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March 17th, 2004
Missionary Bishop St. Patrick Was No Leprechaun

How much of what we do on St. Patrick’s Day is actually associated with the man St. Patrick? Turns out very little, actually.
Green beer? Leprechauns? Pinching? “Paddy” would say “Blarney—I wasn’t even born in Ireland!”
To the Irish in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. In Ireland, the day is celebrated by attending mass and praying for missionaries. All businesses are closed (except restaurants and pubs) and people celebrate most of the day like we would celebrate a lesser holiday.
Missionary man
At the age of 16, British-born ethnically Roman Patrick was captured by Irish…

March 1st, 2004
14 Psychics, an Election, and the Virgin Mary's Dating Service

Crystal Ball v. Gore
On the evening of the 2000 election, I sat before Judith Regan Live watching a psychic make a prediction about the outcome.
“We won’t know who won for a few weeks,” he said. “It will be a virtual tie. It will come down to one state, and it will be very, very close, but the winner will be Bush.”
I laughed; Judith laughed. The psychic did not.
The Catechism and my misfortune
I’ve long avoided having a psychic consultation. For one thing, the Church frowns upon them.
“All forms of divination are to be rejected,” states the Catechism. “Recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and other human beings?They contradict…

February 19th, 2004
Same Sex Marriage and the Ailing State of Our Families

Of soccer and marriageMarriage is the union of man and woman aiming to form a family. That’s its essence—its minimum requirements—and we have a fundamental rule that goes with that essence—we can only recognize marriages between a man and woman.
As a society we could change that rule.
We could also change the rules of soccer to allow players to use their hands to control the ball.
But then the game would no longer be soccer. I don’t know what you’d call it (rugboccer?), but the essence of soccer would be lost and, most fans would agree, the game would be ruined.
The same goes for marriage and the family: change the essence, and they no longer exist. They would be ruined.
The diseaseThat assumes,…

February 17th, 2004
Why The Apprentice Is the Best New Show on TV

I never thought that I’d find a spiritual lesson in a show run by Donald Trump, but The Apprentice seems to have something in every episode.
For those who haven’t seen the show, it consists of a face-off between two teams vying to outdo each other in a small business venture (everything ranging from street vendoring to planning a charity auction).
The winners get perks (visiting George Steinbrenner in the owner’s box at Yankee Stadium) while the losing team has to face Trump and his cronies in the dreaded “board room” where somebody will get fired (a preview of which you’ve surely seen in the commercial).The wisdom of The DonaldTrump realizes that in business, things don’t…

February 9th, 2004
George W. Bush Says God Chose Him to Be President

A man set apart by God
When George W. Bush was governor of Texas and decided to run for president, he described his decision in terms of a divine mandate: He had been “called,” a phrase that evokes the prophetic commissions of the Hebrew Scriptures. He summoned to the governor’s mansion all the leading pastors of the region to carry out a ritual of “laying on of hands,” a practice that corresponds above all to priestly or ministerial ordination.
His premonition of his presidential role during a national disaster was documented in a new book by Christian author Stephen Mansfield, The Faith of George W. Bush. Bush said to James Robinson: ‘I feel like God wants me to run for President.…

February 9th, 2004
And the Curse of Valentine's Day

Love, me, and the cosmos in FebruaryEvery year when Valentine’s Day rolls around, I become philosophical. Who am I? Why have I been placed on this earth? Why am I always without a date on Valentine’s Day?
Yes, I’ve never had a date or a relationship during Valentine’s Day. Ever. It somehow happens that my relationships end before or begin after Valentine’s Day. So when it comes to February 14, I’ve got a clean slate—no history.
Danger: Single man aheadAnd, as you get older, into the latter part
of your twenties anyway, the (obvious) questions start popping up like sea shells on a beach:

“Oh, he’s still single?” (Incredulous tone) “So, when are…

February 9th, 2004
Wanting More from Music (and Less Boob on the Tube)

While flipping through my car stereo recently, I was shocked to hear Nelly say the F-word in his most recent song.
Me and Nelly
I’m not anti-Nelly. We did a movie together. Really. It’s called “Snipes.” But hearing an uncensored f-bomb in the middle of the day on the radio was something I’d never experienced. I thought it was illegal—so why not call the FCC?
The F in FCC
The FCC has been in the news a lot recently. First there was when Bono (of U2) said “f-ing brilliant” on the Golden Globes, and the media made a stink. The FCC didn’t fine him, because they said he used it as an adjective, not to describe a sex act. However, FCC chairman Michael Powell recently called…

