An Official Call for More Fish Fries

According to this morning’s Enquirer, the City of Cincinnati may soon call on residents to skip one meat meal a week.

Believe it or not, we have an official city Food Task Force — part of (again, believe it or not) our official Green Cincinnati “climate action plan.” Stay with me here. The food task force met for the first time last week, and its members are considering numerous recommendations about eating more fruits and vegetables. They say cutting down on the city’s meat consumption would reduce global warming, and they have great ideas for t-shirt slogans, including my personal favorite: “Cooling the Earth… With My Fork!”

Consider this my pre-order.

Anyway, once I stopped laughing, I realized the great potential this has for Cincinnati’s parishes. We’re all still supposed to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, which may come as news to those of us (perhaps most of us) who never heard that if you choose not to refrain from eating meat on Fridays, you are supposed to perform another small act of penance instead.

This is our opportunity to bring back the Friday fast, make some money for our parishes, AND be environmentally friendly! Far be it from me to tell Archibishop Pilarczyk what to do, but if I may make a suggestion, His Excellency might want to look into a joint press conference with Mayor Mallory. When the official recommendation does come out from the mayor, the Archbishop can suggest that all Catholics resume the Friday fast and all parishes put on perpetual Friday Fish Fries, which he can then invite all Cincinnatians to attend.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone, one that would ease many strained parish budgets. We could even sell t-shirts: “Cooling the Earth… One Fish Fry at a Time.”


Channel 12 Newsmakers

Channel 12’s Newsmakers program featured Archbishop Schnurr a few weeks ago.  The fifteen minute program can be found here.

Top Ten Catholics

Reading Matt’s list, I realize how completely unqualified I am to write a top ten list of the most fascinating Catholics of 2008, at least in terms of general fascination. However, here is a list of the Catholics I find most fascinating at the moment:

1) Pope Benedict XVI. Surely one of the world’s smartest people, Pope Benedict is of course much more. But what I find most fascinating about him is that he is the least-heralded of what I think of as the Big Three — great saints (or at least saintly people) to emerge out of what was a massive attempt to wipe out religion in the 20th century. Mother Theresa came out of Albania, one of the first countries taken over by the Axis powers. Pope John Paul II came out of Poland, suffering from both the Nazis and the communists. And Benedict XVI came from Germany, the country that undertook so much of the destruction. Unlike the others, whose countries were taken over, he grew up in the conquering country. But none of those things could kill the Catholic Church, and Pope Benedict proves that its strength is not lost, no matter how dire the situation was or is. Much is changing in the world, and Europe is no longer the bastion of Christendom that it once was. But our pope is a living sign that Christendom is not dead.

2) Nancy Pelosi. What is with this woman? A prime representative of the “Catholics” that are now prominent politicians because they have pretty much jettisoned everything in the church but its name, she doesn’t seem to be a simple hypocrite. She seems to actually believe that she is a devout Catholic. Much food for thought there.

3) Justin Catanoso. Author of the lively and engaging My Cousin the Saint, Justin Catanoso is like many young people who are Catholics by birth but secular Americans by default. He believed that he had given religion a lot of consideration until discovering his extended Italian family and his grandfather’s cousin, who was about to be canonized. What is a secular American supposed to do with a saint in the family? Too bad the reading up on religion he did featured Gary Wills…

4) Gary Wills. What is with this guy? Now in the running for most egotistical religious author ever (What Jesus Meant, What Paul Meant, etc.), Wills has produced a steady stream of books for decades about how the Catholic Church is wrong, how he is right, and why he nevertheless remains a Catholic. His views don’t fascinate me — the fact that anyone still reads him does.

5) The Priests. This trio of singing Irish Catholic priests got a record deal, a PBS special, and a lot of media attention — despite their singing being (in my opinion) very nice but nothing special. They are famous for being priests, nice guys, Irish, and normal human beings. Who’d have expected that in 2008?

