Kubo and the Two Strings

Since Kubo was nominated for an Oscar I though that I should watch this movie it’s the only film that might have had a chance to beat Disney. Kubo comes from Laika which has put out some remarkable stop motion films all of which have been nominated for Best Animated Feature but they have yet to break though and beat Disney. Spoilers to follow.

Kubo and the Two Strings is set in ancient Japan is about stories. As the film begins we have a great hook “If you must blink, do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear, no matter how unusual it may seem. And please be warned: If you fidget, if you look away, if you forget any part of what I tell you – even for an instant – then our hero will surely perish. ” Then we see a mother and her child trying to escape something and they wash up on shore. Time passes and Kubo is a young boy with one eye and he lives with his ill mother, Sariatu in a cave atop a mountain by a village. Everyday Kubo goes down to the village where he goes and tells the story of Hanzo, a brave samurai who happens to be Kubo’s father using origami and music. As the bell rings signaling sunset Kubo need to head home as his mother warns him that her sisters and father would come and try and steal his other eye. After hearing about the Bon festival, which is a Buddhist custom that honors the spirit of your ancestors, Kubo decides to talk to his father’s spirit however father doesn’t answer Kubo leaves angry but it’s too late as it is after dark and his aunts attack him. Kubo barely escapes with the help of his mother who sacrifices herself so Kubo can go find the magic armor that his father was looking for.

Kubo is awoken by a monkey, it is his monkey charm that has been brought to life. So Monkey and Kubo begin on their quest after a day they rest and over night Kubo dreams and a little Hanzo has been folded and came to life. Little Hanzo now leads them on the quest for the armor. As they follow Hanzo, Kubo falls and stumbles upon a giant beetle, a samurai who was cursed and was an apprentice of Hanzo. After hearing that Kubo is Hanzo’s son Beetle decides to joins the quest. They go out to look for the Sword Unbreakable, the Breastplate Impenetrable, and Invulnerable Helmet. Will they find them before Kubo is discovered by his aunts and the Moon King takes his remaining eye?

The film is about stories and memory as most of the stories that are told are memories of Hanzo. If you want to watch a film that’s gotten raves from everywhere that’s not from Disney this is where to start. It’s a simple story but it has such emotional depth and reflection upon what is family. Kubo is a great little film and if you haven’t seen it you are surely missing out.

Sing Street (2016)

Sing Street is the latest film from John Carney, director/writer of Once and Begin Again. This is the other musical which was nominated for a Golden Globe this year. Once again focusing on music but this time in the 80s in Ireland. We have a story of a boy who starts a band to impress a girl. Spoilers to follow.

The film begins at a family meeting where we meet Lawlor’s who are on hard time so they take their youngest son Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and place him in a free state-school, Synge Street CBS, run by the Christian Brothers. Conor’s older brother, Brendan (Jack Reynor) rubs this in, joking about pedophilia, but also laments about the state of the family which is in a rocky state. On Conor’s first day at school he runs into trouble with the school principal, Brother Baxter, who reprimands him for not wearing black shoes as indicated in the school dress code, Conor also run into the school bully. This leads Conor to met a budding entrepreneur Darren (Ben Carolan), who has also been bullied and Conor and Darren become friends. The next morning or so meeting up before school Conor ask Darren who the girl across the street is, Darren doesn’t so Conor goes over and talks with her, she’s an aspiring model named Raphina (Lucy Boyton) Conor asks her if she wants to be in a music video for his band, she agrees.

The only problem is that there is no band. Conor and Darren go about assembling a band from the school.  They start with Eamon (Mark McKenna) a multi-instrumentalist, who has all these instruments around, and round out the group with the black guy in school, and two other guys who sort of are just there to fill out the band. As they get together they begin as a cover band but after Conor brings a recording of the band for Brendan to listen to, and Brendan isn’t a huge fan as they are just a cover band and cover bands are a dime a dozen. This inspires Conor to begin writing his own music and with Eamon’s help they are pretty good at it as well. After the first song is written they film a video and Raphina shows up. With each new song the band’s style evolves while Conor and Raphina get close at the same time Conor’s home life implodes. However, the closer they get Raphina seems all to motivated to leave for London to become a famous model and one day she leaves. Conor is heart broken and can’t write or play music but Brendan inspires him to write so someone can get out of this place. Will Conor write or ever see Raphina again.

