So much for all the pre-conclave speculation and scenarios. For those of you who view papal elections in terms of brackets, e.g., Religious News Service's "Sweet Sistine, the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is even bigger than a play-in team upsetting a #1 in the first round, and then going on to win the championship.
When will we learn? The conclave isn't over until the Holy Spirit votes. If anyone tells you that he/she predicted Cardinal Bergoglio would be elected pope, he/she is either a. a member of the Holy Trinity, or b. a liar.
By the way, those who participated in the RNS bracket had Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Nigeria winning it all. And www.paddypower.com, mentioned often prior to and during the conclave, had Cardinal Bergoglio at 40-1.
What's not to like about Pope Francis? Simple lifestyle, served among the poor, humble, defender of the faith -- sounds like the job description for the Vicar of Christ, doesn't it?
Calls to mind that Jesuit cardinal and eventual doctor of the church, St. Robert Bellarmine, who, when he resided at the Vatican in the early 1600s, tore the tapestries from the walls of his room in order to clothe the poor. He was said to have remarked, "The walls won't catch cold."
If they had such an honor... We'll never know, but if Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan was as kind to his brother cardinals in the conclave as he was to the media and others to whom he spoke prior to the conclave, he certainly would have won Cardinal Congeniality.
Great date: March 13 was the date on which our 48th pope was elected. In 483, Pope Felix III on chosen on that date. And, Pope Innocent XII, was born on that date in 1615.
Down in the mouth: Root Canal Awareness Week begins this Sunday.
Now that the cardinals have agreed to begin their conclave this Tuesday, March 12, one can only hope that it will go quickly, as in, "We're done talking; let's elect a pope and go home to our people." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLrIXfLYsqM
Since they have been meeting formally since Monday, and informally since last week, each cardinal should have a good idea who among them should be the Vicar of Christ. What else could they possibly learn from and about each other?
When the election is over, I would like to hear from the U.S. cardinals as to why they had to stop talking to the media even though information from the congregational meetings was being leaked to the Italian media. My guess is that it wasn't the Americans leaking the information.
It was great seeing and hearing Cardinals Dolan, O'Malley, DiNardo, George and Wuerl talking so openly about the congregational discussions in which the cardinals were engaged. The Americans were practicing the transparency they've been preaching.
Given the reports we've been hearing about different groups favoring one cardinal or another, do you think there will be chants of "USA! USA!" in the conclave if the support for Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal O'Malley grows?
Speaking of March 12, that's a holy day in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It is Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki's 64th birthday.
Remember, a lot of Vatican watchers have said we would have a new pope by Easter; none of them said which year.
Since the pope wears white, a reporter recently asked Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi what a pope emeritus wears. The spokesman didn't know, but my son, Aaron, who is not a member of the Vatican press corps, suggested that Benedict could wear off-white.
There are no "prop" bets for this, but if Cardinal Dolan were elected pope — Paddypower.com has him at 33-1 — I'm convinced that his first words, in Italian or English, to the multitudes gathered in St. Peter's Square would be, "How you doin' everybody? Great to see you!"
Pastorally speaking: Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki has written his first pastoral letter titled "Who Do You Say That I Am?" Having heard on several occasions during my 35+ years of church work that bishops write pastoral letters for other bishops, I asked the archbishop if he had sent it to his brother bishops.
"I didn’t write it for my brother bishops. I wrote it for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. My brother bishops are welcome to read it; they can steal it if they want. They can use it, reformulate it," he said. "I wrote it for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee; this is where we are; this is what we need to address, with an eye toward the possibility of a synod."
Pastors have received the letter; parish staffs will receive it in March. The rest of the faithful will have access to it by fall.
Party time: Saturday, Feb. 23, the Feast of St. Polycarp, is the birthday of internationally renowned anthropologist and former stand-up comedian, Jesuit Fr. Ray Bucko. http://puffin.creighton.edu/bucko/
Papal postscript: Fr. Domenic Roscioli is out front on the whole conclave. He offers papal pancake mix. As he says, "You know they're done when you see a wisp of white smoke." Order yours at HolySpiritsWine.com
March madness: The Women's Ordination Conference informs us that it is one of 22 organizations seeking the "selection of a justice-seeking pope, one with a pastoral vision to heal, reform and renew the Roman Catholic Church." Does anyone believe the cardinals would select someone who isn't "justice-seeking" and who doesn't have a "pastoral vision to heal, reform, and renew the Roman Catholic Church"?
