Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Cloud!

I am trying to switch my MAC computers over to a new operating system called "The Cloud" which is cloudy to me at this point. My printer seems not to have been taken along in the transition. I am making a change and for now things are not going so smoothly. I have moments where I long for the older system. It functioned well enough for me. What to do?

I could get angry, and resentful, all of which would change nothing about my computer issues. I accept this situation as it is right now. I made an appointment at the Apple store to see someone who can enlighten me as to what to do next and how to do it. Maybe the problem will get fixed right there. I know from the past that all these electronic issues do get resolved. I also know that anger and self-pity never contributed one bit to the solution, but sure did give me a lot of stress.

When there is change in your life, caused by you or others, what is your response? You are not responsible for your first thoughts. They just come. The second thoughts are where the solution lies in order to live a life of some peace in the Presence of Truth. If my computer problems are my worse event today, I am having a good day. I am just not getting my way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I believe

Why did we drop the "We believe" and now say "I believe" if we are in a communal mass setting? Good question. The creed is what was said for me when I was baptized. I was baptized into a community. I go to mass to pray with the community, the Body of Christ in the local church. But I was not baptized at the same time as anyone else. We are all baptized one by one even at an Easter Vigil of adults. So here at the mass when I profess the creed I am placing myself at the point of the baptismal font. Here I am saying that "I" do believe. It is said for the individual infant baptized or said by the adult when baptized. It is my recommitment.

When I say "I believe" I say it for myself, my commitment. I cannot speak for anyone else. We may be the Body of Christ, but we are individual believers in that body. The hand does not speak for the eye.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I have been away from my office computer in Boulder for two months. I am trying to update it. It seems that I am getting a little lost in what is new and what I can use and what I cannot use due to the age of my computer. So far I am a bit confused, but being patient. The battery in my wireless keypad corroded. So I had to get a new keypad before I could do anything on my computer. Patience. I don't seem to have control in my office here in Boulder.

When I am away from God, is it not the same results? I try to get updated with God, but God may not be cooperating with my life style. If I ignore God for several months, or even days, stuff happens in the relationship, no? My soul corrodes, get stuck. I think I need a new soul! It is better if I stay in touch with God and my computer on a more regular basis. It is not good to be out of touch with God that is for sure. I may have to travel and be away form my office computer, but I am never away from God in my travels...unless I choose to do so. Then I suffer.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


On the airplane I wait for the attendant to come along with the peanuts and ask if I would like something to drink. I wait with some expectation. I look forward to it. I know that it will happen any minute now.

On the other hand I wait for the church roof to be repaired. I do not wait with any expectation. I have no idea when it will happen. I dread the inconvenience it causes while we are unable to make use of the church for our worship services. I expect the worse. I expect endless delays.

Which one of these two ways of waiting approximates my waiting for the return of the Glorified Christ? I mean, I am waiting, yes?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Church Speak

In the monastery when we pray the psalms in chant, we are not seeking information, or moral instruction or even a good feeling, though any one of these may happen at any one prayer. The wording of the prayers are not in the ordinary syntax or cadence of our rather blunt direct way of talking. That way of talking gives information or conveys a mood. Psalm chant is to transform me. Our communal way of praying is to open me to God's transforming grace that will bring forth my potential to be another Christ.

At it's best, this is what the new prayers and actions of the revised Roman Missal are trying to do. The prayers are at times more poetic, less direct, and more of them are chanted. "But chant is not natural to our way of praying," we say in rebuttal. Precisely. The mass is group/communal prayer that is supposed to be different from the way we pray privately. Communal prayer in the mass is part of this attempt to be more open to being transformed by grace. You do things that you don't normally do. You chant.

I go to the monastery to pray in a very different fashion than when alone or at a parish mass. At first it is a stretch, but day by day I grow into it. The words are not all that logical in their patterns. Some seem archaic, and they are. They are from Latin prayers. I am praying to God in a certain pattern that is supposed to open me to being moved by how they are chanted and in what tone. God already knows what I need. Our monastery prayer is not "chat time" with God. I can do that alone.

