Archive for March, 2011



Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Bigelow’s Chowder


Maybe Thomas Merton’s house? Ann wasn’t quite sure. It’s one possibility at least.

Jones Beach

Levy Park and Preserve

St. Agnes Cathedral

Read Full Post »


New York.

Read Full Post »


Dug up from the bottom of a desktop pencil holder. Other than that, I have no idea.

Read Full Post »

For the first time in 28 years of parenting, I did this amazing new thing today:

I went on a field trip.


(Yes, I’m That Mom)

It was up the road to Hanceville, the site of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

I was up there a couple of weeks ago with Ann Engelhart. Back today with 9- and 10-year olds and one puny-feeling 6-year old who didn’t feel well enough to go to Kindergarten.

It’s an interesting place. Especially when juxtaposed with Ave Maria Grotto up the road you have quite a slice of Catholic Life here in the middle of Alabama.  Honestly, Ave Maria Grotto is more my style – because Ave Maria Grotto is an expression of passionate love for God in a ramshackle, jerry-rigged kind of way and  I am absolutely  a ramshackle, jerry-rigged kind of person, but one can’t help but admire what has been accomplished here in the middle of Nowhere, Alabama, by a woman who began in such discouraging circumstances in Nowhere, Ohio.

(With apologies to the inhabitants of Hanceville and Canton. Really!)

The guide – Jonathon-  provided by the Shrine was excellent. I was quite impressed with his way with the kids as well as his simple, direct, and honest retelling of the story of Mother Angelica. The take-away was a simple, “Look what you can do for God if you just listen and are brave.”

Are you listening?


Read Full Post »

Why fast?

By immersing ourselves into the death and resurrection of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are moved to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the “world” that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor.

Pope Benedict XVI, Message for Lent

(Not of course directly concerned with fasting but the entire life of a Christian. But still applies to the question often asked today.)

The Vatican Radio transcript of the Holy Father’s homily today at Santa Sabina, the first Station Church  in Rome.

The full English text of today’s General Audience is not on Vatican.va yet but AsiaNews has a summary.

Read Full Post »

I think it’s pretty exciting news that the venerable IMAGE imprint is returning.   What’s going on at Doubleday:

The Crown Publishing Group has reorganized its religious publishing program, moving all of its Catholic books under the Image Books imprint and in the process doing away with the Doubleday Religion imprint. Under the reorganization, announced by Michael Palgon, senior v-p and deputy publisher of Crown, all Catholic-interest titles regardless of format will be overseen by Trace Murphy, editor-in-chief of Image. Murphy will now report to Steve Cobb, who adds the title of president and publisher of Image Books to his duties overseeing Waterbrook Multnomah, which is based in Colorado Springs.
While Image editorial, production and art will remain in New York, marketing, publicity, and sales administration will move to Colorado under the direction of Carie Freimuth, v-p, association publisher for Waterbrook Multnomah and Image. In making the announcement, Palgon noted “our Catholic-interest authors and books will benefit greatly from the keen strategic focus and innovative practices that Steve, Carie, and their team have developed, including Web-based direct-to-consumer and direct-to-church programs that will be adapted for the Catholic market.”

Image, along with Sheed & Ward, was Catholic trade publishing in the US until the 70’s.  How many old Image paperbacks do you have stuck in your shelves?  This is a great move – particularly bringing Image into relationship with Waterbrook Multnomah  for the marketing aspect – Waterbrook, which has developed into a really fine, quality imprint over the past few years.

(Meanwhile…don’t forget to check out Korrectiv for your burgeoning Catholic small-press needs)

(Power of the Cross update:  Smashwords has certainly grown in popularity since the first time I used it. I uploaded the book this morning and it was #536 in the publishing queue. Now it’s #125.  We’ll get there.  Smashwords edition will be able to be read on the Nook, as well as IBooks, I think. The Kindle edition is still “publishing.” Maybe before next Wednesday?  Meanwhile, I have learned that the POC interviews will be posted on KVSS’ Kris McGregor’s blog Discerning Hearts. So look for it there, when you look for it.

Of course the pdf is available here. I put up a couple more sets of used books as well: herehere and here.

Update 3/5 Kindle version is here.

I am at least a week away from publishing the print version (waiting for cover) but there are a couple of reasonably priced used/new editions available through other sellers here.

The interviews Mike made about the book with Kris McGregor of KVSS are all linked here.

