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It’s never okay to play Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto, the violent bestselling video game franchise, was in the news again this week for upgrading its game to allow players to have sex with a prostitute from the player point of view. If you have kids, or if anyone in your house is playing this game and you haven’t checked it out, you need to do that today. Perhaps you’ll change your mind about whether your child is old enough or if anyone at all should ever be playing this game. Bottom line: They shouldn’t. Not only does it glorify crime and violence, but now it lets you or your child watch as a prostitute performs sex acts on you, moaning all the way. The audio alone should be enough to make any parent rethink this as an entertainment option for their kids — no matter how old they are. Read more

A Moveable Feast: Assisi, outside the city walls

Yesterday we spent the day — two days, really — wandering around the city of Assisi. Today we’re going to venture outside the city walls. On our second day in Assisi, we visited the Hermitage of St. Francis, the Church of San Damiano, and a fantastic winery-agriturismo outside Assisi in the town of Montefalco.

Our trip to the Hermitage of St. Francis (Eremo delle Carceri) was well worth the early drive via taxis (because the road is too narrow and winding for a tour bus) to the retreat on the slope of Mount Subiaso. This is where St. Francis and his friars came to get away from the busyness of life and pray in silence and solitude. The views were stunning, but the fact that we were able to touch the walls of the cell where St. Francis once slept was pretty overwhelming. Here’s a quick visit to the hermitage in photos. Read more

A Moveable Feast: Inside Assisi, a slice of heaven

My pilgrimage to Assisi began long before I walked the streets and knelt before St. Francis and St. Clare this October. Although I have always loved St. Francis, the pull to go to Assisi and stand where this great saint lived and prayed and worked became stronger and stronger with every passing year. I read books about it. I dreamed about it. I decided in my mind that there was no way I was going to miss getting to Assisi one of these days. The first time I went to Italy, I wanted to make a quick day-trip to Assisi from Rome, but my schedule at Santa Croce University was too packed, and I didn’t want to rush Assisi. I was right to wait. Assisi is not something you rush. It’s something you savor, slowly, over a couple of days, if at all possible. Read more

A Moveable Feast: Coffee and wine and beer, oh my

To tide you over until I can pull all the Assisi photos together for posts on Monday and Tuesday, here are some shots of the many wonderful beverages you’ll find as you travel across Italy.

This is, of course, just a sampling of what we had. Multiply what you see here by 13, the number of days were were traveling. Even on the plane (Alitalia), wine is free and free-flowing. It’s a beautiful thing. So many beverages, so little time. Read more

A Moveable Feast: Enchanted by Siena

When I put Siena on our pilgrimage itinerary, it was mainly because I wanted to visit the church where St. Catherine of Siena’s head rests. (The rest of her body is at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome, and I had already been there. I wanted to be able to say I had seen ALL of her.) Anyway, that was the motivation for making sure we had at least a half-day in the city of Siena, but, oh, once we got there, how I wished we had more time.

I loved Siena. It was so much more manageable than Florence — quieter, not as crowded, fewer panhandlers and potential pickpockets, more medieval. I could stay in Siena for a few days and just soak up Italian life from my seat at an outdoor cafe in Piazza del Campo. Read more

My dinner with Billy: HUGE!

So Dennis and I were having dinner at Caffe Italia in Albany (worthy of its own blog post another time) after a long day of driving to and from Burlington for a college visit with Noah. As we sipped our wine and waited for our entrees, Dennis looked over at a back table and said, “That guy looks like Billy Fuccillo.” (If you live in upstate New York, this man needs no introduction. If you don’t, you’ll understand the fascination when you watch the video clip below.) Anyway, once we heard his voice, we knew it was, in fact, Billy Fuccillo, and I said, “I’m not leaving here without taking a photo with him.” Read more

A Moveable Feast: A day in Florence

I had waited to go to Florence for a long time, since I took an art history class in college, since I read E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View and then fell totally in love with Florence after seeing the wonderful movie adaptation of that book (starring one of my favorite actresses, Helena Bonham Carter). So when we arrived in Florence on the first full day of our pilgrimage and came out of one of those fantastic little Italian alley-like streets to find ourselves in front of the Duomo, I just stopped in my tracks. Really. Read more

What are you feeding – fear or joy?

I originally wrote this post in January, but I came across it this morning when I was looking for something else. It was exactly what I needed to hear today, so now you have to hear it again too. Who knows? Maybe someone else out there needs to hear it today as well. Here you go…

I’ve been ruminating on this topic — What are you feeding? — for a while in my private time because I think it’s a pretty big deal. If we feed our fears, if we feed our anxiety, if we feed relationships with people who don’t really care about us or, even worse, make us feel “less than,” we throw a spark on the dead leaves lying around on our spiritual doorstep. Eventually it becomes a raging forest fire of self-doubt or unhappiness and, if we’re not careful, it will siphon off all the energy that should be feeding the good things in our lives. Read more

A Moveable Feast: finding family far from home

It’s been almost three weeks since I returned from Italy, and I still haven’t managed to write any posts about the experience or trade my Euro for U.S. currency. That changes today. Well, the writing part does, at least. I’m holding onto the Euro as seed money for the next pilgrimage.  I’ll try to serve up several Moveable Feast posts in days to come about various cities and favorite moments from our fabulous pilgrimage. To get us started, here’s my latest Life Lines column…

It’s interesting how, even when we’re far from our loved ones and friends, we often find ways to create family right where we are, without blood connections, without a shared history. Whether we’re students living in a college dormitory, workers temporarily assigned to a far-off location, or pilgrims traveling in a strange land, we tend to seek out community, a place where we feel accepted and protected, or at least a little less alone. Read more

What would you change about your body?

I saw this last night on a friend’s Facebook page (Thanks, Flo) and had to share. It’s another one of those things that just hit home. It reminded me of the many conversations I’ve had surrounding my book Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God.

When adults are asked what they would change about their bodies, the lists go on and on. We are so hard on ourselves. When children are asked the same question, well, they wish for things like mermaid tails and teleportation. Today I challenge you to see yourself with the eyes of a child. What fantastic feature would you add? Or maybe you wouldn’t change a thing. How refreshing would it be to feel that way? These kids will show you how.