Friday, December 30, 2005

The Solemnity of Mary

The Solemnity of Mary has always been one of my favorite days. It falls on the day that begins the new year, and to me that has always been a reminder concerning how to put the next year in perspective.

If we begin each year by thinking about Mary in her role as the Mother of God, it can focus us on her traits and virtues. Above all, I think about how she embraced the will of God and acccepted her part in His plan. Marys' acceptance of the Fathers' will brought both joy and suffering to her life. This is the same for all of us.

I begin each year thinking about her words concerning her Son at the wedding at Cana, "Do Whatever He asks of you."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wedding Photo

Posted by Picasa

The Holy Family

The feast of the Holy Family is tomorrow. It is normally the first Sunday after Christmas but this year that is the Solemnity of Mary, so we move things about a bit. My own perspective on the Holy Family is blended with my Italian heritage. My ancestors are originally from southern Italy, mainly Calabria (that's the tip of the boot folks).

In southern Italy and Sicily there is a very strong devotion to St. Joseph. My middle name is Joseph, so I grew up hearing folktales from all over Italy that concerned Joseph and the Holy Family. I also do a St. Joseph's Altar each year, and venerate Joseph as one of my favorite saints. That all being said, there is a folktale that is at once inspiring and theologically disturbing.

An excellent telling of the story is in Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino. It is called the "Devotee of Joseph" and is from Verona. In brief:

There is a man who is devoted to St. Joseph. In fact he ignores all others for Joseph and venerates no other saint. In fact, he acted as if Our Lord and Our Lady did not exist. When he dies, St. Peter will not let him into heaven. Peter Explains that he has ignored all the other saints, and even Jesus. The man asks to at least see St. Joseph and Peter allows it. Joseph is very pleased to see his devotee and tries to bring him into heaven. When Peter objects, Joseph says, "Let him in or I'll take my wife and son and move paradise somewhere else." Peter decides that since Joseph would take Jesus and Mary, it would just be better to let the man inside.

Now that is foaming at the mouth messed up from a theological point of view. Joseph is obviously recieving adoration and not veneration, and he is really ok with that in the tale. And the idea of Joseph just moving paradise, is so absurd that it's funny. I could rant for hours, saying words like Latria and Dulia and making my co-workers worry about me, just on the idea of somone thinking that is how veneration of a saint works. I'd go another hour after I realized that, that is how a large number of people think it works. I'd then go another hour after I relaized that a large number of non-Catholics think that because a large number if Catholics think it works that way. At that point, I'd be really tired and play a video game.

There is however something deeper in the story; The beautiful and indissoluble, bond of marriage. The story is a bit over the top, but in it is the basic lesson that family is forever. Not in the Pachino and De Niro kinda way, but the Catholic way. Jesus, Mary and Joseph...a model of love for each other, and love for God. The greatest models of fidelity to Grace and obedience to the word of the Lord are all there in that family. It is, perhaps, one of my favorite images.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Global Warming and the Penguins of Doom

So, I found this article:

It seems that the break-up of huge icebergs has fostered penguin evolution.

Now, I have heard from the global warming crowd that global warming is responsible for things like this. And the thaw from the ice age, is of course the ultimate global warming. But this forced penguins to live together despite their differences. And it made penguins what they are today.

Everyone loves Penguins...but would you love them if they had evolved differently? Using the same type of science that proves global warming, I advance a theory.

Without the break-up of the large icebergs, we would have a different penguin...a penguin of horror.

Large birds, capable of flight on their razor wings. Lovecraftian horrors that move silently and without mercy. Preying upon humanity in a feast of blood. Our children would weep at the pengiuns sonic shrill cry (oh..they've got one), and humanity would turn against each other. We would offer our friends to satisfy the dark penguin lords.

We would have heros, men and women resisting the Tuxedo'd might of DOOM. But one by one they would fall. We would sing their stories until the diamond hard beaks of the 2o foot robot war penguins silenced our hope.

Then, they would develop the device...a time device. Using their unholy technology they would go back in time and wipe out humanity. In their Hubris they eliminate their own food supply, rendering the world devoid of all life.

OH...we would have had polar bear allies that we rode into battle.

Rejoice, global warming has saved us all from the cruel flipper of horror.

For those who don't know me, I believe in evolution. This is a knock at Global Warming.

The Holy Innocents

Sometimes this day gets forgotten during the Christmas season. But in this era, where Abortion is so damaging to the innocent, it stands as a sign of how far we still have to go.

For those who don't know what this day remembers, it is when Herod declared that all males under 2 years of age be killed. This was Herods' attempt to kill Christ in order to protect his own throne.

