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Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Litany of Our Lord's Passion 

From EWTN.com, appropriate for Lent, and a nice prayer to say in conjunction with "The Passion of the Christ".


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

(To each of the following, respond "Have mercy on us.")
God the Father of Heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, One God,

Jesus, the eternal Wisdom,
Jesus, conversing with men,
Jesus, hated by the world,
Jesus, sold for thirty pieces of silver,
Jesus, prostrate in prayer,
Jesus, strengthened by an angel,
Jesus, agonizing in a bloody sweat,
Jesus, betrayed by Judas with a kiss,
Jesus, bound by the soldiers,
Jesus, forsaken by your disciples,
Jesus, before Annas and Caiaphas,
Jesus, struck by a servant on the face,
Jesus, accused by false witnesses,
Jesus, declared worthy of death,
Jesus, spit upon in the face,
Jesus, blindfolded,
Jesus, smitten on the cheek,
Jesus, thrice denied by Peter,
Jesus, delivered up to Pilate,
Jesus, despised and mocked by Herod,
Jesus, clothed in a white garment,
Jesus, rejected for Barabbas,
Jesus, torn by sources,
Jesus, bruised for our sins,
Jesus, regarded as a leper,
Jesus, covered with a purple robe,
Jesus, crowned with thorns,
Jesus, struck with a reed,
Jesus, demanded for crucifixion,
Jesus, condemned to death,
Jesus, given up to your enemies,
Jesus, laden with the Cross,
Jesus, led as a lamb to the slaughter,
Jesus, stripped of your garments,
Jesus, fastened with nails to the Cross,
Jesus, wounded for our iniquities,
Jesus, praying for your murderers,
Jesus, reputed with the wicked,
Jesus, blasphemed on the Cross,
Jesus, reviled by the malefactor,
Jesus, giving Paradise to the thief,
Jesus, commending Saint John to your Mother as her son,
Jesus, forsaken by your Father,
Jesus, given gall and vinegar to drink,
Jesus, testifying that all things written concerning you were accomplished,
Jesus, commending your spirit into the hands of your Father,
Jesus, obedient even unto death,
Jesus, pierced with a lance,
Jesus, made a propitiation for us,
Jesus, taken down from the Cross,
Jesus, laid in a sepulcher,
Jesus, rising gloriously from the dead,
Jesus, ascending into heaven,
Jesus, our Advocate with the Father,
Jesus, sending down the Holy Spirit,
Jesus, exalting your Mother,
Jesus, who shall come to judge the living and the dead,

Be merciful, Spare us, O Jesus.
Be merciful, Graciously spare us, O Jesus.

(To each of the following, respond "Deliver us, O Jesus.")
From all evil,
From all sin,
From anger, hatred, and every evil will,
From war, famine, and pestilence,
From all dangers of mind and body,
From everlasting death,
Through your most pure conception,
Through your miraculous nativity,
Through your humble circumcision,
Through your baptism and fasting,
Through your labors and watchings,
Through your cruel scourging and crowning,
Through your thirst, and tears, and nakedness,
Through your precious death and Cross,
Through your glorious resurrection and ascension,
Through your sending forth the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete,

(To each of the following, respond "We beseech you, hear us.")
On the day of judgment, we sinners,
That you would spare us,
That you would pardon us,
That you would bring us to true penance,
That you would pour into our hearts the grace of the Holy Spirit,
That you would defend and propagate your Church,
That you would preserve and increase all societies assembled in your holy Name,
That you would bestow upon us true peace, humility, and charity,
That you would give us perseverance in grace and in your holy service,
That you would deliver us from unclean thoughts, the temptations of the devil, and everlasting damnation,
That you would unite us to the company of your Saints,
That you would graciously hear us,

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

Poor St. Oswald! 

St. Oswald is lucky he is enjoying his eternal reward with God in Heaven, because here on Earth he doesn't get a lot of respect. His memorial is February 29, which means it comes around only once every four years. To add insult to injury, his manner of death in 992 was a bit off the beaten path, to say the least. AmericanCatholic.org's Saint of the Day feature spells it out:

"The last acts in the life of today’s saint make for an amazing story. In truth, they merely underscore the holiness he exhibited throughout his life.

Born into a military family in 10th-century England, Oswald was a nephew of the archbishop of Canterbury, who raised him and played a crucial role in his early education. Oswald continued his studies abroad in France, where he was ordained a Benedictine monk.

Following his appointment as bishop of Worcester, and later as archbishop of York, he founded monasteries and introduced many reforms. He supported—and improved—scholarship at the abbeys he established, inviting leading thinkers in such fields as mathematics and astronomy to share their learnings.

He was widely known for his sanctity, especially his love for the poor. The final winter of his life was spent at the cathedral in Worcester that he so loved. At the start of Lent in February of the year 992, he resumed his usual practice of washing the feet of 12 poor men each day. On Leap Year Day, February 29, he died after kissing the feet of the 12th man and giving a blessing.

The news of Oswald’s death brought an outpouring of grief throughout the city."


At the risk of being somewhat irreverant, I can't help but wonder if Oswald maybe didn't wash the feet of that 12th man thoroughly enough!

Happy Leap Day! 

I dug way back in the archives and found this article, Blame it on Pope Gregory, on CNN.com from 1999. It gives some interesting background on how it is that we are sitting here looking at February 29 on the calendar instead of March 1. Of course, it's got a Catholic twist.

Every school kid is told that leap years occur every four years, but there is an exception and an exception to the exception. Leap years occur every four years except for century years (such as 1900) but including every 400th year (such as 2000). In other words, 1900 wasn't a leap year, 2000 was and 2100 won't be.

Julius Caesar created the four-year rule to make up for the fact that one-quarter of a day is left over at the end of each year. So an extra day was created every four years, thereby expanding the Julian calendar from 365 to 366 days. The extra day is Feb. 29.

However, the length of the year isn't exactly 365.25 days, but closer to 365.2422. By the 16th century, the resulting round-off error had accumulated to the point where the Roman Catholic Church became seriously concerned because religious holidays weren't being celebrated on the right days. The calendar was off by 10 days.

So Pope Gregory XIII created two new leap year rules: the 100-year rule that excludes century years and the 400-year rule that re-includes them.

As a onetime correction, to get things back in sync, Thursday, Oct. 4, 1582, was followed by Friday, Oct. 15, 1582. Now it's called the Gregorian calendar.

More Personal Aftereffects of Viewing "The Passion" 

Midday today, when I would normally flip on the TV or crack open a book, I felt compelled to jump in the car and go see if the parish church was open. Sure enough, the doors were unlocked, and it was empty and very silent. I took a place in front of the tabernacle and prayed for close to an hour. It just seemed like where I had to be.

Also, as other reviewers have mentioned, I will now look at things differently when praying the Stations of the Cross or the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. It's human nature I think to have certain mental pictures when we pray of religious figures or events of which we don't have photographs. They may be derived from paintings or sculpture, or from films we have seen. Being a child of the TV generation, I think most of my religious imagery is derived from Zeferelli's 1977 mini-series "Jesus of Nazareth". However, "The Passion" was so vivid and well-made, I think those images have overridden those I previously held in my brain. How can one forget the things seen in a film with that kind of power, especially those scenes that involved Jesus and Mary together?

Speaking of Mary, my already rock-solid devotion to her as mother of Our Savior was made even deeper by "The Passion". I can't imagine how Gibson could have presented the Blessed Mother any more effectively on film than he did. Mary's words, actions, emotions and facial expressions were perfect, and Maia Morgenstern, the Jewish Romanian actress who portrayed her, was the ideal choice for the role. I feel that if only one person involved in the film could get an Academy Award, it should go to Ms. Morgenstern. Her Mary is the gold standard to which all portayals of the Virgin Mother should be compared.

Photo © Copyright Newmarket Film Group
Maia Morgenstern as Mary in "The Passion of the Christ"

"The Passion of the Christ" Reviewed, Finally 

I saw "The Passion of the Christ" at the theater last night. It was everything that it was touted to be and more, and I would highly recommended the film to adults and most teens 15+ (with adult supervision).

Prior to seeing it, one would be wise to do a little legwork and read the accounts of Christ's passion in the four gospels, particularly the events in Jesus' life from the raising of Lazarus onward. Gibson's film doesn't provide much context for what we see, assuming that the viewers already know the backstory. Unfortunately, many who have seen the film do not know the backstory, or at least do not know it well. One would also do well to spend some time at the film's official website, www.thepassionofthechrist.com/, and to read critics' reviews from a variety of sources.