February 8th, 2004
Making sense of a milestone

On a recent Saturday night, my husband and I went to a concert for an Irish punk band he had been following for over half a decade. We arrived at Columbus ‘ PromoWest Pavilion at 10:15pm, a deliberate move to bypass the opening acts. I stood on a bench behind Jim in the back of the dark, cavernous room, quietly grooving as I looked out over the luminous mass of sweating, moshing, grinding twentysomethings. As I checked out the shoulder tats and lingerie-and-jeans ensembles, with absolutely no desire to be a part of the action, I came to a realization.
I am old. Or at least semi-old. I have just turned 30, and this milestone birthday has caused me to reflect on such things. Yes, I know that 30 is not pass-the-Ensure or…

February 7th, 2004
The Working Poor: Invisible in America

In the midst of a contentious election year and on the heels of Barbara Ehrenreich’s acclaimed bestseller Nickel and Dimed comes a new book about real life on the poverty line in America. In David Shipler’s The Working Poor: Invisible in America , the Pulitzer Prize-winning author provides powerful testimony to the realities of poverty in the United States from those who experience it first hand. His subjects discuss their lives with an honesty and frankness that are surprisingly free of harsh denunciations or bitter accusations; rather than indict, their poignant stories move us to examine our own lives and the values of the culture we live in.
Putting a face on povertyThe Working Poor is filled…

February 3rd, 2004
Celebrity and the Search for Decent Political Advice

My name is Tony Rossi and I’m a registered Republican.
There, I admit it.
I don’t remember what year I registered, but it was before I started paying much attention to politics. The GOP seemed to share my moral values so I signed up.
Leaning GOP but not a sealed deal
In the ensuing years, I’ve become more interested in the workings of government, our political system, and the people we elect to serve the public interest.
While I still lean conservative, I won’t automatically vote for the Republican on the ballot. And since I disagree strongly with Democrats on certain issues, they can’t count on my vote either. So in a big election year like 2004, where can I?and all those questioning…

January 20th, 2004
Sport for Its Own Sake Despite the Hype

It rumbles near. The playoffs have ended, and the “Event,” the “All” soon arrives, on February 1st, only the second time the Super Bowl has been played outside of January.
Why so late?
Hard to say. The NFL season expanded to sixteen games back in 1978, and the NFL added a “bye” week in the 1980s, thus expanding the season. Those might be partial reasons.
And, of course: There’s a two week delay this year between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.
More hypeActually for years the NFL had a two-week delay before the Super Bowl, then it went to one week. I don’t know why it switched back to two weeks:

Some of my friends speculate that it’s scheduling…

January 8th, 2004
A Graffiti-Writing Ten-Year-Old Fixes His Mistake

Rushing out the door on my way to work, I was stopped cold by large yellow spray-painted letters: F-U-C-K. The word screamed from the white fence separating my apartment building from my neighbor’s home.
Worse yet, my car didn’t escape the graffiti. The trunk of my red Mazda now sported a couple yellow streaks.
The child villain?Occasionally, events happen to remind me I live in a big, scary, urban area. Unknown villains, who could care less about me, make their chilling presence felt.
But a couple days later my neighbor said she knew the identity of my city rogue. Rumors pointed to 10-year-old Stephen some five houses down.
What do I do now? I felt angry some punk kid could scar up my car and scare me with…

January 2nd, 2004
A GenX Spiritual Guru Looks at the Meaning of Integrating Who We Are With What We Buy.

In “Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are With
What We Buy,” Tom Beaudoin focuses on what he calls “economic spirituality.”
Branding ourselvesBeaudoin, who explored “the irreverent spiritual quest of Generation X” in his previous book, “Virtual Faith,” put off his doctoral dissertation in theology to embark on a self-reflective study of a “branding” economy. He wanted to examine how the goods we purchase have a personality all their own that we buy into.
He noticed that both men and women were attracted to certain brands, or perhaps more importantly the brand’s persona. Some wear baggy jeans associated with a tough streetwise…

December 25th, 2003
Celebrating Christmas Polish-American style

It’s not Mary giving birth or the baby Jesus Himself that brings it to mind, but standing in the window watching for the first star to appear in the sky so that we can commence Wigilia, the Polish Christmas vigil and meal.