Say a prayer today for all children. Those who die young, those who live and suffer in poverty and those who die unborn. It is also a day to lead a family blesing of your own children. Catholic Culture has the rite on their website

Look for the feast and the blessing is linked to the sidebar.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas Car Troubles and The Meaning of Christanity

So, as my wife an I were getting ready to leave for Christmas the car wouldn't start. After a mild hysteria, we jumped the car and were on our way. As we were leaving to go back home, we jumped it again and were on our way. A little stress, but no problems.

My supervisor however, had her van break down. There was a conflict over the dealership getting a rental van in time for Christmas. Now, she has a husband and three kids and they need to get from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. Everything worked out and they all got where they needed to go.

When we were driving home, I said to my wife, "If that little bit of trouble we had means that someone else didn't have it, I'm fine with that." And in the end, isn't that really Christanity. If suffering (or inconvience in this case) can be taken away from another, by taking it on yourself, then that's ok.

I don't think God goes around and balances some by smiting others, but that's not the point. It comes down to the fact that God knows what I can handle and what others can handle. And if we can take onto ourselves the things that others can't handle, we understand our own Christanity better.

Christmas is Over....Wait, I've had an Epiphany

So, Christmas is over. Back to work and everyday life, right? A baby born, now bills to pay. Let's take a look at the word Epiphany. If you remember the movie "Hook" there is a cute little exchange:

Smeed: I think I've just had an apostrophe!
Hook: I think you mean Epiphany.
Smeed: Lightning has struck my brain.
Hook: Must hurt.

Funny, but it's the, "Lightning has struck my brain." that interests me. What is the definition of Epiphany?

A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization.

All to often the Epiphany goes by with little fanfare in our lives. But really, it makes sense that it is removed from Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Christ, we sing countless carols about how He is a King. But the words don't always sink into our brains, or our hearts.
But here comes Epiphany, and lightning should strike our brains. We've just celebrated the birth of a GOD! The king of all creation has come to us as a little baby. But more than that, the Essence, the Meaning of everything is now here.

And for non Jews, a deeper meaning is present. This this how Matthew tells us that salvation is being extended outside of the Chosen People. God has sent a sign so that all may be saved. He has called wise men from a different land and said, "here is your king."

Give Epiphany a little love this year, the wise men traveled pretty far. For alot of people, they still haven't arrived.

A Brief Introduction

A little bit about me to start. I am a devout Catholic and have been my whole life. I don't believe in throwing my religion in peoples' faces. I've always like St. Francis' quote, "Preach the Gospel every day of your life, when necessary use words." I can see value in all religions, the seeds of light and truth some people call them.

 Although I don't bash people with my faith, I will defend it.
I am a Baseball fan. A distant second is College football. But Baseball is at the top of the heap.

I am happily married, and we have just passed the two year mark.

I like folklore and ghost stories and think the playstation 2 is better than other video game platforms...becuase it is the only one I have.

My blog will follow those lines, read if it interests you.

Christmas vs Easter

Since the beginning of Christianity Easter has been the most important holiday of the church. You wouldn't think that, based on the popular love of Christmas. So, why is that the way it goes?

Because on the surface Easter is a death and Christmas is a birth. It is easier to celebrate the birth of a child. To feel compassion for the poor family seeking shelter. To feel joy at the arrival of the savior. But Easter is the greatest birth of all. The Savior, first born from the dead (Wow, Catholics have the best titles for stuff).
Easter is the rebirth of all life, reborn into our new lives of grace.

But it begins on Christmas. It begins again tonight. The two holidays (Happy Holidays is really Happy Holy Days...ironic given the recent problems), are linked with the strongest bond possible.

My advice for the season is: Be that link, be that bond.

As the year progresses, listen to the readings. Grow, as the Christ child does, with the readings. As we move through Jesus' life through the Chruch year, grow with Him.

As the wise men come in January, as he changes water into wine, calls his disciples, Cures the blind, raises the young child, multiplies the loaves and fishes, raises Lazarus, suffers in the garden, is sentenced to death, meets His mother as He carries the cross, dies and rises again.

Begin the year as a child each Christmas, and grow with the cycle of readings. And next year, start over again. Christmas will mean more, Easter will mean more. The whole year will grow with you as you anticipate salvation.

Be a living bond between the two greatest events in human history. The way to do that: walk in the the footsteps of Christ. It would seem arrogant to do so, but he invites us to do just that. That invitation is the first Christmas gift, and the greatest one of all.

New Blog

I have a blog over at Yahoo 360, I figure I'll RSS feed this to it. I'll transfer some posts here soon