Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Girls and Sex

Throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, girls flocked to religious orders in Christianity.  What happened?  Education.  The great founders of religious orders of women opend up schools for poor girls and then middle class girls.  Before this, girls were left in the world of illiteracy and ignorance.  They gave up sex, men, and family for the sake of learning through school education.  They became nuns.  Face it guys.  There was a time when girls would rather read a book than spend time with us.  Things changed of course in the more modern world of public education and higher expectations.  Maybe not.  In some marriages, women still would rather spend time with a book than with the husband.  Happy New Year Ladies!  Read more in 2014.  It is a privilege that is still not universally offered.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Without gratitude, I do not think that the younger generation will stay with religion or any spiritual program for that matter.  My generation bought into guilt and fear of what God might do if we messed up.  That is old hat now.  I find that the generations behind me who have dropped out do not rally have much gratitude for what has been done for them in the spiritual world.  They are people of privilege with expectations that things ought to and will go their way.  It is not a matter of people being more selfish or self-centered.  That is part of the general pitfalls of the human condition.  I attend to my religous practice and prayer life, the more I feel grateful to God for what God has done for humankind.  God did not have to come into his world as a human being.  God did not have to have a Chosen People who God saved time and again from their own mess.  No one is owed sobriety who has a compulsion to drink.  Religious holydays are for gratitude first.  I have found it so.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Baby Sitter

I just discovered the latest in baby sitting culture.  I was at a children's event and standing next to me was a dad holding his two year old daughter.  She got a little fussy, so he sat her up on the floor in front of him.  Then he gave her his cell phone opened to all the icons.  I thought, "Oh, she will play with the pretty, colorful device for a moment or two."  NO.  She immediately scrolled through the icons to find the one she wanted, pressed it and got her download.  No older than two years.  Wow!  If priests are women in 30 years, they will be a lot smarter than me.  Come to think of it, if women were priests now, they would be a lot smarter than me.  But I think I could be a baby sitter now, if that is all it takes.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Burke Out

Most of the hierarchy in this country, picked in the last few years were followers of Cardinal Burke.  He is big on tailing against abortion, and gay unions.  He seems to like the finery of hierarchical clothing.  So "HIS" bishops would be the same kind of people.  Burke has been dropped from the committee that promotes future bishops.  Why am i enjoying all of this?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Man Of The Year

Seems Pope Francis was made Time Magazine's "Man of the Year."  Bishops might take a second look at this.  What did Francis do?  He simply proclaimed the gospel and then lived it out in his own life.  This seems to be Evangelization 101.  Good News always attracts.  What do the bishops do?  They skip the gospel and go right into sex issues, or try and connect the gospel with sex issues.  Or they dwell on points of  Canon Law or liturgical correctness.  They bore or upset the media among others.  I now read homilies online given by Pope Francis.  They are quite good and relevant to our daily lives.  They drip of the good news of God's love.  My should bathes in it.  I rarely read a news column by a bishop.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fix You

I am not in this world to fix anyone.  I cannot even fix me.  But I can tell you how I found a way for Someone else to fix me on a daily basis.  I only can pass on my experience.  I think that having been bad gives me some experience that is worth offering, if I have found a way out.  A priest who has never been bad could also offer a way out.  But I doubt I could identify with him.  I seem to cotton to sinners!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Today is Christmas.  Talk about a selfless act of unconditional love.  The God of a vast billions of years old universe comes to this tiny orb as a baby in a stable manger in an out of the way country.  I can never get enough of this kind of Love.  God is Love.  This is one of the signature days of this Love.  I have a lot of time to think about this God today.  There is no football on television.  Thank God it is Unconditional Love!  I sure did not merit it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Whose World?

When you moan about why God is not fixing up your world, why not stop and ask why you are not fixing up God's world?  Who made you the Creator?  God asked this of Job in the Hebrew Scriptures.  
I wake up to God's world.  My world is just self-imploded fantasy.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Go All Out

If you knew that you were dying from a disease, you might do all you could to not let it kill you.  Selfishness is a killer.  It is also addictive.  One is rarely selfish and self-absorbed every great while.  If you are selfish it is killing you.  The difficulty of selfishness as a killer is that it hides this reality.  You may be blind to it, ignorant of it, and stubborn too.  What is even sadder is that while it will destroy you it will also destroy others.  The cure begins with knowing you are selfish.  Things will fall into place after that.  I have found it so.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gains And Losses

Have you ever noticed that when you do bad things you lose stuff and when you do good things you gain stuff?  Do badly enough and you lose spouses, cars, homes, jobs and even health.  Do good and you gain friends who love you.  Or at least tolerate you, if they are the same people to whom you did a lot of the bad.  If you are looking for something useful to do, I hear that the world is terribly short on self-giving love.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Back-Seat Driver

The back-seat driver tells the one driving the car what the back-seat driver wants and how to get there.  Isn't the "Our Father" prayer about "Your will be done?" Most of us pray as back-seat drivers.  We cannot manage our lives, that is drive, but we can tell God what we want and how God should go about getting us there.  I prefer the more honest approach.  I tell God how unhappy I am with how things are going, including the apparent absence of God at work in my life.  God can take the heat.  It is in the Bible.  Then I say, "Having had my honest whine, God, now your will be done."  I sleep better.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The God Pace

I met a drunk once who told me that he had gone to a Recovery meeting, and did not like it.  He never went back.  I asked him if he had an experience of God, or Higher Power, as it is phrased.  He said no. 
He drank himself to death in a few years.  The  spiritual experience within is crucial to a life being transformed.  But God is not McDonald's fast food.  God is not so hurry, hurry.  It is one thing to believe in a God.  This fellow did, but it was some intellectual belief without much of an experience of the Presence.  Without patience, I would have given up on this spiritual journey a long time ago.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

God's Will

How do we know God's will?  It is never selfish, resentful, overbearing, unkind, deceitful, hurtful, willful, or fear based.  It probably has some feelings of peace to it.  It might be helpful to the common good.  It might really make you all who God made you to be.  Sometimes, we can find God's will by knowing what it is not.  God's will might make you feel whinny.   This is probably because you have been doing your will for too long.  Change can be painful.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Train

One time, I was staring at unemployment.  I took the first job that came along.  I convinced myself it was right for me.  In fact it was more like being at a rail station and jumping on the first train that came along.  I would have no idea where it was going, nor much control about how it got there or when.  You would not do that would you?  I was driven by fear, as I recall.  It was a job that suited me not at all.  I lasted about fifteen months.  I thought about being a priest for a much longer time.  I spent five years in formal preparation and some years before that thinking about it.  I am still a priest, 36 years later.  Next time you think of jumping into something ask yourself if you are frightened about what might happen if you said no to the jumping in or on.  Do you feel like you are at a station waiting for any train to come along and take you away from your present life?  Remember, you go with yourself when you get on the train.  You never leave you behind.  Whenever I have had problems with my choice of priesthood, usually I find that I am much of the problem.  I try not to be a travelin' man.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Life Is Unfair

Life is not fair.  If you do bad things you should be punished, right?  Well not you, of course, but some other bad person.  Fairness is about quid pro quo.  Checks and balances.  But I keep coming across people who did lots of bad and did not get all that punished.  They somehow got a reprieve.  They should be in a living hell if life is fair, but instead they are quite often happy, joyous and free of doing those bad things of their past.  The super reprieve is when someone lives a bad life, is unkind to themselves and others, and so on, but on their deathbed, confesses and receives absolution with their last breath.  It is a bit like the criminal on the cross next to Jesus.  One good act is all it took.  When I am really into self-pity wishes, I fantasize that I spent a life of debauchery but made a good confession with my last breath.   If you are relying on good timing, your chances are about as good as Vegas and the Craps tables.  Or maybe the lottery.  I will go with the daily trudge.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Someone said that nothing is forever.  Well, I think that the spiritual life is forever.  After we die, isn't there the same Presence, Mystery, God, Divine Source, as we found in this life experience? No one would spend much time with a spiritual practice unless they felt some connect.  Boredom is for saints.  I am not one of those.  Saints don't cry at cartoon movies and learn Latin dances.  Or do they?  I digress. Prayer is something I think we would do after we die.  It is a conscious contact with The Eternal One.  Begins here and does not end.  Physical stuff ends.   Spiritual stuff is made of eternity.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I took ballroom dancing class one summer while a priest in San Francisco.  Don't ask.  Anyway, we were taught all sorts of Latin dances.  I started out clueless to these dance steps.  I had only the desire to learn.  I had to show up at the classes on time and be ready to practice what the teacher showed us.  We began very simply and we did the same movements over and over until our bodies began to flow with the music.  Outside of the classes, I had to practice the steps or else I would forget.  I liked the Tango.  The girl had to do more difficult steps, though I had to lead.  Latin dancing appeals to the male ego.  I found learning to dance somewhat akin to spiritual growth, except for the male ego part.  I start out clueless.  I have a teacher.  I try not to practice all by myself, but to have some support.  I show up on time ready to learn, and I practice on my own on a daily basis.  AA calls it the Steps.  Those people are dancing their way out of hell and into a productive life.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Locust Diet