Numbers: If you like 'em, there will be plenty leading up to the conclave. Of the 117 cardinal electors, 67, or 57 percent, were given the red hat by Pope Benedict. The U.S. has the second largest number cardinal electors -- 11. The Italians have the largest -- 28.
Speaking of numbers, in case you aren't convinced that the Holy Spirit will have the final say on who is elected pope, you can get one bookmaker's odds for the papal election at http://www.paddypower.com/bet/novelty-betting/current-affairs/pope-betting. Not only can you bet on your choice for pope, but, like the Super Bowl, they offer prop bets for papal name, country of origin and length of conclave.
Excellent timing: John Thavis, who covered the Vatican for Catholic News Service from 1983-2012, has written "The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church." This will be a great book to have read as people start asking and discussing, "What will the Vatican be like under the next pope?" and "What kind of leader does the church need?" It is a fascinating look at how the church works -- and doesn't work. Published by Penguin Group (New York, 2013), it is due for release Feb. 25.
Sports as religion: I'm not presuming that all Canadians are hockey fans, but if Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec is elected pope, might we see hockey at the Vatican? I'd like to hear Milwaukee Admirals' announcer Aaron Sims do play-by-play of a game in which the pope is playing.
PETA's fishing lure: It's not unusual for businesses and organizations to take something Catholic and to twist it into something that serves its purposes. The obvious ones are Christmas and Easter. But the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are trying to link Lent to their cause. They wrote that "a growing number of Catholics are giving up meat — and for longer than just during Lent." The group "is asking Catholics to not only avoid meat during Lent but to go vegan as a way to show compassion for all beings and to honor Jesus' words as set out in the beatitudes, 'Blessed are the merciful.'"
Given that several of Jesus' apostles were fishermen, and given that Jesus prepared some of the fish for them to eat, PETA is fishing in the wrong lake with the wrong bait.
Today begins Catholic Press Month. Those volunteering to be pallbearers for the Catholic press may have to leave their dark suits hanging in the closet longer than they anticipated — infinitely longer, I hope. While the vehicle is changing, what we do — informing, instructing and inspiring — continues. No medium covers the Catholic Church in southeastern Wisconsin as thoroughly and as accurately as the Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
Driven to greatness and goodness: The sports world needed the Donald Driver retirement story at this particular time. Yes, I am biased in acknowledging his greatness on the field, but the goodness off the field is what really matters. One gets the impression that all of Driver's commitment to family and helping others is genuine. Dare I say "role model"?
A super 'I don't care' game: When my kids were younger and I'd be watching an NFL game that didn't include the Packers, e.g., Oilers vs. Jets, they'd ask, "Who do you want to win?" I would tell them, "It's an 'I don't care' game." My description of this Sunday's Super Bowl.
Not since 2002: That was the last time the Holy See appointed someone 52-years-old to head an archdiocese in the U.S. The archdiocese was Milwaukee; the archbishop was Timothy M. Dolan. This past Tuesday, the Vatican tapped the 52-year-old bishop of Marquette, Mich., Alexander K. Sample, to be archbishop of Portland, Ore. In case you're wondering, the K is for King.
We need it: Even though the Feast of St. Blaise falls on a Sunday, I hope parishes will bless throats. Given it has been cold and flu season since September, that would be the best thing they could do for their parishioners' physical and spiritual health.
Given all we've heard from and about Lance Armstrong the last few days, a good ol' fashioned winter storm would be more welcome. At least we'd know what we were shoveling and why.
How big is the impact? Even the Vatican has taken note of what's happening in the sports world. This spring it is hosting an international conference that it hopes will re-instill values in sports. Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture's "Culture and Sport" section, told Catholic News Service that professional sports "have become a commodity that is subordinate to the free market and, therefore, to profit" — like a 30-second commercial on the Super Bowl telecast costing $4 million. By the way, among those expected to be invited to participate in the conference are Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin.
Early Lent: Everyone talks about how early Lent is this year, since it starts Feb. 13 -- exactly one month after Christmas ended. For some of us, Lent began last Sunday night: San Francisco 45, Green Bay 31.
By the numbers: Catholic News Service recently reported that there are 163 Catholics in the 113th Congress — a record. That figure includes 136 Catholics in the House, and 27 in the Senate. Oh, of the total congressional membership, 10 percent are alumni of Jesuit colleges and universities. What does that tell us?