Read Full Post »

The Power of the Cross was originally published back in 2004.  Michael was working on a revised edition when he died – one which would be more explicitly designed as a Lenten devotional.  Because of that loose end, OSV went ahead and put the book out of print a couple of months after he died.

I have been intending to self-publish it for two years now, and am finally getting serious about it.  I have a Kindle edition in process – should be available tomorrow, I hope.  (And those of you not familiar with the whole Kindle thing – you don’t have to actually own a Kindle to buy Kindle editions and read them. I don’t own a Kindle, but I have the (free) Kindle app on my Android phone and on my computer, so I can buy Kindle books and read them that way.  I believe there are also Kindle apps for Apple products? Am I right? Wrong?)

I am working on doing a print edition either through LuLu or CreateSpace or both, but I need a larger version of the cover (that is front & back) before I can proceed, so I am waiting on that.

Anyway, the simplest form of ebook is the pdf file, so that has been my first line of attack.  I have the pdf of the final galley proofs (in case you are wondering I have the rights to the content, naturally, but also to the interior design – I checked!).

Brandon Vogt, who blogs at The Thin Veil and who has a book coming out from OSV in the fall on Catholics and new/social media – kindly volunteered to clean up the pdf a bit. Thanks, Brandon!

Andy Kurzen, who did the original interior art for the book, designed a new cover. Thanks, Andy!

The pdf ebook is available through my Big Cartel store.  It costs $3.00.  Dorian Speed of Scrutinies has done a test-run through of the buying and downloading process for me and reports that it went smoothly. Thanks, Dorian!

Michael did a series of interviews with KVSS about the book. Here are those interviews.

So…click here to buy the ebook of The Power of the Cross, if you like. And thank you to all who have helped me bring this book back into “print.”

And *do* let me know if you run into any problems in payment/downloading, etc.

(A reminder – the “Biblical Stations of the Cross” that we wrote for Ave Maria Press and that Michael O’Brien illustrated is available as a free IPhone/whatever app download here.)

Update: I will be publishing the book on Smashwords as well – hopefully later tonight if I can remember how to do it.  That should work for the Nook as well as for IBooks if it is accepted into the IBooks catalog.

Read Full Post »

As many of you know, Pope Benedict’s second book on Jesus of Nazareth is due to be published next week. Today, those with advance copies are being allowed to discuss three sections from the embargoed manuscript.

(I’m grateful to have the (digital) book but it’s not easy reading with ‘EMBARGOED”  emblazoned across each page!)

Chapter 3, Section 4: “The Mystery of the Betrayer”
Chapter 5, Section 1: “The Dating of the Last Supper”
Chapter 7, Section 3: “Jesus Before Pilate”

First, a general reaction to the book.  I’ve not yet finished it, but what I’ve read so far as struck a chord, even more, I’ll dare to say, than the first volume. At least with me.  This second book has a narrower focus (Passion and Resurrection) and strikes me as more cohesive. I’m more able to appreciate it as a whole, rather than just in disparate bits, as was the case with the first – at least for me.

I think Fr. John Zuhlsdorf’s reflections on the book as a whole  in the first part of this post are apt.

I was interested in the section on the “Dating of the Last Supper” because I wanted to see how the Holy Father dealt with an issue of scholarly dispute, and this is a fairly direct one:  Was the Last Supper a Passover meal or not? And when did it occur?

The Synoptic Gospels all indicate that the Last Supper was a Passover meal. However:

John goes to great lengths to indicate that the Last Supper was not a Passover
meal. On the contrary: the Jewish authorities who led
Jesus before Pilate’s court avoided entering the praetorium,
“so that they might not be defiled, but might eat
the Passover” (18:28). The Passover, therefore, began only
in the evening, and at the time of the trial the Passover
meal had not yet taken place; the trial and crucifixion
took place on the day before the Passover, on the “day of
preparation”, not on the feast day itself. The Passover feast
in the year in question accordingly ran from Friday evening
until Saturday evening, not from Thursday evening
until Friday evening.

Pope Benedict looks at some attempts to harmonize the accounts and ultimately settles on that offered by John Meier in A Marginal Jew.

