Category Archives: Internet

Recommended viewing to learn about the Eucharist

For five weeks I’ve been posting my homilies (or perhaps they should be called “teachings”) from my “sermon series” that I’ve called Reflections on the Gospel of John Chapter 6: Understanding the Eucharist More Deeply. 

communion-clip-art-gg62933764I’d like to recommend some videos that can help people go another step in their undertending of the Eucharist. I referred to one of these in my 5th installment of the series. The videos are each about 10 minutes and produced by the organization Word on Fire which was conceived of by a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago who will soon become Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles Bishop-elect Robert Barron. Please, give them a view. Fr. Barron explains things in a way that is very accessible and understandable. Check out some of his other videos and homilies and articles posted at the web site.




Sunday Afternoon Reading

Ah, Sunday afternoons! Following the dictates of Holy Mother Church to rest (not just participate in the Eucharist to observe Sunday) it’s almost always time for me to take a nap. And rest and re-creation often can involve a little reading of religion blogs, too. Here’s a couple I read, today, that I’d suggest to my readers. Both are from the CNN Belief Blog.

First, I was drawn to the title of the blog mention below because we often have discussions at our pastoral council meetings about why people, especially the 20 and 30 somethings, don’t seem to be in the pews. Perhaps the author Rachel Held Evens, a woman from the evangelical branch of Christianity has an insight our parish needs to hear and I will share with its leadership. Parishioners sometimes tell me we need to change our worship style, make it more like the churches people seem to be drifting to, with “praise bands” and family friendly amenities and coffee bars, but Ms. Evens’ opinion is more in line with what I’ve been thinking. People really don’t want the desert, they’re looking for the main course, so to speak.

Why millennials are leaving the church

Then there is the opinion piece by the Rev. James Martin, S.J. on what might be called the Pope Francis effect. I was mesmerized by video I would occasionally catch of the Pope’s visit to World Youth Day in Brazil. He certainly is charismatic and people seem drawn to him, especially the youth who are responding to him and his message. While holding to the traditional and orthodox teaching of the Church, Pope Francis is challenging the clergy and people in the pews to re-image how we present the Gospel, I think. Father Martin says it better than I do.

How Pope Francis is revolutionizing the church

Both are worth a read, even if it’s not Sunday afternoon.

Pope To Tweet

The blogosphere is all a “twitter” with the news that Pope Benedict XVI will begin “tweeting” on Twitter.

Read about it here at the Vatican Newspaper’s web site:
How to speak of God in 140 characters
by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications

You can also find out more at The “iPope” Becomes @Pope: Coming Soon, A Tweeting Benedict by Rocco Palmo over at Whispers in the Logia.

I guess I better get with the program if the Holy Father, the “boss” of the church has decided this form of social media is relevant and useful for spreading the Good News of Jesus. So far, even though I’ve taken to blogging from time to time, I’ve resisted signing up with Twitter. Frankly, I still don’t get the service. How can you say anything in 140 characters or less of value? The Tweets I’ve seen seem to be mostly links to longer web articles, videos and pictures. The whole lingo of “hash tags” and handles that start with the @sign (I’m guessing that’s how people find and subscribe to your personal twitter feed?) are a totally new language to me. Each week the comedian Jimmy Fallon has a segment on his Late, Late Show where he talks about setting up a hash-tag and inviting people to comment. I honestly don’t know how to even send him a comment via Twitter if I came up with something clever to add to the discussion. Anyone want to tutor me in “twitter-ese” and “Facebook” (which I’ve also resisted with a passion)? Would readers want to find me at @altarnetview? I’ve been thinking about setting something up for the parish. Seems like an efficient way to get some information out on a timely manner. Opinions, anyone?

I’m pretty sure, thought, Benedict XVI will not be writing his own tweets. My guess there will be a Monsignor of Tweets or some other staffer taking care of the uploading of the tidbits of information to the internet.

On a side note, did you know that Mr. Fallon is Catholic? Well, a non-practicing Catholic by the sound of an interview I heard on NPR with Terry Gross’ Fresh Air program. He is not negative about the faith, saying it formed him well. Apparently he’s not too much of a fan of some of the things going on at Mass and would prefer a more “traditional” or solemn liturgy. Sorry, I can’t find a link to the interview, though. Here’s a citation of the interview at Belief Net.

