Archive for November 2009

More great catechesis

November 29, 2009

In tune with my post on my class reunion are these true stories from the Kansas City Star (click for more)

Seated in the front of the church waiting for Mass to start one Sunday morning, her 4-year-old began to get antsy. She absentmindedly handed him her rosary, hoping it would keep him quiet for a few minutes.

You can imagine her chagrin when he began twirling the beads above his head and announced in his very loud baritone voice, “Hang on Jesus, you’re going for a ride!”

At the age of 6, Patrick Burke’s daughter asked why they didn’t go to church.

I thought, “Wow, my daughter is ready to attend Mass!” But I also thought that at that age you can’t understand the great significance of the Mass, and trying to explain it would be silly. That next Sunday we went to Mass and sat in the front row so we could watch the priest, be close to the ceremonies and gain all the knowledge being imparted. Normally a child would whisper when surrounded by a large number of strange people and in a strange place.

But at the Offertory, when it was as quiet as quiet can be, when the priest was adding water and wine to the chalice, my daughter, full of wonder, leaned over to me and whispered in her tiny but magnified little voice, “Daddy, is he making a martini?”

The priest briefly looked at us in surprise. Then the first row laughed and the next three rows snickered, then the next three rows behind them wanted to know who said what in the first row to cause Father to look up so surprised.

My response was to turn bright red, give my daughter a hug and whisper, “I will explain all this to you later.”


America’s Joyous Future.

November 29, 2009

Scenes from a reunion…

November 29, 2009

My 2oth High School reunion was last night.  I didn’t go.  Shame on me, maybe, but I haven’t talked to these people in 15-20 years, and I see no reason to play one-upsmanship now.  But in the prelude to reunion, I learned a bit about many of them as most are on Facebook.

There were 106 of us in the graduating class from Bishop Hafey in Hazleton.  Eleven of my ‘closest’ friends from back then identify themselves as Atheist, Agnostic, No religion, Catholic Background – practicing pagan, and Taoist.  I was pretty shocked.  In fact I have friended a few of them on facebook just to figure out what happened.  I am certain that there are a lot more, and suspect only 10% of the class is nominally Christian.  When they read my profile, I am sure they will all be equally shocked (‘Hey, we thought this guy was smart?’) They all came from catholic families — what happened?


15 minutes after publishing this post almost in answer to my question, I came across this article at the New Liturgical Movement.  Talk about apropo!

Death of a Saint(*)

November 29, 2009

Today is the anniversary of the Death of one of my favorite (soon to be official I hope) Saints.  Dorothy Day, died 29 years ago today.  A one time radical communist, anarchist, courageous pacifist, two common law marriages, an abortion, oh yeah — and a conversion.

You can google her to read more,  I find her to be very challenging to my own concept of what it means to be a Christian in Western Society.  I have radically bucked against most of her views on society and labled her a radical leftist — but she is so compelling I keep coming back to learn more.

She is the author of my favorite quote about our faith — “Christianity is not just about comforting the afflicted, but also about afflicting the comfortable.”

I read a story, I think in Father Martin’s ‘My Life with the Saints’ where in the early 1970’s a priest came to her Catholic Worker House in NEw York, and celebrated Mass on the Kitchen table using a coffee cup for a Chalice.  After Mass while everyone was socializing with the priest, Dorothy was in the back yard, burying the cup to ensure that it would not be profaned by drinking from it again.

Healing prayers in Dallas on Wednesday

November 29, 2009

On Wednesday, December 2nd, at Gate of Heaven Church, 40 Machell Ave in Dallas, there will be an “Evening of Prayer & Healing” beginning at 6:30pm.  Mass will be celebrated, followed by individual prayers for healing/blessing.  Fr Daniel Toomey welcomes all to come with expectant faith in Jesus Christ to receive prayers for physical, mental, and spiritual health.  Please pass the word around via your email list and by word of mouth.

