In Pictures

I am in the fourth week of teaching a class at Aquinas, so I don’t have much time to post.  Okay, so I’m in the first week.  But with a Maymester class, every day equals a week of class in a normal semester.   At the end of the second class, one of the students stood up, stretched, and said, “Second week down!”  So tomorrow is our fourth class.

But I at least have time to post pictures.  You wouldn’t want to read an entire post about any of these things, anyway.  So here we go…

A few weeks ago, I made a killer lasagna for dinner when a priest friend came to visit.  He blessed my new condo and I made him dinner.  Win, win.  The recipe came from a composer-chef friend of mine.  He and his wife had me over for dinner a few months ago, and I fell in love with this Sicilian lasagna and had to have the recipe.  Lasagna with meatballs inside of it?  Score. And the ricotta cheese wasn’t overpowering.  (Trena, remember shuddering while eating the shells at Christendom?) It was deeelish.  While it was pretty labor intensive, it was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon and the work produced awesome results.


I forgot to take a picture of the actual finished product.  So all I have are pictures of the prep.

IMG_3811Mmm, meatballs.

I was in the mood to make ice cream, so I did that, too.  I was originally going to make ice cream inspired by “Spouse Like a House” at Handel’s (how I miss you) — namely, ice cream with peanut butter-filled, chocolate-covered pretzels —  but I didn’t dip my pretzels in chocolate, and the ones I bought didn’t have enough peanut butter in them.  So  I ended up throwing in peanut butter cups, too.


It was good, but only because you can’t really go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate in ice cream.  I’d buy different peanut butter pretzels next time.  And dip them in chocolate.  Father ate it without complaint.

My “house” at school (sort of like a sorority, but not) had a bake sale to raise money for veterans who have had trouble getting back on their feet after coming home.  Since Joan of Arc is the patroness of our house, we thought helping veterans was fitting.  My friend Paul did the posters, and they just crack me up:


One of the history professors emailed me and noted, “Joan of Arc must really hate the English.”

Part of my job regularly takes me to Knoxville, TN, where Cardinal Rigali is living in retirement.  Many of his things from the conclave are on display in the chancery, including the prayerbook and Rite book for the conclave, the little briefcase he was given (it had the little sede vacante umbrella embossed on it with “2013” – it’s no wonder it took awhile to get this conclave going, they had to make all these things!), his little red lap desk with his name card that was waiting for him at his place in the Sistine Chapel, a sample ballot, and the pen he used to vote.  I couldn’t get over the humorous fact that the pen is a simple blue Pilot pen.  After seeing all the special books and the embossed small briefcase, I expected some cool pen.  Or maybe a quill.  Nope, just a blue Pilot.


There were also pictures of him taking the oath and processing — right behind Cardinal Bergoglio. Very cool.

A few weekends ago I re-vistited a wine bar my cousin Michael had  introduced me to last year.  It’s in an old house, and in addition to a regular bar area, the different parlors in the house have machines with various kinds of wine.  When you arrive you get a card (similar to a hotel key) that you put in the machines prior to making a wine selection.  Then you choose whether you want a taste, a half glass, or a whole glass.  It’s pretty fun- and can get very expensive if you aren’t careful!  I went down with some friends for happy hour and wondered why I don’t go down more often.  But perhaps it’s a good thing it’s not closer.


May 1st is the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.  I happen to work in a building trailer structure named after St. Joseph, and so we decided to celebrate his feast day.  Yes, we celebrated on March 19, too.  But if the Church celebrates him twice, we can too.  In true southern fashion we had barbecue and slaw and chips and invited everyone to come hang out in our building trailer structure for awhile.


Providentially, on that same day, we received the sign for our building place of work that we requested several months ago.  We have formed a nice little community in our portable building (which just means that we’ll probably be split up before too long. Isn’t that the way it works?) and I we decided we deserved a sign on the outside of our building so people would know who we were.  A minor request, really.