Thanksgiving Weekend thoughts (thanks to other bloggers)

O.K., loyal readers, I know I haven’t posted something on my blog for several weeks. I admit it. I’m a procrastinator and sometimes lazy. It’s not that I haven’t had ideas for a blog entry…I just haven’t “gotten around to it” and actually sat at the keyboard and published.

Now I’ve gotten “A ROUND ‘to it'”

A bad pun, I know!

Actually, I’m still not ready to publish some of my own thoughts. I’m working on that and hope to have something up on the blog very soon.

In the meantime, as I am writing this on Thanksgiving weekend Sunday, I’d recommend taking an internet detour over to a couple of blog posts by writers for the Belief St. Louis Site who I read regularly and whose thoughts resonate with me. My brother and sister pastors have some pertinent reflections on Thanksgiving.


I pray that you had a good thanksgiving celebration! Don’t get ahead of the game and celebrate Christmas or spend too much time on the Black Friday sales, please. Remember, Advent hasn’t even started yet and the discipline of waiting in anticipation (the purpose of Advent) is good for the soul.

Recommended Reading

I admit that I don’t read as much as I think I should. This is particularly true in the spiritual category. Reading is a recreational activity I enjoy. While on vacation I’ll bring along a couple of novels. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting on a beach or by a pool in a warm climate while it’s snowing back home! When I was in the seminary I remember a favorite liturgy teacher telling our class that you could learn more theology, sometimes, from a good novel and poetry. Nathan Mitchell not only feed my hunger to know more about liturgy but turned me onto finding theology expressed in the works of authors like Flannery O’Conner. Yet, when I’m home I confess it’s just easier to turn on the T.V. and “veg out,” passively being entertained and not having to think too much. (My television preferences are more news, baseball/hockey, mystery/detective and PBS type watching, by the way. Definitely not so-called reality shows that exploit the participants and aim for the viewer’s baser interests.)

So, when leaving for my recent retreat at the beginning of January I decided to take along some reading of a more spiritual nature. I tend to buy books I might have read a review of in a professional journal I subscribe to, America, published by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) or some other person whose opinion I respect. Then, the book gets put on my book shelf to be read “later.”

A retreat is a good time to pick up one of those books set aside for “later” I figured, so I looked at my choices and selected My Life with the Saints by the Rev. James Martin, S.J.

picture of the American Edition of the book by Rev. James Martin, "My Life with the Saints"

Father Martin has his own interesting life story, coming to the priesthood and membership in the Society of Jesus a bit “later” in life after growing up in a not particularly religious home, attending business school and working in the corporate world for a number of years. Perhaps that  personal background is what makes his telling the story of how the saints play a role in his life more accessible. This is not some super pious guy sanitizing the “holy ones” but showing how the saints can be both patrons and models for ordinary folks. Or can be a sign of hope for a priest  like me who self describes himself as “not quite right.” I certainly don’t fit the paradigm of many of what a priest should be like in my own self observation. According to many of the short biographies Fr. Martin provides of various saints, they didn’t fit in pre-defined mold of holiness, either. Father Martin, in each chapter weaves the story of the saint with his own bibliographical story and how each saint inspired him and became a part of his personal path to holiness at various stages of his life and vocational growth. His story telling helps the reader see that holiness and discipleship are not high in the sky pie ideals but down to earth everyday achievable experiences.

I’m glad I picked the book out of my unread books shelf to bring on retreat. It was a good companion to bring along and accompany me on my little sojourn to rest a while with the Lord. It pointed me toward the one who was the one all the saints put at the center of their lives and point us toward. Speaking of which, the picture on the cover (illustration above) is a detail from the tapestries hung in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angles in Los Angeles, California. They are wonderful works of art installed when the Cathedral was erected in 1998-2002. The tapestries depict the saints (using for models ordinary people from Los Angels) in a posture of prayer, each one facing the front of the sanctuary where Christ is revealed in the Eucharist and depicted hanging on the Cross). How appropriate for the cover art. I suggest the book for your reading and reflection.