The battle to focus

November 28, 2009

In the course of our daily lives, in many different ways, words are foisted upon us in which we have absolutely no interest.  This past Tuesday (all within a two-hour period) I was forced to endure the television playing in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, the radio blaring in the auto parts store, and the protracted cell phone conversation of the guy directly behind me in line at the post office.

I wonder if the habitual blocking-out of these undesired words makes it more difficult for us to concentrate on words that we really do want to hear.  For example, when we’re at Mass, do we find our mind wandering while the priest prays the Eucharistic Prayer, or while Sacred Scripture is being proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word?

If we struggle with the latter, perhaps these words of St Caesarius of Arles will motivate us to try harder to remain distraction-free while the Word of God is proclaimed:

…just as we take care when we receive the Body of Christ so that no part of it falls to the ground, so should we likewise ensure that the Word of God which is given to us is not lost to our souls because we are speaking or thinking about something different.  One who listens negligently to God’s Word is just as guilty as one who, through carelessness, allows Christ’s Body to fall to the ground.

Death Certificate found on the Shroud of Turin?

November 27, 2009

I don’t know what to make of this, but it’s interesting.  It doesn’t fall into the same category of nonsense as the ‘discovery’ of the Jesus Family tomb a year or two ago.


A Vatican scholar claims to have deciphered the “death certificate” imprinted on the Shroud of Turin, or Holy Shroud, a linen cloth revered by Christians and held by many to bear the image of the crucified Jesus.

Dr Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican secret archives, said “I think I have managed to read the burial certificate of Jesus the Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth.” She said that she had reconstructed it from fragments of Greek, Hebrew and Latin writing imprinted on the cloth together with the image of the crucified man.

The shroud, which is kept in the royal chapel of Turin Cathedral and is to be put in display next spring, is regarded by many scholars as a medieval forgery. A 1988 carbon dating of a fragment of the cloth dated it to the Middle Ages.

However Dr Frale, who is to publish her findings in a new book, La Sindone di Gesu Nazareno (The Shroud of Jesus of Nazareth) said that the inscription provided “historical date consistent with the Gospels account”. The letters, barely visible to the naked eye, were first spotted during an examination of the shroud in 1978, and others have since come to light.

Some scholars have suggested that the writing is from a reliquary attached to the cloth in medieval times. But Dr Frale said that the text could not have been written by a medieval Christian because it did not refer to Jesus as Christ but as “the Nazarene”. This would have been “heretical” in the Middle Ages since it defined Jesus as “only a man” rather than the Son of God.Like the image of the man himself the letters are in reverse and only make sense in negative photographs. Dr Frale told La Repubblica that under Jewish burial practices current at the time of Christ in a Roman colony such as Palestine, a body buried after a death sentence could only be returned to the family after a year in a common grave.

A death certificate was therefore glued to the burial shroud to identify it for later retrieval, and was usually stuck to the cloth around the face. This had apparently been done in the case of Jesus even though he was buried not in a common grave but in the tomb offered by Joseph of Arimathea.

Dr Frale said that many of the letters were missing, with Jesus for example referred to as “(I)esou(s) Nnazarennos” and only the “iber” of “Tiberiou” surviving. Her reconstruction, however, suggested that the certificate read: “In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year”. It ends “signed by” but the signature has not survived.

Read More here

A word from an ex-archeologist (me) on the opinion of some scholars that it is a medievil forgery:  The principal reason for this was the Radiocarbon 14 dating that was done a couple decades ago.  This is really not a very informative method of dating this, because the accuracy of Carbon 14 dating is a range of 500 years or so, due to the half-life decay of carbon 14 being a little over 500 years.  Which further means that the absolute youngest item you could date with this method would be from the 1500’s — BUT you wouldn’t know if it was really from 1000AD or 1500.  Fruther, you have to use many samples to get an accurate sample.  This wasn’t done on the shroud.  Further, the shroud had been ‘repaired’ at various times in its life.    Go to this site for a fair critique of the Carbon Dating.