You Were Out messages on Ten Commandments notepads hope and believe that daily reminders of biblical edicts will stave off the supposedly newfangled moral decay brought on by crummy TV shows and nontraditional marriage. But Neil Young had a point: man turned out to be man and has been ever since.

The Israelites Moses himself led out of Egypt apparently witnessed the rather unprecedented parting of a sea by their deity to save their lives. Yet about 10 minutes go by and the ungrateful sinners start melting their earrings to make a cow they can pray to. That's what I find so reassuring about the Ten Commandments: the fact that they were necessary in the first place.

She's not as snippy as Maureen Dowd, but she does have an edge and, perhaps, a point.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sharing Love

A nice post on People of the Book about what Catholic publishing should be about.
A nice reminder as I slog through my own contribution to the world of Catholic publishing (An introduction to the spiritual life for young adults due out in 2007).

And it doesn't hurt that he mentions St. Ignatius!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Attention Fellow Internet Bibliophiles!

The Original Amazon homepage from ten years ago:

Can you believe it? turns TEN this week! What was life like before Amazon?

Who Said the Cafeteria is Closed?: Weighing Harry Potter Against the Iraq War

Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder, we have people arguing that the Pope's opinion on Harry Potter should be seen as more morally compelling than his opinion on the war in Iraq! Really! It's on Amy Welborn's blog.

I don't know what to say?!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I See Now Where I Need To Go On Vacation

In red are the states I have been to.

There was no choice about the color, otherwise I would have picked PURPLE.

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Those Darn Jesuits . . .

Jesuit Father Greg Boyle is founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, an organization that gets Los Angeles gang members off the streets and into jobs. In April, Laura Bush made Homeboy Industries her first stop in her efforts to address gang violence in America. That's Greg standing next to the First Lady in the top photo.

From the LA Times: "This is huge because it's the first gang intervention program she's ever visited," said Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries (motto: "Nothing stops a bullet like a job"). Boyle, who sat with Bush in a tiny conference room of the organization's silk-screen plant in a grimy warehouse district at 8th Street and Santa Fe Avenue, introduced the first lady to Alex Zamudio, a 31-year-old father of three with a fourth on the way. Zamudio, who lost an eye at 13 when he was shot in the face, is working toward a professional baker certificate at L.A. Trade Technical College. His chef's garb prompted Bush to laugh when Boyle told her, "He's got checkered pants, not just a checkered past."

In the Presence of the Saints of God

It's been a few weeks, but I want to share this great picture from our recent ordination liturgy. During the Litany of the Saints, those to be ordained prostrate themselves in the midst of the people of God. There are few things in our tradition that I find more moving than this!

Monday, July 11, 2005

You Duped Me Lord?

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; The word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it. Yes, I hear the whisperings of many: "Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!" All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. "Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him." But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. O LORD of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, Let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause. Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD, For he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked! (Jeremiah 20:7-13)

Recently, a couple of people have asked why I call my blog "You Duped Me Lord." Back in December, when nobody was reading it, I took time to explain. Now that traffic has picked up a bit, I thought it might help to recap.

The title comes from one of the laments of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20). It is probably translated more often as "you enticed me Lord" or "you seduced me Lord," but may favorite translation of it is "You duped me Lord, and I let myself be duped!" If you've read the books of any of the prophets in the Old Testament, you know that this is often exactly the way they feel, because much of the time they were the ones charged by God with bringing "bad news" to the people, and often found themselves persecuted for it. So, you often hear them saying things to the effect of "Hey God, this is not what I signed up for!"

For me, these words express something at the heart of the mystery of vocation, the life which God wants for each of us. God has a plan for each of us and, if we listen, we can hear God calling. But God knows us well enough that if he told us everything that was going to happen if we answer his call, most of us would probably tell him to take a hike! Who wants that hardship, that persecution, that uncertainty? So, at the beginning we say yes to some idealized vision of what we think God is calling us to, only to find out later that there is a lot more to it than we expected. Joys, yes, but pain and persecution too. When we accept God's invitation we find that it is both much harder and much more wonderful than we ever imagined (but we don't always see both these things at the same time!). Thus, we find ourselves DUPED, and we can only complain so much because we also realize that we let it happen, I LET MYSELF BE DUPED.

This is God's invitation for all of us--to let ourselves be duped. If you're going to be duped, you might as well let God be the one to do it. God's the only one we can trust to dupe us with our best interests in mind, even if it doesn't always seem that way. If you read Jeremiah, you see that he knew that all too well.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Siriusly Black & Granger (is that like Black & Decker?) . . . If Mossa Went To Hogwart's

You scored as .