Just my jobIt’s the job of the youngest child to watch for the first star, and, sans procreation, thirty years later that is still my role in the process. One generation removed from the “old country” my aunt keeps up the Wigilia meal tradition and cooks the meatless dinner.
The meal begins with the breaking and sharing of the oplatek, a rectangular wafer of much the same consistency as the host in church, with an image or scene of the Baby Jesus imprinted on it. There’s…

December 25th, 2003
Midnight Mass at St. Mary's... Hyderabad

In my family, we have a tradition of eating my Mom’s excellent fruitcake after Midnight Mass. It’s a sweet end to the wonderful experience of the evening.
I’m sure Masses in other places around the world are equally spectacular. But, for me, nothing beats Midnight Mass at St. Mary’s Church. If you’re ever in Hyderabad during Christmas time, be sure to check it out.
The night is usually cloudless and stars are visible in the sky. To me, it always seems that on this night, there is one star shining brighter than the rest. And every year it is cold. The men are handsomely dressed in suits and the women in sarees, salwaar kameezes, or dresses, covering themselves with shawls. Everyone wears…

December 6th, 2003
Catholics and the Complications of U.S. Immigration Policy

“There’s so many of them,” the septuagenarian remarked to a large gathering of us over dinner that night. “With all the people coming here from everywhere, can New York City really make room, come up with an apartment for every new immigrant family?” There was a clear note of doubt in his voice. I wanted to speak, but one of his contemporaries did instead: “Didn’t New York City have enough room for your parents when they came here from Eastern Europe?”
I suppose there is something natural about wanting to shut the door behind us, fearful there won’t be enough for everyone?enough jobs, enough wealth, enough housing. Here in New York City, enough simple…

December 4th, 2003
The Lost Art of Appreciating Who We Are

I’m the Thanksgiving Day Scrooge. I truly think that Thanksgiving is simply a sham, a humbug, if you will. It’s a day that makes us all feel a little better about ourselves for thanking God that we have enough.
As if God had anything to do with our good fortune.
If God is for us….My mom taught me that Thanksgiving is a day to count your blessings, to thank God for all that he has given us.
But doesn’t that also make God a God of exclusivity? Does God look on me more favorably than those children I met at an orphanage in Nicaragua or the inner-city family that lives in a housing project? What about those poor slobs in Somalia?
Should Thanksgiving simply entail wiping the sweat from my brow and being glad that…

December 1st, 2003
My Love-Hate Affair with the Winter

I am standing at my kitchen sink, gazing out the window as the afternoon sun dissolves into the sky. I am supposed to be peeling potatoes for supper but I can’t stop watching the sunset—or the way there is no sunset, really, but only a dreary washing out of color, daylight fading into grayness. So why am I transfixed?
It seems it’s been this way for months, dark at five p.m., the ground covered in a tired layer of snow, though it’s only November.
F.S.C.S.—Future Snowbirds of Canada SocietyI have no patience for winter anymore. I’m so tired of slipping on sidewalks, of bundling kids into parkas and listening to weather forecasters go on about how exposed skin will freeze in thirty seconds.…

November 1st, 2003
Especially if a Juror Has a Plane to Catch

The big red stripe ran the length of the white envelope proclaiming, Juror Summons Enclosed.
Jury duty.
I decided to take a positive attitude. Why not? They do pay forty bucks a day; it’s a good way to get a view of the justice system; and if I don’t do it, how can I expect anybody else to?
What I didn’t plan on was the weird community that develops in a group with a shared secret—the details of the case—nor on the visceral nature of jury deliberations. Not to mention the huge brass letters on the wall above the judge’s head, “In God We Trust.“
Be careful what you wish for…
I was selected for a jury on a mugging trial my first day. Getting home late that night I caught the last…

October 31st, 2003
Halloween Origins and Current Practices

Ever wonder where Halloween traditions came from? Are they evil? Pagan? Holy?
Fire FestivalsThe ancient Celts celebrated seasonal feasts to honor the gods of nature. Halloween’s pagan origin was a fire festival known as Samhain . It took place from Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 and marked the end of summer, the beginning of winter, and a new year.
Being “in-between” seasons, Samhain was a time of “no time”—chaos reigned. People did crazy things, pulled pranks, and disguised themselves. It was considered “a magical time when the dead walked among the living and veils of past and present were lifted.”
Along come the Christians…
The word Halloween, however, is derived…

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