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Thanks to the lovely people at the Rhode Island SPCA, my family welcomed a new furry member today. His name is Benny and he is 8 weeks old. He was born on March 19th (St. Joseph’s Day). He is a brown tabby and white with a van pattern. His mother is a brown tabby domestic shorthair and his father is unknown. Whatever the mixture, this little guy has stolen our hearts.

If you are in the New England area, Benny has three adorable brothers who are also looking for homes.

All Photos by Domini Sumus


I found this in the newspaper last week. Please pray for his soul.

Dominic George Spagnolia, 70, of 41 Maple St. and a former Franklin resident, died peacefully at his home on Tuesday, May 6, 2008.

Born in Cambridge, October 24, 1937, a son of the late Domenic and Eloise (Nugent) Spagnolia, he was raised and educated in Belmont, and was a 1956 graduate of Belmont High School.

He is survived by his sister, Maryjanice Ingram and her husband, David of Saco, Maine; 2 nephews, Jason and Justin Ingram; and his devoted partner Richard Connor of New Bedford.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend his funeral Saturday, May 10th at 2:00PM at his late residence, 41 Maple St., New Bedford, and may call on Friday from 6-9PM and Saturday from 10AM to 2:00PM. Interment will take place in the family lot in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge Monday at 11AM.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory sent to the Olive Branch, 10 Main St., Franklin, MA 02038 would be appreciated.

Funeral arrangements are under the care and direction of the Charles F. Oteri & Son Franklin Funeral Home, 33 Cottage St., Franklin.

Dominic George Spagnolia is Fr. D. George Spagnolia, a priest formerly of the Archdiocese of Boston who was removed from his pastorate, at St. Patrick’s in Lowell, 6 years ago by Cardinal Law after allegations of homosexuality activity and sexual abuse of a child were made against him.

Fr. Spagnolia had been a main critic of Cardinal Law’s, and his predecessors, handling of the sexual abuse crisis in Boston. Spagnolia was portrayed as a hero in the movie “Our Fathers” where he was played by Brian Dennehy.

Would you trade an eternal kingdom for a almost non-existant chance to gain an earthly kingdom? I wouldn’t but Autumn Kelly did.

Autumn Kelly is a Canadian woman who married Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne and is 11th in line for the British throne. Great Britan still holds to the archaic rule that anyone who becomes Catholic or marries a Catholic loses their claim to the throne. Kelly is a Catholic who renounced her faith and joined the Anglican church so Peter wouldn’t lose his place in line. No matter what the media claims, she didn’t have to renounce her faith. Other British royals have given up their unrealistic claims without problems. They aren’t beheading anymore.

If either of them think Peter Phillips has any chance of becoming king, they are kidding themselves. Unfortunately, there is a real kingdom is in their reach, but the allure of gold and jewels and a royal life has seduced Autumn. I hope she has a happier life as a member of the royal family than the others who have gone before her.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Sang Tan, Pool

Wedding Season is here. I have a wedding next weekend and I met with two couples this weekend. I am tired of the “traditional” wedding repertoire, but my attempts to persuade couples away from these tired selections is in vain. They all seem to want the soap opera wedding. I am often tempted to ask them if they also want what comes after. Yes, the soap opera or fairy tale wedding is lavish and some may consider it beautiful (I don’t), but how many couples ask for the soap opera marriage?

Most of the couples who come through my office hold the delusion that love will get them through anything. They are so much in love that nothing could possibly ever rock them. As great as that feeling is, it’s not reality.

We don’t know what happened after Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or Snow White married the prince, but we do know that their courtship left much to be desired. They fell madly in lust and decided to marry. They know nothing about each other, but they marry anyway. Then Prince Charming carries his bride off into the sunset on his white steed. We never find out what happens next, but I have my suspicions that it isn’t happily ever after.

Couples getting married today do much of the same. The Church requires that couples participate in marriage prep classes and in my diocese they also must take the FOCCUS. Prospective brides and grooms tend to view this as an unfair hoop they must jump through to satisfy the Church. They never consider that this may help prevent future problems. The FOCCUS results are often frightening. Many couples have never discussed the simplest matters of faith, children, and finances.

I don’t understand how a couple can marry without knowing anything about the other party. I have even met brides who didn’t know what their fiances did for work! Still, they claim to be in love. They aren’t! Then are in lust, infatuation, excitement, anything you want to call it.

Many couples walk into marriage blindly and their plan their wedding Masses the same way.

