Saturday, August 31, 2013


Just because I live at a monastery does not make me a monk.  I have to work at it.  Just because I belong to a gym club does not mean that I am fit.  I have to work at it.  Just because you are a member of a church does not mean you are holy or on the inside track for heaven's gate.  You have to work at it.  You have to go through the narrow gate, not the easy, wide one.  If you don't work at it you will not be strong enough.  Just being a member of the "right" club does not get you any points with God.  Each day, a little prayer, a little reading of the bible or some other uplifting book, a little selfless attitude and action toward those around you, would be the effort.  For some of us busy and/or selfish persons, all this would be a great effort.  You can join a church without God's help, but you cannot get good alone.

Friday, August 30, 2013

I Love You

Boys and girls say, "I love you."  We all pretty much know what this means.  When a mystic says, "I love you," they mean that God is loving you through me, the mystic.  As long as the mystic stays in contact with The God of Love, the mystic will continue to love.  Mystics pray and love, when not haying or doing other daily tasks.  Boys and girls generally are not mystics.  That is why they stop loving the other.  It is called breaking up.  Mystics are broken open.  It is called surrender.  Many people are mystics, but don't know it.  Many are not lovers, but think they are.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Yesterday, I baled a large field of hay.  The Ranchmeister was not around.  He had to go to town.  I had no supervision, i.e. if the tractor broke down, I would be clueless.  It was predicted to rain later in the day.  So I skipped lunch, which is why I am so skinny, and said prayers to Jesus and Mary to keep the tractor working.  Then I began to bale the field.  The bales came out fine, except a small area that was yet too green.  My machine is smart.  If the hay is not cured, the machine rejects it.  The driver is stupid.  The tractor is smart.  At the very end of several hours, I was finished just as thunder came.  A squal came over the mountain and it began to rain, not enough to ruin the bales, but enough to ruin the hay had it not been baled.  Timing is everything.  Prayer works!  

That night, the downpours came.  I listened with contentment while in my bed.  We were getting rain needed for irrigation, but not one bale of hay was ruined.  I fell asleep in peace and contentment.  This is all it takes for a hay rancher.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I read this.  "Be the fragrance of Christ, drawing all people to follow him."  My Mom wore a fragrance, I called it perfume.  It always reminded me of her.  I don't think it is on the market anymore.  What if my life were lived like a fragrance that reminded people of Christ, or some other positive notion?  I would like this.  Sometimes, my life just stinks! If I complain that it is the fault of others, this is whining.  The fault more likely, lies within.  Does your life stink today?  Are you a positive fragrance?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rich People

If you are rich, don't worry, God can do anything.  Don't let that Jesus saying about the camel getting through the eye of the needle being easier than you getting to heaven.  Jesus also said, "Nothing is impossible for God."  I need that saying because I am rich in sin and character defects.  If you do have lots of money, I would suggest that you might continue to earn, but try to use your wealth to help those who have little, and those who work for you.  It is greed and avarice that is the problem.  Help out a priest who cannot afford running shoes.  Oh! Talk about greed and avarice...I am an impossible case.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Refer to the blog two days ago.  You do get something for putting in a lot of time in the vineyard.  The owner called the fellow who worked all day, "friend."  God loves everyone, but I would like also to be God's friend as well.  Relationships take effort.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sobriety Time

This is for addicts, so the rest of you can skip it if you like.  Those in recovery refer to yesterday's blog.  Now, the person with 30 years sobriety is not necessarily better than or more deserving of something, than the person with a few months.  You both get sobriety.  You stay sober.  Time, in itself, does not guarantee more.  The person with 30 years could be closer to their next relapse than the person with a few months.  What we often lose at 30 years is "desperation."  Think of being on a cliff.  You may be used to being on the cliff or forgot that you are on a cliff.  Addicts are excellent at forgetting.  You can do many things on a cliff because of your constant efforts at recovery.  But you are still on a cliff.  Personally, I like a little desperation in my life.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Earning Heaven

As the bible story goes, a vineyard owner hires some people to work all day in the vineyard.  Every few hours he hires more to work what is left of the day.  Finally, some are hired who end up putting in one hour.  They all get the same pay.  The guys who worked all day, and had agreed to the wage they received before going to work, complained.  They thought they should get more because they worked more.

