Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I think that some people prefer God to be like a beautiful star, something we can look for and find when we want, but does not get too close or interfere in our plans.  As I read the Hebrew Scriptures, it seems that God wants to be more intimate with the people than that.  Now if you were to treat your spouse or friend as you would a star, something pretty to look at when you want, or look for when it suits you, but who would not interfere in your personal plans, that relationship would not last, would it?  I don't think God is optional.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Whose Freedom?

The monastery has 3600 acres.  We do not cultivate all of it.  Most is left as pasture, or simply left to do whatever it has done for millennia.  We irrigate pasture so that whatever is there will grow,be it weed, grass or flowers.  Animals eat it all.  There have been critters living in these pastures and forests forever.  It is their home.  Now if someone wants to build a house on such land, they might say, "It is a beautiful view. I want a house here."  So they uproot a lot of stuff, trees soil and plants.  When the house is built, the owners complain that there are critters under and around the house digging holes.  Well, you built your home on top of their home.  What did you expect?  So you kill or displace the critters, to be rid of them in your area.  Your freedom took away their freedom.  The homeowner destroyed ecology so that they could have what they want.

Some people tell others that they, the others, are not free to what whatever they want or choose, usually in areas of sex.  Then these same critical people say, "I will recycle if it suits me.  I will build my home where it suits me."  Seems as if the word freedom is at time a bit self-centered, no?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Spiritual Ecology

Big Agribusiness likes to see acres and acres of rows of food growing in the fields, all looking the same.  Did you know that this is bad for the land?  The land used to be prairie and had lots of different stuff, including flowers, growing in it.  Wildlife found a home in one diverse area or another.  The land was renewed by this process.  Not so with the depletion due to agribusiness which is out for profit, not ecology.  Sameness stresses the soil.  Big business farming might recycle something, but they sure won't be planting flowers or turning the prairie over to the critters.

I wonder if the church is not stressed by sameness, everyone in lock step, like so many rows of corn?  I think that the church needs some diversity, to stay with our roots.  We might need people who differ with the status quo, the accepted way of doing things.  Jesus was not in step with the religious leaders, nor was Paul.  Once the Church became the power, its leaders did not want anymore diversity.  Was Lord Acton correct?  Power corrupts?

Saturday, July 28, 2012


In the non-fiction book, The Zookeeper's Wife, Antonina was a rescuer of Jews in WWII Poland.  She had been brought up a Catholic but was not particularly focused on following all the rules of the church or worship.  On page 315 of the book, rescuers seem to have certain traits.  They tend to be risk-taking, fast thinking, independent, rebellious, unusually flexible, able to abandon habits, or change ingrained routines.  This certainly does not sound like the type of Catholic the hierarchy is looking for.  Would the hierarchy's good Catholic, in WWII, be waiting around for Pius XII to tell them what to do?  Jesus was a rescuer, and he did not seem to fit in.  "Crucify Him!"  Rescuer or obedient follower can be a difficult choice for all of us.

Friday, July 27, 2012


I hear that we are supposed to "evangelize," get people all fired up about the faith/church.  Well, I would not want to get people too fired up.  What if they are unbalanced, immature, needy.  Look at those Legionnaries.  They were a bunch of guys all fired up, and women too.  Their founder and leader was a mess, but they would not look at that, even though info was around from back in the 90s.  The priests took oaths never to criticize the boss.  He was sure covering for himself with that one.  These guys were all fired up, but they were not all grown up.  I work at being grown up, and for me this is a daily job.  Grace builds on nature.  Weren't the witch hunters all fired up back in Salem, MA in the 17th century?  Too many times when people of religion get all fired up, they seem to kill people who don't agree with them, or try and be rid of the opposition in a more acceptable fashion.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


My muscle was cramping.  It turns out I was not taking my magnesium.  I need a daily dosage of magnesium, and the monastery does not seem to have any.  Well, I have some now.  I think that my soul cramps if I don't take a daily dosage of prayer.  What is the result of a cramped soul?  One or more of the seven deadly sins begins to rule our lives.  I would add an eighth.  Whining.  It might be a man thing, or so my woman friends tell me.  When I get my dosage of meditation, I seem to whine less, even though the world does not make me the center of attention.  With prayer, my threshold of pain and frustration goes up.  I am more accepting, less resentful, and a more pleasant person.  So why would you dump prayer on a daily basis?  Insanity?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Earth's Heart