Did you know that a locust can eat its weight in food each day?  Some people eat as if they are on the locust diet and get very offended if anything is said.  I think that the resentment and anger is in part because it is hard to deny that you are fat…if in fact you are fat.  Think of some one who is called stupid, a drunk, a sinner, lazy, prideful, judgmental and so on.  These are all attitudes or ways of acting.  In these situations people can argue their way out, defend their behavior, compare and contrast themselves with someone else and so on.  A fat person cannot really say they are not fat if in fact they know they are fat.  Lazy is not an appearance.  Some people don't really care if they are fat, or at least they say so.  When we have to face God after death, if not in this life, God will give us plenty for which  we cannot argue our way out.  At that point I suspect we will feel as badly as the person who is fat but wishes they were not.  Fat people can go to heaven.  Gluttony is a rathe minor offense in the scene of things, as is an eating disorder.  I think that the prideful, judgmental, will have a harder time because these hurt others.  I wonder if any of the apostles are fat?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cold Kills Business

I teach in a room in San Francisco that has no heat.  It went to the mid 30's with wind chill this past Saturday, when I taught for three hours.  I brought in two heaters.  It took the whole three hours to get the the heat from 62 to 66 degrees.  They are good heaters.  People kept their coats on.  When they walked out into the next room where we had our "hot" coffee, it was even colder.  The bathrooms were chilling experiences too.  Why no heat?  It is a church with a very small congregation, and a small collection.  We watch the news in the cold and eat in a cold dining room.  When San Francisco is having a more mild climate in the 50s and 60s, we survive.  This morning it was 30 degrees outside, a little warmer inside, but not by much.  I am getting a lot of days off from my expected time in purgatory.  See, people suffer here in San Francisco.  So be be so jealous.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Full Time Mother

What is this thing called, "Full Time Mother?"  What an odd saying.  It seems to refer to when Mom goes off to work away from the child.  Mom is out of the house at an income producing job.  But that does not make her a part-time Mom.  She is still a Mom.  If the Mom stays at home and the child goes off to school for eight hours, they are still apart for that time, but we call her a "Full Time Mom."  It is strange how we find put down terms to express our prejudice against Moms who go to work outside the home.  I don't think women use this term, so maybe it is a male thing?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Some people say that we should not be praising Mandela because he was a communist.  He was, and then he grew out of it with the changing times and his own time in prison.  To me, the communist thing is a cover for white prejudice against people of color.  Some people simply do not think all people are equal.  But they don't want to sound like Neanderthals in public.  It is the same reason some people will never vote for a woman for president.  They will talk about qualifications, but it is really about prejudice.  Christians have a history of saying how they are better than Jews.  They hide behind theology, and the bible, but it is prejudice.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


This is a really good movie with a wonderful spiritual message.  A true act of selfless love will transform a heart.  Isn't that much of what the Advent/Christmas message is all about?  God does something selfless so that we our frozen, fearful hearts can be freed and warmed to then do good for others?  Doesn't a kiss from a true love warm your heart too?  Take the kids or grandkids.  Good musical numbers too.  So what do priests do with their time?  They see cartoon movies, and cry at them.  I went on a gift certificate.  Think about that when you ask, "What to give Father for Christmas?"

Monday, December 9, 2013


I read where a Vatican official said as regards sex abuse issues, that the church does not try to control every part of the world Catholic Church.  Interesting.  When it comes to sex and laity issues, the church seems to try and control everything.  Maybe sex and clergy not so much?  

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Remember the record player turntable that went with the 78 RPM records?  Young people might see them in history museums or period piece movies.  When I would turn off the record player, the turntable would keep going with the record on it.  I had to wait for it to slow down and stop,  or try to slow it down with a finger on the record.  I think that the bishops are like the turntable that cannot stop and their message on sex issues is the record spinning around.  The Pope has said that we need to stop that turntable with that record which the bishops have been playing for quite some time.  The bishops just cannot seem to stop, but keep spinning around with the same tune.  The Pope would like a new message or a change in message.  Maybe bring back a really old tune.  God loves you unconditionally.  That never gets old for me.  

Pearl Harbor Memory

Actually, I am losing my mind.  Pearl Harbor came about sixteen months before I was born.  So I was not two years old when Pearl Harbor attack came.  Whew! I was feeling old.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


This date, for us old people, is remembered as "a day of infamy."  If you don't know what this is all about, you are too young, or losing your mind.  I find fewer people today refer to the memory of Pearl Harbor on this day.  I have never forgotten it, though I was only two years old when it happened.  Which memories do you tend to forget first, and which remember?  Some people remember things from when they were children that bother them forever.  Some remember things that were messy but don't let them control their adult lives.  I think that we all tend to remember our first romantic kiss.  Or am I just projecting?  I didn't always want to be a priest.  I used to be normal.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Losing Weight

Losing weight is one thing.  There are various diets and even surgery to help us to lose pounds.  The goal though, is to stay slim once we lose weight.  It seems that the method used to lose weight should be connected with the way to stay slim.  There are reasons that we got fat.  We ate and lived a certain lifestyle.  To change the eating but not the lifestyle will lead to loss and then return to fat.  I  have found it to be so.  I have found that to change the lifestyle, I can eat a bit of junk and carbs.  So I run, or as I get older, jog.  I eat fewer treats, but still eat treats.  I have to decide what price I will pay to have the weight I want.  Many of us do not want to pay a price, or cannot for what ever reason.  The good news is that you can go to heaven overweight.  People will love you still.  You can be kind and loving.  Skinny people are not any better than heavy people.  But if you use food to make yourself happy, you are living an uphill life.  Regardless of what God and others think, I like me better when I am slim.  After all, I am the only one who has to live this life in my body.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


The pope used a great image of how we too often treat the sacraments in my church.  We act like a tollhouse.  You don't get through the toll until you pay the fee.  Sacraments become a reward for living a good life, following the right rule, having the catechism faith.  Sacraments rather are supposed to be for those who need the grace to live a better life, or who feel that they just need grace to get through the day.  Sacraments are not rewards.  They are food for us who are starving for some of God in our life.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


What makes a good Dad?  I know a fellow who was not a good student, does not have much of a job or prospects, a bit of a partier and somewhat stupid sex.  He got a girl pregnant.  No marriage.  Turns out he is a great Dad!  Go figure.  Another fellow did well in a good school, has good job, got married before having a baby, but turns out to be clueless about Dad-ness.  Maybe Dad-ness is passed down from father to son.  I am not sure.  Jesus seems to be at ease around children, but that is not the same thing.  I do know that from what I see in guys who are good Dads, Grace is everywhere.  School diplomas and money sure does not teach it.  Maybe it is a gift?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Do As I Say

When the pope in 1968 put out Humane Vitae, he said no to artificial contraception. Many Catholics simply did not follow his orders.  Such Catholics were condemned for their disobedience.  Bishops always do what the pope says, and so should the laity, right?  When JPII and B16 said something, the bishops all lined up to follow.  Then came Francis I.  He called a meeting of hierarchy for next Fall on the topic of the Family, which of course will include sex stuff.  He wants a survey to be done of what the laity think.  Now our bishops decided that each bishop will decide what to do.  Say what?  Could it be that when bishops don't like what the pope says, they drag their feet or just ignore it?  Dissent seems to run in all levels of my church.  Time for chocolate.

Monday, December 2, 2013


I am stuck in the past!  I serve food the same way my Mom did.  Each item has its separate place on the plate.  This way, I can eat all the potato/rice, and then all the other veggie, and then the meat.  Or I can eat some of one and then some of the other, but never combined.  Plating says, "get over it."  The new way is to serve food combined.  The plate used to be stacked, but that is out now too.  Yet, new, simpler ways are being presented in which foods are combined on the same plate.  This way you eat things together instead of separately.  Now I have to teach my sister, Jane, and my friend, Mary, both good cooks, how to get with the new ways.  No family style either, as that would tend to go toward food separation.  "Presentation" is the focus.

Institutions might learn from this.  "Old" or as it is sometimes covered up with the word, "tradition" might not be the best focus if you want to reach out to the modern person.  If you are only into maintenance, doing the same old thing for the same old people, soon you will be feeding no one.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I look back on the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination.  In his honor, I went to mass that day.  In Jackie's honor I went shopping.  God and sales are hard for me to resist.  I can pray anywhere, but San Francisco is a great shopping town.  I don't want to spend too much time living in "what might have been," because that includes my past as well.  JFK never had a day past November 22, 1963.  I did.  I still have today.  How can I be of service?  How do I recognize the miracle of my life given one more day by God?  I try to keep the past in perspective, in memory and respect, but not so its energy controls the present.  Even my past successes guarantee nothing today.  Live in the now and destiny will take care of itself.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


A group of Catholic theologians, PhD types, said that my Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality was incomprehensible and outdated.  Whew!  I thought I was just stupid because I could not make heads or tails out of our reasoning and method in this teaching.  Maybe I am not so dumb.  Incomprehensible.  Some people say the teaching is just fine, but I have found such people don't really read how the conclusions are arrived at.  They just agree with the conclusions.  Prejudice always takes shortcuts, and often lives in a past when we did not know better.

