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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

On Retreat

I am typing this from the public library at Cape May. They don't have wireless yet, so I have to use the public computer. I miss my Firefox browser. So far the retreat is going well, there is snow on the ground but the temperature is in the forties. We did the Stations of the Cross last night and will be discussing articles about the deaconate today. Some of the other brothers are also coming down, but they promissed not to disturb us much. Please keep Nathan and I in your prayers as we continue our retreat.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Snow fall

I am supposed to head out tomorrow on retreat but we got a large amount of snow into DC today. At least enough to cancel my night class. The snow is supposed to end tonight, but I don't know how quickly the roads will get cleared up. All this cold weather is making me want to move my retreat southward but you life with what life dishes out to you. It will be really good to get away for awhile and get some time to myself, though there will be some other friars also in Cape May, so it won't be entirely private. As I wrote earlier, I will try to keep the updates coming. In any case, as Lent continues take some time off yourselves. Too often, Lenten observances seem to just add more responsibilities into already busy schedules. Try fasting from the business of life instead.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Midterm Week

Today I had my one and only midterm. I don't know if this is the result of it being my last year at the seminary or just a fortiuitous chain of events. Either way, I'm not complaining, especially as it didn't go to bad. I also had a paper due and another due tomorrow, but they are only a few pages long so again, not too bad. My only concern is that DC is supposed to get snow tomorrow and while I normally wouldn't mind getting a bunch of snow and missing my three hour night class, my spring break is supposed to begin on Friday and I really want to get out of here for my vacation...err retreat. So I would much rather go to class tomorrow than get a snow day. [I can't believe I'm saying this].

Now, I know that "Spring Break" and "Summer Vacation" are sometimes looked upon with disdain by the many who work in the "real world" and have often wondered why the academic year is structured so differently. While there has been discussion about year round school, for obvious reasons, it never seems to go over well with either the teachers or the students. Moreover, many students and teachers use these times - especially the "Summer Vacation" for work rather than pleasure. So there are many strong forces against getting rid of these breaks. Perhaps it would be easier to get the workplace to adopt "Spring Break" and "Summer Vacation". Of course, I wouldn't recommend suggesting this to your boss. See if it happens in France first.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Getting ready for the retreat

This friday I will be heading off for a combination of Spring Break and a retreat - and no it won't be in Florida and nor should I appear on MTV. Retreat for Spring Break...this would never have been popular back in high school or college. Canon Law, however, requires that I spend five days in retreat before my ordination to the diaconate and so off I go.

I will be spending it at our house in Cape May, NJ which would be a whole lot more exciting if it were about three months later. As it is, they are forecasting cold weather and possible snow and there is no way in heck that I'm getting into that cold water. So, it will most likely be lots of quite time inside, contemplating deacon things and catching up on homework.

Since I will be away next week, I had to do some extra shopping today - two carts full but hopefully this will last until I get back. Also, I don't know whether I will be able to keep the blog going while I am on retreat, I will certainly try, but don't go away if the updates stop coming. I will be getting back from retreat on the 6th of March. Please pray for me.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Cooking up the pork

It was cooking day for me again. It's always an adventure to fix dinner on the eve before shopping day as many of the cupboards are bare. I try to make it a challenge finding something that I can fix with whatever is at hand and if I have to substitute one ingredient for another - as long as the brothers don't know, it won't hurt them. Besides, since I'm cooking that means that they will eat it before I do - so I can avoid any of my own mistakes!

Since I am one of the shoppers, one of the other brothers has the weird idea that I shouldn't complain about bare cupboards - as if there must be logic to my disgruntlement. Logical complaints wouldn't be any fun at all. I also gave a reflection today at Mass about the need to recognize the forgiveness of God that has already been offered instead of overly focussing on "our sins". God is all merciful and if we want forgiveness, all we have to do is forgive one another.