Jesus speaks about being buried in the "heart of the earth."  It is in Matthew when he speaks about Jonah.  The earth has a heart?  Jesus seems to think so, and he is God.  The earth lives and breathes.  It takes into its womb (Spanish translation) the body of Jesus.  From death comes new life.  So why do we trash the earth as if it were some inanimate object made up of rocks and dirt.  The earth held the body of Jesus for three days.  He came out of that experience in pretty good shape, wouldn't you say?  To me, when we trash the earth, I believe we are trashing God.  Some of us go to church on Sunday, say we love God, and then go off and pollute our world, God's world.  It does not seem like much of a holistic faith.  If you thought God were an environmentalist, would you give up your religion, rather than downsize? You cannot have it both ways.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Bishop

The Rochester, NY bishop is about to retire.  Some years ago, Cardinal Ratzinger told him to stop supporting Fr. Charlie Curran, who was giving alternative views to some sex issues, than the church was currently teaching.  The Rochester bishop did not back down.  He said that moral theology is a living discipline, facing ever new questions, which develops historically.  He is right.  The Cardinal let him be.  So for those who say, "The Church teaches," I suggest that you read some history of how things change and develop.   Pluralism and change in views, development in cultural responses are part of history.  History can make us uncomfortable if we like things to be "unchanging."  History can make us all uncomfortable when it comes to our pet prejudices.

Monday, July 23, 2012


No this is not about contraception.  It is about the pills for "nice people."  Pain killers.  These people don't want to be like those wretched drug addicts, who shoot up and snort stuff.  Those are the real low lives.  No, these are nice working people, family people, even church people, who want to change the way they feel, or want to stop feeling, but in a civilized fashion.  It is a pain killer, not dope they say.  There are various ways to obtain the pills.  Some doctors will prescribe for you.  It shortens the hard work of living.  "Life is difficult," said M. Scott Peck in A Road Less Traveled.  Well lets take away the difficulty.  Pain is not optional.  It can be eliminated.  Until you cannot stop the solution.  Welcome to addiction.  You now join those snorters and needle people you looked down upon.

I have found an alternative.  I take two doses a day, one in the morning and one in the evening.  It is meditation.  Unlike the pill, I have no control over what effect any one dose will have.  But over time, I feel better, that is, I can better deal with the pain or difficulties of being alive in a world in which I am neither in control or the center of attention.  Meditation costs nothing.  It has no addictive parts.  It calls for me to make an adult, disciplined choice each day.  It does take one thing though. Time.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Single Women

It seems that more and more people are living alone, and growing old alone.  Once there were the Beguines.  These were lay women, with jobs, self-supporting, who decided to live together with some common purpose, though they each had their own working lives.  Why not do that again for the modern woman?  I suppose you could do it for the modern man too, but the place would be a pigsty!  I think that guys have a harder time in expressing their feelings, and sharing their thoughts with others.  Women tell me this.  A community of lay women would not be living separately under one roof, but living with a combination of their own interests, work and friends, but with some common bonds that give them a sense of belonging, and a sense of shared service and care for one another.  I could be their chaplain!

If you live with someone because you "have to" as in religious orders or some rectories, there is not the same effort to truly live in community of a shared heart.  If it is a chosen way of life, people will work more at the common bonding that takes this sharing of the heart.  Some common meals, common cleaning, some shared expenses is a real leap of faith.  But isn't all faith, if it is faith, a leap?

Saturday, July 21, 2012


In grammar school my friend Dave looked hopeless in sports.  He could not run, throw, or catch.  He seemed so uncoordinated.  Then he found golf.  His swing was effortless.  The ball went long and straight.  It was beautiful to behold.  Yes, Dave took a few lessons, but not many.  He was not rich.  He had golf genes.  Fortunately, he discovered this at a fairly young age, 14.  Most children have some sport genes.  They just need to find the sport.  If a parent was a runner, then it is likely the child has a running gene.  Parents say, "I have no time to run."  Well, how will your child find the running gene if you don't model running for the child?  Maybe the child goes into ballet because her friends are in it.  But she has no coordination or talent for ballet, or soccer or basketball.  Actually, I discovered running from playing basketball.  I did not tire going up and down the court while the other players got easily winded.

