What, no Super Bowl?

Super Bowl Sunday came and went and I missed the game.  Well, that’s not entirely correct. I missed the game from the standpoint that I didn’t see it, but I didn’t miss it from the perspective of wanting to see it. So I didn’t really miss the game. I chose not to watch it. Some may wonder why, when it’s a common practice (in my experience) for communities to host a Super Bowl party and invite the teenagers.

I can’t imagine the teens don’t understand the underlying objective. I can’t imagine they’d pass up pizza just to avoid any conversations that might get started by the well-intentioned staff.

But that digresses from my point. What’s the harm in a football game? Am I going to some pious extreme? Not at all. I used to watch football every Sunday, plus some Saturdays, plus Monday nights. Enjoyed it quite a bit. But over the years I became aware of a disturbing trend, not quantified but nevertheless felt. The game seems to be much more violent now than in the past. I read of injuries decimating teams (including the one I root for) and every year seems to be more of the same. Much more than I remember in earlier times. Maybe the players are getting bigger and stronger, and the forces that clash wrecking more havoc.

I don’t know. I just know that it’s lost some of my interest. (Not all. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was happy the Giants won.)

We’re in the Ordinary lag before Lent. It’s quite apropos, as it gives us time to prepare for Lent, if that’s the only time we use to examine our faith, our life, and the path we traverse. If we examine these things daily or weekly, it’s a time when we can take our focus deeper.

I’ll be writing about this journey as we go through it. I hope you will join me.


In honor of Louis Bentivenga

My good friend Louis passed away on Oct 3, 2011. You might think, ‘How good if it took this long to talk about him?’ Or, it might indicate it took a long time to get over. Neither. I was trying to think of a way to honor his life, and decided I would do it in this post.

Do you have a friend who’s like cough syrup? Comes on a little rough, but in the end is better for you? That’s how I think of Louis (and this was confirmed by another good friend of his at his funeral). He was persistent, and sometimes, as I would joke with someone very close to me, he was like the friend you wanted to have go away. But no matter how often you turned him down for a cup of coffee, or lunch, or breakfast, he would keep asking and never felt (at least from my perception) hurt, never became petulant or pouty.

And what was good about those times we met? When we parted ways I realized the time flew by; more time than I had planned on. And I learned something, or felt listened to – and felt valued. It’s no wonder in his last year or two he made such an impression on some young people. I don’t know if they know (though I suspect they do now that he hasn’t been around for over a month), but I know they will miss him, too; his guidance and his ear. He always seemed to be introducing me to some new young man he was meeting with to talk about life.

Always the teacher.

And always the student, eager to join the book discussion group that met monthly for a while. He mentioned to me that it was his most stimulating time intellectually.

And then you find out what you mean to someone. I entered the church for his funeral Mass last Saturday, Nov 19, and was approached and asked if I would do the first reading. It was an honor that took me by surprise. One of his friends mentioned that he made a list of who he wanted at his funeral, and what he wanted them to do. Almost all of the requests were followed. And it was then that I understood what I meant to him.

We’ll continue our discussion, Louis, at a later time.


Entering the now

It’s the first Sunday of Lent and if you’re following my Lenten journal, I hope you you took the last few days to rest and listen to your inner self. In a distracted world it is too easy to lose touch with what guides you.

This past week we have been inundated with conflicting news – the tragedy in Japan, March madness, Spring Training and multi-million dollar contract negotiations (or the lack thereof), and conflict in other parts of the world. Makes you think two different things: ‘Glad it’s not me,’ and ‘Wish it were me.’ The question becomes, ‘What really matters?’ If you’ve been fortunate to live through a disaster (in the instance where you experienced one), you’ll understand that in the immediate aftermath the only things that matter, and that you are thankful for, are your own safety and the safety of those dearest to you. Everything else shrinks to triviality.

I think if you live in the moment, that is one of its blessings. Things that seemed important shrink into insignificance. There is only now. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. My heart aches at the tragedies occurring around the world and I become less interested in the plights of the rich trying to become richer; yet, no matter our standing, we cannot avoid life and all of its beauty, wonder, and danger.

To live now is to accept that, and to cherish all your interactions, whether they are as simple as raking leaves with a loved one nearby, or as complicated as negotiating peace between parties whose focus is only on themselves. Each moment you can choose your response. But only if you are aware of the opportunity.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, technically yesterday, began this season of Lent. If you’ve downloaded the pdf file, you may embark on a different kind of season. How different? Well, the first thing I want to do is take a deep breath. In order to prepare, it’s important to clear away the daily distractions, step off the path of the current race you’re in, and catch your breath before you begin.

Too often in the past I ran right into Lent with the intention of accomplishing a lot of change. This season, this Spring (one meaning of Lent), will be a time of discovery, and hopefully in that discovery a renewed sense of direction and self, and the appreciation and sharing of your gifts.

So relax, inhale and exhale slowly and deeply for the next few days, and prepare to begin on Sunday. Yes, that normal ‘free’ day. Another way this season will be different.


Lenten Journal is here!

I’ve completed a Lenten journal, titled: Irrational Treasure, that includes my reflections for the Sundays in Lent, plus Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. This is a free download to anyone who’s interested. I’ll also post at the beginning of Lent to explore another way to use the time, a bit differently than the past ‘sacrificial’ focus, though, if you follow this, you may find others believing you are sacrificing a great deal.

You can sign up below and to the right to receive the download of the journal in an email link.

You can print it out and write in it, or just read it – it’s a pdf file, meaning you’ll need Adobe’s Acrobat Reader. If you don’t have it, you can download the latest version here.

When you sign up for the download you’ll receive an email with a link in it. You can then download the file and share with others. (Or send them here!) If I have time, I will create an ebook of just my thoughts and reflections, leaving out the journal part of it. (You can use what you like to add your own thoughts, if you are inclined to do so.)

I hope this season brings you renewed faith, loving insight into who you are, and gratefulness.


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