Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Farewell, Joe Palmisano, S.J.

Today was the funeral of Joe Palmisano, S.J. who died at the age of 41 on Christmas Day. It is quite a tragedy that he suffered a lengthy illness, but there is comfort in knowing that his suffering has come to an end. We will miss him.

My last visit to Joe was two weeks ago at Campion Center. I was told he was weak and would not be able to recognize me. As I walked in, he said, "Hi, John," and we had a pleasant conversation. He thought he was at villa where he could rest and pray for a while before returning home. It was quite consoling for me

The funeral was filled with concelebrating priests. Though it was certainly a sad gathering, I again was very consoled by the presence of so many good brother Jesuits who cared deeply for Joe and for one another. It was very much like a homecoming for me since I haven't seen so many men of my province in three years as I was in Amman for two and had surgery this summer whereby I missed the province assemblies.

Joe arranged his own funeral and one of the most moving portions of it was when the oboist played Gabriel's Oboe from the film The Mission. The luncheon afterwards was just the way he wanted it: festive with lots of laughter.

We do miss him. The day was sad, but we have great stories to share with one another. He is now home with Christ and together they are making sure we are strengthened by our care for one another.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Quiet Sunday Morning

The other day as I said two masses in East Cambridge, I decided to take a walk in between the liturgies. I used to live in the area and I wanted to see what has changed in the area.

The first thing I noticed was just how quiet the streets were. I could not hear any automobile traffic and there were no people walking along the sidewalks. It was the most quiet I've heard in an inner city neighborhood for a long time. Sometimes parts of Roxbury can be this quiet.

As I walked towards Kendall Square, young professionals were outside for exercise or to walk their dogs. The area, while remaining quiet, had some energy. MIT borders Kendall Square and the students receive many commercial services in the area. I remember when the area contained just a few hotels and some computer company offices. Now there are some fine restaurants, boutiques, and coffeehouses.

Just down the road from the T-station is a new Square called Federal Square. It contains a series of restaurants, open gathering spaces, and a walkway to the Charles River. It feels hip and seems like the place to be. As I continued my walk, I came across more specialty shops and coffeehouses. I was pleased with the amount of development. Of course, there are also many new residences that support these markets and restaurants and the professionals who occupy these spaces have disposable income.

This new area is just three streets away from the church, which is basically a modest working-class neighborhood. I can see many changes coming fast to an area that was once, and for the present, a sleepy, quiet neighborhood. When I went back to church, I was hoping some of those people might have found the church, but that discovery is still to happen.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tom Reese's eBook

NCR eBook: Caring for Our Common Home

iPad-mockup_laudato-si.jpgA Readers’ Guide and Commentary on Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment
By Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ

Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment has captured the attention of millions of people all over the world. One of the most important documents of this century, the encyclical puts the Catholic Church firmly behind the environmental movement, calling the world to a conversion that will have a huge impact on how we live, how our economy works, and how governments operate.

National Catholic Reporter Senior Analyst Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ provides an introduction, thoughtful questions, in-depth analysis and prompts for discussion.

Available from these eBook sellers:
iPad-mockup_inside_laudato-si.jpgTable of Contents:
The Encyclical’s Introduction
Chapter 1 “What is happening to our common home?”
Commentary - Pope Francis says ‘Facts are more important than ideas’
Chapter 2 “The Gospel of creation”
Commentary: Revelation and creation, respecting and sharing God’s gift
Chapter 3 The human roots of the ecological crisis
Commentary: Francis’ equation: Technology + greed = disaster
Chapter 4 Integral ecology
Commentary: Everything is connected
Chapter 5 Lines of approach and action
Commentary: Saving the environment through dialogue and transparency
Chapter 6 Ecological education and spirituality
Commentary: The path to change is environmental education and spirituality
About the Author:
Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. He writes weekly onNCR's Faith and Justice blog. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

November Musings

After mass today, I made two different visits to the mothers of friends. It warmed my heart to visit them. I see people who struggle with health issues and are doing their best to get through their day. They need extra care and are supported by loving caregivers whose natural response of compassion is incredible. Bottled up emotions are allowed to come to the surface when prayer is offered. I'm honored and humbled to see such care and patience.

Before and after some of my masses, I spend time a little time with those who are older. I begin to wonder what their lives are like at home and what their prayer might be like. I'm beginning to see the shock that some of them go through with the loss of a spouse or loved ones. Some have to prepare meals for one and do not have many people around for conversation for much of the day. We just cannot know what someone is going through unless we ask. People are begging to be heard and seen and known. I find that I spend more reflective prayer time for them. And I also realize my parents are aging.

This is a comment I overheard by three women in their 70's a few weeks ago:

"Oh, no! The holidays are coming. I used to look forward to them. I hope they pass quickly."

Another woman said, "I really like Halloween more and more each year. We get to dress up and the best thing is 'no family is involved.' I get to hang out with friends.

I found those comments to be curious.

I also found Boston driving to be curious.

Today, I saw a middle-age woman with three children in a car driving very slowly on a Boston main artery. I wanted her to pull over immediately. It looked as if her front axle was broken and I feared for her safety. Both tires were angled outward.

Earlier in the week as I drove down the central artery, I saw a car suddenly pull over and then I saw a whole wheel rolling down the side of the road. When I returned from my meeting, I saw the man still sitting on the side of the road, but his tire had been returned.

The third site was during rush hour. Traffic was nearly at a standstill on the northbound side, and was moving slowly on the southbound side. Apparently someone wanted to bypass the northbound stall because they drove down the exit ramp on the wrong side of the road. I wonder what happened. All I know is that it was dangerous for everyone.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Original Explanation of Indian Summer

From "Inside New England" by Judson Halem, Editor-in-Chief of Yankee magazine. Page 102

It's not unusual to have plenty of warm weather after the first tiger frost. "Indian summer," people will say. But it isn't Indian summer. Indian summer arrives only after many cold days, when the trees are bare, after we've already had a good sample spoonful of the winter ahead. Then it turns warm for a few days, maybe even for a week. That was a time our early settlers learned to dread. They would welcome the arrival of the cold, wintry weather because then they could finally leave their stockades without worry and prepare their fields for the next spring. Native Americans didn't liked to attack in cold weather. But if it suddenly turned warm and summery again, the Indians would often decide to have one more go at the settlers even though it was no longer their normal raiding season. "Indian summers," the settlers called it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Great Pumpkin Patch

To see photos of an autumn Pumpkin Patch, click on the link below:


The Jesuit Community and B.C. High live in an area of town surrounded by sporadic businesses. The Boston Globe, Star Market, and Santander Bank are neighbors. Savin Hill, a residential community, is fairly isolated. Often it feels as if we are not in a regular neighborhood, especially as we are bounded by the ocean.

The other day as I walked to the Subway Station, a construction worker began to talk with me. I asked him about the construction progress and he told me of the immediate and longer-term plans. Then he said that he lived nearby. He is happy that there will be new residences to bring more people to the area, and then said, "Everyday we watch the B.C. High boys go to school and return home. We watch out for them and make sure no one is under any harm. We value who they are. They will be our future leaders and we want them to have a good experience."

Then a police officer came over and joined the conversation. He is an alumnus of the school and he assured me that they pay particular attention to the safety and well-being of the boys.

I thought, "This is so cool. All these boys have guardian angels and they do not even know it. The boys are often in their own universes as they chat with friends on their way to the subway or to school. They walk past these workers and the police every day without even knowing anything about them, and these adults shelter their lives with great concern." That is so cool.

Suddenly, I realized that I am in a rich neighborhood.