Mar 22, 2011

It seems like everyone around me (including myself) has been in a depressed-like funk lately.
I am not sure if it is just because it has been a long dreary winter or what, but it is touching lives like I’ve never seen before.

I also have noticed that a lot of us are not only turning to God for help, but there seems to be a lot of interest in books and MP3 talks that we are turning to in search of relief.
Some are relying on the classics, but others are delving into modern books on the power of positive thinking and interior strength which sadly to say are written mostly by new agers.
Those thieves of souls in sheep’s clothing.

I know for myself, all the good Catholic books I have read and all the talks I have listened to have done very little for my spiritual being (or at least the immediate results).
It seems that the new agers and their books are giving some people hope, only to let them down again…much like a certain president who promised “hope” and has let is voters down.

We are searching for some “quick fix”, something to change our lives and clear us from the “funk” we are in, but I think this verse in Jeremiah tells us what our problem is;

Chapter 17

7  Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.

8  He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat  when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.

9 More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?

10 I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.

We tend to let our feelings, emotions, principles and our heart guide us in our lives, but as in
Jeremiah, our hearts are tortured and it is beyond us to be able to figure it out.
Only God knows what’s in our hearts, so Him alone should we be asking for help and guidance.

Books and talks can inspire us to look at ourselves, but only God can make us want to change;
our wills can be stong but remembering that God, at his weakest is still stronger than our wills are at their greatest.

Maybe God is giving us a little more suffering during Lent so we can offer it up. Maybe the words Saint Augustine wrote can give us some more insight;

“Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in you.”

Mar 18, 2011

Steelers Nation Essay

The following was written by a friend of mine in an editoral section of a Pittsburgh newspaper.
It was written before the Steelers lost the superbowl, but the content of it makes us all winners.

By Mark Fassio

One of your recent contributors talked about how she met total
strangers who ended up bonding with her because of a Pittsburgh
connection. As a former military officer who’s traveled worldwide, I
can attest to that fact.
I have seen the Terrible Towel in every location from the Berlin Wall
to Monterey Bay, and there’s usually a Pittsburgh accent attached to
the twirler. Each chance encounter with a stranger creates an
almost-instant friendship strictly because of the black-and-gold
connection; it is the ultimate icebreaker.
Here in north-central Kentucky and the surrounding Ohio/Indiana border
area — a mere 50 miles from Cincinnati — the supposedly second-largest
Steelers fan base outside of Pittsburgh has entrenched itself.

During a soccer game, a man noticed my Steelers apparel and we began
talking. Turns out he was a former classmate of my wife, who is from
Shaler. After 30 years, a random observance and a chance comment
reunited high school chums.

A Steelers bar in the local area had a collection of expatriate yinzers
one Sunday, and it turned out that one of them went to Kiski Area High
School with my cousin oh-so-many years ago; small world, indeed.
And the high school I teach in is a hotbed of Pittsburgh fandom. The
students are enthralled to know that my cousin, Eric Ravotti, played
for the Steelers in the 1990s. In our family, if you don’t become a
priest, being associated with the Steelers is the second-best honorable

The biggest kick I get out of the Pittsburgh connection is going to
Mass every Sunday. There are three other Pittsburgh families who go to
our church, Immaculate Conception Parish. (Coincidence? I think not.
Calling Franco Harris!)

Each week the locals notice our three different Steelers jackets, all
clustered in one small pew area. We’ve become fast friends all because
we wear the same colors, holding game parties at each others’ houses
over the years.
And I have to admit that religion has helped the team over the years.

During Super Bowl XL five years ago, I took in my Terrible Towel and
asked the priest to bless it. I mean, heck, St Francis blessed animals,
so why not some fabric?
He politely refused and said he’d bless me instead. But I waited for
everyone to leave, and afterward dunked it in the baptismal font. We
already know the outcome of that game.

I did the same to my wife’s new towel right before SB XLIII against the
Cardinals (that holy water works pretty well), and have the font in my
sights this weekend as well for new towel No. 3.
And it’s not only holy water that works, but fire as well. I light two
candles after Mass every week: one for my family and one for the
Steelers. When they were down 21-7 to Baltimore, I found my St. Jude
prayer card (the patron saint of hopeless and despaired-of causes) and
pledged that I’d light every candle in the sanctuary the next day if
the Steelers pulled it out.

Thirty dollars and three burned fingers later, I stand testament to the
belief that all the powers of heaven are, indeed, Steelers fans, and
that The Chief put in a few good words to The Man Upstairs.

You lucky ones who still live in Western Pennsylvania have no idea of
the empty spot we expatriates carry in us.
Each shot of Heinz Field and the towels twirling brings a mist to my
eyes because we’re not there. Each year I count the days until I truly
come back home and, like long-suffering Browns fans, I always seem to
say, "Wait till next year." Count yourself fortunate, friends.

God bless the Steelers, and God bless us, each and every fan.

Mar 17, 2011

The least of these

And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.---Matthew 25;40

I don't want to take this Scripture verse out of context, but I believe that this can be expanded on.
Jesus, of course, was speaking of the poor, the homeless, the naked, the imprisoned....the social injustices in the world around us.
We ARE our brothers keepers, and Jesus wanted to emphasize this.

In today's culture, we still (as Jesus said) have the poor with us. We are still responsible for treating those so-called "dregs" of society with dignity and respect. We are still responsible for trying to house, cloth and feed them.

In today's culture, I can think of another of "the least of these" brothers and sisters.

I am talking about the unborn and preborn babies that are dying at the hands of so called physicians.

The unborn actually have less rights than the poor or imprisoned. In our society, they are not considered a "person"; their "person hood" has not been established (at least in a court of law).
Those of us who have opened our hearts and minds to Gods words know better.

The don't just get put into prison, a second chance or a homeless shelter.

So, much like Jesus, who came to this earth as the "least of these" (in the form of a babe), our society has certainly done unto the unborn as the people of His day done for Him.

Death is not the end, but we need to pray for an end to the death of the unborn.
We can also do our part, please visit;