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.