Pope retires, and other items

posted by Mike on February 11th, 2013

We don’t post a lot of Catholic hierarchy news here, but this is outside the norm.

Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign:

A profoundly conservative figure whose papacy was overshadowed by sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, the pope, 85, said that after examining his conscience “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s Roman Catholics.

Pope Benedict:

I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

As someone who grew up under the leadership of John Paul II, Pope Benedict’s papacy will always be a mediocre one to me, lacking JPII’s charisma and vision, and marked by his failure to respond to the child sex abuse crisis with anything commensurate to the enormity of that crime.

More reactions via Andrew Sullivan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fourth Sunday of Advent, 2012

posted by Mike on December 23rd, 2012


You will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
–John 16:20

Today, as usual for the fourth Sunday of Advent, Worcester Catholic Workers and friends gathered to Christmas carol. We numbered a mighty 21 this year, and visited a nursing home and people around the neighborhood.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.
Daniel Berrigan

Read the rest of this entry »

Free Advent kit offer

posted by Mike on November 21st, 2012

Each year for the past few years, we’ve assembled an Advent wreath from scratch, scrounging candles from drawers and the supermarket, attaching them to a dinner plate with hot wax, and covering the rest of the plate with branches from the nearest evergreen.


This year I’ve bought a bunch of candles and plasticine so I can make a better wreath. In fact, I’ve bought more than enough, so if you’d like to make your own wreath, I’ll mail you enough candles and plasticine to do it. Send your address to pieandcoffee@gmail.com with the subject line “Advent.” I’d really like to get these in the mail by November 27, so please let me know ASAP.

Other items:

  • This month the US Catholic bishops endorsed the Vatican making Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, a saint. Dorothy is one of my greatest heroes, a woman who gave her life to serving the poor and speaking out for justice and mercy. She’s also a controversial candidate for sainthood, not only because she was a pacifist and anarchist, but because she famously said: “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Here’s a good article on that with thoughts from Fr. James Martin and from Robert Ellsberg, who worked with Dorothy near the end of her life and edited her published letters and journals.
  • Every year I encourage my Christian friends to take a mild step to “put the Christ back in Christmas” by not shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Julia Smucker makes a similar argument, with a big helping of theology.
  • Can’t believe I forgot to mention: The best Wal-Mart/Black Friday project yet, Mark Dixon’s My 49 Hours at Wal-Mart.
posted by Mike in Advent, Items | on November 21st, 2012 | Permanent Link to “Free Advent kit offer” | No Comments »

“Beloved Community” at St. Peter’s and other items

posted by Mike on April 8th, 2011

But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. The type of love that I stress here is not eros, a sort of esthetic or romantic love; not philia, a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends; but it is agape which is understanding goodwill for all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. It is the love of God working in the lives of men. This is the love that may well be the salvation of our civilization.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Deborah Plummer, Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Equal Opportunity at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, will be speaking on “The Beloved Community” at St. Peter’s Church in Worcester, Monday, April 11, 6:30pm.

The church is at 929 Main Street in Worcester, across from Clark University.

Worth noting that not only does Dr. Plummer specialize in the issues surrounding “diversity,” she was a nun for 13 years.

Happiness Pony

Asa Needle, Sarah Assefa, and I have published the first issue of a new newspaper for Worcester, Happiness Pony. We’re still figuring out distribution stuff–if you have a suggestion of a place you want to be able to find it, please post a comment.

And yes, we’ve talked about this title before.


posted by Mike on December 14th, 2010

Want to help with this week’s 508 show? Make a short video (3 seconds to 3 minutes) that has to do with Worcester, Christmas, the holidays, or whatever is preoccupying you this week. Send it to me. I’ll edit the ones that go best together into a show, and link to the rest.

The video will be posted to the net and cablecast on WCCA TV13.

How to contact the 508 show.

Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Mike in Items, Worcester | on December 14th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Items” | 6 Comments »

Worcester blogger coffee and other items

posted by Mike on September 8th, 2010

There hasn’t been a meetup of Worcester bloggers in some time, so this Saturday, Sept 11, at 9am there will be a Worcester “blogger coffee” at the Friendly’s in Tatnuck Square (642 Chandler Street). This is a chance to meet some of the other folks making our local internet an interesting place. If you are a non-blogger looking to chat with bloggers (I know at least one political campaign manager in this category), you’re certainly welcome, but be warned that 6 or 7 bloggers is a great turnout for these things–this isn’t a big networking event.

Read the rest of this entry »

508 #121: SWIP

posted by Mike on July 23rd, 2010

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s panel is Brendan Melican.

Audio: mp3 link, other formats, feed

Video: Downloads and other formats
Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Mike in 508, General, Items, Worcester | on July 23rd, 2010 | Permanent Link to “508 #121: SWIP” | No Comments »


posted by Mike on April 29th, 2010

Zackary Sholem BergerOur old college buddy Zack Berger, medical doctor and Yiddish poet, got a shout-out on Boing Boing this week, highlighting his Yiddish versions of classic children’s books. Good job! You can order the books here. I don’t speak Yiddish, but reading them aloud is a treat anyway.

Catholic anarchism
Michael Iafrate excerpts an essay from the latest Catholic Worker. If I find the thing online I’ll post a link.

Telegram & Gazette paywall
Our local paper, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette is planning to charge for some local stories on their website, starting this summer. The first few stories each day would be free, after that you’d have to pay. Jeff Barnard has an impressive rant about the modern economics of newspapers and how they relate to the T&G and its plans.

New Ubuntu released today
For the past few years, I’ve mostly used computers running the Ubuntu operating system, the most popular flavor of Linux. The latest version is out today.

posted by Mike in Items | on April 29th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Items” | No Comments »

Holy Week items

posted by Mike on April 3rd, 2010

On Palm Sunday many churchgoers hold palms during the service. I’m used to seeing people weave them into large crosses. Here are two smaller (East African?) designs that I saw for the first time.

“Song for Holy Saturday”
Following tradition, here’s a link to this poem by James K. Baxter.

“Enjoy the Silence: Triduum, sexual abuse, and the disappearance of the crucified”
Michael Iafrate:

It is truly difficult to hear the continued reports of children raped by priests and not be struck by the presence of the Crucified One there. But this presence is denied—“I do not know the man!”—each and every time church leaders and members alike remain silent or utter words of defensiveness that embarrassingly fill nearly every news story or ecclesial statement covering the abuse.

Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Mike in Items, Lent | on April 3rd, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Holy Week items” | No Comments »

Patty Angevine and other Thanksgiving items

posted by Mike on November 26th, 2009

Patty AngevineNice profile of local Catholic Worker and awesome person Patty Angevine in the Telegram and Gazette. Among other things, she co-founded the great soup kitchen at St. John’s. (Note that it’s rarer than you might think for Catholic Workers, like Patty, to work professionally in social services.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Michael Iafrate makes the case against Thanksgiving, then admits:

. . . I am not about to be so politically smug that I would simply refuse to participate in my own family’s traditions.

Me neither. I love celebrating a fall feast with family, and I love celebrating a utopia in which natives and immigrants could co-exist. I’d embrace a chance to have a more honest celebration without giving up the joy.

Don’t forget that the day after Thanksgiving is Buy Nothing Day. I’ll be doing my bit to “keep the Christ in Christmas” by keeping myself out of the mall. For a great example of a joyous Buy Nothing Day, see Mark Dixon’s 49 Hours at Wal-Mart.

Worcester Police on Twitter

The WPD’s Twitter feed makes me wonder when we’ll see our first Worcester crime blogger. Seems like anyone could gather quite a bit of info with a computer, police scanner, and telephone.