A boy may be able to hit a  baseball, but will never know it unless someone introduces him to the sport.  A teacher is good, but can only build on what is already there, the hitting gene.  I think that all of us have spiritual genes.  We each have a talent to pray and praise God, but differently.  One way does not fit all.  So we might need to try different ways to see what seems more of a fit.  Some people like to do Centering Prayer.  Some like to sit in front of the tabernacle.  Some like novenas, or rosaries.  Some prefer to start with the bible.  Some like one form of the mass or church worship and some like another.  You will know when you find it.  Boredom may be part of any form you choose.  I get bored running sometimes.  Don't let your feelings be the judge of the rightness of your way of prayer and worship.  The Holy Spirit is at work.  Trust God...then do repeat 400s on the track!

Friday, July 20, 2012


My running coach speaks about being consistent in my training.  Do something each day.   Don't judge how you are doing by your feelings.  On any one day or several days you may feel that you are getting no better.  You feel no improvement.  "Phooey on feelings," I say.  In time, you will notice improvement.  We sometimes get bored and say, "I am in a rut.  This is a waste of time and energy."  Feelings can fib.  I have found it so in running.

I have found it so in prayer practice too.  I need to do some prayer, meditation and good works or some combination of these on a daily basis.  I may feel bored, or judge that I am getting no better.  But in time I will see that worldly temptations, or the seven deadly sins, no longer seem to rule my life.  There will be temptation but it will not have the power it had in the past.  A new power is taking over.  This is spiritual fitness, not based upon feelings but upon action.  The Holy Spirit is the coach of the heart.  The coach is present, even if you don't feel the Presence.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Church Teaches

Whenever someone asks me why I believe something, and I answer, "Because that is what the Church teaches," I am being a lazy Catholic, and doing that questioner an injustice, assuming the question is an honest search for truth.  Why Lazy?  Well, the Church was not formed so I could feel comfy in my beliefs, but rather it was formed to evangelize.  It is not enough to simply say, "I believe that Jesus was raised because the Pope says so."  I have to be able to explain how I came to the truth of this statement.  I have found that inquirers will listen to an explanation of my coming to faith, but not a simple dogmatic statement.  Evangelization engages the inquirer.

Sometimes my own laziness is a cover for personal prejudices, or experiences about which I do not want to talk or would embarrass me if I really took a good look at them.  A Catholic friend of mine once said to me that she did not believe in the ordination of women.  She could have said it is what the church teaches, but in her wonderful honesty she gave her real answer.  "Women gossip, and I would not want to go to confession to one," she told me.  We can use the teaching of the church to avoid our own discomfort with any alternative situation.

Back to the Resurrection.  Why is it meaningful for you?  What changes, grows, makes sense, uplifts you, because you believe in his dogma?  To me, this is how we people of faith engage a world that looks for meaning deeper than daily survival or making more money or having more things.  You might try this approach with issues of sex and power, little of which is really credal dogma.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mom and Abortion

When most of us kids were off to college, my Mom went from being a Mom at Home to working outside the home.  We needed the income too.  She had always wanted to be a nurse, but never had the chance.  She got a job at the local hospital.  It was nearby, something she liked to do, and the pay was good.  Then the hospital decided to do abortions.  My Mom's job was to get rid of the "body parts" that came to the lab where she worked.  Though some would say the parts were not human parts, they looked pretty human to Mom.  She did not believe in abortion.  But, she needed the work, the income.  She only had a high school education.  She otherwise loved her job.  She quit.  Now that is taking up your cross.  I always admired her for that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Contraception and the Cross