The movie is not for everyone, even if its message is. There are many devout and holy people I know who simply could not stomach the graphic nature of the film, and who therefore I would not recommend it to at all. As I sat in the theater prior to the showing, I was somewhat amused to see the same phenomenon that Jeff Miller of "The Curt Jester" blog mentioned in his review that I cited here yesterday: people walking in bearing huge bags of popcorn and vats of soda. They munched and slurped happily as they awaited the start of the film, and even into the first ten or so minutes, I could detects the sound of people consuming their treats. Once the scene of the soldiers beating on Jesus in Gesthemane came up, I noticed a marked drop in the sound of eating and drinking. Soon, the sounds of sniffles and nose-blowing began to arise in the theater, and as the lights rose and we all walked to the exits, I noted many, many almost-full bags of popcorn and containers of soda still sitting in the seats. I don't know what those people were expecting, but this was no Indiana Jones film. I ate a light dinner about an hour before showtime, and was feeling a bit queasy myself by the end of the movie, and I usually have a strong stomach for film violence.

All of the actors and actresses in the film, to a person, were excellent. Many of them deserved Academy Award nominations this time next year, as do Gibson, his production people, and of course the film itself. In addition to Jim Caviezel who portrayed Christ, Maia Morgenstern, the actress who played the Virgin Mary was exceptional, as was Rosalinda Celentano, who portrayed Satan. Granted, the Satan character was not very nice, needless to say, but the part was exceptionally well-acted. Of course, you've got a better chance of building a snowman at the Equator in July than seeing the liberal Hollywood establishment bestow any type of mainstream award on this film.

As far as characters who I felt fared well in the film, here is a listing:
*Jesus (of course)
*The Virgin Mary
*The Apostle John
*Dismas (the good thief)
*Mary Magdelene
*Simon the Cyrene
*Pilate's wife
*Veronica
*Most of the women in the film

Characters who came off looking pretty bad in their actions in the film:
*Judas
*The other apostles except John
*The Temple elite
*Most of the Roman soldiers (particularly the scourgers, who seemed almost not human)
*The malleable mob incited by the Temple elite
*King Herod (a really, really freaky guy in the film, reminded me of someone I went to high school with)
*Anybody bald (don't ask me why I noticed this, since I am not bald myself, but it seemed to be the case that bald=bad guy)
*Most men in general

The flashback scenes of the Last Supper, the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus early life as a little boy and as a young carpenter were extremely moving and well done. They made me yearn for a Gibson-filmed version of the other events in Jesus' life, other than just the last 12 hours.

I don't know if it's appropriate to have a "favorite part" in a film like this, but after reading Domenico's review over at Bettnet, he made an observation on a scene that made it my favorite in retrospect. At the very start of the film, Jesus is praying in big-time agony in the Garden of Gesthemene as the very-creepy Satan taunts Him and tries to make Him doubt His ability to die for the sins of all. A large white snake crawls toward Jesus as He lies on the bare ground in prayer, highly distressed. Just when it looks like the snake is about to reach Jesus, He stands up and stomps hard on its head, killing it. Domenico reminds us in his review that Jesus is "the new Adam", and this time when tempted in the garden, the outcome was very different. Satan was not successful in his temptation and his snake was crushed into applesauce.

Finally, a few words about the alleged anti-Semitism. On the surface, the film does make a lot of Jews look pretty bad. If one doesn't have the context for the events, which is one of the most consistent criticisms Gibson has received for the film, then one might be able to draw the conclusion of anti-Semitism. However, having the context myself, I agree with the statement of the Church back in the 60s that the Jews as a people were not responsible for the death of Jesus. Theologically, it was all of us who caused His death, but concretely, it was the Temple elite, under the direction of Caiaphus. The Temple elite, under Caiaphus' direction, incited their followers, the Jews who happened to be in the vicinity of the proceedings into a mob mentality. In addition to the primal feelings that awaken in many people when a mob action occurs, fear probably played no small part in their actions. To this day, we hear of mobs that do horrendous things as a group, even though many, if not most of the individual people in the mob are good and decent folks.

The reactions of Peter in the midst of this atmosphere might shed light on what many of the people in the crowd were facing. When he was accused of being one of Jesus' followers, he denied it. Why? For fear that if he stood up in support of Jesus, that he too would face the same brutality that Our Lord was enduring. While Peter is the most obvious example, surely many others in that crowd who either supported Jesus, or at the very least did not feel he should be punished in such an extreme manner, were fearful to remain silent or express support for Jesus, because they did not want to meet a similar fate at the hands of the mob. They should have gotten the heck out of there like Peter did if that was their fear, and many of them probably did. However, the proceedings were probably like passing an accident on a modern-day highway. It's very hard for some people to turn the other way when coming upon it. Their actions were not unexpected, and almost any other group of people under similar circumstances would have likely acted the same way.

Because of the nature of how women and young children were treated in the culture at the time, their opinions didn't count for much, if anything. Therefore, in this instance, it worked in their favor, since the women and children could openly express their grief and opposition to the proceedings against Jesus. Their opinions were ignored of course, but at least they could be true to themselves and their belief in Jesus.

And even if every single Jew in that mob was thirsty for the death of Jesus, it was only a total of a few hundred out of who knows how many hundreds of thousands of Jewish people in the world at that time. It's not fair to condemn an entire creed because of the actions of a tiny minority. If that was the case, Catholicism would be in big trouble today because of the actions of abusive clergy.

To put it bluntly, if anyone comes out of that film with a newfound dislike of the Jewish people because of how a group of them were depicted in the film, then they are total morons.

"The Passion of the Christ" is NOT anti-Semitic, but it is a complex film that requires some preparation in order to fully understand the intentions behind it. Do your homework, then go see it!


Sunday Night Update: Attention, Hollywood! Early box-office numbers indicate that "The Passion of the Christ" made more money this weekend than all the other top 12 films in wide release COMBINED!

Too Many People Get "Lost" 

'Lost' Signs Force Village to Change Name from the Associated Press via Yahoo News.

There's a little village in Scotland with a population of less than two dozen named "Lost". It comes from the Celtic word for "inn". Apparently, the road signs pointing to their tiny hamlet are constantly being stolen, so they've decided to change their name to "Lost Farm".

I've been told to "get lost" many a time. Now what will I do? If the town of Hell, Michigan changes its name too, then I'm really stuck, since I've been directed to go there on more than a few occasions as well.

AP Photo/ Harvey Wood
How to get Lost.

Results of Last Week's Poll on Lenten Sacrifices 

The question was: "What are you planning to make for a Lenten sacrifice this year?"

The Results:

*Giving up a thing (i.e.-a favorite food, TV program) (44.4%)

*I'm not making a Lenten sacrifice this year. (33.3%)

*Giving up a negative behavior (i.e.-gossiping, overeating) (16.7%)

*Giving up a non-negative behavior (i.e.-renting movies, going to parties) (5.6%)


In keeping with the Ash Wednesday gospel reading (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18), I'm not going to elaborate on my vote as I normally would in this space. Suffice it to say, my vote is in there somewhere.

Standard disclaimer: This is not a scientific poll, just a snapshot of the sentiments of visitors to this blog in the past week who have chosen to take part. You may only vote once from a given computer, and neither the polling service nor I can track the origins of votes.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Gay Marriage Debate: Remember, He Didn't Place Adam and Steve in the Garden of Eden 

I'll let the Holy Father, Pope John Paul do the talking for me on this one, from the ever-reliable Zenit.org--The World Seen from Rome news site.

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 26, 2004 - At a time when new "family" models are being proposed, John Paul II says that the marital union between a man and a woman is part of God's plan itself.

"Marriage and the family cannot be considered as a simple product of historical circumstances, or a superstructure imposed from outside on human love," the Pope said today when meeting with the parish priests of his diocese, Rome.

"On the contrary, they [the family and marriage] are an interior need of this love, so that it can be realized in its truth and in its fullness of mutual self-giving," the Holy Father said in the address he prepared for the meeting, although eventually he preferred to speak spontaneously.

"Even the characteristics of conjugal union, which today are often unknown or rejected, such as its unity, its indissolubility, and its openness to life, are, on the contrary, necessary for the pact of love to be authentic," John Paul II explained.

"Precisely in this way the bond that unites man and woman becomes the image and symbol of the covenant between God and his People, which finds in Jesus Christ its definitive fulfillment," he added. "Because of this, among the baptized, marriage is a sacrament, an efficacious sign of grace and salvation."

To understand the family and to help it, it is necessary to go back to its "source," namely, "to God, who is Love and who lives within himself a mystery of a personal communion of love," John Paul II explained.

"In creating humanity out of love in his image, God inscribed in man and woman the vocation and, consequently, the capacity and responsibility of love and communion," he said.

"This vocation can be realized in two specific ways: marriage and virginity," the Holy Father said. "Both are, therefore, each one in its proper form, a concretization of the most profound truth of man, of his being image of God."

"God's plan has not changed, who has inscribed in man and woman the vocation to love and to the family. Today the action of the Holy Spirit is no less intense, gift of Christ, dead and risen," he continued.

"And no error, no sin, no ideology, no human deceit can do away with the profound structure of our being, which needs to be loved and in turn is capable of truly loving," the Pope added.