Especially since this is the sign on the outside now, just to the right of the front door:


What does that mean, you might ask?  Well I did too-  eventually.  It’s apparently leftover from when the, er, structure was on the property of an explosives testing site in Bucksnort, TN.

You can’t make this stuff up.

So this sign has been on our building for 10+ years.  So leave it to me to be difficult and ask if we can have a sign that indicates we’re the St. Joseph…

But what?  What are we?  Since the philosophy faculty is at home in our structure, they said we can’t be the St. Joseph Building, because by their nature, buildings don’t have wheels.

We couldn’t very well put “St Joseph Structure” on our sign, could we?

So we decided on “St. Joseph’s.”  That’s what everyone says on campus, anyway.  “Where is Dr So-and-So’s office?”  “In St Joseph’s.”

But apparently that message didn’t get to the actual order-er of the plaque. So now we’re St. Joseph Hall.


We’ll take it!  Although as our sarcastic selves, we put the sign in the hallway for the first day.  “Where are you putting the sign?”  “In the hall.”

IMG_3909Our shrine to our sign.

You know what is dangerous?

Homemade Nutella ice cream with Trader Joe’s Ultimate Vanilla Wafers.  I was in charge of bringing dessert to book club last week, and instead of making some elaborate something or other, I made Nutella ice cream and bought those awfully-addicting vanilla wafers from TJ’s.


Too good.  You know what else is dangerous?  Trader Joe’s Oatmeal Cranberry Dunkers. My sister Jill introduced me to them, and they’re deadly.  I bought them without thinking, and quickly took them to work before I ate them all in one sitting.  Everyone loved them. And hated me.

IMG_3918Buy at your own risk.

My week (or two, or three) in pictures.  Food, alcohol, and Catholic stuff.  Sounds about right.


Pope Squared

(That subject line is in jest, of course.  I really don’t think we have two Popes.  So put down the phone you were dialing – you don’t need to call the Bishop about me.)

I wanted to come on my blog and publicly admit I was wrong.  (I’m getting good at this, after the whole resignation vs abdication thing.)

I thought we would never see Pope Benedict again. In fact, I was kind of a wreck after watching him go to Castel Gandolfo because I missed him turning away from the balcony and I thought that was my last chance to ever see him, except in archived video.

Well, speaking of video, we had the chance to see him yesterday. I was really surprised when they released pictures and video of Pope Francis meeting with his predecessor.  But here it is.

Some notes:

1) I feel like it’s been much longer than 24 days since we last saw Benedict.  It was almost jarring to see him after the sede vacante, the conclave, and the election.  Part of me wishes I didn’t have the chance to see this meeting, because it reminded me how much I miss him.  But more of me is glad I got to see him again and glad to see him with Pope Francis.

2) What is up with the guys in mylar suits?  They made me crack up during the poignant arrival at Castel Gandolfo, and now they’re back.  I suppose I can see the need for firemen in case something goes wrong, but standing at the door of the helicopter?  Really?  And why do they look like something out of a Mystery Science Theatre film?

3) I love Benedict at 0:40, rushing over to tell Francis to kneel at the special prie-dieu.  We rarely get a chance to see him doing something so unscripted. “Hey- I put this prie-dieu out for you, because you’re the Pope, remember?!” And Francis is like, “Let’s kneel over here together, okay?”  (He actually said, “We are brothers.”)

3) At 1:56-2:02, you can see Archbishop Ganswein plotting an elaborate practical joke with someone else in the room – apparently they are going to convince the Popes to swap for a day and throw everyone for a loop.

My thoughts of Benedict, Francis, and the transition

I’ve mentioned here before my feelings about change.  Basically, it’s hard for me.  I don’t even know if it’s that I dislike it; it’s mostly just that when I really like the way things are, and something is going to be different, I get really worried about it– even if it could be really great.  For example, when I move my furniture around, I immediately regret doing it and kind of freak out. Even though I end up liking it even more.

That’s normal, right?

So what does this have to do with Benedict and Francis?  I think you can guess.