If someone came to me and said, "I am thinking of going on the pill because I want to have sex with my boyfriend. What do you think?"  I would say, "Take the cross and leave the pill."  Why?  Well, I think that there is something about the cross that is fulfilling, that has something to do with making us better people.  I don't think that Jesus says, "Take up your cross," because he wants us to be miserable.  God did not make us to be miserable, but whole.  God is pretty smart from looking around at this vast universe.  If God did become human and took up the cross, then maybe there is something to it.  If, when I was dating in the promiscuous 60's, and met a person who said no to my romancing because they were practicing chastity, I think that I would be fascinated.  That is not an easy thing to do.  I suspect that it is just as difficult now, but this is just a guess.  Is it really in my best interest to be able to do what I want, when I want?  To limit my struggles to areas where I cannot escape from them anyway does have a "cross" to it, but I think that Jesus had something else in mind.  To be more free to do what I want, is not necessarily a good thing.  The seven deadly sins seem to be common to the human condition.  On any one day, I am steeped in or struggling with some of them.  The cross may be the only way for me to be the best that God made me to be.  To place limits and then to struggle with those limits might reveal a beauty in life I did not know.  Jesus showed so much more of who he is by taking up his cross.  So the next time someone says something will give you unlimited happiness, more choices, more freedom, you might think about it for a while.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Nancy was my high school love.  But I was selfish and self-centered.  I went to college nearby my high school.  After a few months in college, I decided I wanted to meet other young women.  I just stopped calling or seeing Nancy.  I did not explain anything.  I broke her heart.  She was still in high school.  After several months I called.  We got back together, but it was not the same.  Nancy was wiser now.  In my absence, she had decided to go to college many miles and two states away from me and home.  We dated until she went away.  I thought things were going well.  I visited her remote college once in a blizzard, such is love.  She was happy to see me.  There was another guy on the horizon.  Nothing to worry about, right?  Wrong.  By summer when Nancy got back home, I was pretty much number two on her list.  Now I was unhappy.  When Nancy went back to college that fall, our relationship faded.  She wrote me as much.  Over the next two years I saw her once at the World's Fair where I was working.  We ran into one another and had a long conversation that changed nothing.  I think I whined!

In my second year of graduate school, I was with some of my college chums on a Saturday, playing tag football.  Maybe someone mentioned it, but somehow I knew that Nancy was getting married that day in a church that was on my way home, or could be.  After the game I drove by the church and decided to park my car.  I got out and stood across the street from the front door.  Almost immediately, the doors  flung open and out came Nancy and her new husband.  She looked happy.  I was sad, and alone.  What a mess selfishness makes of a life.  Nancy went on to a much happier marriage as Mrs. Nancy Marsden than she ever would have been as Mrs. Nancy Ryan.  I was not marriage material.

God works in mysterious ways.  I went on to work in business in two cities, looking for Miss Right, but I was Mr. Wrong, and so no luck.  Then God began to haunt me.  "Come to me."  It was like an occasional wave upon the shore.  I ignored, or talked my way out of it for a while.  "God, you don't want me," was my prayer more or less.  But finally, I decided to jump in and not avoid the wave.  I have been bobbing around now for 40 years with the Paulist Fathers.  It was what God wanted, damaged goods and all.  God wanted me to be a priest.  The road was long, dark and confusing at times, just to get into the ocean of God's love.  Where sin abounds, grace aboundeth more.  Stanch Catholics, those who are solid in their faith, have other priests to care for their needs or wants.  I think I am best among those who are on the edge of the wave.  They see me bobbing around and think, maybe they don't have to be so perfect, or squeaky clean to have a place in the ocean of God's love.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


What, no hell with worms and fire?  No place completely devoid of God?  What gives here with the early Church Fathers?  Some pretty important ones such as St. Ambrose of Milan, who baptized Augustine, says it is unthinkable that God, who is "All in All," would abandon anyone.  God, in Christ, gives everyone the fullness of love, and this means everyone.  This love, however, can be experienced as a torment by those who reject it.  They see their sin as a response to the fire of Love.  Remorse becomes quite clear.  The heart is afflicted by having sinned against Love.

The fire of judgment, the fire of God's love, will consume only that part of us which is evil.  It is like the good seed and the weeds growing together until the harvest.  If the body is ill, the surgeon might have to cause some pain to get rid of the bad parts.  Each of us are saved and condemned.  Some stuff has gotta' go!  But Christ went into hell after death.  We may suffer from remorse, but not despair.  Nothing can defeat the Lord's compassion.

