Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I've been tagged by Uncle Jim at A Second Chance. Here we go...

The rules of this game are as follow:

1 - Each player answers the questions about him or her self.
2 - At the end of the post, the player 'tags' five people and lists their names.
3 - The player then goes to their site and advises them they've been tagged.
4 - The player then asks the newly tagged to read tagger's blog.

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Gosh, I can hardly remember what I was doing ten minutes ago. Well, ten years ago I was involved with my diocese' Discerning Group praying over the call to the priesthood. I've mentioned this story a number of times already to some of you, so I wont go into it in great detail. It was, however, a very positive experience and many of the men I attended with have, indeed, been ordained!

Name 5 things on your 'to-do' list today (Wednesday).

1) Go to work
2) Take my grandmother to the doctor
3) Go on-line to a buy a graphics card for my computer (I'm building a new one)
4) Go grocery shopping
5) Laundry

What things would I do if I were a billionaire?

1) Get out of Las Vegas
2) Buy a cottage AND a house somewhere in New England
3) Fly out to Europe and repeat answer 2
4) Better the lives of my friends and family
5) Realize I DON'T have to be a billionaire to live the life I want, so start giving the money away to people who really do need it (sounds as cliche as the answers at a Miss America pageant, I know, but that's exactly what I would do)

Name 3 bad habits or qualities.

1) Impatience
2) Sometimes pessimistic
3) Sometimes too idealistic

Name 5 places I've lived

I'm not as cosmopolitan as some of you folks, so my list is somewhat concise:
1) Las Vegas
2) Miami
3) San Diego
4) Key West (very briefly)

Name 5 jobs I've had.

Well, in my younger days I worked as a bus-boy, a waiter, clerk, and retail attendant.

Name 5 books I've read recently.

1) Ghost Story
2) The Eastern Catholic Churches
3) The Wisdom of the Saints
4) The Mist
5) Letter to a Man in the Fire

I tag any of you blogger-buddies of mine and any wayward soul that stumbles unto this blog.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Just a Matter of Time

I have thought about the following possibility extensively in the past, and after Pope Benedict's visit to the U.S. it resurfaced as a real and palpable, possible future scenario. Sooner or later - in my humble and unfortunate opinion - the Vatican will suffer a terrorist attack. Before you accuse me of being an alarmist or a "prophet of doom", think about some of the events that directly involve the Holy Father, as well as the geopolitical climate that we are faced with today. The Holy Father is under death threats by Osama bin Laden for his supposed support of the United States and for the Holy See's diplomatic ties to Israel. To illustrate the Vatican's unique relationship with Judaism, Pope Benedict visited a synagogue during his stay in New York - embracing and exchanging gifts with Rabbi Arthur Schneier - while, to the comdemnation of some, excluded from his hectic schedule a visit to a mosque. Vatican officials responded to the criticism by stating that historically, a special kinship exists between Christians and Jews that does not exist between Christians and Muslims. On September of 2006, while delivering a lecture at the University of Regendburg in Germany, Pope Benedict cited a passage by Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus which stated :

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

His comments touched-off a flurry of Muslim criticism around the world, and may have even led to the retaliatory murder of Sister Leonella Sgorbati, a missionary nun helping the impoverished people of Africa.

With its openness to the public, who's to say no one can walk into St. Peter's, heavily laden with hidden explosives, and carry out a suicide attack? It seems to me that the misanthropes comprising Al-Qaeda would argue that the Vatican is to Christianity what the Twin Towers were to robust, economic prosperity. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For You Bach Lovers

Known for his sacred works, choral music, and orchestral productions, German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is considered the culmination of Baroque music standards. He was a mathematical genius who mastered better than anyone the contrapuntal music technique, while synthesizing non-German influences into his music. Outside the polyphonic genre of sacred music (pre-Baroque era), for me the Baroque period offers the most beautiful and inventive consonant expressions in all of musicology, without falling into the detrimental propensity of "mushy." And despite the temptation to characterize Bach's works as musically "stoic" for not having the romantic flare of a Tchaikovskian piece, this style of composition can exhibit appreciable melodic and emotional eloquence. With Bach's death in 1750, effectively came to an end the Baroque period.

But before I turn this post into a boring history lesson, let me get to the point by sharing with you one of Bach's most celebrated works: Concerto for Violin and Oboe in D Minor. It's quite beautiful, even by die hard romantic standards.

Monday, April 21, 2008

An Observation Poetically Expressed (Repost)

Musee des Beaux Arts
by W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood: They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Musee des Beaux Arts, or Museum of Fine Arts, is a poem by famed twentieth century British writer Wystan Hugh Auden that succinctly and eloquently expresses what I call the "peripherals of suffering." By "peripherals of suffering" I mean the people, places, things, and conditions that envelope the individual who suffers, often unnoticeably to the rest of the world. Auden writes, "...how it takes place/ While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along..." Isn't this typically the case? Your world is crumbling and people go on with their lives like nothing ever happened.

