Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End Of Year

Well it is the last day of the year.  I look back and ask what good have I done?  I am a bit of a failure.  I did not harvest much hay at the monastery this summer.  That took up two months.  I did not get much work in San Francisco, so I am not sought after there.  That is another couple of months.  In Florida and Boulder I give a couple of good workshops a year, but that is but a few hours total. However there is a bright side. On the plus ledger people seem to like me.  I am not brilliant, but I am likable.  I don't know why, which is probably good. Then I don't try and make it happen, or manipulate things.  So it is a successful year in the likeability side of things.  It must be a gift.  So if God did not make you smart but did make you likable, then consider it a good year.  I do know some smart people, but they are not very nice.  I hope you are not one of them!  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Story Telling

I did not give much of a theology homily or teaching in the pulpit on Christmas.  I told a story that I had written.  I put it on my Christmas blog but got little response in hits and not much after the Christmas masses.  So I was thinking of just not telling any more stories.  Then I got to thinking that I really tell my stories for children to hear.  They are not usually the audience for Sunday preaching.  Children don't read my blog I guess, though I know that they do lots of stuff on computers.  Children might not feel comfortable telling me what they thought of my stories.  So my main audience is mute as to giving me feedback.  I will continue to tell stories then and not worry if the adults find me simplistic, or thin in content.  Of course, there is always the chance that my stories stink, and I am the last to know.  Good grief!  What a way to go into a new year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christ In Christmas

Even though the consumer frenzy tries to dismiss the religious message of Christmas, the spiritual, Christ, is still so central to shopping.  Say what?  Well, we would all feel pretty stupid if we just gave presents to one another on December 25 for no other reason then to do it.  This is why so many people will go to a church on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.  They are making sense of all the rest of their "holiday" activities.  All holidays have to be tied into some purpose beside being a day you don't have to go to work.  In that brief moment in a church filled with other searchers, and yes, we are all searching in one way or another, we clergy have a chance to assist God to "strike a person with wonder."  Not wondering what is going on, but the wonder of the spiritual in the human, our world being impregnated with mystery.  On the other hand, the clergy person can yell at people for not coming the rest of the year.  No one did that to you I hope!  Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dogma Versus Opinion

Religion as a series ideas, dogmas, rules that reside in our heads cause wars.  Why?  Well, if I let you have your religious ideas and I have mine, then religion morphs into opinion.  You say it is more about faith?  No one wants to have faith in an opinion.  So their "faith" has to have a good dose of certainty.  The way to have certainty is not on the level of opinion.  It is on the level of I am right, so you must be wrong.  To feel better about my being right, I need to get rid of you or convert you.  Christians could not live alongside Jews so we got rid of them, drove them off, punished them or tried to force convert them.  Few people, for whom religion is about beliefs in dogma, want to go through all their religion requires, unless they believe with some certainty that they are right.  How do you know that Jesus rose from the dead or not?  You study both sides and then decide.  You call it faith.  Those who disagree call it opinion, and then you fight.  On the other hand those who have deep personal experiences of the Holy Presence, The Light, The Peace, they don't war.  Contemplatives do not fight with one another.  They know. Experience knows.  This is why I don't teach catechism.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Womb

I was reading in the bible about Samson being born.  You can find it in The Book of Judges, chapter 13.  It says that he will be consecrated to God from the womb, that is, before he is even born.  So, I suspect that what is in the womb is pretty important to God.  To top it off, in the Annunciation scene where the angel says that Mary will become the mother of Jesus, he will be filled up with the Holy Spirit in the womb.  It seems to me if one is going to be for abortion on demand, and is a believer, they have to wrestle with such texts as these.  It appears that God has plans for a life before it is even birthed.  One of the issues with which the bible deals, is that God's plans do not equate with our plans.  It is the ongoing human condition.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Face Book

I found out that the Boulder church office decided that we could not access Facebook anymore because students were getting on it in class and not studying.  Well, lots of people read my blog from their facebook page.  My readership was cut in half, at least.  I realized that if many of my blog readers did not see me on facebook, they would not bother to look for my blog in any other place.  In other words, I am worth a listen if I happen to be where you are, be it in church on a Sunday or in Facebook.  But people won't go out of their way to find me.  In the world of brilliant, captivating, dynamic speakers, I am pretty low on the totem pole.  I accept this.  Time for the hermitage.  Maybe God wants me all for God's self, so God made me a bit above fair to good, but not much more.  There is always a light in the tunnel.  Do hermitages have wireless routers now?

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Simon and his parents were traveling through Bethlehem on the way home.  They stopped overnight for rest.  Simon, being a little boy, went out to explore the near countryside.  Suddenly he saw the wicked witch, Maureen, who flew about the countryside preventing nice things and causing misery for people, especially little boys.  "Are you happy, you little worm?" the witch asked Simon.  "Yes, I am happy that I am not as ugly as you," he replied.  Simon was still too small to know it was bad form to tell witches they were ugly.  With that Maureen turned Simon into a lamb.  "Take that, you miserable child," Maureen gloated.  "I heard that a special little baby was going to be born here, who would do good, so I came to spread wicked magic so he would become an evil person," she snarled. With that she flew around the Inn and placed a spell on it, to prevent a baby being born who would do good.  Then off she flew.  Poor Simon.  His parents looked everywhere for him, and found only a pesky lamb chasing after them.   Finally, they left for home, without Simon.
      Simon slept in the stable and roamed the fields finding this and that to eat.  One night he came back to the stable and found a baby lying in the manger where before there had been food or drink.  A young girl was sleeping next to the baby and a man was watching over them.  Out of curiosity Simon walked up to the manger and nuzzled the baby.  The baby reached out and touch Simon's lamb nose.  Suddenly, Simon turned back into a little boy!  He was overjoyed!  The man watched intently, like he had seen miracles before, and then closed his eyes as if he were praying.  The man opened his eyes, and asked, "Where is your family?"  Simon answered, "They went back to Cyrene, our home, without me because a wicked witch turned me into a lamb.  Can you help me, Sir?"  The man said, "Wait here and watch my family while I make inquiries at the Inn to see if anyone is going to Cyrene."  Simon watched over the baby and the young girl.  The man came back with someone who was going to Cyrene and would take Simon with him back to his parents.  As Simon left the barn, he noticed some shepherds coming along towards the barn.  There were no sheep with them.  In time Simon got home to Cyrene, and grew up, but never forgot the baby. Years later Simon was to go to Jerusalem. There, unbeknowst to him, he was to do a kindness for that baby now grown up.  God is always at work for good, even when we are unaware, or when bad things seem to be happening.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


I aways cut my Thomas' English muffins with a fork.  My mother taught me to eat Thomas' and to cut with a fork not a knife.  I still do it all these years later.  It reminds me of my Mom too.  This is a good feeling.  Christmas has the same readings each year. We don't change the bible readings.  Hopefully, they remind us of some past tradition.  This is why people tend to do the same things each year…to remember good times.  If there were no good times, then such people would pretty much ignore Christmas or avoid it if it recalls only disfunctional family life.  For years I wanted a real tree, not artificial for Christmas.  Then my parents got a small artificial tree.  It comes with our aging.  So now I am OK with artificial and small.  Less mess.  Most of the people who want real trees that go to the ceiling, might like to decorate, but disappear when it comes to taking the tree down.  Since my parents passing, I try to repeat whatever good Christmas times I might have wherever I live, and avoid repeating a less than joyous time.  I miss not having anyone to open presents with on Christmas morning.  But Jesus is the one constant.  I hope you will have good Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Art of Racing In The Rain

This is another wonderful book.  The narrator is a dog.  Don't go away.  It really has a lot of life lessons.  Plus, you get to learn a lot about car racing.  I did not know that car racing could be of any interest to me, but I found it held my interest.  So if you like car racing and dogs, you will find this a terrific book. But you don't have to like either.  I will give you just one idea from the dog, Enzo.  "If you want to finish first, the first thing you have to do is finish."  Think about it.  There is a lot more good stuff.  Enzo, being a dog, gets to describe situations and people without having to try and be polite or politic, because, well, he is a dog and calls it as he sees it.  You learn some stuff about dogs too.  Don't ask me the title of the book.  It is in the heading for this blog!  Often people ask me what happens to dogs when they die.  Enzo has an answer.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

Times Change

Some bishops think that the way to get more vocations is to go back to the old ways of education and dress code, liturgical and ordinary.  The dress code is obvious with seminarians in class wearing their clerics, of black suit with collar. Cassacks are back in style.  The education is equally retrograde.  It gives the seminarians lots of answers and then tells them to go out and tell the laity what to do and think.  It won't work in the post-modern world.  You can get away with that arrogance with my parents who merely finished public high school.  But today, Catholics are more educated, read more because there is so much more being published.  Priests now get dismissed as being naive, narrowly educated, unwilling to listen.  The laity think they have something to say.  My parents shut up and did what Father said.  The times they are a-changin.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


We Irish believe that there is a thin veil between this world in which we live and know, and the world beyond our dying, or the "next" world.  The Fairies are able to go between the worlds very easily.  When the Irish tell their stories that seem a bit out of this world, it is because they are inspired by the fairies who play in our imaginations.  An Irish who is prone to drink is said to have the "curse," or the "troubles."  This is because the fairies cannot seem to get through to such a person with music, song or story.  But the fairies never give up on us.  They are ever loyal.  Even when a drunk dies a miserable death, seemingly abandoned, the fairies come to take a part of the drunk to the other side, the part that can pass through the veil.  For the rest of us, death is not the end, but a passage and the fairies accompany us along the way.  Death is when we finally see them with our new eyes.  If you know of anyone who is facing their immanent death, and feel alone or scared, tell them about the fairies, and the journey yet to begin.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Power Outage