I find it the same way in religious church practice.  Many people who spend their lives following the rules and going to mass weekly, expect to get a better deal than those who don't. They cannot get away from the idea that you earn salvation by your efforts.  The above story shows the God of generous love.  God is Love.  The occasional church goer, the one who does not keep all the rules, is just as loved by God as the regular church goer.  If God chooses to have us all in heaven, this is God's choice.

So, why be good?  The complaint is that if we are going to get heaven anyway, why do all the "right" things?  Why bother?  So that you can develop a deeper relationship with God through your worship and way of life, is one very important reason.  So that you can worship the God who deserves some worship.  If all this being church good simply makes you self-righteous, well, God loves you anyway.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ten Mile Limit

My admirers keep me humble.  Many will say, "I love to hear you preach."  But it has to be within their ten mile limit.  They don't go beyond ten miles.  This keeps my ego in check.  When I stand outside church after mass, and one person after another says how wonderful the homily, I could get quite full of myself.  But in fact, that church was convenient for them, be it their parish where they go even if the preacher is a jerk, or it is within their ten mile limit.  Whenever I preach beyond the ten mile limit, followers drop off drastically.  It is not a gas thing, or a distance thing.  Some of these same people would travel much farther to hear certain other priests.  It used to bother me.  Now, my ego is a bit more right-sized, and I am merely bemused.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rich Young Man

A rich young man asks Jesus what he still might lack, even though he keeps all thr rules. Jesus says to sell all his stuff, give proceeds to the poor and follow Jesus.  the young man cannot do it.  He goes away scared.  Don't write him off.  He is young.  Early in life we accummulate stuff, position, expertise, reputation, money and things.  It is part of growing up.  At some later point, as he ages, this man, if he is on fire to be all for God, will respond with a lot of letting go.  But if you are old, like me, and still have a lot of stuff of life that you no longer need or satisfy, well that is another issue.  It is my issue.  Running shoes don't count.  You can never have too many pairs of running shoes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nail Polish

I am about to say the opening prayer at mass while the girl altar server holds the book.  I notice her finger nails.  They are polished and each nail has a letter of the alphabet.  I think that it is nice that the altar girls paint their nails.  I think of them doing it for Jesus. Their hands hold sacred things that are used at mass.  It made me think about my nails and hands.  Are they clean for Jesus?  Well, they have ranch dirt embedded, and tractor grease in the nails.  A Hay Rancher priest just ain't right.  I bet it was tough for Jesus to keep his hands clean too.  I am trying to get clean on the insides even if the outsides are not quite 100% pure.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Moving to Transforming Union

       LUKE 12: 49-53       

          I think of myself as a hay rancher.  One day the ranchmeister said that if I wanted to be a “real” hay rancher, I would have to grease the tractor parts.  I had a sudden dread that I was about to experience something unpleasant.  He showed me where the grease gun was located.  When I took hold of the canister, it was heavy.  There is a small rubber hose that comes out of one end of the canister, with an end piece that has to attach to these small metal points that stick out from impossible places to reach on the rake machine.  “Get down on the ground,” he said.  The ground has all kinds of unpleasant animal leavings on it.  “No whining,” he said.  So I got down on the ground, and while I was catching bubonic plague, or something, I reached to attach the hose to a metal point.  I dropped the canister.  When I finally got everything in place, moaning and groaning, I could not get my hand around the handle of the canister to pump the grease into the machine.  You need gigantic hands for this.  My hands are fragile!  “Take your gloves off,” he said.  My bare hands on all this grease and metal!  My hands are ordained to hold God.  People want to receive the blood of Jesus, not my blood!  I took off my gloves and did the best I could. 

