Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Stamps

A person enters the post office the day after Christmas.
"Do you have any Christmas stamps left?"
"No." says the clerk. "We only have Madonna and Child  stamps."
When did Madonna and child NOT be a Christmas stamp?  On the side of the clerk, she might have thought that the person asking was so secular as to be looking for stamps with Santa, reindeers or trees with lights.  How far away from Christ can Christmas get?

Sunday, December 30, 2012


I have a friend who writes. Writing is a way in which Alice is Alice.  To not write would be to lose something of her soul.  She writes far better than I, and even makes a little money at it to keep her in the simple lifestyle she can afford.  Alice lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere.  This the price she pays to be rich in silence and solitude, free of distractions and noise as do many a writer of spiritual vision.  People sometimes wonder why Jesus lived so long in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Nazareth, if he was the Son of God.  Well, I think my friend Alice might have the answer.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gave Her All

Rhonda is the music director and pretty much the liturgist for the parish where I presided at Christmas masses.  She has a beautiful voice.  I had three masses on Christmas Eve.  By the time I got to Mid-night mass, I wondered if I would fall asleep during one of the readings.  But I did not, nor did I give my all.  Rhonda gave her all, much like Mary did, to bring Christ into the world for us.  Rhonda had lost her beautiful voice by the time Mid-night mass came around.  She could not even talk.  That same voice, at the earlier masses that evening, had helped to bring a sense of Christ into my life and that of the congregation.  Without Mary and Rhonda, strong women, would there be a Jesus for us today?  The Church can ordain all the men it wants.  Without women, we are just a men's club with its frills and status.  That won't fill the manger.  No one comes to Christmas mass for an empty manger.  Thank you Rhonda, Mary, and the many women who give their all for Christ to be born into our lives day after day.

Friday, December 28, 2012


I was quickly checking my email on Christmas day, when I came upon an electronic card sent to me.  It was from someone I had not heard from in about 15 years.  It was a wow moment!  It came out of the blue.  She is someone I knew, and knew me, before I became "Father" to so many people.  It is precious to keep in my life the people who remind me of who I am without title or status or job.  Her card told me of how she saw me, rather than how I saw myself when I was younger, much younger.  She was thanking all those people who taught her how to love.  What a Christmas gift for me!  I too often dwell on my shortcomings.  I recalled myself as a bit self-imploded and selfish.  She remembers me as loving.  Do we not all need friends to help keep us in a balance about who we really are?  Maybe I am too close to myself to really know myself?  Anyway, the past can sometimes be a gift, depending on who brings it to me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Breakfast Treat

What a treat I enjoyed on Christmas morning!  The pastor made me bacon and eggs breakfast.  In all my years here, I don't recall him ever making me breakfast, nor making himself bacon and eggs.  It was a very good breakfast too.  Christmas is a time when people seem to be at their best.  This is why it is especially tragic and shocking to hear about the evil and mayhem that some people do to one another on this day.  I wonder if people get very upset and deeply saddened at Christmas because they have such high expectations that are not met.  The joy of my breakfast treat is that it was so unexpected.  Was not the birth of Jesus similarly unexpected?  This is part of the joy, no? It is for me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Christmas Day I awoke at 10:00 AM.  This is late for me, but I had the Mid-night mass the evening before, as well as two other masses on Christmas Eve.  It took me to about noon to get myself together.  No prayer.  Just breakfast and getting dressed.  I wrote some thank you cards and walked to the post office to mail them.  No prayer yet.  I called relatives.  I went to visit friends and had a wonderful Christmas dinner, actually two dinners.  No prayer. I came home and went to bed.  "Oops," I said to God.  I had not prayed on this very holy day.  I thanked God for friends, for my priesthood, for his birth, and said tomorrow I will do better.  I hope on his birthday, God can cut me some slack.  At least I remembered that I forgot to pray.  I hope this counts for something.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Off Stage

You go to the theatre and see a wonderful acting performance.  The performers are so talented and so good at what they do.  You think that you could never do that.  Well, those actors spent a great deal more time off stage learning and practicing their craft.  At one time, they were inept. But they had two important qualities: to want to be an actor, and to be willing to practice and fail every day.  At first it was mostly failure as they began to learn their craft. Lots of mistakes were made and criticism was leveled by teachers.  But they did not give up.  What you see today on stage is the result.

The Gospel is only what you see on stage.  Most of the story takes place off stage where you do not hear about it.  On stage, Mary says, "Yes," to the angel Gabriel and then rushes off on a difficult journey to be helpful to her cousin Elizabeth who is old and pregnant for the first time.  At an earlier time in her life, Mary could not have done this.  But she had two things: the desire to do God's will, and the consistency to practice this in small things.  She failed some, at first, just like our actor friends.  But in time she got better at doing God's will and becoming kind and helpful.  What we see in the Gospel is the result.

It is the same with us.  Do we want to do God's will?  Yes?  Then practice doing little kindnesses at first.  You may mess up.  In time you will get better.  You need too things: the desire and the consistency of practice.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Options To Aloneness

When I ask someone why they are against gay unions, I am often told it is "because this is what the church teaches."  Well, the church teaches lots of stuff, such as being against Capital Punishment, but many Catholics believe in such a thing.  I wonder if the outsider, the heterosexual, has some other reason.  Regardless, isn't someone who cannot have a partner, a life long love, left with loneliness as the option?  I quote one gay person that might make you think.  He said, "I believed that aloneness was my nature as a gay person."  Then he met someone.  It brought him out of isolation.  He said, "By giving my heart to one, I could give my heart to others."  His relationship helped him become a more loving person to the larger world.  He is a Catholic by the way.  How many heterosexual couples trundle off to their gated communities, special neighborhoods, to protect themselves from the world out there?  Doesn't the word, "Catholic" have something to do with making whole, with bringing differences together?  It makes me think.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Visitation

Mary was a believer when the angel announced to her that she was to become the Mother of Jesus by the power of the Spirit.  That is a pretty big leap of faith.  Then she did something curious.  She took off from home to go be with her elderly, pregnant cousin, Elizabeth.  Why?  Well, I meet lots of people who have faith, of sorts, in dogma mostly, but who do only what suits them in good deeds department.  It allows for belief without real change of heart.  Why do you think there are so many people who call themselves believers, who would not go out of their way, or give up something for the sake of those who have much less, the truly poor.  Mary went out of her way, gave up her comforts, and familiar surroundings, to go and be of service to someone who was in need.  This really is the only way to bring Christ to birth in our secular, gated community world, is it not?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Manger

Why did God come as a baby, and not in power and majesty?  If God came in power would we not all be blown away and become believers?  Yes, but.  Would we change?  I suspect God knew more about out human nature than we did.  Have you never had a powerful experience, falling in love, a sunset/sunrise, an entertainment/cultural high moment, but in time you just returned to your old selfish self?  Change, to be ongoing, is hard and daily work.  We would like spiritual highs, but do not really want to let go of the things that give us pleasure or make us feel good/better.  We want to feel good, but not necessarily do good.  I know this for myself.  God came with a lack of power and control.  Maybe real change comes for me when I realize that, left to my own devices, left to myself, I have no real power to change for the better.  Bad habits are easy to do. That is why they are called habits.  A good habit starts with one great effort to reverse the bad, but the bad will predominate for a while.  We need lots of help to keep up that one good action on a daily basis.  I have found it to be so.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Abusive Language

The Vatican abuses the English language.  58% of priests in the USA who are English speaking as their first language, are of the opinion that the new translations of prayers for the mass are poorly written.  The Vatican simply does not understand the USA.  This is an example.  The translations are bad English.  You can argue about the words used.  My point is that the English is bad grammar.  You could have figured this out by the third or fourth grade.  I abuse any language that I do not understand.  All of us do.  But it would be silly to ask someone like me to come up with a translation into a language  that I do not fully understand.   Actually, the priests are the only ones having a problem with the prayers.  The laity have pretty much stopped listening at mass.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Motive?

It is assumed that Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary school, had a dispassionate disconnection with the children he killed.  He did not relate to them, nor have any compassion for them.  Interesting when I hear this.  What if he felt that the world was a miserable place from which he wanted to depart?  It held no hope for him.  His future would be one continual darkness.  Then he went to the school to spare the children having to grow up in this world.  We may never know what snapped in him.  But I would be slow to assume the motive, if there was one.  I have never walked in his shoes.  Regardless, it is all very tragic, and the children and adults are all still very dead.

But what if you lose hope?  Then ever so slowly you will become something or someone that you never thought you would become.  Hope gets us out of bed many a day.  Someone who is slowly destroying themselves is called "Hopeless" right?  A drinking alcoholic is called a "hopeless drunk."  There is a reason for that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Someone said that if you see the world as doomed to injustice and tragedy, then you might just go about doing your best to get all you can for yourself out of every situation. A lot of people were turned off by John the Baptist and Jesus because of the Hope that John and Jesus had for the world.  Hope says that if I stop being so self-centered, so into getting stuff for me, and become more giving, sharing, and connected to my fellow traveler in this life, things might go better.

