Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Final Judgment

The pope says that the Final Judgment is a push for us to live better lives.  He goes on to talk about loving Jesus and looking forward to meeting Jesus at the end, out of love.  Let's face it.  I know lots of people who believe in final judgment theology but don't live a life that shows a deep love of Jesus.  Final judgment for the believer on the street is about FEAR!  Shape up now or God will get you.  Pay now or later.  Final judgment is not going to make us love Jesus, or love anyone for that matter.  I like the AA Recovery way.  Do good things because it will make you feel better.  Start with self-interest.  Every community organizer knows this.  When the light goes on that bad behavior makes you miserable, then you are ready for a new road.  Eventually, you will stumble into love.  Popes and Saints can do it the other way.  But for most of us, we are addicted to self.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Marriage Debate

In this discussion/debate about what is marriage and what is not, one side seems to focus on the sexual intercourse of a man and a woman in order to have children.  Well, how much of a marriage is taken up with this endeavor?  One percent of the time?  Being celibate, I really don't know, but I suspect that it is a really low percentage of what a couple does in their marriage over its lifetime.  For centuries, my church defined marriage by sexual intercourse.  A ceremony was not enough to make a marriage.  The well-being of the wife?  Forget it.  Render the debt is what she was supposed to do.  It is hard for my church to get on any other track.  There may be other points in the discussion to restrict the use of the word "marriage" but I don't think this is one of them.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Balance

We need the sense of separate self, the ego, to function in this world.  But it must be balanced with the sense of being part of a greater whole.  If we just meditate and have the sene of oneness, we won't be very loving or helpful in the world.  If we are completely into individualism, we will be selfishly out of balance.  We need both.  I think it is prayer and works.  Prayer beyond asking for things for the self, and works beyond trying to build up possessions or reputation or self-importance.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mary's Funeral

We had a funeral for Mary McCarthy who died at age 100.  There is a video of her playing the piano, quite well, six months ago.  She loved to entertain.  Living a long life is not just about genes.  Mary did what she loved to do, as her way of loving people.  If you think of yourself as a loving person or want to be, then ask yourself, "What is it I love to do?"  Do it and the world will be a bette place.  And a less cranky one too, I suspect.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Seems the Vatican wants to have dialogue with Venezuela.  The Church seems to want to dialogue where it does not have a lot of leverage or control.  It does not hold all the cards in Venezuela.  Look at other places where the Church holds most all the cards, the power and control.  Not too much call for dialogue there.  What's in your hand, Catholic nuns?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lightly Read

In looking over my posts, I notice a pattern.  The posts that seem to suggest that the reader might change their life or spiritual practice, are lightly read.  The posts that tell nice stories, or tweak the religious establishment, doctrine, instituitional rules and regulations, get a lot more readership.  Do people prefer to complain and blame, rather than change?  I am sure that Jesus ran up against a disfunctional religious establishment. He told stories/parables, and challenged people to change.  He got little positive response from this.  He went on to his own spiritual developement and began to speak in a "Wisdom Literary" style.  His teaching became, "I and the Father are One."  Take it or leave it.  Most everyone left it, and left Jesus too.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Eat My Body

"If you eat my flesh, and drink my blood, you have eternal life," said Jesus.  The easier, softer way is to go to mass, and receive communion.  Once a week should do it, right?  So then why do we all leave church and stay gossipy, judgmental, dog eat dog competitive, ignore others' suffering and be unkind?  Because we ignore the narrow road of disciplined, consistent mystical prayer which would get us out of our thinking mind and anxious emotional life.  The mystic will sense a Oneness with all life around them, including Jesus.  No longer will God be seen simply as the "Other."  Oneness becomes an added dimension.  This is "eternal life," of which Jesus was teaching.  The ritual eating of the food is a sign of this, but cannot make the dimension of Oneness happen, as if by magic.  I believe that the food is God, but then so am I.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I don't think that Jesus' agenda was a new religion.  He was fine with Judaism.  He had taken Judaism to another level, a more mystical one.  He had come to the awareness of "Oneness."  He knew that Judaism was needed with all its laws and rituals, because it can still have an overall place in the life of even a mystic.  The laws and rituals are also necessary for those who don't move along to the mystical level.  It is a bit like saying that you know about the latest in science, but you still need grammar school as part of the educational process to get to the more complex subject matter.  Some people never get beyond the elementary, the fundamentals.  So be it.  But to persecute those who do, becomes problematic.  Jesus got ahead of eveyone else.  That made some people very uncomfortable.  To many, the solution to being uncomfortable is fundamentalism.