For the second time this year I cannot get out of San Francisco because of weather.  We are having an all day of rain and some wind.  Growing up in New York City, I have seen this before and life went on with wearing boots and having umbrella or rain slicker.  We were tough.  Out here is Wimp City.  Everyone forgot how rain is because it never rains in California, or hardly ever.  Big drought time here.  Anyway, schools close, power goes out in my neighborhood which includes shopping and skyscrapers.  Stop lights don't work.  Some places it is flooding which is cause for worry.  But around here, no flooding. Our rectory has been without power all day.  So I sat and meditated.  I found a power to love me and warm me in my otherwise cold room.  Then I went out for a walk in the rain.  I am tough…and holy.  Or do I have wet brain?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lost or Stray

Someone pointed out that there is a difference between stray and lost sheep.  A stray sheep, knows the way, but stubbornly chooses to go a different way.  This would be me in self-will run riot.  I want to do what I want to do and I ignore what is the right path.  Bad sheep.  Bad Terry.  Sometimes, I am the lost sheep.  The lost sheep thinks they know the way, when in fact they do not and make a wrong choice out of ignorance.  Not bad.  We hear of Jesus going after the lost sheep.  What about the stray?  Well, it seems that in another gospel, it is a "stray" Jesus wants too.  I like that.  No matter if I am stupid, frightened, anxious, or self-willed, God still seems to want to love on me.  Who am I to judge?  Oh, someone else said that too.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Recently, I identified a feeling that I had, fear.  So I sat down to make a list of my fears. For the life of me, there was nothing specific.  I had general fear.  What to do?  When this happens, I remind myself that I am loved, and not crazy.  Other people have fear.  I might tell someone about my general fear.  But I also try to do something specific to be helpful, to make the world around me a bit better place.  There are job related things, such as preaching, teaching, doing sacraments, but those may not be available at the moment. I can always do something in the house or the office, or ask someone how they are doing.  On Sundays at our rectory in San Francisco, by the afternoon, our dining room is pretty trashed.  The cook has not been there since Friday, and though there are nine priests here, "no one is in charge."  I might then clean up the kitchen, put dishes in dishwasher, or empty clean dishes from the dishwasher and set the tables for Monday morning breakfast.  Does anyone notice?  NO.  But it makes me feel better when I am useful.  Cooking a meal can do this too.  In the office, I can put out some chocolate, go see someone in their office, write a snail mail letter to someone.  Doing nothing when feeling fearful only makes things more acute in a negative way.  Sometimes, I think fear might be the doorway to growth.  I prefer a wider, easier door to open, but you know about the narrow way advice of the sages.  Good grief!  There has to be an easier, softer way.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

St. Crispina

Crispina was a Christian martyr, beheaded by the Romans for refusing to worship their gods.  At her trial she said, "A religion that inflicts torture on those who do not adhere to it is not a religion."  The Romans had all the political and military power.  Christianity had none.  Jump ahead about a thousand years, and some dissenters burned at the stake by the Catholic Church could make the same quote.  When an Institution has power and its dissenters have none, religion brooks no dissent.  So when we condemn various groups of Islam for their tyranny today, we might also remember, those of us who profess a connection to Christianity, that we have been there and done that.  It is correct to say that something is wrong, but not to be so judgmental as to say, "Well, we would never do that."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Waking Up

Do you sometimes have a nice night's sleep, but when you wake up you are in a bad mood, or out of sorts, a bit irritable, feeling burdened?  Any of the above?  Someone gave me an insightful way of looking at this.  When I wake up on these occasions, something else of me awoke before this.  In other words, you did not cause the mood.  You slept OK.  Hoping that it will go away is not my best option.  While waiting, I might do silly, mean, unkind things around other people and situations.  I find it is better to do something sooner rather than later about this mood.  I find meditation to help, and if I have a trusted friend around, I might tell that person.  I find meditation helps me because though my body got a good rest, my soul might still be restless.  Think of meditation prayer as a way for the interior part of oneself to get some rest.  The deeper the mediation, the deeper the rest.  Meditation also helps me to stop thinking about me, the one who has all the problems, most of which are fear base imagined.

Monday, December 15, 2014

You Matter

Did you know that Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same day, April 23, 1616?  Dates are significant, and whenever you think that you are insignificant, recall that the day you were born something significant was going on in the world and your birth is part of that energy.  Maybe a certain person died that day, that you came into the world.  Rachmaninov the great composer and pianist died the day I was born.  Each of us is part of significant happenings that begin with our being born.  So when someone tries to make you feel like nothing, remember that you were born something and history cannot change that.  We are never an isolated nothing.  We are always a connected something.  You are precious, important, and meant to be in this world.  Keep the faith…in yourself.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Deluge

California has been in a drought.  Then the rains came last week and this week.  It poured.  A lot of this water will simply run back into the ocean, especially in LA.  Much of it will go into the mountains East of San Francisco and our mountain reservoirs which will be Spring run off for drinking water.   We are getting too much rain all at once.  It is not efficient, but it is still good, better than no rain.  I think of the rain the way I think of prayer and my spiritual life.  I can be dry and parched with no prayer, no attention to the interior life.  They I can spend all my time for a few days, like a retreat, focused on the interior.  I will feel wonderful, but it is only a brief relief.  I need daily prayer, like a farmer's rain, that soaks the soil of my sou, little by little.  This is why I try do do something each day.  To ignore my inner life to to go too quickly dry.  I have found it to be so.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Country Dancing

I have always liked country dancing, including two stepping.  I thank God I was sent to Houston, Texas for my first couple of years of priesthood.  Rock and Roll dancing is not for old people.  It is done by the young and the old sit down, at least the old who are not in good shape.  Country dancing and the whole culture is family.  Everyone can dance.  Rock and Roll allowed youth to "rebel."  This was about separation from family rather than bonding.  Country culture is more close knit.  You do more things together.  Dancing and parties are an example.  Though I am a Yankee, I became a convert to Southern ways.  At least dancing Southern ways.  I have happy feet!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bobby Keys

He was a Rock and Roll saxophone player with the Rolling Stones and other well known bands.  I read his obit in a local San Francisco paper.  It was a bit boring.  He had a heroin habit, not of interest to me.  But the NYT obit really attracted me.  This guy lived a pretty wild life.  Part of me wanted to be him!  He was born the same year as I was.  I must have a lot of wild in me.  Why don't I get attracted to reading obits about holy people?  An obit on Francis of Assisi would not interest me.  He was unusual but not attractive to any way I would want to live.  I think if you notice the obits you find you like to read, you will know something of yourself.  Why God would want a person like me with so much "wild potential" to be priest, is at times a mystery.  But I am grateful nonetheless.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Critical Thinking

By critical I don't mean criticizing.  Before the Reformation people did not much think for themselves about faith.  You were baptized and believed what the church taught.  You might know about some of the scandals of the hierarchy, but you did not much complain.  You were part of this one true church.  Jews and Moslems were hopelessly lost.  With the Reformation people began to see themselves as individuals who thought for themselves and weighed what they saw with what they thought was true.  With literacy, and the printing press we had the ability to find out that there were contradictions in church as we saw it and church as it founders might have meant it to be.  We thought for ourselves.  Today I see both kind of persons.  No matter what the church does or does not do, one person takes it all in and accepts.  They buy the whole package of what the ordained hierarchy say.  "No one is perfect," they say, to some obviously bad behavior.  On the other side, I see people who think for themselves and weigh what they hear promulgated, with what makes sense to them, and their search in reading and study.  They don't reject out of hand, like a petulant child who says "no" because it ruins their selfish fun.  They are good people who put aside what does not fit.  I think both kinds of persons are church members.  Where they meet is in the good that they do in the world.    

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Power Outage

There is a Recovery Group that meets in one of our church rooms here in San Francisco in early morning. The previous night there was a lightening storm with power outage.  When the group arrived at the gate, it would not open.  No power.  They stood around in the rain.  Then they figured out another way to get into the room.  It was not the normal passage and the meeting began in darkness, which handicapped them since they read something to begin the meeting.  Cell phone lights went on.  These are high tech recovering drunks.  They had their meeting.  I think of prayer.  I have my usual passage into prayer and connection with God.  What happens when I feel no connect?  Complain?  Power outage in my soul?  No.  There is always a way to God, but sometimes I must be willing to venture a new way, and feel in darkness.  God never goes away.  But my Way does sometimes go away.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Laughing To Bond

There is an ice rink in Boulder, Colorado.  I will be there in a few days.  I think that the whole staff at my parish ought to go ice skate together as a bonding experience.  We cannot get into a boat and row.  It is too cold.  We could all skate badly together, help one another to not fall, or pick one another up and laugh with each other.  Then we go for hot chocolate at the nearby coffee shop.  Work and prayer are things the staff already does.  But ice skating and hot chocolate afterwards, that is the ticket to becoming one, a team!  Of course, serious injury is possible, but let's not go there.  Do my blog readers have any bonding ideas for this season?