The "Old Masters" Auden alludes to are the fourteenth through eighteenth century artists whose Renaissance pieces are also referred to as "old masters."

Auden sites the 16th century painting The Fall of Icarus by Netherlandish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, in which all of the characters in the painting, including a ship, carry on with their activities and fail to react to the drowning of a boy at close proximity to them. Not a single one of these subjects is disrupted or distracted from the focus of their interests by the drowning of Icarus.

Both poem and painting illustrate how at some point in time we all have found ourselves afflicted by the conditions of the small boy, or the apathetic tendencies of the indifferent.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Birthday!

This is my dear grandmother. She is the kindest and sweetest human being I've ever known. She turns 89 (WOW!!) today and still enjoys occasionally playing her poker machines here in Vegas. I'm going to skip night out with my friends today so I can take her out to eat and to take a crack at her favorite machines. Wish her luck!

By the way, I DO NOT gamble. I think it's the most boring and lackluster pastime I can think of. So, while she plays her machines, I sit next to her with my iPod in "shuffle" mode and babysit for the next three hours. Now wish ME luck. LOL!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oh Puhleeeez Pelosi...

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi kisses the ring of Pope Benedict XVI during his welcoming ceremony on the White House South Lawn.

Is this the same Nancy Pelosi who works towards progressing the opposite of everything he stands for?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Notable Differences

It speaks volumes about the individual who is welcomed into the hallowed ground of the September 11th attacks in New York City by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It speaks just as loudly when you are barred from entering the resting place of so many.

This man will be allowed to enter Ground Zero and pray. He will find solidarity with the families who still mourn their loved ones.

This man was PROHIBITED from setting foot on the hallowed ground.

Need I say more?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm Done Here

Folks, I'm done with Vegas. With the traffic jams, incessant road work, crime rate, and congestion, I feel like a solitary crouton living inside a tossed salad. When I got here almost twenty nine years ago it was a very different place. The mob was still influential in Las Vegas, but they weren't interested in breaking into your house, your car, or your personal life (assuming you weren't doing business with them). The only place to enjoy Vegas for me is from outer space.

This is my personal anthem:

I’d love to have a cottage in Nantucket Island. This is where I’d like to live:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some liturgical differences between Latin and Eastern Catholic Churches, Part 1

As I wrote in a previous post, I have an unswerving affection for the style of worship found in the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church. Although all Eastern Churches do not share the exact same liturgy, as a whole I detect a greater sense of mysticism (mystery of God) in their liturgical and ceremonial praxis. In this post, and in a series of posts to follow, I will detail some of the differences between Roman Catholics and our brethren of the Easter Church. Tied into this subject matter is the historicity that brought about the split between churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome and those who call themselves Orthodox. It's a bit more intricate than what some people think.

The Icon Screen or iconostasis

In most of the Byzantine Catholic Churches a very visible structure measuring several feet high, and comprising of three doors and a number of panels, separates the sanctuary and the altar from the nave where the congregants gather. This structure, called the icon screen or iconostasis, can reach all the way to the ceiling of the Church, and is decorated with icons of Jesus, saints, and the Mother of God (theotokos). The iconostasis also contains three doors: two single doors to the left and the right of it with a double door in the center. This double door is called the Royal or Holy Doors because only the Eucharist, Bishop, or priest can pass through it.

The icon screen’s primary functionalities are that of separator (keeping the sanctuary and the altar divided from the nave) and also as a connective conduit between Heaven and Earth. As a separator it symbolizes the tremendous gulf between humanity and God, and the incomprehensible love God has for His creation by reaching out to us and becoming one of us. As a link, we can think of the iconostasis as the point of demarcation where Heaven and Earth connect.

In the Byzantine tradition, the readings to the congregations are chanted facing the congregation. But during the solemn Eucharistic sequences of the mass, the priest stands within the sanctuary with his back to the congregation. This practice impresses in the minds of the congregants the significance of the Consecration and the special veneration applied to such action.

Sadly, in order to conform with Western architecture, many Byzantine Churches removed the icon screen from their liturgical traditions. In recent times, however, they have found greater popularity and are experiencing a restoration to the place they once held.

This You Tube video, although not in English, shows the Consecration beginning inside the sanctuary. To avoid cacophony, either mute the You Tube video or pause the music player.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Father James Swenson R.I.P.

From the Diocese of Las Vegas:

Father James Swenson,
Pastor of St. Bridget’s Catholic Church passed away peacefully Wednesday, April 2, 2008.

Father Swenson was born July 26, 1928. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas on January 4, 1974. When the Diocese of Las Vegas as erected in 1992 Father Swenson chose the Diocese of Las Vegas to be his diocese.