Friday, November 29, 2013


There is a web site called "Lulu," I think.  It is for women to rate guys they dated, so that other women can check it out.  Apparently, it gives women some power over jerks, as well as helps get the word out about really worthwhile guys.  Some guys say that they have changed so as to get a better rating on Lulu.  Thank God there is not one to rate priests.  It would ruin the fantasy that we are all so wonderful and gifted.  Would a lousy rating make us change?  One can only hope.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I hope that you are having a Thanksgiving for something today.  Each morning, I wake up and say thank you God for several things.  Some of them are miracles.  Actually, all the things for which I give thanks seem to have happened with Grace, that is, not of my own doing.  Who would anyone thank if they thought all the good stuff in their life was owed to "moi?"  I am glad that I can say thank you while I lie in bed.  Even when I don't want to get up and run, I say thank you for even being able to run at my age.  Today is a celebration of all the other thank you days in my life.  Oh, and thank you for reading this.  Do I really have a fan club?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Waiting Room

The pope told the nuncios, those who pick priests to be bishops in each country, that the pope does not want careerists.  He wants men with pastoral experience, who also have compassion in their pastorate.  What a conundrum for all those priests who work in administrative offices in chanceries, or outside of parishes, who have little or no pastoral background, and little compassion for the real problems of people outside of the rules and laws.  These fellows usually have canon law degrees and avoid parish work.  In the chancery they will be seen by the bishop.  They may get to live in Rome and study some more and be seen by some important prelates.  They are on the wrong train, and it may be too late to get off, or they may not want to work in parishes with messy laity.  Their chancery and/or administrative job has become a permanent waiting room.  Well, many of them kept laity waiting.  What goes around comes around.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Global Warming

I heard that after the 18 inches of rain that fell on Boulder in September, in one day, that this proves nothing about global warming.  It is "just" the 100 year flood, or maybe just a freak thing of weather.  OK.  Yesterday, Sardinia, an island in the Med, got 17 inches of rain in a day.  They are now as flooded as was Boulder, Colorado in September.  This is November.  Freak storms within two months of each other?  Maybe it is freak, but moving toward "pattern."

Monday, November 25, 2013


Out here on the Left Coast, President Obama just came by in a long motorcade on the way to give a speech in Chinatown.  Rumor has it, and it is but a rumor, tickets to the event are NOT going fast.  It is a beautiful San Francisco mid-morning.  Maybe everyone is out enjoying the air?  In the office closing deals?  Maybe two terms is one too many?  I would like one term of six years.  Pastors get up to twelve years, but probably do their best stuff in the first half.  I pretty much coasted on my laurels in the later part of my pastorate.  Of course, it helps to have laurels to coast on.

All ls Lost

What if you realized how you had failed others and yourself…and now had no chance to do better, to make up for all your miscues.  If you were suddenly given a second chance, what would you do?  Could you live a better life for your own betterment and the needs of others?  Would you even try?  Jesus says that we must first lose our life before we can find it.  I think that this is a wisdom saying not confined to Jesus or any one religion.  Disaster can be a gift, if we survive it. The disaster comes unexpectedly and it seemingly defeats us.  All is lost.  We give up our life, and then get sudden grace, a surprising second chance.  Can we really turn ourselves around?  "Our Man," in the movie, All Is Lost leaves me with this question.  Besides trying to be a better person, if I am given the grace to live to be 74, I have four more years to get into the shape that Robert Redford was in when he made this movie.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013


The image of church leaders that I sometimes get is one of people who are dressing up the inside of a house to make it look more grand, more historic, with little thought that fewer and fewer people are bothering to come into the house in the first place.  The Pope wants the leaders to get out of the house and engage the people in the street,  and LISTEN.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Did you know that Pope Francis did the laundry when he was boss of his 100 person Jesuit house in Argentina?  I suspect that there are pastors, much less bishops, who are pretty clueless as to where the washing machine/dryer are.  They might be too busy telling people how to live their non-ordained lives, based upon no direct experience of course.

Friday, November 22, 2013


I am a failure.  I just went to make a deposit to my business account at the local bank here in San Francisco. It was a paltry amount.  It seems that no one is much interested in hearing me speak about my chosen field.  This is the abyss of failure.  On the other hand, there is a light in the darkness.  I put more money into my personal account than my business one. Why? I did kind things as a priest, I guess, and from time to time, people give me money.  One fellow passing through town gave me a Ben Franklin and I had not seen him in a decade.  Guess I did something nice or right.  To sum it up, I am a failure as a teacher/speaker, but not so bad as a priest.  I did a home birthday mass for someone, and that $$$ went into the bank too.  What ever happened to home masses?  I am good at that!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fantasy Life

Sometimes I find myself in a fantasy of being famous and beloved and therefore successful.  Now and again I realize that my life is quite full with love and success.  This past weekend I got together with friends from my previous life here as a priest in San Francisco.  One of them was in my RCIA (convert) classes.  She is fully involved in the church.  I realize that I am a difference maker.  This is my real life.  Dining with old friends helps me to see how full my life is.  I encourage dining.  Only your friends want to dine with us, right?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

William F. Buckley

I used to read the conservative thinker, William F. Buckley, who is dead now.  He was very funny in person and in print.  He was a Catholic too.  Liberals should subscribe to "National Review" magazine and see what the other side has to say.  Anyway, I had to read Buckley with a dictionary in hand because he used words I did not know.  I was an English major, but a dummy when it came to Bucklerian vocabulary.  At first, I found it frustrating and tedious.  But in time, I decided that I was expanding my use and understanding of words.  I was becoming a better English major.  Buckley "learned me good!"  I find the same problem with the gospels and Jesus.  It can be frustrating to understand.  Sometimes it is unfathomable.  John's gospel can be tedious.  But in time, I find that I am a better person for it.  I am a better Catholic.  I wonder if God is heaven is the first person to whom Buckley speaks, who does not need a dictionary?  I have heard that conservatives can go to heaven.  Just a rumor, mind you.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Medical Costs

The Affordable Care Act is trying to fix the skyrocketing cost of medicine, at least in part.  It is a new law to get new people onto insurance who could not afford it previously.  The young, who don't need much care, would sign up, and there $$$ would pay for the elderly, like me, who do need it.  The cost for each person would be reasonable for what you got.  Or so it is supposed to be.  You can read the papers.  The Pope on the other hand is trying to fix the church, but wisely, he did not, up to now, pass any new laws.  And he does not have the checks and balances of our USA constitutional government to slow him down.  If the pope passes a law, too soon, it will work for some and not for others, and some people will ignore it while others praise it.  Welcome to the institutional world.  What the Pope is trying to do is change a way of being church.  It is an interior change focused more on the gospel that is often ignored when passing church rules.  Law, dogma, doctrine, ritual cannot change a mindset.  It cannot transform a person.   The Pope is trying to live what Jesus said and did.  The Pope is not trying to channel Pius IX.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Manufactured Right

Someone said that same sex marriage was a manufactured civil right.  I wonder.  I think saying that anyone has the right to be married is a manufactured right.  Not everyone has the talent to be married.  I suspect that maybe about half the population has any clue, but they get married anyway.  I don't know that marriage is a right.  I think it is more of a talent, a gift, a maturity, and one can have this regardless of sexual orientation.  If half the boy/girl relationships break up, but less of the same sex ones do, then marriage might not be about rights at all.  I don't have the right to play professional football.  It would be a disaster for me to do this.  It is a bad fit.  I think that I am a priest because I have a gift, a talent, but not a right.  For many, marriage is like me trying to play professional football.  A disaster.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Hudson River

The headwaters of the Hudson river extend out 100 miles into the Atlantic ocean.  My experience told me otherwise.  I remember boating with my brother-in-law, Jerry, in the Hudson River around Newburgh, NY.  That is as far up the river as the ocean can penetrate.  Certainly no 100 miles.  At one point, I jumped into the water and it was fresh water.  A little downstream, I jumped in again and it was salty.  I figured, given my experience, that somewhere nearby the Hudson had ended and the Atlantic took over.  Wrong.  That Hudson River poured out 100 miles into the Atlantic ocean with lots of fresh water.  Experience is not everything.  Remember that the next time you say, "I experienced God."  God may be a lot more than your experience.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Seems that an Argentine Cathedral had its annual interfaith event, but this time there was a protest from a group that said the non-Christians there worshipped false gods and should be kept out of the sacred church space.  The protestors were called, "conservatives," which I think is a put down of religiously conservative people.  These protestors are not conservatives.  A conservative, like a liberal, has a theological position that has some history and substance, from different points of view.  These protestors have no theological position.  An interfaith service brings together people who believe in God, the same God, but differ as to substance, identity, and history of God.  But it is all the same God.  So the protestors are not really about theology, they are about fear.  Because Francis is Pope, these people are frightened that the Catholic Church as they know it, their comfort zone, is changing.  Church for them has to have a certainty, with no ambiguity, in which they can feel comfortable.  They need correct religion.  "NO salvation outside the Catholic Church," would suit them just fine.  They make public protest, because they simply cannot walk away.  To live without the correct church is too frightening.  For a liberal, there is no public protest.  They protest with their feet.  They walk away.  Their God is not going to punish them for this.  Those who have given up or ignored religion because they are too lazy to engage it, don't call them liberal.  Lazy or self-centered is not liberal.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Going And Coming Back

I read where Italians are coming back to the church, the mass I assume, in noticeable numbers all because of Pope Francis.  I used to think that a pope did not make the difference in coming or going, but that it was all about, "the times."  People were just giving up on religion in general for other reasons.  But if they are coming back because of a pope, did they then leave because of a pope?  And we are making one of them a saint?  Interesting times.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Why do women like me?  I don't mean in any romantic sense, but rather women seem to feel comfortable with me.  Yet I admit that I do not understand women.  I spent almost all of my school years in all male classrooms.  When I dated, I was selfish and self-centered.  Seminaries don't rid you of self issues.  I do know one or two things when with a woman.  Never talk to their breasts.  Try for eye contact.  This is Women 101.  Never interrupt when a woman is speaking to me.  This is Women 102.  When a woman is talking about an issue, a problem, a feeling, do not offer, THE solution, as in, "This is what you should do."  This is Women 201.  Ask about feelings, not solutions.  Women are not stupid.  When indoors and engaging with a woman, take your hat off, say hello and look at her face.  I do this with bank tellers, for instance.  No woman is beneath you.  Income and job title is not status.  WOMAN is the status.  This might be women 301.  Anyhow guys, I learned all this very late in life.  Ignore me at your own peril.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Left Out