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Minimum

Did you know that the minimum salary for a major league professional baseball player is now $507,000.  Wow, this is a lot of money, and it is the least a guy can make.  Why is this?  Well, it turns out that very few people can hit a baseball thrown at 90+ miles per hour which is also dipping and curving as it comes to the hitter.  A baseball player is a rare person.  I think I have something that is rare, but it makes no big money for me.  I tell stories in my homilies.  Children love it.  But they have no money.  Adults tell me that they love my preaching, but then they don't come back for a month.  Plus, when I preach the collections are no better, and often worse, than when I don't preach.  I am thinking of becoming a hermit and just blog in my cave.  But this would be a form of whining, and since "The Boys In The Boat," I don't want to whine anymore.  I'll just preach catechism and rest my imagination.  Well, some of the stories have a fib or two.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gift Giving

If you go to church you will invariably hear the sermon about how consumer gift buying, and shopping is not what Christmas is all about.  The attempt is to make you feel shallow about your shopping at this time of year.  Get a life, preacher!  Maybe the preacher simply does not like to shop.  That is hardly the doorway to holiness.  Shopping is about giving.  You have to shop first, to give.  So I try to help make people feel better about Christmas shopping, or Purim shopping for that matter.  I advertise what I like to get.  There have to be getters, no?  The joy of giving is in knowing that you bought just the right thing to make the getter equally joyful!  How will you know what to buy if the receiver does not tell you what they like?  If the giver buys something that the getter does not like, then the getter has to act nice and fake gratefulness.  It is bad form to say you are disappointed in some gift you receive.  The getter now lives a fake life to make the giver feel better.  So now the getter has to lie.  Lying is a sin.  Sinners burn.  Plus, lies compound.  Next year the getter receives the same gift and lies again.  Being nice again means more burning.  I don't want to burn.  So I preach what I want for Christmas.  This is not shallow preaching.  Just trying not to burn.  Eighteen shopping days left.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Skull Rowing

Eight men/women in a boat, all rowing together is a bonding experience like few things in sports.  Each person relies on one another to be the best the group can be.  No one person can "take over" as in a basketball game.  In football, the defense works out separate rom the offense, and the kickers and so on.  A few people can try very hard to win a game while others try a bit less.  In rowing, the eight are one.  Otherwise it does not work.  Thus a strong bond is built up among the eight.  Family farming might be a way to bond for the nuclear or extended family.  No one person can slacken, but no one can take over and do most of the work.  The farm will fail.  In cross country running, everyone of the five does the best they can, but also tries to help teammates, because the overall score of each placement at the finish decides which team wins.  Cross country is a team sport, not an individual sport.  I think a community with a spiritual focus can approach becoming a bonded group.  It is not about individual salvation, or competition to be the "holiest."  You help one another because you see yourselves as a group, not individual egos.  I think recovery groups bond better than churches.  You can see an individual become part of a group in recovery.  It is part of the recovery.  The loner ego does no good.  I do not see that in church groups.  I think that is why so many people who join churches still feel lonely and separate.  They think a common belief or common ritual will make them one, bonded with others.  Parking lot behavior tells me it does not happen.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Partial History

I think that my when my church teaches about its history, we ought to tell all of it and not just the parts to support the "fragile" faith of the student.  What happens when we skip over stuff that does not put us in a good light, is that later on others will tell us the missing truth, and the student will feel that what they originally heard was merely so much propaganda.  I see this on college campuses where students leave us when they hear another side of my church.  Were they brought up to think we were a perfect church, or at least better than brand X?  I suspect so.  Though I have found out in my adult reading about many unsavory things in my church history, I have not left.  I don't need perfection.  Why would a perfect group want me?  Or me them?  No, I want truth.  My faith will be fine.  It does not need to be coddled by a lot of nice pious stories, some of which in themselves might be not so factual.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Boys In The Boat

Don Hume was very sick, probably with something akin to pneumonia.  But at the moment he was one of eight men rowing for Olympic gold right under the nose of Hitler.    Hume was the one who dictated to the rest of the crew when to pick up the pace and how much.  His eyes were closed.  His head nodded.  The race was lost.  Suddenly, he came out of his seeming stupor.  His body was filled with pain, but he was beyond pain.  His body was spent, as were the seven behind him.  He began to row harder and at the others followed.  The book is about the why and how of it.  It is only in part about rowing, though I found out from zero knowledge that rowing is quite interesting.  It is about the human person, such as Joe Rantz, who can rise up above so much abandonment, fear, loneliness, and doubt, to become a champion person, as well as an Olympian.  Man or women will enjoy this book.  My excuses for mediocrity fell by the wayside as I turned the pages.  Oh, we won the race.  Hitler was not pleased.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

No Coincidences

I got on the wrong tram at San Francisco Airport.  I have been using that train many times, but thought I knew a better route.  Wrong.  I was taken not to the terminal I wanted but to a distant rental car drop off.  Why does God hate me, I whined.  Got to get to my plane.  The tram eventually turned around and began to move to my now distant terminal.  Some Koreans got on.  They did not speak English, or not much of it.  They all got off at the International terminal, except for one man.  The doors closed and he was still inside the train.  I told him how to get back to his friends and family by getting off at the next stop, walking across the platform and getting on the train that was about to go the other way and take him back.  I pointed and watched him get on the train to take him back to his family.  What if I was not there?  It is a God coincidence.  I was meant to go the wrong way, so as to be a good samaritan to this fellow traveler.  I did not make my flight.  I made an earlier one without paying any extra fee.  The attendant did not have to do that, but she did.  Turns out my plane was delayed but the earlier one left on time.  What an amazing day, and I don't even care to travel!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chinese Rosary

I was in our gift shop recently and came upon a marvelous story.  I found some beautiful rosaries in beautiful pouches and asked about them.  Turns out there is club of young Catholics in Beijing, China. They make rosaries by hand.  We have a contact who goes to China, picks up the rosaries and brings them back to our store in San Francisco.  Tt gets better.  The proceeds go to help the poor in China and to help people to find employment.  Think of it.  These children are surrounded by a secular state that controls them and limits their ability to practice their faith.  Being Catholic there is at times dangerous, if not downright inconvenient. These children hunger for opportunity to have Eucharist.  At the same time, children their same age in this country, take Catholic stuff for granted.  Go to mass?  Well, maybe if it does not interfere with soccer, skiing, or whatever other entertainment might entice them on any Sunday.  For some, the Catholic faith is like their address and phone number.  Just part of information about them, nothing more.  Some things we take for granted, usually because we can have it whenever we want.  Just because I can have something today, I try not to assume tomorrow.  If I am going to attend to my spiritual life tomorrow, that tomorrow never comes.

Monday, December 1, 2014


My friend Farquar told me that he had to stop drinking because he was allergic to alcohol.  Say what?  Farquar said that he would break out into immorality.  But what puzzled him was that those times when he did not drink, because he was broke or had a spasm of spirituality, he felt like a square peg in a round world.  Nothing seemed to fit.  Immorality was his solution.  I did not press him on what constituted immorality for him.    He did not finally surrender to his recovery program until the pain got too bad and his solution too futile.  Farquar surrendered not only the booze but his whole way of living.  He would not have done that if he had some smaller misfit issues.  Most of us don't have super serious issues in our lives that are destroying us, so we never can really surrender.  We lived patched up lives.  No one on a truly spiritual path seems to suggest patched up as a solution.  Some people ask me, "How do I surrender?"  Well, when you are miserable enough, but don't die, the path will appear.  Farquar found it to be so.  

Monday, November 24, 2014


There are a group of young people who hang out on a nearby outdoor mall in a town where I live.  They dress differently, and look differently than the people who are shopping and eating in the restaurants on the mall.  I think of these young people as "unique."  Unique is all that they can change in their world that seems so otherwise hopeless to them.  They cannot change their home life, parents, school situation, job prospects, or the world around them.  So they change the one thing over which they still have some power.  They change their face and clothes.  It gives them a sense of some empowerment.  Someone living on the street sees how little they can change, in their estimation.  So they change one thing, their consciousness.  They get drunk.  Some people just do dope for the same reason.  It gives them some sense of power.  I have found the power in the spiritual.  I can seem to have a whole change of attitude when I sit quietly in silence, or talk to someone about this interior life.  I have tried the other things but they did not go deep enough.  Just more problems.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Business

A big time  college football coach is not returning after the end of this season because his team lost too many games.  He said he understands it is time for him to go because "this is a business."  Oh!  And here I though it was a sport.  The players are student-athletes.  I think the coach spoke the truth.  Revenue producing sports in college are a business.  Players are employees who get some perks, such as free food/room/classes.  The priority is working for the school so the school can make money.  As a business, I suspect the school will say one thing but maybe do another.  Its number one priority is to make money.  This is why I prefer to focus my life on the spiritual.  There is no money in it.  If you get rich as a guru, I suspect it will corrupt you.  Well, say it would corrupt me.  Everyday I have to examine my conscience to ask if I am doing what I am saying.  Do I pray in silence and stillness on a daily basis?  To teach what I don't do, would make the world of soul a business.  For this I should be fired.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Divorced And Remarried

I am going to take a guess at this one.  Why are some people so upset about the thought of giving communion to people who get remarried after a divorce?  The cover is that it goes against church teaching or will change dogma which would be pretty serious, except that it is not a dogma.  It is rule, a punishment for getting divorced and remarried without an annulment.  It is not in the Creed.  One could uphold marriage being indissoluble and yet permit remarried to go to communion.  Don't use Eucharist as a reward/punishment.  The fact that you cannot get the remarriage, or attempted marriage, as some would say, to be blessed in the church could be the punishment.  But back to my original issue.  Why such anger about these remarried people?  A guess, is that these angry people are staying in miserable marriages and resent others from getting out and trying to marry someone else.  Why don't people get just as angry about rich/poor, or ecology or the fact that we are running out of water to drink?  What do you think?  I don't mind being wrong.  I get angry about stuff, but then have to ask myself why one thing and not another.

