Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jesus Figure

A Cardinal said that the next pope will have to be someone who reminds us of Jesus.  Well, I don't know any Cardinals who remind me of Jesus.  So, I guess the next pope will be someone I don't know, which is what I have been saying.  He will be an unknown, without any media baggage.  He might be well-known in say, Hungary, but not so much world wide.  I do know some Women Religious who remind me of Jesus.  Strange.  I thought the official line was that only a man could reflect Jesus.  Actually, I know several women who remind me of Jesus, but no ordained males.  Maybe I travel in the wrong circles?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rocky Road

It seems that we cannot easily get all 117 of those cardinals into the conclave.  One just resigned due to some rumored scandal.  I am sure that the press is going to have a feeding frenzy on that issue, and try to turn up more mess.  Is the hierarchy going to become a real life novel?  My fear is that the cardinals will get scared of more possible scandal so that those who do get into the conclave will try and elect someone squeaky clean.  I am not much for squeaky clean.  I prefer someone with some past struggles,  the mess of life, even rejection by the powers that be.  If it has not destroyed the man, it will make him more human, and I think more compassionate for those of us who struggle with our sins, faults, imperfections, and rejections.  We don't need a theologian or philosopher in the Chair of Peter.  A pope can always hire experts and brains to advise him.  He could even hire a woman for such help and advice.  Fancy that!  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I just figured out the answer to the priest shortage and the refusal to ordain women.  Robots.  These mechanized robots will replace many human beings in the work force over time.  Robots work best if they do the same thing the same way in a repeat fashion. So program the robot to say mass and program the sermon to be given by the robot voice.  The voice comes from the robot.  A man or woman could write the sermon and program it into the robots computer for the mass. The Roman church wants conformity in the mass.  One mass suits all.  Perfect for a robot.  Robots cut down on costs.  No need to house or feed it.  Robots don't whine, nor do they want someone to spoil them or wait on them.  They could be taught to do weddings, funerals and baptisms.  A lay coordinator could program in all the particulars about the bride, groom, baby and family in baptism and deceased person at a funeral.  Many a priest has less of an idea than would a robot about who they are marrying, baptizing or burying.  Wait a minute!  I would be out of a job.  Cancel all of the above.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Path

It is one thing to put on the mind of Christ and another thing to believe in theological statements about Christ.  The path of putting on the mind of Christ you get only from deep prayer and praxis.  You cannot think your way to it.  You become changed if you put on the mind of Christ.  A belief in a creed you can pick up in catechism class or read and think your way to it.  Jesus died and saved you from you sins is a doctrine about Jesus.  I doubt it changes many people.  They know about Jesus, but do not become Jesus.  Reading, thinking, reasoning is so western and we are western.  But Jesus was not from Rome.  He did not say any of the things about himself that we believe in our Creed.  He did say a lot of other things.  Do we ignore what he said because we do not want to change?  And if we just read but not meditate deeply on what he said, we will probably try to fit it into our mental beliefs, because we just don't want to change.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dropping Out?

I hear people say that they are leaving the Church because of the politics of it all.  Well, why not look at some other branch of our Church.  It is a big church.  The Roman model is just one model.  It focuses on authority and uniformity.  There are Eastern Christian groups that do not have this focus.  Some of them are even in union with Rome, but with a theology that is much more wisdom oriented and less narrowly doctrinal in their focus. Our Roman model grew up because of certain historical circumstances, that other parts of the early Christian world did not suffer.  Take a look at Syrian Christianity, while there are still some Syrians practicing it!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bad Timing

Well, Cardinal Dolan is being questioned now about his running of the diocese he had before New York.  This is not a good thing to see in the papers if you are about to go into the conclave in three weeks to pick a pope.  It is probably better to have no outside publicity if you are going to become the next pope.  So I think you can safely cross his name off of the list of possibles.  Are the bookies taking bets yet on who will get elected?  I bet that it will be someone that we do not know much about.  Just a feelin'.