He concludes that one has to choose between
the Synoptic and Johannine chronologies, and he argues,
on the basis of the whole range of source material, that
the weight of evidence favors John.
John is right when he says that at the time of Jesus’ trial
before Pilate, the Jewish authorities had not yet eaten the
Passover and, thus, had to keep themselves ritually pure.
He is right that the crucifixion took place, not on the feast,
but on the day before the feast. This means that Jesus died
at the hour when the Passover lambs were being slaughtered
in the Temple. That Christians later saw this as no
coincidence, that they recognized Jesus as the true Lamb,
that in this way they came to see the true meaning of the
ritual of the lambs—all this seems to follow naturally.
The question remains: Why did the Synoptics speak
of a Passover meal? What is the basis for this strand of
tradition? Not even Meier can give a truly convincing
answer to this question.

The answer Pope Benedict settles on being that what Jesus celebrated with his disciples was a new Passover meal.

One thing emerges clearly from the entire tradition: essentially, this farewell meal was not the old Passover,
but the new one, which Jesus accomplished in this context. Even though the meal that Jesus shared with the
Twelve was not a Passover meal according to the ritual prescriptions of Judaism, nevertheless, in retrospect, the
inner connection of the whole event with Jesus’ death and Resurrection stood out clearly. It was Jesus’ Passover. And
in this sense he both did and did not celebrate the Passover: the old rituals could not be carried out—when their
time came, Jesus had already died. But he had given himself, and thus he had truly celebrated the Passover with
them. The old was not abolished; it was simply brought to its full meaning.
The earliest evidence for this unified view of the new and the old, providing a new explanation of the Passover
character of Jesus’ meal in terms of his death and Resurrection, is found in Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians:
“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be new dough, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Paschal
Lamb, has been sacrificed” (5:7; cf. Meier, A Marginal Jew I, pp. 429–30). As in Mark 14:1, so here the first day of
Unleavened Bread and the Passover follow in rapid succession, but the older ritual understanding is transformed into
a Christological and existential interpretation. Unleavened bread must now refer to Christians themselves, who are
freed from sin by the addition of yeast. But the sacrificial lamb is Christ. Here Paul is in complete harmony with
John’s presentation of events. For him the death and Resurrection of Christ have become the Passover that endures.
On this basis one can understand how it was that very early on, Jesus’ Last Supper—which includes not only a
prophecy, but a real anticipation of the Cross and Resurrection in the eucharistic gifts—was regarded as a Passover:
as his Passover. And so it was.


When you read and contemplate the entire Gospel of John, you see how consistent this is with Jesus’ actions throughout.  When we think, for example, of the Miracle at Cana, we often focus on the themes of abundance, of Mary’s role in the miracle. What we sometimes forget is that this incident is the first of several described over the next few chapters in which Jesus, at ever turn, reveals that the old ritual is being replaced in His own person. The jars which he ordered filled with water were not any jars – they were used for ceremonial washings. And so on.

I’m not up on the shape of current scholarly discussions of the dating of the Last Supper, so I just flipped open a book at hand – N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God to see what he had to say.

At the same time, we have no reason to suppose, granted all we have seen of Jesus’ agenda and the normal mode of operating, that he would have felt bound to celebrate the festival on the officially appointed day. Scriptural regulations permitted Passover to be kept, in case of necessity, at another time than that laid down…

….The symbols ordering Israel’s life and hope were redrawn, focusing now upon Jesus himself. The final meal which he celebrated with his followers was not, in that sense, free-standing. It gained its significance from his own entire life and agenda, and from the events which, he knew, would shortly come to pass. ….Within this wider context, Jesus’ actions with the bread and the cup – which there is excellent warrant to regard as historical – must be seen in the same way as the symbolic actions of certain prophets in the Hebrew scriptures. Jeremiah smashes a pot; Ezekiel makes a model of Jerusalem under siege. The actions carry prophetic power, effecting the events (mostly acts of judgment) wich are then to occur….Jesus intended this meal to symbolize the new exodus, the arrival of the kingdom through his own fate. The meal, focused on Jesus’ actions with the bread and the cup, told the Passover story, and Jesus’ own story, and wove these two into one.

Essentially the same point, at a slightly further scholarly distance.

I’ll have more to say when the book is published, for I’m finding the material on the resurrection to be quite helpful.  What Pope Benedict does is a constant weaving and re-weaving of some contemporary scholarship, his critiques of various uses of that scholarship, and deep attention to the person of Christ, not as a mere object of study, but as the One who invites us to fullness of life with Him.


Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: