Friday, November 30, 2007

Issued today on the Feast of St. Andrew, the seeker who was a follower of John the Baptist who brought his brother Simon, later called Peter to Jesus.  A man who hoped for the Christ's coming.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Preparation For Advent

If Christ could see Christmas, He'd puke! I believe is the line written so long ago by JD Salinger. In truth, he's not far from the truth in my opinion. Even before Halloween had come and gone I observed Christmas decorations and Santa Claus images in various stores around town. Mail advertisements told me of needing to buy my loved one's iphones and laser guided missles (ok, so I'm stretching that one). Yet here we stand, on the threshold of Advent. The four weeks leading up to Christmas.

Advent, what does it mean?It comes from the Latin adventio -meaning to come to. It is here we prepare to celebrate God coming to the world and taking on human flesh in the divine personage of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Four weeks leading up to His coming and four weeks that allow us to prepare to come to Him in our collected memory as the infant born in a manger, most likely a cave amidst the barn animals when there was no room at the inn.
At the same time, we await His coming in glory. Yet given our busy lives that revolve around work, hobbies, schooling, sports, celebrity fallings, gossip, television, radio, music, games, game shows we lose ourselves. Our lives become cogs in something other, not of ourselves. Is there room for Him in our Inn? The Inn of our lives, the Inn of our hearts? Or are we still playing the inn keeper of our preschool Christmas plays, saying "we have no room" and pointing to the manger somewhere in the back of the school basement room. (Yes, I played the innkeeper...I remember it to this day. Also, my brother played the inn keeper 3 years later.)
Let us come to Advent to prepare for His coming. Oh come let us adore him. Adeste Fidelis.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Mayflower, Wampanoag's, Puritans, funny hats, funny shoe's, and a day of thanks in Plimoth Colony in what is now Massachusetts.  The so called first Thanksgiving celebration in what has become the United States.  As Lee Corso would say on Gameday....Not so fast my friend.  The first Thanksgiving can actually be traced to America's oldest European settlement.... St. Augustine, Florida.   I give you the following discourse for you to chew on that I got across my desk today:

When on September 8, 1565 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his 800 Spanish settlers founded the settlement of St. Augustine in La Florida, the landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, and, afterward, Menéndez laid out a meal to which he invited as guests the native Seloy tribe who occupied the site.
The celebrant of the Mass was St. Augustine’s first pastor, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, and the feast day in the church calendar was that of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What exactly the Seloy natives thought of those strange liturgical proceedings we do not know, except that, in his personal chronicle, Father Lopez wrote that “the Indians imitated all they saw done.”
What was the meal that followed? Again we do not know. But, from our knowledge of what the Spaniards had on board their five ships, we can surmise that it was cocido, a stew made from salted pork and garbanzo beans, laced with garlic seasoning, and accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine. If it happened that the Seloy contributed to the meal from their own food stores, fresh or smoked, then the menu could have included as well: turkey,venison, and gopher tortoise; seafood such as mullet, drum, and sea catfish; maize (corn),beans and squash.
What is important historically about that liturgy and meal was stated by me in a 1965 book entitled The Cross in the Sand: “It was the first community act of religion and thanksgiving in the first permanent [European] settlement in the land.” The keyword in that sentence was “permanent.” Numerous thanksgivings for a safe voyage and landing had been made before in Florida, by such explorers as Juan Ponce de León, in 1513 and 1521, Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528, Hernando de Soto in 1529, Father Luis Cáncer de Barbastro in 1549, and Tristán de Luna in 1559. Indeed French Calvinists (Huguenots) who came to the St. Johns River with Jean Ribault in 1562 and René de Laudonnière in 1564 similarly offered prayers of thanksgiving for their safe arrivals. But all of those ventures, Catholic and Calvinist, failed to put down permanent roots.
St. Augustine’s ceremonies were important historically in that they took place in what would develop into a permanently occupied European city, North America’s first. They were important culturally as well in that the religious observance was accompanied by a communal meal, to which Spaniards and natives alike were invited. The thanksgiving at St. Augustine, celebrated 56 years before the Puritan-Pilgrim thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation (Massachusetts), did not, however, become the origin of a national annual tradition, as Plymouth would. The reason is that, as the maxim holds, it is the victors who write the histories.