Seems some conservative Catholics are feeling left out by Pope Francis.  Welcome to a feeling that I have had for about 30 years under the previous two popes.  How did I get through it?  Well, I did not focus on the Pope.  Historically, Catholics were not much affected by what the pope said or did, as communication systems were more primitive and more local.  So I paid more attention to the local scene.  If that was proving dreadful for me, then I focused on the gospel and Jesus.  He seemed to say all the things that challenged me to be a better person, while accepting me for my mediocrity of the moment.  To you conservatives, I suggest you ponder the gospels to support your faith.  Drop the politics of your own personal prejudices.  This pope is way more open to all the things that bother you.  He wants a bigger more open church.  You want a smaller, more pure church.  I don't think the original twelve would have made it into your conservative church.  I know I would not, nor would I care to be.  Christianity without Jesus is, well, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.  I admit that I can be just as narrow, but for now, my pope is in.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Seems that studies reveal that many Catholics are against abortion but don't want Wade vs. Roe overturned.  Here is my take.  Some Catholics have had abortions and feel badly about it.  At the same time, they are glad that they had a safe surgical/medical environment in which to have the abortion.  Secondly, they suspect that their kids or grandkids are sexually active, and want them to have a safe environment if they get pregnant and seek an abortion.  By and large Catholics believe that life begins with conception, but they don't want it to end with an abortion in a back room alley.


I don't know which Catholic Church I belong to anymore.  The one in the United States where the bishops seem to be against things gay/lesbian, and couples having sex without wanting children, or the one Pope Francis seems to be preaching about over there in Rome.  One thing I do know. The Pope and the USA  bishops are not on the same page.  Actually, I do know, but I ain't tellin'

Monday, November 11, 2013

Public Opinion

Some Church Hierarchs say that the synod on the family that is being called for by the Pope will be based upon doctrine and not public opinion.  Let me translate.  What they mean by "public opinion" is the lived experience of the people on issues that affect the family.  "Doctrine" refers to living with old answers when the world has changed.  In any endeavor, you cannot respond to the new world with old answers.  There was a time when the Christianity was Europe focused.  After WWI there was a great shortage of people.  Many had died and many were wounded for life and not very able to work.  Europe needed more people, especially men.  Encouraging births seemed to make some sense, though social welfare programs did lag.  Today, well, things are a bit different.  It is a global village.  Places that have lots of people can go to places that need people.  The earth has a lot of mouths to feed.  Many more women today want to work at career goals.  People postpone marriage, and so on.  Gay people have been discovered!  With Pope Francis it could be a very interesting synod next fall in Rome.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Listening Heart

A Cardinal said recently that the aim of education was to develop a "listening heart."  I don't think some seminaries got the memo, or else are not into education.  Not a few of the newly ordained are pretty closed up when it comes to listening to the laity, or "the flock" as laity are called.  Many newly ordained have a message to tell you and they are not into listening to your opinion or experience based upon real life.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Today, I cooked Quinoa for the first time.  It was an act of faith.  People who praised Quinoa, that I knew, are veggie eaters or worse, vegans.  Can anything good come out of a veggie food?  I admit, I am narrow-minded.  I am a Catholic priest.  What else did you expect?  Anyhow, I decided to trust my veggie friends and make a leap of faith.  I had chocolate/chocolate chip ice cream near by just in case.   I followed directions on the Quinoa package.  When cooked the Quinoa looked, well, uninteresting.  I thought of going direct to ice cream.  I said grace and tasted the Quinoa.  Surprise!  It tasted very good.  Plus it is full of nutrients.  The ice cream is still in the freezer.  Faith can be a good thing.  Believe and eat Quinoa.  I have found God pretty nourishing too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Questions To Ask

My sister Jane and I are staying in a place called "Sea Ranch," where we have rented homes for a few years now.  This is the first year that we rented direct from the owner, not through a rental agency.  We thought we knew all the questions to ask.  We had been doing this for several years.  We were veteran renters.  Wrong!  Some simple things we take for granted are not part of this house.  One bedroom has no closet.  It has a great ocean view, which was advertised, but no closet, which was not advertised.  Same room opens onto the main sitting room, and you walk through the sitting room to get to the bathroom.  We have never seen a house like this one.  We took things for granted.  We acted, rented, based upon our past experience, tradition. Institutional religion can be the same way.  The leaders think they know things based upon the past.  Tradition is enough.  There is nothing new under the sun.  The leaders ask no questions.  They just "know."  This house we are renting is like life.  There is always new stuff.  This is the post-modern world and medieval times will find us not quite prepared for the new stuff.  Surprise!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Stranger

I was asked to write up a biography about myself because people at the parish where I live and preach/preside here in San Francisco say that they do not know who I am.  Why do they care?  As a business, the church is different than other businesses.  Do you care to know all about an employee at a store when you go shopping?  No.  Beyond their competence and service, you ask for nothing more.  But in religion people seem to want to "connect" to the fellow up on the altar.  The dark side of this is that the congregants might think me an idiot and want to know how I became so.  This would make me sad, so I believe, maybe in delusion, that they are inspired or at least enjoy listening to me and want to know more about me.  Or else, Catholics are just nosey.  In my bio for the bulletin, I wrote that I like chocolate.  One never has enough chocolate.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Price

Last night I went to a French restaurant.  Our waitperson had a thick accent, very French.  The meal was delicious.  She explained all about the ingredients in the various dishes.  The night before that, I was in a fish restaurant.  It was delicious.  Again, the waitperson gave a thorough explanation of all the ingredients and how the food is prepared.  She did not seem to be in any hurry though the restaurant was crowded.  This is dining in San Francisco.  I woke up each of the mornings after, fat and happy.  But I lost my voice, which makes many people happy who think my preaching ridiculous if not heretical.  These wonderful restaurants are located in downtown San Francisco in what used to be warehouses and dumpy office buildings now all fixed up to be restaurants.  What is not fixed is the acoustics.  These places are loud with the customers dining and talking.  I surmise that San Francisco is a town to remind us that we do not yet live in heaven.  This town is very close, but still.  In our non-heaven world, nothing is perfect.  There is always some price to pay for happiness.  I am fat and happy, but with no voice.  Maybe God wants me to be quiet?  OK, but feed me too!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

War Behavior

I don't get it.  There is this big uproar about marines urinating on enemy corpses.  I agree that this is bad behavior.  What I don't get is that the people who are so outraged, don't seem to mind the whole idea of the war, and what it does to a person.  It seems that war is acceptable, but be nice, at least on camera.  War is horrible and it solves nothing in this day and age.  It turns individuals into the worst kind of person when they fight the war.  This bad behavior is the result of something that should not be happening at all.  I think that we should turn the running of countries over to women.  They could not do worse than the men.  Is war a man thing?

Monday, November 4, 2013

At The Tomb

Some people think that when we die the body disintegrates and become so much cosmic dust.  The rest of us, if there is a rest of us, just rejoins universal energy in the great flow of God in the Cosmos.  But I have read about too many "odd" things, like cures, that happened at grave sights of people who lived good lives, "saint" is the name we give to them in my church.  So I tend to believe there is more going on with the person after death, regardless of how they look after a few years in the ground, or even cremated for that matter.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

St. Jude

The feast day of St. Jude reminds me of "Catholic Way."  We Catholics pray to saints for stuff.  Jude is for lost causes.  I was once that, but someone must have gotten Jude's attention, and I got found.  Some people say I am still lost.  Anyhow, we Catholics don't see ourselves as just a community of earthlings.  We see the fulness of our community to include those who have gone beyond death.  St. Paul says that if we saw ourselves as constricted to earth alone, we would be strangers and sojourners in this world.  But our spiritual house includes saints who have died.  That is why we talk to them and seek their help.  People make fun of us or call us "quaint."  I talk to my dead sister, Maureen.  When she was alive, she said don't bother talking to saints.  I had no chance.  I was going to burn.  Heaven has softened her up.  If heaven can change her, I got a chance, right?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Final Judgment

I hear that at the final judgment all your thoughts will be known.  I always thought this quite embarrassing.  I see all these heavenly creatures knowing what I thought and did.  But it is not like that, I hope.  My belief is that having all my thoughts and actions known is about friendship and intimacy.  God is the supreme friend.  To a friend, I want to reveal all.  Is this not what intimacy is all about?  No fear.  Now I feel a bit better about that post death encounter.  I hope God is a Liberal!

Friday, November 1, 2013


I must be a bad Catholic.  A very pious woman came up to me and handed me a flyer about relics and invited me to come and see all these saints' relics that are on display in some San Francisco church.  It was a traveling exhibit.  Of course, I said thank you.  I won't go.  Relics don't move me.  Catholics are supposed to be moved by relics.  It is supposed to quicken our faith, and engender our devotion.  This woman who came up to me, and I, belong to the same Catholic Church.  For a moment, I felt that I did not belong.  I lack this piety.  My only hope is that my church is very broad and has space for all kinds of Catholics.  This woman is in love with Jesus and relics fire her love.  For me, I need silence and solitude.  But if I ever do get holy, when I die my stuff does not have to be thrown away.  They will be relics!  