All the monks buy in to this prayer. Everyone chants together. This is what makes the process work. If one monk leads the prayer but everyone else stands there mute and disliking the process, it won' t work. There are a bunch of conspiracy theories about why the Church changed the mass. Who knows? I simply give the reason why I buy in.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Go see the movie "Hugo" in 3D. It is wonderful. Each of us is necessary. Each of us has a purpose. Grace is at work to help us find our purpose even when many things seem to be working against us. God is a grace in my life, who has made me with no unneeded parts. All of me has a purpose as I am now. If I am open, I will be shown my purpose. Maybe I am supposed to fix someone or some situation? Go see "Hugo."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful

Today is a day to focus on being Thankful. It is a good day for gratitude. All was going well until I found out that my great clothing buy yesterday was trumped by an even lower price on Black Friday. The problem is not price, but rather greed and control. I have greed, but not control. As long as I need these things to be satisfied, I will never be in a place of gratitude or thankfulness.

The good news is that God points this out to me. We have a laugh. I hope God is laughing and not keeping track of my ongoing shortcomings. So now I am thankful that my faults do not ruin the day for those around me. We enjoyed a wonderful family dinner. I made delicious gravy. Turkey without gravy, now that would make for a bad day! If I wait for everything to go my way before I say "Thank You God" I will never say thank you. A life with no gratitude is pretty miserable. Are you grateful today? If you got the really best Black Friday deals, I hope it was a Christmas present for me!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Red Wednesday

The department stores made no money from my purchases today. There were great sales. I saw some clothes and said, " This is so cheap, I can't NOT buy it." Every great while I go to these chain clothing stores and they are practically giving it away. Today is that lucky day for me. Who needs Black Friday? But I need to have hope and a willingness to go to my mall.

Is this not what prayer is all about? Every day God is ready to give me a great deal. I get love for free. All I need to do is show up. Take time out to pray and I may experience this love, presence, companionship. If I had spent as much time at prayer as I did at Century City Mall in LA today, I could have bought heaven! For free. The Kingdom is in my midst. I don't even have to travel freeways to get there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Airplane Community

I am going to LA to have Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. Southwest Airlines you choose your seat when you get on the plane. I chose a seat by the window,but had to climb over an elderly woman who sat on the aisle. There was a middle seat between us. She began to mutter to herself. She fumbled with the seat belt. The belt was winning. She got into a coughing fit. She complained to a fellow passenger that her "hat" had been mussed by that passenger. She wanted water before we even left the ground. She grabbed for the peanut and pretzel tray as it passed by.

I made a judgment. It wasn't nice. Then I realized that she too is a child of God, loved by God. She is doing the best she can with what wits she has about her. I reached over and put on her overhead light that she could not reach. I prayed for her. We are fellow siblings of God our Father. When we got off the plane she stood, stooped a bit, in the jetway. There was no wheelchair waiting for her. When I got out of the jetway I told a Southwest attendant that an elderly woman in the jetway needed a wheelchair. The attendant thanked me and said she would attend to her.

With the right attitude we can be kind. Judgments help no one.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Creation was something new for God, a first time event. Before creation, nothing could hurt God. God decided to birth the world and give it freedom. God became vulnerable. I have fee will. I can disobey. I can ignore God. Do my own thing. God will still love me. God became vulnerable by giving me birth.

When I was younger I was told that God could not be hurt. God did not suffer. God was not supposed to be the least affected by my bad behavior. How could God love me and not be vulnerable, hurt by my ignoring God? To love someone who has free will is to open yourself to being hurt. A parent knows this. Do we not call God Father? Or if you prefer, Mother? I tend to feel more sorry, contrite about offending God when I think that God is actually affected, becomes sad, has the God-heart pierced by my willfulness. When I think about God the Parent who gave me life and loves me, it is harder to be bad. Try it sometime.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Last night I had dinner with old friends who I had not seen in several years. It was a wonderful and fulfilling time. But earlier in the day I was feeling tired and thought about the fact that I would not get to bed my usual time. it was raining out and I had to go to someone's house on a bus to then get a ride to where we were all meeting. Whining! Part of me, the insane part, just wanted to hunker down in my room and stay home. Thank God, I did not listen to that.

Is not prayer a visit with an old friend? At times, I say, "I am too tired. I am too busy." To ignore the invitation to be with my God is insane. Prayer does mean that I will not get to do everything that my head tells me to do. Prayer shortens the list of accomplishments completed each day. Where is prayer on your priority list?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Fantasy is a commercial that interrupts our being present to the moment. It interrupts our real life. Real life is a process of becoming awakened to who we truly are in God's plan. God made me a unique image of God. My ego says I am unique, but that is not the same thing. A life run on ego will be full of fantasy, as well as resentment, whining, self-centeredness, and selfish willfulness. An awakened life will be Love, but with a cross. Awakened I am less selfish. I am concerned about the world beyond my plans. I am of service which might inconvenience me. So there is the cross when I love.