New Pastor

A new pastor is coming to the parish in Boulder where I live some of the time.  I was wondering if he would let me stay here.  He said he wants me here.  I like that.  Now I need to get ready to run the big 10K race, The Bolder Boulder, on Memorial Day.  The new pastor has done it 23 times.  I am not sure that I can break an hour anymore.  Some people say, "Oh, just run it and have fun."  That does not compute with me.  Is there a saint to intercede for competitive types like me?  Someone besides St. Jude, the patron of lost causes!

Monday, April 22, 2013


When I come back to Boulder from one of my trips, excursions, or whatever, people say, "Welcome home."  But is it really home?  A child does not need permission to live at home.  It comes with being the child.  Parents, couples, don't need permission to come home, short of court orders of course.  Home is where you don't need permission to live there.  I need the permission of the pastor to live here at the church rectory.  This is fine with me.  It is the way things are set up.  When a new pastor comes in, I will need a new permission.  But I am careful about calling a place "home."

We see adds in papers inviting Catholics to "come home."  This means come back to church.  So you come back.  Priest gets up in pulpit and proceeds to say who can and cannot come to communion.  Would you really call "home" a place where you cannot come to the table to eat?  Seems Jesus fed people.  You only had to come.  No permissions were needed.  I think that Jesus is my home.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

God Think

Some blogs ago I focused on dress in church.  I got several comments that said, "God does not care what I wear in church.  God cares that I am there."  I find this response problematic but not on the dress issue.  My problem is that we tend to "know" what God thinks, when we want to do what we want to do.  I am much less certain about what God thinks on most issues including fashion, style and dress.  But when I want support for something I do, or want to do, or believe in, I tend to use this argument, that God agrees with me.  I most often use this train of thinking when I am most uncomfortable with continuing the discussion.  The thought of change makes me most uncomfortable.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I just found out that in the bible, "to obey" is the same as "to believe."  Well, those two meanings sure got separated.  I believe, but I don't obey.  We say that faith is a gift.  Obedience seems to be hard work.  We have had world wars of believers who killed one another.  Not much obedience there, except to your commanding officer or government bosses.  In my church, each year we are so proud to list all the new believers who joined up.  I suspect the list of obeyers is a lot smaller.  I know that I am not on it.  Why doesn't my believing roll over into my obeying?  Strong self-will and weak love seems to be my issue.

Friday, April 19, 2013


I hear that the taking in of large doses of oxygen can possibly reverse the onslaught of disease, prevent illness, and improve overall health.  What if there is something to this?  How do you get large doses of oxygen? It is called "exercise."  So why don't more people try it?  I think it starts with gym class or the lack thereof.  You have a bad experience in gym.  Or you have no formal experience in exercise when a child.  You "play" maybe, or try out in a sport competition.  You find you have no talent.  No one teaches you that exercise need not be team or competition oriented.  Just sweat.  Move your limbs.  This is foreign to many of us when we are young.  We grow up seeing exercise as optional.  Drinking, eating sweets, sitting at the computer are not optional.  I think that spiritual exercise is seen like physical exercise for many of us.  It is optional.  Either way, you die miserably on the inside or the outside.  We all die, but does it have to be due to our own neglect?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mary Died

My 100 year old friend, Mary, died on Saturday night last.  Her relatives are glad I got there to give her sacraments.  Now who comes to a funeral of a 100 year old person?  Hardly anyone.  Mary outlived her friends and most of her relatives.  It will be a small funeral.  It will be joyous.  Who can be upset with someone getting a 100 years of life?  You want a big funeral with lots of people crying over your death?  Better hurry up and die.  The young get the biggest funerals with the most tears.  I think I would prefer waiting and have a small funeral with my few alzheimer friends in attendance.  Sometimes it is not so bad to be forgotten.  Is this what you call whimsy?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Do You Love Me

Peter felt very guilty that he denied Jesus.  Guilt can freeze us up, make us ineffective.  Jesus appeared to Peter two times, and told him to go and talk about Jesus Risen.  Instead, Peter goes back home and decides to go back to fishing.  See John chapter 21.  He could have used a 12 step program: how to do good when you are feeling badly.  Anyway, Jesus comes a third time and invites Peter to sit down and share a meal that Jesus prepared.  I bet Peter feels a whole lot less guilty now.  He feels forgiven.  Jesus wants more.  Forgiveness does not change us.  Love does.  Jesus says that if Peter loves him, then Peter will stop doing as he pleases and allow himself to be led, even in ways he does not favor.  "Your will, not mine," is the saying.

