Friday, December 31, 2004

Tragedies and needs

I just returned from a few wonderful days in Boston where I was able to visit with some very dear friends. The news, of course, has been dominated by the unimaginable scope of the death and damage from the Tsunamis in South Asia. I hope that we are all being generous. While in Boston, I was able to visit with a couple and their young daughter (a son is due soon). He is an official with Catholic Relief Services and was working long distance to help coordinate their great efforts. He is very dedicated to this relief work and has been since 1988. Extraordinary person. Now this am there is a front page article in the NYTIMES which focuses on the work of CRS in this moment. Lets pray that this terrific coverage will prompt more of us to contribute to CRS and other relief efforts.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Slowly leaving 04.

I am very conforted in these days after Christmas by the confident passage of time into a new year, sometimes into a new era. When we entertain fantasies of wiping out the past, we are responding to one of our deepest human yearnings -- a new, fresh beginning. In Christianity that possibility is always on offer and goes by the name of forgiveness. Yes, we can wipe out the past, perhaps not its memories but surely we can allow ourselves to be rescued from the remaining harm and pain of the past. "Do not be afraid," continues to be the great theme of John Paul II and surely now invites us all to slowly leave 04 behind and embrace all the unknown and unpredictable moments of 2005.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Segmenting Life

All day yesterday and today, I am marveling at our (my) human capacity for placing experiences into almost air-tight compartments. The slaughter in Mosul, the photos, the dead and wounded, and above all, the policies directing it all, have been so deeply disturbing. It is hard for me to even imagine not thinking and praying about this war. And yet, it is Christmas. And I have been having some wonderful conversations with friends and family, planning a trip to Boston right after the 25th when I will see some people I deeply cherish. Dear friends have a beautiful one year old who is having his 2nd Christmas and his father told me he already knows to turn to the Christmas tree when it is vocalized. I love hearing about this little guy and his new tricks and skills. Our own family received very happy news yesterday about my niece, Kate's, early acceptance into the college she wanted most. Still its all so separate from Iraq. Imagine all this being shattered by tragic news of a fatality or wounding from that war. I don't even know someone serving over there right now. Where do we get the skill to segment and compartmentalize our lives? A skill that we honed to survive the evolutionary climb? And how much have we climbed up? Yet God loved all this so much that he pitched his tent here among us.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Disbelief, Paranoia once again

At the height of the VietNam war, I was a young man and became incredibly sour about our government, especially after the Fulbright Hearings and the publication of the Pentagon Papers. I may have then mellowed a bit but never really bought all the US government propaganda. For example, I have always thought that the crises in the Middle East were about Israel, our surrogate there, and the cheap oil supply for our economy. After yesterday's horrible disaster in Mosul and the absolute disregard for security of either US or Iraqi people, I am all the more convinced. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, et al have another agenda. Sure its incompetence and ideology but these tragedies do not even slow them down in pursuit of their objectives which are as they have been for years: the humiliation of the Arab peoples, the denial of Palestinian rights, the hegemony of Israel in the area and, above all, oil for our wealth and consumption. How much longer can it go on? The whole world, everyone beyond our increasingly isolated empire, knows and increasingly saying what they know and think. Loudly and despite US muscle.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

John Donne and the Sun

Now as the Sun becomes ever more present to our darkness in this season, I am again drawn to the lines of Donne:
BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Monday, December 20, 2004


Most of us have had the strange experience of hesitation to wish a Merry or Blessed Christmas to some who fully share our Christian faith. Happy Holidays may suffice for others, but I do think that, in pluralist society, we need to use our own rich greetings, without denigrating our own non-Christian friends. I take absolutely no offense when earlier in the Fall, Jewish friends wish me HappyNew Year, although both know that it is not my New Year. I am gratified and honored to be included. This issue is now becoming more prominent in Europe with the debates over the EU constitution and the acknowledgement of a Christian heritage in Europe. Just as the December dilemma, right on schedule, elicits some hard dispute here in the US. Some very nasty. My own take is that the main reason so much Christianophobiah is directed toward Catholic church and its leaders is that, for all its weakness and problems, it is still a commanding presence in both Europe and the US. And thus a threat or bulwark to the most ideological secularists who wish to rid all society of any kind of public religion, especially one that still thrives and gathers people.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Last Advent time