It seem that there are trolls out there who monitor the Catholic blogs and the conservative blogs for any fisking of gay marriage, and then register their vitriolic opinions in the COMMENTS box. So be it. It's my blog, these are my opinions, and I am as free to express my opinions on my blog as they would be on theirs. The only time I would remove their comments would be if they are offensively worded or personal attacks. Dissent is fine here, offensiveness isn't.

The Low-Carbohydrate Craze 

You've heard about the low-carb diet craze sweeping the country lately. We usually hear about diets in the news at the start of each year, but this low-carb thing has more legs than most. My suspicion is that it is because the Atkins Diet Incorporated people are investing in advertising and products to perpetuate its popularity and make a few more bucks in the process. Popular fast food restaraunts are offering bunless burgers (sacriliege!), and bakeries around the nation are fearing for their bottom line. It's a fad. Trust me.

Back in 1999, my physician said I needed to lose a few pounds. I wasn't, and still am not, a very overweight person. If you look at the charts, I'm about 15-20 pounds more than I should be for my frame, but my weight is not the most noticeable thing about me when you see me. (That would probably be my constant need for a haircut, even after I've just gotten one.) Nonetheless, the good doctor said to trim some pounds and gave me a guide that was the low-carb diet.

So, I gave it a shot, and stayed with it for about three months. I did indeed shed some pounds. Between 10 and 15 as I recall. The diet was easy at first, but soon grew boring. True, man cannot live by bread alone, but I learned that he can't really live well without it at all either. After a few weeks, I missed potatoes and potato products terribly, and I would have given almost anything for a plate of lasagna. Plus, I didn't like the odor of bacon smelling up the house every morning. The only part of the diet that has stayed with me as a habit has been my guzzling of unsweetened grapefruit juice, which I developed a taste for, and which makes other citrus juices seem rather mild to me in comparison.

Long story short, low-carb gradually petered out for me, and the pounds gradually came back. Interestingly, the pounds did not and have not exceeded the point where they were before the diet. That's not to say I could still stand to lose them though. I suspect that many who are on the low-carb diets will meet the same fate as me in time.

Here's my diet plan: Eat a well-balanced diet with reasonably-sized proportions. Try to break the snack habit and don't eat between meals. Finally... exercise! You don't have to go to a gym every day and turn yourself into the next Mr. or Ms. Universe, but get out and take a relaxing walk each day, or hop on a bike a few times a week. Use your feet instead of the car if the weather and distance permit. That, plus incidental exercise like working around the house and yard, and taking the stairs as opposed to the elevator will make a difference.

Bring back bread, especially warm, homemade Irish Oatmeal Bread!

The Original Lord of the Rings 

Check out this photo:

Photo from NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute
Saturn and its rings take center stage in the Cassini spacecraft's latest picture, snapped from 43.1 million miles away. The moon Enceladus is faintly visible in the upper left corner of the image. (MSNBC)


MSNBC's senior space writer Robert Roy Britt has a full article about the latest on the Cassini space probe mission here: Cassini probe snaps close-up of Saturn

This snapshot from the Cassini probe just blows my mind. NASA has lots of irons in the fire, and we sometime forget that there are probes out there winging their way to distant objects in space, since it takes so long for them to get there. You might remember Cassini from the controversy in 1997 upon its launch. There was fear that if the launch failed within Earth's atmosphere, the nuclear materials on board the probe would cause big trouble. Fortunately, it went up without a hitch.

The Cassini mission has unveiled some new mysteries about the ringed planet already. First, some ghostly, spokelike dark markings in the rings that were first seen when the Voyager space probes passed by in the late 70s seem to be no longer visible. And then there is the question of the origin of the rings themselves, about which there are many theories but no definitive answers. (Tony Phillips of Space.com has a good article about this, and by the way, I came up with the title of this post before I found this link.) NASA is also wondering if there are more moons orbiting Saturn than previously known. After all, every time someone aims a telescope at Jupiter they seem to find a new one there. Saturn being the second largest after Jupiter would be a prime candidate to have undiscovered moons as well.

God's great creation never ceases to bring knowledge and awe to His people.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Best Review of "The Passion of the Christ" at St. Blog's so far 

"By his stripes we are healed" is the title of the entry on Jeff Miller's Curt Jester blog. Jeff puts the levity he is so well-known for aside for a moment and gives a very honest and real account of his and his wife's experience of Mel Gibson's epic film.

Attended the Stations of the Cross Today 

It's the first time I've gone in several years, due mainly to schedule conflicts. This particular devotion today was led by representatives of the parish's youth ministry, ranging in age from 8 to 17. I found it very prayerful and the perfect way to start off my weekend. At times things were a bit rough around the edges, but the kids did a great job, and I was so pleased to see them there. Too often in many places, the Stations are attended only by the elderly and precious few others. I pray that by taking part in the Stations of the Cross, these kids will make attending a lifelong devotion and spread it to others as well.

Proof that the Papal Mind is still Sharper than a Tack 

According to Zenit.org, "multilingual John Paul II improvised a conversation in a language he has not used until now in his magisterium -- the typical dialect of Rome.

At the Pope's traditional start-of-Lent audience today with the priests of his Diocese of Rome, one of those present called out in the dialect: 'Qua te volemo tutti bene!' (Here we all love you).

The Holy Father answered in the same dialect, encouraging his visitors in their priestly ministry: 'Damose da fa!' (Let's get going).

He then added a typical Roman expression: 'Volemose bene!' (Let's love each other). Amid applause and laughter, he added: 'Semo romani!' (We are Romans).

To the surprised priests and bishops in attendance, John Paul II asked: 'I have not learned "Romanesco". Does it mean that I am not a good Bishop of Rome?'"

Yeah, This Will Work 

Soccer-Euro 2004 Fans to Be Tested for Drunkenness from Reuters via Yahoo News.

Lead: "Fans at the Euro 2004 soccer championship will be tested for drunkenness and those over a certain blood alcohol limit barred from games, Portuguese authorities said on Friday."

Gee, I wonder what the games will be like with no one in the stands?

Gibson on the Tonight Show 

MSNBC has an account of Mel Gibson's appearance on The Tonight Show last night. There were no surprises, although Mel seemed pretty relaxed now that "The Passion of the Christ" was out and doing so well. Of course, he also knew that Jay Leno wasn't going to throw him any nasty curveballs either. You can read about it at MSNBC here: Gibson defends movie on 'Tonight Show'.

Leno gets my vote for the best line of the day in his monologue last night: "Mel Gibson's movie 'The Passion of the Christ' is doing so well that there's now talk of turning it into a book."

Another interesting "Passion" article on MSNBC features the actor who portrayed Jesus in the film, Jim Caviezel, whose star I predict will rise in Hollywood now much as Viggo Mortensen's has after "The Lord of the Rings". Among other fascinating things he reveals, Caviezel relates how he "dangled nearly naked on a cross in bone-chilling winds through weeks of filming. He was struck by lightning during a recreation of the Sermon on the Mount. An actor playing a Roman torturer cut a 14-inch gash in Caviezel’s back during scenes of Christ’s scourging. He dislocated his shoulder carrying the cross, caught pneumonia and a lung infection, endured cuts, scrapes and backaches from the chains he bore."

The entire MSNBC article on Caviezel can be found here: For Caviezel, playing Christ proved to be a challenge

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Spiritual Fuel for Today (and any day) 

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." ~Luke 9:23

AmericanCatholic.org's "Lenten Reflections" has this to offer:

Most of the time we try to avoid suffering ourselves and work to lessen the suffering of others. But when life brings unavoidable suffering to us, we must accept it, learn from it and endure. Pray for the grace to take up your cross and to bear it as Jesus did, on behalf of others.

Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving: Part I 

Last Lent, I discovered a part of the AmericanCatholic.org's website that posts prayer intentions. It is a very popular and user-friendly prayer request bulletin board, and an easy yet effective way to amplify your prayers through others. I try to post an intention each day during Lent, and include the entire listing as one of my intentions when I say my daily prayers.

When viewing the requests, it's easy to dismiss some as trivial, but I try hard not to. Sure, a person asking for prayers for her cat's sore leg doesn't seem to be as important as someone asking for healing from a terrible disease, but all things being relative, no intentions are more or less important than others to the person making them.

The American Catholic Prayer Intentions site is here. Take a look, add an intention, and include the listing in your prayers.

Bishop Gerry Takes the Abuse Bull by the Horns in His Final Days in Office 

The Portland Press Herald newspaper has been very good about covering all aspects of the clergy abuse scandal here in the Portland Diocese. Today, there is an article about outgoing Bishop Joseph Gerry, who seems to be valiantly trying to "clear the decks" here in his final days as shepard of Maine's Catholics, so that incoming Bishop Richard Malone can get off on a strong footing on March 31st without having to deal with the residue of the actions (or lack thereof) of previous Bishops of Portland that Gerry has. There are some, myself included, who wish he could have done it sooner, but the Attorney General's report and the one released by John Jay College concerning the final summation of findings of clergy abuse in the Portland diocese and how it was handled have only been released in the past couple of weeks. To the bishop's credit, he has reacted just as soon as he reasonably could.

