The Fish, Out of Matter: R.I.P.

Yes bassist Chris Squire passed away last night at age 67. I don’t usually pay too much attention to what goes on in the entertainment world, as I don’t have much personal investment in it, and never really have. But there have been some exceptions to that. Chris Squire would be pretty close to the top of that exception list. Squire had noted on Facepalm® last month that he had fallen victim to a brutal disease, so today’s news was not entirely surprising, but it was disturbing nonetheless, and I’m feeling as if I lost a friend. That’s a silly sentiment,...

Chuck Colson: 1931-2012

We lost a good man today. Read a few parting words from his co-workers on his recent project, The Manhattan Declaration, here – and sign the declaration if you haven’t yet, and if you care about marriage and human civilization (pardon the redundancy). Dostoyevsky said “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” I would add that you can judge the degree of civilization in a man’s soul by observing how he treats prisoners. With all that Colson did for his God and for his neighbors over the...

Good Riddance, 2011

This year sucked. It began with my little sister’s funeral, and ended with a malaise lingering on from my mother’s funeral. For my sister, Mary, death came quickly, and then it came slowly. She was very busy living a vibrant life, when she was suddenly smitten with a terminal cancer. Then she spent a year and a half dying. She tried to keep up the appearances of optimism, but everyone around her knew how the dance was going to end; we just didn’t know quite when. When it came, death came slowly, bleeding her life away as her ministeri...

Some Kind of Start

I’ve been in an intellectual vapor lock since my mom passed away, on October 3rd. I almost called it an intellectual constipation, but, regardless of how apropos it may be, I didn’t think that would reflect very well on my typical output. Nonetheless, it’s been very difficult for me to get anything done. No surprise, I suppose, that I’d become depressed in my grief. But even when I’m feeling relatively well, I’m having a hard time pulling the trigger on anything. I’m barely keeping my head above water staying prepared for teaching an 8th-grade CCD class ...

Who has time to listen?

Rummaging through some old journals this week while taking a measure of introspection, I came across the following in an entry from March 29th, 1990. I’ve cleaned it up a bit for publication, but it remains essentially the thought of my 29 year-old self. Reading old journals is a fascinating exercise in self-awareness, but I’m throwing them out, anyway… Who has time to listen? Running around in hectic disarray, death edges closer to each of us by the minute, yet who has time to stop to listen? What would we hear if we did? Common wisdom has it that we le...

Mary, My Sister

My sister Mary passed away about 48 hours ago, succumbing to the ravages of bodily dissolution after 18 months of battling illness. She had steadfastly insisted that her tribulations remain private and discreet during her sickness, but since there will be obituaries published within the next couple days, I hardly see the point now in maintaining a public silence. Still, the details are nobody’s business, as strange as that sentiment may sound in the age of Facebook and Twitter. It seems that everything is supposed to be everyone else’s business these day...

O Oriens

“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (O Antiphon for Dec 21st) Ironic, isn’t it?, that the antiphon for the Winter Solstice calls upon Christ as the Light of Dawn, or Rising Sun, or Dayspring from On High! Like all the antiphons of this octave, it recalls an Isaiahan Messianic prophecy: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1 in NAB – 9:2 in most versions). All the bells and w...

“If the Dead are Garbage, then the Living are Walking Garbage.”

Every now and again, I find myself disputing with advocates of human cremation over the propriety of the process. Cremation has very rapidly become the preferred option, in certain sectors of society, for dealing with the corpses of the deceased. Whereas at one time its appeal may have been pretty much strictly economic to those not strongly influenced by oriental, non-Christian culture (or anti-Christian sentiment), it is these days often pitched as a morally compelling solution to a looming Malthusian crisis of usable land – the argument being that bur...

A Quiet Note of Thanks

One of those days when the realization slaps me that we just don’t get do-overs in life… I heard during the prayers of the faithful this morning that Tony Melchiorri had died, and was buried last week. Tony was a Natick cop for many years, and a man I came to know, after a certain fashion, during my teenage years in town. He was always a good guy. I think it’s fair to say that Tony spent a good deal of his life trying to protect the local kids from their own stupidity – with admittedly mixed results. But thanks for trying, Tony. R...

RJN: R.I.P.

The Catholic Church in America lost another of her intellectual giants today. The Rev. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus died this morning, at age 72. Of course, I never met the man, and I’m not sure I would have known what to say to him had I met him, but I feel as if I have lost a friend. An old acquaintance from my adolescence was buried this morning, and perhaps that makes me think a bit about mortality, yet this priest and writer whom I never met dies, and I feel a piece of me torn away. Surely, it is vain of me to cultivate these feelings – who...

Why MaybeToday?

I was listening to a lecture by Peter Kreeft a while back, and he observed that time is the stuff of which life is made – time is life. People often say that time is money, but that’s an understatement. Kreeft is right: time is life. This isn’t meant to suggest that time is a metaphysical necessity, or that there can be no such thing as eternal life. Rather, it means that the life we each possess – our life – is ultimately a very precise allotment of time, and that each sunrise brings us one day closer to death. Time is really all we have, and the ...

One Year After the Beginning of the End

One year ago today, I was lying on an operating room table at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, having jumper cables attached to my chest to try to get my heart beating normally again – I had just had my circumflex artery opened up via angioplasty, and the ticker didn’t take it too well. It wasn’t a very good day… it wasn’t a very good week. This week wasn’t much better. For the second year in a row, Joyce spent the Wednesday before Memorial Day in a waiting room at BIDMC, waiting for word on a loved one having a p...