Wednesday, October 24, 2012


And why is it, again, that we think there are no flaws in our several States' standards of evidence for criminal cases that involve capital punishment?

We hear over an over that no mistakes are ever made in such cases (at least, that is what one former Alabama Attorney General assured his constituents).  Really?

Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II (whom the Catechism was quoting) insisted that the need for such punishment is "practically non-existent" (CCC #2267, citing Evangelium vitae 56).  Can we not exercise a little humility and admit we don't always know all the answers?  Why not err on the side of caution? 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I cannot strongly enough encourage you to watch ALL of the 3 clips from the "Al Smith Dinner" in New York last week--comments of humor and tolerance from Governor Romney, President Obama and Cardinal Dolan.

These remarks show the ideal (sadly, so little in view during political campaigns) of what politics and exchange of viewpoints could be like.

The link is below, courtesy of Rocco Palmo and "Whispers in the Loggia."  Watch, and ENJOY...

Once you are there, go to the title you see above here!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


           How does one most effectively preach the Gospel?  This is, I have no doubt, a major topic in the recently concluded Synod of Bishops on “New Evangelization.”  I have my own answer, which I have shared in homilies and writings in recent weeks and months, but I want to elaborate on it just a little bit.
            In the current issue of America (10-15-12, pp 17ff), Green Bay Bishop David L Ricken makes an important comment.  He says:
            In his talk on the new evangelization, Cardinal Dolan recalled what Cardinal John Wright told him and other seminarians studying at the North American College in Rome in the 1970s:   “Do me and the church a big favor.  When you walk the streets of Rome, smile!”
         If I were to refer to Cardinal Dolan as a “laugh a minute bishop,” this would be the wrong impression of what I mean—he is the archetypical extravert:  always with a glad hand, a sparkle in his eye, a quick wit, and easy laugh.  This scarcely means there is not serious core there!  But it does mean that, more often than not, he is like the famous diplomat who could tell you to go to hell and make you look forward to the visit.
            Why is this important?  It is very simple, really:  if the Good News is indeed “good,” then we should be glad about it, and it should show.  Who is attracted to what is manifestly “bad news” to those bringing it??
            St Francis of Assisi was famously joyful, even in great pain.  He could be severe in his commands—particularly against lax clergy habits!—but who remembers that compared with his celebration of life in the “Canticle of the Creatures”?  I wish more people remember he wrote that poem after the stigmata and the cauterizing of his diseased eyes with a red-hot poker (medical “science” being what it was in the 13th century). 
            In his last published book, Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer, C S Lewis wrote:  “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”  Pope St Ambrose put it slightly differently:  Laeti bibamus sobriam ebrietatem Spiritus [Rejoicing we drink the sober drunkenness of the Spirit].  The birth [and ministry and death and resurrection] of our Savior is more than “good” news—it’s the BEST NEWS!  Why would we not be joyful, if we believed it?
            Do you want to attract people to Jesus Christ?  Be attractive as His emissary.  We as Christians must look like we have something worthwhile, something others would want, and even give their lives for. Everyone knows the bumper sticker that says “Honk if you love Jesus.”  Why not, instead, “Smile if you love Jesus”? It’s so much simpler, and it will be far more effective.  It will turn you into an evangelist.

Monday, October 1, 2012


How could I not commemorate St Francis today?  The "little poor man" of Assisi captures the hearts of the most hardened of anti-Christians (even the long-standing atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell--for whom I have a secret affection and admiration--loved this man's heart). 

I am drawn back to Assisi as a pet dog on a leash (though I grant that such a metaphor is more appropriate for the Dominicans):  the place itself, its evocations of Francis and Clare, its holy sites, all fill me with the most peaceful sense of prayer, and I return there as often as I can (without exaggeration, I have been there well over 40 times).  There is nothing to compare with the friars' Evening Prayer at San Damiano, or quiet time praying before the San Damiano crucifix (now located in the Basilica of Santa Chiara), or the stark and serene atmosphere of the crypt of San Francesso, where he is buried.  And I will go back there again, God willing, twice more in 2013...

Do I want to be like Francis?  Yes and No; could I be like Francis?  No and No.  His level of poverty (even granted the standards of life-style in 11th century Italy) is beyond me.  But his passion for Jesus Christ, for the Church, and for the Eucharist drives me and draws me.  It makes me crave to be a better disciple. 

The recording below is based on a Franciscan translation of an old Latin poem, attributed to the early Franciscan chronicler Thomas of Celano--enjoy the day.