The headline and link: Bishop Gerry apologizes to abuse victims

Here's part of it:

Portland Bishop Joseph Gerry apologized Wednesday for past reassignments of priests who had been accused of sexually abusing children, and especially for the "immeasurable suffering" caused by one of those priests after he was placed back in an unsuspecting parish.

Gerry issued the unusual statement a day after Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe released a report saying that 63 priests and employees have been accused in the past 75 years, and that at least six of them were counseled and assigned to new parishes after church leaders were made aware of the abuse. In at least one case, according to the report, a priest allegedly abused at least 10 more young girls after he had been accused and transferred.

"That reassignment took place in 1958 and the church learned of the subsequent abuse after his death (in 1990). On behalf of the church, I apologize to the victims for their immeasurable suffering and for the six reassignments of the past. Clearly, different decisions would be made today based on what we have learned about child abuse," the statement said.

Neither Rowe nor church officials would name the priest or identify the parishes involved, citing privacy rights.


It's a well-balanced article, so in addition to pro-diocese information, it also contains statistics from the Attorney General's report that are less than flattering, and several quotes from Maine's Voice of the Faithful spokesman and the national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and mentions an abuse allegation that is still being investigated by the diocese (rather slowly at that) so it's not exactly what you call "warm and fuzzy" toward the bishop or the diocese.

Nonetheless, I pray that this apology is another step toward healing and moving on.

A Lenten Reflection 

This comes directly from EWTN.com's Lenten Reflections, a daily stop on the web for me at this time of year:

WHAT TO GIVE UP . . .

Give up complaining. . . . . . . .focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism. . . . . . . . . become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments . . .think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry. . . . . . . . . . . . . trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement. . . . .be full of hope.
Give up bitterness. . . . . . . . . . turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred. . . . . . . . . . . . . return good for evil.
Give up negativism . . . . . . . . .be positive.
Give up anger. . . . . . . . . . . . . .be more patient.
Give up pettiness. . . . . . . . . . .become mature.
Give up gloom. . . . . . . . . . . . . .enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy. . . . . . . . . . . .pray for trust.
Give up gossiping. . . . . . . . . . .control your tongue.
Give up sin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . turn to virtue.
Give up giving up. . . . . . . . . . . hang in there!

How Free is "Free Speech"? (Rant Warning) 

I've said on this blog several times before that, politically, I am a free speech advocate first, and a conservative second. To paraphrase Voltaire, I don't support all the things that are said or done out there in this world of ours in the name of free speech, but I will defend to the death the right to say or do it.

Like most people, I was appalled by the half-time show at this year's Super Bowl, but on the other hand, I was not surprised. After all, we get the culture we ask for, and that kind of "entertainment" has been garning viewers/listeners in droves. The same applies to "shock jocks" such as those you read about on Matt Drudge's site. (I'm not mentioning them by name, so as not to attract any search engines in this directions with them.) One of them has been taken off the air, and another who broadcasts on a nationwide network of stations has been taken off the stations belonging to one major company.

Now I'm no prude, and I like edgy humor as much as the next guy, but let's face it, these guys push it way too far. However, their removal from the airwaves was not motivated by companies looking to "do the right thing", it was motivated by companies afraid of getting fined by the Federal Communications Commission. In other words: it's all about money, which was the force that got these shock jocks in the cushy positions they held/hold today. If no one was tuning in to these guys, they'd still be reading the hog futures numbers on an AM station in Iowa each morning. But their tasteless schtick brought in listeners, which brought in revenue, which made their bosses happy. When that money looked like it was in jeopardy, their bosses took some action. Decency had nothing to do with it.

I don't mind the FCC levying fines on media outlets for broadcasting inappropriate materials during the hours when young people are most likely to be viewing/listening, but as whenever the government gets their paws on regulating something, I want the parameters to be specific and clear so the boundaries cannot be mistaken. The current rule is that radio stations and over-the-air television channels cannot air material that refers to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. This seems specific and clear enough, although I think I'd like some more specificity in the area of "sexual". I'd also like to see FCC fines levied against the actual offending performers personally (and be even heavier than those on the companies).

The trouble is, as Rush Limbaugh (and I am still proud to quote the man) put it on his show today, "If the government is going to 'censor' what they think is right and wrong...what happens if a whole bunch of John Kerrys or Terry McAuliffes start running this country and decide conservative views are leading to violence?" Hence my call for specificity.

Think about it. Yes, the mass media gave us Ms. Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction", but it also gave us "The Passion of the Christ". It gave us Brittany and Madonna's tongue wrestling episode, but it also gave news and information about democracy to the people of the eastern bloc nations that led them to bring down the Iron Curtain. The mass media can be a tool of unspeakable evil, or a tool of ovewhelming good.

I don't like censoring the media, especially celebrities, because it makes them into a kind of martyr and in some cases enhances their stature (and pocketbooks). I prefer to see them dry up and blow away because no one is watching or listening or buying their products. Whether it's an organized boycott or just an individual choice, if you choose not to tune in to the shock jock's morning show, if you choose not to buy the CDs of the performer who steps over the line, if you choose to change the channel or go to another theater when a program or film offends you, then you are doing your part to see to the demise of that type of "entertainment". If everyone who agrees with you does the same, and there are enough, then those performers will not be such a hot commodity. On the other hand, if there is genuine demand for that type of "entertainment", then it will perpetuate.

Look at "The Passion". Yes, it's controversial, and in this case, it's something of which I am in favor. I plan to show my favor by buying a theater ticket and viewing it. Those opposed to the film, however, have played a very large part in changing "The Passion" from just a film into a phenomenon. The attention and "buzz" generated by those opposed to it has given it a level of free publicity that no studio could afford, and led many who otherwise may not have gone to see it into the theaters out of curiosity. The result?: A $20 million opening day, and the money keeps rolling in. If you go see "The Passion" because you are genuinely interested, I'm all for it. If you go just to see what all the controversy is about, I say "stay home". Wrong reason, friend.

We can all influence what's on TV, radio, movie screens and the Internet by what we do or do not patronize. Making responsible individual choices in the media we consume on a societal scale is the key to getting the popular culture that we deserve.

End of rant. Thank you. We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Passion of the Christ Opens Nationwide 

No, I haven't seen "The Passion" yet. Ash Wednesday Mass and the only showing in time are at the same time tonight, and it wasn't a difficult thing to figure out where I most needed to be. The film will be playing here for some time, but Ash Wednesday Mass comes only once a year. Plus, the Holy Eucharist trumps any movie, any day. I'll slide my hind end into a theater seat within the next few days, for sure.

Word from around the country is predictable at this point: sold-out showings, Christians moved to tears, and the liberal media in full attack mode. Every Jew who utters concern about the film gets on the news, and even the unfortunate event of a woman suffering a heart attack during a showing this morning got a big headline. Since their atacks on Mel Gibson and his family haven't seemed to deter many, the latest means the liberal media is employing to stick a pin in what appears to be a very successful launch of a film about Jesus Christ is their highlighting of every negative and lukewarm review the film has received.

As stated, I haven't seen the film yet, but one reason that Jews may be concerned is that they see the acts of Caiaphus and company as out of context. The Passion tells the story of Christ's last twelve hours before death, and doesn't, from what I understand, give the background of how His preaching and popularity was threatening to upset the delicate balance between the Jews in Judea and their Roman occupiers. The actions of the Jewish High Priest and his associates were not a sudden act of hatred against the personage of Jesus, but the final action in a series of attempts to suppress Him and His growing power and influence over the masses, so as to maintain the "status quo" in Jerusalem at a very tricky time politically.

The supposed "sympathy" of Pilate is also likely taken out of context. He was also well aware of the fine political balance, and had heard of the vrowds that Jesus had attracted. He probably wasn't so excited to put Jesus to death because it might mean unrest and uprisings in his province, which would mean he would have to deal with it. According to legend, he wasn't especially bright or energetic, and putting down an insurrection would have taken more time and energy than he probably wanted to expend. It would have been easier for him personally to let Jesus go or just lock him up for a good long time. The Pilate of the gospels wasn't watching out for Jesus, he was watching out for himself.

I would dare say that the vast majority of those who see the film have that context already. It's like jumping on board a moving train, and most of those seeing it are ready and able to do so without trouble. Those who have very little or no experience with the four gospels might have a hard time putting it all in its proper place.

Lastly, while I respect the opinions of those who feel the film is anti-Semitic, I doubt that I will agree with them after I see the film And their cause is definitely not helped by overly emotional statements like one I heard in a news report today (I can't remember the source, but it's probably Fox Newschannel), where a Jewish man predicted that this film was going to be the start of "a second Holocaust". Hollywood is an influential force, but not that influential.

A caveat: Remember, I haven't seen the film yet. By emphasizing some and deemphasizing others, facts can be used to change the overall perception of an event, and this may be the case with Gibson. I may come back to this blog after viewing the film singing a whole different tune. We'll see.