Friday, November 21, 2014


I am not recommending you go and see the war movie, "Fury."  There is a lot of violence as one would expect in a war movie.  It is war.  But at the end of the movie, amidst all this violence and killing, there is a singular act of kindness.  It is a kindness that is no way reinforced by all the fighting going on around it.  It can only be "grace" that came into play.  What it says to me is that just when all hope for humanity is gone, something happens to resurrect hope.  Can we do acts of kindness, let grace work in us, when all around us is bad behavior?  I will try.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Unbridled Consumerism

While the Pope is talking to world leaders of big industrial countries about unbridled consumerism and the downside of unfettered capitalism, the American Bishops are meeting to talk about procedural changes in language, translations of some prayer rituals, and merger ideas.  We are a country that is about to go big time into consumerism with "Black Friday" and "Holiday" shopping.  I suspect our religious leaders will talk about keeping Christ in Christmas, because this is safe.  To take on capitalism in this country is more like a revolution.  The pope is not looking for socialism but a correction of capitalism that would more live out the gospel values.  Isn't that what Christian leaders are supposed to do?  The Jesus of the gospels is much more of a challenge than the Jesus of the Church councils and its dogmatic decrees.  Religious leaders of First World countries seem to get angry with people who ignore or disagree with dogma, but seem to let things be if people ignore the gospel teachings of Jesus.  Jesus was not about "more." He was more about "less."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Confused

Yet one more prelate is up in arms about all this talk of gay marriage and remarried Catholics having access to Communion.  His reason is that the laity will be confused.  Why is this so often the reason given?  I don't find lay people confused.  I find prelates afraid of changes happening in the world of the 21st century.  It seems that the laity are not given much credit for being able to figure things out.  Maybe this is why the ordained want to give the people so little power.  Hierarchical organizations tend to be this way.  They tend not to listen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


A cure for fear is honesty.  I am an example of this.  I can keep things to myself and show you a together person who you will think spiritually advanced.  But inside I might be acting from fear.  Here is an example.  I was going to go for a week from here to another town where I also work.  There were good and presentable reasons to do this.  But there was an underlying energy, and that was fear.  Of what?  Fear that I would lose popularity or importance or favorable image if I stayed away too long, or missed some event.  Yes, it is pathetic, I know.  But it is honest, and I feel relieved to admit it, and not to let fear drive my decisions.  So why tell you since no one can be as spiritually inept as me?  Well, maybe there are one or two people out there for whom a light will go on as to their own motivations.  Maybe someone who afraid to admit fear, will no longer feel like the only loser in the world.  We are not losers.  We are human.  Let us laugh at ourselves rather than be in all this pain.  This is how honesty is a cure for fear, at least for me.  Oh!  The people who I am afraid will forget me?  I doubt they are even thinking about me.  Oops!  Be still you silly ego.

Monday, November 17, 2014


I am reading a best seller about Jesus and his times, called, "Zealot."  It is a good way to become an Unitarian.  It will shake up people who don't know very much about their faith, but believe because they trust someone who told them it is the "true" faith.  They may have had good communal experiences in school of "being really Catholic."  They read narrowly.  They tended to believe what they read or heard based upon some authority they gave to the book or person.  "Zealot" will shake them up.  My faith is based upon none of the above.  I try to read widely and I have had an experience of Jesus that has moved me from within.  It is no longer based upon what some campus "zealot" told me or some proselytizing book told me that I bought into to feel safe, secure, and certain.  An adult faith can read this best seller and remain a believer.  My question is why is this a best seller?  It could be that a lot of people are still interested in Jesus?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Not This. Not That

God is not a this or a that.  If God were a this or a that, God would be in some place separate from me, who is a this or that.  God is beyond "being" something, which is why Jesus did not make a big deal about being God or being Divine.  That would have given God some boundary, which is Jesus.  God just is.  Jesus' followers are the ones who began to focus on the Godness of Jesus.  Thus starts or continues the process of separating God out from me and you.  Jesus was about oneness, not separateness.  That is why he had much less problem with prostitutes and tax collectors, and in our modern age I suspect he would have been sitting down to eat with gay/lesbians, divorced and remarried, and whole bunches of other people that many a modern church official finds repulsive.  Jesus found his dinner companions full of God. I wonder if the people we murdered/executed for "Heresy" that softened the divinity of Jesus, were not rather trying to hold onto "Oneness" and the "Is" of God rather than putting Jesus down.  Are we not all divine in some way?  Is not the Creator in everyone?  I think that Jesus used his humanity to point out our humanity, but some of us hate ourselves so much, we cannot see it or believe it.  That is our heresy.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Botox Men

Seems that a lot of guys are going for Botox treatments.  Well, we have Viagra and now Botox.  I wonder if, as we guys age, we have acceptance issues.  Maybe there are really good reasons for this stuff, but I look at myself, which is not easy, and ask if I can just accept that I am falling apart on the outside.  The real question for me is what am I doing about the insides of myself?  This is the area that can grow while the shell around me fades.  My medication and treatment for my insides is daily prayer, reflection, meditation, reading, and examination of conscience.  Oh, and admitting my need for all this.  I don't consider the physical to be flawed for me.  I am aging.  That is not a flaw.  It is natural.  Had I not taken care of the insides, I would never have aged.  I would have been dead a long time ago.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Women and Church Power

It seems that a saint named Charles Borremeo was made a cardinal of a big diocese in Italy some centuries ago.  So what, you ask?  Well, he had not been ordained.  He was a lay person.  There was a time that someone could be in charge of a big diocese without being ordained.  He was the administrator, that is, the boss.  If it happened then, why not now, and why not a woman?  That a cardinal needs to be ordained is just a rule.  It did not come from Jesus.  Rules can be changed.  They are not dogma.  What is harder to change is attitudes and fears about women on the part of men in power.  I guess some things never change!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


In my church we celebrate All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2.  All Saints is for all the anonymous dead people who are in heaven.  They were not sufficiently well known to get canonized.  All Souls Day is for the dead people who are waiting to get into heaven.  There is no All Damned Day.  I guess they have no chance.  Anyway, I tend to pray to my sister Maureen on All Saints Day, rather than on All Souls Day.  I figure that she is in heaven.  Why? She had to put up with me for so long.  Being the rotten kid I am is not so bad.  I helped my sister build up patience, kindness, acceptance, and unconditional love for me.  These are qualities that get you into heaven.  You got any of them?  Now if I stay a rotten kid I could end up with no special day for people to pray for me.  There is no All Damned Day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Never underestimate the desire of Catholics to remain ignorant.  Someone(s) told me that.  I used to run a religious book store that a had all kinds of classics, and up to date books on Catholic and non-Catholic paths.  We had a few religious articles too.  The store just could not turn a profit.  Now, the same space has a few books and lots of religious articles/things/baubles and it is doing quite well.  Most Catholics prefer shiny stuff rather than learning.  They prefer their leaders just to tell them what to do.  These unread people get all upset when they hear bishops disagreeing.  "What am I supposed to believe, or do?" they anxiously ask.  Well, if such people had been better educated and a more inquiring mind, they would know history.  Bishops disagree.  It is the way of religion.  We worship God and not the Catholic Church.  We are an imperfect group who because of our own prejudices, can only approximate what God wishes.  We know little, but in our worse moments, profess to know all.  All religions seem to make a common mistake, and in this we are all alike.  They profess to be too right, and everyone else too wrong.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I recall that when John Paul II said anything, all the conservatives spoke about infallibility, and we are to do what the Pope just said.  Well, now Francis I speaks and the same conservatives seem to wonder if he is really Catholic?  I guess infallibility in in the eyes of the beholder or their politics and prejudices.  It seems to me that we are formed by our upbringing and our experiences.  Some can develop a lust for power, control, wealth, the need for strict rules/laws.  Some people from the same background as the above can develop into saints.  The only equalizer is Grace offered.  Some respond and some don't.  Some of us know of our lusts, and hope to be saints, but cannot seem to stay on track.  My sister said I was a "rotten kid."  Can rotten kids become saints?  If not, I am in deep trouble.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Gospel

A retired pope said we must proclaim the Gospel which is not the same as dialogue.  Well, I ask, which part of the gospel will get emphasized and which will not?  Those who are pretty secure in their upper class status with lots of stuff, seem to prefer the part of the Gospel about being saved by Jesus' Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection.  Sure.  Focus on that because you don't really have to do anything.  Keep to your lifestyle.  Jesus saved you.  He did all the work.  But there is another part of the Gospel, and that is all about what Jesus actually said and taught.  The "Haves" don't so much want to talk about that part because it challenges the world in which they have become a success and accumulated lots of stuff, homes, cars, closets full, prejudices, and so on.  I think that there ought to be more of a dialogue between what Jesus said and how many "Good" church going Catholics actually live their lives, and stay steeped in their prejudices.  This is why I like Francis I.  He is pretty blunt.  B16 was too theological and people read into his statements whatever they liked so that they would continue to feel comfortable.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Voiceless