If you have a brother this is a wonderful movie to watch, even if you don’t have one or you are one it tells a timeless story of love and family. Fans of the music of the 1980s should give it a look as well as those who have enjoyed other John Carney’s movies I hope that you take the time to watch the film.


This is one of the bizarre things about Christmas. The whole secular world places the emphasis of the Holiday on the one day, but there are eleven more days of Christmas left to go. However all the radio stations which switched over to Christmas music back in November have gone back to their regular programming, Let us all try over this week to bring the joy and enthusiasm of Christmas Day last through the new Year, all the way to Epiphany. I’m sure you are going to see some sort of the meaning of the Twelve Days of Christmas, but it’s all about birds and laborers which in real life costs a whole lot.

Christmas isn’t over and we shouldn’t act like it is.


It seems like everyone of a certain age will know about “a Festivus for the rest of us.” This is a made up holiday that we all thought was from Seinfeld, but it actually began back in 1966 when Dan O’Keefe’s father, Daniel O’Keefe created the holiday to celebrate the anniversary of his first date with his future wife. It wasn’t until Dan O’Keefe co-wrote the Seinfeld episode “The Strike” which features this new idea of Festivus, this has become what people celebrate. According to the show George Costanza’s father, Frank created the holiday as an alternative holiday in response to the commercialization of Christmas and is celebrated on 23 December.

Festivus is celebrated by putting up a Festivus pole an ordinary aluminum pole with nothing on it, like tinsel. Everyone gathers together and eats a Festivus dinner at which the Airing of Grievances takes place. This is where everyone gathered lashes out at each other and the world for how they have disappointed the speaker, as Frank Costanza begins in the episode “I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it!” The celebration isn’t over until the Feats of Strength which takes place right after the dinner. The feats of strength is the head of the household challenges someone to wrestle and when ever the head of the house is pinned Festivus is over.

Over the years some people have come to celebrate it as a real holiday but other do it ironically. Will it last over the next decade or so that really is the biggest question as it didn’t really grow into something until the turn about 2000 which was like three years after the episode aired. If you are celebrating have fun with it, I guess.

Trinity Sunday

This week the readings come from Proverbs 8:22-31, Psalm 8, Paul’s letter to the Romans 5:1-5 and John’s gospel 16:12-15.

This week we hear an awful lot about the Wisdom of God and the Spirit of Truth, but we do get some reference to the Father and Son as well. This is the Trinity. It can be seen many different ways from the traditional of Father, Son and Spirit to that of mother, lover and friend or God, His Word and his Wisdom. All three are separate in being but they are One God they are co-equal and co-eternal. St. Patrick we widely believe used a shamrock to illustrate this idea.  I like to look at it as the way that God has revealed himself to us throughout the ages. In the Old Testament God, the Father, plays a significant role in choosing his people. In the New Testament Jesus is the central figure and his building up the people. Now we live in the Age where the Spirit is the figure that has the central role. This is the Spirit foretold by Jesus in the Gospel who will “guide us into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”  Let us listen to the Spirit working in the world today and throughout this week that we may draw closer to our heavenly family.

Amoris Laetitia: Part 2

In the first part I sort of went over the first five chapters.  Now it’s on to chapters six through nine of Amoris Laetitia.

Chapter six offers some Pastoral Perspective, as we can tell Pope Francis goes through some perspective on the family from that of bishops using the final reports from the synod. It emphasizes that families need to be evangelized and go out and evangelize as well. Sure the training of religious is lacking in understanding the complexities of families face today but training could be better and there is a wealth of knowledge in the oriental tradition (Coptic, Marionite, Ruthenian, Melkite) where there are married clergy. Pope Francis turn to divorce and calls it a evil and hopes that by focusing on the family the Church can prevent the spread of the evil of our times.