Did your hope take a beating in the Sandy Hook massacre?  Rage and despair might rule for now.  Grief for a much longer time.  But we can only make the world a better place with hope.  That is why it is the virtue wedged between faith and love.  Ya gotta believe, then hope follows, and then love. As least it seems that way to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Mess

God is with us in the mess.  This is the meaning of Incarnation.  God became human, a baby, with no more power than any other baby.  He came into a world full of evil.  He left the world and it was still full of evil.  I wanted God to change the world and make it free of evil.  Do I not wear a crucifix around my neck?  Make the sign of the cross?  God is present in my world, but there is still a lot of evil.  There is also a lot of mental disability too.  Maybe Herod suffered from such when he slaughtered all those babies in Bethlehem.  I rejoice that God is in the mess, but sad and frustrated that it is not all fixed up by God.  Maybe I am supposed to be part of the solution.  Well, I cannot fix mental illness, chemical imbalances in peoples' brains, but I can do what I can do, which is to love.  If I am not sure how to do that I can read Holy Scriptures in my faith or other religions to get some guide.  Then I will still face the cross.  But I will understand it better.  Without love, the cross makes one a sceptic.

Monday, December 17, 2012


The Third Sunday in Advent is supposed to have a theme of "rejoice" to it.  With the mass killing of children in a school this past Friday, it is a bit hard to rejoice.  Yet, it points out the kind of world into which Jesus was born.  He came with little protection.  he came into a world of much evil.  Did not Herod have slaughtered many children in Bethlehem in order to try and kill Jesus?  Children killed by mass crazed people are called "Holy Innocents."  The children killed last Friday are innocent and holy as children.  Jesus came to share the mess of our dangerous lives.  He did not come with power and authority.  He suffered because he would love in the midst of our mess and the evil we do to one another.

Legislators will talk about gun control for awhile, but what I can do more immediately, is make sure that I am loving at the same time that I am grieving.  John the Baptist encouraged people to be more just and kinder to one another as a first step to repentance.  I wonder when love stopped working in the life of the young man?  When did murder of innocent children become the solution?  We are not born this way.  Something happens along the way.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Baptist, A Warm Fuzzy

John the Baptist seems to me to be less demanding than Jesus, but we seem to think of Jesus as being more cuddly.  Jesus said, "Sell all you have and come follow me."  Not much wiggle room there.  But John did not say that to tax collectors and soldiers, who were thought to be in sinful professions by the people.  He told the tax collectors to limit what they collected.  They could still be tax collectors and did not have to follow him.  They would become good examples of repentant people waiting for the kingdom.  To the soldiers, John said be satisfied with their wages and not practice extortion.  They could still be soldiers.  People can still live in the world, but in John's view those who have more will have less, and those who have less will have more.  It kind of equals things out, a little bit like a reformed tax code might be in the USA today.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Shooter

I don't know what brings someone to go into a school and kill a lot of people.  There may be an immediate reason, that is, some issue at hand.  But why solve the issue with a gun?  We seem to make a lot of mindless movies and games for young people that have war, violence and killing on a massive scale.  I cannot prove that one has to do with the other.  I am just sayin'.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Travelin' Man

Well, I am back in town, and back in the USA.  I found Toronto to be quite an international city.  Everyone seemed to speak more than one language.  Cultures lived side by side.  People did not seem to have an edge about their ethnic culture being better than or the dominant culture.  The parish where I worked had masses in English and Italian.  Most parishes seemed to have masses in more than one language.  I ate food of which I had not known, or had known but never enjoyed the flavor and texture so much. But I did not run or go to a gym.  Well, I guess nothing is perfect, heh?  "Heh" is a common word in Canada.  Boulder, Colorado gets a lot more days of sun in the winter, than Toronto.  Every place has its positives, I hope.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I get confused here and lost. Temperature is measured in centigrade and speed limits in kilometers. I spend very little time in Canada. As I am here longer, I begin to figure it out. I become less confused or lost.  Is it not the same with prayer?  Why, if you spend so little time there, do you expect it to be clear and comfortable. Rather it becomes more like a foreign country than "home."  But stay there in prayer and wait, like a lost sheep.  God will find you. Prayer for the newcomer, the explorer, is a place to be found.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

More Grace

At the retreat house where I gave a talk, I met the director.  He was in the seminary with me 36 years ago.  I am trying to expand the venues where I can get some exposure for my work.  He told me to send him some flyers of what I had done.  The retreat house is in the suburbs about 40 miles from San Francisco.  It isa wonderful place to teach for me because it would allow me to talk to a different audience than I get in San Francisco.  Sometimes, when you think things are going nowhere, doesn't something wonderful pop up into your life?  Grace.  I have found it so.

Monday, December 10, 2012


I gave a Advent Day of Prayer/Reflection to priests in the Archdiocese of San Francisco yesterday.  32 priests, waiting to see what this guy they never heard of had to say.  I was nervous.  But I gave it a go.  Grace worked, because I don't know where some of the stuff a said came from, or how it came out so logically and fit together.  The priests seemed to listen.  Fortunately, there was a lunch, so no one left.  Food always helps to get people and keep them.  God had me do what God wanted, I think.  The day went well, but I would find myself thinking, "Why am I doing this?  I struggle so much myself."  Anyway, the bishop said the check is in the mail.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I Never Knew You

An old friend of mine came to mass this past weekend but did not come up to me and say hello.  We had not seen one another in years, but we spent time together when we were in seminary.  So I only found out later that he had been at the mass in which I presided and preached.  What I found out is that he did not come up to the priest because he did not know him.  From my past, we were friends.  From his past, I was a stranger.  Besides being a reminder of how forgettable I am, it made me think of my relationship with God.  From my side, God and I are friends.  I assume that God's side is the same as mine.  But if I spend blocks of time away from God, my prayer life, might I not hear, "I never knew you."  Why do we assume that with absence, and neglect, our God connect remains the same?  Friends can forget me, but God, don't forget me!  For this, I might be a wee bit responsible on a daily basis.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


My priesthood is not going according to my plans.  Of course, my plans are grandiose.  So my plans ought never to work out.  Parents have plans that their children will be happy.  What will that look like?  The child will have a spouse, healthy children, career and home.  But I know people who have all of that and are not happy at all.  Happiness is not about things, having things, for many of us.  At Christmas some of us try and make people happy with things.  I know people who get lots of things and they are not happy.  Someone told me happiness is an inside job.  I resist this.  Maybe that is why I am not getting my way or my plans to work out.  If I attend to my spiritual work, my soul, maybe I will have a new plan?  Might it be less grandiose, less about me, less about things?  One can only try this "inside job" and see.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Chicken Soup

I am desperate for homemade chicken soup.  I have a friend in Boulder, Colorado who makes soup to cure my cold.  But I am 1000 miles away, and sick.  I have no energy and so on.  We all know this feeling.  I know the illness and I know the cure.  I never hunger for the soup until I get ill.  Why do I have to get spiritually ill before I hunger for prayer?   I think of prayer as optional, or part of my bucket list some days.  Then I feel a sickness in my soul.  It is a hunger for the Presence that I have been ignoring.  I have been starving my soul, and now it has gone on the fritz.  I got sick because I was trying to do too much.  When I try and do too much is when I am most likely to be skipping prayer.  Do less.  Pray more.  Everything in moderation is what I recall.  I have to get sick to recall the cure.  Where is my chicken soup!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


One thing that gives us a sense of equality, that brings people together, is disaster.  When there is an earthquake everyone in the area is affected one way or another.  People tend to reach out to help one another.  Before disaster, people lived in their own separate worlds.  Scripture says in Luke 21 that you cannot pray your way out of an earthquake.  If you live on the platelet fault then you will be in an earthquake when the platelets shift. Good and bad alike, rich and poor, old and young are all in the same mess.  Do some of us really have to have an ecological or geophysical disaster before we realize that we are all equal?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


In the nursing facility where I work, the residents all have stories of personal history.  These stories are precious, but remained a buried treasure until I ask a question, such as "Tell me about that picture on your wall."  Then a life unfolds like an onion being peeled.  People feel more loved and important when someone wants to hear their stories of life.  Ultimately, we all die alone, but we do not have to die lonely, with a cell phone in our hand and no one to call.  I thought I was a teacher, but few seem to come to listen to me anymore.  Maybe I am called now to be more of a listener, an audience of one for the resident in the care facility.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Too Much?

For three days, San Francisco was pounded with rain and wind.  We had a water shortage earlier this year.  That problem is now behind us.  We have too much water and the damage is widespread.  There were lots of prayers for water.  They must have gotten stuck in God's inbox and only recently received attention.  What we really want God to do is give us everything in moderation, and in a timely fashion, including nice weather wherever we go on vacation.  Or, let the blizzard come to the ski resort, but just before we get there for the fresh powder.  So, are not our prayers rather selfish at times?  And fantasy land?  I mean, Mother Nature does not work only in the moderation mode.  I live in this wold, not fantasy world.  I need acceptance.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Brain Damage

A friend of mine is 13 weeks pregnant with a baby that seems to have brain damage such that it might not live very long after birth and might suffer a lot.  This is how the doctor presents the case, the doctor who says to abort, in so many words.  This is one solution but not one that might transform the Mother into all she is called to be.