I think fantasy is ultimately the way of the cowardly and lazy person. It is so easy to let go to the imagination to set me free from the struggles's and the hard work of real life, of the process of transformation. Television reality shows feed fantasy. They are anything but reality for the viewer. Hollywood is the ultimate fantasy feeder. A little escape now and again can be refreshing. Just know that it is only a refreshment, not the main course.

The End

On this date, 41 years ago, I was terminated from a company for whom I worked in San Francisco. I cried, begged for my job, and was frightened of being unemployed, alone in San Francisco with no family. The first thing I did was go out of the office with my belongings and tell my friends that I had quit. I could not admit to my mess.

It was the beginning of the end for me in corporate business. Within the next two years, past one more job, that I really did quit, I joined the Paulist Fathers and am still a Paulist priest. I write this from San Francisco, from the Church I used to attend when a corporate working bachelor. Such a good thing came out of what seemed like such a bad thing for me.

God showed me only bits and pieces of the journey as it unfolded. Now, when my life looks like it may not be working out so well, I trust that I am only seeing a piece of a larger picture. Be in a fit spiritual condition on a daily basis, and I will be able to live in the present without the fear and anxiety or loneliness that used to plague me when I was "lost."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Be Veronica

When Jesus was carrying his cross to Calvary, he met a woman named Veronica. She wiped his sweaty, dirty face with a cloth or veil. Then he went on. A brief moment, a small gesture, and no words. But the encounter is still remembered today. We can be Veronicas. Do a small gesture of comfort for someone who is having a tough time. Veronica had a veil, so she use it to do something practical, but also expressive of her compassion. I could take the hand of an elderly, lonely person, and smile. There is never too little time for small gestures. I can put a piece of chocolate on the desk of the Administratrix at the parish office. We all want to know someone cares and we are not doing the moment in isolation.

Somehow, texting doesn't qualify. Think of Veronica, sitting in her coffee shop on the Via Dolorosa. She sees Jesus passing by with his cross. Rather than get up and go out to him, lose her table space, or stop whatever she is doing with gadgets, she sends him a text, "Thinking of you. Sorry you are having a bad day." Spare me.

Monday, November 14, 2011


What if you saw ads that said, "Drink, Drink, Drink, Alcohol!" You might think this a bit strange or even dangerous. We know that alcohol can be an addiction. It must be done in moderation and for some people, not at all. Well, "Black Friday" is coming. Stores hope to go into the black or profit side for the year, beginning with the Friday after Thanksgiving. Spending is encouraged. You have no money? Buy on credit and pay later. If you don't spend on gifts for you or others, than what will happen to our economy?

Our economy is based upon addiction. First, we want you to feel uncomfortable. Either you don't have something or you don't have enough of something. Or you can win love or avoid disapproval, by buying someone else something even if they do not need it. Shop and buy in order to chase away the discomfort.

Christmas is no longer a time for Jesus. It is a time for addictive behavior. People who don't even believe in Jesus get into the addictive shopping. We train our children in greed and self-implosion, if not in a false way of finding happiness. We buy them lots of stuff they don't really need. Maybe we need "Shoppers Anonymous" meetings with 12 steps. Of course most people don't feel they are out of control...not until the bills come in. January is always a good time for recovery.

Oh, don't forget Fr. Ryan at Christmas! I guess I need to work on hypocrisy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

HOMILY Mt. 25: 14-30

We all have talents. I don't have all the talents of another person and in some cases, I share a talent, but not to the same degree as another person. I am baptized. I received 12 fruits and 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. Every baptized person gets them. So we all get fortitude, but I may have more fortitude than another person because that is God's plan for me. I will need lots of fortitude to be all that God made me to be. Someone else does not need so much fortitude, but they may need more prudence.

Let us not compare and contrast ourselves with another person. Some of us are better at math than others. They may have a call to be a scientist. I do not have that call. My job is to use the gifts I have to the best of my ability. To live life in some minimal way, or out of fear, is to do ourselves much damage. In the gospel, the fellow who got the one talent, he was paralyzed by fear, so he buried the money.

