Sunday, May 24, 2009

Shoofly Shiraz, 2005

As a graduation gift, I was given a wine of the month club subscription. I received a Shiraz from Shoofly, year 2005. I just had a glass with dinner, left-over chicken parm and ziti from the party yesterday. The wine, very dry, is medium bodied with a bold flavor. I recommend this one.


Wine - Fabiano, Terre Degli Osci (Pinot Grigio) 2007.

I often cannot remember which wines I liked and which ones were...less than spectacular. For that purpose, I have decided to begin recording my wine (and beer) experiments. And since I need it in a place I can access easily whether on vacation or at home, it makes sense to place it online. This isn't some fancy wine website, this is my own personal journey. I'm not out looking for the best, I'm just looking for what tastes good in my price range. So...enjoy.

Today, eating left over cheese and vegetables and dip from yesterday's graduation party, I had a glass of Fabiano, Terre Degli Osci (Pinot Grigio) 2007. I'm not a huge fan of Pinot Grigio, as it is a little bitter for me. This was not as bitter as other Pinots I've had, which made it much more enjoyable. I wouldn't buy this for myself but I would drink it if that's what was being served. It was light, refreshing, and went well with my afternoon on the back deck.

3.5 (out of 5).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some thoughts on BC

Circulating on the internet is a Youtube video speaking about the growth of Islam in traditionally Western countries and how this threatens the West. Additionally, Christianity is in decline. The second largest religious body in the US is ex-Catholics. What this says about the state of salvation of souls is important. The West needs a New Evangelization just like the first one. How was the First Evangelization of Europe accomplished? Benedictine monasteries spread throughout Europe and preserved knowledge. We see the same spread of monasteries today, with the founding of such new institutions as Clear Creek, the Carmelites of Wyoming, and the new foundation of the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration in the Diocese of Phoenix. We’ve also seen a growth in the teaching orders, who are going to go out and teach a new generation of school children the faith, most notably the two group of Dominican Sisters, one of Nashville, the other of Ann Arbor. At the same time, Boston College can and must join in this effort of the New Evangelization if it wants to succeed in becoming the world’s leading Catholic university. As the document Ex corde Ecclesiae says,

By its very nature, each Catholic University makes an important contribution to the Church's work of evangelization. It is a living institutional witness to Christ and his message, so vitally important in cultures marked by secularism, or where Christ and his message are still virtually unknown. Moreover, all the basic academic activities of a Catholic University are connected with and in harmony with the evangelizing mission of the Church: research carried out in the light of the Christian message which puts new human discoveries at the service of individuals and society; education offered in a faith-context that forms men and women capable of rational and critical judgment and conscious of the transcendent dignity of the human person; professional training that incorporates ethical values and a sense of service to individuals and to society; the dialogue with culture that makes the faith better understood, and the theological research that translates the faith into contemporary language (49).

The way to become the world’s greatest Catholic university must include two parts: 1) being great 2) being Catholic. To achieve the first, one needs excellent professors and excellent students. To be the second, one needs to follow Ex corde ecclesiae, among other things. Boston College has room to improve in both areas.

First, there are many good things happening in both areas at Boston College. In terms of excellence, the German department is known to be a Fulbright machine. In terms of Catholicity, Boston College has begun once more to place Jesuits in dorms, Mass is offered daily multiple times, many students are undertaking the Spiritual Exercises, and crucifixes have been returned to classrooms. At the same time, it would be good to continue to put more of these young Jesuit priests in dorms.

Additionally, in ECE Pope John Paul II spoke of how the university must be involved in the local Church (27). Boston College is already very involved through its hosting of the Boston Catholic Men’s and Women’s Conferences, along with various workshops for local Catholics, helping local Catholic schools, and commissioning a history of the Archdiocese for its bicentennial. However, some of these workshops are questionable in content, which is sad, is this is one thing that JPII mentions himself as a good the university can offer the local Church (36). Additionally, university campus ministry has done a poor job of advertising monthly events sponsored by the Archdiocese in the North End, including the annual Eucharistic Congress for College Students and Young Adults. Furthermore, at no time in my four years did I ever hear students encouraged to attend the ordinations to the transitional diaconate that take place each year in the Cathedral. I’ve also never heard of any institutional organizing of trips to local Theology on Taps for those who are 21.

Pope John Paul II encouraged (34) the promotion of justice. This takes place at BC through the Arrupe groups, the Pro-Life Club, 4Boston, PULSE, and the Appalacia service program. Sadly, the attendance at this is low for BC students because the University does not formally give student’s the day off. As it is during add-drop, there is no penalty for going, but most students want formal permission to go. It should be granted and Father Leahy, along with many members of the Jesuit community, and administrators should all attend.

