Three things

Here are three things to ponder while waiting for the Stanley Cup playoffs to awaken from sabbatical and the Celtics to prove they are not a one-man team.

The Draft

There’s no accounting for taste, especially where it concerns sporting appetites. Hence there’s no explaining the odd obsession with this annual dragooning of college football fodder into the gristmills of the National Football League. Although it could be argued this proves that as a nation we may have too much time on our hands.

It’s been happening every spring since Jay Berwanger became the very first “number one”; plucked by Bert Bell, boss of the Philadelphia Eagles, in 1936. A distinguished scholar from the University of Chicago as well as a gifted scatback, Berwanger chose instead to become a teacher, which indicates how much has changed in the intervening three-quarters of a century. For openers the august University of Chicago no longer plays football.

But the college draft has remained a constant and the infatuation is still growing. In concert with ever conniving and grasping ESPN, the NFL now accords the draft show near Soupey Sunday stature, heresy though that may seem. Where not so long ago the draft was a leisurely Tuesday morning exercise conducted on a telephone hook-up while bored-silly sports scribes gnawed on chicken wings and potato chips it now demands daylong drum rolls leading up to wall to wall analysis by battalions of pundits. Live coverage this year exceeded 18 hours, well more than any of the networks accorded the national political conventions last summer.

Leading this parade is the most improbable of Pied Pipers, the bombastic super football-nerd and unsinkable motor mouth Mel Kiper Jr. whose exercise in self-parody may just be a work of genius in disguise. Every year I am astounded by the nuttiness of the thing and every year I watch. These are lean times. Even the Mel Kipers among us deserve work.

It remains the official policy of this space to desist from any comment, about which teams did or did not do well in this annual turkey shoot, 95 percent of the chattel on the auction block being lads you’ve never heard of let alone seen. The presumption that our resident strawboss, Bill Belichick, conducted the business brilliantly holds. If he did not, his legend will take a hit because this was his first time in the war room without Scott Pioli propping him up.

Boss Bill’s machinations led to more picks being used for trades than for players with a couple of his choices being termed “reaches” by the savants. But when in doubt who should we trust in these matters; the reclusive wizard of Foxborough or old motor mouth. We assume six foot eight inch, 318 pound, Sebastian Vollmer is another Bruce Armstrong until proven otherwise.

And we can further assume Maestro Belichick would never have sprung for that bloated five for one deal the Jets concocted to snare the first-round rights to hotshot Mark Sanchez. For a late blooming, little-known, college quarterback with only 16 games of experience the Boss will pay nothing more than a sixth-round pick.

On class acts

If the Bruins revival has many nice features none surpasses the rise to eminence of the coach, Claude Julien; your basic salt of the earth hockey man. He comes from a distinctive breed, the type of character we used to say you would want next to you in a foxhole. Such references don’t have quite the cachet they once had. But in hockey they still speak to something highly admirable.

The suspicion here persists that this Bruins team is not quite of championship caliber and has played beyond itself all season, entirely a tribute to this coach and his staff. In his two seasons here this has been a dutiful, disciplined, mature team; remarkably so for one having so many youngsters in key roles. It’s a team that makes no waves off the ice and plays with purpose on it. It’s not clear the talent is sufficient. They remain a long shot in these playoffs. But if they don’t go all the way it won’t be because they’ve lacked preparation or direction or lost their cool or been out-coached.

After serving 20 years beating the bushes of hockey’s vast and thankless hinterland -- experiencing only the grand total of 14 games in the NHL with the Nordiques in all that time -- it’s downright joyful to see a constant and faithful character like Julien finally have his hour.

The Bruins, likely, were his last chance. He had failed in Montreal where anything less than Cup contention every year is unacceptable. If such royalty as Guy Carbonneau and Bob Gainey are now adjudged failures what chance did Claude Julien have? He was also deemed a failure in New Jersey although how or why remains mystifying. His team led his conference when he was canned, presumably for failing to meet the fierce expectations of fiery Lou Lamoriello, boss of the Devils.

Two jobs and two strikes and probably only one more chance. Yet he never complained, never faulted anyone, never remarked about the apparent unfairness of it all, nor hinted to the slightest chagrin. It’s the mark of the Centurion and in hockey that commands tremendous respect. Which is why the reaction to his sudden success in Boston is so warm among the lodge brothers of this intensely insular and deeply bonded game. One suspects it will get warmer.

On institutional memory: (Or more precisely, the lack thereof)

The thought is raised by the recent death of two very special sportsmen. Or more precisely, the tepid reaction to the passings of Mark “the Bird” Fidrych and Felix “Doc” Blanchard.

They, of course, had nothing in common coming from different worlds and representing very different attitudes and values to very different generations. But each spoke with a kind of eloquence about the things that were good about the games they played, giving them special meaning. You can’t say that about many chaps.

As a local lad whose works were more recent, “Bird” stirred the greater memories and they were all good even though his story was bittersweet for his time in the sun was too brief. Have the baseball gods no sense of humor? You sometimes wonder.

Bird was a creation of Ring Lardner; a noble innocent, rather too good to be true. If he was a child of the mid-70s, he actually belonged to a simpler time. His great gift was to remind us how joyful just being young and alive and “one with the ball” could be. We needed the lesson. Bird was baseball’s Johnny Appleseed.

Blanchard, on the other hand, was a much more classical hero. He and his stylish backfield buddy, Glen Davis, were the leaders of West Point’s thundering herd of a mighty football team that captured the national imagination in the waning days of World War II and first rhapsodic days that followed.

That “brave old Army team” was called, quite in the spirit of the times, “the Black Knights of the Hudson” and none stood more ram-rod straight than young Doc, out of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi’s St. Stanislaus High. If you were a kid at the time, the Doc seemed chiseled from a rugged bluff in the Badlands.

The affable Davis -- more the epitome of “the Saturday Hero” -- dated Elizabeth Taylor, did his minimum service time, and went on to have good years with the Los Angeles Rams. But Blanchard, to the last the Eagle Scout who bought into the whole package, would have none of that.

Though the top pick in the ’47 draft (by the Steelers), he politely walked away and embarked on a 24 year career in the Army Air Corps which included combat missions in both Korea and Vietnam. At the age of 47, Colonel Blanchard made his last bomber run over Hanoi and Haiphong. Had the army a sharper sense of public relations they would have made the Doc at least a Brigadier General.

The Doc and the Bird! Were they not the glory of their times?

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...