Jesus showed that even for God, life is suffering.  Without the cross he would have simply been Jesus from Nazareth, healer, wisdom figure, visionary.  Is it not so, that this child in the womb is Christ present in an unexpected disguise?  If the Mother brings the child to term, and it lives for however long, might not the parents be led to become even more compassionate, patient, accepting than they had ever been?  Is this not being more Christlike?  Are we not called to be Christ in the world? We don't get to choose the circumstances of how we grow.  Technology today is trying to find ways to be rid of suffering, especially unnecessary suffering.  Imperfect babies in the womb are seen as "unnecessary suffering" by some.  Real life is suffering.  As least it seems so to me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Seems that Jesus called four fishermen all at the same time.  Peter and Andrew were brothers as were John and James.  The first four called.  They dropped everything to follow Jesus.  Later,  Jesus raises Jairus' daughter with Peter, James and John called in.  At the Transfiguration, the same three for that special event.  What happened to poor Andrew?  Did he get dumped?  Who knows.  Anyway, he could have complained, dropped out, gotten resentful, been disfunctional in the group.  Or he could surrender to whatever God's plan might be for him.  Seems Andrew stayed with the program even though he was no longer included with his brother and friends from the other fishing boat.  When you feel ignored, slighted, not included, relationships change, what do you do?  Don't we say, "Thy will be done" in the Lord's Prayer? I believe that God has a plan for me.  It just may not be my plan.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

First Thoughts

Recently, I overheard someone talking about a situation, that if it happens, I will lose some work that I love.  My first thought was, "It will happen, and why does God hate me?"  I have come to learn that my first thought can be crazy thinking when I might lose something I want.  I recognize it as crazy thinking and wait for the second or third thought.  Eventually, if I am spiritually fit, the thought comes that all is in God's hands. Turn my life over to God.  God has a plan.  Today, it worked. I am spiritually fit.  But I have to do stuff everyday to stay fit.  With me, it is not a natural way of life.  It is more of a miracle!

Friday, November 30, 2012


I am old and out of it in relation to modern culture, so I don't get the body paint on women.  I am sure that they are saying something on the outside about something on the inside, but I don't get it.  Well, they are not doing it for me anyway.  But God might be open to this because in the Book of Revelation, 144,000 people seem to have signage on their foreheads.  This I do get.  The outside sign is to reveal something about the inside life.  These ones have been faithful to the life changes to which God called them.  Remember the poor widow who put everything she had, two small coins, into the collection basket in the gospel of Luke?  Before that she was just another poor woman with no husband.  Her gesture revealed her relationship with God.  She was all in.  Now what do you do on the outside that reveals your relationship with God?  Lets examine my day.  I went running. I ate chocolate.  I shopped.  Not much signage here!  And Advent is coming.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hurry Not

I have found a way to be at peace and enjoy my time, when driving on the streets of San Francisco.  Never be in a hurry.  In a car or on a bus, this town is not meant to get from one place to another quickly.  I give myself plenty of time to get where I have to go.  This is key.  I plan.  I plan because life is such a mess if I do not.  I would get all stressed, upset, whining and resentful.  I don't want to go there.  It is a bad place for me. Because I am not in a rush, when I get somewhere, I am pleasant and peaceful.  I am ready to be of service or enjoy an event.  

With prayer, if I do not leave some block of time, the prayer is rushed rather than peaceful or open to listening to God.  The monastery always leaves time each day specifically for prayer.  You fill that time up with other projects at your own peril.  You won't last as a monk.  I rarely recover time later in the day.  Start out in a frenzy of activity and I have set the pace for the day.  The frenzy is about fear, ego, or self-image, all nonsense.  I would rather tell someone I did not do something than tell God at night that I ditched the prayer for whatever.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I was in the sacristy of a big Cathedral church and wanted to go to the parish office which was below the church.  So I went through a door and down a flight of stairs out another door, which left me in an open corridor one level up from the parking lot.  I turned to go back inside but the door did not open to let me back inside.  All the doors on that outdoor corridor were locked.  I was stuck.  I was locked out but yet not able to go anywhere.  Strange that the building security leaves one stranded, yet imprisoned.

I guess that when a church wants to keep you out, or get you out, it can make the process very unpleasant and one that leaves you feeling a bit helpless.  Someone did wander along who allowed me back into the world of being on the inside.  For some people, a simple key is not enough to get back in.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sacred Dishes

In the Denver Archdiocese it seems that only ordained people can "purify" the cups and plates used in holy communion.  Purify means to clean them after communion.  Some of the ordained take a painstakingly long time to do this.  It gives the congregation, the ones that are not out the door yet, time for any number of things besides singing songs, giving thanks, or reading War and Peace.  Today, I said mass at the Cathedral in another Diocese.  The Cathedral is the Bishops church.  After communion, the lay communion minister purified the cup right there next to the altar.  What a refreshing idea!  If the lay person can drink from the cup, why not clean in out as well?

Monday, November 26, 2012


The ruler who condemned Jesus to be crucified was named Pilate.  The focus of his rule was convenience.  He wanted power and control and security for the sake of convenience.  He wanted his day to go according to his plans.  Jesus was not on the docket.  But here Jesus is, in front of Pilate.  What to do?  If Pilate were into justice, he might not have sent Jesus to be executed.  The cross was the easier, quicker way for Pilate, not so much for Jesus.

Jesus is a ruler too.  His rule is focused on love for others.  This is most inconvenient, as he will find out from the whipping and the cross.  Pilate takes.  Jesus gives.  One is self-imploded and the other is self-surrendering, self-giving.  The world of Pilate and Jesus is a mess.  Pilate just wants to get through each day with as little hassle as possible.  Jesus wants to love the mess.  Are you like Pilate? No, you say?  Do you not fib a little, cheat a bit, take more than is fair, ignore others, act unkindly, all to get through the day or the moment conveniently?  People, places and things are truly inconvenient at times, even a burden.  That is why love is called, "bearing your cross."  It is not Hollywood movie love.  It is not a cartoon.  Love or convenience is the choice.  What to do?  It depends on whether or not you want to be transformed, or at least have a sober day!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Check Points

One moment you are saying good bye to a loved one at the airport.  The next moment you are dealing with security check points inside the terminal.  All those good feelings of love and sadness of parting are put onto a back burner as you face the daunting task of getting to your plane.  Prayer can be like that.  You have a wonderful experience of love in prayer, a sense of intimacy, and then you go out to encounter daily life.  The intimacy can be erased from the heart, to be replaced with exasperation at people, places and things.  Would it not be so much worse without the prayer?  A spiritual connection can give us a buffer, an energy, to not go crazy with all that we cannot control.  After all, we are not in the world to control it but to love it.  Some days are harder than others.  We never know which day will be more difficult, so the cultivation of daily prayer is all the ore important.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hidden Neighborhoods

One Republican said they thought they had the votes in their district and then all of a sudden all these blacks showed up.  They did not even know they existed in that district. Why would they know?  It is common for many of us to hang out with people like ourselves more or less.  The poorer people live in neighborhoods we don't even know exist because we never have to pass through them.  In Boulder, Colorado I might get a call to go and anoint someone at an address I never heard of.  I drive out to it and find a whole neighborhood of poor people, immigrants, people of color, who I did not even know lived there.  Years ago, as a new priest, I lived in Houston.  I thought I knew who lived in the parish.  That is until we began a Spanish mass, and then all these undocumented Mexicans began to show up.  These people lived right under my nose and I did not even know it.  One of the blessings of my priesthood is that it gets me out of my too small world that most of us live in.

Friday, November 23, 2012

How Broke Are We?

When the bishops make an appeal for money for the diocese they talk about how money is tight for them, with so many needs plus lawsuits.  Then I find out that the bishops are spending a couple of million $$$ because they are against gay marriage.  So how broke are we?  I doubt that you will ever see a line item in the budget or balance sheet that says how much they spent on fighting gay marriage.  I thought there was some talk about transparency.  A monarchical structure sees no reason to be transparent.

I heard about the "Do the Math," idea for dealing with bad air and global warming.  Big oil won't budge.  It is not in their interest.  What is everyone went into their portfolio and sold off their big oil stuck.  Soon the buyers are out of the market.  Stock plunges.  Those who have always pay attention when they feel their "having" is getting smaller.  Think about it.  Someone wants your money?  Find out what they are doing with it.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Today is Thanksgiving.  Don't isolate.  If your mind tells you it is a good idea to stay home alone on this day, remember that this might be the opinion of a crazy person.  If you have no place to go, then plan to be of service.  What a concept.  Go and be useful to someone else.  Remember that you are already depressed about there being no more Hostess Twinkies.  It is your fault too because you got health conscious and stopped buying them.  Now they are extinct.  It is the first extinct thing that really bothers me.  You say you never ate a Hostess anything?  What a boring childhood of healthy living!  Anyway, we need to be thankful that we are able to outlast Hostess products.  Happy Thanksgiving.  You are still here.  God must have a plan for you.  I don't think that isolation is part of it today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I am doing my laundry now.  Yes, a guru like me has to do his laundry.  An outrage, I know.  But it has to be done once a week.  There are some things I have to do every day just like any other human being.  These are daily, weekly cycles that keep life in balance.  Why is prayer not part of this cycle?  When did it become optional, like going to a play or planting some flowers?  We feed and clean our bodies on a regular basis.  Does not the soul need to be fed and cleansed on a daily basis?  The stomach complains louder and sooner than the soul, that it needs/wants feeding.  The darkness likes it when our spiritual lives become paying attention to the squeaky wheel.  By the time the ignored soul complains, the whole wagon has fallen apart.  I find that if I feed the soul before the body, my day seems to go better or at least I can deal better with the unexpected stuff that pops up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Routines can help or hurt us.  How will we know which it is?  Love.  Are you a more loving person with your routines?  If you snap, "Leave me alone, I have to do my prayers/spiritual reading/meditation," then I suspect this is a routine that needs a change. A good routine makes us more loving, kind and compassionate.  Many people go to church frequently, but their demeanor does not seem to improve.  Jesus says that in the time of Noah, just before the flood, people were into their routines of eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.  At the time of Lot, just before the destruction of Sodom, people were buying, selling, planting, building, eating and drinking.  Everyone was into their routines except Noah and Lot.  They were open to listening to God and to dropping their routines.  Lot's wife tried, but then she looked back.  She missed her "stuff."  Moving is an example of letting go.  You get rid of stuff.  Old stuff keeps us in routines.  God may have plans outside our routines.  Try something new.  It might awaken you.  If it does not make you a better person, you can always return to your routines.