One of the criteria given in ECE is that the majority of the faculty be Catholic. “In order not to endanger the Catholic identity of the University or Institute of Higher Studies, the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.” (Article 4.4) Currently, Boston College does not ask whether those being interviewed are Catholic, and so BC has no way of knowing the proportion of Catholics at the university. BC must begin asking this question, and should allow tenured faculty who desire to seek the magis, to do more than necessary, to take an oath of obedience to the Magisterium like some Catholic universities do. This allows student to know what type of professor they are studying with. Alumni can establish chairs in each department for these Catholics who have done more to advance Catholic identity, donating with such a stipulation. In the same way, in theology, professors should be encouraged to get the mandate to teach theology. After the end of Father Ken Himes time as chair, and Frank Kilcoyne’s time as undergraduate chair, the chairs of the department should be chosen only from among those who have the mandatum, and all those seeking to teach Catholic theology who are new hires should be required to get it before they can be tenured. Boston College should establish positions in theology in each of the world’s religions, Buddhism, Protestantism, Orthodoxy, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. These professors would not be required to get the mandate, but all others, those who teach Catholic theology, should. Alumni can establish chairs for only those who have the mandate in theology as well. The faculty can advance the theology and philosophical debate within the Church, as JP II called for (29) but always in union with the Magisterium.
In conformity with ECE, Boston College should never honor pro-abortion politicians. “If need be, a Catholic University must have the courage to speak uncomfortable truths which do not please public opinion, but which are necessary to safeguard the authentic good of society” (32). Boston College should invite them to speak only at academic lectures, and BC should get involved politically by allowing its property to be used to electoral debates. Boston College should do this for both parties, as having a pro-life Democrat candidate is something that all Catholics should want.
Moreover, Boston College should make every effort to implement Vatican II’s decrees on the liturgy by having at least one Sunday Mass in conformity with the rubrics, including those on music. This creates a dialogue with the culture (37) and maybe could even include the commissioning of polyphony for the Mass, contributing to the culture’s growth. Boston College should have Eucharistic and Marian processions like Notre Dame does. One day a week, all students, faculty, administrators should try and get to Mass together, as a sign of unity. This could take place at the Wednesday noon or some other day of the week. Eucharistic adoration should happen more than two days a week on campus. Holy Hours for vocations or other important intentions could take place once a month. Lastly, BC should have, at least once a month, the extraordinary form offered for students to experience.

Lastly, Boston College should seek to lower the cost of tuition, so that the brightest students, no matter how much money they have, can always come to BC.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I experienced my conversion in high school, where I self-appropriated my faith and decided that I wanted to live a holy life. And while I consistently failed to live it in many areas, I thought that I knew where I still had to grow, but as the Psalms say, “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults” (19:12). When I arrived at college, I met a priest whose love was so great that I realized what love really meant. I had never imagined how unloving I had been. I thought, though, that I finally knew everything wrong with my action.

Last summer, more than a full five years after my commitment to live a holy life, I once again discovered I had more room for growth. While reading Sacred Scripture, I found in Ephesians an admonition to not speak of certain things. How could I have missed this? I discovered it at a time when I was being very proud, horrified at the behavior of some of my younger peers who had problems with behavior related to alcohol and didn’t see how their behavior was sinful when I spoke to them about it. How could they not see it? The same way I couldn’t see my own sins. A few months later, some of them did see.

In the middle of this past academic year, one young man, the year below me, was shocked at the language of the freshman. How could this be coming out of the mouth of Catholics? When he told them about it, some tried to reform, and others said there was nothing wrong with it. How could they not see? The list goes on and on.
It reminds me of when the president of the Gay Leadership Council wrote to The Heights in defense of homosexual relations. He said that normative human experience is one way of knowing how to live. A theologian at Boston College, Father Imbelli, questioned whether this was a clear guide, writing in response, “Now, of course, what constitutes ‘normative human experience’ is precisely what is at issue. Appeals to ‘my experience’ abound. But the Christian, instructed by Christ's call to conversion, will always seriously raise the question: Is my experience, the self I am, the meanings and values I espouse, being called to conversion?”

This is a very good way to think about mentanoia, conversion. It is something we are always seriously asking ourselves about. Where else do we need to grow? Every person, even the holiest among us, needs to ask it. It’s the related to the attitude which President Obama espoused recently at Notre Dame. While our President calls for respectful dialogue, and this is something we should all support, on ways how to lessen the number of abortions, on how to protect the environment, on how to help the poor, and on how to balance the budget, he is not truly interested in dialoguing on abortion, if he meant the words he himself used at Notre Dame. Because if, he admits, we have irreconcilable differences, then what is the purpose of dialogue?

I do think our President is treated poorly in Catholic circles, that he is demonized. I think we all know that he really does think he is helping people by letting women murder children. He’s wrong, but not evil. We need to pray for him daily, not just that he convert but for his family, his health, and other things. But one thing we can be certain about, he should not have been honored with a degree at Notre Dame. He just doesn’t get it when it comes to making laws respecting life. He is sincere, but sincerely wrong, and a sincerely bad lawmaker. His sincerity is not worthy of an honorary law degree. Hopefully, he, like all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic, can ask ourselves, “Where am I still being called to conversion?”