Visiting St. Ann’s

I visited St. Ann for Mass on Sunday. It’s a beautiful old church, celebrating its 150th anniversary. It’s up Wisconsin in Tenleytown, a ten minute or so drive north from Georgetown.

The Gospel on Sunday was Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism. It was a gift to see St. Ann’s beautiful mosaic of this scene.

Snow on Connecticut

It snowed yesterday and for the first time this winter, but only for a few hours. The government let out at 1pm to allow people a hypothetically simpler commute home before the snow started in earnest. I worked from the office for the afternoon, since I can walk home. It was clear and fine in DC by six or so, but apparently pretty bad on the more rural roads in Northern Virginia.

It’s been a mild winter so far, but I hope we get a few great snow storms in the next few weeks.

‘Be transformed by the renewal of your mind’

I spent this morning in Arlington at St. Charles for the Borromeo Brothers men’s group. I hadn’t been for a few weeks due to work and travel in December, and it was great to be back and to start the new year with good men.

We read and considered Romans 12:1-13, where Paul is speaking: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” That’s part of the reading.

We spoke about what this call to be a “living sacrifice” looks like in the day to day, in our lives and especially in relationships like marriage. A few of the married guys shared powerful and honest reflections.

A friend joined for Borromeo Brothers, and afterwards we went to Mass and then caught up at Northside Social over coffee, before I walked back to Georgetown.

It’s a beautiful day despite being overcast, like 55 degrees. Great day to be with good people and to be outside.

Fresh new days

I got back into Washington early yesterday afternoon. It’s a good time of year in the city. The days feel just as fresh as the year, and it feels as if a good portion of the city is still away until next week. The streets have felt quieter than normal, and it makes it a bit more peaceful, like on tonight’s walk home from work.


This was the view as I walked along M Street, over Rock Creek and the Rock Creek/Potomac Parkway.

Nearly Christmas in Washington

A few scenes from this past week in Washington, on/around Connecticut Avenue near the office, nearby at St. Arnold’s on Jefferson Street, and in Georgetown.

It started to feel like Christmas in earnest this week, as people started to leave the city for the holiday with family and friends. I’ll be staying in Washington until Christmas, heading to Philadelphia on Christmas morning.

Alienated America

I listened to Tim Carney’s appearance with Kathryn Jean Lopez recently, where he speaks at New York’s Sheen Center for Thought & Culture on his latest book, “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse:”

He references Chris Arnade’s work over the past few years in chronicling the parts of America that those of us in cities are increasingly alienated from, and over the course of the conversation addresses why he believes some communities went hard for Trump, and why others went hard the other way.

In short, communities where life was basically good or great had no reason to deviate from the status quo (Hillary Clinton), but for the many communities where life is not great or downright terrible, it was time to break the system. This is to riff off the Flight 93 thesis, and it’s also to echo Chris Arnade’s conclusions from years among the alienated after a career among the comparative elite.

Our Lady’s Chapel

I’m fortunate to be able to look out onto the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle from my office. I’m also fortunate to be able to get to Mass there frequently. And the Cathedral is home to Our Lady’s Chapel, which I find to be one of the most spiritually powerful places in Washington. I thought I would share this since it’s the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception:


Here’s the history the Cathedral offers for Our Lady’s Chapel:

…the last of the original chapels to be completed, and was dedicated in 1936. It features a new sculpture of the Virgin crafted by Washington artist Gordon Kray in 1984 to replace the original that was severely damaged. It depicts Mary as a caring mother reaching down to fallen humanity and pointing to her ascended Son.

And here’s what the Cathedral shares today:

“The feast of the pure and sinless Conception of the Virgin Mary, which is a fundamental preparation for the Lord’s coming into the world, harmonizes perfectly with many of the salient themes of Advent. This feast also makes references to the long messianic waiting for the Saviour’s birth and recalls events and prophecies from the Old Testament, which also are used in the Liturgy of Advent.” —Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, 102

‘We have a lot of heart’

I spent yesterday morning at the Catholic Information Center for Leonine Forum’s Advent Recollection with Fr. Charles Trulloles. As that concluded, a friend of nearly 20 years stopped in and we caught up nearby at Daily Grill.