So why this heavy emphasis on the judgment and subsequent eternal fires of hell, with the worms to boot?  Welcome to Medieval Christianity and the power wars.  It is the trump card that the pope can use with powerful barons, princes and lords of vast estates and wealth.  If you mess with the pope's power or authority too much, he will excommunicate you.  No prince wants to die outside the church.  Hell becomes leverage in the medieval world.  Plus, the prince, while he is alive, might give lands to the church and ask that prayers be said, masses too, for the soul of the prince after he dies.  Eventually this land becomes the papal states, and is a big source of income for the papacy.  Well, gone are the papal states, and if you go back to the early Church Fathers you can be a bit more optimistic about judgment.  There is still that terrible remorse.  Think of being unfaithful to a really good friend.  It is a gazillion times worse than that.  So, there is pain, but no worms.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Deep Roots

Some people say that Christianity is old fashioned and out of touch.  It has had its day.  They say this especially about the Catholic Church.  But I like the word, "Antiquity" rather than old fashioned.  We Christians go back a long way and must have come up with some pretty good wisdom for our "do it yourself" American way of figuring things out.  We have something to offer to people who come up with new solutions out of their personal experience.  AA is an example.  Europe is steeped in tradition.  They would never have figured out a program for alcoholics.  We Americans are not so steeped in tradition. We look to the future to solve problems.  What can be, what is possible?  AA was new, but it borrowed from a religious tradition to come up with its 12 steps for recovery.  The new AA solution used ancient wisdom to develop a program of recovery.  Someone called it the "church downstairs," because the groups often met in basements of churches that had "church upstairs."  The best of religious antiquity is spiritual, not political.  AA somehow knew this.  There must have been some ancient but ever new Power at work here.  You think?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Private Property

Did you know that in the bible the Jewish people did not keep property private?  Every few years land was supposed to revert back to original owners.  The sense was that the original owners got the land from God.  God owned all the land.  The early Church Fathers did not believe in private property either.  What was all this about?  My sense is that it was about the common good.  No one believed that we all were going to be living in some equal economic fashion.  There would be some people richer than others.  There was some attempt to level things out though.  If you had a lot because of luck, work ethic, or skill/intelligence, then you were supposed to take care that no one was going to be without.  No one was going to be destitute.  God had favored you with your wealth and now you use it to care for others.  Don't be spending it or hoarding it all for yourself.

If I can remember what a gift my life is, and the abundance of what I have is gift too, then I might be better able to share, to think about others who have less.  I'd be a good Jew!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Socrates and Jesus

Socrates and then Jesus liked to teach by posing a question to the inquirer.  It is called the Socratic method.  The Jesuits use it and I prefer it to being "told" answers.  I have the Catechism if I want to be told.  I use it to look up information.  But posing a question makes the listener ponder.  Jesus would often add a story or parable in bible speak.  The listener has to wrestle with the question to a conclusion.  With a question, you avoid resentment.  No one goes away hating your answer.  In the gospel, the rich young man walks away sad.  Maybe he will ponder as well in how to live his life.

For example, I could say, "Jesus Christ is risen from the dead."  It is a point of information, an article of faith for some, and nonsense for others.  No one changes their mind or opinion.  Now if I say, "Do you think Jesus is raised from the dead?"  Now we have a question to ponder.  From this I add, "I will tell you why I think that he is raised from the dead."  I give my story, or how I got to my conclusion.  They now have something to think about in relation to the question.  They have a personal response rather than simply me taking my lazy way out by saying, "It is a gift of faith."  It is, yes, but what made me accept the gift?  How did I wrestle with the question I posed?  If someone says, "I am now going to teach you," but then go on to give you information or answers, ask yourself if any of it changed you or your mind.  Many wannabe teachers are simply "tellers."  I know from experience.  It is easy to slip into the role.  Socrates and Jesus help get me back on track.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Wheel

The Church is like a wheel and each of us is a spoke that hold the wheel together as a wheel.  On the periphery, the spokes are far apart, one from another.  This is where all the disagreements, political, social, spiritual, and what not take place.  Here is where we are most likely to forget that we are all part of the wheel.  If one spoke goes, the wheel is less of a wheel.  So it does no good to say, "If you disagree with so and so, then just leave!"  Now in order to come to the center of the wheel, which in the church, is Christ, we have to somehow come closer together with one another, just as the spokes of the wheel come together.  For me, to do this, I have to love my neighbor.  I have to let go of condemnation, or stereotyping, labeling and fear.  Even the Twelve had differences of opinions that they would call "truth."  There was a zealot, fishermen, a tax collector, and a cynic.  Jesus sent them out two by two.  Why two?  So that people would see how they loved one another even where they disagreed or were of different temperaments.  People are drawn to Christ, not by our outside issues and differences, but by how we are at the center.  People watch how we are with one another, more than they listen to our words.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


