Archive | February, 2013

The door slams shut on the Papacy of Benedict XVI

28 Feb

At 8:00 p.m. Italy time (and 2:00 p.m. Milford time) the doors of Castel Gandolfo, the summer home of the Pope,  slammed shut. As the bells chimed eight, His Holiness Benedict XVI, who arrived there two hours earlier, was no longer Pope. The Swiss Guard, whose sole mission is to guard the Pope, left their post and returned to the Vatican. There is no Pope.

‘The camera is a very strong weapon’

23 Feb

“5 Broken Cameras” is up for an Academy Award in the category of Best Documentary Feature. Here’s hoping that “Oscar” can help promote interest.

Click here for an interview with the Israeli and Palestinian directors.


Sweet Sistine: our best bet is always on God!

21 Feb

You knew this had to happen. I am just jealous I did not come up with it first. 

To me it looks like the “odds” are favoring: (1) Turkson, (2) Quellet, and a tie for (3) Arinze and Scola. Remember, though: God is full of surprises. It is ours to try to see things God’s way, and not the other way around.

Our best bet is always on God! 

Pope Madness 2013

There is a local flavor to this bracket, designed, obviously, by someone from the Dubuque-Dyersville area.

This visual points to the reality of the human dimension of the process of the election. It is always our approach that “grace works on nature.” God decided to take on human nature for our benefit. Why will God not use our human nature to further the divine plan for our salvation? My prayer is simply that the Cardinals do not mess up what God has in mind, or get in the way of what God is doing. (That is my most frequent and sincere prayer for myself.) May the electors truly allow themselves to be influenced by their prayer for guidance from the Holy Spirit. God will work with whatever the Cardinals decide and with whomever the Cardinal elect. That is God’s promise!

Some will find the “Sweet Sistine” funny. Others might find it disrespectful and call it sacrilegious or blasphemous. Let us be grateful, nonetheless, that the retirement of Benedict XVI and the fascination with the election process for the next Pope brings such attention to the Roman Catholic Church. And let us keep good humor about such things as this bracket, for, as is sometimes said, “Any news is good news.” It gives others the invitation to think about the Church, no matter what they think, and it gives the Church an opportunity to think anew about herself.

a plan defied

17 Feb

A court in Israel has heard the final arguments on the construction of a separation wall in the Cremisan valley of Beit Jala (West Bank).

I found a link to this video, entitled “Israel plan to wall off West Bank land defied,” on the Facebook page of the Society of St. Yves Catholic Center for Human Rights, which is representing the landowners and the religious community of sisters of the Cremisan valley.

In the video at 1:12 and 1:33 you saw Father Ibrahim, the pastor of the Catholic parish of Beit Jala. Father Ibrahim will be my guest at my parish in Milford in September-October, insha’Allah (God willing/hopefully).

At 1:14 you saw the chalice that a group of pilgrim-teachers left with Father Ibrahim as a gift from us to his parish. We used  the chalice when we celebrated Mass in Cremisan valley. Father Ibrahim has used it every Friday since then, as he has celebated Mass in the same olive grove.

“It is unacceptable. We have obviously failed.”

16 Feb

Carnival 1

Living in the sight and smell of feces and urine, with raw sewage at their feet, limited water, not much electric, no heat or air-conditioning, and not enough food – this is not what the people on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship had signed up for. This was no way to live. They deserved better. It was unacceptable. Yet this is how they spent their Mardi Gras and began their Lent.

In communication with loved ones by cell phones many gave accounts of the good service of the crew. They spoke about how they were making do with what they had (or didn’t have). They lived in hope and trust that their ordeal would eventually be over.

In the port on shore the CEO of the cruise line made no excuses but only apologies, “We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a great experience, and clearly we failed in this particular case.”

As we begin our Lent and ponder how disgusting it must have been to live those days on the ocean liner, we remember that there are people in the world who live that way all the time: the way human beings are not meant to live. There are people who never have utilities and facilities, who are always without water, food and electric, and who are without any hope that their ordeal will come to an end. This is unacceptable. Maybe this event – and this Lent – will make us more grateful, when we flush the toilet,  turn on the lights, open our refrigerator and make our beds. Maybe this event – and this Lent – will find us more inclined to be of good service to those who do not have something that they deserve.