We went to Archbishop Wood together in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and we talked briefly about our alma mater’s latest state championship:

Trailing by three points in the PIAA Class 5A state title game with eight seconds to play and the ball on Cheltenham’s 3-yard line, Archbishop Wood second-year coach Kyle Adkins didn’t hesitate.

“We try a pass and if it’s not there we throw it out of the end zone and kick the field goal and go to overtime,” Adkins said. “We knew we could execute the play and it worked out for us.” …

Junior quarterback Max Keller found junior running back Cardel Pigford in the middle of the end zone for the winning score to give the Vikings a 19-15 win over neighboring Cheltenham in a wildly exciting state final at Hersheypark Stadium.

“We called the slant to Cardel and I knew he would catch it,” Keller said. “He and I have been playing football together since ninth grade and I knew he would be in the right spot.

“We only sent one guy out — everybody else was blocking — and I saw him come open and he made the catch. It was just an unbelievable way to end the game and win the state championship.” …

The state title was the Vikings’ third in the last four seasons and sixth since joining the PIAA in 2008.

“We don’t have the talent that a lot of the past state championship teams had, but we have a lot of heart,” Wood junior running back Kaelin Costello said. “There is no quit in anybody on this team and we knew what we had to do at the end of the game.”

What the Vikings (11-3) had to do was score because the Panthers, winners of 12 straight coming in, had taken their first lead of the game at 15-12 with four minutes left in regulation.

Archbishop Wood, which had two timeouts remaining, started from its own 35 after the ensuing kickoff and did what it had done all night — give the ball to Costello.

And he delivered.

Archbishop Wood was not a football powerhouse when we were there. It’s been great to watch the development of the program over the past 10-15 years.

‘Meet me at the eagle’

Among John Wanamaker’s lasting gifts to Philadelphia are the old Wanamaker’s flagship that Macy’s now occupies, and a beautiful work of art that remains in its heart—an incredible American Eagle.

I saw it yesterday when visiting Center City for the first time in a while, and thought I’d share it and the language from the marker that accompanies it. I remember my grandmother telling me about growing up in the city in the 1930s and ‘40s, and how the Wanamaker eagle was a frequent meeting place.

Meet the Grand Court Eagle.

This majestic bronze beauty proudly hails from Frankfurt, Germany, home of its creator, sculptor August Gaul. Department store pioneer John Wanamaker purchased the eagle for his flagship store following its debut at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The rest is history. Before long, “Meet me at the eagle” became the catchphrase for shoppers and visitors meeting in Center City.

The eagle has remained right here for over a century; the floor beneath reinforced with extra girders to accommodate its massive weight of 2,500 pounds. All 5,000 feathers, including 1,600 on the head alone, were wrought by hand.

Thanks for visiting the Grand Court Eagle and carrying on a long-beloved Philadelphia tradition of rendezvousing in Center City.

Mass of the Americas

I attended Archbishop Cordileone’s “Mass of the Americas” this morning at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception:

Join us for a Solemn Pontifical High Mass, which is the first-ever celebration of the Mass of the Americas in Latin celebrated by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Canon Avis is the Master of Ceremonies.

“I was ecstatic. You get the sense that something truly holy was happening there.” —Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

“This is what a flourishing religious culture looks like – piety being lifted up and sublimated in the actual liturgy of the Church.” —Professor and Poet James Matthew Wilson

“The great Catholic tradition is alive and well, and is only waiting for courageous pastoral leadership and visionary patronage to continue its great story where it most belongs: in the bosom of the Church.” —Professor and composer Mark Nowakowski

It was put together through the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, and was a beautiful experience.