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Blogging during Mass

Is Groundhog Day merely a grotesque neopagan parody of The Feast of the Presentation?

Or is it the other way around? Did the early Church fathers whimsically co-opt the earlier pagan festival of the groundhog by placing a feast of Christ on the same day?

I was hoping to hear a homily on this topic today, but no such luck.

Punxsutawney Phil

Punxsutawney Phil

Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus of Nazareth

Mr. White?


… h/t to my wife whose attention was wandering during the homily.

Happy, Happy, Happy Trinity Sunday

The Leprechaun’s Advice to My Daughter

leprechaun-pot-of-gold-coins-by-IGNACIOLEOI have a nine-year-old daughter who, as is the practice in our diocese, went through confirmation and first communion (in tandem) about a year ago. Since then, I’ve been wondering if waiting until later for confirmation (as is the norm in most dioceses, I think) might not have been the better course. She was all for getting confirmed, seemed to really like the grown-up credentials that were thereby assigned to her, etc., which I thought was all well and good. But since then things have degraded. Getting this girl to mass every week has increasingly become an ordeal. She hates it, is bored by it, whines and moans and protests about it every week, and then sits through it as disengaged as she can be, occasionally asking when it will be over. This is troubling to say the least.

With that in mind, tell me if the following deception on my part is morally questionable and/or in any other way ill-advised. Or is it a justifiable form of holy trickery akin to what Walker Percy said about the Catholic writer having to use every trick at her disposal to lure the reader into receiving the news from across the sea?

Last night this girl left her shoes out for the leprechaun who always visits the night before St. Patrick’s Day to leave goodies in. She included a little gift for the leprechaun (a pencil with shamrocks on it) and a note asking him to leave her a real photo of himself as proof of his existence. So I left some chocolate gold coins in the shoes, took the pencil, and then scribbled a thank you on her note (in my best leprechaunish hand) saying that she should check her email (yes, she has her own email account) for a photo. Then I got online and created an email account for the leprechaun (leprechaun_37@), found a suitable photo online, and sent it to her as an attachment from “yours truly.”

She loved it. To tell the truth, I’m not sure to what degree she really buys it. I think she is willing to suspend disbelief and join in the fun of it to some extent. But at any rate, she is playing along and very keen on having a leprechaun she can exchange emails with.

Fast forward to me telling her it’s time to get ready for mass. Her reply: “We have to go to mass on St. Patrick’s day?!” All the more so! says I. “I’m going to ask the leprechaun,” says she. So she sends the leprechaun an email: “do i have to go to mass?”

And here is the leprechaun’s repy:

Ah, H_______ my dear dear girl, what do you think? Not only do you have your marvelous Sunday obligation today, when all the faithful (among whom I assume you are counted!) are obliged to partake of the presence of Our Lord in the bread and wine — not only that (as if that weren’t more than enough miracle to draw you forth to the church my dear girl) but today is the feast day of the great great saint, Patrick of Ireland, who certainly deserves to be honored in a special way with extra prayers and oblations and songs of praise … and of course the wearing of your finest green adornments, my dear girl. Now off to holy Mass you go and no more hemming and hawing!

Your friend,
Leprechaun #37

P.S. Here is a wonderful prayer of St. Patrick I hope you will share with your family on this splendid feast day. Will you invite your mother and father and sister to pray this prayer with you today? This would surely make St. Patrick smile down on you from heaven and the sun shine a bit brighter this day.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Please advise, ye fellow bad Catholics.

Bob Dylan, Jakob Dylan, and the Catholic Church

bob dylan and pope john paul

From an interview with Bob Dylan that appeared in Der Spiegel on October 16, 1997:

Q: How was it for you to be playing for the Pope in Bologna a few weeks ago?

A: A great show.

Q: Why?

A: It just was.

In another interview (recently cited by Ken Layne, writing irreverently in The Awl), Bob said of the show, “He’s the Pope. You know what I mean? There’s only one Pope, right?”

Admittedly, these are just a couple of odd, tiny pieces in the giant jigsaw puzzle that is Bob Dylan, but they perhaps point to certain sympathies, certain leanings with regards to Catholicism.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Now we have Bob’s son Jakob coming out with a new Wallflowers album that has a lead-off song entitled “Hospital for Sinners” that also bespeaks a leaning in the direction of a distinctly Catholic sensibility. Listen to it here and see what you think.

Finally, let’s hear from Fr. Barron on Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, and Thomas Merton.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than: Bob, Jakob, Thomas, Keith … I’ll see you at Mass sometime.


New favorite Gospel (from today’s Mass readings):

Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Amazing Grace and Zombies

A while ago the title Amazing Grace and Zombies came to me. I was thinking that, were I to jump on the zombies bandwagon, I might use that. That’s all I got. No storyline, no characters, just the title. Then I forgot about it. Until this morning when one of the apocalyptic readings at mass presented itself as the perfect epigraph to accompany the title:

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;
some shall live forever,
others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.

I was also thinking “everlasting horror and disgrace” may be the most compelling descriptor for Hell (and, possibly, zombies) anywhere in the pages of scripture. (It’s from the 12th chapter of Daniel.) I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to avoid that if possible.

That’s still all I got. No storyline, no characters.

P.S. Please don’t start offering ideas in the comments. If you must, you must, but please try to restrain yourselves.

Homily Hangman


My daughter and I played a couple of rounds of hangman during the homily at mass on Sunday.

Employees must wash their hands before returning to the work of the Lord…

(Sacristy towel rack at Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman, La Crosse, Wis.)


Yesterday afternoon at Mass, the priest compared people who go through life with no sense of the presence of God to “characters I saw on a TV show last year, The Walking Dead – zombies.”  Whoa.