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Sponsor

In 12 Step Programs, one is supposed to have a sponsor, someone you check in with on a regular basis and dialogue.  I see my spiritual life as one of constant recovery from craziness.  God is my sponsor in this recovery.  Each day I have to check in with God, to stay on the spiritual path, and not wander off to craziness.  Prayer is the check in time.  Now I don't have to talk to God about how I am doing.  God already knows.  What I have to do in this prayer check in is to listen.  My prayer is more meditative and less  about my thoughts and words.  Sometimes, God speaks in words of a book, scripture for instance.  But generally, I start out with silence and trying not to pay attention to whatever is floating around in my crazy mind.  It is best if I check in two times a day.  Now, sometimes my sponsor calls me.  This is called intuition or enlightenment, or surprise.  Whenever I put off getting in touch with my sponsor, I am going to end up having a crazy day.  Sometimes it will creep up on me, the craziness, and sometimes it just builds.  If you are not crazy, I guess you don't need a sponsor.  Now that sounds crazy to me!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

No Pockets

In all that clothing that the pope wears, I guess that he does not need pockets.  He does not get paid.  He is the only unpaid world leader that I know of.  Apparently, he does not need money.  All his needs are taken care of.  I don't think that Jesus got paid either.  He had to ask for a Roman coin to make a point.  Lately, my work has been going so badly, I am not getting paid.  This was bothering me up to just now.  If I don't get paid, like Jesus and the Pope, then I am in pretty good company.  But I could use a group around me to take care of my every need.  Anyhow, the next time you are not getting paid, think of Jesus and the Pope.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Battle

When the Consistory of Cardinals goes into the Sistine Chapel to pick a new pope, there will be two sides in the discussion.  On one side is the Holy Spirit who is in charge of directing the church leaders.  On the other side is the human ego grown strong in the psyches of powerful men, the Cardinals of the Church.  The temptation of the ego is to want someone in the office of the pope that allows the Cardinal to go on doing whatever he does without having to change.  In other words, it is OK not to be picked as the next pope, as long as whoever gets the job does not mess with my power base.  Some people are hopeful that there will be no change in the direction begun by John Paul II and continued with Benedict XVI.  Some want a radical shift.  I am betting on the Holy Spirit.  It is OK if I don't get my way, as long as the Holy Spirit gets the Spirit's way.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tearful Joy

I went to a nursing home to give out ashes and communion.  I went to the lockdown ward.  It is not a very stylish place.  I approached a woman who did not seem to be very interested in my presence.  I had my collar and black clerical outfit on.  I asked if she would like ashes.  She said yes.  Then I offered her communion.  She said yes and began to cry.  I knew it was tears of joy.  Medicines can quiet us down, zone us out, and disconnect us.  The medicine of Ash Wednesday ashes touching the skin on the forehead, and the Eucharist on the tongue, for this woman, was a far better medicine.  For a moment and maybe longer, she was healed.  It changed her day.  It certainly changed mine.

Monday, February 18, 2013

President's Day

Today is President's Day, part of a made up three day weekend, in which we cobble together a couple of Presidents, so that people might take off from work and spend money.  Shop, travel, ski, do whatever, but spend money.  Our economy churns along if we all consume things we really don't need.  What makes your spiritual life churn along?  I know that I must "spend" a certain amount of something in order for my spirit to thrive.  Did I really read the sports pages longer than I prayed today?  Ouch!  The economy of my soul would be going into recession if that were so.  How about you?

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Jon Stewart, a lefty like me, said, "If you don't stick to your values when they're being tested, they're not values:  they're hobbies."  I like this.  Do I find my exercise program, my running, something I do consistently, or only when it suits me.  When the weather tests me, do I just give up?  I look at my practice of prayer?  When tested by busyness, boredom, lack of energy, do I skip it?  Jon Stewart would say then that my prayer life is a hobby.  We lefties are pretty sharp!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pope Resigns