Monday, November 19, 2012

End Times

If you believe in the Mayan calendar, you can skip Christmas planning and gift shopping.  The Mayans believe the world ends on December 21, this year.  Jesus talks about the end, as do the prophets and Daniel in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Why all this interest in the end times?  I think it is to embarrass us.  What?  Well, you say to yourself, "If I know when the end is coming, I will shape up my life and be ready."  Think about it.  Fear won't transform anyone.  If you have had a bad habit, called a vice, for most of your life, it won't go away just because you think the world is coming to an end.  You might be good for a few days, a week, but habits are habits.  They are deep rooted.  

So what to do?  Be embarrassed that you cannot change, that you are stuck.  There is a light here.  You are now at the door of humility.  If you can say, "Lord, without your help, I cannot change," then you can open that door.  It is the way to holiness.  The saints tell us this.  They know that they have bad habits, and they are saints.  Humility opens us to grace, God's free gift of healing and transforming love.  In summary, the road to holiness is embarrassment to humility to grace.  Or maybe you would prefer the self-help books.  Anything but faith or powerlessness, huh?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Part Time Growth

In slavery or "servanthood" as the gospel calls them, there were field hands and house slaves.  The work did not mix.  Field hands did not do kitchen work and house slaves did not dig in the dirt.  So the field hand comes inside after doing his "dutiful work" in the fields and expects to get fed.  "I did my job. Now I am owed.  Someone feed me."  Well, he gets asked to feed the master.  He does not see this as his job, but he is a slave, and so does it.  I bet his attitude was in need of some recovery.

Is it not this way in spiritual growth?  We decide what is "enough" work in this area each day.  Then we want to do something else.  Give God some time but no surprise requests, please.  The surprises, out of our control, is when the real growth begins.  The other stuff was for maintenance.  I think of friends in recovery who go to meetings, pray, read recovery stuff and think they are growing holy by the minute.  Big ego runs into unexpected phone call asking for help.  This really is God calling in the voice of a suffering human being.  Oh, you are too tired from all your good work for the day?  Remember Jesus in the Garden scene?  "Stay awake and pray with me,"  he asks.  Jesus is distraught.  His buddies go to sleep.  You never know when your Gethsemene request for help will come along.  It never comes on my schedule.  God does me like that.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ten Lepers

Ten lepers ask Jesus to fix them.  He cures them of leprosy.  Only one comes back to say thank you.  The other nine return to society with all their other character defects in toe.  They have clean skin, but that is about it.  All other faults, noted by ingratitude, stay with them.  You think you are different?  When you woke up this morning, did you start out with gratitude for something, such as being alive?  Or was it just a lot of "suffering" that would litter your day, in your imagination?  I guarantee, you wake up without a gratitude prayer, you will surely have a lousy day.  According to the bible research, about 90% of us do this.  We look good on the outside, but are a mess within.  Gratitude changes this.  I don't even get out of bed before I thank God for the bed, the room, a work I have, not being in trouble, a roof over my head, and the health that I do have.  I say thank you for faith, for God and other stuff that are miracles in my life.  After this, it is hard to get into whining, and I am a whiner.  With gratitude, I can make it all the way to midday before whining.  Another gratitude prayer can frequently change the whining jag.  At least I have found it to be so.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Memo To Newly Ordained

Young diocesan priests are encouraged in the seminary to hammer away on sex issues in homilies.  Talk about abortion and contraception regardless of the gospel connection.  Generally, the people who attend English speaking mass are elderly.  These are not their everyday issues.  Now the bishops have come out with a new document that says priest should connect the Sunday homily with the daily lives of the people.  Duh!  I hope the young guys get the memo.  We religious learned this in "Preaching 101."

On the other hand, how does one learn about the daily lives of the people in the pew?  Listen? Dialogue?  Well, if the priest is taught that the people are really stupid about all things churchy, his attitude for listening and dialogue is somewhat compromised, you would think?  One can only hope.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Picking Losers

Well, the Republicans are talking about having picked candidates that turned out to be mediocre losers.  Why these picks?  Who picked?  Seems that in many places there was a top down approach.  The Central Command of the Party picked candidates that would hue to the party line on issues.  It was a top down approach.  Any organization that is run  like a pyramid, from the top, wants underlinings that follow the party line.  No original thinkers need apply.  No smart mavericks need apply.  So who is left to pick?  Followers?  People who want to be told what to do and say?  People who want to get ahead in the chain up the pyramid?  Would this not also allow for corruption, the inability to change, to grow within the organization?  The competitiveness of business is some corrective on all of this.  How many monarchies are still around and doing well?  A few, very few.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Black Friday

It seems that the fix for the economy comes down to people going out to spend money they do not have on gifts that no one really needs.  Such mediocrity.  There is another Friday called "Good."  It is about someone who does not have much, giving what he has, for the sake of people who really need it.  Is it not sad that the people getting the store gifts will be happy, for a little while, while those getting the other Gift, don't really think they need it?  I'll take a pass on Black Friday and wait for the other Friday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Disappearance

On election night I was struck by the difference in the makeup of the Republican and Democratic crowds at their election headquarters. The Dems were all kinds of colors and ethnicities.  The Republicans were pretty much white people.  The Republicans are slowly running out of white people.  Obama has not had a very good four years but he won.  He figured out the demographics and how to reach non-white people and get them to the poles.  The white republicans basically talk to other white people.  They don't seem to be having very many white babies to replace themselves.  Now the Republicans won't go away.  They will figure it out down the road.

What it reminds me of is my church.  Many parishes are attended by white people, old white people, by and large.  There are a few places like Houston that are still packing them in.  But who will replace these old white people?  Probably, the Hispanic community will replace them.  To whom are the bishops talking?   Few speak Spanish.  When they do, they talk in rules and orthodox belief.  This is not much of a connect.  Obama probably got a lot of Catholic votes because he appealed to what many Catholics felt was important to them.  The bishops speak about what is important to the Vatican.  The Catholic church won't go away, but it will change.  It is run by the Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Safety of Mediocrity

Clear Answers

Why do so many Catholics seem to gravitate toward and feel so comfortable with a Church that has clear and certain answers?  What is this love of unchanging sameness and certainty?  I think that old people like it because they fear death and young people like it because they fear life.  Death is about the unknown, the unexperienced, and it can seem scary.  Having clear answers and certainty about the other side of death, the God who awaits us, gives the elderly some solace.  To enter into the silence and solitude of the unknown in contemplation is not much solace for these people.

The young fear life, full of relationships, love that can be crushed, jobs that can be lost.  Life for these people is so full of uncertainty.  Answers give them certainty and set boundaries about who is right and wrong.  The young want a secure place in an insecure world.  Somehow, catechism truth will let them sleep better at night.  But truth is not a thing.  It is a relationship.  Did not Pilate ask Jesus, "What is Truth?"  The answer was Silence.  You want truth?  Enter into silence and solitude before you pick up that theology book.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


In a Rilke poem, "The Buddha in Glory," he says that there are a billion stars spinning in the night.  It is awesome on a clear night.  I am captivated by the night sky when I get outside the city lights.  Rilke reminds me in the same poem that there is a presence in me that will outlive all those stars.  Awesome!  So why do I pay so little attention to the awesome within, and focus so much on the temporary around me?  Humm.  Misguided priorities, you think?  How about your priorities?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Love The Imperfection

Why is it that I do not love my neighbor as myself?  Well, my neighbor and I are not perfect enough for me.  I get upset with myself for not doing better, being better, accomplishing more, getting holier.  I accuse myself for all my faults, and then just spend energy trying to get perfect.  My neighbor is full of faults too.  I recognize their faults, and don't care much for my neighbor.   I am not comfortable loving imperfection. Maybe this is why Jesus said to love my neighbor as myself.  He knows the human condition.  If we don't accept ourselves with our faults, love ourselves with our imperfections, short-comings and foibles, we won't love our neighbor.  Resentment never made anyone better.  How to escape this conundrum?  Maybe this is why God became human, to show me how to love imperfect people.  He did choose a motley group as his inner circle did he not?  Love the human, not the fantasy perfect.  No fantasy ever picked up a cross.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Standard Time

One night a year I need to remember to turn my clock back one hour.  I write notes to myself and put them around my room.  Why?  Because I have many gods upon which I focus my attention.  I have my computer god, my exercise god, my shopping god, my projects god, and probably some others.  So my focus is spread around.  There is really no focus in some sense.  Thus, the notes remind me to turn my clock back one hour each fall.  I do this because if I forget, the next day will be a mess.

Jesus says the most important focus of my life should be to love the One God with all that I have and to love my neighbor as myself.  Many days, I forget this.  And the next day starts out a mess.  See, I have more than one god.  I get too busy to pray, to love, be kind to others who have faults just like me.  Maybe I need to write notes around my room reminding me to keep the one commandment that Jesus said is above all others.  But even the notes would not eliminate all the gods in my life.  How many gods do you have?