Couples: Reconsider the “traditional” wedding that you want and ask yourself if it really sends the message you want to say. Consider walking into the church together. The bride and groom are equal partners in marriage, but are unequal during the wedding. The tradition where the groom stands near the altar while the bride walks down the aisle with her father goes back to the days when a woman was considered the property of her father or husband. It is literally a delivery and transfer of property. Of course, that isn’t how brides think of it. They see themselves as the princess. The center of attention. They are going to meet their prince at the altar.

When both the bride and groom walk in the procession together or with their parents, they demonstrate that they are equal partners. It’s not all about the bride and she isn’t becoming the property of the groom. They are entering to marriage as equals and are exercising their roles as the ministers of the Sacrament. Yes, a bride and groom marry each other with the priest there to solemnize and bless the bond.

Of course, that sort of wedding makes “Here Comes the Bride” sound a little ridiculous. The processional hymn which was played at my Nuptial Mass was also used as a processional at the Papal Mass in Washington DC. You can hear it here at 4:50. The hymn is “Go Up to the Altar of God” by Fr. James Chepponis. It was played at my wedding on organ, trumpet and tympani and it truly said how we intended to begin and live our marriage together.

Don’t want into marriage blindly and don’t allow your Nuptial Mass to be planned blindly according to traditions of questionable quality.

I am looking for names for a male black lab puppy. We don’t have him yet, but hope to have him soon. So far JP’s favorites are Salty and Athanasius. Yeah, I know…quite a difference. He’s an eclectic sort of kid. 🙂

Put any suggestions in the combox.

My blog was found today by someone in Texas who was searching for post-abortion care information. Please pray for this person and all those who have had abortions, are considering one, and will consider one in the future.

For all of you who have wondered why the Masters of Ceremonies hold the hem of the Holy Father’s alb when he climbs stairs, here is your answer.

It’s a long garment which needs to be lifted so one doesn’t step on the alb and fall. It’s something I have seen many times at Mass and Pope Benedict gave everyone an example of exactly how it can occur last Sunday at the Pentecost Mass.

Rome Reports has the story and video.

The good news: The Holy Father was unhurt and continued his day as planned.

From USA Today:

Italy’s top criminal court overturned the acquittals of a Vatican cardinal and another top churchman accused of environmental pollution involving a Vatican Radio transmission tower near Rome, news reports said Tuesday night.
The Court of Cassation ordered a new appeals trial for Cardinal Roberto Tucci, formerly head of the radio’s management committee, and the Rev. Pasquale Borgomeo, its former director general, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies said.

Calls to lawyers and to Vatican Radio were not answered late Tuesday.

The two churchmen were acquitted last year after in an appeal of their 2005 conviction in a lower court, which sided with consumer groups representing people living near the tower who claimed its electromagnetic emissions were a health hazard and violated environmental limits.

The lower court had sentenced the two each to 10 days in jail, but sentences were immediately suspended during their appeals.

It was not known when the new appeals trial would take place, as the Court of Cassation must first publish its reasoning for the decision.

A Vatican-Italian government commission was set up as part of a 2001 agreement between both sides to monitor tower emissions. The Vatican has said that measurements show it has respected limits since signing the agreement.

I have finished my second year of college. When I first started it seemed like it was going to take forever. It didn’t help that everyone in one of my first courses was a senior. Listening to them talk about graduation just made it feel like an endless process.

Now, here I am half way through. There is something about the halfway point that makes it seem like the end is coming too quickly. I am starting to check out grad schools and will be taking the GRE in just about a year. Wow!

I have two weeks off before I get back to school because I take summer classes, but I get the entire month of August off. I plan to spend the next two weeks reading things I actually want to read. So far, I have read two chapters of Archbishop Piero Marini’s latest book, A Challenging Reform.

Here are some excerpts which were published in Corriere della Sera from Magdi Christiano Allam’s new book “Grazie GesĂą. La mia conversione dall’islam al cattolicesimo” [Thank You Jesus. My Conversion from Islam to Christianity] . In the book, Allam, who converted from Islam to Catholicism recounts his road to conversion. In these excerpts he describes his baptism:

It was the best day of my life. Receiving the gift of the Christian faith on the day of Christ’s Resurrection from the hand of the Holy Father is a matchless privilege and inestimable blessing. For me, at the age of almost 56, it was a unique, unforgettable historic event that signalled a radical, definitive change with respect to the past. During the night of 22 March 2008, on the occasion of the Easter Vigil, at the solemn liturgy celebrated in the magnificence of the Basilica of St Peter’s, the cradle of Catholicism, I was reborn in Christ. At the end of a long, protracted struggle, lived out as a Muslim by reason of the legacy inherited from my parents and with a personal history of lacerating doubts and torments, there ignited within me, by divine will and responsible choice, the light of the true Christian faith. My spiritual metamorphosis unfolded from nine o’clock over three hours that seemed as if they would never end. I passed those hours in uncontrollable excitement, outwardly betrayed by my tingling nerves, over the radical nature of the life experience that was taking place inside me and, I admit, in part because of the cold that gripped me and stayed with me from the beginning of the imposing ceremony in the atrium of the Basilica, accompanied by rain and icy temperatures.