Good people doing good things for people doing good things: Potawatomi Casino presented the Milwaukee Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul with a $32,709 check on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The money was raised as part of the casino's annual Miracle on Canal Street bingo benefit. It will be used for the Vincentians' meal programs.
Well, why not? February is home to all kinds of weeks to observe, e.g., National Pancake Week, National Justice for Animals Week, etc. Now comes word out of Tampa that Feb. 8-9 is Christian Fashion Week. Given it's only two days, one must figure they're short on fashions.
According to the event's organizers: "The vision of Christian Fashion Week is to create the world's first series of fashion shows and events around the idea of fashion with a Christian worldview, considering Christian values such as modesty, boldness, and true style. We aim to create a viable forum for fashion designers and industry professionals to network and increase awareness of a values-based fashion industry that has always taken a back seat to the world's more risqué sense of style. Christian Fashion Week is a mission to stand for dignity on behalf of our communities, families, and fashion consumers."
Isn't "values-based fashion industry" an oxymoron? Personally, I'm a big fan of another week that begins Feb. 24: National Secondhand Wardrobe Week.
Holy day: For those of us who serve in the Catholic press, this Thursday, Jan. 24, is a special day — the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Catholic press.
Today is the shortest day of the year. The fourth week of Advent will be the shortest week of the church year. Starts on Sunday the 23rd and ends the evening of the 24th. That's the liturgical calendar version of a tweet.
Longest day: As much as I look forward to Gaudete Sunday every Advent, this year I couldn't feel it. St. Paul may admonish us to "Rejoice," it wasn't happening. I pray that the people of Newtown will one day be able to experience joy again.
Catholic conference: Wouldn't it be great if that yet-to-be-named conference that Marquette, DePaul, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova are forming would have the word "Catholic" in it? I know, there might be a team or two in it that isn't Catholic, but let the majority rule. Think of it as a form of the new evangelization.
Magi McDonald's? Someone at corporate headquarters must think by having their restaurants open on Christmas Day, they can convince the public that the Magi really brought burgers, fries and shakes instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Christ in Christmas commitment: Given that the corporate world continues to do all it can to destroy Christmas as it is meant to be, may you and I make a commitment that we will keep Christ in Christmas throughout the entire Christmas season which, no matter what the retailers tell you, doesn't end until Jan. 13.
May ou and your loved ones enjoy a blessed Christmas season.
Those observing Spiritual Literacy Month may not agree, but Advelent is a season for Catholics who see their lives as a never ending penance, a perpetual swath of purple. They fail to experience the hope of Advent and Lent, and thereby miss the glories of Christmas and Easter, respectively.
As a recovering Advelenter, I assure you that the hope one embraces during Advent is genuine. It's not without its stumbles and doubts, but it is real. The more I've come to realize that, the more I've enjoyed Christmas.
No songs of the season: Something that will keep you cemented in Advelent is listening to Milwaukee's alleged "Christmas music station," WRIT, 95.7 FM. New year, same awful music service. Curious to know why the station wouldn't use the music service it runs on Christmas Eve and through Christmas Day. Really, do we need Barbra Streisand singing "Jingle Bells" and Cyndi Lauper singing "Santa Baby" multiple times each day?
It depends on how you look at it: The Cudahy post office had no religious Christmas stamps on Dec. 3. "We only have the Santa Claus stamps," the clerk said. Either it's an indication that more people are keeping Christ in Christmas and buying the religious stamps or the postal service is in such bad shape they only printed a limited number of religious stamps. I'm guessing it's the latter.
More of the story: Overlooked or ignored in what has been locally written about Rick Majerus is what Dana O'Neil of ESPN.com mentioned in her Dec. 2 column about the late coach: "Raised a devout Catholic, he nevertheless had no problem challenging his own religion by supporting stem cell research and pro-abortion rights."
O'Neil was praising him for such stands, but, for the record, "his own religion" doesn't oppose stem cell research; it does oppose embryonic stem cell research. As for his pro-abortion stance, which he made known in Jan. 2008, that's not praiseworthy in "a devout Catholic" coaching at a Catholic university. May he rest in peace.
Now, that was a celebration: I said it last year, but it's worth repeating: The Thanksgiving Eve Mass at St. Matthias, Milwaukee, has to be one of the best celebrations one can experience. If we are, in fact, going to evangelize, it is celebrations like this that will keep people in the pews and inspire them to invite others to participate.