          After all this dreadful episode was over, I thought of what a wretched monk this is, who makes me do all this to become a real rancher.  As I drove my 4 wheeler away, the light came on for me.  This is not a wretched monk, but a monk who is a conduit of grace from God to me.  Say what?  Well, I thought I was a good enough rancher, staying in my comfort zone, with slight inconveniences, as we all have.  To become a real rancher, more of a rancher, I had to begin to do things that went against my will.  Is it not the same with the Christian life?

          There is the “Good Enough Christian.”  They, like me, are surely good enough, doing what they can, trying to follow Jesus, but in a certain comfort zone.  What if these people want to have transforming union with God?  If so, this path is through doing things they don’t want to do.  The only way to a deeper union with God is through the crucified Christ.  If a young person asks me what to do with their life, I would say that they should find something that attracts them, suits them, fulfills them.  If they were to ask me as an older person, that they now hunger to grow closer to God, after they have found what suits them, I would say that now they have to begin to do things they do not want to do. 

          I am 70 years old and some say that I should kick back and enjoy doing whatever I want.  I am not done yet!  God wants more of my will.  God wants more of me.  Moses was an old man when the burning bush showed up.  He was settled in his ways and life, but the fire of God came and said there was much more for Moses. Moses whined.  We all do at first when the spark of the fire comes to us.  The disciples followed Jesus when they were in their comfort zone. Then Jesus said the he had a fire within him that would set people apart.  The disciples left him.  They were not ready for the fire of his giving all to the Father.  The fire of Pentecost was their invitation to begin to do unpleasant things that would make them all God wanted them to be. 

          When someone in a family gets the fire to give all, that person will be on a different page than the rest of the family who is used to a certain way with one another.  You want to go on a field trip to Mexico to help the poor, you and your classmates?  That will turn out to be fun.  You want to then become a missionary to a third world place?  See if your family agrees with that!  You want to become a nun?  Look at all those women princesses who wanted to give all to Christ and their fathers went nuts because the parent wanted to marry them off to some noble family.  We all get into a comfort zone with one another, and the fire of giving all to God comes at different times to each one of us, and maybe never to some.  If I want to move to transforming union, I have to let go of my will and my comfort zone.

          If you notice a little tractor grease along with the host, you will be receiving Jesus, but also getting your joints lubricated at the same time. 




What ever happened to August heat?  Apparently, along with sunshine, it has left the Rocky Mountains and gone to China and Japan.  When I bemoan the lack of heat and sunshine around here, I must remember that many people are suffering from just too much of a good thing.  My life stays in better balance when I think of how much worse things could be with too much of whatever I want.  Be careful what you wish for.

Monday, August 19, 2013


We might belittle those ancients who had little idols, statues, rocks, branches, that recalled to them their gods.  Such ancients would have them around the house in nooks and crannies, for them to worhip or reference or hold.  The gods gave some meaning to their lives.  On the Sabbath, what are your idols that you take out and handle, while the One True God awaits you, the One who created you, the one you ignore on this Sabbath?  Your gold clubs?  Ski equipment? Snowboards?  Mountain bike? We all have idols that divert our attention and time away from the "One Who Waits."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Little Children

Jesus said that we should let the little children come to him.  The Kingdom is for them.  For me, this means don't get in the way of their natural religious or spiritual inclination.  Our indifference, laziness, prioritizing, and disinterest or rejection of things spiritual gets in the way of a natural curiosity and interest of a child.  It is built into them.  It was built into us too, but stuff happens and we lose the contact with our spiritual DNA.  Many adults can live with their sabbath, their daily lives, devoid of the spiritual.  But this can have collateral damage to the children around us.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Exit Heaven

You can get out of heaven too.  Just stop being grateful.  Then you will become resentful.  Resentful people cannot enjoy heaven.  Nothing is good enough for them.  Plus, they try to take God's job away.  Judge.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Exit Hell