I was watching an ad about some voting proposition that seemed to have to do with "choice."  There was a medical person and a woman patient in the medical office.  The ad said that these two should decide about what to do, and not let some politician tell them.  I thought, "There is someone else in the room who does not seem to have a say."  The fetus is the voiceless one, so I will take the side of the voiceless one, the powerless one.  Now I think the fetus is human but you may not.  Well, your dog is not human either, but I bet you would not get kill your dog.  Why is some non-human life so precious and some not, assuming the fetus is not yet human.  The dog will never be human.  The fetus will, if it gets a chance.  If the best we can do is abortion will be "legal, safe and rare," then I take to working on the rare.  Seems people get all worked up about some elk getting killed who roams around their middle and upper class neighborhoods, but don't seem to mind abortions in the same neighborhoods.  The animal was innocent, you say?  The fetus is not?  Some will go to the issues of rape, drunk at frat parties, too young and go for abortion on demand.  These are not the overwhelming reasons that people get abortions, but for these cases, I still defend the fetus.  It caused none of the reasons it got conceived, no matter how horrible and unjust the event of the conception.  Finally, for now, what if the aborted fetus I am defending was the one who would grow to find the cure for the cancer that kills so many women?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Big Church

Pat, who I blogged about yesterday, reminds me of something quite wonderful about our church.  She and I differed on our opinions, prayer style, and pieties.  But we could love one another.  Our church can have all types but we can accept and pray for, believe in and hope for one another.  There was another priest on the staff who Pat thought far more perfect than I.  He walked on water.  But Pat had hopes for my redemption.  My church is full of hopeful people.  Pat prayed for me.  She had preferences about my conversion to the light, but they were only preferences.  She had no demands or condemnations.  Pat reminds me of what the best of community is all about.  I would not want a church with only people like me.  Would you?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pat Palaich

Pat was the noon mass sacristan at our church in Boulder, Colorado.  Sacristans are people who set up for mass and then put everything away.  Priests love sacristans.  We can show up at the last minute and all is set up for us.  Sacristans spoil priests.  That is their job, or so I think.  Pat was my friend as well.  She died recently.  I think she wanted to die in a private way with just her and God.  People sat with her into the night.  Within an hour after everyone left, in the middle of the night, Pat died.  She liked the one on one with God.  I know that she prayed for me.  She knew that I was imperfect but she had hopes for me.  She even took me to lunch a time or two.  She drove.  I knew from the way she drove that God was taking care of her.  The noon mass has never been the same since Pat stopped being the sacristan.  I miss her.  Taking care of the altar and its environs was her singular task.  She was humble, but precise.  Her way was best.  I am a mere priest.  She is a saint.  I hope she is still praying for me.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Oh That Pride

I suspect that a lot of depression is caused by false pride.  We think we should do better based upon our own will-power.  Face the truth.  We are weak, self-willed to selfishness and doing things that bring us to a mess of our lives.  The Good News is that now we can be a little humble and let God forgive us, cleanse us, pick us up to try again, but now we know we are loved and forgiven.  Leave the guilt and shame of false pride in the past.  Did feeling sorry for ourselves do us any lasting good?  And who wants to be around all our self-pity?  Only others who are "suffering" like us.  The winners are not the perfect.  The winners are the humble and honest ones who know acceptance, forgiveness and love of God.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Earthquake Myth

I just read that Emperor Justinian passed a law against sodomy because he thought it caused Earthquakes.  Two things strike me.  Was it OK before the law was passed?  Secondly, there seems to be a lot of fear and confusion about sodomy that has nothing to do with sodomy.  What is that fear?  Next time you are in an earthquake will you blame gay people?  Hope not.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Little Noticed Beauty

I was taken by my friend Cyd to Mare Island in San Francisco Bay.  There is a little Redwood Interdenominational chapel, St. Peter's, that has the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass windows West of the Mississippi.  They are quite stunning, as is the chapel.  Here in this seemingly out of the way abandoned Naval Base, with lots of rundown buildings, is this beautiful chapel.  There were only a couple of people on the excellent tour.  In our culture so many things called "beautiful" are in the spotlight, advertised, attention called to them.  This chapel location makes me think of how beauty can be almost ignored, if not unnoticed.  Just because you are not in the spotlight, or think you are ignored, forgotten, does not make you any less beautiful.  The world's opinion is just an opinion.  You are beautifully made.  This is the second opinion, often forgotten.  It is one thing if others forget you.  No control there.  But it is another thing if you forget you.  Give yourself a compliment.  You are beautiful.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Phone Call

I recently walked into one of my spiritual reflection days.  There were two people there when I began.  They came.  I did the teaching for them.  But I thought afterwards that it is over for me.  This must be a sign that God wants me to return to the monastery and enter silence.  Teach no more.  Whatever I am doing is not attracting.  That afternoon, after the teaching, I got a phone call from friends in another city where I also live.  These two women missed me.  They are friends.  They want me to come back and not go to the monastery to silence.  It was a saving phone call.  I may not be bright enough, or interesting enough or topical enough but maybe I am "fun."  Fun is not bad.  It is one of those things you don't know you have.  Others have to reflect it to you.  I cannot tell you how to be fun, since I am not sure what it is. If you have this quality people have a way of letting you know just when you need to know.  It is a grace. "See Maureen.  I am not just a pest!"

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Jesus pointed out that a Roman coin had the image of Caesar on it.  The coin belonged to Caesar.  So what is the image of a Christian parish?  It is supposed to be the image of Christ.  He was about the Kingdom of God, a very inclusive place with a lot of different types of people invited in.  Some religious leaders did not like Jesus for this.  They thought more of a small group of similar likeness and correctness.  If your parish is about excluding people because of some "prejudice" disguised by laws, tradition, and custom, then does it really reflect the image of Christ.  I think that an AA meeting is more the image of Christ than some Christian parish communities.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


I hear that Catholics in the English speaking countries would be terrified if the bishops had been more open to gay/lesbian people as well as divorced and remarried.  "What will I tell my child!" exclaimed parents.  Don't worry parents.  They aren't listening to you anyway.  I wonder if these so called 'terrified" Catholics want a church that has very clear rules, a comfortable likeness of persons.  I think the church is supposed to be the Gospel, the Good News to all.  I am a bit terrified that we have dropped the gospel of Jesus with his inclusive Kingdom of God and replaced it with something of a gated community.  Only the few get in and you have to have the code.

Friday, October 31, 2014


We all have gifts or talents.  The seed of them is freely given to each one of us.  That is part of the reason they are called gifts.  We develop them, and work on them, but we do not create them.  No DNA is the same and so too, a gift is unique.  The way to make a gift be all that it can be, is not just to work at it, but to use it for the benefit of others.  Then it becomes a gift for those with whom you share it.  A musician works on the music craft, and then performs for others.  Some people can learn to play the piano, but that does not make them a gifted pianist.  You know the difference when you hear it.  So why try and become who you are not?  Find your gift.  Instinct helps.  Courage to try different things helps.  Friends may reflect our gifts to us.  Prayer can do it too, so I believe.  My friend Farquar has sobriety now and he tries to help others who are struggling with the drink.  I have a gift of being nice to witches.  Oh!  Today is Halloween.  Now where is that sister of mine, Maureen?  I love you Maureen!  I didn't even cross my fingers.  What is your gift?  Can you share it today?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Tone

I once asked a priest about some issue.  He said, "This is the rule.  Keep the rule."  "What if I cannot always do that rule?"  I asked.  "You burn," he answered.  Some time later, I met another priest and asked him about the same issue.  "This is the rule.  Do the best you can." It was at the same rule.  "Say what?"  I asked.  "What if I cannot live up to the rule, do I burn."  "No," he said.  "Jesus loves you if you just do the best you can.  He came for the imperfect."  I liked that.  I am the imperfect.  That is, I am human.  Same rule but two different attitudes.  It is called, "The Tone."  Jesus did not come to change rules.  He changed the tone.  I don't mind being judged by a God of Love.  Unless Maureen gets God's ear.  Of course she would have to be in heaven.  Then she is supposed to be loving, right?  One can only hope.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


My friend Farquar told me that drink allowed him to be like other people, that is, normal.  He thought everyone else normal and he was weird.  He had feelings that made him feel uncomfortable.  He thought no one else had his feelings.  Farquar sometimes felt lonely, uncomfortable in his own skin, unloveable and confused.  Drink was his solution to these feelings.  The uncomfortable feelings went away.  By the time Farquar came to me he had passed normal and become a drunk.  I told him that his feelings were normal.  It is part of the human condition to have all kinds of feelings.  The solution was to feel first.  Farquar was surprised that normal was so difficult.  But he was relieved to know that he was not crazy.  He gave up drink as the solution.  The escape from normal is worse than normal. At least Farquar has learned it to be so.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Catechisms have always given us "an" answer.  We thought that such an answer was universal, in every and all circumstances.  Now we find out in our global church that this is not so.  What is an answer in Western European/ USA culture is not so in a tribal society in Kenya, that has many Catholics.  Since our newspapers are too lazy, broke, or uninterested to research all this, we in the West don't know about differences in Catholic Culture.  The tribal culture has the Gospel, but they did not buy into our culture or ways of doing things, such as in the marriage process.  Lots to learn.  The African bishops are bemused by our Western culture wars.  They are our wars, not theirs.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Some Catholics are upset with the recent working document out of the bishops' synod on Family issues.  I suspect that some of this confusion comes from always being given simple answers based upon Western European culture.  But now the bishops are listening to one another and this includes bishops from so called Third World countries that have very different ways of doing things.  In the USA parents tell their children not to live together before they get married and to get an approved church wedding.  Now they hear that is not how it works in other parts of the world.  Simple answers don't work in a universal church.  In some other cultures people might be in a union that is not blessed by a church or any other legal group for cultural, economic or social reasons, none of which have to do with our idea of "immoral living together."  "What am I going to tell my child!" laments a western parent.  Well, tell them to study culture, history, sociology, outside of their own narrow world.  None of this takes place in the so called STEM school system that is all about getting a job someday, which is not a bad goal, or a bad education.  It simply is no longer enough if you want to function in the Global Catholic church.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I let my hair grow because I am tired of being cold in unheated rooms/monastery/office/church.  Someone said that now I look like Pierce Brosnan.  Lots of people have seen me with my longer hair, but this one person, an oasis of kindness gave me a compliment.  I think that the actor is handsome, so if I look like him then maybe I am handsome too?  I get compliments about preaching, being funny, nice and sometimes insightful in teaching.  But nothing beats handsome.  OK.  I am vain, or delusional.  But if I like such a compliment, maybe I can make someone else's day who I feel is quite lovely, handsome, beautiful but never say anything of the sort.  If there is something attractive about a person, tell them.  I am tired of being a good, but ugly preacher!  Bring on the handsome.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