Thursday, November 8, 2012


As in a Wisdom book, Sirach, the soul is like a flower.  Prayer is the opening of the petals, to praise God with sweet perfume, and then to receive nourishment from God so that the soul might blossom into all its beauty.  When we skip prayer, meditation, quiet time with God, we stay closed up.  We turn in upon ourselves, like a tight-fisted person.  We disconnect from the world around us.  I have found it true for me, that when I skip prayer, I am on the road to ego-centeredness, but I fool myself by calling it being busy doing stuff, even helping others.  I only know that I have my priorities wrong at the end of the day when I feel so dry, empty and dull.  Love energizes!  Open your petals first.  Then be of service.  The soul is always a flower.  Water it with prayer.  Why become a dried up "doer" of tasks?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Christ was always going ahead, calling people to follow.  Even when he Rose, he came and then went.  He invited his disciples to "Go" and bring people together who were living in differences.  "Baptize the whole world" was the phrase.  They were supposed to go into the world and bring about something new.  The disciples were energized by the energy of the Risen Jesus.  There was not trying to get back to a past.  He did not speak  about Adam or Paradise before the Fall.  His followers proclaimed him as Risen, and that was the energy, the vision for them to be loving across previous Jewish-Gentile boundaries.  

What I see today is a tired effort to get back to the past, one that separates and divides, one that think the world is evil.  More obedience to rules and orthodoxy will be the way to do it.  This will be about as successful as us old runners trying to get back to the way we ran when we were young.  Such runners are delusional. My life seems to be running with delusional runners and working with delusional church people.  But I am committed to both.  Loyalty is difficult at times.  I can get left behind. It can be lonely running in the back of the pack.  It can be lonely living with a vision for a new future not an old past.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I think of the Risen Christ as Energy reformed.  Say what?  Well, Jesus dies and get buried.  With death, a self-surrendering death, in love for all people, a new unifying force of energy comes forth from the dead Jesus.  He is raised, still a body that eats food and can be seen, but somehow free of some previous limitations.  Now he is a unifying force of Love that can energize those who come into contact with him, and love him in return.

How does this work?  Look at the Road to Emmaus story.  "Were not our hearts on fire," they said, when they recognized Jesus, now Risen.  Jesus could begin a chain of energy transference, that is, live within and among his disciples if they would stop clinging to his body as they knew it, so he Ascended to heaven.  Then he came as Spirit at Pentecost.  Suddenly, the cowards had courage and could speak many languages.  The Risen Christ is a unifying force that energizes us if we let it.

Don't you remember when you first fell in love?  You had lots of energy.  You could stay up all night talking with your beloved.  Christ is what unifies and energizes us through his love for us and then our love for others.  When we focus on creeds and orthodoxy, we divide and separate.  Christ is a force for all religions.

Monday, November 5, 2012


When someone I love kills themselves, I think that I could have done more or done other, to prevent it.  I blame myself for missing something.  This happens especially when that person did a lot of good things.  We have hopes and expectations even, that the future will be good.  Do you really feel you could have done more for the skid row fellow who drinks himself to death?  You cut your losses there a long time ago.  No, it is the person who gives us hope at times, that bothers us the most.  Love is energized by hope.  

But we all have our demons.  We all have ways of killing ourselves slowly over time.  We call it a miserable life and it is always someone's or something's fault.  "If only," we say.  Every day that I skip my prayer, or act unkindly, selfishly toward others, is  day in which I am killing myself.  My demons are having a good run that day.  Why do I live like that?  Is there anyone else to blame for not fixing me?  Is anyone else at fault?  We can blame outside forces for bad things that happen, like losing a job, or partner/friend, but who to blame when we decide to destroy ourselves?  No one.  People who blame themselves for others' decisions to end it all, are living the delusion of omnipotence.  We can all get help to face our demons, but it is only help.  Sometimes, the demons win.  But God loves us even then.  The demons win a around.  God wins the battle for our soul.  Guilt is no good.  Grief for a loved one no longer in skin, makes more sense and is the road to healing for the loving survivors.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012


The word "church" comes from a Greek word, "ecclesia" which means "those called out."    The church was the people called to go out into the world to be "Whole-Makers."  Live your life in such a way, as Jesus preached, so as to bring all people together into some unifying identity.  What happened?

Well, we got into arguments about orthodoxy, creed and heresy.  With Constantine we began to build buildings into which we went to worship.  Worship is good.  But we called the building "church," and when we came out we did bad things and said bad things to those who did not agree with us, and who did not go into the building as orthodoxy would warrant.  We wrote catechisms and taught them.  The Gospel was in there, but we emphasized creedal theology and not the Sermon on the Mount.    

Saturday, November 3, 2012


The word "Catholic" means, "throughout-the-whole.  Think of leaven.  Leaven is kneaded throughout the bread, slowly, patiently, so that the stuff of bread can become all that it is supposed to be.  Leaven works on the stuff of flour, water, salt, sugar, and makes it something that it was not, and yet has all the ingredients of what it was before leaven worked on it.  BUT THE BREAD DOES NOT BECOME LEAVEN.

So the Catholic is one who leavens the world to become all that God made the world to be, but the Catholic does not try to make the world Catholic.  Jesus taught a quality of life filled with love and deeper notion of Holy Presence who he called Abba.  Evangelization is not about making everyone Catholic or correct believers in creed.  It is about making a new person from the old.  It is called transformation.  Catholics are "Whole-Makers."  It sure beats Inquisition and Crusade!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Sea

We think that we can control nature.  Build stuff and create boundaries that separate our dry land from the water.  Even God did that in creation, separated the land from the sea.  Seems the ocean did not get the memo, nor reads the Book of Genesis.  Now and again the ocean remembers its beginnings, when there was no land to hold it back, and no human barriers either.  We humans, with our pride and sense of centrality in the spheres, build our monuments to progress, rip up the land for food and fuel, among other things.  We deal in permanence.  Grandiosity and invention replaces humility, a sense of our smallness, our powerlessness.  Now and again the sea says, "What are you doing in my way Manhattan?"  Before there was Manhattan, there was the sea.  Life is kind of fragile, no?  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

White Gloves

Think of a group of little old ladies who get together for afternoon high tea.  We have high tea in San Francisco.  There conversations gets focused on whether they should wear only white gloves or would grey ones be allowed as well.  Meanwhile, there is an earthquake going on outside.  The ladies are oblivious.  Strange?

Well, the hierarchy met in Rome and decided that we can only use the title, "Lamb of God,"  when we come to the fraction rite at mass.  Other titles that refer to Jesus, can no longer be used.  Think about it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Fold

The Pope says we have to bring the lapsed back to the fold.  The fold seems to be getting pretty narrow with all the focus on rules, and who can receive and not receive communion.  It is not that rules are bad, but the "fold,"  what is left of it, seems to be focusing more on rules than love.  Jesus did say, come in through the narrow door.  He did speak about the narrow way and few will be on it.  I don't want to say that I know what he had in mind, but he did seem to break some rules in his effort to be loving and compassionate.  How many of the rule keepers who feel comfortable in today's church are also as loving and compassionate as was Jesus?  Personally, I find it easier to keep a rule than to be kind.  At my nightly examination of conscience I more often have been unkind, uncaring, selfish, self-centered, judgmental, and resentful, than having broken one of the church's rules or specific commandments.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Going Public

Did you ever walk down the street saying a rosary, with the beads dangling from your hand?  I do from time to time.  The reaction of others is quite fascinating.  They see me as they approach from the other direction.  They then look away.  They really look away.   I don't exist.  If I were dressed in some Buddhist or Hindu or Islamic garb, with my prayer beads in my hand, people would feel more comfortable.  Why?  Because these far away religions don't upset your status quo.  You never made a decision to give up being a Hindu, or studied and rejected Islam.  You were never persecuted by Islam for killing Jesus.  We Westerners have a history with Christianity.  My rosary calls that to mind.  I am a person praying a Christian prayer.  I am a Christian at prayer as I walk along the street minding my own business, but upsetting someone else's.  Suddenly, they realize that they are thinking about trivialities.  Suddenly, their priorities are called into question.  People have learned how to ignore the God inside the building, the church.  It is the unexpected presence of God that bothers them, in a person at prayer, walking on a neighborhood street.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

You Hate Sports?

My team just won the World Series.  You ask, "What is that?"  How sad.  Tell me what it is that unites a whole city in joy?  What brings together people who would not commonly mix?  And brings us together as one, with no hate, or politics or judgment?  Maybe your prefer religion.  Tell me that unites a city.  People kill one another over religion.  People judge, condemn, and ignore others over religious issues.  In baseball, they call it the "World" Series.  Yes, there were losers tonight, but the losing team is respected.  Baseball players are a brotherhood.  Would that religion was a bit more like baseball and the World Series.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

God's Work

If you are having trouble finding Jesus in your life you might try being about God's work, which you can find in the Sermon on the Mount or Plain or in Matthew, chapter 25.  When Mary and Joseph thought they had lost Jesus did they not find him doing the "Father's work" in the temple scene?  Do God's work and maybe you will find Jesus too.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Familiarity Breeds What?

I have come to realize that most everyone who either lives or works with me, does not read my blog.  They know I have a blog.  They are not interested.  They might very well prefer to read some Vatican functionary or oracle.   It seems the better you know me, the less interested you are in what I have to say.  I am my own worst advertising.  I am much better from a distance, I guess.  From a podium in a lecture, or from the pulpit at mass, I am fine.  People listen.  But as an everyday guy, I seem to have no magic, no special wisdom.  Maybe it is my rabid interest in sports?  Or my whining?  Moodiness?  Come to think of it, I am a bit of a bozo!