When I ask, "What is the least I need to get by?" I am going down the road of sloth and maybe immorality. In business, a person may ask the legal department what can they do to satisfy their own greed, and self-centeredness, yet stay within the law. This is immoral but it may be legal. As a baptized person, I am gifted to do the "right thing," which comes out of my sense of oneness with all other people. This is called the way of the cross.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Religion as morality

The students at Penn State who rallied in favor of their coach being reinstated might be based upon the thinking of many that all we need to do is what is legally correct or necessary. There is no moral high ground here. "What is the moral thing to do," is not their issue. These students will go on to work in business and industry. Will they think only of what their legal responsibilities are? Their morality is "Don't break the secular law." This is what happens when we dump religion as an ethical system. Jesus challenges us to live the moral high ground and not to simply do whatever the secular law permits. We do things we don't have to do, that might even cost us. That is why we bless ourselves. We must remember the cross.

Friday, November 11, 2011


If I wake up and immediately begin thinking about me, this is usually not good. Why? Self-acceptance does not usually come with first thoughts about me. Self-acceptance dampens fear, anxiety, worry, whining, and self-pity. So If this is the plate I have, I push it away and do two other things. One, I think about what I have when I wake up. There is a God who loves me. I have faith, some health, a place to sleep and eat. I have work. Somebody likes me. I begin now to have gratitude. So, two, I think of how I can be useful this day. What can I do for others? With the gratitude that I have, I do not now see service as a burden, in which I would feel resentful or sorry for myself. I am not burdened with the early morning mass, rather I have the opportunity to say mass.

Then there is always coffee!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The New Religion

Football has replaced the Catholic Church as the new religion. Penn State messed up on child sex abuse. Lets see what happens. When the Catholic church messes up, the judge says the church can be sued for a priest's mess. The lawyers go after the Church for money. Priests are immediately taken out of their jobs.

Now look at Penn State. A lawyer passes a state bar exam. His/her license is to practice in that state. What lawyer, who would like to continue to work in PA, would sue the flagship university? How many friends and business contacts would a person keep who was known to have successfully sued and thereby taken lots of $$$ from Penn State and its football program? Students are rallying around the coach. Anyone rallying around a bishop?

Football is revered. The stadium is the new cathedral and services are on Saturdays. You eat and drink a lot. Community is celebrated as the athletes and coaches are the gods before whom they bow. Don't mess with their religion. There will be a measured response to safeguard the "program" of winning football games and gathering the $$$.

Tell me it is a level playing field, the Church and Penn State or whatever other secular god you happen to find. It is not a level playing field. The Church is scorned. Penn State football is beloved. Watch this play out. Oh, and lets hope this is an isolated situation and no other football program anywhere in the country is right now shaking in its cleats.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A nearby gem

I went out to dinner tonight with some friends. They live in the suburbs. They came downtown to my neighborhood in San Francisco to take me out to eat. They found a wonderful restaurant, French, in an alley two blocks from where I live. I do not recall ever seeing the alley much less the restaurant. It was a wonderful dinner in a very nice setting.

Why did I not know about this place so close to where I live? I get set in my routines, my normalcy, the walk routes that I take, the places I go. I become blind to the "New" right under my nose. Something is always there in front of me, but I cannot see it, because I am not looking, or open to it.

Has your spiritual life become so institutionalized, so routine, that you no longer can see what is right in front of you? When religion is young, fresh, new, it is open, questioning and searching. Then it becomes institutionalized. It does not question. It answers. It is not open. It is closed in upon itself. It does not search. It has, power, control.

Monday, November 7, 2011


So I read where in one country with a lot of people, mostly Catholic, the Church leaders say that the reason for poverty is not overpopulation, but mismanagement and bad government. This implies to me, that this government cannot help these many people, but that if the government were better managed, then there would be plenty of work, housing, income, education for all the people.

Does anyone expect a bad government to get better? If the government stays the same, and continues to do the same inefficient job for the vast population of people, then what might have to change to deal with poverty? Lots of people already leave that country to go get a better life elsewhere. That still leaves a lot of people. There might be another solution here, but I doubt that the church wants to go there.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I love this saying, "We must try to make it easier for people to love us." Some people will try to please others, so as to get love. This is desperate manipulation. Some are co-dependent, enablers.