Some people say that once you go to hell, there is no exit.  Really?  What about the person who has lived an addictive life of misery and suffering.  There are all kinds of "holics."  They know hell.  Grace or a free pass comes there way.  They accept it, and find themselves climbing or being helped out of the hell they were in.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Home School Religion

Each child is different, even in the same family.  In good schools we know this.  In math, science and reading, we teach the same age children differently, depending upon their talent and intelligence.  If not, the sharp ones will get bored, or the dull ones will feel over their heads and become frustrated.  But in religion, the church schools teach everyone on the same level.  Simplistic teachings can satisfy one person, but be preposturous for another.  As with other subjects some children are just smarter, more insightful, more questioning, more challenging, than others.  Religion, like food, does not have to be boring.  It is often in the presention and ingredients.  My religion is quite interesting, deep, and challenging, but I had to leave a lot of the Catholic school religion classes behind.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


It says in the bible that at some point fathers will be against sons and daughters against mothers, and so on in family relationships.  It is a result of some people coming to faith. I call it, "no longer on the same page."  If you have ever lived a life of dissipation, or just shallowness, and then got onto a new path of maturity, you know that you have to drop a lot of the old "friends" with whom you lived such a previous life.  To stay with them would present a conflict.  They would want you to act your old way, because that is how they act.  But you cannot so easily escape family.  If relatives are comfortable with your old ways, the new you just won't fit for them.  To relate to family you will need a new set of friends to help along the way.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Women Trump Priests

The pope said that women are more important than bishops and priests.  I don't think a lot of clerics got the memo.

Monday, August 12, 2013


I have heard it said to me and others, that if we are good, God will take care of us.  Well, I have been bad, and God took care of me anyway.  Being good does not press a botton on God to act a certain way that benefits my self-interest.  Find another reason, not so self-serving, to be good.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


When I wnet to elementary school, called grammar school in the Bronx, I brought my lunch box with me.  No lunch box, I would starve or at least have a very hectic day.  I checked the box before I left the apartment to make sure that I had all the essentials properly packed.  I enjoyed my lunches and did not starve, ever.  Now I have a spiritual toolbox, as one person reminded me.  When I go out each day, I have to make sure that it too is properly packed.  If I meditate before I go out, that goes in the box.  If I read some spiritual literature, that goes in the box.  An empty spiritual toolbox makes for a very hectic day, I have found it to be so.  What is in your spiritual toolbox?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Managing My Life

I wrote about funerals a few blogs ago.  I have learned that I cannot manage my own life now.  Why would I be concerned about managing my life after I die?  Old habits die hard.  Some die slower than others.  I would rather have an inept priest who says nothing much preside, and the music be dreadful, but the food afterwards be really delicious and plenty of it.

Friday, August 9, 2013


I run in an area that has lots of hills.  If I run regularly, I find that the hills become easier, but they are still hills.  I cannot say, "Oh, I've been running consistenly for several days.  These hills don't bother me.  I think I will take a few days off."  I cannot store up running, like a bank account.  Give up running for a few days, and those hills get pretty tough again.  It is the same with the spiritual life.  It is always an uphill venture.  We cannot store up prayer and then give it up for a few days.  It is a slippery slope once we start skipping our prayer routines.  People in recovery programs have figured this out.  Being desparate helps to keep one focused.  Be desparate about your spiritual life and you will make it a priority.  I don't have to enjoy every run or prayer exercise on a daily basis, but I have to do it on a daily basis.  Overall, I will be happier, more content and have more peace.  I have found it to be so.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I am not getting holier in the monastery, but I am finding out all the things that I do or do not do that get in the way of growing holy.  The list is getting longer.  It is embarrassing.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Many Paths

