Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Friday, December 31, 2004

Another year over

As I write this it is less than a 1/2 hr until 2005 begins here in DBQ. It seems like it was just yesterday since this year began & not that long ago we were fretting about Y2K. Time has a way of going forward no matter what we do.

How was 2004 for me? That is a good question. It had it's sad moments. I just found out an old friend passed away. Her faith in Jesus was the central part of her life. It helped sustain her through her struggles of the last few years. Now she is at rest. May Jesus welcome her into heaven.

The end of the year is a reminder of the precious gift that life is for us. God has made each of us as a unique reflection of His love. Each year we see published a list of those famous (& sometimes infamous) people who have died. Yet we forget how many others have died who's names mean nothing to most of us, yet ment something to someone. Each of those lives has value. Just as much as anyone famous.

Yes, there was plenty to be sad about. We have seen 1 of the worst natural disasters in a long time. The loss of life is almost incomprehensible. Prayers for all the victims & their families is important. But, it is also important to help by giving to those relief agencies that are helping the survivors.

Some people might say I'm being morbid by focusing in on the bad. That would be true if that is all I looked at. It is important to acknowledge these events. But, without downplaying their import, there was a lot of good that also happenned this year.

Yet, it is so much easier to only focus in on the bad.

God has blessed me with some really good friends. This year 1 of them graduated from college. Another just bought his 1st house. Their joys have made things much brighter. I have spent some great times doing things with them.

This year saw me having the opportunity to see President Bush in person. I've enjoyed the God given beauty of our arboretum & river walk. I've seen an eagle soar. I've seen the beaty of the stars & planets. Creation truly gives glory to God.

But, the most important thing that I've seen in the past year is my spiritual growth. It is hard to explain this without sounding like I'm bragging. But I'm not. Because I have to give the credit to the Holy Spirit working in me.

This is just a small bit of everything I could say. In the end I am thankful to God for the blessing 2004 was.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Holy Innocents

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more." Matt. 2:16-18

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, children that were killed simply because they were the right age to be the potential Messiah & thus a threat to Herod. There were probably no more than 20 boys killed. & this was 1 of Herod's lesser crimes. Yet, we are right to be horrified by this. But each day we have a worse slaughter here in the USA, over 3500 innocent children are killed by abortion each day.

There are many things we can do to combat this. 1st of all, & most important is prayer. An orginization called Priests for Life ( has many good prayer resources. They also provide good information on actions you can take. Another good site is the American Life League site ( Many communities have local right to life groups you can join/support. Then there are orginizations like Birthright ( who offer alternatives for those women facing unwanted pregnancies. Right to life does not mean merely stopping abortions, it includes offering these alternatives. & for those who have gone through an abortion there is Project Rachael ( They offer resources for women who have been through an abortion, men & grandparents who have lost a child to abortion.

The Declaration of Independence states: " We hold these truths to be self-evident,that all men are created equal,that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,that among these are Life... " Every person from the moment of conception is a unique individual that has an equal right to life as any 1 of us.

The USA once made the mistake of seeing some people as less than human & thus they could be kept as slaves without the rights promised them. It took a civil war to end this abhorant practice of slavery. I pray that we will soon wake up & realize that we are doing the same to an even more helpless class of people & end abortion forever.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Buon Natale!!!


It's Christmas again. As I write this it is snowing outside, so it looks like we will definitely have a white Christmas this year. Yet, that is not the most important aspect of this holiday. What is the most important aspect is the reason why/what we are celebrating today.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."" Isaiah 9:6

"And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11

What we are celebrating is a birthday, but not just any birthday. There is no other birthday that is like this 1. No other person who was born in the entire history of humanity was the son of God. This child was fully human, but also fully divine. This child was born without sin. He was the only person who could pay the price for sin. He was the only person who could be what the above Scriptures describe.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

So, we are also celebrating the greatest gift ever given. Jesus is the visible proof of God's love for each & every 1 of us. Jesus is the visible proof that each of us is valuable. Look at the price God was willing to pay for us. God gave each of us the gift of eternal life. But, like any gift it is no good if it isn't received & used. Each of us has to personally accept that gift & receive the benifits it provides. I was baptised as an infant because at that time I couldn't speak for myself. But, as I grew up, there came a time when I had to make that decision my own. & now, as a result of that decision, there is a certain lifestyle that I am called to live. Part of that life is proclaiming what Jesus has done for me. Part is also feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.