I try to take an inventory of my behavior at the end of the day. I have a list of well-ingrained faults that I review. I see where I keep falling down. It can bring some humility and my sense of need for Grace. In the morning I ask for the Grace to not fall into these faults or bad habits. At times, I catch myself during the day, in the midst of bad behavior or about to go down a familiar road of perdition. I often stop and note what is going on with me, but don't act out so badly if at all. When I behave better in the midst of others, then I am "making it easier for people to love me."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Spiritual Experience

My sister and I were talking about why some of our friends who went to Catholic schools no longer believe in God. I don't mean that they dropped out of the Church, but that they actually don't believe in God as we were taught it. Why do I still believe might also be a question?

I think that in many cases bad things happen in a person's life, such as sickness, loss of child, job, lack of a love life, and so on. We were taught that God is loving and has power. So why did all this mess happen? It does not compute. Must be no God or at least not one that can help me. I wonder if these people who stop believing, have never had a vital spiritual experience of God such that they believe even when mess happens.

For me God became a relationship of person to person. It is a felt presence at many times. I am out of sorts if I go more than a couple of days without checking in for some quiet time together. The experience goes beyond a reasoned belief in God. Faith that is merely reasonable will fail us when bad things happen. There must be a deeper experience of being loved in spite of all that happens in our lives. Catholic school can only appeal to reason. They can take us to mass, but there is no guarantee that we will have a sufficient spiritual experience of Presence to carry us through the rough times.

Friday, November 4, 2011

An App For God-Talk

I just read that there are apps for getting a date. No need to go to bars or singles events. Just punch into you smart phone where you are and what you want. For example, you are visiting a town where you have some work. You come out of the office and you would like to meet a single person to have a drink. Punch this into your smart phone, and back comes names of people nearby who are wanting to do the same thing at that moment. I think it is for a boy meets girl thing.

But what about an app for someone like me who finishes a day at the office or church, and wants to talk with someone about God, the spiritual life, the Catholic Church. Would it not be nice to put this info into my smart phone, if I had a smart phone, and then someone might be nearby and ready for such a conversation? God is always available for conversation. It is called prayer. There are some requirements. One, I have to let go of the God I want, and be open to the God who shows up. Two, I have to be able to listen. Some people say that their God just loves to listen to them, even when they complain, whine, and plead. That is not the God that shows up in my life. How about you? Have you pre-programed your God? Bet it is not much of a date.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I have an image of what purgatory is all about for me. I am the petulant child that wants things my way. I get into all kinds of messes due to selfishness, fear, control issues, resentments at how things don't go my way, and addictive behavior in the above or other areas.

Jesus comes along with the soap and water, maybe some very strong soap. He rolls up his sleeves. I don't want a bath. I resist what is good for me. Jesus wants to wash all this mess off of and out of me. Baptism was the first attempt. Then confirmation and then the rest of the sacraments including my ordination to the priesthood. But I die with lots of mess and don't even know better that I need to be bathed again. Jesus gets into the tub with me and gets all wet too, just to clean me up. Eventually, I see that being clean is the better way. After I am all cleaned up, Jesus presents me to the Father. The soap and water is the Holy Spirit.

Would it not be nicer if I could get cleaned up in this life? It is called transformation. Need a bath in the Spirit?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The New Translation

I just finished reading a spin on how wonderful the new prayer translations are. I don't necessarily understand the prayers, but at least I know why they are written the way they are written. My question is: "How does all this help evangelization or renewal? Will it keep teens in the church?"

I don't get the sense that this is a focus of the translation changes. It has the feel that some people in the hierarchy have given up on renewing those on the edges, and decided to make the prayers agreeable to a certain nostalgic group. It may not be a church for everyone, but it sure will be a church for the few. If it were not for the Latinos coming into the country, we would be aware of a big drop off of English mass attendance. The few will celebrate. The many will scratch their heads if they show up at all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Burden

At times, I am made aware of my most grievous faults. I feel a sense of shame and guilt. This awareness usually comes when I am doing some spiritual reading. I suddenly realize how precious and loving Jesus is. I had been ignoring him, or committing the fault upon which the writer is focused. I am ashamed at how thankless and thoughtless I am.

It all seems like such a burden that weighs me down at that moment. Cannot someone come and lift this burden from me and carry it on their shoulders? Oh, wait. Someone did that. The place was Calvary. Love the one on the Cross and stop focusing on my wretchedness. Well, this is turning out to be a pretty good day.