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Some time ago, I was going to a counseling center and a woman had an appointment about the same time as mine for awhile.  She sat in the waiting area with a motorcycle helmut on and the visor down over her face.  I thought, "What a strange person.  She needs some help!"  Mind you, I am in the same counseling center waiting to see a counselor.  In my judgment she is so much worse than me.  I slip into this mode from time to time when I run across a person sleeping on the street or shouting out at no one in particular, using a lot of curse words.  "Thank God I am not like so and so."  I think that I am not like the religious official about whom Jesus speaks in a parable.  That official stands in the front of the temple, apart from others, and thanks God that he is not like the sinner in the back of the temple.  In my delusions I think that I am like the tax collector guy in the back who is asking God for mercy.  He is truly sorry and repentant.  He knows that it is only God's mercy that can help him.  He has no real power in himself to change.  When I say I am sorry or ask for mercy, it is usually because I am feeling guilty, or ashamed of some bad behavior recently done.  It is more about me wanting to feel better rather than being sorry for offending God.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bishop Of Bling

Why kick this guy around?  He is a product of his culture.  Seminarians are made to feel as if they are special as opposed to the laity.  It goes from there.  Over the last 25 years bishops have been going in more and more for the trappings of "Prince of the Church."  The German bishop simply was more over the top than some others.  He did not even see himself as doing something wrong.  I could get upset with some leader who is immoral or unethical, but this fellow is obtuse.  He is probably defending himself in his temporary exile.  What bothers me more is that if this had happened in America, on this bling scale, there would not be the uproar that the German laity and some hierarchy had.  We laity here just won't criticize, as if it were some mortal sin to even think of asking our leaders to change.  Well, the next time a bishop in your area asks to raise a lot of money for some diocesan or archdiocesan whatever, check the line items of the project.  See how much is going for his living quarters.  Just sayin'

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I bought a stock during the recession.  I did not buy much and it cost $17/share.  It is a well known company.  I bought when everything was going badly in the economy.  A time to run and hide? Put money under the mattress?  I invested.  Today, 5 years later, that stock is worth $49/share.  Plus, I get dividends.  I did not see myself as gambling, or taking a flyer those 5 years ago.  I believed in the company and our economy.  Things looked bad, but there was potential.  In business, when things are going badly, they change or go out of business.  Today, my church is not doing so well.  Many people are divesting themselves of religion in general and my church in particular.  But I am investing myself.  In spite of the bishop of bling and other such leaders, I believe we can learn and will learn when we are down.  The church changes when it has to in order to survive and do what it was meant to do.  Much good comes from investing when something looks hopeless.  AA invested in drunks when no one else would.  Jesus invested in a dozen losers.  Ya gotta believe.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Third World Spirituality

A Third World Spirituality is one where you pray to Mary, Jesus, or your favorite saints to solve your problems.  Then you do nothing but wait for divine help.  Lots of prayer here, but not much individual action, for whatever reasons, and there may be many.  A First World Spirituality might pray to Jesus, Mary and saints, but then people try to make things happen through some initiative.  Less prayer, but more get up and go.  I heard it depends on whether or not your country started as a monarchy, or as republic/democracy.  Monarchy has the attitude that the King/Queen will provide.  That is their job.  Now there  seems to be a third spirituality.  You say your prayers asking the heavenly powers to now have the government solve your problems.  Then you go and vote, maybe.  What they all seem to share is consumerism.  Even the street people are loaded down with stuff.  Spirituality seems to have a tough time with "more," not more prayer, but more stuff.  I wonder if fear is behind it all?  A spirituality that does not address our fears is not very transforming.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Women Cardinals

You don't have to be ordained to be made a cardinal.  This is an appointed position.  For some time now cardinals were all priests first.  The Pope could appoint a woman a cardinal.  No canon law against this.  Here is an area where custom is disguised as law or rule.  Some things the church does are mere customs, and not rules.  Since we have never heard of a woman cardinal, we think it is a rule.  A pope has to be a male, but when elected, he only needs to be a single, Catholic male in good standing.  He is then ordained a priest, bishop and then made pope.  He has to be an ordained bishop because he is the bishop of the Rome diocese.  His bishop's church is John Lateran, not St. Peter's.  People are petitioning the pope to appoint women as cardinals and give them powerful positions in the curia.  Well, that sure would jump start things!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prayers of the Powerless

Our BART train system went on strike in the San Francisco Bay area.  Suddenly, a lot of non-prayers, or light prayers, are praying a whole lot that God will fix things.  We are all powerless to make the union and the management come together to solve their differences.  Prayer is our only power.  For many people, it is the last resort.  It is the reality of the modern western world that we only turn to God when there seems to be no other way.  A prayer of just wanting to spend time with God?  Well, that is for someone else.

Friday, October 25, 2013


I went for an early Sunday morning run in town.  The streets were all clear.  Coming back to church at what I thought was the end of my run, I came upon the Nike Women's Marathon.  A river of 30,000 women in shorts and tank tops were surging down the street I had to cross.  I stood on the corner hoping the runners would thin out or slow down and I could weave my way across the street.  No chance, and I had the early morning mass.  So I decided to jump into the marathon and run with the women, while trying to weave my way across the wide street.  Now I am in the race, surrounded by young fit women.  I think, "Lord, help me to get across the street."  I looked around.  "Well Lord, maybe mass can be a little late this morning," I added.  San Francisco is a fun town.  But as my sister Maureen used to say, "You will burn."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Adult Ed

Most Adult Education in parishes, if there is any at all, is really propaganda for one particular view.  An answer is given, with or without any question being asked.  The answer is made to sound like a dogma that has only one answer, when in fact the so-called answer given is really an opinion or at best, one answer among several on the same issue.  A truly educated or searching adult knows this from studying our American Civil War.  Or was it the war between the states, or the war of Yankee Aggression.  In South Carolina, they say they decided to become separate nation, so you cannot call it a war between the states.  Lots of debates and differences of opinions on this tragic event in our history.  On a lighter note, you could argue who is the best quarterback in pro football.  There are lots of heated opinions here too.  Of course, there is only one answer, Peyton Manning.  Just sayin'

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Juice

We often think of ourselves like a piece of fruit, say an orange.  One orange is separate and different from another.  You know this when you shop oranges, right?  God is seen as not an orange, but something else, separate from me but with some defined edges.  God is someplace, but not all places, and certainly not in an infidel, heretic, or whoever I consider to be truly bad.  With this thinking, when you die, your outsides rot, just like the orange, where the outside orange skin rots, the juice dries up, but  with the person, something of their unique orangeness goes on to see God who decides if we get to be on the shelf in heaven, also a place to hold our spiritual orangeness.  We spend our lives trying to be a good ripe oranges so that we can get to heaven's shelf.   Within the last hundred years or so, we have rediscovered the Gospel of Jesus and the new science which Jesus seems to have known.  "I and the Father are One."  Good modern science.  Back to the orange.  All oranges are energy manifested as oranges.  All oranges are the same, though there is some skin issues/texture, and fruitiness.  But it is all the same energy packed with slight variations into what you see with your ego mentality, as separate oranges.  God is manifested in the orange.  How so?  Well, when you squeeze out the juice and it all mixes together, you get the idea of the Oneness of oranges.  Think of God as the juice.  Without juice you have no orange.  Without God you have no you.  Regardless of language, skin color, religion or not, we all have the juice of God.  When we die, we blend right back into the Oneness of God.  As Jesus said to his followers, "I am in you and you are in me."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Separate But Equal

My experience of the phrase, "separate but equal," is another way of saying, "we don't want you in the club."  There were separate schools for people of race.  They were supposed to be equal.  They were not.  The rule was made by the ruling white people, because they did not want to mix with the dark skin people.  When people of religion say that women are separate but equal to men, it is another way of saying the men don't want the women in the club.  It is bad form, outside of fundamentalist religion, to say that women are not the equal of men.  Such talk bozos into the differences in physical muscles, though I don't see guys having babies.  I think that men have the instinct to realize they have traded a better/saner lifestyle for the sake of power.  Tell me a third world country, medieval in its thinking, health care, sanitation, education, etc. that is not dominated by men?  The men know that if women get power, things will change in all these areas yes, but the men will be left out.  Men don't want to learn, if it means they will give us control.  You might think of this, the next time you hear the discussion about women being equal but separate, in the ordination issue.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Good Priest

At some point in my priesthood I realized that I had a lot of shortcomings that were not about to disappear.  So I decided that if I was not going to be holy or brilliant or talented in my work, I would do one thing well.  I would give people what they want, or asked for.  For this I am called a "good" priest. It was amazing to me to discover how few priests actually responded well to simple requests.  It seems that you were asking for something at the wrong or inconvenient time, or there was some nitty rule, or custom that went against your request.  With me, you want to be anointed? Sure.  Right now? Fine. Confession right now? Fine.  My preaching or teaching could be average to second rate, and I might even say some outrageous things. They were all passed over, because Fr. Ryan is "helpful."  I think that all of us could make the world a better place if we could say "yes" more often than "no" each day.  You might find that your whole mood is improved if you are of service in the moment of the request.  Daily meditation has helped me to say yes when my first thought is to say no.  It is not the first thought or emotion that matters.  It is the first action.  If I only did what I wanted to do, then my faults/vices would take over.  Selfish is my norm.  Grace is the cure, moment by moment.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Communion to Divorced

