Category Archives: Busted Halo

Help Petey and Canisius Win a National Championship!

So in case you missed this…

Canisius College’s Mascot (who is really cool!) Petey Griffin has advanced to the finals of the Catholic Mascotology Contest on BustedHalo.com.

It’s been a long road to the finals. First we beat local rival the St Bonaventure Bona Wolf. Then it was a major upset for us over the popular Boston College Eagle. Then onto MAAC Rival The Iona Gael and then Petey pulled off a squeaker against the Fordham Ram.

Today, it’s the big championship against the Loyola Greyhound.

Now let’s really take a look at this. I love dogs as much as the next person…but take a look at the Greyhound:

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And now look at Petey…

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He’s a much cooler Mascot. Come on a Half Lion-Half Eagle against a pretty fast dog? Even my beloved Haze the Dog doesn’t think that’s a good matchup for the dog world.

So go vote!

Addendum: Paulist Father Tom Gibbons is a Loyola Grad and we have a nice side bet going on. The winner carries the loser around Niagara Falls for a day. And I really want to visit the caves that day!

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Petey Griffin vs. The Fordham Ram

So I’m a proud graduate of Fordham and now work at another Ignatian institution, Canisius here in Buffalo. World’s are colliding as my colleagues from BustedHalo.com put together the Catholic Mascotology Contest this week, featuring all kinds of Mascots from various Catholic Universities. Mascots like The St Joe’s Hawk and the SLU Billiken (pictured).Unknown-2Unknown-3

Now many of you know my affinity for large muppet-like characters at stadiums. The Pirate Parrot is one of my all time favorites. Slider in Cleveland is another good one with the Indians.

But Petey Griffin (Named after St. Peter Canisius and not the Family Guy character–though that makes this a lot funnier) is my absolute favorite mascot these days. Check him out.

And then see how quickly he redeems himself:

UnknownProps to our hockey coach, Dave Smith, for playing along here. But seriously, who wouldn’t like a half-Eagle, half-Lion for their Mascot. And for years I’ve been saying that I don’t like the new Fordham Ram’s look.

Now that I am at Canisius, I am more and more appreciative of the people here and Petey represents that as a Mascot. His wings allow us to soar. And if nothing else, Buffalo is not one of these mid-sized cities that has a chip on it’s shoulder. So for once, let’s help the humble city beat the big, bad urban king of the world. I love Fordham and I love NYC. But I also love my new adopted home and more importantly, my students and colleagues here at Canisius who welcomed this old Ram and gave him Wings and a Roar and allowed him to be a Griff.

So vote early and often! And Go Griffs!

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Oh Jealousy…Jealousy

Deacon Greg pointed this out to me today. Seems that some in the Catholic media are peeved that the Jesuits didn’t release their interview with Pope Francis to a myriad of Catholic Sources. Here’s one such complaint from Greg Erlandson, publisher of Our Sunday Visitor:

It appears that hardly any bishops had a head’s up that this was coming. News organizations had advance copies that were embargoed. That means that they promised not to publish anything before 11 a.m. EDT.

And Deacon Greg responds:

Is it possible that this was a concerted effort to shut out other voices? So that the only ones who could speak definitively about it were, in fact, a small cadre of Jesuits? Once it was published, it would take several hours for bishops, reporters, theologians, analysts to get up to speed and be able to comment on this, but by then, the folks at America had already done it. It’s the “get” of the year, maybe of the decade, and good for them. But for a work of this significance, that kind of strategy strikes me as rather small and perhaps even antithetical to the Franciscan spirit of evangelization. For at least a little while, America elected to keep this news, and by extension some of the Good News, to themselves.

And my response is OF COURSE THEY DID.

When you have the story of the year, you don’t exactly give that up to every other reporter. You want to be the one who breaks the big story. And America Magazine and the other Jesuit journals did exactly that.

Some thoughts from a former journalist:

I think the people complaining about this are clearly jealous and to further this point, perhaps they should go the extra yard and try to cultivate a source or two and write their own big story about something. That’s called doing some WORK and not relying on others to do it for you(That said, I’m riffing on Deacon Greg’s column, so I’m just as lazy as you are). I had the David Cone aneurysm story before anyone else. A college friend working for the Yankees leaked it a full twenty minutes to me before anyone else. And a talk show host at the talk station I worked for wouldn’t put it on the air. I had nowhere to go. I decided to leak to the old station I worked for and they broke the story instead. I was really annoyed. I had the story, I cultivated the sources.