6) Dwight Longenecker. Author, priest, and blogger, Fr. Dwight is a convert whose delight in being Catholic is infectious. His journey to the Catholic Church was uniquely American, though it took him to England for years — the sort of American who is enamored of all things English, he wanted to be an Anglican pastor so much that he flew to England to be one. How charming is that? The fact that went there from Bob Jones University is even more charmingly American.

7) Prince Gallitzen. Do the most fascinating Catholics of 2008 have to be alive? I am transfixed by the story of Prince Gallitzen, a real Russian prince who became a mission priest in the mountains of Pennsylvania where my parents grew up. When I visited Altoona, PA, with them two years ago I saw references to him everywhere, and they told me his story. There is a movement for his canonization.

8) Archbishop Chaput. Read his book Render Unto Caesar. That the things he says should be either courageous or news to Catholics is even more interesting than what he says, and that’s interesting enough.

9) Archbishop Dennis Schnurr.
Hopes and fears about our new coadjutor bishop are running rampant in some circles, but what will he actually do? It’s hard to top this in terms of local fascination but…

10) The Sacred Heart Radio Staff. SHR has been on the air for years now, and while the story of its growth and success may not have as much folksy appeal as Mother Angelica and her Sisters, it’s pretty compelling. To go from a one-man operation to recording a national show for EWTN is quite a story! Congratulations, everyone, and THANKS!

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God

Today marks the transition of which we spoke yesterday to ‘Late Advent,’ the immediate preparations for the Birth of Christ at Christmas.

To mark the shift, the antiphon for the Caticle of Mary moves to the so called ‘O Antiphons,’ so called because they all begin with ‘O’ and a title from the Old Testament for the coming of the Messiah.  Today’s iteration:

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care.  Come and show your people the way to salvation.

In college, we would chant these to the ancient chant tones, which were haunting in the beauty.  As they date to at least the Fifth Century, these are some of the oldest tones still in use, and I wish I still had that little sheet describing the tones.  Alas, too many moves.

In today’s Antiphon, we harken back to the very dawn of Creation to see the Word of God spoken and all things were made.  But yet the power of creation is always tempered by the Love of God, which draws us deeper into His very mystery.  Our path to salvation is about to open anew!


In case you’ve noticed, the daily readings up to today for Advent haven’t been what’s expected, most likely.  We tend to expect those intimate examinations of the Holy Family preparing for the birth of Jesus, May and Joseph making the long trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Angels singing from the heavens.  Yet, we have heard much more about John the Baptist’s testimony and word about Jesus, and what Jesus says about John the Baptist, than we have heard about Jesus’s birth.  Today’s readings bear that out:

Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

Tomorrow, we start ‘Late Advent’ and will hear more about the proximate preparations for Christmas.


Edit for speeling

Top Ten

Over at the Son Rise Morning Show Blog, I’ve jumped on the Catholic blogwagon by listing what I think are the Top Ten Most Fascinating Catholics of 2008. Here’s an excerpt:

1. Pope Benedict XVI:Inexplicably charitable in his decimation of the dictatorship of relativism, I’m still waiting for this guy to disappoint me. His visit to the United States this year put the Leader of the Free World in schoolboy mode. He’s reviving interest in liturgy, Scripture, and the Church Fathers. I heart my German Shepherd.
5. Chase Hilgenbrinck: It’s not the kind of thing you hear about every day: a Major League Soccer star leaves a professional athletic career to start seminary, but that’s exactly what this young man did. After a successful soccer career in Latin America, he was traded to the New England Revolution. However, after less than a year with the Revolution, he left it all to pursue a vocation to the priesthood. We’re excited to hear about what God does with this young man.
9. Tim Russert: When Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden argued on “Meet the Press” that the Catholic Church has held ambiguous views on abortion through the centuries, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in wishing that Tim Russert were still alive to put a holy smack down on them. Among political journalists, he had no equal. He had a knack for sifting through jargon and getting the truth out of politicians, which is a significantly more daunting task that most people realize. Requiescat in Pace.

For the full list, click here. Please feel free to add your own nominations in the combox below…

M. Swaim

Upon The Feast Of St. John Damascene

“The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says: ‘But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God….’ Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory.”

Patron against iconoclasm, ora pro nobis!

M. Swaim