I’m feeling a little guilty because I miss Benedict.  And I know I’ll love Francis — I already do — but seeing someone else in white is weird and I kind of wish I could rewind things and have my Benedict back.

Every time someone says something about Francis, I immediately want to defend Benedict.  And sometimes it is meant as an insult to Benedict, but most of the time it isn’t.  They’re just different.

It’s funny, I was writing this post in my head when I read my friend Jenny’s post this morning, (see her awesome post here) and then Lino Rulli and Father Rob were talking about a similar thing on the Catholic Guy show today, too.  They pointed out that when someone says something positive about Francis, it sounds like it’s an insult to Benedict.

Even if it’s not meant to be!

So I suppose that in this post, when I speak about my feelings about Benedict and Francis, it will sound the opposite – that I’m insulting Francis.  But I’m not, no more than they’re insulting Benedict.  Capito?

With that in mind, here are my thoughts.

I am excited to see what is in store for the Church.  I think Francis is going to challenge people who think they know what the Catholic Church is all about.  We’ve already seen that he has a desire to bring unity, and it seems that the world is rather captivated by him for the time being.

Francis is obviously emphasizing the need for the Church to be poor and humble, to care for God’s gifts, and to be good stewards.  I find it kind of funny that Benedict said the same things (here, & here, & here, & here, &  here, & here, & here, & here… need I go on?) but everyone is acting like this is somehow a new phenomena.

Is it because the world is still listening to this baby Pope, and they haven’t tuned him out yet?  Probably. Is it because he’s speaking off the cuff and seems to be more relatable?  Perhaps.  Is it because he’s living it out, by not wearing red shoes, wearing simple vestments, and riding the bus with the cardinals?  Sure.

In regards to that last one, I think we need to examine what Pope Francis is doing.  Do I like the fact that he’s not wearing red shoes and that he’s wearing simpler vestments?  I have mixed feelings.

First, I can see that he wants to live a simpler life.  And maybe the world won’t accept a message of poverty from a man wearing gold vestments.  But even Jesus allowed money to be spent on him (Mt 26:11).  As long as it’s not to the neglect of the poor (which it isn’t – the Church does more for the poor than any other institution in the world, and the Vatican  isn’t buying new gold vestments, after all), Jesus deserves the best.  The liturgy is Heaven on earth, and the Pope and the Cardinals are successors of Peter and the Apostles.

So are red shoes the be all and end all?  No. But is Jorge Bergoglio just Jorge Bergoglio anymore?  No.  He’s Peter.  And while the shoes don’t make the man, there are certain things he’s going to have to do because he’s no longer his own.  He’s going to have to live in the Apostolic palace, behind the walls of the Vatican, because that’s where he’s safest and can govern the best, and that’s where Peter lives.  Is he going to like it?  Probably not.  Benedict probably didn’t either.

Did Benedict want to sneak out of the Vatican and go do what he wanted to do?  Of course he did.  He wanted to go back to his coffeeshop, the place he went to every morning as Prefect of the CDF.  Could he?  No.  Why?  Because he wasn’t his own anymore.  He was Peter, and he was carried “where he did not wish to go.” (John 21:18)  Maybe he didn’t want to wear red shoes.  But it’s the tradition (I know, I know, John Paul wore brown shoes.  But I’m only using the shoes as an example- they’re not really the point) and the Church has a right to her traditio.

What the Pope does he does not as Wojtyla, or Ratzinger, or Bergoglio.  He does it as Pope.

What the Pope does has an impact on the entire Church — for good or for ill.  Pope Francis wanted to wear simple vestments at his installation, and that’s fine, but he has to remember that he’s standing as Peter and everyone will look to him for an example.  To tell you the truth, I thought it was sort of jarring to see him next to the Orthodox patriarchs in their finery.  I’m sure the world thought it was a good change — get rid of the finery and bring me a simple Church — but as I mentioned before, the liturgy is worth more than anything in the world, and Heaven on earth deserves gold.  Even St. Francis believed that.