For me, God is always within, that is, within me, but I am not always within me.  Often, I am scattered, looking about here and there with plans or regrets, resentments or expectations, fear, and anxiety.  Sometimes, I simply fantasize into an escape.  Then I say, "Where is God?"  I feel an absence of the Presence.  Hmm.  Who left the scene?

Monday, July 9, 2012


For me, a blog is like having a conversation in a living room where people can join in or not.  It is a place to muse, think out loud, pose a point of view, and let people respond with their own thoughts.  It is a place where everyone might learn something.  One of the things we learn is how to explain our position.  How did we get to this conclusion you might say.  No one is forced to read a blog.  It can be ignored.  For that matter if someone is giving a talk about a topic, you are free to go or not.  But if you go leave your expectations behind.  The speaker might say, "This is what I think."  It is the speaker's opinion.  Why should you get upset because you don't agree.  You could have stayed home.  I consider the mass and pulpit to be a whole different place.  People are not free to go or not go.  They are going to mass at that scheduled time and expect "The Mass" with an orthodox homily, and that is their right.  I never preach my musings in the pulpit.  It is a place for the gospel and the teachings/life and meaning of Jesus.  My personal opinions, politically or otherwise have no place there.  I had better be correct in the pulpit.  In my blog, I can be wrong.  It is OK.  I might learn something.  Don't you ever think out loud?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Aristotle and Adam Smith

Aristotle said that society would flourish if each person practiced virtue  because then the common good would benefit.  Adam Smith said that self interest should be our motive and that some invisible hand would make good things come of that.  Well, I don't know about that invisible hand but by 2008 a lot of self interest made the economy pretty bad.  Maybe Aristotle was right?  Wait.  What will be the impetus to practice virtue?  And what is the criterion for what is virtuous activity?  Without a spirituality, self interest becomes greed and virtue becomes, well, self interest.  "I will decide what is virtuous," each person will say.  Capitalism without God is a mess of greed.  Atheistic socialism was not the answer either.  In my religion we have Jesus and the cross.  He loves people and will give of himself for the sake of others who cannot seem to help themselves.  If I was going to practice virtue or capitalism I would make sure I am getting a daily second opinion.  I would ponder the Bible.  A lot of people in the bible did not pay attention and they suffered the consequences.  Why repeat that history?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Maria Goretti

Maria was declared a saint in 1950 when I was in grammar school.  A big deal was made of her because she had refused to be raped in 1902 and was murdered.  She was 12 years old at the time.  She is a reminder to me each year when her feast day comes up, of "abstinence."  I don't mean abstaining just because you are waiting for Prince Charming or Miss Barbie to come along.  I mean an act of the will for the sake of love of God.  This is where our human desires can truly be a way of transformation.  With the 60s and the pill, there was a bit more of the "eat, drink and be merry."  Abstinence in the sense that I am speaking became eclipsed with this change in mores.  This makes it even more valuable because it goes against the grain, even today.  Now the clergy are supposed to abstain from sex as a vow or part of their priesthood.  Many of them just gorge themselves on food and other substitutes.  Abstinence that transforms us is where we could do something, but make an act of the will to say "NO" for no other reason than love of God.  It is not because we are trying to keep a rule or a commandment, begrudgingly.  The motive is Love.  A person could see no harm in appeasing a human desire, but then refrains or refuses, not for health, or to avoid punishment, or keep a reputation, but because they are in Love with The God of Love.  I like Chocolate.  It is no sin to eat it.  I am not a glutton for treats.  I say no to the food, simply for love of God.  There is no rule to obey such as when we fast and abstain in Lent.  I have found that the "No" that comes from an act of the will for love of God is the best "no" for me.  Plus, I don't have to buy new wide body clothes!

