Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pope John Paul I

The following is a transcript that I wrote of the last General Audience that John Paul I held on September 27, 1978.  He died the next day.  I wrote this with the help of my husband and the official transcript of the General Audience that is available from the Vatican.  Find that official transcript here.  The pope's accent is REALLY thick, and I don't think the microphone is all that hot, but I did my best.  I've underlined sections that I just could not figure out.  If you hear something different, please post in comments.

Dear Sons and Daughters,

Your presence is a great joy for me, because I love you all very much. And it is about love that I want to speak to you today.

For Pope John, love was the first lamp of holiness.  From our mothers we all learn the prayer that goes more or less like this.
O my God, I love you with all my heart, above everything else.  
I love my neighbor as myself, for love of you.  
I forgive all those who have offended me, for love.  
Make me love you evermore.

The words of this prayer help us to understand love.

Love is like a journey which we run towards the object of love.  To love God is a wonderful journey.
But sometimes, what He want is sacrifice. We cannot embrace christ on the cross without being hacked by a thorn.

With all my heart, these words mean that God is too great for us to throw him only the crumbs of our love.  It is here that all are called.  And we must love God above all else.  Love for God prevails, but it is not exclusive.  There is also love for neighbor.  These two loves are twins in the Godhead.

Jesus spoke about the importance of loving our neighbors when sent.  I was hungry, and your gave me food.  Before ?///// reminded us that there are all the peoples that are hungry and waiting for undetermined love.

Private property is not an absolute right, and the arms race is a scandal! In these things we see it is as leaders and peoples you still have not fulfilled the command of Jesus, to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Christ tells us also how important is this, to forgive.  He seems to give forgiveness priority even other words finding because love is a journey  we must not stop.  Our Heavenly Father wants us perfect like Himself.  God want us to make progress in love.

With my Apostolic blessing
September 1978
The new pope meets the man who will hold his position in a month.
John Paul I and John Paul II

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dane Cook

2 Degrees of Separation

Father Cook's ordination
Father Kevin Cook
Dane's cousin, Father Kevin Cook, is a parish priest in Taunton, Massachusetts.  Father Cook met John Paul II.

Do you remember Bill Cosby?  Do you still look up his bits and laugh today?  Can you share those bits with anyone?  Do you want to be remembered that way?  Dude, get your ass to mass and try coming up with some material that can stand the test of time like the Cosby bits.  Your atheist routine is awesome.  The swears don't make it, the material itself is great.  Give this some thought.  You'll expand your audience and increase your income if you take my advice.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


1 Degree
JP2 looking fly in Bono's shades

Bono met John Paul II in the 2000 Jubilee year.  They had a wonderful rapport including the following exchange that Bono recalls.

"I said 'Holy father, do you want a pair of fly shades?' and he said 'yes' and he put them on and he made a face kind of like this."

Bono retained an affection for JP2 and a tribute to him is on the U2News site.

John Paul II wore modest clothing.  He continued the tradition set by Paul VI and John Paul I of not wearing the Papal tiara.
Papal Tiara, not worn in over 40 years
We have a Fashionisto in Pope Benedict XVI

Much has been written about  Benedict XVI's fashion sense.  He was named "The Best Accessorized Man of 2007" by Esquire Magazine.  Though he has continued to abstain from the tiara, Benedict still looks sharp and knows how to raid the papal closet.  Listen to the NPR story and check out some of The Holy Father's fantastic looks.  As mentioned in a previous post, he really could use concealer under the eyes, but he's not gone into the realm of metrosexual and shows no hints of doing so.  
This article is hysterical and enormously entertaining.  Read "Red Hot Papa"
No, he's not wearing Prada.  The papal clothes are custom made by other designers, read this Washington Post article.  
The shoes are custom made and free to the pope.
If you want a pair, they are 400 Euro

They're not Prada, but they
are made especially for the pope
and free of charge to him

He likes hats.  Here we have a jaunty
cap matched with a cassock.  I'm not
sure that it works, but he seems to
enjoy it.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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Father, if you're going with the fancy filligree cross
with emeralds, you need to wear the red hat.  The
straw hat goes with the plain cross.