Second, he is now a world leader.  I didn’t think of this before someone at work mentioned it, but the Holy Father rides in a car with an escort for a reason.  Riding on a bus with cardinals is great (and it certainly was an awesome photo), but he has to make sure he doesn’t endanger his life or the lives of people around him with his boldness.  I’ve been in St. Peter’s Square with a lunatic who could have harmed the Pope and any number of us.  It wasn’t a good situation.  The Church needs him, and the guards are there to protect him.

I don’t want this to sound like a giant critique of our Holy Father, because I really do love him and I am excited for the future.  I am sure that Benedict isn’t sitting in Castel Gandolfo wondering why no one listened to him like they’re listening to Pope Francis. haha.  Instead, I think he’s probably praying in Castel Gandolfo in thanksgiving for such a beautiful and holy shepherd.

Benedict stepped down in humility and Pope Francis stepped up in humility.

They worship the same Master and they serve the same People of God.

So when I read statements like this one: “His abrupt change in style from the previous pontificate has overwhelmingly charmed the press and the public.”  I just don’t know how to take it.  Let’s just be careful that we don’t assume Benedict loved living in the Apostolic Palace, never wanted to leave, ate off gold plates, and never wanted to be with people.  We can embrace Francis as Francis without judging Benedict as Benedict.  I’m sure they went through a similar transition between Pius XII and John XXIII.  The Popes are men with different personalties, different strengths, and different weaknesses.  That’s the beauty of the Church.

Let us pray for Pope Francis, for Benedict, and for our Church in these comings weeks and years.

Another linkup

I’m pretty sure this is the laziest way I can continue blogging — post quotes from Francis and post links of other people talking about Francis.

So I promise I’m going to actually craft some original thoughts tonight.  But not before giving you more links – to read people far more intelligent and well-spoken than I.  I can pretend to be a Vaticanista, but these people really are experts.

A great interview with Cardinal Marc Ouellet: On Vatileaks, Benedict’s act of faith and the new Pope
       I really thought that Ouellet might come out of those doors that night, and I had him picked in our office “Predict-A-Pope” pool (no money exchanged hands.  Perhaps because no one won…)  So it’s neat to read his thoughts on it all.

A great post written the day before the election of Pope Francis, which I think is even more interesting after: My Take: Benedict’s ‘master plan’
When you look at the type of person Bergoglio is and what his Papacy is already shaping up to be like, I think Sebastian’s post is quite astute

Now I’m off to put my own thoughts on paper.


A phone call from your Papa

Pope Francis made a surprise phone call to the pilgrims gathered in Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires this morning, shortly before he took his spin in the Popemobile.

Below is the text of his remarks in Spanish, and then English.


“Queridos hijos, sé que están en la plaza. Sé que están rezando y haciendo oraciones, las necesito mucho. Es tan lindo rezar. Gracias por eso.

Les quiero pedir un favor. Les quiero pedir que caminemos juntos todos, cuidemos los unos a los otros, cuídense entre ustedes, no se hagan daño, cuídense, cuídense la vida. Cuiden la familia, cuiden la naturaleza, cuiden a los niños, cuiden a los viejos; que no haya odio, que no haya pelea, dejen de lado la envidia, no le saquen el cuero a nadie. Dialoguen, que entre ustedes se viva el deseo de cuidarse.

Que vaya creciendo el corazón y acérquense a Dios. Dios es bueno, siempre perdona, comprende, no le tengan miedo; es Padre, acérquense a Él. Que la virgen los bendiga mucho, no se olviden de este obispo que está lejos pero los quiere mucho. Recen por mí”.

Dear children, I know you are in the square. I know you are praying and saying prayers, I need them very much. It is so beautiful to pray. Thank you for that.

I want to ask you a favor. I want to ask that we all walk together, to take care of one for the other, take care of each other, do not hurt each other, take care of yourselves, take care of your lives. Take care of the family, take care of nature, take care of children, take care of the elderly; that there may be no hate, no fights, leave aside envy, do not speak ill of anybody. Dialogue amongst each other, so that in all of you may live the desire to care for one another.

