Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Madness

I was fast asleep in my room when suddenly I sensed it. I sensed that someone was there and was watching me. Now normally I do not pay much attention to such things, but since there was a famous murder on our property one hundred years ago, I am a little skittish. Not sure what to do, I just lay there nervously. Seconds later I again sensed the presence. This time I did not know what to make of it, as surely it was real. Then I heard breathing and the gentle pitter patter of feet. Suddenly out of nowhere there was silence, and then a thud, as a forty pound projectile fell upon me as a lay in bed.
The silence and ensuing “thud” was followed by the words “wake up Uncle Andrew!” It was 6:30am and my niece and nephew were visiting from Vermont. Now, I suppose a better person would have jumped out of bed and began coloring and reading stories, but I am not such a person. I was unsure what to do. Do I tell her to go away? Do I wake up? Instead I decided I would just do nothing and shut my eyes, secretly hoping she would go away. Unfortunately, my niece would not give up that easy. Ten more leaps onto to my back and still no movement from my tired, battered body. She craftily grabbed a large pillow and began hitting me across the face cheerfully declaring “wake up Uncle Andrew, I want to play.” Well it was 6:30am and Uncle Andrew did not want to play. So for the next ten minutes “thump” after “thump” I was beat up by a six year old. Yet for some strange reason I did not give in. Feeling put off by my refusal to acknowledge being attacked with pillows, my niece decided she would try to wake me by putting a pillow over my face and sitting on me. Now I must admit I almost gave in to her ploys to wake me, but still my exhaustion and stubbornness allowed me to hold on. That is, it allowed me to hold onto until she unleashed a nuclear weapon from her arsenal of wake up ploys, the dreaded nose. Until yesterday I mistakenly believed there was no noise worse in the world, than the high pitch screeching of a small child, I was wrong. The high pitched screaming of a six year old imitating an alarm clock is hands down the worst.
After covering my head with the pillow I muttered the magic words that rescued me from my distress, “why don’t you go wake up Grandpa, I think he wants to read you a story and make you breakfast.” Then I heard pitter patter yet again and then silence, followed by "zzzzzzzzz," the most beautiful sound in the entire world.


Since Christmas I have been up at my parents house spending some time on break. As my parents have dial up internet and a really old computer, it takes years for the internet to load. It is of course driving me mad and I go crazy before I get a chance to post anything. So I have decided to take a few more days break from posting and will resume in 2009 (the end of the week)when I am near a real computer.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

The Man and the Birds by Paul Harvey

The man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound...Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud...At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them...He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms...Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me...That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand." At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste Fidelis - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

*** Merry Christmas to You All!***

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mass, Macy's + Madness


I spent this morning with the Trinity community celebrating the Advent season and the approach of Christmas. The best Christmas present I could for ask for was being able to see everyone again and to share in the beauty and power of the Mass. The choir was subperb and nearly made me cry at several points. Mr. Maurier's solo was outstanding as always, as were the solos by choir members (including Ms. Byron- who has been secretly hiding an amazing musical talent all this time). It was also nice to see so many alumni back again for the Mass. Because of the inclement weather the party after was cut short and everyone made their way home.


It has been snowing like crazy all day and it is great! It finally feels like Christmas and it just feels right, as long I stay inside and am looking out the window at the cold and am not in it.


I decided to drag Father Jerome out to the store with me in the midst of the storm to do some Christmas shopping. We arrived at Home Goods at 8:30pm and Macy's at 9:30pm and we were literally the only people in the stores. It was rather strange to arrive at a department store with only 1 other car in the entire parking lot. It was amazing as there were no crowds, no lines and tons of personal service. Next year I will be sure to do my shopping in the middle of the snow!

I had intended to write something exciting but instead I will head to bed (it is almost 12:30am). ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What You Don't Want to Hear

I am still keeping busy at the parish and enjoying the break from school. Since the rectory does not have wireless I only get to post updates when I can sneak on the pastor's computer. Please excuse the short nature of today's posting.

Last night I helped out with the food pantry and was amazed by the organization of the team working. It was a great experience and I enjoyed meeting the wonderful families that came for a little extra help.