My friend Charlotte passed away recently.  She was 90.  She had a good run.  Along with her husband, George, who died a few years ago, Charlotte was a seeker of God.  She was curious to learn more and pray more deeply.  Age did not diminish this attitude.  She was very encouraging to me in my own reading and teaching of mystics.  I loved her acceptance even when I was shallow and pompous.  I did not know that I was shallow and pompous.  I thought I was brilliant, until some time later when God would shine the Light into my soul and reveal how little I knew and how shallow I was.  If my friend Charlotte had told me I was an idiot, when I was an idiot, my deflated ego would have stopped the seeking for God.  We need friends who will encourage us through the rough patches when we do not know how little we know.  Charlotte was very wise.  People of spiritual depth are like that.  They know when silence is best.  If I am lucky, I will be like my friend Charlotte some day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Positive Aspects

My Church is beginning to say something positive about the world in which we live often termed "secular" by those who are always for a dualistic world.  It seems that cohabitation and unions have some positive aspects.  We say that the Gospel is Good News.  Now for the many who were previously  looked down upon, the message of Jesus might make a break through.  "All are welcome" is starting to have more "All" and less "Few."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Deacon Chris

I was in a mountain community recently for Sunday mass.  Deacon Chris was assisting me.  He arrived early to set up some, and then sat in the front pew, quietly, meditating with his eyes closed.  I continued to walk about in my own preparation.  When I glanced over again in his direction, he had his arms around his two young granddaughters, who were sitting just as quietly as he was, in meditation.  They did not fidget or look around bored.  They love grandpa. Grandpa loves them.  Grandpa meditates.  Lets meditate with grandpa.  This is another example of "how to" pass on the faith/Catholic culture that is part of us.  It is one thing to say Jesus loves you, or God loves you.  Children need hands on love, and if you can give it in the church building it will have an influence.  It is passing on the faith.  In this instance, it is passing on the faith "from the heart" and not with a book.  Turns out the two girls were also the altar servers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shoes And Socks

One way to look at the differences that conservative hierarachs and the Pope have is the analogy of shoes and socks.  Francis says that people must first know they are loved.  Show mercy and forgiveness.  Show acceptance and inclusion.  Everyone wants to feel loved.  This is basic.  It is the putting on of the socks.  They have to go on before you put on the shoes.  The Conservatives, focused on doctrine, rules, right order of things as they see it, are trying to put on the shoe first.  And once the shoe is on, everyone must know how to tie a proper knot.  Improper knot tying means rejection.  The world is made up of those who can tie knots "properly" and those who cannot, or chose to tie their shoes differently, if at all.  Still, the sock is omitted.  Can you really feel loved, secure, if you know it is based upon "correctness" as defined by a certain group?  Jesus came to love.
his followers could not come close to getting all else of which Jesus spoke until they knew they were loved, accepted first.  Then they could be challenged.  Only then could they begin to live out the gospel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I travel some here and there to new towns for my work.  When I am about to go to a new town, I make plans for taking care of my spiritually and physically.  Where will I run and when?  Where will I find support for my own spiritual journey those days?  When and where will I eat what?  You would be surprised at how little planning is done by the hosts when I travel.  The housing is something over which I accept whatever is given.  If we are serious about caring for ourselves, don't leave it in the hands of others.  We are the center of no one's universe.  Plus, some people live in such chaos that it is the new normal for them.  I have a rather low chaos bar.  How about you?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day At A Time

Running is a great metaphor for the developing a spiritual life.  Both take time, effort an discipline.  When I first start running, say after an injury or a bout of laziness and sloth, my body rebels if I try to do too much.  It may rebel a little even if I do a little.  I must do something the next day in the physical fitness area, e.g. stretching, walking, active stuff.  Day by day, the running gets easier and I can do more with seemingly less effort.  I find solitary prayer to be the same way.  After a period of ignoring my interior life, frustrated at  my flabby soul, I decide to do some practice.  I decide to do it for today.  Just do today.  It is difficult at first.  Focus might be lacking.  The mind is amiss.  Thoughts rule.  It is a start.  Then I ask myself when I will do this tomorrow?  I plan a time and place.  Day by day, this solitary prayer becomes a bit easier.  It can become a habit, with discipline, commitment and effort.  Spiritual and physical exercise on a daily basis usually means that something else will be dropped.  A day is just so long and no longer.  I have found that desperation is a good starter.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


In my reading I was reminded that atheists are not the same as pagans.  Atheists believe that there is no God.  Pagans do believe in gods.  They worship gods.  In modern paganism there is the worship of money, status, sport stars, hollywood actors and actresses and rock stars just to name a few.   It is not easy to be an atheist.  You have to work through a lot of stuff to arrive there.  The intellectually lazy, and self-absorbed are not atheists.  They simply do not bother with the god question at all.  Maybe they are their own god.  Who can say.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Change Or Else

A recent commentator at the Bishops' Synod said that we are not going to change any doctrines that the church has been practicing for years.  Prior to the invasion of Poland by the Nazis in 1939, the Polish military was enamored by its use of horses in war.  Military horsemanship had been practiced for a long time.  It was part of their military tradition.  Why change?  The Nazis came at them with modern weapons such as newly designed tanks.  Holding onto something simply because you have always done it that way can be costly.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Someone asked me  about reincarnation.  Here is my take on it.  Personally, I don't want to come back and have to be a teenager again or an adolescent for that matter.  Too much stress, anxiety, uncertainty and busyness.  I believe that when I die the energy that made up Terry Ryan is dispersed back into the universe to eventually be used to make something else.  My hope is that I lived a good enough life, that my energy has a lot of positive stuff about it, and so it is more available to make something of goodness.  I don't believe that it will make another Terry Ryan.  I am done and something of me has gone to the Great Mystery I call God.  What is it that goes to God?  Well, that might be another blog!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Time and time again, I see a jogger out on the trails with Fido, their pet.  The jogger is trying for a twofer: time with Fido and getting some exercise.  But I can tell that Fido is not into fantasizing about being buffed, sculpted, or fit.  Fido does not care for this jogging.  Humans program their exercise.  Dogs don't.  They run when they want and as long as they want.  Jogging is not their thing.  The tongue is hanging out, lumbering along to keep up.  Dogs are faithful, I will give them that.  This all reminds me that not everyone is interested in what interests me.  I try to avoid twofers, that is, "Let's get together and do something I like."  Dogs are our best friends, and sometimes that is not such a good thing for a dog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

God Presence

When I was little I was given to understanding that God cannot be in animals, trees, people in mortal sin, and Protestants.  Well, that is a lot of places off limits to God.  God got squeezed into the little space of Catholics in the State of Grace, which was iffy for us Bronx Irish kids.  We were prone to mortal sin.  The best place to find God was in the host, the communion wafer, which bad Catholics and Protestants could not receive, but we could go look at the host "exposed" on the altar in a special Exposition piety.  It was only years later that I realized what the host really meant.  God is in bread, an ordinary everyday food, a staple of life.  What the host meant is that God is in things of the world.  I don't escape the world by going into a dark church to look at God.  I go to look to remind me that God is in the world, everywhere in the world, even in Protestants.  All is precious and holy.  Where I might see or judge something a mess, God is present.  The host is to remind me that when I go out of the church God is everywhere that I look and am.  No escape.  Plus, God is Love.  Go hug a tree.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I forgot that the Christian hierarchy were called hypocrites by none other than Paul in his letter to the Galatians.  It seems our first Pope would eat with Gentiles, a no no for Jews, whenever his Jewish cohorts were not around.  But once the other Jewish leaders showed up, the Pope backed off from the Gentiles and followed Jewish customs.  Paul called him out.  I guess hypocrisy and politics has been a problem for Christianity since the beginning.  The hierarchy in Rome are having a meeting now on the subject of "The Family."  Pope Francis asked everyone to speak frankly.  We will see.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Same and Different

Rugby is a sport and a very old one.  Baseball is now considered a sport, though a bit younger one.  I suspect that when rugby players first heard of or saw baseball, they might have said, "That is not a sport."  Rugby defined "sport" within their own definition, and baseball simply did not quality.  Eventually, even rugby accepted baseball as a sport of sorts, but not something for REAL rugby players.  These two games are the same as "games" and "sports."  It this they are the same, but one is not the other.  I used to have a subscription to a sport magazine.  When it first began to have a weekly story on "Bridge" the card game, I said, "That is not a sport!"  Though Bridge is a game and a competition with a teammate, it did not fit my narrow definition.  I think that at times when we say that one thing is not equal to another, we have to be careful of our motives.  Are we prejudiced against one, as I was about Bridge, or the rugby players about baseball.  On the other hand, when there is a difference between two things, we cannot say they are exactly the same.  Bridge is not Baseball, nor Rugby.  They may be the same as "sports" but different in some other respects.  Try this with your definition of "Marriage."