Father Swenson has been serving the parish of St. Bridget’s as Administrator and later as Pastor since July 2, 1984. At the time of normal retirement age for priests of the diocese, Father Swenson would hear nothing of it, he loved serving God’s people and continued in his ministry until his illness prevented him from going to the parish. Father’s favorite message was “I work for the Lord”. He gave great inspiration to many, many people.

Through the years, he has been instrumental in building this parish to over 500 families. He was responsible for the first 24 hour Eucharist Adoration in the diocese, which allowed all parishioners of the diocese to spend quiet prayer time any time of the day or night.

Recently, Father Swenson took on the huge challenge of building a new Church, which was dedicated by the Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe on February 3, 2008. Unfortunately, Father Swenson was too ill to attend, but this Dedication Mass was overflowing with parishioners.

I will never forget a mass Father Swenson concelebrated with a Dominican priest who was visiting St Bridget's. During the Prayer of the Faithful, a short prayer was recited for more priestly vocations for the Las Vegas diocese. At the end of that prayer Father Swenson added, "And let us pray for good men for the priesthood. We have too many nuts already." I wanted to hide under the pew.

The man was a firecracker. His funeral mass was on April 8th.

Please keep Father Swenson in your prayers tonight.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Nostalgic Trip Back in Time

Please click on the "pause" botton of the music playing to the side before watching the video.

When I was in fifth grade, Ms. McVeigh brought her guitar to school every Thursday and we (the class) would spend the morning singing. One of the songs we performed regularly was "The Rainbow Connection", written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher. Originally performed by Kermit the Frog in the opening sequence of The Muppet Movie, this song has been covered by countless number of artists in many different languages. In 1979 it received both an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination but it lost to "It Goes Like It Goes" (can anyone remember this song?) from the film Norma Rae. Goes to show that winning a distinguished citation does not equal longevity.

If you have children, please share this song with them. If you are an older kid, like me, but never heard this song before, then here’s a chance at a decent childhood.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Shyster Messiah

Puerto Rican born José Luis de Jesús Miranda claims that he is Jesus Christ. More specifically, he describes himself as the Anti-Christ. He believes himself to be the Jesus Christ of the Second Coming, but also self applies the term anti-Christ because according to him people are no longer to follow the teachings of the Old Testament and focus entirely on the teachings of Paul. To emphasize this point, Miranda has tattooed the numbers 666 on his forearm and many of his followers - to emulate their dear master - have as well. With Pope Benedict's visit to the US this month, Mr. Miranda has once again called upon the destruction of the Catholic Church (Gee, I wonder why?)and has declared that sin and hell are non-existent. Furthermore, he calls prayer a waste of time and the Ten Commandments anachronistic and inconsequential moral guidelines.

Miranda, a sixty one year-old father of four, is a former heroin addict who did jail time in Puerto Rico for petty theft. He claims that in 1973 he had the epiphany that revealed to him he was Jesus Christ reincarnate, when a host of angels spoke to him in a dream. He now leads the "Creciendo en Gracia," Spanish for "Growing in grace" church (which uses a seal very similar to that of the United States government) that has exercised belligerent tactics in order to sway or intimidate congregants of larger churches. In Florida, as well as in Latin America, they have disrupted services and smashed crosses and statues of Jesus.

Mr.Miranda believes that someday he will lead the biggest and most powerful government ever seen on earth.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Fuzzy Wuzzy is Home!

The Little Critter is home and resting comfortably. He seems a little subdued, and I'm guessing that is due to the pain medication the doctor gave us to administer. He will be on anti-biotics for the next six weeks, and on Monday he's back to the vet to have the stitches removed. I would like to thank once again all my blogger friends for you prayers, concern, and well wishes! *MUAH* to all of you (except if your a guy)!

The doctor gave specific instructions that he is to drink a lot of water, something we have not forced him to do. He's been at his bowl several times today, and shows signs of returning many times more.

You know, he was scheduled for a bath and haircut - which he hates more than the doctor - before this happened. Now we have to wait a few weeks until he is all healed before we can bathe him and groom him.

Makes you wonder if the little bugger had this all planed out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Please keep the Critter in your prayers

The Critter is having emergency surgery this afternoon. Yesterday the doctor discovered he has stones and today he was unable to go to the bathroom. Please say a prayer for him. I'll keep you up-to-date.

Greatly appreciate it.

The little Critter came of out surgery just fine this afternoon. They removed approximately 15 tiny stones that had clustered into a bigger one. The doctor (I'm still waiting for a return phone call from the technicians who are keeping watch over him tonight) told us that he was resting comfortably, and that his tongue "was sticking out and was showing good color." The doctor said he wont know the full extent of his condition and recovery until tomorrow. If all goes well, I should be able to pick him up from the vet by noon. I will post again tomorrow with another update.

A big THANK YOU to all of you for your prayers and concern. God bless you all!