Some news

From an old NPR interview with Jimmy Fallon that has been picked up on a handful of blogs recently:

I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was – I loved the whole idea of it. My grandfather was very religious, so I used to go to Mass with him at like 6:45 in the morning, serve Mass. And then you made money, too, if you did weddings and funerals. You’d get like five bucks. And so I go ‘Okay, I can make money too.’ I go, ‘This could be a good deal for me.’ I thought I had the calling.

Pope Francis renews his passport:

You know how when your passport, or your drivers license, comes up for renewal, and you go through all the bureaucratic mumbo jumbo to get it renewed? So does Pope Francis. But unlike you and me, see, when Pope Francis renews his passport, it’s headline news.

If Yellowstone Could Talk, It Might Squeak. Blame The Helium

A huge amount of ancient helium is rising up from the rocks beneath Yellowstone National Park — about enough to fill up a Goodyear blimp every week.

The gas comes from a vast store of helium that’s accumulated in the Earth’s crust for hundreds of millions of years, scientists report in the journal this week.

The helium is being released because in the past couple of million years — very recently, in geologic time — that old part of the crust has been feeling the heat from a huge volcano that is now sleeping underneath the park.

The Pope welcomes prison inmates

Nineteen prison inmates from Pisa and Pianosa, Italy, were received by Pope Francis on Wednesday morning, 19 February, in the Casa Santa Marta before the General Audience.

The Pope prayed with them and for them, and he blessed them before the image of the Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, which is particularly dear to him, explaining to them the root of his devotion. Then, one by one, he greeted them and listened to their stories. For one in particular, who handed him a personal letter, the Pope spoke about the grace of mercy and pardon.

Some things of note

‘Poems To Learn By Heart’: The Merits Of Memorizing Verse

If we learn poems by heart, writes Caroline Kennedy, we will always have their wisdom to drawn on, and we gain understanding that no one can take away. Two years ago, she published a collection of her favorite poems. Now, Caroline Kennedy’s out with a new book of poetry for children and an agenda: to return to the memorization and recitation that both families and schools once considered routine.

The Anchoress reflects on St. Catherine of Siena and discernment

“But how do you know what you’re born to do?” they would ask, “If you do lots of things well, how do you know what you are born to do?”

Some of us might not be so blessed, of course, maybe some of us can only do one thing, but we do it very well. I think most people have several things they can do well…but only one thing they do exceedingly well, a thing that, when they engage in it, places them outside of time.

“What’s the thing you can do that you can really lose yourself in – so that when you look at the clock you find yourself surprised at how much time has gone by…and you are not tired at all.” I would ask them. “That’s the thing to look at. If it lifts you up rather than drags you down…if it takes you out of time and into the Eternal – that’s it, that’s the divine spark!”

 15 Year Old Adults?

Things it is illegal for a 15 year-old to do:
Can’t drop out of school.
Can’t peddle door-to-door.
Can’t catch and coop poultry for slaughter.
Can’t runaway from home.
Can’t drive a car by themselves.
Can’t be a lifeguard at a beach.
Can’t work more than 3 hours a day.
Can’t buy a 42 oz. soda at a restaurant in New York City.
The Kicker – Can’t legally consent to have sex.
So, a 15 year-old CHILD cannot do a lot of things, yet they can now buy the morning-after pill over the counter.

Caffeine-Laced Gum Has Energized The FDA

Other caffeine-laced gums have been on the market for years, and Wrigley may have been in the unfortunate position of being one caffeinated gum too many. The new gum is upfront about its 40 milligrams of caffeine per tablet, which it translates as the equivalent of a half-cup of coffee.

Pope: A Church that says ‘Yes’

He always does a nice job, the Holy Spirit, throughout history. And when we do not let Him work, the divisions in the Church begin, the sects, all of these things … because we are closed to the truth of the Spirit”

Pope Francis will reportedly complete encyclical on faith

It looks like Pope Francis will be finishing ex-Pope Benedict’s encyclical on faith. The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said he would not exclude the possibility that Francis’ first encyclical would be issued later this year. The spokesman noted that before his resignation, Pope Benedict had already done initial work on an encyclical to mark the “Year of Faith.”

The Digitalnun says thanks

Sunshine skittering through the branches of the apple trees; points of light glittering  on the nut tree; sparrows holding their chapter meeting in the barn eaves; daffodils bending in the breeze; the dark pink tilth of the fields smelling sweetly; a cock crowing loudly; pied wagtails dipping and dancing on the lawn; the smell of beeswax from the oratory; guests stirring lazily in the West End of the monastery; Bro Duncan PBGV imploring a morning walk; the warm silence which follows Lauds. For all these gifts of your giving, Lord, we give thanks.

St. Anselm

April 21, which was yesterday, is the feast of St. Anselm, an eleventh century monk.

Over at, Bert Ghezzi describes Anselm as one who “blended perfectly the Christian essentials of prayer, thought and action” and “the best theologian between St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.”  A man of balance.