This "Santa" cap has gotten lots of
attention.  Both it and the ermine-trimmed
cape were in his closet.  He wears them
for warmth during the Christmas season

He loves this hat and wears it all the time

Liturgical vestments should be beautiful.  The Pope is
standing in the place of Christ.  Remember the woman
with the expensive perfume.  She annointed Jesus' feet.
"This could have been sold to feed the poor," said JUDAS.  

The loving care with which his stole was embroidered strikes me.
Those who came before did this with love.  

Handmade lace, gold embroidery, silk, and jewels.  The only place
he can wear this is when he's serving Jesus Christ.  I think that's
just beautiful.  

Note the gorgeous emerald cross.  It's much
flashier than John Paul's look, but each pope
is different.  The New York Times article
linked above discusses the cross.
I asked a priest once about the pomp and the ceremony, does it ever go to the bishop's head?  He said...

The bishop is the donkey who carries Jesus Christ to the people, 
he would be a fool indeed if  he thought they were waving palm 
branches for him.  I think Benedict XVI does realize whose clothes
he's wearing.  Look to his actions and his words.  Don't be like Judas
and deny him nice things our of false humility!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Charles Manson

Would you believe, a priest challenged me to connect Charles Manson to JP2? What is the world coming to.  Well, I did it in 3 degrees.  I'm sure it could have been fewer, but I liked the way I chose.  I didn't go through the Manson Family, a twisted, rich, and stoned set of ne'er-do-wells who would have undoubtedly known someone who knew JP2.  I went in through those who tried the case.

Not-so-fun Catholic Fact:  No matter how wonderful you are, you are going to witness terrible things in your life.  The death of a loved one, disasters, injustice, etc.  I'm noticing over and over (especially in researching these posts) that good Christians rise to the occasion and just do the right thing.  They may be surrounded by madness and evil, yet they man-up.  Don't neglect your prayer life.  Stay strong to meet the challenges when they occur.  

2 Degrees of Separation

Second Degree: Judge Charles "Chuck" Older  The original judge for the Manson trial had granted Manson permission to act as his own attorney.  Manson ran a muck of the courtroom with voider and that permission was retracted before the beginning of the trial.  Judge Older, a former WWII and Korean War ace, was the new judge who presided over the Manson trial.  To read the New York Times article on the life and 2006 death of Judge Older, click here.

First Degree: Ronald Reagan  Charles Older was appointed to the bench by then Governor, Ronald Reagan.  Mr. Reagan met the pope on several occasions.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fidel Castro, 2 reckonings

"They've been waiting for me to die for a
few decades now, Father.  It's not time yet."
1 Degree  
But that's boring.  Here's a 2 degree reckoning that is a little more interesting.  

2 Degrees

Ernst (Ernesto) Lechthaler has found excellence in bartending. 
  • He consults hotels and luxury hotel chains on bar design and bartending
  • He has invented drinks and done promotional photo spreads with top designers, including Versace
  • He's served the most influential and famous people in the world
  • He's written several books, including one on Cuban drinks.  Guess who he met while researching that book?
Lechthaler and Castro

Lechthaler presenting a sterling silver cocktail shaker to
John Paul II on behalf of International Barkeepers
see Lechthaler's site for the original photos
See the link to the blog Catholic Drinkie in the sidebar
Do you have any ideas for a drink "The JP2"?  Leave recipes in comments.  

A word on Catholic drinking: Drinking the blood of Christ is the highest sacrament there is.  Catholics love drinking.  Friars have brewed beer and wines for millenia.  Jesus turned water into really good wine.  You can even buy Frangelico in a bottle that's  dressed as a Franciscan.  

