Friday, February 28, 2014

Shopping For Spirituality

You can deny that there is a God, but you cannot deny the interior life.  If you don't have some meditation, some walks in nature without your electronic devices, some quiet time with yourself, you will shop.  The secular world, through advertising, knows there is an interior life, and tries to sell us on shopping.  Get more stuff.  Why else would we buy things we really don't need?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Growing Holy

I have a friend who used to do contemplative prayer on a regular basis, but has now become a full-time hands on grandmother, nanny.  She loves her family life now, but it absorbs her time that she used to give to silent prayer in solitude.  Being all in for love of others is prayer too.  It is quite transforming prayer, whereas the efforts at silence and stillness can serve self-absorption.   Why do you not read books about my friend's new-found spirituality?  Because people like her are too busy loving, to sit down and write a book.  Not too many full-time grandmas writing books!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I have a friend who prays each morning for God to help his unbelief.  But my friend is a very kind and helpful person, quite selfless.  I have met people who say that are full of faith, but are quite self-absorbed.  Jesus seemed to emphasize "follow me."  He was kind and helpful, quite selfless.  Go figure.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Modernism II

If you read the first blog on modernism from a few days ago, you might begin to see its comeback in the seminary today.  Lots of young priests want clear catechism answers.  They love the logic of objective truth.  No need to soul search for glimpses of God.  God is clearly in God's place, and you know where that is.  God has all the answers and gives them to you through the hierarchy.  What a great life free of anxiety and ambiguity.  It isn't real, but a lot of us live lives that are not real.  Are we not consumers of things that clearly define us?  We have become our "stuff!"

Monday, February 24, 2014


My recently deceased friend, Barbara, is already looking out for me from beyond her death.  I came back to Boulder for three days in order to preside at her funeral.  I arrived to find mice in my room, and things were a mess.  They ate my chocolate.  Had I come back to Boulder in a month from now, my original plan, the mice would have done so much more damage.  Apparently, they have been in the house since October, but not upstairs.  No resident or worker did anything about it. Whimps!  I, being a monk on a ranch each summer, knew what to do.  I attacked.  I trapped five mice the first night.  Eat my chocolate, you die mice.  I will be away again for another month.  I pray to St. Barbara that the mice will do me no more damage.  We will see.  It is nice to have friends in high places though.  I hope there is no patron saint for mice.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Good Grief!

I returned to Boulder after being away for about 5 weeks.  Power bar wrappings and candy wrapper undone in my room by a mouse that I saw and hear behind the bookcase.  Droppings in my slippers and other places on bookshelves.  New carpet in my office, but everything is moved around and not back in place.  Can't find a thing.  No Thomas' English muffins.  These are all signs that it is time for me to hit the road.  The exterminator will have the room to himself, as will the office cleaner.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


The world has always existed.  You say no?  You say the world had a beginning in time?  Silly.  Before the world began, there was no time.  There cannot be time before time.  So, time and the world began together.  Ergo, the world has always existed, for to exist, is to exist in time.  Ah, you say, this is wrong, because God, if there is one, existed before time.  No silly.  God is beyond time.  So what has this to do with your getting to work on time, not running out of yogurt, or a cell phone charge?  Nothing.  I am just being a smarty pants!

Friday, February 21, 2014


The reason that contemplative prayer is suspect goes back to the 1907 controversy called, "Modernism."  Briefly, in reaction to Kantian thinking (ain't I high falutin'), The church gave us Neo-Scholasticism.  OK, so this is not so brief.  The church said there are objective truths which we can know, unchanging and forever.  Read your catechism.  Kant said we need to focus on the subject, the person, who receives the truth.  Each person has their own filter based upon experience, culture and such.  With the church, you can know God objectively.  No relativism here.  With Kant, you can only know God through your filter.  You can only tell people about the God of your experience. The church says you just teach the catechism. Kant would say the catechism is a filter.  Finally, contemplative prayer says you know God by letting go of thoughts and concepts, that is, put down the catechism.  The whole 20th century growth in contemplative interest is because the church tried to shove down our souls, Neo-Scholasticism.