2/26 UPDATE: Catholic Bishops Rate 'Passion' for Adults Only from FoxNews.com.

Excerpt: "Leave the children at home. The film office for America's Roman Catholic bishops rated "The Passion of the Christ" for adults only Wednesday "due to gory scenes of torture and crucifixion, a suicide and some frightening images."

I would pray that parents would use common sense and not take children to this film. I think parents who want their children to experience something like "The Passion" should pick up the "Jesus of Nazareth" DVDs for kids beyond the age of reason. A child would have to be at least 13, and in many cases older than that, to be able to handle the graphic violence of "The Passion".

Excerpts from the Holy Father's Ash Wednesday Homily 

From Zenit.org:

In the homily, addressed to more than 6,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope described Lent, the 40 days in preparation for Easter, as an "intense time of spiritual training and of generous service to brothers."

"This necessarily entails sacrifices and renunciations. In fact, one must reduce the baggage to the essential so as not to be weighed down on the journey," he said.

"To become genuine disciples of Christ, it is necessary to deny oneself, to take up one's cross every day, and to follow him. It is the arduous path of holiness, which every baptized person is called to follow," the Pope explained.

John Paul II stressed that the "external gestures of penance have value if they are expressions of an interior attitude, if they manifest the firm determination to turn away from evil and walk on the path of goodness. Here is the profound meaning of Christian asceticism."

The Pontiff mentioned the means the Church has always proposed to live this important period of the Christian calendar.

In the first place, "humble and docile adherence to the will of God accompanied by incessant prayer," he said.

Then: "the penitential forms that are typical of the Christian tradition, such as abstinence, fasting, mortification and self-denial, even of goods that are legitimate in themselves."

Finally, the Pope pointed to the "concrete gestures of acceptance in relating to one's neighbor, which today's page of the Gospel evokes with the word 'alms.'"

Photo from Max Rossi / Reuters
Pope John Paul II prays as he leads an Ash Wednesday celebration in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

Ash Wednesday--A Day of Fast and Abstinence 

I took the day off from work today to spend some time in prayer and reflection as the Lenten season begins. Sometimes I get inspired to share my insights with others, but my family can only take so much, so I may or may not be posting things here throughout the day.

As I drain my only cup of coffee of the day (half my normal consumption, taken just to ward off the caffiene headache), I am reminded that today is one of two days of the year that the Church requires fast and abstinence of the Faithful. But, why?

Writer Jennifer Gregory Miller of the excellent CatholicCulture.org has the following article on the site entitled "Why Fasting and Abstinence?"

The regulations of Lenten fasting and abstinence were once quite strict. Neither meat nor animal products (such as dairy and eggs) were to be eaten throughout the forty days, and only one meal per day was allowed. The restrictions were for every day of Lent, except Sundays, which were a day to relax from fasting.

We are required by Church law to observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence according to the fifth precept of the Church. Today, the regulations are not as prohibitive. In 1966, Pope Paul VI issued his Apostolic Constitution on Penance, Pænitemini, which states:

"The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of "Grande Quaresima" (Great Lent), according to the diversity of the rite. Their substantial observance binds gravely."

[A]bstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday or, according to local practice, on the first day of 'Great Lent' and on Good Friday.

1. The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat.

2. The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing—as far as quantity and quality are concerned—approved local custom.

To the law of abstinence those are bound who have completed their 14th year of age. To the law of fast those of the faithful are bound who have completed their 18th year and up until the beginning of their 60th year. As regards those of a lesser age, pastors of souls and parents should see to it with particular care that they are educated to a true sense of penitence.

The United States Bishops issued their document "On Penance and Abstinence" the same year to give the US Catholics spiritual guidelines in implementing the directives in Pænitemini:

"Wherefore, we ask, urgently and prayerfully, that we, as people of God, make of the entire Lenten season a period of special penitential observance. Following the instructions of the Holy See, we declare that the obligation both to fast and to abstain from meat, an obligation observed under a more strict formality by our fathers in the faith, still binds on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on Friday called "Good" because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins."

In keeping with the letter and spirit of Pope Paul's constitution Pænitemini, we preserve for our dioceses the tradition of abstinence from meat on each of the Fridays of Lent, confident that no Catholic Christian will lightly hold himself excused from this penitential practice.

The US Bishops not only reinforce the fasting and abstinence guidelines, they give recommendations on how to continue this spirit of Lent throughout the 40 days:
For all other weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting. In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge particularly during Lent, generosity to local, national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the traditional Lenten devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the Rosary) and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of "mortification."

Let us witness to our love and imitation of Christ, by special solicitude for the sick, the poor, the underprivileged, the imprisoned, the bed-ridden, the discouraged, the stranger, the lonely, and persons of other color, nationalities of background other than our own. A catalogue of not merely suggested but required good works under these headings is provided by Our Blessed Lord himself in his description of the Last Judgment (cf. Mt 25:34-40). This salutary word of the Lord is necessary for all the year, but should be heeded with double care during Lent.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Suppression of Parishes in the Boston Archdiocese 

As you've likely heard, the Archdiocese of Boston is making some draconian cuts and closing many parishes. Today, it was announced that the archdiocese will be suppressing parishes rather than merging them, which means that all assets and liabilities will go to the archdiocese.

Not being a resident of the archdiocese and not having followed this issue very closely, I can't say I have an informed opinion on this, however two fellow bloggers, both of whom I highly respect and both of whom live in the archdiocese have opposing opinions on this suppression vs. merging action. Interesting reading.

For the action: Domenico Bettinelli of Bettnet.com blog

Against the action: Tom Fitzpatrick of Recta Ratio blog.

Resurgent Holy Father to Celebrate the Start of Lent 

According to the Catholic World News Vatican officials announced early in January that the Pope would lead Ash Wednesday services in the Paul VI auditorium. Then the schedule was altered-- apparently because of an improvement in the Pope's condition-- to have the Ash Wednesday services in St. Peter's basilica at 10:30 in the morning.

Pope John Paul will deliver a sermon at the service, which will replace his regular weekly public audience on Wednesday.

In the afternoon Cardinal Jozef Tomko, the titular pastor of the basilica of St. Sabina, will celebrate the traditional Mass for Ash Wednesday at that 5th-century Roman church.

According to an old liturgical tradition, St. Sabina's basilica is the first "station" in a Lenten pilgrimage, in which Mass is celebrated at a different church in the city every day, leading up to the Easter Triduum at St. Peter's basilica. (You can explore St. Sabina's Basilica online at this link.)

Because of Pope John Paul's troubles with mobility, the Pontiff will not go so far as to make the trip across Rome to St. Sabina's.

If it's available, I'll be posting the pope's Ash Wednesday homily here tomorrow.

Closure Now? 

Stephen Rowe, Maine's Attorney General, has finally released his report on the clergy abuse scandal in the Diocese of Portland. At first blush, it seems different from the release of information that Bishop Gerry made a little while back, but the reason is that the A.G.'s report goes back 75 years, while the bishop was commenting on a report by a John Jay College report that went back 50 years into the files. (See my posting of February 12.)

Attorney General Rowe said the cases came from files from the diocese going back 75 years, but the statute of limitations in effect at the time of the alleged offenses prevents the state from prosecuting any of them.

Rowe's report makes reference to other cases involving 20 living and 15 deceased priests from the diocese (this jives with what the bishop said in his announcement), and seven church or school employees (which is new information). Rowe says state law bars him from releasing identities of the alleged perpetrators in his report.

State prosecutors also reviewed cases involving six living and five deceased priests or brothers not associated directly with the diocese (also new info, but not surprising). In addition, the state received allegations from 17 victims against priests or other clergy members who could not be identified.

The Portland Press Herald has a link where you can download the attorney general's full report in Adobe PDF format here.

I hope that the Press Herald's lawsuit against the state for the release of the names of the accused priests will be dropped now, so we can finally move on past this.

Some Lenten Links 

The Lenten Workshop from CatholicCulture.org
A very comprehensive site that include numerous articles on Lenten information, including Q & A's on topics such as "Why Ashes?", "Why Fasting and Abstinence?", and "Why Forty Days?" There is also a listing of family activities for Lent, such as Sacrifice Beans, Lenten Alms Jar, Lenten Scrapbook, and Lent and the Pretzel. There are also prayers and hymns for Lent. This site is a must-see!

Ash Wednesday: Our Shifting Understanding of Lent from AmericanCatholic.org.
Part of the Franciscan site's "Update Your Faith" series, this article gives a clear and concise yet comprehensive overview of Ash Wednesday.

Stations of the Cross from EWTN.com.
Done with typical class by Mother Angelica's people, this is an online way to walk with Christ on the Road to Calvary. There are reflections written by Mother Angelica herself and fine artwork at each of the stations.

The Holy Season of Lent from EWTN.com
An annual Lenten calendar from EWTN, providing reflections, prayers, and suggested Lenten actions in connection with the theme of each day's Mass readings. I've used this spiritual tool for several years now.