Drinking alcohol is not a sin.  Drinking and driving is a sin.  Drinking to get drunk is a sin.  Drinking to make your date more attractive is a sin.  

Fermentation and the beverages that are derived from fermentation are morally neutral.  They are a gift from God.  Like all heavenly gifts, they need to be treated with respect.  They are here to help us become closer to God and closer to one another in true friendship.  If drinking detracts from your life, it should not be enjoyed by you.  Not everyone can enjoy every gift from God.  

If drinking is negatively effecting your life, you are an alcoholic.  Alcoholics cannot drink.  Click here for a really good podcast about alcoholism, its definition and treatment.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Asia Cottom

I’m a native New Yorker.  9/11 raped the skyline of my favorite city.  I didn’t lose anyone personally in the disaster, “Luckily” they all missed their alarm, missed the train, were out on assignment, or otherwise delayed that morning.  It seems as though God did His best to get all those away that He could manage.  He didn’t choose to save the best people, just the most people. 

We are all sinners and every gift is all Grace.  Those who survived just survived, those who perished just perished.  

There is no reason or higher purpose for their deaths unless there had been a higher purpose for their lives.  

Little Asia Cottom had purpose to her life.  This purpose lives on, even a decade after her death.  

3 Degrees

11-year-old  Asia Cottom was one of three Middle School scholars on their way to study marine biology for 4 days in California.  These exceptional children earned scholarships from The National Geographic Society to do the research, then return home to write about their findings.  They and the three teachers who accompanied them, perished in the 9/11 Pentagon crash.

  • To read the Washington Post story about Asia's death click here.  
  • To visit Asia's charity and memorial website click here.  
  • To read about "The Littlest Victims largely overlooked" click here. 
Paula Spruill
Third Degree: Paula Spruill A scholarship was established by Asia's family to help other young people realize their dreams.  Paula Spruill, a former tutor of Asia,  received an Asia Cottom scholarship.  Ms Spruill earned her bachelors degree in Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2006.  She earned a law degree from Franklin Pierce Law School in 2009.  To read Ms Spruill's graduate CV click here.  
Judge Baker

Second Degree: Judge James Baker was the commencement speaker at Ms Spruill's graduation in 2009.  Baker served President Clinton for 4 years as special council.  He now serves on the military court of appeals.  

First Degree: President Clinton met John Paul on several occasions.  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Father Stephen McGraw

John Paul would have been proud
of Father McGraw

2 Degrees

Father Stephen McGraw
First Degree: Father Kevin Cook was a classmate of Steve McGraw in the seminary.  

Second Degree: Father Kevin met John Paul II

Father Stephen's September 11 Story

Just months into his priesthood, Father Stephen McGraw was on his way to a funeral at Arlington National Cemetary.  He took the wrong exit and found himself stuck in traffic by the Pentagon.  As his car crept along a deafening sound roared over his head.  It was American Airlines flight 77.  Moments later the Pentagon was an inferno.  The following story quotes witnesses to Father McGraw's bravery and love.
Father McGraw kneels (right) in prayer
and comfort on September 11, 2001

"He literally had the stole in one hand and a prayer book in the other and in one fluid motion crossed the guardrail," said Mark Faram, a reporter from the Navy Times who witnessed McGraw in the first moments after the crash.
Within 45 seconds, McGraw was on the lawn of the Pentagon to provide spiritual comfort to the injured.
For the DC Military story click here.
For more stories of priests and how they responded, click here.  
For an article about a priest in New York who died from debris and the push by firemen to his canonization click here.  
Did you know? There are people who deny the attacks of 9/11.  There are people who deny the Holocaust too.  These people are violating a commandment of God, "Thou shalt not bear false witness."  Let's make a search for Father Stephen McGraw bring up the truth and love of his priesthood.  Please do the following things,
Jesus is still maligned for doing what he did.  No matter how holy a person is, they will encounter persecution.  I'm so proud of the Orthodox and Catholic priests who ran toward the flames and the screams and tended the flock.  Where would we be without you?