Talk about confusion!  The Vatican says that the Diocese of Freiburg, Germany would confuse people if they began to give communion to the divorced.  Well this is REALLY confusing.  There is no law in the church that refuses communion to the Divorced.  They can receive communion.  Divorce does not get you thrown out of the church in any way, shape or form.  I hope that the media gets this right or else the divorced who are going to communion might wonder if the rules got changed.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


It seems that my body is made up of energy tightly compacted.  We call this compacted energy "Matter."  It is really energy manifested in a particular way.  There is no matter to matter.  Confused?  Maybe I can show where this might go spiritually.  If I am energy, and the universe is energy manifested in various shapes and sizes, such as stars and cosmic dust, then when I die, my energy goes back into the universe energy pool.  It might have a memory of being me, Terry Ryan.  What is the difference between this way of seeing death, and what I was taught growing up?  Ego, that is the difference.  Unless we are mystics, we cannot conceive of the ego dying, as in no longer existing.  Ego focused people see death as the body dying, rotting, but "ME" goes on to see God.  I am now spirit or soul.  God is other than the me that goes to see God in heaven, a place for good souls.  Most of us in organized religion think in this ego fashion.  Mystics do not.  They see God as manifesting God's self in the cosmos, energy.  The universe is God made visible if you will.  We go back to God from who we came.  Actually, we never were separate from God.  The ego just thinks in terms of separation.  The mystic thinks in terms of Oneness.  Either view, the ego one, or the mystic one is orthodox.  No heresy to worry about.  But one view is medieval.  Guess which one it is.

Friday, October 18, 2013

First Class

I was traveling from Charleston, South Carolina recently.  I highly recommend you visit this historic city, but leave your diet at home.  Great food, but back to my point.  I noticed how there are all these levels of customer on the airlines.  Marketing is a lot about separating us, giving us a sense of difference in status and perks.  The airlines are not so crass to call anyone "Second Class," in the lineup to get onto the plane, but you kind of get the feeling that if you don't spend the money to upgrade your status, you will be among the few "unwashed" left to get on the plane just before they close the door.  I was the lowest level, given a number rather than a word title.  In ship travel, you are called first, second, and I think third class, but I cannot remember.  It is so unreal, but so western and secular.  We are all one.  We all go to the toilet and we all die.  We are all so much cosmic dust.  When I finally get onto the plane, with no luggage of course, I meditate, so as to get back to the real.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


When an addict finally wants to work the steps, it is good to say that the Higher Power is not the addict.  Most of us have been brought up with this dualistic thinking that I am not God.  True is one way.  Addicts have big egos and such people get delusional about power.  They cannot recover alone.  BUT after some time, maybe a lot of time, and they get into meditation, and some into deep meditation beyond thoughts and words, they may come to  the mystical discovery.  They are one with the Higher Power.  All mystics will tell you this.  Christian ones too will experience this.  You come to a discovery, experience of Oneness.  You are one not only with God but with all the universe, to include all the people around you.  Mystics don't judge.  They experience more a sense of union than separation.  Jesus said that "The Father and I are One."  It is called by different names in different spiritual paths, but it definitely is in my church, though few get to hear about it much less learn how to practice deep meditation.  Some never experience it.  Good News, God loves you anyway and is one with you even if you think God is some place else.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No Broad Brush

Whenever I hear someone say that, "Everyone in that group is..." I get a bit uneasy.  There is no everyone.  People may affiliate with a group for various different reasons.  Recovery groups have all kinds of people in them for all kinds of reasons.  The more open you are to membership, the more likely you will have a wide array of differences in the membership.  My own church is very big and wide in its acceptance of people, moreso than you think.  There are narrow-minded members of a group that think they speak for everyone, and want people who are just like them.  I have found it very hard to be content or even grow in a group if everyone has to be like me.  I have too many faults to want to hang around me like-minded and like-acting people.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why A Priest?

Someone questioned why I am a priest if I am so critical about the church.  I came to the conclusion, some time ago, that I was not going to be much of a priest for the unquestioning pious.  But they had a lot of priests to take care of them.  I was going to be a priest to those who were barely hanging on, those who felt no one was listening to them, those who felt somewhat left out by the focus and emphasis of the teachers, pastors, leaders of their church.  These laity are the people who are often enough on the outer edges of the church.  There are all kinds of reasons why they are where they are.  No one size fits all.  Often they feel ignored, and even put down.  They believe that Jesus is for them and they for Jesus. It is his messengers that more often than not leave them feeling on the outside.  So they often stay on the outside of the sacraments.  They are my mission.  I have hope when I see the unquestioning pious walking with the bemused sceptic.  Only good things can happen when we mix it up.  It is a big church, and I ain't leavin'!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hurting the Church

Someone commented that my blog was hurting the church and everyone's faith who read it.  Two thoughts on this.  The church is not the hierarchy, but the people of God that includes the hierarchy.  I tend to write for that part of the church that feels left out of the mix by the hierarchy part.  We all agree on dogma or else we are not really in the church.  But there is a lot that is "taught" that is not dogma, but rather opinion of some clergy and people that think it is dogma because they hang around with those who agree with them.  This brings me to my second point.  People who are offended by "teachings" contrary to their own, tend to hang around with people like them, to read all the same books, and feel safe and secure.  Religion is not for security or else there would be no cross.  I try to spend some time with people who disagree with me.  It is how I learn and maybe even open myself to a wider world than my own in my religion.  If people would just read some good history of religion, The Catholic Church history, they would see how much we have changed over the years and how much debate/discussion there is between clergy and hierarchy on various issues that are no way etched in stone.  Sadly, you won't get that kind of adult ed in most parishes.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Convert Work

The Pope does not seem to be so interested in convert work, which is not the same as evangelization.  The pope is focused on concern for the poor, the maginalized, the destitute and our indifference to it.  What I often see is someone becoming a Catholic, going to sacraments, maybe even doing some volunteer work in the parish, but otherwise not much changes in the world beyond themselves.  The pope seems more interested in a conversion of the heart in a relationship to Christ that actually reaches out to the larger world as did Christ in his ministry to the marginalized person.  After Jesus was tossed from the synogogues, he did his ministry on the streets and in the countryside until he came to Jerusalem.  He was safe among the poor in the countryside, out in the streets.  The powers that be did not spend much time there.  Once in the city, they got rid of him.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Born Wrong

Some say that one is born an alcoholic and discovers it as they grow up and drink too much.  In this thinking, it is not something you develop by a lot of bad choices.  It is not developmental.  It is in your DNA.  Recovery programs, the 12 Steps, are so that you can  become all that God made you to be, without drinking anymore.  You don't stop being an alcoholic.  You realize that this alcoholism has now given you a way to become all that God called you to be.  You become a better person through the working of the 12 steps and then help others to work the steps.  You would never have discovered the program, this way of growth, had you not been an alcoholic.  Alcoholism is a cross, and you take up your cross each day.  In this sense it is the Way, the Gate to a fuller life.  The 12 steps are Gift.  Sad that so few discover this.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Natural, The Norm

Is the norm biological or teleological?  Is it a given, or is it the end to which we are called to develop.  The hierarchy of my church says that the norm is biological, that is, a heterosexual is the norm.  Therefore, the homosexual is "ab-normal."  It is unnatural to be a homosexual, in this line of thinking.  But this is not the only way the ethicists think. Some say that the norm or natural growth is about the "ends" for which we are created. In this thinking, God made us to become all who we are, to develop our capacity for wholeness, or holiness, in a religious sense.  If you are a homosexual then you are to become all God meant you to be including your homosexuality.  You are not "wrongly" made.  Become all God called you to be and you contribute to the wholeness of society. The first way of looking at things is called natural law, but it is a coverup for predjudice.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Someone said that our faith is being eroded because we are becoming absorbed into the secular mainstream.  I don't think this is quite the reason.  Jesus has a wonderful message.  We just don't know how to "sell" it, as advertisers might say.  We could learn something from this secular world if we were up to listening.  They decide how to match their product with the desires, wants, needs of the public.  Well, we have a wonderful message already on the books that would satisfy the deepest needs of people.  The Book of the Bible as it reflects Jesus is about forgiveness, acceptance, love, mercy, joy, and then a challenge to let grace change our lives.  Who would reject this?  But what we "sell" or promote is judgment, rules, narrow view of history, control, and authority.  Only the very frightened want any of that.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Finding Dr. Who

I come to realize that it is easier to find God than to find a doctor who will make an appointment with me.  I can sit in prayer in make my appointment with God.  But a doctor has lots of barriers.  I call a number and then listen to a lengthly explanation of choices, and maybe none of them seem to apply.  So I guess, and someone finally answers the phone.  This is the person who has a myriad of ways to not make an appointment.  One sent me to the scheduling department who had a message saying they would call me back.  Still waiting.  Another person, another doctor's phone answerer, sent me to billing to see if I had insurance they liked.  And the reason I am looking at all is because my doctor went into the hospice business, and I hope not to have to deal with her for a long time!  It seems that God is more interested in the health of my soul than the medical world is interested in the health of my body.  Someone said that God is the Divine Physician.  I find comfort in that.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Training or Education