Christmas has value only because of what occurred on Good Friday thru Easter. But, Good Friday could never have occurred without Christmas. The lights, the tree, the gifts, the food etc are all fine. They should, center on1 thing however: Jesus. The presepio (creche, manger scene) is what I love to center on. It is the visible reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with starting the tradition. & like most Italians, I have added to it over the years. Someone once wrote that Italians always have room for 1 more piece. I can attest to the truth of that. Everything I have added still ends up focusing on the Christ Child, just as it should.

So, in conclusion I want to say, thank you Jesus for coming down to Earth, for being born in a manger & showing me the love You have for me in so many ways. Happy birthday Jesus!


Friday, December 24, 2004

St. Joseph

Probably the most overlooked person in the Christmas story is St. Joseph. Not a word of his is quoted. He just is there & doew what he has to. Yet, his importance in the events of the 1st Christmas cannot be should not be underestimated. Why?, because he was willing to do what he had to.

1st of all, how would most of us men feel if we were in his situation. Would we be willing to ldet her off by divorcing her quietly? Or, would we have her declared an adulterer & stoned to death? & would we accept a message in a dream to ignore all this & marry her anyway? Joseph did. His faith in God was strong enough that when God sent him a message he was willing to act immediately on it. & by acting he allowed God's plan to go on as it should. Jesus is able to be born.

Then, many months later, after the child is born, Joseph has another dream. This time, pull up stakes & move to Egypt. Joseph again immediately obeys. The result, Jesus is saved from an early death that would prevent him from fulfilling His mission as savior. Another dream, he takes his family back & settles where Jesus will be safe to grow up. The last time we see Joseph is when Jesus is 12 & they find him in the temple. Even here Joseph is silent. But, he is doing what he should, looking for a lost son.

St. Joseph's actions make Christmas possible because he is willing to obey God. There is the old saying "actions speak louder than words." St. Joseph proves the truth of this. His actions are a witness to his faith. He proclaims his trust in God loud & clear. & in doing so challenges each of us to do the same.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Christmas Carol

"Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail."

This is the beginning of the 2nd greatest Christmas story there is. The 1st obviously being that of the birth of Jesus. Jesus' message when He grew up was a call to repentance & change of lifestyle for sinners. That is the central theme of A Christmas Carol, repentance of the sins & a change of lifestyle. Scrooge starts out as "a tight-fisted hand at the grind- stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!" After the visits of the various ghosts Scrooge saw the error of his ways. As Dickens puts it: "He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world."

I actually fell in love with this story as a child. Every Christmas KCRG-TV would air the 1951 film "Scrooge". Alistair Sim played Scrooge to perfection. He was able to show a person who truly was changed by the Spirit of Christmas. At the beginning you see the hardness in his looks, making the words proclaiming his feelings all the more believable. & the child-like joy when he wakes up to Christmas day is clearly seen in the change in his features. His reactions throughout are excellent. The look of horror on his face when he saw the ghosts bewailing their fate says it all. The rest of the cast is also more than up to the task also.

This is not ment to be a review of the movie, but I would suggest you watch it. Avoid the colorized version as that ruins the effects that the director/lighting director intended to achieve. Some of the other versions, including the newer ones, do get accross the message. But, none as good as the '51 version. What this is mainly intended to be is my reflection on the message of the book/movie.