The focus of chapter seven is about the education of children. It starts off by saying that parents shouldn’t be that concerned where their children are and how they are doing at all times but rather who they are with. As Pope Francis puts it “obsession is not education.” It goes on talking about how parents are the first teachers of their children. Surprisingly, there is a section focusing on sexual education it needs to be more encompassing then just the biological with an emphasis on ‘safe sex’ it need to be a education for love or mutual self-giving.

Chapter eight is the most talked about section of this exhortation. It begins echoing what Pope Francis said “Let us not forget that the Church’s task is often like that of a field hospital.” This section covers some controversial subjects and the word guiding, discerning and integrating are key. It is best summarized by a paragraph  where the faithful in complicated situation should talk with pastors or other lay people “They may not always encounter in them a confirmation of their own ideas or desires, but they will surely receive some light to help them better understand their situation and discover a path to personal growth. I also encourage the Church’s pastors to listen to them with sensitivity and serenity, with a sincere desire to understand their plight and their point of view, in order to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church.” (312)

Chapter Nine turns back to marriage and the family. Here we talk about gifts of love small but real gestures that not only lead us closer to each other but also closer to our Father in heaven for as Pope Benedict XVI said blinding ourselves of the world and those around us blinds us to God as well. The final paragraph is necessary reading material for all families “no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love.” This is our never-ending vocation.  Pope Francis then concludes with a prayer to the Holy Family.

Amoris Laetitia: Part One

The latest Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia from Pope Francis is the culmination of the synods on the family held in October 2014 and 2015. Where the bishops discussed the family and marriage in depth and what consists of a family today, but we will get to that later. It consists of nine chapters with an introduction as well as a prayer for the Family at the end. I’ve gotten through Chapter Five so here are my thoughts so far.

First and foremost in the introduction we hear that there isn’t a simple fix for all the problems in around the world and that some issues are better suited for local churches to do anything so that it helps with the various cultures around the world.  The other big part of the introduction is Pope Francis saying to take your time to prayerfully read through this document.

In the first chapter Pope Francis goes into a deep meditation Psalm 128:1-6, often used in Jewish and Christian weddings, and pulls from it a starting place that Family is a real thing there is no “perfect family”. Family is at the core of the Bible and can be seen though the trinity as Saint John Paul II said “Our God in his deepest mystery is not solitude, but a family, for he has within himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family, which is love. That love, in the divine family, is the Holy Spirit”. The Word of God is a road map for our journey.

In chapter two the focus turns to the current situation of the family. There are many problems that families face today from all sides. Pope Francis gets together a laundry list ranging from migration to the ideological denial of differences between the sexes (“ideology of gender”); from the culture of the provisional to the anti-birth mentality and the impact of biotechnology in the field of procreation; from the lack of housing and work to pornography and abuse of minors; from inattention to persons with disabilities, to lack of respect for the elderly; from the legal dismantling of the family, to violence against women.

In chapter three we basically cover the Church’s position on Family and Marriage. We look to Christ as the role model for the Vocation of Family. The part does a lot of referencing to older documents like Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes, Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, and St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio. Francis call us to remember Familiaris Consortio where Pope John Paul defined family as the way of the Church. The focus then turns to marriage are reminds us that the sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment as Familiaris Consortio says it is mutual self-giving. Another big thing is the discussion that the main mission of the Church is to form consciences not be the conscience for people.

As we reach chapter four we look at love. Pope Francis once again goes into the Bible and take one of the classic wedding readings, Paul’s First letter to the Corinthians 13, and offers a deep meditation on it. This is something that will become something all couples getting married should read before they get married. It’s roughly a quarter of the document and for a good reason,

In the fifth chapter it looks at the family not just the nuclear family but the wider ranging social community that marriages exist within. Pope Francis also doesn’t only talk about traditional families but also adopted ones as well. A key aspect is in relating between the old and young as well as brothers and sister because these are building blocks for growing up and relating with others as we grow older.