Friday, July 6, 2012


I was running today, but did not drink enough water.  My hamstring cramped after a while.  It is the body's way of saying, "You don't give me enough fuel?  I will shut down."  I had to stop my run.  If I don't listen to my body, I suffer.

Is it not the same way with the soul or spirit within?  If I don't pay it enough attention with some kind of prayer, quiet time, meditation, reflection, the soul will get "cramped." How will I know?  I will become restless, irritable or discontented.  That will put a cramp into my day!  And into all those around me too.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Pill

Why might religious groups who are against artificial contraception allow for it to be included in their health coverage for employees of their religious organization?  Well, it might prevent some abortions and unwanted babies.  If a person can get inexpensive access to contraception maybe they will be more likely to use than not use it.  Now abstinence might be your preferred option for these people, but many are simply not going to take that option.  In the real world stuff happens.  Given the human condition, lust, weakness, the libido, alcohol and drugs, people are going to have sex.  Now 40% of teens seem to do it without any protection.  Keep preaching abstinence, but have a plan B.  I can be against abortion but I do not expect people to act like saints.  So there has to be some give and take here.  Religion won't get all it wants, but it won't be "encouraging" sex by having the pill in its health coverage.  People don't have sex because the pill is cheap or free.  Would that there is a pill for loneliness, low self-esteem, fear of rejection, desire to be wanted at all costs.  Well, there is.  God is Love.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Forty years ago I was a stockbroker in San Francisco, dating a young lady named Cyd.  I had decided to become a Paulist priest or at least to go 3000 miles across the country to begin the training.  My male friends had laughed at me.  They thought it ludicrous.  I was not getting much support there.  I do admit I was not the pious type.  I did not know how Cyd would take it when I told her.  She did not laugh, or ridicule me, get angry or try and talk me out of it.  She accepted it at a time when I needed my decision to be accepted by someone who knew me.

Here was this young lady, not a Catholic, or particularly church oriented, who God used as a way to send "Grace" to me through her.  Through her God was saying, "yes" to me.  Each of us can serve God's plans in ways that we do not know.  No one is beyond God.  All of us are important in God's plans.  I remember all this now, because Cyd just found me through Goggle.  Goggle has made it a smaller world, but God is still the mystery.  God works in mysterious and wondrous ways.  Do you not have people who were instruments in your life becoming what it is now?  They are grace, God's way of loving you to become who you are supposed to be.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Just be?

It seems that if you are not accepted, cherished or loved as a child simply for being you, then you might end up trying to get such acceptance by achieving things.  Work becomes a way of enhancing your self-esteem.  I think that each of us has ourself as a child, inside of us.  I try to attend to the little me inside each day.  How?  Well, if I find myself working hard and being irritated, then I stop and imagine giving my little self a hug of unconditional love.  We have to take care of ourselves!  Jesus said to become like little children and then come to him for love, not for catechism, a lecture or a scolding.  But his close followers did not seem to like this.  Didn't they become the first bishops?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mary's Parents

Anna and Joachim were the parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I figure that they must have been pretty good at parenting, and so they were declared saints.  Why might they have been good parents to Mary?  Well, by the time Mary was 12 she had the sense of self to take on a tough task and the ability to surrender at the same time.  Some women can surrender, but it is more of a giving in to keep the peace, or to take the seemingly easier road, or to hold the status quo.  Some women have a strong enough ego to say, "Yes, I can do this," in spite of hardships and the unknown.  But such women may not be very good at surrendering.  To have a "voice" a women needs the strong sense of self, of empowerment.  To deepen the spiritual life, she needs to surrender at some point along the way.  "Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord.  Be done to me according to your will," is what Mary said.  No wimp, this lady!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Map and Guide

Someone said that you cannot climb a mountain with just a map.  Why not?  A map shows me the path.  I can read.  Well, what happens when you get unexpectedly lost, or bad weather develops or you get injured?  You need a guide to go along with the map.  In the 12 Steps of Recovery from addiction, the steps are the map.  You can read them.  But you cannot follow them all alone.  You need help.  Left to your own devices you got into this predicament in the first place.  You need a guide, called a "sponsor" to help you through the bad weather that might come in every day experiences.  I think that it is the same with prayer.  We need a spiritual friend to help make sure we are still on the path to which God called us.