Could the first American pope be...: The elevation of Milwaukee's own Cardinal James M. Harvey to the College of Cardinals on Nov. 24 prompted a visit to Paddypower.com to see if it had updated its names and odds on who would be the next pope. The new cardinal isn't listed, but the site is still listing Cardinals Raymond Burke and Timothy Dolan at 25-1.
Given all the people -- some of whom were probably cardinals -- with whom he had contact as prefect of the papal household for 14 years, who's to say Cardinal Harvey couldn't garner a few votes in the next conclave?
Man in the Red Suit Day: This Thursday, Dec. 6, is the Feast of St. Nicholas -- a true Christmas person. No one else even comes close to being what and who he was. No one.
Even though, by its words and actions, the United States becomes less and less willing to recognize the existence of God and his law, those of us who are believers are grateful that he remains loving and merciful, and willing to grant us salvation. And we pray that others will come to that realization — soon.
'Catholic vote': Voters identifying themselves as Catholic favored President Obama over Gov. Romney, 50-48.
The future due to the 'Catholic vote': Check back regularly during the next four years.
Red-hat trifecta: The announcement Oct. 24 by Pope Benedict XVI that Archbishop James M. Harvey will become Cardinal James M. Harvey on Nov. 24 brings the number of native Milwaukeeans to be elevated to the College of Cardinals to three. The first — and last — two were Cardinal Aloysius J. Muench and Cardinal Albert G. Meyer. Both were rectors of Saint Francis Major Seminary; both received the red hat in the Dec. 14, 1959 consistory. The latter served as archbishop of Milwaukee from 1953 to 1958.
Dorothy's day: At their meeting next week, the U.S. bishops will have a "canonical consultation" regarding the canonization of Dorothy Day. It will result in a vote as to whether the canonization process should move forward. I can't imagine why they would not find her worthy for sainthood, but I expect there might be a few "no" votes.
Speaking of Dorothy Day, Nov. 11-17 is National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week.
If the church is going to evangelize as it hopes during the Year of Faith, then may all liturgies be as moving, uplifting and inspiring as the one celebrated Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist for the opening of the Year of Faith. From processional to recessional, this is what needs to be emulated parish by parish if we are to evangelize that 67 percent of the nominally Catholic and invite them to worship on Sunday. No one could say, "It's boring" or "I didn't get anything out of it."
Oompah Time in Ordinary Time: Another example of a liturgical celebration that had the potential to evangelize was the Oktoberfest Polka Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes, Milwaukee, Saturday, Oct. 13. All music had a polka beat. You have not "heard everything" until you've heard "Taste and See" as a polka.
And liturgical dance. During the preparation of the gifts, "The Summons" was played and a couple danced the polka in front of the congregation. For the recessional, the couple danced again, but this time, the celebrant cut in, and polkaed down the aisle as the congregation sang.
You know what I saw at that Mass? People smiling, because when we celebrate, we smile and laugh. When was the last time you saw that during Mass at your parish?
The music and dancing were not entertainment; they were part of the celebration of the sacrificial meal, which was also enhanced by an excellent homily, based upon the Gospel story about the rich man, that made one think, pray and act. Totally different approach than that at the Year of Faith opening Mass, but the result was the same: uplifting, moving, inspiring.
As I listened, prayed and watched, with thoughts of evangelization and the Year of Faith on my mind, I could only think, "This is what the other 67 percent need to experience."
Full of faith: Anyone who thought Sunday night would end Packers 42, Texans 24.
Cross corruption? Still can't figure out the ado about the cross on the helmets of the Messwood football team. Do some people in Shorewood have too much time on their hands? Are they concerned that by having a cross on helmets that some players might find God, or that God will find them?
Speaking of people with too much time on their hands, that would be anyone who goes to Washington, D.C. for the Million Muppet March on Saturday, Nov. 3. Credit the entrepreneurs who developed this for knowing how to tap into a level of stupidity among those who will actually participate. PBS and the Children's Television Workshop have to figure out how to get a piece of the T-shirt sale profits so that fewer tax dollars go into their coffers.
... and a copy for the vice president: At the archdiocesan opening Mass for the Year of Faith, catechists were presented with a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In fact, all catechists in the archdiocese will be receiving a copy. If there's one left over, I hope someone, given what he said about his Catholicism during the vice presidential debate, sends it to Vice President Joe Biden so he has a better idea of what the church teaches. Better yet, since he lives across the street from the Vatican embassy, he could see if Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio the United States, might tutor him.