Maybe this event – and this Lent – will cause those of us who stand on the shores of comfort or cruise through life in luxury to catch a glimpse of the suffering of others. Maybe in the next forty days we will be shown some way of working toward fixing things and making things right for someone else.

Carnival 2

ended with no decision by the court

15 Feb

St. Yves Society bannerOn Tuesday, 12th of February 2013, the final hearing for the case of the Cremisan Valley against the Separation Wall was held in front of the Special Appeals Committee in the Magistrate Court in Tel Aviv.

Our friend, Father Ibrahim Shomali, the Parish Priest of Beit Jala, was in the crowded courtroom to observe the proceedings. The Catholic auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem was also present.

A summary of the testimony  of both sides is provided by the Society of St. Yves Catholic Center for Human Rights. Obviously, the summary is of a tone that favors the case as presented by the side opposing the building of the wall.

The session ended with no decision by the court. It will be issued after the committee reviews the documents of the case that has gone on for seven years.St. Yves Society hearing photo

No One to “Be My Valentine”

14 Feb

Valentines Day 2013 01

Valentine’s Day is my most unfavorite day of the year. Because of the life that I have chosen for myself as a celibate Catholic priest, which, to the best of my ability to know, is the life that God chose for me before I chose it, there is no one to “Be My Valentine.” 

When my mother was still with us, I could count on one Valentine. In the mail, year after year, I would receive one of those simple (read: cheap) Valentines on flimsy paper, with the perforated edges indicating that it was one of a sheet of Valentines. It was the kind that I remember being passed around in the first grade. There was no breath-taking or tear-bringing message, like the  ones we see on the jewelry and perfume and candy commercials. It would be signed simply with her heartfelt, “Love, Mom.” But mom is gone now for six and a half years. No more Valentines from her. 

There is the cutest little blond girl in our parish, six and a half years old. She has taken to making me and bringing me a Valetine’s Day card every year. It so happens that she was born on the day that my mother died. Without her parents knowing me six and a half years ago, and knowing nothing about my mother, they gave their daughter the name, “Isabelle.” That was mom’s name. And they call her, “Izzy.” That is what my sisters and I called mom.

Izzy brought me a Valentines’ Day card today. I smiled. Izzy smiled. My mother smiled.  

Valentines Day 2013 02

Lent begins, but Easter beckons

13 Feb

We are made from dust, but we are not meant for earth. We are meant for heaven.

Lent begins, but Easter beckons.

With Christ let us rise from the ashes of this day!

8:30 am Milford – and – 3:30 pm Beit Jala

8 Feb

Mass has been celebrated in Cremisan valley every Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in a prayer-protest of a proposed new section of what is called a separation wall by the Palestinians and a security fence by the Israelis. Whether it is for separation or security, it is definitely a wall, and not a fence, in this section of the structure that divides Beit Jala and Jerusalem.

Earlier in January Father Ibrahim Shomali, the pastor of Annunciation Catholic Church in Beit Jala, celebrated the Mass in the cold and snow, after an unusual snowfall a couple days before.fr_ibraheem 2

We see on the altar a blue-green pottery chalice. Father Shomali has used this chalice for the weekly Mass ever since June.

We brought it from Cincinnati as a gift to him and the parish. So, after we used it when we celebrated Mass in that olive grove in Cremisan valley on the edge of the town of Beit Jala in the Bethlehem-area, we left it behind, so that they might remember us in prayer as we remember them in prayer. ibrahin snow bend over 7

Today – Friday, February 8 – will be the last day that Father Shomali will celebrate Mass in that olive grove before the final decision of the Israeli government.  A final decision of the Israeli Court will be handed down on February 12. Will Israel take control of the Cremisan valley? Or will the Cremisan valley remain in the hands of the Palestinians?

PRAY. At 8:30 a.m.(Milford time) pray in solidarity with Father Ibrahim and the people of Beit Jala as they celebrate Mass at 3:30 p.m. (Beit Jala time).

ACT. As urged by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sign the petition that will be taken to Israeli authorities in protest of the proposed building of this section of the wall.

8 days since I added my signature

7 Feb
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