Greek Orthodox Church Endorses Major Reforms and Fashion Changes

Christian Today > Greek Orthodox Church Endorses Major Reforms

The Roman Catholic Church is not the only major Christian denomination facing scandles from economic and moral misbehavior and not the only one that is finding itself under calls for major reform. The Orthodox Church of Greece is also suffering from the misbehavior of some of its clergy and as a result has had to agree to governmental monitoring of its finances and to "wear less ostentatious robes". I really think that they should object to that last one since it is the "ostentatious robes" that first attracted my attention to the Orthodox Church and I hope to get a set of my own someday.

One of my former formators once warned us that we should be witnesses instead of spectacles, but Fernando says that it is always better to look good than to feel good.

ABC News: Economists want to know: Do Europeans work less because they believe less in God?

ABC News: Economists want to know: Do Europeans work less because they believe less in God?

This is an interesting article asking the question concerning the relationship of religious belief and economic productivity. There appear to be some interesting coincidences, but no really solid claims that can be made. Of course, living in a religious group that values poverty, one might assume that our economic productivity is practically nil and certainly there is the occasionally the lazy friar [but not yours truly, of course].

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Prayer Leader

Every week one of us is responsible for leading the community prayer. This week is my week, which means that I get to pick songs that I think that everyone...most least least I know. Since this is Lent, this means choosing appropriately penitential songs and nothing that has the verboten "Ale****" word in it. It also means getting up earlier so that I can get into the chapel soon enough to be ready to lead and not drag myself in at the last possible moment as I normally do. So, being prayer leader is not one of my favorites, but it's a responsibility that I strive to fulfill with all the importance that it deserves.

I guess some people are never happy

Global Coverage Article |

Apparently, some are upset over a few of the boxes of aid to the tsunami victums by the Greek Orthodox Church. I'm not sure if the right response would be "it's the thought that counts" as I'm not sure that the individual(s) responsible did sufficient thinking before they sent these "suprise gifts".

Saturday, February 19, 2005

On the eve of the second week of Lent

Spending the day cleaning my room and making tremendous archeological discoveries. I figure that if I can't become famous for my blogging, perhaps I can by finding the missing link before I lose it again under all my stuff. Now where did I last see it...

Found out today that the bishop who will be ordaining to the deaconate and the priesthood is being sued by a priest of his own diocese in an issue relating to the sexual abuse scandal. I feel more and more like Frodo Baggins wishing things were different, yet hearing Gandalf tell him - "So do all who live in such times, but it is not for them to decide - all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." Choice is certainly a powerful gift, though sometimes it may seem like a curse. Still, the example has been put before us - it is not what would Jesus do, it is what Jesus did and continues to do out of love. Maranatha.

Busy Busy Busy

Midterms are approaching and I have one test coming up and a couple of papers, I guess not too bad but the work on the web site continues a pace and I often feel I am taking one step forward to two steps back. I was originally going to call it The Seraphicum and even spent some time putting together some graphics but then discovered that there is a university run by the Friars Minor in Rome by the same name and out of concern for copyright laws I decided to change the name to The Seraphicon although I think that may sound a bit too much like those old Star Trek conventions. I also first thought about making it like The Friary, i.e. about me and my interests and even made some sample pages in that vein, but then decided that it would be better to focus on one particular interest -so now it is being developed into a web site devoted to conducting research on the internet. For those of you who have no interest in such things, I apologize for going on and on about this, but it is an area of particular attention right now as I simultaneously try to get through a huge book on learning Web Programing along with a couple of programs designed to make it all more easy. I can see why people advertise on their sights, a cash settlement makes it all seem worthwhile.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Learning to discern

Thursdays are Sexual and Medical Bioethics class which fortunately isn't too bad since it is a three hour night class. This evening's class dealt with the foundations of Catholic ethics with particular examples relating both to current issues involving Terri Schiavo and the suggestion that people suffering from AIDS be allowed to use condoms so as to protect their spouses from being infected. One key understanding about Catholic Moral Teaching is that while one can put forward an ideal, that ideal must often be adjusted when it encounters the experiences of men and women in the world. It can get awfully messy. As I told my teacher, I'm glad to be a historian as everyone I have to deal with is dead and so won't complain to much about how I treat them.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