And I had nowhere to go with it.

At Busted Halo I was able to interview Bob Shepherd, the longtime Yankee Stadium announcer, who had been sick and nobody thought he’d be able to return. NOBODY had the story of when or if he would be returning. A reporter from the New York Post, who will remain nameless, took the story and wrote it without ANY credit given to me or Busted Halo. To say the least, I was annoyed and there were plenty of other places sports and otherwise who gave us plenty of credit. It was the top Busted Halo story that year.

And I wasn’t giving anyone a head start on it. I sent it to people who I knew would further our reach and who would give us the proper credit for our hard work.

So, sorry, but I’m not buying that America or any of the other Jesuit journals had to release this to anyone else. And they did give advances to people who they knew would further the story and work with them to make sure it was a big story and that America and the Jesuits would get the deserved credit.

Key bishops, he said, received an advance copy of the magazine by mail. Cardinal Dolan received a copy the day before it appeared online. So did the USCCB’s director of media relations, Sister Mary Ann Walsh.The only other person outside the publishing world who received an advance copy was the Superior General of the Jesuits.

And there’s no reason why these media outlets couldn’t spin America’s story for their own purposes as commentators from any number of angles. There’s no reason why in the breaking news moment of the day they couldn’t sit down and make a few comments and tweet a few tweets and try to capitalize on the “story of the day (Week?).” Breaking news happens and when it does you need to be ready. That’s called being a journalist.

Fr. James Martin, SJ talked with Deacon Greg about this today and didn’t back track.

Why didn’t other Catholic media outlets receive a heads up? ”What would the alternative have been?,” Jim asked. ”The alternative would have been to give it to multiple magazines, and the other Jesuit magazines around the world were very worried about leaks…they did not want their story to be scooped.” Jim explained, too, that some of the other publications had a strong resistance to releasing any of the text in advance at all; they weren’t accustomed to dealing with American media practices. ”And frankly,” he admitted, “we wanted this to be a big story.”

And it was and still is. And America and the other Jesuit journals from all over the world deserve all the credit. They did the work and hustled and used their influence to produce a work that may very well win the Pulizter Prize.

It is pure balderdash for others to be jealous and it’s a typical reaction for non-Jesuit entities to be green-eyed monsters at this point. I’m jealous of them too, but ya don’t see jumping up and down like a two year old saying “WAAAAAAH I want to be invited to the inner circle.”

Please. None of us deserved a head start and I consider James Martin and the guys at America good friends and I work at a Jesuit institution. We didn’t get a head start either and we were able to comment and push the story further for our own purposes in any number of ways. They gave a head start to those who would give America and the Jesuits the props for doing one fine piece of journalism. As an employee of the Jesuits, I have to say I’m really proud of the work that all the journals did in collaborating together and Matt Malone, S.J. and James Martin, S.J. did a yeoman’s job in working the media here in the United States.

Do some work journalists. You’ve got a hard job. But stop whining about the success of others. This one’s for you.

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Young Adults and the Weary Church

The 40th Chapter of Isaiah talks about depending on a God despite weariness and that God never grows weary.

That would include growing weary of us.

What do we grow weary of? For me I grow weary of the constant infighting in the church. Here’s one good example:

There were two stories written of late about young adults in the church, young adults being defined as people in their 20s and 30s.

The first was called The Church Young Adults Want, by Annie Selak which makes several good points and takes many issues that divide young adults who have been distanced from the church. Issues like interfaith dialogue, the ordination of women and homosexuality. She cites the need for the church to be relevant. Calling the reason that many fall outside of the church the fault of a church that is out of touch with the concerns of younger Catholics for inclusion. But I fear that there’s still many more young adults who don’t fit into her categories for many reasons.

The second one is The Church Young People Really Want by Bad Catholic, a patheos blogger, an often funny, too often mean-spirited and most often one that tried way too hard to be what he thinks is clever.