Sunday, October 12, 2014


As we age we are supposed to grow in wisdom.  I seem to be going in the other direction.  For quite some time now I have been using a garage door opener from the house to automatically open the garage door when I go outside.  My other method is to leave a door open that goes into the garage, but this is frequently relocked by someone.  At times, usually in the worst of weather or when I am in a hurry, I leave the house without the garage door opener, and then find that the door to the garage has been relocked.  Bad mood, grumbling, whining follow.  Today, as I was just about to go into the garage, having used my garage door opener, I noticed a key pad on the side of the garage entrance.  Then I noticed that each of the three garage doors had their own keypad.  Voila!  Cobwebs of my mind were shaken out and the memory of a keypad having been mounted some FOUR YEARS ago came back to me.  Of course, I had no idea of the PIN code, but a phone call to the one who mounted the keypad gave me that information.  As I wallowed in humiliation, humility came.  God loves me in spite of my silliness and forgetfulness.  When I think I am so centered, I get a wake up call that I am still very much scattered, but yet very much loved.  I earned the scattered.  The Love is Free! Do you ever have long-term silliness?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rest Stops

Prayer is like a rest stop as we motor through the day.  Now and again we need to take the foot off the pedal and sit quietly to stretch our soul.  No music, no tapes, no GPS and no talking.  Just quiet stillness to keep us able to go on with the journey in a sane and balanced way.  Now and again, I need to go in for a tuneup, a day of reflection to keep me in good shape.  We can so easily run ourselves down and then things don't work so well.  I have found it so.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The I or the Eye

When I first heard the phrase, "His 'I's are too close together," I thought that it was about the eye in the head.  I did not think that the person's eyes were anything but normal distance apart.  Then it got explained to me.  When we try to impress, and I know this to be a guy thing, we tend to talk about ourselves.  We keep saying, "I."  I this and I that.  When I reflected, I realized that I have had this as one of my faults.  When I speak too much "I" one of two things happen.  People change the subject, or they tend to excuse themselves.  I talk all about me.  I am not into listening or asking about the other person or persons.  Seems there are a lot of "I" in this blog.  No wonder people don't read me.  But ladies, is this a problem with women too?  See, I am asking a question, ready to listen.  I can grow.  It is not too late.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Outcome

Someone said that they try not to get attached to the outcome.  I like that thought.  I run a race each year and when I finish I am unhappy with the outcome.  I fail to see all the good of the event.  I have the health to run.  The day was beautiful.  I see friends afterwards.  I enjoy a post race meal.  If the outcome is everything, then I might miss all the good and valuable things about an endeavor.  I am going to try to think "enjoy" instead of "produce" or "perform" or "impress."  Who is really watching?  My gosh!  You mean no one is thinking about me as the center of their universe?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Caffeine Pants

I cannot believe this one.  You buy clothes, probably tights, that have caffeine as part of the cloth.  Wear them and lose cellulite.  Clothes have some other things but the caffeine caught my attention.  Why cannot you drink coffee and lose cellulite from the inside caffeine?  Anyway, I think the product failed to deliver sufficiently.  But people did buy it!  So I am thinking of going into my own business and sell clothes that have "grace" in the weave, in my advertising.  You no longer need to get grace on the inside by prayer, worship or any effort to be nice.  You just buy my clothes and you have grace!  Die in my clothes and you go to heaven for sure.  Get buried wearing grace!  Beats plenary indulgences.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Girls Excluded

It seems some bishops said that girls and boys cannot compete in some of the same sports for modesty sake.  I assume this rule is because girls are in fact competing in such sports.  Girls would not be competing in these sports if they were not good enough to compete, I assume.  So, even though the girls are just as good as the boys, they are forbidden to be on the teams because they are girls, right?  I am ready to be otherwise enlightened, but I think this might be one more reason that some women drop out of the Catholic experience.  If the girl could kick a field goal better than any other boy in the school, why not last her play on the team?  Let the girl decide whether she feels safe playing in a contact sport with the boys.  By the way, my sister Maureen could out-wrestle me.

Monday, October 6, 2014


My friends, Steve and Maureen, have ben married enough years that they have a child of high school age and two a bit younger.  I saw them coming out of a breakfast place, his arm around her waist and her arm around his waist, just like sweethearts on a the morning!  I thought, "Wow!  Married people still do that after a bunch of years?"  See, I know nothing because some married people, when they come to me, their marriage is a wreck.  I guess that a celibate priest is a last resort.  Other couples seem to be married, OK, but I suspect that my friends, Steve and Maureen, don't just want OK.  The only way I know that some people are married is that they seem to be standing next to a child or children, like parents.  Steve and Maureen want to still be sweethearts.  I remember when my Dad would come home from work.  He and Mom would kiss in the kitchen as she stopped for a moment from making our dinner.  I was never embarrassed.  I was impressed.  Go Steve and Maureen!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reap What You Sow

This Opus Dei Bishop was removed from his post by the Vatican.  He complained that it was a conspiracy by the other prelates and the Vatican to remove him.  This is interesting.  Opus Dei relied on the Vatican power so that Opus Die could go into a country/diocese and do what it wanted, saying the Vatican trumps local church authority.  Except there is a new sheriff in town.  That is, we have a new pope.  He does not seem to have the back of Opus Dei.  What goes around comes around.  I have seen this in Corporate life.  A climber hitches himself to some rising star in the organization.  As his mentor rises, so does he.  But when the CEO changes, and the mentor loses favor/job, so does the fellow who hitches himself to his mentor.  Priests sometimes do the same thing with bishops.  Bishops are not forever.  Only God power is forever.  I try daily to hitch myself to God.  I am certainly not the power.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Drinking and Cancer

It seems that one study purports to show a connection between college student binge drinking and cancer.  This seems to have gotten some student's attention.  At their age, they still think they have control over consequences from drinking.  They won' drive and drink for instance.  They will binge on weekends so as to not miss tests or necessary classes.  They will endure hangovers as part of the fun, the cost of getting wild.  Cancer they cannot control.  Even if you think you are bullet proof, you know that you cannot control cancer.  You might even give the big "C" a boost by unhealthy living.  Anyway, it makes some of these young people pause and think.  When consequences get scary enough, change has a bit more power.

Friday, October 3, 2014


It seems that people are trending more against abortion and for gay marriage.  I sense that this might have something to do with the dignity of a person.  The fetus is being given more respect as being a person, a human being, equal to other human beings.  The gay/lesbian person is being given more respect as being a person equal to everyone else.  There are a lot of people who say this is becoming a heartless nation, with people caring only for themselves, with the loss of community, a lack of compassion for those who struggle for economic and social equality.  Well, maybe we are not so heartless as these people think.  What say you?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Coming Out

When I walk down the street dressed in my clerical black clothes and priest collar, I am "coming out Catholic." When the priest sex scandal hit the news some dozen years ago, it was pretty tough to "come out Catholic" as a priest.  I thought people were looking at me, wondering if I was one of "them," and safe to be around.  Some places I simply do not want to come out Catholic because I don't want to get into some long conversation.  Airplane travel would qualify.  I want my alone time.  In some ways though it is easier for me to come out Catholic because I have a distinct outfit. I don't have to say anything.  If you are a lay person and you are in a group that is trashing your church or God, do you pipe up with, "Well, I am Catholic," or whatever church, synagogue, mosque, ashram you belong to?  Lots of people just keep it to themselves.  Coming out is difficult in lots of areas, not just religion.  Yet, I have met many a person who changed their opinion of some group based upon someone they met/liked/related to, who came out  as being part of that group.  Much prejudice comes from not really knowing anyone in the group you are downgrading.   If you are an alcoholic in recovery, you are supposed to come out to other alcoholics to identify yourself and gain credibility if you are going to be helpful.  If you are going to do road rage or tailgating, or cut someone off for a parking spot, I hope you don't have any car stickers that say you are a Catholic!  We have enough people leaving my church as it is.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Adam's Rib

The Genesis idea in the bible is that a woman comes from the man's rib.  A rib is strong. It protects the heart.  It is near to the heart.  The rib protects other vital organs.  The rib does not work alone.  There are other ribs.  Ribs work together.  Strong. Protects.  Heart.  Communal.  Relational.  Hmm.  I am getting an insite here.  Help me ladies!  Without ribs, man is in a whole lot of trouble!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Peace Of Mind

A guy who smokes dope and I have a common interest: peace of mind.  His way is chemical and mine is a spiritual practice of silence, solitude, meditation, reading and right action with others.  I have found that my way gives me energy to focus on living with compassion, rather than self-centered behavior.  I am not sure about the results of the chemical peace of mind.  Since I do not walk that path, I cannot make a judgment about it.  Experience has so far told me that my path is the only one that works for me.

