Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The day has been almost as exhausting as the trip and jet-lag (which this time was FAR less than last Jan:  I remembered to validate my train tickets this time!).  Only a few hours ago I learned that one of our main cantors, Ted Noller, died during a heart cath procedure.  And there is nothing I can do to get back. Yes, this stresses me because I know where I should be in times like this.  But I did pray for him In the Duomo this afternoon, and I will concelebrate Mass for him tomorrow evening at Santa Maria Novella, a wonderful Dominican church maybe 1/2 mile away.  Later I will post on FB some pictures from SMN and from the church of All Saints.
I have made up the cupola of St Peter's several times; tomorrow will be my first attempt up Giotto's Campanile (bell-tower).  I expect some great photo ops from there!


It has been a smooth if exhausting trip to Florence.  The plane actually got in half an hour early, the baggage arrived pretty quickly, and the trains were convenient and fast.  After checking in at the hotel (the room is VERY small, but the hotel location is great) my first order of business was to see about concelebrating Mass.  But the sacristan was gone and won't be back until later this afternoon.  So I'll go back then.
So I am in a little pizzeria, waiting for a sausage & Gorgonzola pizza, sipping a glass of white wine (I know -- blasphemy in Tuscany!

Monday, January 20, 2014


It is the beginning of Day 1 of my visit to special places and special friends in Italy.  It is nice to know some of the ones I'll be seeing just came over a few weeks ago for a visit.

My flight leaves a little later this morning.  All is packed (1 suitcase, 1 carry-on); boarding passes are printed; passport is at the ready.  Soon--heading to the airport.  Mobile's is not exactly O'Hare or Heathrow, but then neither are the screening and passport control lines.

My secret confession:  I love to be in other places, but I HATE going there.  I don't particularly long for the Star Trek transporter, but I do think of things like Between, the mode of transport between great distances featured in Anne McCaffery's sci-fi Dragons series, or even (if one's destination could be confirmed) CS Lewis' "Wood Between the Worlds" from the penultimate Narnian book, The Magician's Nephew.  One day...

Between here and Facebook I will be posting pictures (not totally, but in great part, of food).  I always tell people, when I'm encouraging them to join a group I lead, that anyone can show you a church or a ruin; I can show you the restaurants!

Friday, January 17, 2014


Archbishop [of Canterbury] Justin Welby was in Istanbul at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who as Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church.
In an address, the Archbishop spoke of his commitment to the reconciliation of Eastern and Western churches.
He described Patriarch Bartholomew as "an example of peace and reconciliation, politically, with the natural world", and paid tribute to his historic visit to the installation of Pope Francis I as an expression of this.

"Such reconciliation [is] very dear to my heart and is one of my key priorities," the Archbishop said.
"It is the call of Christ that all may be one so that the world may see. I will therefore be taking back with me the warmth of your hospitality and also, after our discussions today and tomorrow, a renewed and refreshed focus for greater unity and closer fellowship.
"We want to carry the cross of our divisions, but be filled with the hope and joy that comes from the grace and the love of Jesus."

The first question that comes to my mind, given the diversity of practices now apparent in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Western Protestant traditions, is “How can this happen?”

Happily, that’s really not the most important question.  THE most important question is “Are we open to the Holy Spirit’s empowerment?  Are we willing to allow it to happen?”

We’re not in charge; we’re only (at best) facilitators, or (at worst) impediments.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


It's the necessarily the most accurate translation of the famous carol, but I like it, and I hope you'll enjoy the musical setting of it below (even if the graphic is a little out of date!).  Much has happened in our world in 2013, both for good and bad, anticipated and dramatically unexpected:  may 2014 hold much for us in the form of blessings, especially on the poor, the suffering, the persecuted...  After all, Schiller (and Beethoven) got it right:  Alle Menschen werden Bruder...