Much like Ms. Selak, Bad Catholic uncovers some truth (emphasis on some). He describes a group of young adults who want a different kind of Church. Bad Catholic makes the case that young people want what he terms the transcendentals, the mystery that life is not about us, but rather about the mystery beyond us. He goes on to say that the young are actually attracted by “the good and the beautiful” a centerpiece of Balthazarian (Hans Ur Van Balthazar) theology.

Ms. Selak would tend toward Rahnerian (Karl Rahner) theology which responds to the “signs of the times” and engages science in dialogue and admits that they have something to contribute as opposed to being diametrically opposed to their school of thought.

And I don’t doubt that in the circles that each of these authors run in, that these are the types of young adults that they find. But I believe that young adults are far more varied than either of these articles make them out to be, especially when you look outside the usual Catholic enclaves of Catholic Universities and Catholic parishes. Bad Catholic describes young adults who show up at mass each week and have grown up in Catholic enclaves or have had serious conversion experiences. Selak describes Catholics who find value in the church and probably have grown up in the church, but find it hard to square their youthful religious formation with adult critical thinking.

But few young adults fall into these groups directly.

Sociologically speaking, many young adults are at best nominal Catholics. Some not only find the church irrelevant, they find it ridiculous. Many are frustrated with what they find to be the hypocrisy of religion, or better stated, religious people, who claim to follow the gospel and yet most often, disregard the needs of others. People they perceive who represent religious entities in general are often looked upon as mean-spirited, awkward, or just plain goofy.

Most of them are not concerned about the relevance of Catholicism, most are unconcerned about religion in general and don’t plan on seeking out a religious path anytime soon. I’m finding more and more Catholics within this circle and my colleagues are finding that this is true as well. The truth they seek comes more from Richard Dawkins than Rahner or Balthazar.

But they are not necessarily hostile towards religion, they just don’t want to be part of an institution that lends itself to so much hypocrisy.
The sex abuse scandal didn’t help and the fact that often we seem less likely to dialogue with others who are in their world (in science, politics) only seems to exile religion farther away from the mainstream.

Simply put, most young adults simply don’t want a church that makes them weary. The endless arguing internally in the church divides young people further from us. The constant focus on one issue, abortion, isn’t beyond their respect for our tenacity, but also falls short of their holistic expectations of caring for mothers beyond birth, pregnancy prevention, the danger of AIDS and STDs and the need to openly talk with teens and young adults about the power of sex and how it may hurt them if they take this too lightly.

The Catholic focus on freedom is something that widely attracts them once they find out about it …the freedom needed to become the person God hopes we cooperate with–that frees us from our prejudices, biases, bad experiences and most of all, our fear. Our fear that God may not really love us because of our failures. Our fear that God may not exist at all and that the neo-darwinists may be right. Our fear that God isn’t enough for us and so we turn to sex, consumerism and anything else that we think might fill that hole in our lives. But instead, what is most often found is the minutia of political infighting.

And that friends is the stuff of weary young adults. And it makes the church they want an impossibility. A church where they can overcome fear through dialogue and searching for answers to age-old questions. They seek a church where all are welcome and gifts are honored. They seek a church that spends more time outside the four walls caring for those most disenfranchised in society than inside caring for themselves. And yet they want the freedom to talk with spiritual mentors about their journey, fears and questions and they hope they’ll have patience and time for each one of them.

But right now, those we’re not reaching that we are called to inspire are not finding us. Because most of the time we’re too busy with maintenance of a church that doesn’t speak to their experience or inspire them greatly and a church that doesn’t listen to all of them, but only those in the club who tend to make the most noise.

I’m most weary of that. And soon we won’t have to worry. Because young Catholics aren’t choosing between Rahner and Balthazar…they are choosing between religious practice in a community and chucking a spiritual search altogether in frustration. We spend too much time talking about those on the extreme ends of the Catholic Young Adult Spectrum. In doing so, we miss the vast middle, who long to be inspired.

And that, friends, makes the church a weary one.

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Violence Begets Violence

I was 13 and was sitting by the window in my parent’s apartment. I walked away and then I heard that sound.

Gunfire.

It has a unmistakable sound, especially when it is followed by screaming.