The whole post is here.

Ghezzi also includes in his post this neat excerpt:

“Now tell me, if you plant a tree shoot in your garden, and straightway shut it in on every side so that it has no space to put out its branches, what kind of tree will you have in after years when you let it out of its confinement?

“‘A useless one, certainly, with its branches all twisted and knotted.’

“Without doubt this is what you do with your boys. They are planted in the garden of the Church, to grow and bring forth fruit for God. But you so terrify them and hem them in on all sides with threats and blows that they are utterly deprived of their liberty. And being thus injudiciously oppressed, they harbor evil thoughts like thorns. They cherish these thoughts so passionately that they doggedly reject everything that could minister to their correction.

Thus, feeling no love or pity, good will or tenderness in your attitude towards them, they have in the future no faith in your goodness but believe that all your actions proceed from malice against them. The deplorable result is that as they grow in body so their hatred increases, together with their apprehension of evil. They have been brought up in no true charity towards anyone, so they regard everyone with suspicion and jealousy.”

Clearing out some tabs…lots more to go

Pope Francis’ words at a recent priestly ordination:

You will gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance. Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful. You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly. When you celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world—remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ. You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.

 The Digitalnun discusses the problem of being more papal than the pope:

The so-called liberals have hailed every act of Pope Francis as a breath of fresh air, a return to the days of good Pope John. The so-called conservatives have quailed before every liturgical change and muttered darkly about infidelity. In my simple way, I think the liberals will be disappointed and the conservatives find they have nothing to fear. The pope doesn’t make it up as he goes along. There is a deposit of faith which he articulates; and the Holy Spirit is the ultimate guarantor of the Church’s fidelity to the truth. That doesn’t mean, of course, that there won’t be changes which some will find heartening and others dispiriting. In fact, it is a guarantee that there will be change. ‘Behold, I am doing a new thing’ is true in every generation; so, something to please the liberals and appall the conservatives after all? Perhaps. I’m not a soothsayer.

What really interests me is this. When did people start to think that they could call themselves loyal Catholics but believe the pope and bishops to be in error? That cuts both ways, across both liberals and conservatives. We have liberals believing they can do anything, especially if they invoke ‘pastoral necessity’, and conservatives believing that they can condemn anything, especially if it has ‘Vatican II’ anywhere in its make-up. It is a rather odd situation. I myself think it is fundamentally unCatholic, but then, I disappoint my liberal friends by being a traditionalist, and my conservative friends by sitting more lightly to maniples and birettas than they.

I write this with a smile, as befits a Saturday morning post, but underneath there is a serious question. The unity of the Church is a mark of her Catholicity. We all have a duty to preserve that unity, whatever labels we want to give ourselves. Might it be time we asked whether we do or not?

 Some nice words from a departing seminarian from Sioux City:

In leaving seminary, I realize that I will be separated from some of the best men that I have ever met. The men I met in Denver called me to holiness, often times not by their expressed word but by their actions and their radical witness to Christ. These men all shared the same dreams and aspirations. When you have a group of people who are like-minded, it is easy to develop a relationship. When you add Christ into that mix, the relationship becomes solid and rock hard. My hope is to keep in contact with many of these men; I know the relationship will change, if only because a great distance will separate us.

I was once told that a good seminary has many men joining and many leaving. I have found this to be true. A good seminary brings men in as boys, immature spiritually and emotionally; however, when they leave they are formed in manhood (Men in Christ, Men of the Church, Men for Others). This is hopefully true for those men leaving seminary to pursue the lay vocation as it is for those men leaving as ordained Priests of the Catholic Church. I know I leave the seminary a changed man because I have been formed and molded in Christ. As I leave, I pray that people do not say, “What a waste. He would have been such a good priest.” The fact of the matter is that the future is unknown, I may have made a great priest and I still may make a great priest. The fact of the matter is the Church needs good and holy fathers to protect the family. I believe that seminary has helped me here as well. Even if I was only in seminary for one day I would have been a better man for the experience.

 The DigitalNun has some good words about burrying the dead, too:

When we bury the dead we are doing more than disposing of ‘mortal remains’. We are marking the end of someone’s life on earth and their entry, as we hope, into eternal life, commending their soul to God and praying for mercy. As a Catholic, I naturally think that most of us pass from death into a state of purification known as purgatory, which we who are alive have a duty to aid with our prayers. So, our prayers for the dead person do not end with their death. Our connectedness remains, so much so that I would argue that each of us has a role to play in the death and funeral rites of every person on earth. In the monastery we are frequently reminded of this. Not only do we have a long Office of the Dead which we pray on certain days of the year, we remember the dead at the conclusion of every Hour of the Divine Office and at the end of every meal.

 A beautiful video about a parish in Omaha I visited several times while living there several summers ago.

Animals mourn too.

A few things

If Caffeine Can Boost The Memory Of Bees, Can It Help Us, Too?

