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of Catholic theologians, PhD types, said that my Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality was incomprehensible and outdated.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!