A young man was shot on the corner of my block, in suburban Yonkers. By no means was it a great area. Often I lived in fear, especially when you had to walk passed a group of people who you just knew wanted to mess with an easy target like me.

Ricky was one of the Park guys. A group of young men who hung out and drank beer together in Sullivan’s Oval, the neighborhood park. He worked and was generally an upstanding citizen. I remember him once trying to teach a developmentally disabled guy to not be afraid of his friend’s large and intimidating Doberman. He was patient and generally wanted to keep the peace amongst neighbors.

Ricky saw two kids fighting over a stickball bat. He stepped in and broke the fight up. Told them to stop it and sent them on their way. That decision cost him his life. The father of one of the boys came out and shot him in cold blood.

He would die later the next day.

Friends thought of how they could plot revenge. The police did their best to calm the neighborhood down. But I was determined at a young age to never get involved with violence. I was tired of seeing people afraid and tired of being afraid.

BustedHalo’s FPG Calendar asks us to

FAST from watching violent movies or television today.

PRAY for those who have lost loved ones to violence.

And GIVE $5 or more to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national bipartisan coalition of mayors working to make America’s communities safer by keeping illegal guns out of dangerous hands.

So today I won’t watch any TV and will pray for Rick and his family and all those effected by violence. I’m on a spending budget so my five dollars will need to wait until another day. But suffice it to say that I support the initiative and will give when I can.

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One Word: Respect

Day #6: of the Fast, Pray, Give Calendar:

So I’ll be honest, I forgot to look this morning at the FPG Calendar and I was cranky for most of the morning because I wasn’t exactly mindful.

But at the end of the day, I was able to spend some time in mindfulness and offered the day to God anyway.

In hindsight the calendar asked of me the following:

FAST from being disrespectful to anyone you encounter today.

PRAY that every experience today is an opportunity for you to exercise respect, grace, and charity.

GIVE unconditional love and kindness to someone who challenges you today.

Well, it turns out that I was able to do this anyway. And a few times during the day I was tempted to disrespect a few folks and I didn’t take that opportunity. So perhaps, God whispers to me anyway and I’m becoming more mindful despite the morning busyness that I had today.

In fact, a student I was with in the afternoon was quite disrespectful to one of my colleagues and we all noticed it and were surprised to see his classmates call him on it.

My opportunity to give came with many friends and colleagues today when I was able to show them appreciation and love for all they do for me. We spent many hours today really listening to one another, our challenges and our solutions in overcoming obstacles in our lives and jobs.

My friend, Fr. Steven Bell, CSP also called me today to discuss an upcoming trip I’m taking to visit him and speak at St Paul’s. I noticed that when I said something self-depricating, Fr. Steve would immediately debunk that thought, turning my negativity into a positive. I was able to hold that with me for most of the day and it was my moment of gratitude during my evening examen tonight.

I also began to self-depricate thinking that the Theology on Tap event we hosted tonight might not have many attendees. Instead, we had many more than we expected. Not a huge crowd, but better than we had thought.

It seems, more often than not, that the one I least respect just might be me. And perhaps lent is God’s time to nudge me away from that and into a more wonderful space where God can show me all that I am and know that I am more than enough.

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Change Me, Lord

Prayer doesn’t change God, prayer changes us. Kathleen Norris, the great spiritual writer was featured in the BustedHalo Fast, Pray, Give calendar today and she mentions that when we pray we ask to be changed as opposed to asking God to change something with no effort on our part, as a kind of magical being who performs at our beck and call.

Lent indeed is the stuff of this attitude. What is it that needs to die in order for us to move into a new way of being. To change for the better is what lent calls each one of us.

For myself, I have a tendency to jump to negative conclusions. I often move into the half-empty mode before gathering enough information or clarifying what others say to me.

When we begin to change attitudes, we start to see healthier options and options that lead us to more greatly respect ourselves as well as others. We begin to see how wasteful some of our energies are spent. The people we failed to forgive our of our own vainglory, the ideas we held onto too tightly that were inventions of our imagination, the times we misjudged or failed to give another the benefit of the doubt and the times we just failed to bother to care at all.

Prayer, listening to the quiet parts of our innermost being, where God resides in our hearts, closer to us than we could imagine, brings us into a place where we not only can hear what God is really trying to tell us, but where the truth can no longer hide from us.