If you betray a friend, you might feel guilty when you run into that person.  If they forgive you, you will feel better, even reconciled.  But you won't have changed.  You did not love the friend enough in the first place, or else you would not have betrayed them.  My Mom forgave me plenty of times, but I still was a selfish kid and did what I pleased.  I said, "I love you," but then so did Peter.  It was not a love sufficient to overcome my self-will run riot.  You can go to confession or do a fifth step and feel a whole lot better.  But it does not make you more loving.  That is why there are twelve steps and not five.  Jesus knew what he was doing with Peter.  Eventually, Peter got it.  He got crucified.  No wonder we don't fancy letting go of self-will.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Some people say that freedom means you can do anything you want.  Really? Assuming we are human, then we are imperfect, no?  We tend to be selfish and self-centered when "free" to do what we want.  Disaster happens.  We are not free if we obey a will that wants what it wants when it wants it.  We are a slave to an imperfect, but all too human will, which lacks power to choose true freedom.  For me, freedom is when I do what is good for me, makes me whole, but what might limit me in getting something my I want.  I say yes to what I know I need, even though I feel a strong will to do otherwise.  Freedom is a struggle.  But it leads to a light in the darkness.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Church Clothes

You know why African American people get so dressed up when they go to church?  It comes from the days of slavery when they were often forced to work in the fields naked or nearly so.  When they went to church, their church, they could wear what they wanted, and so they used this small freedom to get all dressed up for God.  They were then the equals of their masters who got all dressed up for church too.  Today, most of the descendents of the masters could not care less about getting all dressed up for God.  Some of us even think we are doing God a favor by just showing up.  You say, God does not care how you look?  Sometimes clothes say a lot about attitude.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mary At 100

I annointed a woman named Mary today.  She is 100 years old.  Her body is shot, but her mind is intact.  I feel that way when I run.  But back to Mary.  I annointed her and gave her communion.  She said the "Our Father" prayer with us.  As I was about to leave I bent my head down to her and she gave me her blessing.  I felt her thumb make the sign of the cross on my forehead.  What a gift.  I get a blessing from a woman who has 100 years of good living and loving.   Why do we run to clergy for blessings when we can get a blessing from such people as Mary?  In some countries, the elderly are wisdom figures, and considered holy.  They give blessings to the younger members of the family.  To some people in First World countries, the elderly are a burden and not a gift.  Sad.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Imitation of Christ

In the 1400s there was a revolutionary idea that came out as the title of a book, "The Imitation of Christ."  What is the big deal?  Well, for about a 1000 years we Western Latin Catholics were influenced by two things.  We could not read, or had few books even if we could, and Augustine.  The latter said we were deprayed due to original sin.  So forget about imitating Christ, you lowly lay people.  Rely on indulgences and geting people to pray you to heaven while you languished in purgatory.  Once people became literate, and the printing press gave us books, the idea developed that a non-cleric could in fact imitate Christ.  You did not have to rely on a priest, or run to sacraments.  Dangerous thinking if you are a clergy in power.  The book is still around.  Lots of things spiritual that we take for granted now, were revolutionary at one time.  Be careful the next time you condemn a new idea.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mohawk Haircut