The Feast of the Holy Family

This week our readings come from the first book of Samuel (1:20-22, 24-28), Psalm 84, the first letter of John (3:1-2, 21-24) and the Gospel of Luke (2:41-52), although there could also be readings from other places since all readings except for the Gospel might come from Year A may be used.

We hear about the family in all of the readings, and from the name of the week we can properly assume that family is a big deal this week. I always find it nice that the Sunday after Christmas is the Holy Family since we celebrate Jesus on Christmas and then expand it out to the whole family, Mary and Joseph a few day later. For so many of us Christmas is one of the few times where we gather with our larger extended families for any significant time and those other people we consider a part of our families. I hope that we can appreciate all of our families in whatever shape they come in, sure we know them the best but they in turn know us the best as well. They say that to master something you need to be with it for 10,000 hours and you are stuck with your family for life so they should all be masters at how to read situations and your moods etc.

Institution of the Eucharist

Jesus and his friends gathered together to celebrate the Passover meal. When supper was ended he took some bread blessed it and broke it saying “Take, eat this is my body.” Then Jesus took the cup blessed it and gave it to them saying “Take, drink this is my blood, the blood of the covenant.” Blessed and broken both were given body and blood, how often do we give of ourselves in a similar way giving to someone all of ourselves. We remember this each and every time during Mass

This is sharing a meal with friends and family let us be reminded of the Eucharist feast as we gather together on Thanksgiving and later next month at Christmas. Since it seem like at most holidays we rush through them and hit all the moments, but we don’t spend time and relax and enjoy the moments with our family and friends we rush from here to there and try to satisfy everyone else rather then our own needs. For as we read in Matthew “For where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” Christ is with us at these large feast let us remember this and treat our family with the respect that we would treat him.

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week we are back in Ordinary Time and continue our tour in the Old Testament, our first reading comes from the first Book of Kings. In the Hebrew Bible it is a part of the Neviim (prophets) and is a single book. The book covers about 500 years in the history of Israel/Judah from the death of David to the Babylonian captivity. We hear today about the prophet Elijah. He was entering a city and encountered a widow collecting sticks. He asked for a small cup of water, when she left he called for a bit of bread as well. The widow called told Elijah that she didn’t have any bread baked and only a handful of flour in a jar and a little bit of oil in a jug, she was collecting the stick to make a small fire so that she could make a little something for herself and son, saying that after they eat it they will die. Elijah tells her to make a little cake for him before making something for herself. For the Lord had said that her jar and jug would not go empty until the Lord send rain upon the earth. So the widow did this and her flour and oil supply lasted for a full year. This is a story about putting our trust in the Lord who will provide for us and also in the giving to other will do amazing things as the widow make Elijah’s cake before her own, and her flour and oil remained full for a year.

In the second reading we hear from the letter to the Hebrews again it about Jesus being the High Priest and how he takes away the sins of the World. Finally we reach the Gospel where we hear from Mark, this is an interesting story this week as Jesus talks money and the “fakeness” of some scribes. Jesus begins by berating the scribes who act holier than thou, since they are simply putting on an act and “they will receive very severe condemnation.” The subject then turn to money and Jesus notices a rich man and a poor widow both going to the treasury and giving some money. The rich man put in lots of money but the poor widow can only put in a couple cents. Jesus gathers the disciples together and says that it was the widow who has put more money in because the money that she gave was from her livelihood rather than that of the rich who gave from their surplus. Who are we more like the rich man or the poor widow? That’s a big question for the week. The general idea with the readings this week was giving and how to do it. It is apropos that as we are nearing two special days that celebrate giving, Veterans/Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving. On Veterans Day we celebrate those who have gone the extra mile and served the nation in most of the rest of the world November 11 is Remembrance Day where we remember the live of those who gave it all for us to live in the world that we live in today. On Thanksgiving we gather together and celebrate family and give thanks for all that we have.