During the 18th and 19th centuries British forces won out over those of Spain and France for mastery over the continent. Thus, British observances, such as the annual reenactment of the Pilgrims’ harvest festival in 1621, became a national practice and holiday in the new United States, and over time obliterated knowledge of the prior Spanish experiences in Florida, particularly at St. Augustine. Indeed, as the Pilgrims’ legend grew, people of Anglo-American descent in New England came to believe that Plymouth was the first European settlement in the country and that no other Europeans were here before the arrival of the Mayflower– beliefs that are still widespread in that region.
In recent years, Jamestown, Virginia has enjoyed some success in persuading its Anglo-American cousins in Plymouth that it was founded in 1607, thirteen years before the Pilgrims’ arrival, and that there were regular ship schedules from England to Jamestown before the Mayflower’s voyage of 1620. Furthermore, Berkeley Plantation near Charles City, Virginia, has convincingly demonstrated that it conducted a thanksgiving ceremony on December 4, 1619, nearly two years before the festival at Plymouth. Thought to have been on Berkeley’s menu were oysters, shad, rockfish, and perch. Along the old Spanish borderlands provinces from Florida to California an occasional voice is heard asserting that this site or that was the first permanent Spanish settlement in the United States – a claim often made in Santa Fe, New Mexico which was founded in 1610 – or that it was the place where the first thanksgiving took place. An example of the latter claim appeared last year in the New York Times, which, while recounting the colonizing expedition of Juan de Oñate from Mexico City into what became New Mexico, stated that celebrations of Oñate’s party in 1598 “are considered [the Times did not say by whom] the United States’ first Thanksgiving.”

The historical fact remains that St. Augustine’s thanksgiving not only came earlier; it was the first to take place in a permanent settlement. The Ancient City deserves national notice for that distinction.

Perhaps most of New England is now willing to concede as much, though that was not the case in November 1985, when an Associated Press reporter built a short Thanksgiving Day story around my aforesaid sentence of 20 years before in The Cross in the Sand. When his story appeared in Boston and other papers, New England went into shock. WBZ-TV in Boston interviewed me live by satellite for its 6:00 p.m. regional news

The newsman told me that all of Massachusetts was “freaked out,” and that, as he spoke, “the Selectmen of Plymouth are holding an emergency meeting to contend with this new information that there were Spaniards in Florida before there were Englishmen in Massachusetts.”

I replied, “Fine. And you can tell them for me that, by the time the Pilgrims came to Plymouth, St. Augustine was up for urban renewal.”

The somewhat rattled chairman of the Selectmen was quoted as saying: “I hate to take the wind out of the professor’s sails, but there were no turkeys running around in Florida in the 1500s. But there may be a few loose ones down there now at the University of Florida.” So there! Within a few days of the tempest a reporter from the Boston Globe called to tell me that throughout Massachusetts I had become known as “The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving.” Well, let’s hope that everyone up north has settled down now. And let’s enjoy all our Thanksgivings whenever and wherever they first began.
Dr. Michael V. Gannon is a Distinguished Service Professor of History at the University of Florida. He has had a long interest in the early Spanish missions of Florida about which he has written extensively. Two of his books, Rebel Bishop (1964) and The Cross in the Sand (1965) treat of the early history of this state

Thursday, November 15, 2007

And the top spot if firmly cemented....for the past few years the top concerts I have seen have been a virtual tie between Garth Brooks and U2, let me clarify....arena concerts.   Well tonight Garth cemented the top spot as I was able to join in with many from around the country in seeing his last Kansas City concert at the lcoal theatre.  I was unable to go last night to the live show due to commitments at Church, so I went tonight.