After the work was done I was able to catch up with two old friends from my days at Saint Anselm. One of them told me their family was just talking about me the other day. Expecting them to say something nice I said "oh really, please share." Well I really wish I didn't utter such foolish words. They said "we were just watching my sister's wedding video and there you were at the reception dancing. My dad said (to my college friend) look there is someone even you can dance next to and look good."

I am still feeling the burn!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ice, Visitors and an Adoption

I am glad to be back in New Hampshire again, but I am not so excited about the massive Ice Storm that seems to be bringing life as normal to a halt. Checking the news tonight it looks as if hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire's finest will be out in the coled and dark again tonight. The giant Ice Storm has seemingly slammed much of the state and leaves nearly 25% of all residents in the dark 3 days later. Luckily the parish I am at has not lost power and appears to be the only block in the entire state that looks pretty much the same as it did a few days ago. Talking with friends early today I get the sense that most people are still stranded.

Here at the rectory I have been blessed to have two special house guests over the past few nights. One is a ninety year old woman and the other her eighty year old neighbor. They have been staying at the rectory because they have no power and have no place to go. I must admit at first I was a little worried it might be strange entertaining them for days on end, but it has been a blast. We just finished a marathon 4 1/2 conversation, at 10:45pm, before they headed off to sleep. They are amazing women who have taught me so much about the history of Manchester, the old shoe mills, the floods, Saint Anselm College, and life in the last century and in general. The ninety year old, who I will call "Lucy," is an avid bird watcher and naturalist. She shared amazing stories of catching birds over the last 70 years and "banding" them for the national wildlife service. At one time she even raised two morning doves in her home. One of them would perch on her head, the other would sit patiently on her lap. Tomorrow mornign I will be headed over to her place to see if I can fix her brid feeders which were destroyed by giant trees. Her greatest concern is not her home, but her feathered friends!

Having lost my grandparents before I was born, I have always had a special appreciation for the elderly. Spending this weekend with two special ladies I am reminded of how special they are and how important it is to keep them connected to the community. When I return to Baltimore next semester I have decided to adopt an elderly resident (who has no family)from a local nursing home and visit them weekly/take them out to eat. It must be tough to be old and alone. Since I can't comfort everyone, my new year's resolution will be to start with one.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The St. Raphael Informer

Early this morning I realised the first ever edition of the St. Raphael Informer, the official newspaper of the St. Raphael rectory, where I am spending a few weeks of my Christmas break this year. The Informer is a hilarious newspaper, written by yours truly, that takes a fun look at daily life at the parish. The total circulation is 5 copies, which includes the housekeeper, the secretary and a few others.

Today's edition highlights include
-an expose on "Inhumane Living Condition of Seminarians"- my attempt to convince Father Jerome to buy a new bed for the guest room in which I am staying, as it is uncomfortable

-"Mr. Tux is sad"- an Enquirer style story on the lonely cat at the rectory that wants more attention- the story includes a "newly uncovered copy of Mr. Tux's letter to Santa requesting an owner that pays more attention to him"

-Homily Reviews- like movie reviews....

-Bacteria Gone Bad- a story on the importance of cleaning out the refectory refrigerator

All and all the paper was a big hit and will continue daily until I head home to my family. Tomorrow's headline will be an expose on the lack of Christmas Spirit- (a reminder that it is about time to put up some Christmas Decorations). I am also planning a food critics evaluation of tonight's dinner, which Father has been working hard to create.

God gives us so many good things we should be grateful for them all, and share in the joy of Christ. Hence, the Saint Raphael Informer will continue to be published for the next few weeks to help us laugh and enjoy this wonderful life in one small corner of the world.

p.s. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I hate take home finals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I am officially back in New Hampshire for the next month. Since I left early for the funeral I still have a mountain of work to complete by Friday. Tomorrow I have two exams to complete over the phone, one paper, and a killer written take home final. Since all of the work is in Philosophy I am less than enthusiastic about completing it. I am not sure if you have ever had that experience of needing to complete something but not being able to do it. As time clicks away I am seemingly not panicked, although I should be.

I need to put my nose to the grindstone and make to friday, so that I can finish the smemester with distinction. Right now I am typing this blog entry from the Saint Anselm Coffee Shop where I am listening to a beautiful Irish Christmas Concert with some friends. Which is also known as pretending my work does not exist.