Who knew that the flower nectar of citrus plants — including some varieties of grapefruit, lemon and oranges — contains caffeine? As does the nectar of coffee plant flowers.  And when honeybees feed on caffeine-containing nectar, it turns out, the caffeine buzz seems to improve their memories — or their motivations for going back for more.

The snooze button: friend of foe?

9 things to know about Divine Mercy Sun

1. What is Divine Mercy Sunday?
2. When was it made part of the Church’s calendar?
3. If this is based on private revelation, why is it on the Church’s calendar?
4. What does the Church do to encourage the celebration of devotion to the Divine Mercy on this day?
5. What is the Divine Mercy image?
6. What is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy?
7. How is the Divine Mercy devotion linked to the Scripture readings for the Second Sunday of Easter?
8. How did Jesus empower the apostles to forgive or retain sins?
9. How does this relate to the sacrament of confession?

The love of Christ – an excerpt from Monsignor Guardini’s The Lord

If anyone should ask: What is certain in life and death — so certain that everything else may be anchored in it? The answer is: The love of Christ. Life teaches us that this is the only true reply. Not people — not even the best and dearest; not science, or philosophy, or art or any other product of human genius. Also not nature, which is so full of profound deception; neither time nor fate…. Not even simply “God”; for his wrath has been roused by sin, and how without Christ would we know what to expect from him? Only Christ’s love is certain. We cannot even say God’s love; for that God loves us we also know, ultimately, only through Christ. And even if we did know without Christ that God loved us — love can also be inexorable, and the more noble it is, the more demanding. Only through Christ do we know that God’s love is forgiving. Certain is only that which manifested itself on the cross. What has been said so often and so inadequately is true: The heart of Jesus Christ is the beginning and end of all things.

More bits and pieces

Patriarch Bartholomew invites Pope to Jerusalem to celebrate historic anniversary:

Rocco talks about some of the phone calls Pope Francis has been making lately:

Even before his first appearance at the balcony, the new pontiff placed a call to his predecessor at Castel Gandolfo, then another one last night on B16’s onomastico, St Joseph’s Day. Among others who’ve already been rung up include the Nuncio to Argentina (to ask that no trips for the Inaugural be made) and the Father-General of the Jesuits, while yesterday morning’s public watch party in Buenos Aires received a 3.30am call from Francis over the sound system before the Mass and last night, the Pope dialed the hometown newsstand where he’d buy his morning paper to thank the family who owns it for their daily time together over the years and ask for their prayers. 

Dr. Taylor Marshall relates Pope Francis and Downton Abbey:

Pope Francis is entirely unknown to most of us. As a result, most folks have had to rely on only one source of information for the past week or so: photographs.Hence, most of the controversy over Pope Francis has boiled over “what is the Pope wearing or not wearing?”

As I was thinking about this, I realized that Pope Francis’s wardrobe and customs have created as much excitement as a Downton Abbey episode! Black shoes on a Pope? What would the Dowager Countess say? My goodness!


People are buzzing about Pope Francis’ choice of a silver papal ring, his refusal of the red papal mozzetta, his black shoes, his simple vestments, his low mitre, his preference for a Popemobile Jeep rather than a Popemobile Mercedes, etc.

Heather King has a great post that relates the Church’s teachings on sexual things her service to the poor. The whole thing is worth a good read, but she ends with a bit on Dorothy Day and Pope Francis:

Dorothy Day could be a champion of the poor partly because she left the love of her life and offered her whole self to God. St. Maximilian Kolbe offering himself up to starve in the place of another at Auschwitz was on a continuum with his celibacy. St. Francis of Assisi could speak to the birds because his entire procreative urge was ordered to Christ.

So it’s not a matter of being right on social justice and wrong on sex (nor of celibacy being a higher calling than marriage): it’s a matter of the ground of existence, whatever our station in life, being love. It’s a matter of worshiping an entirely different Master than the world, whose gods are security, comfort, efficiency, power, property, prestige and control. I wanted to say to my friend, Haven’t you ever wanted to bow your head in wonder? Haven’t you ever looked around for Someone to thank?In so many words I did say those things, and then I wrenched my hands, for I could feel her embarrassment for me and my “archaic” views, and stammered: “I actually believe it…I believe Christ is the Savior of the world”….

To kiss the feet of AIDS patients and drug addicts, as Pope Francis has done, comes from an entire being that has been formed, has been disciplined, and has as its sole aim love. You don’t have charity in one area and not in another. You don’t offer up one part of yourself and keep another. You offer it all. You lay down your life.

King also posts this video:

George Weigel has some good thoughts on Pope Francis. He elaborates on how Pope Francis is…

A man of God.
A man of profound humility.
A man of keen and realistic intelligence.
A man of the New Evangelization.
A man of reform.
A man of freedom rightly understood.

Looks like this might be a neat documentary to watch on the remains of Sts. Chrysanthos and Daria.

That’s enough for now!