When I was in Catholic School I was trained in one lineage of moral theology.  I thought that what I heard was Gospel.  It never occurred to me that I was being taught only one line of thinking.  I was being trained to live my faith in a particular style.  No choice.  This is not education.  If I were being educated I would have been exposed to historical differences, reasons for one way of thinking or another, and then I would have to use my conscience to decide what is right for my circumstances.  Training/indoctrination, rather than education assumes that the Holy Spirit cannot work well through me, a bad little boy, in need of weekly confession.  Nor can I think for myself.  The hierarchy has to tell the nuns and then they tell me, and then I do what I am told or burn.  It is sheer grace that I am still in this church!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pass It On

I love this.  Someone gave me this quote from a church sign: "Don't judge me because I sin differently than you."  The person quoted is not defending their actions.  We are all in the same boat somehow, so lets help on another along with a bit up uplifting affirmation that God loves us in spite of ourselves.  Humility is a good thing.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Weather

The predict for today was "Sunny and 70."  There is no sun and it is not 70.  I am bummed as I so looked forward to this day before the next rain/freeze.  My response was, "They lied."  "Lies!"  If I were a bit less dispassionate, less affected, I might say, "They guessed wrong."  If I were totally unaffected by the weather, I would say, "The results did not verify their analysis."  Weather people analyse data and then make a predict.  They do not really guess wrong, or lie.  But the more I am affected by something that someone says or does, the more likely I am to praise or condemn them.  Notice that, the next time you cast aspersions upon someone, while someone else simply shrugs it off.  It sometimes really is all about us.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


There is a difference between career and ministry.  When one thinks of career it is in terms of doing something and then getting promoted to get more of something, such as power, money, larger office, and so on.  You do good work, or what work you see as advancing your status.  Ministry, on the other hand, is usually more of a servant work.  You serve others, not to advance yourself, but rather simply to be of service in the kingdom of God.  Grace moves you to keep going.  The relationship with God and the People of God is its own reward.  You live amidst the people.  You share their lives.  If you look at the bishop tract over the last 35 years or so, you will see in their advancement up the ladder, very little work amidst the people.  They do little parish work.  They go to school for advanced church law or other degrees and then work in central offices or seminaries.  They don't learn to listen or interact with the "people below."  It is called, "not taking incoming phone calls."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Celibacy In The Vatican

Did the Borgia pope practice celibacy? No.  Was it on the books? Yes.  He had mistresses and children from them.  So what's up?  In any age and time, there are rules that are more or less ignored.  They become a focus due to historical circumstances and maybe God's grace.  In 1500, the Pope's Christianity was the only one around.  Dissenters were, well, eliminated more or less.  Then came Henry VIII and Martin Luther.  Competition.  The Church decided it had better shape up in the papal celibacy stuff.  The rule did not change.  What changed is our focus on it and the demands we made for its keeping.  So it is today.  Pope Francis wants to put on the back burner our focus on certain sex issues.  The rule does not change.  But the focus does.  He wants more emphasis on caring for the flock, especially the poor, or as he says, "smelling like your sheep."  In this case, the ones who who have to change are the hierarchy and the rich.  They do not like this.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Moral Truth 2

There is another school of moral teaching that can be call "Historical."  It looks at history and says that some things change.  It also says that a moral action must take into consideration the circumstances/situation of the person.  The person counts.  Their conscience is functional rather than profoundly flawed by sin.  This approach sees the church not as the hierarchy, but as the People of God.  The Holy Spirit works through the whole church and not just the ordained.  Sex issues would be lightening rods here.  Is birth control everywhere and always wrong?  The neo-manualists (see yesterdays blog) would say yes.  There is an absolute/always/everywhere truth when it comes to sex.  The historical moralist would say, "It depends." This latter demands that you grow up, develop a conscience that works with God's grace, which means you practice the virtuous life.  It also means that the couple work together, share and cooperate.  In the former model, the husband could demand sex (the wife renders the debt), so long as no birth control is used.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Moral Truth

The manualist tradition says that there are absolute moral truths and each person fits themselves into the absolute truth come from on high.  Your conscience and situation are of no significance.  Truth is unchanging.  In times past there were differing manualists.  The papacy did not try and point to one or another.  In the 20th century neo-manualists tried to say that there was only one way, and the pope/bishops would tell you what that is.  This idea of church is a church of the hierarchy.  When people say, "What does the church teach,?" they are coming out of this mind-set.  It allows us not to grow up, or mature, or take reponsibility to decide.  It allows us to feel that we are absolutely certain.  If we fail to keep the absolute rule, well, we always have confession.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Balance

Any Church community needs people with differences, who think differently, and have differening focus.  For instance, a community I serve just moved into another church building because the one they were using has flood issues.  When we got into the church, one person was concerned that the altar be in a particular place.  Another checked out the organ.  Another looked at the interior design, its esthetics.  Me?  I am a nuts and bolts guy.  Do we have a sound system?  Do we have heat?  Where are the switches?  How do things "work."  All church communities grumble if they cannot hear or suffer from room temperature cold.  I asked about the sound system.  I saw that we had microphones on the podium.  So where is the system?  No one seemed concerned, so I went around and opened a cabinet in the back of the church.  Voila!  With instructions, though they were a bit out of date.  I got the sound on.  At the end of the church service, I told the leaders to find out how the heat works.  We will need it soon.  Churches need people like me.  I am not glamorous in my focus.  I am functional.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Give Away

I am on a "give things away" kick.  It is rather self-serving, but then again, someone is getting something they can use, and I don't need or use much at all.  I am downsizing my stack of "stuff."  Isn't this the way many of us make changes?  We get to the point where we cannot live with things as they are.  Because I live in small spaces I seem to have clutter.  It is good stuff clutter, but it is still clutter.  If I had a large space in which to live, believe me, I would not be so generous with my stuff.  How does it happen that I have 11 pair or running shorts?  Well, I guess there were 11 different sales.  Anyway, I may not be the most giving person, but God finds a way to get me to be useful to those who are without.  Do the poor jog?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rich Man

Unlike the USA sailboat, the rich man in the bible story about poor Lazarus, could not change his ways.  It is not a problem of being rich.  It is a problem of being so self-centered that you do not see the need of the poor person at your doorstep.  Jesus is not about the distribution of wealth, or its redistribution.  He is about those who have helping those who have not.  It is a personal responsibility.  The Hebrew Scriptures tell the rich that it is their job to care for the poor.  The rich fellow just could not change, and so he ended up in torment after his death.  Change is hard.  For people like me it only comes when all else has failed, that is, all my programs for happiness based upon self.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

America's Cup

For those of you who are sport challenged, this award is for sailing.  The Americans were down to the Kiwis from New Zealand 8 to 1 in the first nine races in the San Francisco Bay.  It takes 9 wins to get the Cup.  The Americans won the next 8 races.  They made some changes.  Often we don't change until we have to.  But what strikes me as uplifting is to never give up.  They could not change boats or crew for that matter.  But the seeds of victory were all there.  They just had to find it.  They did.  So often, what we need to turn our lives around is right within us.  Seek and you shall find.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Same Page

Some bishops and cardinals don't seem to be on the same page as the pope.  This is all new territory for me.  It makes me sometimes wonder who is in charge and what is what.  Nancy Pelosi got dragged into this over abortion and receiving communion.  One bishop says she says this or that and should not receive communion and another bishop says he would not refuse her.  What are we to do?  To think?  Well, actually, most Catholics have been thinking for themselves for sometime now.  Seems the bishops are just catching up.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Around this time each year I remember my Dad's birthday and then my Mom's death the day after his birthday.  I was with them.  Mom asked me to go out and buy Dad something for his birthday.  I found a pillow with a lovely saying on the pillow case.  Dad cherished it.  He would not let it go from his side for the months that he lived after Mom died.  Things that we can touch and feel are powerful ways to hold onto the memories, and presence of some one who has died.  Catholics are good at that.  They have the Eucharist.  For many Catholics this is no big deal.  They can do with an Easter and Christmas remembering.  I am more like my Dad.  Jesus is to me what Mom was to Dad.  Actually, I don't yet love Jesus as Dad loved Mom.  I am working on it though.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

French Kissing

In our all boys Catholic high school class we sensed that the priest was waffling on the topic of "french kissing."  Up till then it was thought to be a mortal sin, period.  We started to press him.  "Father, how long can the french kiss be, before it is a mortal sin?" Ladies, I am not making this up!  Our objective was to french kiss, but not go to hell.  This is how morality was taught back then.  It was all private actions, rule breaking, that I had to avoid. What was missing in this teaching?  The girl.  There was nothing about the girl we might be kissing.  What was her interest?  What were her feelings?  Morality, in sex anyway, was not about the common good, or relationship.  It was between me and the church's rules.  For many people today, sin, wrong, has nothing to do with the common good, or social justice, or communal relations.  Yes, we should give alms, care for the less fortunate, but we won't burn for ignoring them.  We will burn for french kissing.  As many a young girl would say to the boy, after the deed is done, "I feel like you do it as if I am not even here."  If the boy is still into guilt and confession, he will confess this as breaking a rule, but never as offending another person.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ain't No Good

When I grew up in the 50s and 60s, the way morality was taught is that things were right or wrong, every time and always.  It made sin very clear, and there was no need for me to think things through.  Why? Because the basic premise is that we are bad.  If  given any chance to make our own decisions, we would do wrong because we are selfish, sinful people at the core.  That is why priests yelled from the pulpit and talked about hell.  Fear is the only thing that would make us avoid bad behavior.  