For the next few weeks I will be staying at St. Raphael Parish and helping out around the parish. I have a secret project I am working on my time at St. Raphael, I will share it with you all tomorrow. Time to work on the papers!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I had hoped to be able to post on the blog today and to share some reflections on a dear friend. However, tonight I find myself unable to muster the composure to do so. Mrs. Raczka was an amazing woman who I am eternally grateful for having shared a close friendship with over the past six years. Please know that as take some quiet time tonight in the chapel, that my prayers will not only be for Mrs. Raczka and her family, but also for all of you enrich my life in so many ways.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

With Saddened Hearts

I had hoped that I could find a poem, a prayer or something to demonstrate the profound sense of loss so many of us feel today, but I am unable to.

This morning I realize that our tears convey what our voices can't.

Mrs. Raczka you are loved and will be missed, may God welcome you into His eternal kingdom and comfort all those of us left behind.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Man vs. Monkey

Earlier this week a professor of mine sent out an email looking for volunteers. The professor teaches Philosophy, so I knew exactly what I needed to do. Without bothering to read the details I emailed him back saying I was in for whatever. (note: bad idea, really bad idea, always read the small print first).

Well it turns out the professor needed volunteers to help a friend out with her work at a neighboring college. So not really knowing what it was, I set up the first of two meetings. The first meeting was 90 minutes long and was some sort of psychological evaluation. I reviewed my life story and seemingly answered tons of questions on everything from my driving habits to my favorite foods. I was even asked whether I liked Bananas or Apples better. I said bananas because I like to put them on my cereal.

I just set up the second appointment and I am more than nervous. Apparently my cognitive functioning will be measured. I will be observed by a group of students as I complete a series of tasks. I am told they will be simple puzzles to complete and tasks to figure out. I will be timed and watched carefully for my reaction.

Apparently I will be competing against a monkey. Groups of eager college students will be watching to see if yours truly is smarter than Curious George! Now as I understand it I will not be competing at the same time, but none the less I am a little scared that I might lose. I might be the test case that proves some monkeys are smarter than humans.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Danger, Adventure, and Uncertainty

Where we last left off I was posting with little battery time left. I happy to report the fine folks at Best Buy have come to my rescue. My computer is charged and ready for business.

This morning it was back to work at the seminary as the final week of classes has arrived ! :):):):):):)

Seemingly everyone came back wishing they had been more productive during their Thanksgiving break. I had hoped to write three papers and only completed one. :(

My remaining assignments to complete by Saturday are:

1. edit/proofread 10 page research paper draft - Prayer/Priesthood
2. Write a 2 page paper using an extended metaphor (not sure what it means) - Communication for Pastors
3. 4-6 page History of Philosophy Paper
4. Take Home Final Exam- Philosophy of Nature

Beyond these assignments I have Oral Exams for two courses and then I am done.

***** Pressing Question *******************

Thanks to the generosity of a good friend I am in possession of a round trip Southwest Airlines ticket good for anywhere in the country. The only catch is I have to use it during this upcoming Christmas break and fly standby. This of course means that wherever I go must be on a whim. Being someone who loves adventure and the unplanned, i am most excited about the prospect.

Now this of course leaves me trying to figure out what I should do. I have decided to leave it open to all of you. I am placing my future and happiness totally in your hands. So please respond by posting your comments below. Share your thoughts and vote! This is kind of like one of those choose your own adventure books and I am the character trapped in the book.

The Choices Are:

1. Go to Florida the day classes finish and celebrate completing my first semester by relaxing on a beach and reading a good book for a few days before coming back to cold NH. (If anyone knows anyone who is willing to lend out a Condo to a poor seminarian, please let me know!)

2. Go to Burbank California with the soul purpose of trying to get on the PRICE IS RIGHT.

3. Visit Santa Fe, New Mexico. It sounds warm.

4. Head to San Antonio, Texas and visit the Dr. Pepper Museum (and the Alamo).

5. Your choice, suggest somewhere different


Important Blog News:

Please note this blog will begin being regularly updated after August 21st (when I arrive in Baltimore).