Pope John Paul's Lenten Message for 2004 from the United Statres Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Holy Father exhorts the Faithful to pay particular attention to the needs of children in his annual Lenten message.

Maine Bishop Joseph Gerry's Lenten Message from the Diocese of Portland website.
This is the final Lenten exhortation that Bishop Gerry will make as Ordinary of the Portland Diocese. His tenure as bishop ends March 31.

I hope that these sites will be of use to you in making this Lent a spiritually renewing one for you and those you love. If you'd like to share other web resources that can supplement our Faith during this holy season, please let me know.

Monday, February 23, 2004

LaserMonks! 

Monks Sell Supplies, Pray for Buyers from the Associated Press via Yahoo News.

It seems that five monks at an abbey in Wisconsin are selling remanufactured inkjet or laser-printer cartridges from an Internet site and telephone mail order center to raise money for charitable needs. They call themselves "Lasermonks" (which I think would be a great name for a group of comic book superheroes too).

Great quote from the article: "You get quality products at a great savings. We do good work with the extra income," the Rev. Bernard McCoy (one of the monks)said. "Plus the monks pray for you. I don't think Staples ever offered to do that."

In my experience, Staples won't even offer to unlock the glass cabinet full of cartridges until you promise them your first-born and a kidney.

By the way, the Lasermonks website can be found at http://www.lasermonks.com. You can even check out the cartoon adventures of "Luxor and Ludwig, the Cloister Canines" by Fr. Robert Keffer, O.Cist. at the site. It's a great endeavor and worthy of our support.

I can't help but wonder what St. Benedict would say about how monastic life has evolved since his time? They've come a long way from transcribing holy writings with a feather pen and ink by candlelight.

Pope John Paul Reflects on Lent as a Time of Conversion 

Excerpt from an article at Zenit.org:

Lent, the liturgical period that prepares for Easter, is above all a time of conversion, says John Paul II.

The Pope explained this from the window of his study to several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square at midday Sunday to pray the Angelus.

"Lent, which we will begin Wednesday with the austere and significant rite of the imposition of ashes, is a privileged time to intensify this commitment to conversion to Christ," he said.

"The Lenten period will thus become a propitious occasion to examine ourselves with sincerity and truth, to put order in our lives and in our relations with others and with God," the Holy Father added.

John Paul II said he hopes that Christ's exhortation, "Repent and believe in the Gospel," will accompany Christians "during the next weeks until the paschal celebrations."


I'm just itching to do some postings on Lent, but it's not even Ash Wednesday yet, and I'll have forty days to share my thoughts and findings. Need to pace myself.

64%! 

A formal Survey USA poll conducted by a TV station here in Maine shows that 64%, almost two-thirds of state residents, are either "very interested" or "somewhat interested" in seeing "The Passion of the Christ". Count me as among those 64%. I have yet to decide if I want to see it on opening day or on one of the subsequent days. I guess it hinges on availability of tickets at showings here that don't interfere with Ash Wednesday Mass time.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Coming to a Theater Near You? 

If you are having a hard time accessing the official "The Passion of the Christ" website (it's very graphics and multimedia-heavy), here is a listing of theaters in towns and cities in Maine that are planning to show the film on opening day, this Wednesday. It may not be a complete listing, so I'd recommend calling your local theater if you don't see it on the list. Even if you do, I'd advise you call ahead to see if tickets are available, especially if you are planning on taking time off from work or school, since the news reports that many groups are planning to attend the film together, and some showings may already be sold out.

Auburn, ME: Auburn

Augusta, ME: Augusta 10

Bangor, ME: Bangor

Belfast, ME: Colonial

Biddeford, ME: Biddeford

Brunswick, ME: Brunswick 10

Brunswick, ME: Eveningstar Cinema

Falmouth, ME: Falmouth 10

Houlton, ME: Temple

Lewiston, ME: Flagship Lewiston

Orono, ME: Spotlight

Portland, ME: Nickelodeon

Presque Isle, ME: Presque Isle

Saco, ME: Cinemagic

Sanford, ME: Chunky's

South Portland, ME: Clark's Pond

If you live near the border with New Hampshire or New Brunswick, Canada, you might want to check the listings at theaters in those places to see if you can reduce your driving time.

Six New Saints on Deck 

Zenit.org reports of the scheduled canonization in May of six beatified people by the pope. The pope sometimes has been criticized for "overdoing it" with canonizations, but I disagree. The popular misconception is that saints are people who lived perfect lives on Earth, and are almost like a race apart from the rest of us. The pope wants to break down that wall and show us that saints were not perfect during their earthly lives, and were people like us in most ways, except that they never, ever gave up on working toward God's will in their lives. Saints aren't all nuns, clerics and/or mystics from long, long ago, but people like you and me who we might pass on the street today.

The six are:
*Blessed Gianna Molla (1922-1962)
*Blessed Luigi Orione (1872-1940)
*Blessed Anibal Maria de Francia (1851-1927)
*Blessed José Manyanet y Vives (1833-1901)
*Blessed Nimatullah Al-Hardini (1808-1858)
*Blessed Paola Elisabetta (1816-1865)

The story of Blessed Gianna Molla is especially intriguing. Catholic-forum.com's Patron Saints Index has this to say about her:

"The tenth of thirteen children born to Alberto and Maria Beretta, Gianna was a pious girl raised in a pious family; two brothers became priests, a sister became a nun.

While in college, she worked with the poor and elderly, and joined the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. A physician and surgeon graduating from the University of Pavia in 1949, Gianna started a clinic in Mero, Italy in 1950. She returned to school and studied pediatrics, and after finishing in 1952 she worked especially with mothers, babies, the elderly, and the poor. She was active in Catholic Action, and a avid skier.

She considered a call to religious life, but was married to Pietro Molla on September 24, 1955 at Magenta. A mother of three, she continued her medical career, treating it as a mission and gift from God. During her pregnancy with her fourth child, she was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst. Her surgeon recommended an abortion in order to save Gianna's life; she refused and died a week after childbirth, caring more for doing right by her unborn child than for her own life. Today that child is a physician herself, and involved in the pro-life movement."

Another Reason to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day This Year 

According to an article at Catholic News Service, Pope John Paul II will become the third-longest serving pope in Church history on March 17 of this year. On that date, he will pass ahead of Pope Leo XIII, who was pontiff 100 years ago, and will have only Pope Pius IX (who held the Throne of Peter in the mid-1800s) and St. Peter himself. Since the dates of Peter's pontificate are difficult to pin down specifically, it is unlikely that any pope will ever serve longer than he did unless future medical advances allow for a man elected pope at a relatively young age to serve for an extremely long time. For John Paul II to move into second place, he will need to serve as pontiff until in May of 2010 -- two weeks after his 90th birthday.

The article also has some interesting information on how the pope has outlasted everyone he appointed as heads of Curia departments in 1978 and countless middle management types. Just 17 of the cardinals involved in his election still live, and the two longest lasting advisors in his pontificate, Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Sodano are both past retirement age and itching to hang it up. only the pope's loyal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who came with him from Poland way back when.

Check it out here: As his papacy ages, pope finds few familiar faces from early years by one of the best connected Vatican journalists, John Thavis.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Out of the Mouths of Babes 

I attended the Saturday vigil Mass at my parish tonight, as is my custom. The offeratory hymn had just ended, and our priest, who had begun the perparation of the gifts in silence during the hymn was just ending it in silence, turning toward the altar servers, who stepped forward with the bowl, pitcher and towel for the purification of his hands.

As the congregation looks on in complete, reverent silence, a little guy of about three years old sitting (and standing, and crawling, and hopping) five pews in front of me looks toward the altar, points, and then asks his grandfather in a voice that everyone in the front half of the church could clearly hear: "Why he washing his hands? They sticky?"

It just cracked everyone up, even those in the sanctuary. I don't know if the levity of the moment translates in this posting, but if you were there, you would have laughed with the rest of us.

It's always interesting to hear the questions and observations of children or non-Catholics who attend Mass. They observe and often ask about things that those of us who have been going to Catholic Mass for a long time just take for granted. The little fellow made me wonder: "Why does he wash his hands?" I was fairly sure it had nothing to do with them being sticky, so I looked it up.

The reason, according to good ol' Catholicism for Dummies (a book which I highly recommend any Catholic have on hand at home), is that it is a symbolic re-enactment of Jewish purification customs. Before making sacrifices in the temples, the Jewish high priests would purify their hands thoroughly, so as not to contaminate what they were offering to God. Since the priest is making the sacrifice of the Lamb of God in the Eucharist, he also symbolically washes his hands before the formal part of the sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharistic Prayer, begins.

Plus, they just might be sticky too.

Results of Last Week's Poll on Catholics on Reality TV 

The question was: "Do you think it is appropriate for Catholics to participate as contestants on 'reality TV shows' such as Survivor or Fear Factor?"