A fellow once told me that he got together with some people on a regualr basis to talk about a spiritual way of life.  He heard all kinds of advice and thought that some of it was quite bizarre.  He made some judgments about the people of the more bizarre advice.  Then one day someone said that one of these bizarre ideas or paths was very helpful to him and thanked the person who brought it up.  My friend decided then and there to judge no more.  There are many paths to the same place.  I try to keep that in mind when I hear about spiritual advice.  When people walk away, or turn their backs on me, or stop coming to my workshops, I figure that what I have to say was not for them.  Of course, if they like what I say, but ignore me anyway, then I guess I have to take them off of my prayer list.  I used to put them on my resentment list, but then that would be wrong.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Funeral

I used to worry about who would preach or preside at my funeral, who would come, where would I be buried.  I don't really care now.  When I am dead, I am dead.  I am not there.  Hopefully, I am with sweet Jesus, who is a lot more tolerant and accepting than I am now.  I expect that I will have become a lot more tolerant, accepting and non-judgmental about my body's funeral.  If I want a lot of people at my funeral, timing is everything. Die where I worked and am beloved.  I knew a priest who was a legend in San Francisco.  Had he died there, the church would have been packed and lots of nice things said about him by many people.  But he did not die in San Francisco.  He retired and ended up in New York City, for medical reasons, where he never worked.  Small funeral.  I doubt he cared.  He was with Jesus.  He let go of the temporal.  You go out of respect?  I don't need it when I am dead.  It would be nice while I am still alive though.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I Agree! Sometimes.

I have come to realize with this new pope, that people only agree with the pope if the pope agrees with them.  The conservatives all loved the last two popes.  I did not.  Conservatives suggested I shape up or maybe leave, or at least leave them.  Now I find that the conservatives do not agree with Francis I.  I am a tolerant liberal.  The conservatives can stay.  They bemuse me now.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Age Appropriate Advice

For a young person, who is trying to live a good spiritual life, I would suggest that they pursue what gives them life, what attracts them, energizes them in prayer, career, motivation.  it took me a while to get the hang of this in my own life.  You will be productive, helpful, fulfilled, upbeat when you use your talents and personality traits to good use.  You cannot be what God did not put into you in the first place.  I was never going to be a sprinter.  No fast twitch muscles.
Later in life, you may find yourself not so fulfilled as you used to be.  What happened?  God is always at work.  The job of spirtual growth in the later years is to do God's will.  Wasn't I doing that earlier in my choices:  Yes, and no. This will mean the cross.  Christians are supposed to mirror Christ, no?  God's way at this stage may not be your way.  But to grow spirtually, and become all who God made you to be at this later stage, your will just won't cut it.  I am finding this to be so.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Free Market Lobby

When the bishops of the USA wrote an encyclical, "Economic Justice For All," the conservative free market thinker did not much care for it.  It seemed to demand capitalist leaders widen their goals from making all the money they can, to making some and helping people to have a decent life.  The big spenders did not bother with the bishops. They went to their contacts in the Vatican and lobbied for a papal encyclical that gave a bit more praise to capitalism and its goals of $$$.  JPII came out with "Centisimus Annus."  This new pope cannot be lobbied.  He is for the economic justice package.  Greed is no longer good.  It has become a sin.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Going Digital

I feel sorry for our bishops.  They are hard wired to follow whatever the pope says.  They are not picked because they are pastoral, brilliant, engaging the culture, personable, independent thinkers.  They are to toe the line of the Vatican.  The bishops are hardwired to do this.  Most of them have had very little real pastoral experience.  They do not live in the world of "grey,"  where most people live.  For the bishops it is all black and white.  But now we seem to have a new kind of pope.  It is a bit like having a digital pope, and an analog bishop.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Seek And Find

Jesus says, "Seek and you shall find."  Find what?  I seek to be comfortable, at peace and happy.  I am reading this Spiritual Guru, Columba Marmion.  He says to seek God's will rather than my own comfort. Well, how am I supposed to know what God's will is?  Maybe I should ask God?  I am not sure I want to know.  Seems all God's close friends suffered on the way to happiness.  "I was hoping God, that there was, you know, another way."  Be careful what you ask for.  Everytime I ask to be happy, I seem to have to give something up that I like.  I have found that this works.  Good grief!