The text of St. Matthew runs as follows:
One of the conspiracy theory blogs had a comment "how many priests do you know who would leave a job to tend to people in 9/11?"  The answer, ALL OF THEM.  Here is a video of another priest who ran toward the destruction.  The saint of 9/11.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jerry Lewis

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
Jerry Lewis is an icon of physical American comedy performance.  He was a role model for Jim Carey and scores of other great comedians of the 20th and 21st Century.  But in 100 years, Mr. Lewis will be more remembered for opening our hearts than for his comedy.  

This weekend is the annual MDA Labor Day Telethon.  Last year's telethon raised over 60 million dollars for muscular dystrophy and ALS research.  Jerry Lewis has been a champion for the young victims of these diseases for decades.  

5 Degrees

I could have done this in fewer degrees by going through celebrities who have appeared on the Jerry Lewis telethon.  I chose a different way that I think will entertain and delight you!

Fifth Degree: Eleanor Gehrig
Eleanor Gehrig and Jerry Lewis
Scanning the MDA site, I was surprised to find that ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, is under the MDA umbrella.  It has been for years.  Thanks to the dedication of Gehrig's widow, Eleanor, the effective treatment and cure for ALS is much closer.  Read about the Gehrig connection to Jerry's Kids by clicking here.

Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig played his entire career for the New York Yankees.  His official website has wonderful video and information about his life and career.  That site is also a good place to see his "Luckiest Man" speech which is currently not available on youtube.

Sweet Fact about Lou Gehrig: When he gave his "Luckiest Man" speech, he knew full well the devistating nature of his illness.  In those days it was common to withhold disgnosis and prognosis from patients.  (Now, such a practice is not only unethical, but illegal.)  Lou knew, and he kept the fact that he knew from his wife out of love.  He wanted her to think that he was blissfully unaware.  I learned this watching History Detectives on PBS.  For a transcript of that show and the site for that episode, click here.

Fourth Degree: Joe DiMaggio
January 15, 1954
I think it's safe to say that the Yankees and their immediate families knew each other in the 1920s and 1930s. While Lou was slugging out a lifetime (15 years) .340 batting average and almost 500 home runs, he played with Joe DiMaggio.
This funny-lookin', first generation, Italian-American guy from Martinez, California, somehow managed to snag the most beautiful woman in the world.  In January of 1954 he married Marilyn Monroe.  To read the original story from the archives of the San Francisco Museum, click here.

Third Degree: Marilyn Monroe
The connection to the third degree is titillating and painful.  You see, Ms. Monroe was one of a collection of women who invaded the Catholic marriage bed of John F. Kennedy.  There seems little doubt that this was the case.  Here is lovely Marilyn singing her famous Happy Birthday to JFK.
Second Degree: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Kennedy and his wife met the pope on a couple occasions during his brief presidency.  Jaqueline had a private audience with the pope, speaking in French with the Holy Father.  For more photos and loads of interesting facts and circumstances, visit the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston.

Paul VI and John Paul II
First Degree: Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul became pope during the second Vatican council.  Less charismatic than his predecessor, Pope John XXIII, he never enjoyed the same popularity.  He wrote Humanea Vitae and other influential and beautiful encyclicals.  To show love for this man and their commitment to the real teachings of Vatican II, the next popes took both their names, John Paul!

Hey, Lapsed Catholics!!!!
8 pages, that's it.  Just 8 pages and I won't pester you any more this week.  Read Humanea Vitae (in English, not Latin), and open your mind to it.  Just read it and let it sit in your heart.  I swear you won't regret it.  It is a prophetic writing about the sexual revolution.  Just give it a read.  It's always good to be able to argue both sides of an issue to fully understand it.  Read the whole thing here.