Sweet, Doleful Fog Horns

All of Staten Island’s bus routes originate at the St. George Ferry Terminal. Borough Hall is across the street.

My brother lives up the hill. With the windows of his apartment open to the cool May air, the fog horns of the container ships sound through the quiet night.

The captains of industry who developed this hilly island built a beautiful parish church in 1904. Here I celebrated the first Mass of my eighth year as a priest.

Commonsense Papism


Ego … Archiepiscopus … beato Petro apostolo, Sanctæ, Apostolicæ, Romanæ Ecclesiæ, ac tibi, Summo Pontifici, tuisque legitimis Successoribus semper fidelis ero et oboediens. Ita me Deus omnipotens adiuvet.

“I …, Archbishop of …, swear to be faithful and obedient to St. Peter the Apostle, to the Holy Roman Church, and to you, the Supreme Pontiff, and your lawful successors, so help me God Almighty.”

The new Archbishops who celebrated Mass with the Holy Father today swore their allegiance with these words.

StPeterThe Archbishops’ oath of allegiance is not something strange. It is not something foreign to American sensibilities. It is the most commonsensical statement a person could ever make.

Christians believe things–and we live according to principles–which we could never figure out by ourselves.

Therefore we rely on some source of information that possesses infallible authority. Our faith and morals are based on the testimony of God Himself, delivered to us in writing and by word of mouth.

Now, the authority to give this testimony either resides in me myself, or it resides in someone else.

Some people actually do regard themselves as their own infallible religious authority. But it takes just a little humility and maturity to realize that being your own infallible teacher is a prescription for disaster.

Therefore my infallible teacher must be someone else.

readdumWho is it? Could it be a politician? Could it be the pastor of a megachurch? Shirley MacLaine?

Of all the candidates for infallible teacher, the only really viable one is the Pope. The Pope can claim to hold such an office–the office of infallible teacher and shepherd established by the Son of God when He was on earth.

The Lord Jesus never promised that every Pope would be a saint. Rather, He guaranteed that there would be a spiritual fortress which the enemies of God could never conquer. Within this fortress, the true faith will always survive. The fortress is the Apostolic See of Rome.

Someone might say: Back off! My infallible teacher is the Bible!

Two questions, dear friend:

1. How do you know that the Bible is the Bible (i.e. the compendium of divine teachings committed to writing)? How do you know that the Koran is NOT the Bible? Or Football for Dummies? What authority certifies that your Bible is, in fact, God’s Word?

2. If there is a dispute about what the Bible means, who has the authority to settle the question?



and his successors.

Happy Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, founders of the Church of Rome!

The Graces

sam_smokingIn The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, once the hobbits reach Rivendell, Samwise Gamgee has the idea that they will be able to give the Ring of Power to some greater and more consequential individual. He packs his bags, and his master Frodo’s.

Frodo wonders why Sam has been so eager to get ready to leave the city of the elves.

“Well, sir. You see, now that we’ve done our job, I thought we’d be off. Off home.”

To give thanks to the Lord before hitting the sack for our VERY early departure, let me acknowledge that, on our pilgrimage…


He has drawn us closer to His Mother and to the mystery of His holy Church.


He has drawn us closer to the Apostles Peter and Paul.


He has drawn us closer to St. Peter’s Successor, Pope Benedict.


He has drawn us closer to our Catholic heritage.

And He has drawn us closer to each other.