No rest for the wicked

For some reason, I awoke at four in the morning and was unable to go back to sleep. Of course this happens right before my longest day of classes. I did manage to make it through the day, though I did collapse after dinner. I'm hoping that it was an aberation and not the signs of more to come. For those of you who don't know me, I like sleep. It's one of my most favorite things. So far, this passion for rest hasn't apparently affected my other responsibilities and I do certainly hope that will continue to be the case. I should also note that I am definately a night person, I keep suggesting moving morning prayer to around eleven and evening prayer to around nine at night, but I am trapped in a morning persons' world.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

On the eve of hump day

Tomorrow is Wednesday, which I have mentioned is my longest and most unpleasant day. Fortunately, it only comes once a week and the rest of the week isn't too bad. I spent most of the day doing homework and some more stuff on the revised web page. I can see that it is going to take a long time as I seem to have a great idea, work on it for awhile and then through it out for being too extensive. I need to work more on simplicity both on my web page and in my life. Sometimes, I think that impressiveness needs to entail extravagance, big lights and loud sounds. I forget that God comes in the silence.

In other news, for those who have tried to get onto Isidore's Corner - the other blog, and been unable to, it is because I mistakenly typed in the wrong address. Presently, it located at you will note the missing "i" in Isidore's. I will be correcting that on Sunday so that the web address will indeed be the title of the blog and become

Adventures in cooking

Since Tuesday's are shopping days, the cupboards can be rather empty on Monday evenings. And since, I was responsible for shopping last week, I guess I have no one to blame but myself but why take the easy way out when it is so much easier to complain about it? Normally, I would have fixed a "beef" related meal, but we had a bunch of left overs, so it was time to find interesting things to do with whatever I could find. Last week's turkey became tonight's turkey casserole with rice; some green apples became an apple salad with rice; and to top it all of I reheated some chicken soup - with rice. Do you see a theme here? Lots of rice and lots of leftovers. Perhaps not the most culinarily appealing, but it helps to stretch our shopping dollar and keeps me from having to go to the store again.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Sunday computer work

I spent most of the day today doing some editing on the Mach 2 version of the web page. Not very exciting stuff really, but it keeps me out of whatever sort of trouble one could get into in the Friary - which isn't much. This evening I took a break to watch a PBS show on the importance of fire. So, you can see that I am living a very exciting life right now. Of course, when things get really exciting, I'll be complaining that I don't have enough calmness.

So ends the first week of Lent.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Free Expression Can Be Costly When Bloggers Bad-Mouth Jobs (

Free Expression Can Be Costly When Bloggers Bad-Mouth Jobs (

Since blogging is just developing, businesses are playing catch up in terms of rules and guidelines for their employees and their blogging. On the one hand, there are speech freedoms - on the other hand their is a businesses desire that an employees negative attitudes not become public information spread throughout the internet. There have been several individuals fired for what they posted on their blogs or "dooced" as the new lingo defines it.

Therefore, it is important for anyone who is contemplating blogging to check with their employers regarding blogging policies - especially if it comes to mentioning anything even remotely connected to work. Some people have been fired for writing about their place of employment, even when it was written anonymously and when all names were changed. Understandably, your co-workers are not happy if you write negative things about them in a public forum.

What will this mean for the future of blogging? I am afraid that it might turn into simple commenting on other news stories or upon events very distant from the life of the blogger. What will it mean for Isidore's Corner and Friary Notes? I expect that Isidore's Corner won't have many problems as it has very little connection with my life as a friar or any future ministry. Friary Notes, may have to become either a whole lot more personal or a whole lot more impersonal. Once again, morality plays catch up to technology.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Well, I made it through the practice baptism and wedding, sorry no pictures available. Everything was kind of tense and we only wore the alb and stole, so you wouldn't get the whole effect anyway. Plus there really wasn't anyone available to take pictures since everyone had a certain role to play in the ceremonies. I'll try to do better when I do my practice Mass in March. For the celebrations, the groom/father was named Joseph and the bride/mother was named Mary. The child was named in honor of one of our brothers who usually gets stuck playing the father/husband in these things but was unavailable - plus, as I mentioned yesterday, the doll came in a shirt with the Dallas Cowboys' logo and this particular brother is a Cowboy's fan. [Yes, we pray for him]