Jesus was not like that, nor was any other truly God-filled person.  The newer way of teaching morality reflects this.  We are given norms that take into account our differing experiences.  From these norms, we make an informed and conscious decision.  We are graced filled people who can make such decisions.  In the first example above, birth control is always and everywhere wrong and you will burn.  In the second example, we get norms and then make an informed decision.  Our life experience counts.  There is a big difference between the college student who just wants to "hook up," and the mother of several children whose health is endangered by another pregnancy or a couple who are financially struggling to make ends meet in this economic downturn.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Narrow Focus

Often, when people focus on contraception, abortion and gay issues, they are coming out of a moral tradition of individual sins that should be avoided in order to be good.  E.g. don't do certin sex things and you are good.  Moreover, in this tradition, people who do these things are bad, and should be condemned and excluded from the "acceptable group," who can of course receive communion, go to heaven, and so on.  Much is missing from this tradition.  There is nothing about the common good, mercy, love, a community of imperfect people striving for social justice, equality, helping the poor.  The so-called conservatives who focus on the sex stuff, generally are not at all concerned about social justice, or the common good.  Their morality is all private.  It is about avoiding certain "sins" and then God has got to take you to heaven, while you are meanwhile in the good graces of the church hierarchy.  I don't think they are very happy with the current Pope.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Civilization of Love

An American Catholic Cardinal says that we need to build a civilization of love.  Well, why does he not start with giving communion to believers who want it, and not worry about rules which say "no communion" for various situations including being baptized but not being Catholic, or being remarried without an annulment?  Lots of people want more love in the world, but what they usually mean is they want someone else to be more loving.  Rules of exclusion generally do not promote love.  I don't know Jesus all that well, but I wonder if he really would care all that much about whose tongue receives him.  Now he was a person who was all about love.  Seems some of the religious officials did not much care for him.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Strangers In The World

In the First Letter of Peter, chapter 2, we are exhorted to live as strangers or pilgrims in the world rather than as citizens.  I get the idea of detachment here, but I find a problem with it.  We can get into this mentality that, "It is not my world" and feel no demand to care for the world.  Peter did not have ecology in mind.  Who did back then?  People who might tidy up their own living area, might just leave things a mess if it is not their place. Someone else will clean it up.  I try to think of those who will come after me, or those others who will also use this space in which I find myself.  In Boulder right now, there is a lot of cleanup.  Get out the work gloves.  Put on the face mask. Easy for me to say.  I am not there!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Women Deacons

I was reading First Letter of Paul to Timothy, 3:1-13.  It gives the qualifications for a bishop and then for a deacon.  Then it says, "Women, similarly," in the section on deacons.  It goes on to say what qualities they should have.  Then it continues with more on deacons.  Seems to me that women were included in the deacon section.  So what happened?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

20% Chance

When the weather forecast says "20% chance of rain," the monastery seems to be wherever that 20% is going to fall.  Actually, the forecast showed clear sky for us all day.  It just rained.  We were without hot water in one wing where the monks live.  We just got a new water heater installed today.  Our fields cannot dry out.  We cannot hay.  No hay=no income from hay.  Then I think of Boulder and the whole front range of Colorado.  I don't like to see other people suffer, but we need to keep our misery in perspective.  I guess that Boulder residents could compare their misery to a third world country's sufferings.  But at the moment, Boulder is looking kind of third world.  I hear that Albuquerque is not doing so well either.  Lots of mess.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Equal Opportunity

Global warming is an equal opportunity destroyer.  Just look at Boulder.  Living on a hill in a gated community did not do much for you.  Living next to the babbling brook did even worse.  Now for the future.  If you are thinking of living in Boulder because your friends are here, then you will stay for your friends.  If you are staying for the outdoor lifestyle, you might consider another running and biking/hiking venue.  Outdoors here is full of canyons and mountains that are messy for living in global warming.  There is no global warming?  OK.  Have your life turned upside down for some other reason you choose.  I have always stayed in Boulder and come back to Boulder for the people, my friends and church congregation.  There are better places/weather for running.  The restaurants and culture are a bit minimal.  I don't like cold weather.  I can get used to running on a soft trail in the rain, but I never get used to the cold.  I don't bike.  The scenery?  From downtown Boulder, I would take San Francisco anytime, and I prefer the ocean to the mountains.  No, it is people that keep me coming back.  They leave for safer places?  I leave too.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Enough Pictures

I found myself looking at disaster photos of Boulder on the internet.  Wait. What am I doing?  I found myself becoming more sad and inert.  Forget the disaster photos.
The nation is looking at the mess and saying, "Wow!  Glad that is not me."  We need to get out and do something practical to get our lives going.  Like what?  Get in your car when you can and drive around.  Can I get from A to B as I used to?  Is a road closed because it has water, that will go away, and mud that can be plowed away?  Or is it destroyed for a long time?  This is practical help.  What are the hardware stores out of that we all need?  How hard is it to get a new water heater?  Are the running paths and biking paths in need of a little drying out and then we can use them again in a week, or are they gone? What institutional buildings are destroyed? A church, library, bus terminal, school, supermarket,  and won't be good for eons.  Can I still get my ice cream on the Pearl Street Mall? Why should twenty of us have to find this out separately?  Find out and then get the word out.

Monday, September 16, 2013

God At Work

Today, with yet more rain falling outside, I gave a workshop on the 11th step (prayer and meditation) to 60 people.  We did not even have 60 chairs in our retreat center room at the monastery.  But they stayed, all 60.  When I give a talk on recovery issues, I realize that the people have come not to get a bit more spiritual than they are, but rather to stay out of the disaster of a life they do not forget.  The first 10 steps pulled them out of drowning in the raging waters of their addiction or living with an addicted person.  Now they wanted to learn how to live on the dry shore.  They hunger for an inner healing, a transformation, if you will.  They are more than simply "interested" in the topic.  This could put a lot of pressure on someone like me who tries not to practice bad behavior each day.  Some people try to do good.  I try to avoid doing bad.  I fall into good!  Anyway, I did not feel much pressure, because God is at work in bringing us all together this day.  How do I know?  Well, I had a five page outline for my talk, but in reviewing it beforehand, I had left page four as the opening page.  A mistake? Maybe not.  I began my talk from page four, from the middle.  It should have proved an illogical mess.  The talk and the progression of thoughts were just what they wanted, as I was told later.  That is God at work.  I just have to stay connected to the Power of the Presence.  It is the 11th step.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013


The Vatican's new Secretary of State said that we can discuss celibacy, but that the church's efforts to keep it must not be seen as a thing of the past.  Ah, it is a thing of the past.  Make it optional.  That way, parishes that cannot afford to even support one celebate priest, do not have to close.  Married guys get the rich parishes and the celibates get the poor ones.  Well, that is one reason a lot of priests won't want a change!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Jesus in Syria

Jesus says to love your enemies.  If someone takes something from you, just let it be.  Turn the other cheek, and so on.  This is more than radical in the Middle East world where he lived.  There, it is all tribal and clan.  One side gets all and the other side gets annilated.  Syria is about tribal and clan warfare.  It is only a country because the European powers carved it up to be so.  Jesus might be admired, but not followed in that world.  For some of us, he did reveal God's view of things.  We are all equal, but only a very holy person could see and act out in this way.  Love does not drive the clan mentality beyond the clan.  Baptism does not seem to be able to trump tribal loyalties in that part of the world.  Not sure it does here either, but our tribe is more often money, or skin color.

Friday, September 13, 2013


I was on a bus going to this mountain scene wedding.  The bus was filled with wedding guests.  We were chatting with one another.  I met the groom's side of the family, and we were having a delightful time.  The bus driver was giving a talking tour of the scenery as we drove along.  Sitting next to me was a yound lady and her dog.  She looked too dressed up to be out for a hike.  She never said anything. She rarely looked lfet or right.  She just looked straight ahead.  I thought this a bit strange, but thought to just let her be. When we got off the bus, I realized that she knew the driver.  I was then introduced to her among other wedding guests, and just moved along with no more thought about her.

After the wedding, I went to get back onto the bus.  There was one every half hour, and I sensed it was going to rain.  The young lady and her dog also stood in line.  We got to talking.  At 70, I have learned how to talk to a girl.  Would that I knew this when I was younger.  We had a delightful visit, waiting for the bus and on the bus.  I gave her a ride to somwhere so that she could meet some friends.  It turns out that she was a driver on this very bus for some years.  The tour was old hat to her.  She is a published author, a book about walking.  She had heard nice things about me.  My friends lie well.  What a delightful young woman, and I almost missed her.  Timing can be everything.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nature God

I went to a wedding recently.  It was at the base of the beautiful Maroon Bells mountains in Colorado, near the monastery where I live.  There was no God in the Eucharist, the bread and wine, at the wedding.  But there was God in the wonderful scenery that surrounded us.  Catholics believe that once God comes into the food at the worship ritual, God stays there.  Well, once God makes those mountains, God stays there too.  Out of compassion, and love, God will spend time on crowded, noisy urban streets.  But for pure pleasure, God hangs out at the Maroon Bells, and other lovely nature sights.  The best of nature can be harder to get to than dropping in at your local house of worship.  But the Maroon Bells?  You can take a bus.  Sometimes it is easier to find God than other times, but God is always around somewhere.