So the little guy, kindergarten fellow, thinks it is cool to have a mohawk haircut.  Permissive parents say yes.  School sends boy home.  Outcry about "rights."  Well, what if boy gets to do anything he thinks is cool?  Will he not hit a wall someday, when cool smashes into obligations?  For many people, young and not so young, looking different is cool.  Getting drunk is cool.  At some point you run into a wall of obligations, if you want to work, or stay out of jail.  You can call it limits instead of obligations, but the end result is that you no longer get to do whatever you think is cool.  For me, "cool" is being selfless, kind, anonymous in doing a good deed, or spending time in silence and solitude.  Weird huh?  No more so than a mohawk haircut, but a lot more productive in making the world a better place.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Some people get on us Catholics for focusing on Mary, the mother of Jesus.  We have special feast days for her, and give her all kinds of special titles, like Mother of God, Immaculate Mary, Mother of the Church.  Modern people think we Catholics are a bit much.  "Focus on Jesus," they say.  Well, last I looked, Jesus was God made human.  Humans need mothers, no? Without Mary there would be no Jesus.  Without her "Yes" there would be no Jesus.  She had free will.  Adam and Eve did too.  Their free will got us into this mess.  Now we wait for a "Yes" to God's plan, a selfless yes, in spite of fear and questioning.  Mary gave us the "Yes."  So cut us Catholics some slack.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Today is a blizzard.  People ought to be staying at home.  But say you thought there was a sale at your favorite store, a one day only sale.  Would you go out in the storm?  Many people would, if the sale is important enough for them.  We had mass today.  People came out in the storm for mass.  Was it for my pithy homily? No!  They hungered for the Eucharist.  It is a hunger, a desire, a special need that would make us come out in bad weather.  These church people are crazy for driving in this weather.  Saints were kind of crazy too.  Love can do that to us.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Difference

As the Big Bang Theologians of Creation are saying, Godness is throughout all creation.  God does not stand outside of creation looking at it, but rather infuses creation with Godness.  Plato, of course, would turn over in his grave, as would a bunch of Catholic theologians.  But I resonate with this idea of God being everywhere, through and through.  But...and for us Catholics, there is a but.  Christ.  God in the flesh.  Before the Incarnation, God becoming a human, I suspect that God suffered, felt badly when we hurt, maybe even mourned our dying.  But God did not die, or suffer as we humans did.  So there is something very intimate about being human that was not experienced by God, until Jesus of Nazareth.  Being born, growing, suffering, hurting, being hungry, having no place to live, being rejected, suffering a horrible death, suddenly all became trasnformed.  Say what?  The Resurrection says that death is no longer just death.  God lived it, infused it, and overcame it.  So can we.  Becoming Christian means that we now have this Christ life in us, which is more than having the God life of being born and dying, before Christ.  Before Christ, death is death.  After Christ, death is touched with new life.  Every pain on earth suffered by us humans, is touched by Christ.  When we suffer, we are intimately connected with God.  There is a difference.  Or else, what is the point?

Monday, April 8, 2013

More Is Less

Sometimes more is less.  I am thinking of adding another day each week to my running schedule.  That would mean I would run three days in a row instead of every Tuesday and Thursday.  I would add Wednesday as a running day.  Is more better?  Maybe... but I must consider that I am 70 and not 20.  When I was 20 more was definitely better.  I had more muscle and cushoning between my bones.  My body was more elastic then.  Age might mean a shift towards balance and moderation.  Unfortunately, the ego does not diminish as we get older, nor does it become more humble for many of us.  That is why we old guys do need a coach, a kind of spiritual mentor for our running.  Might this not work in prayer and work?  Keep a balance...moderation in each?  If the ego rules, then we will add more work and less prayer.  We only have so many hours in the day.  More work can mean less, just as more time in bed does not mean more rest, or more food mean more nourishment.  Most of us train pretty hard in the work part, but slack off in the prayer part.  When prayer is the price you pay for adding more work to your life, you probably need a spiritual coach, or at least a brilliant spiritual blog!  Could that be mine? Oh, I forgot, I am practicing humility, so my ego does not get me running too much.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Early in Acts of the Apostles, Peter cures a man who cannot walk.  Many people flock to Peter and begin to believe that Jesus is alive, Risen, as we say.  But...to believe in Jesus because of miracles is not the same as following Jesus.  In his earthly life, Jesus did do some healing, but he did a lot of teaching about how to live our lives.  Our belief has to go beyond believing "in" Jesus as Risen.  That is a start.  Now we have to follow him, to live as he lived and taught us to live.  To believe that Jesus is Risen, but to ignore his teachings, seems to miss the point of Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013


There is a big difference between being "a" Catholic and "I am" Catholic.  If I say that I am a Colorado Rockies baseball fan, I mean that I am one of many fans.  Well, not so many anymore because the team stinks and all the fair weather fans have thrown their "Rockies" tee shirts and stuff away.  But if I say that "I am" Rockies, I mean that the very team, and through them, baseball, channels in my blood.  My very being is filled with rooting for my team.  Being "a" Catholic means that I am one of many.  Being Catholic means that my very identification is Catholic.  Everything about me is Catholic.  There is a difference in tone, meaning, emphasis, when one says, "I am an American," and when one says, "I am American."  So are you one of many this Easter?  Or has Jesus gotten under your skin and into the marrow of your being?