Or rather, where we can no longer hide from the truth.

The truth about us is that God loves us more than we could imagine. And that truth is enough to change us. It can make the most hardened criminal become a proverbial good thief, asking only for Christ to remember him, even the bad stuff and trusting that God could look beyond that into forgiveness to see more than the evil that he has committed.

Can we see the same in ourselves, seeing beyond our darkness, our most vulnerable parts to see what God sees in us? In fact, can we see that God touches all of who we are, even our most vulnerable pieces of our darkness, changing it, but only with our cooperation.

Prayer invites us to change. To see what is true about who we are and who we most hope to be. Today, I tried to be most satisfied with the person that I am. To know that I am enough as I am. To not assume the worst about myself or that others assume the worst about me. Fasting from the negativity that I most often entertain.

I spent time in prayer hoping to see and hear others as they are. To hear their concerns and be able to be there for them, to be present in the way that Christ is present to me in prayer, revealing to me what I most need to see and hear.

And I was able to spend some time to help another see God a bit more clearly in their lives, hoping to see a glimpse of God in them myself.

And it was more than enough.

It always is.

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One Meal Offered

Day #4: Fast, Pray Give:

So I checked into BustedHalo this morning and found that they were asking me to give up one meal today. And it’s a morning that I was particularly hungry. So skipping breakfast was not going to happen. I was also trying to finish the egg beaters before they went bad.

So I chose to skip dinner. And I’m cranky already. In fact, I’ve been cranky all morning and very nearly fell asleep at my desk a while back.

I’m trying to practice what I preach. Each Friday I’m starting to gather students and young adults together for a simple Friday meal of Soup and Bread, an early gathering on their way home from school or work. This week we talked about what we needed to fast from, emotionally or physically. I talked about under-confidence, others talked about other things that weigh them down.

And to rid ourselves of these things we need to suffer, even if just a bit.

It’s hard to lose a few pounds, to get healthier when we have bad habits, to not eat when we’d like to gorge. But we need to keep in mind that this is actually a luxury for us! How many people would relish the opportunity to be able to say that they can fast from one meal? Most people in the world only get one meal a day–if they’re lucky.

And so for one day, I will be among them. I’ve put lunch off for a bit and will eat that soon before forgoing dinner. I’m trying to keep my energy up with other engaging things. Exercise usually makes me hungry if I do it in the afternoon, so that’s not going to happen for me today–and I’m working on a bunch of projects as well.

Keeping busy, isn’t the point though—mindfulness is. So I began to remember the hungry today–those who seek out food pantries and soup kitchens, those who won’t eat anything today and those far away who may not eat for several days. I watched the movie Hunger the other night about Bobby Sands who went on a Hunger Strike to protest the treatment of Irish republicans who tried to regain political status when it was revoked by the British government in 1976. Sure, ’tis a fine thing for us to be free in America and have the power to try and create change. For many, that is a pipedream.

We indeed do have much to be grateful for and many to pray for who have much less. Today let us keep the hungry in mind and recall that we can always find food somewhere. Others may not have that luxury.

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Fast, Pray, Give: Day 3

There’s a difference between being hungry and being homeless. Whenever I do some kind of community service I find I’m more drawn to working with the hungry, but not so much with the homeless. Hungry people get their needs met by getting a meal, a temporary relief from the pangs of hunger. Even students who get a free meal from campus ministry are easily satisfied with a free meal from someone.

But it’s a lot harder to satisfy someone without a home.

What’s worse is that a good deal of the time the homeless can be nasty to us when we try to serve them. Dorothy Day even told Catholic Worker volunteers once that they should prepare themselves for that. “If you’re going to work with the poor, be prepared to work with ungrateful and hard-headed people.”

But aren’t we also a bit like that? I know this week I’m looking at a home I own in Queens that I’m having a hard time selling and I’m cursing my home. I have a leaky faucet in my house in the Buffalo suburbs and sometimes when there’s drama at home, I’d rather be somewhere else.

Home is not always where the heart is.

Perhaps therein lies the problem. We are not always satisfied with what we have, but rather are consistently and constantly searching for more.