But it is not just me.  Go back to that Vatican fellow you listen to, maybe some cardinal in the Curia.  He or they are far away, and walk about in strange garb.  I have found that those insiders, who know how the Vatican really functions, are much less impressed with the people you hold in high regard.  Maybe we all have a little bozo in us.  Otherwise, why would we need salvation?  How fascinating that God dwells in any of us.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Jesus' Campaign

The Gospel gives Jesus' campaign or message or good news as we call it.  But if it were really good news, more people would be doing it, right?  For many, it is bad news and they don't get on the Jesus bandwagon, or "vote" for Jesus, if you will.  Why?  well, Jesus seems to talk not so much about single issues that allow us to remain unchanged.  He talks about giving up a lot taking up a cross and following him.  He talks about caring directly, not in a donation, to caring for the least in our society, such as the hungry, homeless, poor and imprisoned.  Some of us prefer to waves banners at an issue, or vote for someone who agrees with our issue, but does that work "directly" with the suffering person?  Does it cost us anything in time?  Do we give up anything of our lifestyle?

I know of a church in town that is giving a Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who wants to come and eat it.  Tables will be set for a banquet. One single woman who had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving said, "I will come, as long as there are no homeless there."  She is a daily communicant.  Another person was heard to say, "I am against abortion, but I would not want the government to spend one welfare penny to support that mother once the baby is born."  Fortunately, Jesus never tried to run for office.  He would have been crucified.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Friend

God is my friend, in spite of me.  I like to start my morning with the thought that God is my friend.  It is so easy to start with shame, regret and guilt, rehashing yesterday.  Why bother to get up?  I prefer to start the day with a positive thought even if I have to write it down next to my clock.  God is my friend.

I get up the with the best intentions of paying attention to my friend, spending time with God.  Often, due to ineptitude, laziness, over scheduling, and reading too much sports pages, I waste this friend time.  But God does not stop being my friend.  I suffer but not because God left me or punishes me.  I suffer because I am made to enjoy time with my friend, God.  A failure at prayer, I can still go to bed at night with a thank you to my friend for not abandoning me despite my shabby behavior.  I give God my shame, regret and guilt.  I go to sleep.  Life is too hard alone.  I wake up with hope.  I try again.  Some days, I get it right.  Aren't those the best of times?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


We Catholics are sometimes called fools for asking Saints to help us get something.  I was driving out to a church on the other side of town and realized that I was running out of time before the mass I was supposed to celebrate.  Traffic was a mess.  So I prayed to Jesus, Mary and St. Christopher to find me a parking place on the street when I got to the church.  Sure enough there was a spot for me less than a block away and I made it to mass on the scheduled time.

Fool huh?  Well, think about it.  If I was not a Catholic saint praying person, the anxiety about not finding a parking place might have sent me into some rage over the traffic, or fear of showing up late.  Emotionally, I would have been a mess.  Is that any way to be preparing to say mass?  Instead, I calmly prayed.  I was at prayer while driving to the church.  What a way to prepare, and to avoid emotional jags.  Jesus did call one person a fool.  He was the fellow who tore down one barn, built a larger one, stored all his immense wealth into it, only to be called to judgment before he could enjoy any of his wealth.  A parking space is enough for me, thank you.  In San Francisco, that is a very rare and precious thing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I noticed the program from the recent installation of an Archbishop here in town.  The program of the mass was mostly in Latin.  I am sure it was a very beautiful mass appreciated by those Catholics who attended.  They did not understand much of it, but I am sure they appreciated it and found it moving and beautiful.  Latin is church-speak.  It is for the inner circle of people ordained or not.  I mean, who would go to the mass of installation of an Archbishop except his clergy and very committed laity?

The church hierarchy is comfortable in church-speak language.  It is the language of the catechisms.  It speaks to the already committed.  It makes little sense to those on the outside or the periphery of the church.  Yet, the church says we must evangelize, that is, reach out to those outside the inner circle.  Church-speak won't do it.  Talking "at" people won't do it.  I believe that evangelization needs two things that are often missing.  One, listen to the other.  Take the outsider's or seeker's position seriously.  Two, dialogue.  Talk in language that they will understand.  Talk in their language. Walk in their world.  The church may learn something too, by doing this.  Too often, when the church hears of a position outside of its own thinking, it simply circles the wagons.  Do you think that any Native-Americans ever got converted by circled wagons firing out at them?

Monday, October 22, 2012


I have a wound on my arm from the removal of some cancer.  I have to actively work on the healing of this wound for several weeks.  I wash it clean each day.  I put ointment on it and bandage it daily.  My body does the rest.

I have a wound on my soul.  Only God can heal it.  What do I do then?  Admit that I have a wound and visit with the Spiritual Physician each day, maybe twice a day, to let God work on this wound in my heart.  The Physician has an office.  It is called my prayer space, my time/place of quiet and solitude.  The Physician might reveal to me the nature of my wound, how it is healing or not healing due to my attention or inattention.  I might get advice as to what I might do or not do to avoid further damage.  I know when the wound is getting worse because I feel worse.  Alone, I cannot make it better, but I can always make it worse by my own silliness.

What might cause the wound of my heart to grow bigger or deeper?  For me, self-will run riot.  When I keep my appointments with God, my self-will is quiet and inactive.  This, for me, is always a good thing.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Perfect Fit

I was running with a couple of people this morning and realized that the young man and the young woman in our small group were perfect for one another.  The same religion, the same interest in running, chatting easily with one another.  No baggage.  But will they realize what I see?  I cannot go up and say, "Hello, you dense people!  Let's have a wedding!"  So I have to wait, be patient, and see how it all works out.

Now I suspect that some people know exactly what I need, but don't know how to let me know.  I am the dense one who does not see what is good for me.  Who better than God knows what is best for me? But God is patient, yet gives me signals when I least expect it.  Whenever I am uncomfortable, as in restless, irritable, and discontented, it means that I have not been listening to God.  Like boy meets girl, God brings me into contact with what is best for me.  I may be dating another fantasy, or chasing after my tail. God waits.
So does the monastery.  So does San Francisco.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Past

The pope said that Christianity should not be considered as something of the past.  Well, then don't live in the past.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Baseball and Lapsed Catholics

When people join a church, they really join a particular parish too.  For most, belonging to the Catholic church means also belonging to a particular worshipping community.  I meet many a person who dropped out.  When I ask some questions I most often find that they could make no connect in the parish with actual worshippers.  Nobody talked to them.  They went to the clubby coffee and donuts, but were ignored.  Sometimes, they were off-put by too many people speaking a different language than they did.  They could connect with the Eucharist but not with people.  They called up to get involved in a volunteer job and no one called them back.  They had no liberal axe to grind.  They simple wanted to feel a more immediate part of something, to experience community.  They once loved church.  Now they don't.  Sad.

No one used to love baseball.  Either you love it or you don't.  Some people prefer football, but that sport is going nowhere with all the head injuries.  Some people will say they used to follow baseball, but their team got so bad for so long that they stopped following baseball.   When the team changes, and gets good again, these people will go back.  Why do people stay in love with baseball?  I go to a game.  I sit in my seat.  I know no one around me.  We can be from different cultures.  But I can immediately start up a conversation with a stranger about baseball.  We are immediately connected, even though we may have very different opinions about a baseball issue.  We enjoy the event together, not separately.  Between innings we might talk about things outside of baseball.  We instinctively know that anyone who loves baseball is a good person.  Football is too much about violence for us.  We have instant community based upon a common interest.  In church we have a common interest, belief, but not much community comes out of it.  In baseball, no one is in a hurry.  Boredom is not an issue.  In church, people are in a hurry.  Boredom is an issue.  I believe that Jesus is in church.  Well, he is the head of the church, so he has to be there.  But I wonder if he would prefer to hang around with baseball people at the park.  Go Giants!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rearguard Action

The Taliban critically injured a 14 year old girl who had advocated Education for girls and western culture.  This is what I call a rearguard action, that is, a desperate attempt to return to an old way of doing things.  I believe that when such things happen, shooting teenage girls over religious and cultural issues, it is the beginning of the end for nostalgia.  The world is changing too fast for the Taliban.  My sense, from history, is that whenever a religious group puts great energy into returning to a past that is really past, the tide has already turned against them.   The Bishops are in Rome now at a big meeting ( synod) trying to figure out how to get back those who left, and to get new members.  We will see.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Being There

The San Francisco Giants baseball team is continuing on into the playoff and maybe the Wold Series.  I will be in San Francisco for most of the games.  It will be exciting to be there.  I was out there when they won the World Series in 2010.  it was exciting.  They had not won in 56 years.  No one can take away the victory.  This is one thing I like about sports.

Religion on the other hand can have powerful moments, followed by reversals.  On October 11, 1962, the same month the Giants lost the World Series to the Yankees, Vatican II began.  It was an exciting time.  New events happened.  History was being made.  The church was going to dialogue with the modern world.  When the council closed three years later, there was so much hope.  Everyone went home, but the Curia, the Roman Cardinals, they stayed.  Today there is a rear guard effort to return to nostalgia.  I like baseball better.  When you win, you win.  With hierarchy the losses are temporary.  People say Rome is a wonderful place.  Been there.  I would prefer a baseball game, with my Giants winning.  A win you cannot reverse.