Monday, September 29, 2014

God Giving

I read where God is generous.  I sometimes miss the sheer enjoyment of this.  I am trying too hard to negotiate something with God.  I forget that God does not think like me.  God gives love, mercy, forgiveness and more.  I don't earn any of this.  It is just God being God.  I have trouble accepting this Godness.  I have to do something to get love, mercy and forgiveness.  If you want my forgiveness, you had to shape up first.  Too often, this is my attitude.  I am glad that God is not like me in my moments of quid pro quo.  Today, let us try and just enjoy God's love and all that goes with it.  Maybe it will help us be a little more like God?  One can only hope.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Women and Male Athletes

I think that sports teams are scrambling to get players to treat women with respect.  Don't objectify them.  Don't see them as sex objects for your pleasure.  Don't make looks everything.  Well, take a look at the cheerleaders for these teams.  It is pretty loud and clear what women are to male sports events.  I think our treatment of women is learned behavior.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Balance

Someone told me that acceptance does not mean approval.  I am working on that.  It sticks with me which is usually a sign that I need to focus on an issue.  Driving around town today, bicycle riders without helmets taking chances on the road, drivers on cell phones going minus miles per hour, lack of parking in the shopping area, and not finding the things I went to buy in the store, makes for a good chance to work on "acceptance not meaning approval." Don't move to Boulder.  Lots of acceptance  issues here.  Some days I am overwhelmed.  Is that why people smoke dope here?

Friday, September 26, 2014


I watched the PBS weeklong documentary on the Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor and extended family.  I realized that I knew nothing or very little about Teddy for sure and the others as well.  I thought I knew history.  Guess not.  I was beginning to feel a bit uneducated, when I read Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13.  He says there that love is more important than knowledge.  I feel better.  I may be uneducated, but I do try to love.  So whenever you feel a bit diminished for whatever reason, ask yourself if you are loving today.  When I am loving, I am happier.  When I am simply accumulating knowledge but not loving, I don't feel quite so good, except in my ego which cannot seem to sustain any happiness.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

All The Same

A good coach, bishop, CEO, leader does not try to make all the people in their charge to be the same.  A healthy company, team, church is like a body.  It has different parts.  They are meant to be different but work in some fashion for a common goal.  In the church I belong to it is "The Kingdom of God."  Without the women religious doing all their various outreach ministries, we are not the body we need to be to manifest the Kingdom.  We need our nuns to do things that the rest of us cannot or won't do.  Go Sisters!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


My friend Michelle, works in an office down the hall from me.  Sometimes her door is almost closed, just a tiny bit open.  She is important around here with an important title.  I wonder if she is doing something important and does not want to be bothered by anyone.  But what if she is miserable and lonely and hungry and in a down mood, while doing something important?  What to do?  I am feeling playful.  This sometimes is my job description when everyone else is grinding out work.  So I take my bag of M&Ms and an empty bowl.  I walk down the hall to just outside her office door.  I pour the candy into the bowl so you can hear each M&M hit the bowl.  Then I put the bowl on a counter top.  Very soon, Michelle opens her door and comes out.  M&Ms trumps important work every time.  At least I have found it so.  Let the play time begin!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I used to not like saying weekday mass.  I was a priest who did not like saying mass!  I was too important for that.  I had a lot of important stuff to do.  As I got older I began to like saying mass more. I discovered that I was not so important.  Actually, I was the last to know.  People who put up with me in those earlier years surely got a lot of days off from purgatory.  I used to try to be loved by being important.  I now fit very well with what I do because my work is not earth shattering important.  I am not changing the church, society, or the culture.  Yes, I did have big ideas.  I accept not being important.  I am at ease with it.  I am working on "being ignored" now.  I find that I am not so much being ignored, but that I am isolating.  It is important to have some solitude, and personal time and space, but for me that easily slip into isolation.  I am working on that each day.  My list of "who has ignored me today" is much shorter than it used to be.  My list of "who did I approach and say hello to," is a bit longer.  So far, I don't think I bothered anyone's solitude.  How are you doing on "isolation?" "Self-importance?"

Monday, September 22, 2014

Not Much

Sometimes people ask me what I do here, wherever here is at the moment.  I often answer, "As little as possible," or, "Not much."  Most people don't know quite where to go with that.  People seem to relate early on based upon what someone does.  In the scheme of things, it is quite a bit more true than false, that I don't really do much.  I have no administrative power, vague job description, and outside of "priest' I have no title.  My business card makes me smile with its exaggeration.  I would like a card to say, "A sober man of prayer who gives candy to adults."  There is a lot of work to keep even that up.  Adults really like candy!  Anyway, I am a full time job for me.  Imperfection isn't easy.  What is your job description?  The real one.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Snail Mail

I wrote 90 letters this summer.  Many of them were "thank you" for things people did or are doing.  There are so many people I have not written yet, but 90 was a good start.  I planned it.  I would write a certain number of cards each day.  It meant I did not do something else.  It became a priority, something like writing a blog.  The last couple of weeks I wrote most of the teachers at our local grade school.  Some have no idea who I am outside of a priest in residence.  So what?  Spread a little joy.  Thank people for being here and doing their teaching ministry.  Maybe someone got a letter from me when they were having a bad day, and it lifted them up.  Maybe I am old fashioned, but I believe snail mail is more powerful than ever.  It helps me to work on my penmanship too.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Friends Are Dying

One of the things people my age share is that friends and relatives are dying.  For the bullet proof young, I suggest that you not put off getting in touch with good friends and relatives.  "I should call."  "We should get together."  "I wonder how so and so is doing?"  Why let the bucket list of significant people get so long?  It is sad when someone tells me that they regret not having contacted an old friend/relative, sooner, who has since passed away.  What a sadness to find out that someone you cared about died, and no one told you.  Regrets are difficult and burdensome things to carry around when your friends are dying around you.  Why wait until people are dead to say nice things about them, since you cannot say nice things to them, their being dead and all.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Poor

A fellow who is poor, jobless and uneducated, by his own admission, told me recently that he laughs every time he hears some do gooder say that the poor need good education and good jobs.  He said that he was never interested in either.  The image he used is vitamins.  He said that he was told early on that he needed to eat vitamins and not junk food.  He did not like vitamins.  He preferred junk food.  He now gets along with government aide, begging, and church aide.  He has his smoke and drink, and it is enough.  He does not see himself as a "have not" guy.  We who have education, jobs, and such, think that everyone would want this, but just were not given the resources or the chance.  They were "deprived."  Though this is certainly so, it is not universal.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bail Money

A nun helps people get bail to get out of jail.  She lends them money from a fund that was started years ago.  The fund is not yet empty.  You call her direct to voicemail and leave a message.  She goes and interviews each person in jail to see if she thinks they are a good risk.  She has been doing this for years.  Anyone in the hierarchy doing this?  I don't know that the Holy Spirit is going to let a Vatican commission corral the USA Women Religious.  But what do I know.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Strong-willed is not the same as self-willed.  There can be people who have a strong will to overcome obstacles in order to do what they think is just, to fulfill potential, or a calling.  I have met women who are strong-willed.  They are not going to let institutions, society or groups give them some second class status.  Their motives are to make the world, their environment, those around them better by their efforts.  This is not self-implosion.  It is not all about them.  On the other hand, I have met people who are what I call self-willed, and it has run riot over everyone and everything to get what these people want for themselves.  No one is better for their efforts.  It is all about themselves with the oder of selfishness.  So, what will power is working your life today?  So far, I am being good, but the day is only half over.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Church Renewal

I read about a group of "experts" in parish renewal who came together in a conference to talk about what was wrong with parishes, and why people were leaving or not attending much.  The focus was on the laity.  People needed to be on fire for Christ and then the parish would build.  Well, I have another take on this.  I meet few people who said they got malaise or dropped out because no one was on fire for Christ.  They left because the preacher was ill-informed, uneducated, insulting, boring, prejudicial toward women among other groups, and so on.  Maybe we need a conference for the preachers, but once the the poorly formed ones get out of the seminary, they think they know it all.  I was a bit like that once.  I probably drove a few out, but fortunately, those ladies in Houston, Texas did a nice job of kicking my butt gently.  They were my priestly formation.  Boulder, San Francisco, Knoxville built on it.  I might be slow to listen or change, somewhat willful to say the least, but graced people kept coming into my life to save me from myself.  I am still on a slow learning curve.  I might not burn.

Monday, September 15, 2014

People Are Funny

I went to a meeting on a topic I thought would be interesting.  It was in a big room that swallowed up the 21 people there.  I found myself thinking that this topic must not be so interesting because "no one" is here.  Then I recalled that I had been in another town at another meeting that I thought would have an interesting topic.  It was held in a small room.  It was packed!  There were 21 people or thereabouts.  I thought the packed meeting very interesting.  People are funny.
     When I go to my exercise club, I try to park as close to the entrance as I can so I don't have to walk so far.  Then I get on a treadmill for exercise, or an elliptical machine.  Why do I not just park far away at the end of the parking lot and walk the length of the lot for exercise?  People are funny.
     A fellow told me that he was going to a group therapy meeting that was free, but the gasoline was costing him about $30/week going back and forth.  I asked him if he was making friends at the meeting.  He said yes.  I asked him if he felt better from these meetings.  He said yes, but was thinking of stoping because of the drive.  I asked him, if I told him about a therapist nearby who would make him feel better, would he be interested?  He said sure.  I told him it would cost $60 a week.  He thought that was a good deal for a therapist that would help him.  And he would not make any friends in the therapist's office.  People are funny.