Inside the Basilica, the lights had been extinguished. I was outside with six other adult catachumens waiting to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation, seated on the part of the parvis most exposed to the wind. It was in that damp cold, which usually makes me a little agitated and means I have to concentrate more to listen, reflect, assess and elaborate concepts, that I began to relive the film of my inner life. Half a century was reviewed frame by frame and sliced up with the now uncompromising, now compassionate scalpel of religion, calm enough for one last unconscious confirmation of a decision already taken consciously yet at the same time with sufficient urgency to recompose the overall framework of my existence into a harmonious whole, joyfully to register the image of the long-awaited, soon to be accomplished, Event, as I reinterpreted my past while redefining and revolutionising my future. (…) From the atrium, Benedict XVI led the procession towards the altar after the deacon, chanting the Lumen Christi for the third time, had brought the splendour of light back to the Basilica.

Then began the crucial stage of my conversion to Christianity, to which evidently I was called by the grace of God that had accompanied me from my youngest days, bringing into my path a series of “coincidences” that were anything but fortuitous, concealing as they did the will of the Lord that discreetly comes to meet us without making its presence palpable. As I slowly walked down the nave at the rear of the procession, my mind at once went back to the key event that started me on the route of interior spirituality at the age of four, and would more than half a century later culminate in my conversion to Christ. It was September 1956. I still have clear in my mind the day on which my long travails began. I had burst into tears as my mother Safeya, aided and persuaded by the Caccias, the family of wealthy Italian textile magnates resident for generations in my native Cairo, handed me over to Sister Lavinia. She hid me under her habit so I would not see my mother entrusting me to the education and affection of the Combonian sisters and their devotion to St Joseph. Later on, from the last year of primary school to the last year of my scientific secondary school, I studied at the Salesian Don Bosco Institute.

For fourteen years, I lived in boarding schools run by Catholic religious orders (…) I was able to gain first-hand experience of the lives of women and men who had chosen to devote their lives to God in the Church by serving their neighbours, regardless of religion or nationality, and who bore witness to their Christian faith in works for the common good and the interest of the community. There I began to read the Bible and the Gospels with interest and involvement, particularly enthralled by the human and divine figure of Jesus. I was able to attend the church of St Joseph opposite the Combonian sisters’ school and the church of Don Bosco at the Salesian Institute. Every so often, I went to holy mass and once I actually approached the altar and received communion. From the religious point of view, it was an act without significance since I hadn’t been christened but it clearly signalled my attraction for Christianity and my desire to feel myself part of the Catholic community. (…) My conversion did not come about in a flash after some traumatic, joyful or sad event, nor was it merely a rational adherence prompted by reading sacred texts, or a purely intellectual confrontation with supporters or opponents of the Catholic faith.

Instead conversion was the ripe fruit of a long journey through a life of study and direct familiarity with the sources of wisdom but above all, with experiences of otherness that involved me entirely, slowly laying down in my soul and mind ever thicker layers of spiritual and rational adherence to the love and faith of Jesus. (…) Finally came the crucial moment of Baptism. I was being reborn in Christ and was about to take my first steps as an authentic Christian. I stood up and walked to the baptismal font, accompanied by my godfather. For the first time, I stood before Benedict XVI. I knew that at that precise moment, the destiny assigned to me by divine grace fifty-six years earlier, from my birth, was being fulfilled. I bowed with the respect and humility of a believer in the religious primacy of the Pope as Christ’s vicar on earth. I approached the font, stooped and Benedict XVI poured the blessed water over my head. “I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”. (…)

The moments immediately preceding my baptism and the baptism itself I experienced as an authentic liberation. For fifty-six years, I perceived myself as a Muslim and others around me identified me as a Muslim. At the age of fifty-six, I was born again as a Christian, cancelling out the Islamic identity that I have consciously and deliberately rejected. Inside me and outside, everything will change. Nothing will remain as it was before. For those who, like me, consider religious faith and the sphere of absolute, universal, transcendent values to be the foundation of life, thought and action, adherence to Christianity takes the form of a radical change in the whole of personality and existence. Naturally, it will take some time for this adherence to faith in Jesus to grow increasingly full and heartfelt. I feel like a child taking his first hesitant steps in his new Christian life. But I have a great desire to walk and run as a Christian! Thank you, Jesus.

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