The Chalice

You ask, "Why did they do away with the word cup and replace it with the word chalice?"  Well, the new liturgy did and it didn't.  Listen.  In the Eucharistic prayer, the priest takes the chalice and says the word "chalice" in the prayer.  But when he is finished the elevation of the chalice, the people say, "When we drink this cup...."  Say what?  You see, I get to drink from a chalice but you only get to drink from a cup.  I am a priest.  You are a layperson.  I have seen places where only the priest and ordained deacon get to drink from the priest's chalice.

Jesus seemed to feel that his precious blood would do fine in a simple cup.  The Passover used a cup, not a chalice.  The Last Supper is a reminder of the Jewishness of Jesus.  The change of word from cup to chalice covers up a bit the Jewishness of Jesus.  Do you sense any political agenda here?  Any sociological shift?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What A relief!

The report that one billion people are go hungry turns out to be wrong.  It is only 870 million.  What a relief.  Only 870 million.  Uh, isn't that almost three times the population of the United States?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Support Systems

The hierarchy wants to go back to the earlier 20th century way of the church because that was the support system that transmitted the faith so well.  Didn't we have two world wars back then, Christians killing one another, and the massacre of Jews?  If you want to put that aside, I think you have to face that people are different in their views today about religion.  Culture is moving along.  The old ways won't speak to any but the few who want such things as certainty, pomp, emphasis on obey the rules and a male dominated institution.

For many, religion has gone beyond irrelevant.  Irrelevant says that religion is real, has a purpose, but not a purpose for that person.  For many though, religion has gone the way of the tooth fairy.  It is that unreal.  Some people may come back because of nostalgia in the return to the old ways of being church.  I suspect that these people will find solace inside the church building, but I doubt that they will be much better people in their daily lives.  If they are not already good people, compassionate, caring, without prejudice, then I doubt a Latin mass will make them so.  Is anyone joining the church because Cardinal so and so is running around in a red cape and long red garment?

The new evangelization says we must preach Christ.  Seems he did not have much pomp, lived a simple lifestyle, hung around with public sinners, challenged the religious leaders who pushed the rule based life, and told memorable stories to make his point.  He even tried to engage people in conversation rather than just talk at them.  As in the time of Jesus, I think there are a ton of people who still have an inner hunger.  The old-time church will speak to but a few, and those few will make little difference outside the building and the ritual they so long for.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Intention

Intention is at the heart of a monk's profession or vows or promises.  Chastity in a celibate lifestyle, poverty or simplicity of lifestyle, and obedience are often highlighted.  Behind them is the intention.  Why is the monk doing this?  The intention is to become conformed to Christ, grow into a deeper union with Christ in daily life.  It is to become transformed.  The monk usually leaves or is asked to leave because this intention does not seem to be bearing fruit in the monastic life.

In whatever spiritual path we chose, there must be some intention behind the daily activities.  The activity, in itself, may not get us where we intended to go.  In a 12 step recovery program, a person stops drinking, goes to meetings, gets a sponsor, works the steps, and is helpful to others.  My sense is that all this is to help them to find a higher power such that these people become transformed.  How will someone know that they are being transformed?  Don't worry.  People will tell you in their own way.

In my work as a priest, I must have an intention behind all that I do.  Otherwise, the doing of daily tasks become a job and not a way of life, not a path to the Spirit.  My day needs a mix of solitude, work, being with others in friendship, reading and exercise.  I will assume sleep and eating here.  Even in a monastery, all this must be present in some daily combination.  Now if I am on a silent retreat, I will have more solitude and less work or interpersonal relations.  But overall I know what my intention is when I became a priest.  The old-time term was, "To save my immortal soul." This keeps it real for me.  Each day, I try to renew my intention.  What is your intention behind your daily lifestyle?  You have no intention?  Well, you might qualify as "lost sheep."  If so, God has a special affection for you.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


When religion teachers try to engage you, they seem to orbit around teaching the faith. If your orbit is outside of theirs, they never go out to where you are. These teachers, preachers stay inside their religion. They explain but they don't engage. They speak answers, but don't ask questions. Why would they ask about your orbit. They are not into listening. They want you to come into their orbit.  It seems that Jesus the teacher engages people rather than preaches at them.  He asks questions.  He asks their opinion about something, as in the case of the fellow who wanted to know who is the neighbor.  Jesus tells stories to engage people.  Some teachers are simply in your face, or just in their own world, which to them has all the truth, and if you don't get there, well, you are damned.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Other

Why might we need others in our lives?  I don't mean a bunch of people as in a crowd.  Why do we need a couple of people who are close to us, who know us?  A reason for me, is that I can have the  chance to accept myself through the eyes of another.  Have you never been down on yourself, and someone in your life comes along and tells you how good, precious and important you are to them?  I am a guy who likes and flourishes in solitude, but I need to have a balance.  In solitude, God might reveal my mess.  In relationship, I have a balance.  It is good to love your enemies.  That way, they would feel more guilty about telling you what a jerk they think you are.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

More Cancer

Today, I go under the knife, or the knife goes scrapping over my skin to remove yet more cancer.  Seems each time I go to get my checkup I have some more stuff to be cut away.  This time it is on my upper left arm.  I am a lefty.  Besides the inconvenience, each time I have a medical "issue" I am faced with my mortality.  Life gets real.  Instead of thinking how I want to live my 80s, I am a bit more grateful for today.  I do more short-range planning.  I continue to run and exercise, but such attempts to have eternal life in this physical body are revealed today as an illusion.  Prayer is the exercise for the eternal life of which Jesus was speaking.  If I run an hour, do I pray an hour?  I can take a day off from exercise and this can be a benefit physically.  To take a day off from prayer, well, that is not so good.  Today I will do my hour and a good part of that will be praying that the one holding the knife gets it all, and I don't whine on the table.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Latino Contentment

Have a mass in Spanish and they will come, in droves.  Why?  The language of the mass is a step towards becoming a place that suits the culture.  Spanish immigrants see church as much more than mass.  The church setting and surroundings is their coffee Klatch, their clubhouse.  In nicer weather people will stand around outside the church and visit.  The grassy area around the church, the parking lot are the playgrounds for the children.  Boys meet girls in this atmosphere, or at least identify someone they might want to meet.  People dress up.  It is a festive time.  They sing in church.  It is mass and a lot more.

Have a mass in English and people will come, if the time is convenient.  Then they rush off to shop, play golf, hike, bike, soccer, watch American football, or go out to eat and spend money.  Mass is a part of a much larger agenda away from the church.  It is on the "too do" list for Sunday.  It can be skipped for other things.  By the third generation of the immigrant Latino, it has become like the English.  The popular term is "secularization."

It is a nice pat answer to the reason Rome wants to evangelize America.  Yet, I have seem places where the mass is in English and the place is packed and people hang around afterwards and are happy to be with one another.  Be careful about "blaming the people." Some became secularized because their wasn't much of an alternative that they found attractive.  People are hungry for spiritual food.  If they don't get it one place, well, they go out and eat.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Complaint Department

I just read a statement by a Paulist seminarian that questioned, "Why would anyone want to join a church or group that is always complaining?"  We old liberal priests decry the direction of the church and the choice of bishops and so on.  They younger guys, who are  supposed to be taking our place find this disconcerting.  They find that the direction of the church fits them.  Think about it.  If someone is complaining about their car repair shop or their doctor, would you be interested in going there?  No.  So why should someone want to be part of a church or group in the church that is always complaining?  I think that the seminarian is a bit harsh when he says that the reason young people are not interested in the church is because their parents were always complaining about the church.  But it did not help either.

For myself, I am supposed to want to bring people to Christ through the Catholic way of faith and worship.  I am rather positive about the church in convert classes.  But I get a bit sloppy in other settings.  Maybe I just need a little liberal club of people who fell in love with the 60s and 70s.  In our "club" we can say anything we want.  We can all enjoy the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.  On the other hand, I do need something like Commonweal and America magazine to keep a balance and yet stay in reality.  The Complaint Department cannot travel with me like a dark cloud that hangs overhead.  If the Holy Spirit is at work, then there is a plan in all this return to an older way that disguises itself as Vatican II renewal.  Oops!  Complaint Department again.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Got Plenty of Nothing

So the song goes.  It reminds me of St. Francis of Assisi again.  He actually was quite smart in his own way.  He did not want a job working for his Dad.  He wanted a career, a mission, a fulfilling vocation.  So what did he do?  He got rid of everything.  Once you have nothing, you don't have to settle for a job in order to pay for it all.  Why do most of us end up settling for jobs to get money to pay bills?  We have stuff, and people that cost money.  We get spouses, houses, children, cars, furnishings, and then junk/clutter.  I did some of this so I know.  I needed a job to pay for my stuff.  Then one day, the light went on.  I got rid of stuff and followed a career.  My life fit in a foot locker and the back seat of my car.  Eventually, I got rid of much of that too.  Over the years I have accumulated more stuff.  Now I say, "Oh, I cannot do this or go there."  Why?  Because it is such a pain to move all my stuff!  No wonder Jesus told his disciples to travel light.  I still wonder what happened to their spouses?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Credit Cards

I did not use them for years.  When I discovered them, or they me, with my disposable income, I would not use them.  If I could not afford something, I did not buy it.  I got a loan in school for a car and tuition.  I paid it off in installments my first three years after I finished school.  I never felt that I deserved a vacation.  I earned a vacation.  I saved up.  I did buy some ridiculous 60s clothes and plenty of beers, but I always paid cash or check.  Even today, all the bills I get, I can and do pay with no interest.  The only thing I cannot buy that I want is eternal life, heaven.  That will be a gift.  I wonder how many people who think they deserve this and that, on the spot, now, will be surprised when they die and find that there is an installment plan that they have been missing payments on during their self-serving lives?  It is called purgatory.  Attending to my spiritual life today, with prayer and action, is making payments.  I don't want that interest to build up.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Seem the presidential candidates are promising more "jobs."  Sad that this is where the bar is now set for employment.  A job is something that I got during the summer between school semesters.  At home I had house chores or jobs to do.  Cleaning the bathroom was a job.  When I finally finished school, I went into a career, not a job.  My work was more than to pay bills.  My career was to be part of my overall fulfillment as a person.  I never thought of being fired from a career.  Companies did not downsize careers.  We have come or gone a long way, down.