I've still got Garthbumps.   For the novices, those are goosebumps brought on by a Garth concert.
This is the wave of the future in order to reach more fans and I'm happy to have been there in the front row thanks to the magic of cameras and satellites.

And having left with much hope...the guantlet has been thrown down, the clock is counting down:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Papal Trip to U.S. Confirmed for April '08

Pontiff to Stop in Washington and New York

BALTIMORE, Maryland, NOV. 12, 2007 ( The dates for Benedict XVI's upcoming trip to the United States were confirmed today; the Pope's visit is scheduled for April 15-20.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, confirmed the dates for the six-day trip when he participated in the opening of the U.S. episcopal conference's fall meeting under way in Baltimore.

Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary-general, last April officially asked the Pope to visit the United Nations.

The Holy Father will arrive in Washington on April 15. The next day, his 81st birthday, he will receive an official welcome at the White House. Later that afternoon, he will address the U.S. bishops' conference.

On April 17, after celebrating Mass at the Washington Nationals' stadium, the Pope will give an address at the Catholic University of America.

Benedict XVI will be in New York on April 18, for a visit to the United Nations in the morning and an ecumenical meeting in the afternoon. His time in New York will also include Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on April 19, the anniversary of his papal election, and a meeting with youth. On April 20, the Holy Father will visit ground zero, where the twin towers stood. That afternoon, the trip will officially end with Mass at Yankee Stadium.


"This is a blessed moment for our nation," said Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, president of the U.S. episcopal conference. "Pope Benedict is not just the leader of Catholics, he is also a man of inspiration for all those who work for peace."

Cardinal Edward Egan of New York said that the response of the people of his archdiocese "was both rejoicing and thanksgiving to the Lord for the great grace of the presence of the successor of St. Peter in our midst. I have assured the Holy Father of a warm and prayerful welcome. We all look forward to his visit with pleasure and anticipation."

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington said, "Personally, and in the name of all of the clergy, religious and faithful of the archdiocese, I express our warmest welcome while renewing our sentiments of love and loyalty to our Holy Father. We all look forward to his visit as a time of renewal of our faith and pastoral ministry and an opportunity to confirm our solidarity with the Church universal made visible among us by the successor to Peter, Pope Benedict XVI."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Below is a Youtube clip of my friend Bonnie playing piano for the first time ever in front of a live audience at the Bugle Boy in LaGrange, TX.  She will be back there December 15ish.....rumor is more piano to be involved and maybe some Christmas songs.

I wish I was in Kansas City this week.   November 15th on the big screen though....Garthgantuan.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Three For the Price of One

I just finished reading a truly good novel.  Michael O'brien's novel: Father Elijah, An Apocalypse is one of the better works of fiction I have been able to read as of late.  Father Elijah is Carmelite Monk in Jerusalem who is tapped by the Vatican to confront in love a man who may just be the harbinger of the end times.  Along the way we learn about life, the world around us, and this man Father Elijah who's past is most complex indeed.   Give it a read.  I look forward to reading more of this author.

This Saturday I had the honor of being able to caravan down to Houston with some folks from Church to see a small indpendent film, Bella.  A movie that is well made, well acted, well shot...just a simple movie driven by characters and not special effects.  A family film with a great message about life and how precious it truly is.  GO SEE IT!   It was the winner at the Toronto Film Festival for People's Choice.  It should get some Oscar buzz, but I don't know if Hollywood will accepting of it's message. was shot in New York City in 24 days of filming Trailer below:

Thirdly, I played a grueling hockey game tonight.  After 3 periods and a shootout that went through both benches and finally the goalies shooting on each other the final score was 0-0.  What fun!  I can not help but reflect on how sport can bring people of various backgrounds, faiths and anything else that can make us different together in the spirit of competition and sportmanship.  The gaps this can bridge between us are huge.  I can't be thankful enough for the chance to compete with these great men and women week in and week out.  

Finally, I just want to wish you all a great week.  God Bless!

Thursday, November 01, 2007