This is a modern idea for the Papacy.  You get old.  You don't have the stuff to keep doing your job.  You resign.  This is a common practice in much of the world, except institutional religion.  Now our Pope has taken the lead and exhibited a behavior and decision that others might consider who run different churches, mosques, temples, ashrams.  The pope resigns his office.  He will still be a priest and function as one.  I admire the pope for this decision.  A church run by old men will not attract the young.  The Holy Spirit is in charge.  Our Mother Mary will always guide us by her intercession.  Meanwhile, tune into the TV because a conclave to elect a pope does not happen often.  You will get some wonderful history lessons and pageantry.  The media will swarm into Rome big time.  We are not so dumb to keep the Papacy.  No other election draws such a crowd.  The media may beat up on us at times, but it is because we attract them as much as upset them.  The new Archbishop of Canterbury as a media event?  Please.  Can you even name him?  The Catholic Church is page one material for better or worse.  This event will be for better.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tooth Varnish

As I get older my gums recede from my teeth.  It happens.  I brush.  I got to the dentist for cleaning.  It happens anyway.  Now there is new stuff to put on my teeth that coat the gums and protect the roots of my teeth.  I guess that in time we need these extras.  Is it not the same with the soul?  My soul recedes over time no matter what I do.  I say morning and evening prayer.  I do some retreat days during the year.  But as life moves on I need more because I am working with less: energy, strength, memory, concentration, to name a few things that are diminishing in me.  We actually age spiritually.  We cannot rely on the same old formulas to carry us along.  Thomas Aquinas lived off of Theology and Philosophy for quite awhile.  Then he said, "Enough of this."  Never wrote another word.  Saints who die young from disease or a hard life, never get to this "aging of spiritual practice" place.  I find that as a approach 70 I need to keep asking the Holy Spirit to guide me, and Mother Mary to watch over me, as I try to open myself to God on a daily basis.  "Become like little children," Jesus said.  Open to the new.  So I have new stuff in my mouth today.  Try it...before your teeth fall out, or the ones you have left.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Missed Joy

Unless we take time to recognize our faults, we miss the joy of being redeemed transgressors.  This is why saints focus on their defects while most Catholics avoid anything like confession.  Religion for some are a few outward observances and an ethical code that one could keep who has no faith at all.  In the story of the Pharisee and the Publican, the Pharisee, a religious leader, focuses in his prayer on the good things he does.  He is well-behaved and respectable.  He is self-sufficient and thus self-satisfied.  He is contented with himself because he does not contemplate God. The broken-hearted Publican does see God in relation to self and sees how little he has returned the love that has so freely been given to him.  Welcome to Lent!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Christian Capitalism

Early Christianity was the distribution system of goods, when the Roman Empire was coming undone.  It was often called charity.  Nevertheless, with barbarians winning out over civilization, roads bad, travel unsafe, it was the Church who often got produce and cottage industry manufacturing from one place to another.  We were not so much for any one economic system.  We were against destitution and starvation.  Bishops, elected by the people or at least proposed by the people, felt a deep connection with the diocese in which they served. This dangerous work of moving goods from one place to another was supported by the Gospel: to love one's neighbor, to take up one's cross.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Julian the Emporer, the grandson of Constantine, was a pagan.  He read a lot and decided that Christianity was impractical for business.  All this self-denial, living simply, loving your enemy, just did not work for the Empire.  In other words, he tool Christianity seriously and did not try and change or adapt it to his wants.  Look at us today.  Do we not go to church and do what suits us?  We believe with our heads, but are Julian at heart.  At least he was honest about it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shake The Dust

Jesus tells his disciples that if they enter a home while out on the mission of preaching, and they are rejected, they should leave and shake the dust from their feet.  Someone gave me a good reason for doing this.  By shaking the dust, we are letting go of any grudge we might have against being rejected.  In other words, don't reject someone just because they reject you.  Don't carry the baggage of grudges and resentments with you as you go on your way.  It takes away the ability to be loving when you come to the next encounter.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Quik To Judge