The results:

*No (76.5%)

*Yes (23.5%)


I came down with No voters on this one. Part of the problem with reality TV as I see it, is that it too closely mirrors the "reality" that is our societal culture today. The casual attitudes toward sex, lack of respect for others, and the insatiable hunger for fame, money and/or culturally defined "good looks" are what we as a Church should be trying to change, not put in the spotlight. If a Catholic wants to go on a reality TV program and participate in a way that mirrors the tenets of their faith, then I would say "go for it". Sadly, I'm afraid they would be dropped in a vat of rats or voted off the island in the first round due to their dearth of gravitas in the "titilation factor".

Standard disclaimer: This is not a scientific poll, just a snapshot of the sentiments of visitors to this blog in the past week who have chosen to take part. You may only vote once from a given computer, and neither the polling service nor I can track the origins of votes.

White House Bummer 

Bush Dog Put to Sleep Due to Health Woes from the Associated Press via Yahoo News.

The pooch in question is not the highly visible Barney, their Scottish terrier, but the more low-key Springer Spaniel named Spot Fetcher, a.k.a. "Spotty", son of #41's much-beloved dog Millie. Spot was 15 and had suffered a series of strokes lately, so the Bushes agreed that putting him down was the humane decision. It's always a sad thing when a family has to put a beloved pet down. It seems that this is the end of the Millie legacy in the Bush family.

Photo from whitehouse.gov
Spot "Spotty" Fetcher Bush, 1989-2004, R.I.P.


He even had his own page on the White House website.

Chaplet of Divine Mercy Part III-Praying It 

From EWTN:

In 1933, God gave Sister Faustina a striking vision of His Mercy.

Sister tells us in her diaries:
"I saw a great light, with God the Father in the midst of it. Between this light and the earth I saw Jesus nailed to the Cross and in such a way that God, wanting to look upon the earth, had to look through Our Lord's wounds and I understood that God blessed the earth for the sake of Jesus."

Of another vision on Sept. 13, 1935, she writes:
"I saw an Angel, the executor of God's wrath... about to strike the earth...I began to beg God earnestly for the world with words which I heard interiorly. As I prayed in this way, I saw the Angel's helplessness, and he could not carry out the just punishment...."

The following day an inner voice taught her to say this prayer on ordinary rosary beads:

1. Begin with the Sign of the Cross*, 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.

2. Then on the Our Father Beads, say the following:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

3. On each of the 10 Hail Mary Beads, say the following:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).

4. Conclude with (repeated three times):
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.


(*Note from me: I like to say an Act of Contrition on the first large bead after the Sign of the Cross on the crucifix, and then follow it with the Our Father, Hail Mary and The Apostles' Creed on the next three beads for Step 1. It's just a personal preference of mine, but I thought I'd share it.)

Photo from EWTN.com
Map of the Divine Mercy Chaplet on a standard Rosary


Jesus is reported to have later said to Sister Faustina:

"Say unceasingly this chaplet that I have taught you. Anyone who says it will receive great Mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as the last hope. Even the most hardened sinner, if he recites this Chaplet even once, will receive grace from My Infinite Mercy. I want the whole world to know My Infinite Mercy. I want to give unimaginable graces to those who trust in My Mercy...."

"....When they say this Chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person not as the just judge but as the Merciful Savior".

Re-Election Advice to the President 

With regards to the gay marriage issue, President Bush would be very wise to come out strongly against it, and in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman only. It should be made a major issue in the campaign.

Let's face it, the gay vote is not going to go Bush's way this November in any way, shape, or form. Lifestyle aside, most homosexuals tend to be politically liberal anyhow. The vast majority of Americans seem to be opposed to gay marriage according to many polls. And, if for no other reason than that George W. Bush is strongly against gay marriage, John Kerry will undoubtedly come out strongly for it. It could be a polarizing enough issue that it will divide the electorate, and it appears that the majority by far would be on the side of the president.

Combine opposition to gay marriage with Bush's pro-life stance and the importance that his faith plays in his personal life, and he'll have the votes of the silent (or maybe better described as "media-ignored") majority that actually believe that morality matters.

The Passion: Armed With The Truth 

Mark Shea at Catholic and Enjoying It has posted that he has edited and co-written a 70-page book entitled "A Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about The Passion of The Christ". Its purpose is to help Catholics and other Christians who may be questioned about the events depicted in the film once it hits the release date, or for those who simply want to fill in gaps in their own understanding. He provides a link to an article at the Catholic Exchange website giving the full low-down on the book. You can find that link here: Mel’s Passion, the New Evangelization and You

According to the article, the book addresses such questions as:
*How do we know that Jesus really existed and that the events portrayed in the movie actually took place?

*In the Garden of Gethsemane, did Jesus know He was going to die?

*Who is that fifth figure in the Garden?

*Did Jesus have to die? Why couldn’t God have simply declared humanity’s relationship with Him restored?

*Why did God choose such an extreme and bloody means of reconciling the world to Himself?

*In the Garden, Jesus crushes the snake under His foot. What is the symbolism here?

*Why does the director choose to have Peter fall at Mary’s feet and cry out, “I have denied Him, Mother!”?

*Why do demon children surround Judas in his torment?

*Were the Romans really that brutal or are they portrayed that way for dramatic effect?

*The scene in which Jesus was whipped is powerful, but extremely difficult to watch. Why did the director make this scene so violent?

*Why is a contrast established between Pilate's "washing His hands" and Jesus purifying his hands at the Last Supper?

*As Jesus carries His cross, the director cross-cuts between the devil and Mary walking along with Him on opposite sides through the crowd. At one point, their eyes meet in an amazingly powerful silent exchange. What exactly is going on here?

*Is it a stretch to assume that Mary was an active participant in Christ’s passion?

*Why does the movie show a flashback to the Last Supper during the crucifixion?

*Did Jesus die more quickly than was normal for crucifixion?

*Why did God the Father require Jesus to take upon Himself such tremendous physical and emotional suffering?

*If He was God, why didn’t Jesus perform another miracle by coming down off the cross? Surely that would have made believers out of His enemies!

*What is the significance of Jesus’ last words to His mother and the apostle John?

*What happened in the Temple that so badly shocked the Jewish leaders?

*Why does the devil react in such a frenzied manner to Christ's death?


They are rushing these books out as fast as they can, so if this sounds like your cup of tea, I'd order my copy soon. A Guide to the Passion (70 pages) retails for $5.95, but you can purchase it in bulk for less than $1. Call 800-376-0520 for details.

Money well spent, and sounds like good Lenten reading regardless of whether you see the film or not.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Image Really Is Everything 

Here is proof-positive that musical quality takes a backseat to what the artist looks like in today's music scene: Aging Rockers Pose as Teenagers to Hit Charts from Reuters via Yahoo News.

In a nutshell, the British rock group The Alarm (some of you might remember them from the 1980s: "Rain in the Summertime", "68 Guns", "Spirit of '76"?) recorded a pretty cool new song entitled "45 RPM" under the pseudonym "The Poppy Fields" and had a bunch of trendy-looking teenagers stand in for them in the music video. Lo and behold, a group that hasn't had a hit since 1989 has a song back on the British charts. They didn't keep up the ruse for long, but the song is still moving up the charts, despite the fact that the performers are *gasp* in their fifties (and look it)! The guys in The Alarm said they pulled the stunt to show how much image affects sales in the music industry. I'm sure getting another hit single and some publicity wasn't a bad side benefit either.

Beautiful! Long live The Alarm!

Photo from The BBC
The Alarm, back in the day

Chaplet of Divine Mercy Part II-What Is It? 

The following comes from http://www.catholicity.com:

"Saint Faustina was born Helena Kowalska in the village of Glogowiec west of Lodz, Poland, on August 25, 1905. She was the third of ten children. When she was almost twenty, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, whose members devote themselves to the care and education of troubled young women.

The following year she received her religious habit and was given the name Sister Maria Faustina, to which she added "of the Most Blessed Sacrament," as was permitted by her congregation's custom.

In the 1930s, Sister Faustina received from the Lord a message of mercy that she was told to spread throughout the world. She was asked to become the apostle and secretary of God's mercy, a model of how to be merciful to others, and an instrument for reemphasizing God's plan of mercy for the world.

The message of mercy that Sister Faustina received is now being spread throughout the world; she has been recognized by the Church as a saint; and her diary, "Divine Mercy in My Soul", has become the handbook for devotion to The Divine Mercy. She would not have been surprised, for she had been told that the message of God's mercy would spread through her writings for the great benefit of souls.

Through Saint Faustina, Jesus also revealed special ways to live out the response to His mercy--one of which is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, as both a novena and a prayer for the three o'clock hour -- the hour of His death."


Photo from http://www.sistersofreparation.org
St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905 - 1935)


QUESTION TO READERS: Have any of you read St. Faustina's "Divine Mercy in My Soul"? If so, what did you think? Is it reader-friendly, or obtuse and theological? There's nothing wrong with obtuse and theological writing, it just isn't my preference most of the time.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

A New (to me) Devotional 

With Lent coming upon us quickly, I've added a new devotional to my prayer life: The Divine Mercy Chaplet. While it's new to me (although I've heard of it for some time), many ofyou may already be familiar with it. Over the next few days, I'll be posting some information on its origins, meaning, and how to say it, mostly for my own benefit through the research, but also to provide information to others who may be unfamiliar with it. The Devine Mercy Chaplet may be something you'll want to add to your prayer routine this Lent.