That your hearts may grow and come close to God. God is good, He always forgives, understands, do not be afraid of Him; He is Father, be close to Him. May the Virgin bless you, do not forget this bishop who is far but loves you very much. Pray for me.

An early morning

So my friend Lori is in town and suggested she come watch the Installation Mass.  In real time.  So at 2:30 am, the doorman called me and told me she was here.

So Salt+Light is fired up on my computer and we’re watching Pope Francis cruise around the piazza — around every corner of the piazza.

So here are some running observations.

He’s not in the covered Popemobile.  Not that the covered Popemobile was really covered — it was open on the sides — but the one he’s in is completely open.  (More on his desire to be close to the people later.)

Seeing a severely disabled man in the crowd, he made the Popemobile stop so he could dismount and greet him and bless him.  It was so beautiful — he clearly has a love for the weak and defenseless (Jill, you gotta send that picture…)

All the priests appear to be late. Their section is only half full!  Come on, clergy. Just because you have special color ticket and get a special section, doesn’t mean you can just waltz in at the last minute!

They’re reporting that they’re expecting a million people, but the crowd doesn’t look nearly that big.

Who is the lady in the white mantilla?  A Catholic head of state?  There are two of them.

Now we have some down time —  the Pope has returned to the Basilica where he’ll go to the tomb of St. Peter with leaders of the Orthodox Churches.

When Lori heard that the head of the Salvation Army was there, she decided she should just start her own religion so she could go to these things.  I’m pretty sure that doesn’t make any sense.

I took a break from blogging to give play-by-play to Lori, especially regarding important things like emcee sightings.  I still haven’t seen Archbishop Ganswein, which I suppose makes sense — for Pope Francis, he is “only” Prefect of the Papal Household, and you didn’t see Archbishop Harvey everywhere at Papal liturgies.

My emcee is getting some pretty sweet air time, though.

The choir boy from the Sistine Chapel choir singing the Responsorial Psalm melted my heart.  Is that a Papal Mass first?  (not the melting of my heart, but the choir boy.)

Thoughts on the homily:

“How does Joseph exercise his role as protector?  Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. ”

Wow.  Talk about fruit for prayer.   How often do we want to know everything and understand everything before we act?  How many of us were dying for answers when the Pope resigned — when maybe there weren’t answers to be had?  We walk by faith, not by sight.  Some times we don’t have answers, sometimes we don’t have understanding.  But we still obey.  Obedience isn’t obedience if it’s only done when we agree or understand…

…”The vocation of being a ‘protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone.  It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us.  It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.  It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents.  It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness.  In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it.  Be protectors of God’s gifts!”

Were those politicians listening?  This isn’t the first time I’ve had the thought that Francis is going to challenge us.  Protect the environment!  The Green Party rejoices.  But then he adds… “it means protecting people…”  eek!  Save the poor!  The Democrats rejoice. But wait … that means saving the defenseless, too … the unborn.  Get ready, people.  Francis is not a split personality.  It’s all are nothing.  Protect human life.  Protect God’s gifts… ALL of them.

“Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives!  Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down!”

Our modern world would say that we cannot control our passions- we are animals that have to act on our feelings, our instincts.  The Holy Father is reminding us that we have an intellect and will that are supposed to order our passions, our emotions, for the good.

I was surprised that the Holy Father stuck to his prepared text.  But it was a beautiful homily, so no complaints here!

The Salve– a perfect ending.

Well, now it’s off to work.  Sorry my thoughts were all over– Lori and I are feeling a little loopy since it’s now 5:30am and we’ve been awake for the last three hours. Of course, she gets to go back to sleep after 7am Mass, and some of us have to go to work…

More to come later.  And happy Solemnity of St. Joseph!  Remember, today’s a Solemnity, so Lenten sacrifices are suspended today!