March Madness: Final Four

It’s finally gotten to this point of the season three games left and so much rests on these two days. Gonzaga, North Carolina, South Carolina and Oregon are the teams that are left and we begin the weekend with two cross country match ups with Gonzaga taking on South Carolina and UNC up against Oregon. This could lead to either a Battle of the Carolinas or the Pacific northwest or another cross country fistfight. Now these are a couple of upstart teams this year Gonzaga is the perhaps the closest thing we have to a “cinderella” this year being from the West Coast Conference, but Gonzaga was the top team in the nation earlier this year. South Carolina is the lowest seed team left and the last time Oregon got this far was in 1939. North Carolina is by far the team with the most pedigree and they were in the Championship game last year so they seem like shoo-ins to win it all this year. It would be the first national Championship for either Gonzaga and South Carolina, Oregon would take home their second title after the original on way back in 1939 and for UNC it would be number six.  Most people have Gonzaga facing UNC in the Championship game on Monday night. I’d be happy with any results but it would be cool to see a mid major team like Gonzaga cutting down the nets.

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Baseball back in Montreal?

This is a great article which is about how Montreal is ready for baseball once again. Now the Expos have/had one of the coolest logos in all sports and I hope that when a team comes it becomes the Expos and retains all the history of the team. Sure the strike in 1994 sort of killed the team which eventually moved to Washington, for that I am thankful,  but it is always somewhat sad for a team to leave for a new location. The article notes that the Commissioner Manfred has expressed a hope of adding two team to make scheduling easier as 16 teams in a league are easier to do than 15. However before this can happen stadium deals need to be made in Oakland for the A’s and Tampa Bay for the Rays. Whenever Montreal finally gets their team back I wonder where the other team would go and what else would change with Major League Baseball.

NBC Olympic coverage

After years of complaints NBC has finally heard the groaning and decided to broadcast the upcoming Winter Olympics live across all time zones. Now this is in part that the next three Olympics will be in Asia roughly 12 hours ahead of the East Coast of the US. One of my biggest questions is will the Opening Ceremonies be broadcast live and/or tape delayed as well as edited. Also, Bob Costas has stepped down from the Primetime Olympics host chair and Mike Tirico will be taking over. If NBC could also pick up the broadcast rights to the Paralympics and Youth Olympics and actually show them that would be wonderful. By broadcasting the Olympics live NBC is taking a step forward and joining the rest of the world who already do this. Will they increased live coverage curb the human interest pieces that seem to pop up during the games or will they still exist on some of the other NBC networks. We will have to wait and see what will happen in about 11 months.

Catholic epistles Part One: Epistle of James

Over the next couple of week, since we finished up Esther last week, the focus will shift to the catholic epistles. Now, these are the lesser letter and the term catholic means universal since these letter are not directed to a specific audience. They consist of the Letter of James, two Letters of Peter, three Letters of John and the Letter of Jude. This week will be James, next will be Peter’s letters and the following one will be the rest.

The letter of James is New Testament Wisdom Literature. It may have been written by James, the brother of Jesus or perhaps James the less who lead the Church in Jerusalem, but it could have just been attributed to him however whoever this James was it seems like Jude might have been his brother as well. It gets a bit confusing figuring out authorship of these letters. On to the book itself. James begins with a rather short greeting like the other letters and goes right into the message sure there are going to be trials in life but keep steadfast in your faith, that you live in. It seems rooted in love first and foremost echoing the commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. James gives an example of a richly dressed man and a poorly dressed man entering into the assembly and caring more about the one that looks better. James continues with interesting metaphors and musings about how to live life. The letter end with the idea of the sacrament of anointing of the sick. In the letter we hear that it is works and faith that justify mankind. This is at odds with the Protestant belief of Sola Fide where you just have to believe that salvation is attained by grace alone in Christ alone through faith alone for the Glory of God alone as told in Scripture alone.

Reading through this letter it seems like it would be something that I would write today so perhaps we need to hear from this book more often, as the message is one that seems to be continually in need of.

Children of Fatima

I am sure you’ve all heard that this year in the one hundredth year since Our Lady appeared to the three children in Fatima. Later on this year on the thirteenth of May through October we will focus on what all happened at Fatima and talk about the secrets of Fatima as well. In what seen like the least kept secret it has been confirmed by the Vatican that Jacinta and Francisco Marto will be canonized during the Papal visit to Fatima in May. It also seems likely to think that Sister Lucia will be beatified sometime this year, since she is also connected with Fatima. Lucia’s cousins, Jacinta and Francisco will become two of the youngest saints who are not martyrs as they died at nine and ten.

Popes, ranked

Deadspin, the sports site offers lists every now and then the most recent one is about knifes, and it led me to their ranking of Popes and it is pretty interesting sure it’s an old list from back in 2013 after Benedict XVI abdicated but it is still an interesting read and I even had to go look up some of these Popes like Conon, Sergius III and Deusdedit. If you feel like wasting several hours on Wikipedia this weekend take a gander at this list.