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Hunger

Easter Sunday the Church was packed.  Lots of people I had not seen before or had not seen in a long time were filling up the pews.  Besides being Easter, there may have been a bump because of the new Pope.  Will these people continue to come?  As long as they hunger for the Eucharist, they will come.  If the hunger is not there, they will drift away again until Christmas.  People say to me that if the church would ordain women or change its stance on some sexual matter, then the people will come back.  For a short time, yes.  But only that hunger will get them to keep coming back.  These people who stay away don't fear hell if they skip mass.  That is the worst reason to come.  The Eucharist is central.  When someone says that they are taking a vacation from church, the hunger is just not there.  You can read scripture at home.  You can watch mass on television.  You can go to a big evangelical friendly mega-church that has a user friendly message for you.  But only the Eucharist will bring these once in a while people back to the Catholic mass on a regular basis.  If it is Jesus, we have a chance.  If it is only bread, why bother?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Follow the Pope or Else...Sometimes

For years I have been hearing how I am a bad Catholic because I don't agree with the Holy Father.  The Conservative/Traditional wing of the Church said that the pope is always right and good Catholics should shape up to his standards.  Well, check out some of the traditionalist blogs and you will see that they are not so happy with this pope and long for Benedict or John Paul II.  Hmm.  Sounds like me when I longed for John XXIII.   I am a softy.  These recalcitrants can stay.  We need to evangelize them, no?  Anyway, I think Francis I is channeling John XXIII.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Good News

Today, I have Good News for you!  Jesus is Risen?  Well that too, but it is the week when the Baseball Season begins.  The long purgatory of winter is over.  Football and basketball tried to fill in, but they are only fill ins.  Now you say that I am a wretch for making a bigger deal of baseball season than Jesus being risen?  Well, which is the tougher task for God?  It was easy for God to raise Jesus from the dead.  It was long ago planned because we could not save ourselves from our own sin or ineptitude.  It is much harder, maybe even impossible, for God to save some baseball teams from having a most inept season, ending up in the cellar of the standings.  Can God save the Houston Astros?  The Denver Rockies?  The old and injured New York Yankees?  And of course there is always the Cubs, who have almost forever been beyond the saving powers of God.  You might ask, "Where is God?"  Well, God is in the seats behind home plate at A T and T ballpark in San Francisco where my Giants play.  God prefers to be with the winners.  If God and Jesus are one, as I believe, then Jesus is a winner.  Believe.  Happy Easter.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Invisible Connection

The day I was born, Sergei Rachmaninoff died.  He was a great composer of classical music and pianist.  He was left-handed.  I was born left-handed.  We are all more connected than we realize.  I like to think that when I do something selfless, it is not only me who benefits.  A little goodness is spread throughout the world in ways I am not aware.  Jesus rose from the dead, so some of us believe.  That event seemed to make a difference far beyond the empty tomb.  Do something kind today even if you think that no one notices.  Someone will be effected.  Your ego just won't know it and that can be a good thing in itself.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why The Sword?

In Luke's Passion, chapter 22: 36-37, Jesus says his followers will need a sword and sell their coat to get one.  It is a metaphor.  The sword divides.  The disciples must be willing to talk about the cross.  This will divide the community.  Some will reject Jesus outright. Some will say that he did not really suffer but only looked like he was suffering.  The cross is like a sword that divides.  You cannot proclaim Christ without the cross.  What about the coat?  It stands for the outer garment that represents the desire for power.  People of power always dress up, e.g. royalty and Cardinals.  The disciples must let go of this desire for power.  Preach the cross and people will be unhappy with you.  The sword of the gospel can reveal hidden and selfish motives for becoming  Christian.