We are now in the final days of preparation and anticipation. May we all be more attentive to the great intervention of God in the birth of the Christ for our salvation. But let us also be aware of all the current overtures and initiatives that God offers to us this day - and even during these final days of Advent and 2004.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Abortion, Democrats and their defeat

A number of prominent Democrats are engaging, in their elections de-briefings, in a re-thinking of the hard line, absolutist, abortion on demand stance of the party since Roe. Remember the shameful exclusion of Gov Casey in 1992 as a speaker at the Dem Convention. There is no doubt that Kerry's adamant ProChoice affirmations, especially his support of partial birth abortion, played some (hard to estimate exactly) role in his defeat. I still believe that Bush and company depart even more from the full spectrum of Catholic social teachings, but Bush is evidently the first Republican to get more than 50 percent of self-identified Catholic voters. The good outcome at least here is a Democratic and their related pundits re-evaluation of their ideology of so-called abotion rights. That still leaves big issues of the Catholic approach out of both parties: effective government support of families and single mothers and children, the death penalty, the calamitous Iraqi occupation, contempt for the UN and other church favored bodies, EU and others. Let all Catholics pray and work to create a more open Democratic party and to express support for those who are working on it. New Senate Dem leader, Sen Harry Reid of Nevada, is apparently ProLife. Lets keep him embraced, at least on that issue

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Cancer and a Funeral

Yesterday I shared in the funeral of Fr Walter Anthony, 80 year old Paulist priest, which was celebrated at our church here in NY. A fine celebration for a very caring and faithful priest. Then I dispatched myself to Sloan Kettering for my usual monthly checkup and some treatments. As has happened before, my blood counts were down a bit and I reported some fatigue. And so my oncologist is now giving me a drug, Aranesp, which is more concentrated form of the more famous, Procrit. I am hopeful that my first injection will now start making me feel more alive. Prayer is always a great gift.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

David Gonzalez NYT

David Gonzalez has a wonderful article in the metro section of today's NYT about the Catholic Worker here in NY. Mr Gonzalez has a distinguished career in journalism and often writes powerful pieces that tell the tales of love, service and heroism that lurk even here in the huge city. In this one, he nicely captures the witness of the Worker against war, its ministry to the hungry and, above, the amazing fidelity of Workers over the many years. Be sure and read it.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Immigration, Guadalupe, Life issue

A phone conversation last night with some very dear friends, now expecting their 2nd child, made me both angry and more aware of the vagaries of US immigration policies and procedure. One set of the grandparents live in Asia and want to be here for the birth of their grandchild. They are elderly and have no political argument but they are being held up with visa technicalities. They will not even know whether the US will allow them to make the trip until almost the day of departure. Certainly no way to make friends. And with all the Guadalupe celebrations this week, I am so vividly aware of the great role of immigrants in American life. My own parents cames from Ireland in the 1920s. Now wonderful people come into this NY area from China, Mexico and so many Latin countries. Why has America become so narrow in its immigration stance? If you tell me that its due to heightened security since 9/11, then please also give me a list of the names of terrorists that have been stopped with this immigration net.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Jesuits in TIMES today

Be sure and read the article in the NY TIMES, Week in Review, about the declining numbers of SJs. Yet the strength of their ministry is pointed out. The combining of Weston School of Theology with Boston College is cited as a indication of new, even more effective ways to follow the tradition of Ignatius.

First In

I am eager to share some thoughts, opinions and assorted ideas. I am Paulist Priest from NYC, living now on the West Side of Manhattan. I will shortly supply more information and material. Have a blessed Sunday