Hermione Granger


Sirius Black


Remus Lupin


Harry Potter


Ron Weasley


Ginny Weasley


Albus Dumbledore


Draco Malfoy


Severus Snape


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Those Darn Jesuits . . . Speaking of Pilgrimage

Speaking of pilgrimage, as they did in Canada in 2002, the Jesuits are inviting young people from throughout the world to an Ignatian pilgrimage experience called Magis 2005, which will take place just prior to the World Youth Day celebration. Mixed international groups will set out on pilgrimages from various different sites and engage in experiments along the way. The experiments will involve community service, prayer, faith sharing and liturgy. The Magis website explains: The experiment groups formed at the reception centers go off on their own. The international pilgrim groups last for five days until August 13th. Most of the experiment groups will move about on foot, which can be up to 20 km per day. There will also be groups which stay at one place, and from there they will undertake exploratory tours. They may also engage in a social or creative project: examples include preparing a street theatre or putting together an event with the residents of a home for disabled people. The leadership of the experiments will be taken by an organizational team especially prepared for this purpose. You will not find out which experiment your group participates in until you arrive at the reception center. Be therefore open and let yourself be surprised.

Not exactly the kind of pilgrimage Saint Ignatius was engaged in, but hopefully it will yield some of the same spiritual fruits! I was on staff at the 2002 event, this one promises to be even better!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Those Darn Jesuits . . .

In an attempt to bring some balance to the force, today I am inagurating an occasional column called "Those Darn Jesuits." This will be a column dedicated to announcing news about good works being done by Jesuits that is likely to go unnoticed by many of my fellow bloggers. As many of my fellow bloggers do a more than adequate job spreading what they believe to be "bad news" about those darn Jesuits, this column will be devoted only to good news about individual Jesuits and Jesuit ministries.

This past weekend I ran into Br. Rick Curry, S.J., writer of cookbooks, and also the director of The National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped. He shared with me the wonderful news that among the new projects the workshop is taking on is ministry to wounded soldiers, recently returned from Iraq. As you may know, though the numbers of wounded have not been released, the number is thought to be at least six times that of the number killed in the war. That means Rick and the workshop have their work cut out for them. Please pray for the wounded soldiers and the success of this ministry.

WOTW Trivia

War of the Worlds was somewhat disappointing, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun with it. If you've seen it, how might you answer the following two questions?:

1. What does War of the Worlds have in common with March of the Penguins?

2. At what point does War of the Worlds most resemble Finding Nemo?

Feel free to be creative, and add any similar questions.

Let My Cameron Go

Hey Bloggers! Take the Mit Weblog Survey. Takes about ten minutes.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

(Thanks to Steve Bogner for the link)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

A Burst of Applause

Last night I joined a packed house at the Ziegfeld theater in New York City for a showing of The War of the Worlds. The applause at the end was restrained (the movie was just OK, and in the end fell kind of flat), and did not match the loud burst of spontaneous applause which came even before the movie started. The object of this great show of enthusiasm was the trailer for Peter Jackson's King Kong. I've never seen a trailer receive such a response! Let's hope the movie lives up to it! Personally, I was much more enthusiastic when they showed the trailer for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, but I managed to contain myself!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Thank God For Our Diocesan Priests

I just had the great privilege of speaking about ministry to young Catholics at the International Institute for Clergy Formation in New Jersey. The first week (the Institute goes for five weeks, with different speakers and attendees each week) was attended by some fifty or so priests, deacons and seminarians from throughout the country and the world. They were a wonderful and inspiring bunch of holy men, involved in a variety of different ministry situations. Most were diocesan priests.

I must say that I was thrilled and thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to spend time with my brothers in the diocesan priesthood. Theirs is not an easy vocation in these days of declining numbers, in which they feel the effects in far more dramatic ways than those of us in religious life do. And I am aware of how easily in religious life, in which our interaction with our diocesan brothers is often very limited, we can become detached from this reality. This was a welcome reminder. It also was inspiring for me, as I contemplate my own priestly ordination in just a few years, to see the example of men who, despite the many challenges they face today as diocesan priests, are joyful and willing to take time out of their busy schedules to be with each other and to continue to learn ways in which they can be of even better service to the people of God. I should have paid the Institute for the privilege of being there this week, instead of it paying me!

This week also served as a welcome reminder of how important diocesan priests were to my own vocation. Prior to discerning my vocation, I had never actually met a Jesuit. The priests who inspired me in my youth, which is probably the case for most Catholics, were diocesan priests. My idea of priesthood was shaped by the several diocesan priests who taught me, affirmed me and reflected Christ to me in my youth. And though some of my diocesan brothers might respond to the next statement (jokingly, of course) with "where did we go wrong?," I wouldn't be the Jesuit I am today if not for their influence. So, as I reflect on the many graces of this week, I am giving thanks for the gift of our diocesan priests. May God continue to bless their great work!

The content of this site is the responsibility of its author and administrator, Mark Mossa, SJ, and does not necessarily represent the Society of Jesus