And there are many who don’t even have the minimum, and we believe they should be happy with just getting that, when we’re not even settled when we have close to the maximum.

At Christmas one year I was on a subway with my then, roommate. We met a homeless man on the D train in the Bronx in New York City much too late at night. He smelled, he was a bit drunk, smoking a cigarette and the conductor could do nothing with him,

“Put that cigarette out!”

“Sorry, can’t hear ya,”

And it’s not like too many cops are around at three in the morning.

Eventually the conductor gave up his argument. And moved down the cars. It was then that the homeless man looked at us and said:

“Guys, I’m tired. I’ve lost everything and they’re trying to take more away from me. They took my house, they took my kids, they will probably even take away this old bottle soon enough. But they can’t take away what’s in my heart…they can’t take away my talent.”

Then he told us that he liked us and that he wanted to sing us a “tired song.”

And in that Christmas Season “Chestnuts roasting on an Open Fire” had never sounded better than when that man sung it for his heart. We laughed when he said “from kids from one to ninety-NINE” (the correct words are 92, to rhyme with the final words Merry Christmas to you”) but it was no matter. We were satisfied with that and so was he. He never asked for money, or even a bit of food. What he sought most of all that night was dignity.

And perhaps, just by listening to his song, we restored a bit of that to him that night. A tip of his cap as we left gave us a warm good-bye as if we were leaving an old friend of the family, and perhaps we were as 24 years later I still remember him.

We often hunger for more than food and the homeless often seek more than four walls. We get misguided in not being satisfied with what we have when others are deprived of the basics. In restoring dignity to all, we give other people an opportunity to be renewed, to see themselves as God does.

And it is more than enough.

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Fast Pray Give: Day #1

Last night Phil Fox Rose inspired me and invited the 20s and 30s group at St Joe’s to take more seriously the tenets of Lent, namely: Fasting, Praying and Giving or Almsgiving.

So I thought I would take his words to heart. One line in particular struck me. Phil answered a question from Dawn, one of our PhD candidates in Geology at the University. She asked: “Is it OK if I just do one of the tenets really well and the other two a bit less?”

Phil’s response struck me: “I’d say we should try to whatever we can do thoughtfully as opposed to all three superficially.”

And so I thought that I’d try to keep up with the BustedHalo Fast, Pray, Give Calendar for Lent this year and to try to do each of these things as mindfully as I can.

I’ve embedded the calendar to the right so you can play along at home.

And so here is my first attempt:

I was asked to FAST from my biggest worldly vice today. I took this under the “Catholic” ideal of fasting which is to only have one full serving per day, but instead of food, I substituted WORK and began to fast from that. I’m clearly a workaholic at times and often my wife has to compete with my ministry. So I shut the computer off after a morning of answering some necessary emails and this is the first time I reopened it today. Today happened to be a day off for me—so that was a good day to try this and make it a true day off. My thoughts were still occupied with work thoughts but I also was able to put a nice Valentine’s Day gift for my wife together and send some early birthday cards and take the dog on a longer walk. I did a bit of exercise and watched a relaxing show on Netflix and read a bit for pleasure.

I was also asked to PRAY for humility and so I need to realize the the world will not fall apart if I just take a breath and not work so hard. If it were totally up to me, that would be unfortunate because there’s no way I could do it all. So I’d be trying to do the impossible.

And lastly I had to GIVE others the benefit of the doubt today. This morning I read a local news story and immediately jumped to certain conclusions about some involved who I’m familiar with. I caught myself early and was able to offer not judgement, but assistance to those involved. I was then able to pray that collaboration can continue for all those involved. It was really freeing to not jump to the horrible thoughts immediately and I’m hoping more fruit can be borne from this.

I’m off now to a Valentine’s Day dinner and a play at the Irish Theatre here in Buffalo with my bride. She’s great and I know sometimes I don’t give her the benefit of the doubt either, pre-judging her before giving her a chance to contribute to the conversation.

So day 1 is nearly done. How about you? What might you be doing for Lent?

I’ll be posting on this each day, probably towards the end of the day, along with of course news on the Pope and much more. Hope you can join in the fun—fun you say? Indeed! Lent needs not be an awful experience. We may very well need to fast or to pray or to give something away in order to be truly free.

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