I quit my career in business because it was not fulfilling.  It was not who I am.  If I am any good as a priest, it is not because I am clever nor especially compassionate or loving.  But I am where I belong.  Being a priest seems to fit me, even if I am a monk priest.  When it becomes a job, then I have lost my vocation.  It may be difficult at times in this church, and I have my demons, but it is my calling.  In the secular world it is called a "career."

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Disguise

I am in wonder at how people will cut someone slack, who might be an idiot, or uncaring, as long as they dress up in fancy clothes.  Louis XVI was king of France and got away with messing up for quite some time.  He dressed fancy and rode about in fancy livery.  But eventually the people figured it out and he lost his head, which apparently he was not using very much.

Church hierarchy tend to dress up and people go out to listen to them.  If the Pope dressed in tee shirt and jeans on a hot day and walked about Rome would people take him as seriously as when he is all garbed in his white outfit?  No.  If I come into church in a tee shirt and shorts with my five finger shoes, and say I am giving a talk on mystics, many people would dismiss me, before they heard a word I said.  If I came in with black clerical suit, black robe and barrette, a few more would come to listen.  Clothes sell a speaker.  The speaker may be an idiot, but clothes disguise this, for a while anyway.  But then, if someone goes to listen to a speaker because of outer garments, who really is the idiot?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

St. Francis of Assisi

Today is his feast day.  Now here is a fellow who took the gospel seriously, especially about clothes.  He took all his off one day and stood in the town square.  Today, he would be arrested and be refused permission to function in any official category of the church.  He was simply renouncing all his possessions and giving them back to his father who disagreed with Francis' "vocation."  Today, wearing expensive clothes seems to be more in among the clergy than a few years ago.  We all hold up Francis as a great saint.  But if he lived in this age, I am not so sure we would all feel so comfortable around him.  Saints are like that.  The further away they are from us, the more comfortable we are about their existence.  Do we keep the Gospel book pretty far away too?  How many of us, when the Gospel is being proclaimed in the church worship service, are looking around at what everyone else is wearing?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Oh, the Emptiness!

I can always tell if the local college team is losing badly.  Traffic.  The roads are full while the game is still in progress.  The stands are practically empty, but the team has to play on and keep trying as it faces certain defeat.  Do the fans love their team? No.  They came to be entertained with victory.  It is different with a parent who loves their child.  The parent attends the contest.  The child is inept, makes mistakes, is lost out there, losing badly.  Does the parent go home and leave the child to stumble along alone?  No.  Why?  Love.  The parent is bonded to the child in relationship.  The child is not there to entertain the parent or allow the parent's ego to bask in the child's victory.  Child and parent might suffer together.  The parent is there to encourage, support.  A sport is called a "game."  Children "play sports."  So when someone says that they love the team, I ask, "Did you stay till the end the last time they were losing badly?"  How many stayed at the foot of the cross till the end?  A few.  Those who loved stayed.  Those who wanted victory, now, left.  They left too soon.  My local college team will be fine in time.  They just have to bear a cross for a while.  I'd be sad if people dumped me the moment I made mistakes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I gave one of my spirituality workshops this past weekend.  The attendance was the usual number that shows up for what I do.  But someone was there who had never heard me.  This was their first time coming to one of my workshops.  They said, "Boy, you have some following." She seemed surprised, as in why would so many people come out to listen to me?  I am bemused. There are members of my religious who seemed equally surprised at the number of people who would come out to listen to me.  There must be something about me that says "mediocre."  This is bad for my kind of work.  I am trying to get people to hire me to give talks.  But I seem to be putting my light under a bushel basket.  I wonder if God is bemused too.  After all, I thought that it was God who wanted me to do this work.  If so, then God is very inefficient, to choose such a mediocre package as me, to do mystical work.  I lack pizazz.  I am unpolished.  Time to retire?  Hope not.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A New Church

There is a new church in our valley.  It will begin business this week.  Now some are already saying that the new church will take people from other churches.  Loss and gain=$$$ is behind this anxiety.  But I say that a new parish can better take care of the local scene.  People may switch because a place is more convenient for one reason or another.  I have always felt that my job was to preach the gospel.  My filter of the gospel will appeal to a certain type of person.  I never worry about people for whom convenience is the major issue.  They have their reasons and their priorities.  The Holy Spirit is at work.  I have worked in places that have little or no parking, difficult to get to, ugly building, but we never went broke from want of people.  I just control what I can control.  Preach to those who hunger for the word.  Tell people of God's unconditional love, and they will come.  Such love seems to be a well-kept secret in many parishes with pretty churches and big parking lots.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I watched some of the local college team football game today.  The team lost by a lot and  seemed to me to be dreadful.  But afterwards, the commentators who know a lot about football said that the team would improve and we need to be patient.  They saw things I did not see.  I am an amateur fan and they are coaches who have been through a lot of football.  They see things I do not see.

Faith is like that in a way.  You look upon Jesus on the cross and see a dreadful loser.  Don't hope in this guy.  Find a winner.  But the experts, such as Paul, see so much more in the same scenario.  I have the same faith as Paul.  I have been in religion for a long time.  I have come to see strength in weakness.  I have come to see that failure is a great teacher.  Don't give up.  Trust that God is at work.  Faith begins to grow usually by believing in the believers.  They have been on the road longer than you.

So I am a believer in my local college football team, not because I see something good in the mess, but because I believe in the believers.  In time, I may become converted.  My team could use a resurrection win though.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Not So Small World

Well, a nun tells her little students not to associate with children who go to non-Catholic Schools or don't believe as we believe.  And in Germany, no pay, no way to sacraments. Talk about turning inward!  Jesus would be turning over in his grave if he were in his grave.  If the bishops in the USA said that only supporters of the parish would get sacraments, we would have a smaller first communion and confirmation class, fewer baptisms and weddings.  What about the dead?  Well, Jesus did say, "Let the dead bury the dead."  Will the German bishops take this literally?  And you wonder why Catholics here are ignoring the hierarchy and voting for Obama?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Too Much Unemployment

When unemployment in a society gets to a certain percentage, whatever that is, bad things will happen.  The unemployed, especially if they are young, have energy and time.  They are not working.  They become blamers and negative thinkers.  Someone or something caused this.  They suffer self-esteem issues.  So they burn things, destroy things, and people.  They see themselves as over and against.  If all those people in the Middle East, as we call that region, were at 8% unemployment, there would be a lot less mess.  People would be invested, and be going to work.  No time to hate another religion or to listen to some mullah.  No energy left over to destroy.  No lack of self-worth that leads to cantankerousness.  In my country, things are kind of quiet. The young still have hope that jobs will come.  There is something of a safety net.  A few unemployables sit in the parks.  Did anyone see the 60s coming?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lookin' Good

If people know you as a Catholic, try to be pleasant even if you feel crumby.  Don't give our religion a bad name by your attitude.  What if you decide to whine and complain about your woes.  Your friend listens, or appears to listen.  You finish.  You feel better and thank your friend for listening.  You part.  Then you don't see your friend for what seems an unusually long time.  And you wonder why?  Jesus did not say, "Go to mass every Sunday and receive communion, and stay free from mortal sin."  The hierarchy said that. Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow me."  He did not include whining in the carrying of the cross.  There are 14 stations of the cross.  Do you recall any one that said,  "Jesus whined?"  Whining causes isolation.  At least I have found it so.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Inner and Outer Self

At times, people come up to me and say, "Father, you look good.  You look happy.  You look rested.  You seem to be at peace."  I am not aware of any of this.  I did not see any of this in the mirror earlier that morning.  What I do recall is that on those days, I had spent quiet time in solitude with God before I encountered the person who just spoke with me.  The inner self is reproduced in the outer self.  The inner gives birth to the outer.  Want to look good and spend zero money on cosmetics, and gym costs?  Meditate.  Oh, but I do work out!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Executive Followers

Jesus' disciples wanted to be executives in the Kingdom.  They would argue who would be the greatest in the Kingdom.  The one who sits closest to power would be the greatest.  It is true that CEO types can do a lot of good, but in fact, few do.  It is a lot of greed and the bottom line for many.  The trickle down economic idea was a way to be greedy and think some "invisible hand" was going to feed the lower classes.  

Jesus gave his followers the key to power.  He said to be of service.  Now a lot of people come to this country, poor, and get work because they do jobs no one else wants to do.  They come and make beds, wash dishes, clean floors, cook and so on.  If a person could do these tasks with love rather than prideful resentment, the world would be changed.  Once a year, the male hierarchy in my church washes a few feet.  The rest of the time, they want to be CEOs.  You wonder why religion is losing its grip on the culture?