Photo from http://www.theworkofgod.org
Image of the Divine Mercy of Jesus.

"Passion" News 

Zenit.org has published an article entitled "A Passion of Violence and Love" written by Vittorio Messori, the Italian journalist who wrote Crossing the Threshold of Hope with the Holy Father. His subject this time is the private screening he recently attended with a dozen others of the "final cut" of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ". To say he was favorably impressed is an understatement. The article is one of the most in-depth, analytical and thoughtfully-written reviews of the film that I have seen.

Less than a week to go until we get to see it for ourselves!

A New Addition to British Menus? 

South American Piranha Fished from River Thames from Reuters via Yahoo News.

The report claims it's probably some kind of fluke, which I think is a shame. Compared to bangers, blood pudding, and of course, kidney pie, it could only be an improvement to English cuisine.

Things I Learned After It Was Too Late, Installment #473 

A certain visiting 1-year-old will not eat plain spaghetti while everyone is eating dinner. A certain visiting 1-year-old will not eat Fruit Loops while everyone is eating dinner. A certain visiting 1-year-old will, however, eat Fruit Loops she has mixed into the plain spaghetti while everyone is (or at least was) eating dinner.

The lesson here? My certain visiting 1-year-old can be wicked gross while everyone is eating dinner.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Today's Message from James 

The daily Mass readings this week have come from the Epistle of James, a part of the New Testament that I have not paid much attention to before now. Each day's passage has spoken to me more loudly than most do. Here is an excerpt from today's reading:

"Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.

He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like.

But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does."

~James 1:22-25

I guess the meditation on this can be a pretty simple question for self-reflection: Am I a "hearer" or a "doer"?

Look Before You Leap 

Norman Knight is a middle school teacher who writes a regular column for the Johnson County, Indiana Daily Journal. I happened across this particular column by accident, and was pretty impressed with his message. Mr. Knight has quite concisely articulated how quick many of us have become to jump to conclusions based on the distorted or partial information put forth by the media.

This is one of those things I wish I had written myself, but I didn't. The sentiments match mine almost to a tee.

Have all the facts before jumping to conclusions

Although neither my friend nor I am particularly political, the Democratic race for president came up the other day in our conversation.

“Did you see the paper this morning?” she asked. “The headline says that Howard Dean was charged with having no minorities in his cabinet while he was governor of Vermont. My question is: Just how big is the minority population of Vermont anyway?”

I didn’t have those statistics at my fingertips, but she, being the type who won’t let questions go unanswered, did a Google search. She e-mailed the results to me.

She wrote, “96.8 percent of the population of Vermont is white. African-Americans make up 0.5 percent, while Hispanics and Latinos comprise 0.9 percent of the total.”

I’m not a particular fan nor opponent of Howard Dean. I’m not all that interested in whether Howard Dean has members of minorities in his cabinet or not. I’m not convinced it’s even a legitimate thing to ask a candidate.

What interested my friend and me was how the story was reduced to a simple headline, leaving out what we thought was important information. It just seemed that not all of the relevant information that a person might need to develop an informed opinion was included.

Another recent story struck me the same way. The lead told us that 45,000 people had resigned from AARP because of that group’s decision to support last year’s Medicare legislation. That’s a lot of people.

Down in paragraph six, however, the story explains that the membership in AARP has actually grown from 35.2 million to 35.7 million members over the past year. Let’s see: 45,000 is what percent of 35.7 million? (Way less than 1 percent; 0.126 percent, as a matter of fact.) Was this even worthy of a story?

I think about this every time the ISTEP (local standardized tests) scores come out. Some numbers are attached to school corporations, and people make assumptions about schools based on those numbers. People learn that school system A has an 86, and school system B has a 75, so therefore school A is 11 points better than school B. The socio-economic variables that affect these scores are too often a very minor part of the story, if they are included at all.

So often these days we make decisions and form opinions based on too little information. I think politicians and the advisers who swarm around them count on people who base their vote on attention-grabbing sound bites. Advertisers have known this for years. I am aware of that. Even so, I sometimes fall prey to the smear of a political ad or the allure of a catchy commercial.

In my job as a teacher, I have made the same mistake. I will have a student in my class who is a real challenge. He or she will be constantly pushing the envelope, almost willfully presenting bad behavior.

“This kid is a real pain,” I tell myself. It’s all I can do to remain professional when I deal with the student.

Then I will talk to a counselor or the principal, and I will learn that this child’s mom decided to leave the family, or the dad has just been put in jail, or the student has been involved in some other traumatic event. I feel bad because I formed an opinion and made assumptions based on limited information. It’s a trap of which I must constantly be aware.

Of course, eventually decisions must be made, and we must make them based on what we know at the time. But it is very easy to form an opinion quickly and move on. The difficult thing to do is to keep our minds open until we have all the facts.


I've added The Daily Journal's website to my favorites list, and will be going back to check on Mr. Knight's columns each week.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Spiritual Fuel and Comfort for a Mid-Winter's Day 

A piece of today's epistle reading, from the Letter of James:

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters,
when you encounter various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance be perfect,
so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom,
he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly,
and he will be given it.

James 1:2-5

News From Mars 

I like reporting on the Martian Rover missions not only because I find them fascinating, but also because John Kerry, Janet Jackson, the documentation of the Texas National Guard, and Martha Stewart are NOT on Mars (though we can always hope).

SPIRIT UPDATE: A Wayside Stop, Then Back to Driving
"Spirit used instruments on its robotic arm to examine an unusual-looking rock called 'Mimi' during the rover's 42nd sol on Mars, which ended at 9:15 a.m. Sunday, PST. Scientists will be examining images and spectra to understand this rock's structure and composition and what those can tell about the environment in which the rock formed."
(If they are looking for flakes, there is no shortage down here on Earth.)

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Dig this Place
"Opportunity completed its longest drive so far -- about 9 meters or 30 feet -- during its 21st sol on Mars, which ended at 9 p.m. Saturday, PST. The rover finished the drive with its first U-turn, arriving at a location selected for the mission's first trenching operation. Plans call for examining the hematite-rich surface of this location, called 'Hematite Slope', during sol 22, then spinning one wheel to dig below the surface on sol 23."
(Of the two rovers, I believe the discoveries of Opportunity will be the most revealing, given its exotic location on a never-before explored part of the Red Planet.)

Question: Where do they get the names of these rocks they are exploring? I want one named after me! How about you?

Timely Release 

Volume Planned on "Bible, the Jews and the Death of Jesus": Bishops' Committee Compiles Key Documents from Zenit.org.

From the article: "A U.S. bishops' committee is publishing a collection of key documents of Catholic teaching on the Church's relationship to the Jews and its opposition to anti-Semitism.

The volume is entitled 'The Bible, the Jews and the Death of Jesus: A Collection of Catholic Documents.'

Included is the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs' 1988 'Criteria for the Evaluation of Dramatizations of the Passion.'"


"The Bible, the Jews and the Death of Jesus: A Collection of Catholic Documents," a 128-page paperback, is available as of Feb. 23, two days before the release of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ". Ordering info can be found in the linked article.

Seems to me that this could potentially be a valuable resource to counter any arguments that "The Passion of the Christ" is anti-Semitic.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

This Bites (Not for faint of heart) 

Man in Australia walks for help with small shark attached to leg from the Canadian Press via Yahoo News.

You may have already heard this story, but I couldn't resist posting it for commentary purposes.

"Lifeguards at a beach north of Sydney were stunned when a man walked into their post looking for help with a small shark attached to his leg." (I can hear it now: "Whoa dude, this isn't, like, in my job description! I can run down the beach in slow-motion really well if that will help.")

"He basically asked the question: 'Can you help me get it off?' There's nothing in our procedure manual for that type of thing," Jones said. (He ought to have looked in the index under "shark, removing from leg")

"'It was stuck there, so I got up into my car and then drove to the clubhouse, and luckily the guys down there had a clue what to do,' he said." (Ever notice how a bunch of liquored-up guys in some kind of a club seem to have the solutions to all the world's problems?)

"The lifeguards flushed the shark's gills with fresh water, forcing it to loosen its grip on Tresoglavic's leg - with blood oozing from 70 needle-like punctures. The shark later died." (The shark died?!? Those PETA people are bound to leave Slaughterville, OK on the next solar-powered plane to protest this!)

"Wobbegong sharks can grow to just over three metres in length, have razor-sharp teeth and are said to be moody and short-tempered." (Have you seen those things? I'd be moody and short-tempered too if I looked like that.)

Photo from Reuters
A wobbegong shark remains attached to the leg of Australian snorkeler Luke Treslogavic after it attacked him off Caves Beach north of Sydney, Australia.

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