Record Store Day

According to this article from the AV Club the Space Jam soundtrack is going to be released on vinyl for Record Store Day. Record Store Day is on April 22 and like you expect there are several special release records coming out, a bunch make sense Prince and David Bowie as well as other like Thelonious Monk and Fleetwood Mac but Space Jam seems like an odd choice to put on vinyl. Sure I own the soundtrack on Compact Disc and it is a pretty solid album. If I didn’t own a physical copy already I would so want to get a copy. Record Store Day is an event that brings the focus of music back to the physical media and the root of the music industry. It supports local small businesses as well. Some people claim that records are the only way to listen to music, if you have a chance and have a record player please support your local record stores.

World Baseball Classic 2017 Championship

For the first time in the World Baseball Classic the United States is in the Championship game. This is huge as to get there they took down the previous winners of the Classic in Japan (06,09) and the Dominican Republic (13). This means some other nation will bring home the trophy after the game tonight and it will be an interesting game between the United States and Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico hasn’t lost a game yet this go around and placed second four years ago. The US hasn’t gotten this far yet, they’ve placed fourth in 2009 and the team is completely different from that time. Currently the second ranked team in the world perhaps the United States will have the advantage over the twelfth ranked team Puerto Rico, but who knows it will be an exciting game to watch. If you have some time tomorrow take a look at this game to get ready for the beginning of baseball season.

Book of Esther part 3: The finale

This is the last of the series on the Book of Esther, last week we looked at Haman’s plot. We get to the whole deal with Purim today.

The King Xerxes, couldn’t sleep so he gets out the book of memorable deeds and reads about Mordecai and how he informed the King about the two eunuchs that were plotting against him. The king asks what was bestowed on Mordecai for doing this and learns it was nothing. The king asks who is in court and lo and behold it’s Haman, the King asks Haman what the king should do for someone who delights him. Now, Haman think that this is about himself and that the King will be honoring him so he goes all out, he wants to be dresses in royal robes and ride on a royal horse through the town being honored by all. The king says wonderful and tells Haman to do this for Mordecai, the Jew by the gate. Haman returns home in mourning and with his head covered and told his wife and friends what had happened, they predict that it is only going to get worse for Haman. While this is happening the King’s Eunuchs come to bring Haman to Queen Esther’s banquet. At this second banquet the King ask Esther again what her petition is and Esther reveals that she is Jewish “I and my people are being sold to be destroyed”. The King wonders who would do such a thing and Esther points to Haman, this foe and enemy. This enrages the King and storms out furious about this, one of the eunuchs mentions that Haman is/was building a gallows for Mordecai by his house. So Haman was hanged on the gallows meant for Mordecai. The king gave Haman’s house to Esther and Mordecai became the new Prime Minister and lived in Haman’s house.

The initial step was taken but there was that Edict that went out saying to kill all the Jewish people, so Esther pleaded with the King to cancel the edict sent out by Haman ordering the destruction of the Jews. A new edict was printed and distributed across the nations saying that the previous one is wrong and allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to slay, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, with their children and women, and to plunder their goods,  upon one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasu-e′rus, on the thirteenth day of Adar.  As time passes it gets it the thirteenth of Adar and the Jews gathered together and in Susa, the capital they slew 500 men and 10 of Haman’s sons were captured. Esther goes before the King and asks for another day since the Jews didn’t take any plunder. He agrees that those in Susa can do it another day and the Jews slew 300 more. Across the provinces of King Ahasuerus some 75,000 were slain. This is why the feast of Purim is celebrated.

This is a strange book in the Bible as it has a different feel from the rest of the books. I can sort of understand why the church reads only a brief section from Esther as it’s sort of like the Quentin Tarantino movie of the Bible. It is worth reading, seeing or hearing.

 

Saint Joseph’s Day

This is the Italian equivalent of St. Patrick’s Day traditionally on March 19th. Traditionally you wear red and set up a St. Joseph altar. This is about all I know about the feast since Patrick gets the lions share of the press around this time of year. However Joseph is someone that we all tend to forget about, he isn’t in the Bible much and we hardly talk about him at all. Much of the focus goes to Jesus and Mary, so let us all remember Saint Joseph today. There are a bunch of prayers to St. Joseph, and nothing really has stuck like St. Patrick’s Breastplate. The first one is prayed as a novena to St. Joseph:

Oh, Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh, Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

Oh, Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

Saint Joseph, Patron of departed souls – pray for me. (Mention your intention) Amen.

This other one was given to us by Pope Leo XIII as a prayer to add to the end of the Rosary especially during the month of October.

To you, O blessed Joseph,
do we come in our tribulation,
and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse,
we confidently invoke your patronage also.

Through that charity which bound you
to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God
and through the paternal love
with which you embraced the Child Jesus,
we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance
which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood,
and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.

O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family,
defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ;
O most loving father, ward off from us
every contagion of error and corrupting influence;
O our most mighty protector, be kind to us
and from heaven assist us in our struggle
with the power of darkness.

As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril,
so now protect God’s Holy Church
from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity;
shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection,
so that, supported by your example and your aid,
we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness,
and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven.

Amen.