I will admit that Dickens didn't make the story's message overtly Christian. It was done more implicitly. He does have Scrooge going to church after his reform. What he does say is that Scrooge learned the message of Christmas & lived it every day for the rest of his life. He knew how to live the message of Christmas. As a Catholic it challenges me to remember that I have a responsiblity to those less fortunate than I, both the born & the unborn.

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us, a savior's given." & what did this Savior call His followers to do. care for the poor, the needy etc. The very things that Scrooge does after his conversion. A Christmas Carol is a challenge to live the message of Christianity, not to earn your way into Heaven. But, to be a sign that you truly believe the Gospel message. Read the book again, but don't forget to read the Gospel story. Let its message touch you & draw you closer to Jesus. Let it be a challenge to you to live as a follower of Christ. Speak out, stand up for the least. Esp the preborn who are unable to speak for themselves. Defend life at all stages. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, etc.

As Tiny Tim says: "God Bless Us, everyone."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Preparing for Christmas

1 very important part of my daily routine is praying the Liturgy of the Hours. In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church the Office of Readings for 20 Dec has as its 2nd reading an excerpt from a homily by St. Bernard. It strikes me as a perfect description of the effect Mary's answer had on the entire universe as well as the importance of her saying yes. As I read it I can feel the anticipation that it describes. It helps me to keep the true meaning of Christmas in perspective. Here it is for your consideration:

"You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us. The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life. Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race. Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word. Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word." -
St. Bernard

Sunday, December 19, 2004

C minus 6

As I sit here writing this I am listenning to Christmas music hence the title. 6 days are left until Christmas. & then what shoule really be the beginning of celebrating the holiday will really be the end. We hear all this Christmas music now. & some of it has nothing to do with the holiday. "Jingle Bells", "Let It Snow" & the like are really Winter music. So, why don't we hear them in Jan or Feb?
& most of the rest of the music, while having some nice sentiments, misses the real meaning of Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I like these songs a lot. & Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without hearing Perry Como sing "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays". or Bing Crosby crooning "White Christmas". But, these songs still don't focus on the heart of the holiday.
Christmas is about 1 thing, the birth of Jesus. The holiday's name is a shortened version of Christ's Mass, the Mass celebrating the birth of the Christ. That is why 1 of my favorite Christmas songs is "Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle/O Bambino" (You Came Down From the Stars). Another is "I Wonder As I Wander". These songs get to the heart of Christmas & yes both are out there, available on several Christmas albums.
"Tu Scendi" tells of the birth of Jesus in a cold stable out of love for us & expresses the love towards Jesus that is felt because of His love for us. "I Wonder" focuses in on why Jesus was born, "for to die. for poor lonely sinners like you & like I".
My hope & prayer is that in the hussle & bustle of the next few days that the real reason for the holiday will be remembered. I ask anyone reading this to pause & take time to think about what God did out of love for each of us & then respond to the love He showed us.

Buon Natale amici!!!!!


Saturday, December 18, 2004

Buon Giorno!

I am sure that some people are wondering at where I got my title from. Simple, it is a line from the movie 1776. John Adams says it at the point when it seems that his work for independence from England is about to fail. Yet, as we know, the Continental Congress does declare independence. John Adams was a person who stood up for & fought for what he believed in. He was willing to speak out for what was right even when it wasn't popular. At times he could be obnoxious & disliked (his own words).
A bit about me. My maternal grandparents were from Italy & I am proud of my Italian heritage. My dad's side has provided me with a bit of German. English & Scots. I grew up in the town of Oelwein, IA. 3 blocks away from the Chicago Great Western RR yards. Trains are 1 of my hobbies. My other big interest is astronomy. I have been involved in politics since I was a child. My party affiliation may have changed, but my belief in the importance of being involved that comes from my love of this country hasn't.
So, here I am, starting my own webblog. I'll be commenting on a variety of things. I hope that what I share will cause people to think & at times, be moved to action. I am motivated by my belief in God & my Catholic (Roman branch) faith. Headlines

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