On a side note, Father Martin is an engaging speaker and interview, besides his writing skills. I had the opportunity to hear him speak in person and share lunch with him (although we didn’t get to talk much, there was a presentation taking place during a “working lunch”) at a convention of the National Federation of Priest Councils a few years, ago. At the time he was promoting another book he had written about humor, saints and their relationship to the spiritual life, Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life. I suspect I’ll end up buying and reading that book too. Martin has also made several appearance on t.v., too. He is described by Stephen Colbert as the official chaplain to the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, of all things! Actually, clips of Father Martin’s appearances are worth watching, for instance this one promoting his book, Between Heaven and Mirth. He is a good example of why Catholicism is a good place to be and seek out God in the midst of a world of other religious choices. By the way, Colbert is a practicing devote Catholic, so don’t let his persona get in the way of watching the clips you might find if you follow-up my suggestion to watch Fr. Martin on his show

Meanwhile, perhaps I should buy an electronic book reader like the Nook or Kindle. My habit of buying books and then putting them on display on a shelf and not reading them is killing forests for the paper they’re made of. There’s a moral dilemma; buy paper books and harm the environment or buy an electronic gadget that’s probably made by underpaid workers denied human rights in a factory in China. What’s a saint in training to do?

Suggested Reading on the Internet

There are two columnists in our Belleville Diocesan Newspaper, The Messenger, that I highly recommend.

This past edition there was an insightful column on the relationship of orthodoxy and heresy, “The Other Side of Orthodoxy” that got me thinking I’d recommend his columns to my readers. He has written some excellent columns about dealing with suicide, by the way.

The other columnist I recommend is REV. ROBERT BARRON.
He is a professor at University of St. Mary of the Lake and Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. Our presbyterate (the priests of a diocese) were privileged to hear him speak at our last convocation last fall. He’s an excellent preacher and teacher. Our Bishop, the Most Rev. Edward K. Braxton thinks highly of him. The web-site, called Word on Fire, is more than his syndicated columns. It is one of his ministries, using the internet as part of the “new evangelization.” It’s well worth your time, read and listen (there are pod-casts of his homilies for instance).

Santo Subito


On Sunday, May 1, 2011, The Servant of God, Pope John Paul II “The Great” will be beatified by the church in a Mass in Rome. This is an especially appropriate day, since it will occur on the liturgical feast created by John Paul II, Divine Mercy Sunday. “Santo Subito” was a slogan that appeared on many banners held aloft at his funeral and it means “Saint Now!” Let us continue to pray that through his intercession God will favor the church with many graces. Let us pray that in the not too distant future he will be declared a saint.

This is the official prayer of intercession to God asking John Paul II become a saint that I found some time ago on the official web-site with information about the process for his canonization


O Blessed Trinity
We thank You for having graced the Church
with Pope John Paul II
and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care,
the glory of the cross of Christ,
and the splendor of the Holy Spirit,
to shine through him.
Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary,
he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd,
and has shown us that holiness
is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life
and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.

Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will,
the graces we implore,
hoping that he will soon be numbered
among your saints.


With ecclesiastical approval
the Holy Father’s Vicar General
for the Diocese of Rome

Apparently, according to the web site, a hymn for the beatification has been written, also.
The refrain is based on the words of John Paul II which he often used in his preaching, teaching and writing.

Refrain: Open the doors to Christ,
courage! Be not afraid!
Enlarge yours hearts to the love of God,
to the charity of Christ.

Verse 1: Witness of hope
for those waiting for salvation,
a pilgrim of love
on the streets of the world

The original is in Italian but you can hear it and download it here.

Finally, as you may recall, Pope John Paul did have a sense of humor, especially when dealing with the youth of the world. Here’s one of my favorite photos of him.

Pope makes binoculars with his fingers

I see you!

Let us pray he sees us all and intercedes for us before Jesus Christ!

And so it begins

I blog, therefore I am.
That would seem to be the philosophical statement Rene Descartes would have made nowadays.

And so my blog begins with this first official post.
And you, the reader, begin to find out who I am, what I think, and hopefully decide that you’ve found someone you’d like to get to know better. I hope you’ll choose to make this a regular stop on your trips around the web. I also hope that what your read here will inspire you, challenge you, make you smile from time to time and help you in some way on your journey.

Want to know what to expect  from my blog, check out the link above About This Blog.
Curious to know a bit about me then head for About The Author

Thanks for stopping by. God bless you a bunch!

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