I received Godiva Chocolate as a gift.  Yummy.  You think it is bad for me, full of sugar and salt?  Let me tell you what three pieces gives me.  First of all I get 190 calories to help me do do hard interval running.  A goodly number of these calories are from fat, which saves on eating up my muscles in exercise.  I get zero Trans Fat.  This is good.  Trans Fat is yucky.  I get one gram of dietary fiber.  I get two grams of protein.  I get some iron too.  I get sodium which helps when I run and sweat.  Gotta have  some salt.  So, run and eat Godiva.  You buy expensive running shoes?  Why not expensive chocolate? Never judge before examining the labels.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


A Vatican official claims that priests in the USA are being attacked over doctrine.  Really?  Someone is attacking a priest over the issue of the Trinity?  The Nicene Creed?  Please.  Obtuseness and narrow opinion is being attacked.  Some priests attach the word, "Doctrine" to what is merely their own comfort zone.  Then they get upset when the "laity" call them on it.  "I am being attacked," is really whining under another name.

Friday, February 8, 2013


In Paonia, Colorado, you don't own what you think you own.  The farmer, rancher owns the top of the land where he/she can decide what to plant and grow, or graze.  But deeper down, where the natural gas and oil sits, the government owns that.  I had never thought about how far down into the earth ownership goes.  Turns out not so far.  Come to think of it, how far down do I own myself?  I can do with my body what I want.  God owns my soul.  God is good.  God is love.  No fracking here.  I am not so sure about this oil and gas business.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tradition and Change

I was in my old parish in Knoxville, Tennessee, where they love me still.  They forgot all my bad qualities.  All the adult faces, parents, grandparent types, I remember.  We change slowly in facial look when we get older.  The change I saw was in the children.  They are adults now, nurses, teachers and such.  They have changed so much.  They have matured.  They were nurtured, loved and supported by parents and community.  As young adults, they still come to church.

The church is like this.  Part of the church is  tradition, that changes ever so slowly.  This part nurtures other younger parts of the Body of Christ, so that these younger parts can grow and become the new tradition someday.  If we keep a good balance, tradition and openness to change, we will be fine as church.  Nostalgia has no place in this process.  It is narrow and fear-based.  The young people I met learned from their parents and grandparents, but do not want to live like them.  Party telephone and rotary lines, had their place.  We call it history.  It belongs in the past.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Become Fire

Why do I do all that manual labor at the monastery each summer?  Why get up so early?  Why deny myself TV, radio, newspapers and meat?  All summer long I am practicing saying no to all the things that I want: sleep, hamburgers, Sports TV, movies.  I have found that self-denial is the way for me to "hurl myself in the consuming fire of love."  It seems to make no sense, until you do it.  True, along the way, there is a lot of murmuring and whining.  This is the sound of useless baggage being let go.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Suffering is not about hitting our finger nails with a hammer.  Suffering, in the spiritual sense, is about dealing with our self-will, giving up things I want, but don't really need, chocolate, gossip, back-biting, selfishness, for the sake of discipline.  I might even deny myself something that is good or benign, for the sake of prayer time.  Learn to say "no" to my business as usual, and become open to following Christ.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Yikes, Lent is just around the corner.  What to give up?  Why not give up something that will change you.  Elizabeth Leseur, a holy woman, said she would gives alms:  smiles cheerfulness and sweetness, at  the times that she felt irritable, and painful.  She was dying from cancer by the way.  She chose this almsgiving because she felt is would change her.  Whenever we go against our own self-will and felt desires, for the sake of discipline, we have the chance to become more like Christ.  You can give alms to the poor, and this is good.  It may change the economic situation of the poor, but it may not change you.  Lent is about changing me from the insides.  Eventually, this might contribute to changing the world from the outsides.  Who knows?  Anyway, I will enjoy my Lenten chocolate.  it will help to make me sweet.

Friday, February 1, 2013


I am at a Paulist residence that has four priests. I know how many are home by the number of cars parked out front. All are here, but I see and hear no one. They are in their rooms. In my two nights here, there is no dinner, no meal gathering. Maybe there is a monk gene in our vocation, but I would prefer to live alone rather than live alone with others.