Thursday, February 10, 2005

On the eve of something new

Tomorrow I make my first attempt to celebrate the sacraments of Baptism and Marriage in a practice session. We will not be using a real baby for the baptism, but a doll affectionately named "Chucky" - there is some speculation that the doll received its name not only because of the movie of the same title, but also because of the Dallas Cowboys shirt that the doll wears but the historians can argue about that one themselves. The roles of the mother and the bride will be played by female classmates of ours at the union. Fortunately, none of these practice celebrations are valid so that we won't be arrested on charges of bigamy when one classmate plays the bride in three separate weddings. And as for Chucky, if the repeated baptisms performed on him haven't exorcised his evil spirits, then nothing will.

The practices will be videotaped for critique by our instructor and I will see if I can't put at least a picture or two up here on the blog.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The first day of Lent

We celebrated [is that the right word?] Ash Wednesday this morning and arrived at school to smell the sweet aroma of bacon cooking in our Catholic school cafeteria - nothing like the spirit of temptation to strike as soon as possible in the Ash Wednesday fast. I managed to repress my hunger pains by repeating "allelulia" several times before lighting struck.

This afternoon and evening I completed prelimary work on another stage of the revised web site which you can see in the post below. For those who may not recognize it, it is a Seraph/Seraphim , i.e. my angelic namesake. I thought about adding a small beard so that it might look more like me - but I thought better of it and decided to go with the more traditional representation.

This is a graphic I have been working on for my revised web site. It is, in fact, a Seraphim original and I am pretty proud of myself I must say. I plan on it being the key graphic for the revised site. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Mardi Gras and Miscellania

We celebrated Mardi Gras this evening with hamburgers and cake. Perhaps not the most traditional of Mardi Gras meals, but it satisfied our need to feast before fasting sets in tomorrow. Today was again shopping day at the house, but we didn't need as much as usual, so I was able to get done more quickly which is always a good thing. The weather here is still very nice, up in the fifties. Tomorrow they are predicting rain which will be fitting for a school day.

This weekend we will be hosting a "Come and See" weekend when prospective individuals "come" for a visit to "see" how we live. So, we all must be on our best behavior and persuade them that we are happy, normal, and well adjusted people. Those of you who no me, don't laugh, I have become very good at covering up my little quirks. After all, the TORs accepted me, didn't they?

I will also be video taping my practice baptism and wedding ceremonies this weekend. If I can, I'll post some pictures, so you can get a foretaste of what I am going to look like with an alb on and all priestly like.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Preparing for Lent

Spent this evening in spiritual direction and confession. I always think its important to try to start the Lenten season with a clean slate though sometimes I think about the logic of starting a season of penance in a state in which my sins have been forgiven - well life is full of these theological puzzlers. Perhaps it is important to get motivated to try to live a better life over these next couple of weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter and certainly every bit of sacramental grace helps.

Lent is also a curious season as it seems so much attention is spent toward ensuring that it is lived well that once Easter takes place, everyone is just so glad that Lent is over that no one really pays much attention to what that much longer Church season really means. Therefore, I think that this year I want not to so much prepare for Lent, but prepare for Easter to prepare myself for the day when the resurrected Christ comes in glory as he did to those who followed him long ago. This is what I want to be ready to hear, the voice of Jesus saying "Peace be with you". Let this be Lent be a time for obtaining this peace.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Super Bowl Sunday

Friars celebrate the Super Bowl pretty much like everyone else, with a lot of food and refreshments in front of the TV hoping that there might be some really good commercials on. Most of us were rooting for Philadelphia this year because they were the underdog, but as I write this the Eagles are about ten points down so I don't know that we have a lot of influence with the Big Guy upstairs as far as this goes - if we did Notre Dame would have had a national championship by now.

The end of football season begins that period of boredom before the start of baseball season and I am not looking forward to what this is going to mean to my Cubbies this year. No Sports Illustrated curse for them, the other curses are going to work quite well this year, I'm afraid. Darn you, Boston! Oh well, there's always fencing.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

This last picture is my landscape contribution with a little photoediting to make it look more like an impressionistic painting. The picture is of the Smithsonian Castle and the Washington Monument. Posted by Hello

This is picture obviously has had a lot more done to it. The little girl in the picture was exploring the mall both with excitement and trepidity due to the puddles and mud that had been left by the melting snow. Her father followed closely behind to keep her from getting dirty. I thought putting her in color in a black and white picture says something about new life and hope for the future. A little child will lead them, so to speak. Posted by Hello

This is an essentially untouched photo, just a little cropping. I thought that this picture says quite a bit about the day, getting exercise, enjoying some warmer weather, and talking on the cell phone. Posted by Hello

Saturday on the town

Well, I did manage to get outside for awhile and went down to the Mall where I people watched for awhile and went to an exhibit of 20th century Russian art before heading off to a Borders for an iced tea. Lots of other Washingtonians had the same idea and I took a couple of pictures, some of which I have done a little computer editing on as you will see in the other postings. This is just some basic photoediting stuff, but we all have to start somewhere.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Friday in front of the computer

I awoke the this morning with plans of going outside, but those quickly disappeared as I managed to pursuade myself that it could wait until tomorrow which is supposed to be sunny and warmer. It's amazing how quickly I can convince myself of these things. You will have to stay tuned until tomorrow to see if I manage to convince myself again.

Instead, I spent most of the day working on The Friary website - not directly per se but working on trying to write it out myself with XHTML as I am learning it. It takes a bit longer, at least right now, than using the SiteKreator program but I appreciate learning how it all works and I think that once I get it figured out, I'll be able to do a bit more with the site. Unfortunately, I think it is going to take several weeks before I get anything looking like a finished project so stay tuned for updates.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Everyone needs a holy fool

The holy fool was a saintly figure in Eastern and Western Christianity who walked the line between sanctity and insanity. While the fool acted foolish, many believed that the fool truly acted from a higher and more spiritual wisdom. For example, one holy fool once poured tomato soup all over his beard as a sign telling people not to be overly concerned with physical appearance. The image of the holy fool that most people are familiar with is probably Saint Francis but it really applies to anyone who acts foolish to prophesy against their contemporary society. Because the holy fool was considered the voice of God, the fool could often say harsh things to rulers without fear of retribution whereas those who did not have the status of the holy fool would be punished.

It seems to me that just as the holy fool played an important role in lives of people of old, it would be a good idea to seek out a personal holy fool today. Many religious are advised to seek a spiritual director to provide advice on prayer and living the Christian life, but I think that a personal holy fool would be good as a source of keeping a more realistic vision in our lives. Sometimes in ministry it is easy to believe the hype. By that I mean that in ministry people tend to thank you and give you words of appreciation and delusions of grandure may arise. The holy fool can be there to remind us that we still put our pants on like everyone else. If we feel overly stressed with our ministerial responsibilities, the holy fool can be there to tell us to "snap out of it". The holy fool helps us to keep our feet in reality.

Find yourself a holy fool, you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A difficult day at the seminary

Today was a very long day at the school lasting from 8:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon and involving several classes that threaten to give me ulcers. I know some would say that it is important to be stretched, but it is hard when I am the only one who feels like I am being stretched. I think it's also difficult in that, having been a teacher, I am always thinking about how I would be doing things differently. Perhaps its an exercise in humility. All I know is that I can't wait for the end of April.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Praying for the Pope

As I write this, the Holy Father has been taken to the hospital. While I faintly remember John Paul I, for me John Paul has set the standard for what a pope should be and it is only with some apprehensiveness that I contemplate who his successor might be. I know that I should have faith in the continuing power of the Holy Spirit to guide the church and that there is no reason why I should expect the worst over the best but that's how I am right now. So I find myself torn both in a desire that his health improve as well as a prayer that after all this time he might finally get a much deserved rest. I imagine that he is praying only that God's will may be done, perhaps I should do the same.