Species Survival

I have heard it said that it is a natural desire for a species to survive.  Oh?  I think that addiction trumps natural instinct.  Ecology tells me so.  Our species know what it needs to do in order to stop destroying the planet.  But we don't do it.  In medieval times, when people discovered what they were doing wrong, such as sewerage, they began to correct it.  They responded to new knowledge.  We do not.  We are addicted to something else that we seek though it destroys the planet.  I am sure that it was a pain in the neck for medieval people to change for survival, but they did it.  And we say that the the modern world is more advanced?

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I want to be happy.  But I may not always know what will make me happy.  I do know what I want.  Prayer is part of my path through this maze.  I present to God what I want and ask God to reveal to me if it will make me happy or not.  If I am praying regularly, to include some "friendship" meditation time with God, I think that I will be moving in the direction of happiness.  Happiness is not always feeling good.  That is a short term thing.  Happiness is not always getting what I "want."  I am too flawed to follow my wants, unaided by God.  Even if you don't believe in God you might try this.  If you are consistently unhappy, what have you got to lose?

Say What?

I just reread yesterday's blog.  Even I had trouble figuring out whatever I was trying to say.  Good grief!  So in a nutshell:
You feel lonely.  Your solution is to get drunk.  Now you feel lonely, but with a hangover.  Bad feeling>bad solution>worse feeling.  Fortunately, hardly anyone read yesterday's blog.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


A problem with addiction to something such as drugs, power, money, control, attention, sex, is that when we seek it as part of our addiction, it is an effort to be rid of some feeling or situation.  We want something to change, such as being in a bad mood, or anxious, fearful, and we want this to go away.  The addiction makes for short-term change but then leads to a different bad feeling or scene.  One does not so much seek attention as one seeks attention to change something else.  The same with drugs, money, sex when they are addictive.  One becomes a control freak addict because to not be, is just too uncomfortable.  Yet, something else, equally as bad or worse will take the place of whatever we are escaping through efforts of control.  How to escape this madness?  Completely change your life, beginning with the insides.  Free will won't do it.  You are too hooked.  Only a spiritual path can do it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why Me?

I have been in this Florida parish for only three weeks now, and people are already asking me to stay.  I recall that Jesus was popular at first too.  Look how he ended up.  Anyway, these people have a very good pastor and vicar, so I am not really needed here after the busy season is over.  Yet I don't know what it is they like about me.  My homilies are very short, one point, and not very deep at all.  I wish I were better, which would be longer too, but deeper.  I thought that I was going to become brilliant with age.  Age has come.  Brilliance, where are you?  It is nice to be liked while waiting for brilliance.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Free Will

I heard this one today.  "What good is free will if you have diarrhea?"  Think about it.  We make a big deal about being given freedom to choose.  Maybe we are not so free as we think.  I know I am not.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

All Of Me

When I say that I have God within me, I mean, the Presence, the Spirit.  We Catholics believe that God added a human body to this Spirit that we all have.  But when I sit with God or pray to God, I don't have this body.  Part of God is missing, the body part.  When I receive the host, called the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, I get all of God.  The Eucharist is the way that God can give everything of God.  I have a body too.  Do I give everything to God?  To be honest, I hold back even though God gives all.  But honesty is a start.  It keeps me in reality.  To say that I give God my all, when I don't, is to be out of touch.  Every time I receive the host, I can ask myself how much of me does God get back?  I would rather not wait until death to give God my all.  Could be a bit late.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Benedict XVI

One year ago, Benedict XVI retired. It was an historic event.  Now some liberals get on Benedict for things before he was pope and maybe during his reign.  But think of this.  Benedict might have wanted to change things in the Vatican, but knew he was too old to bring it off in his time.  If he retired, the chances were good that Cardinal Broglio would get elected and have a few good years to shift things.  So it seems to be happening, for the better…if you are a liberal, that is.

Friday, February 14, 2014


There are some people who are not sending the Pope a Happy Valentine card today.  These are the very conservative people who think the church is way off base and has been for some time.  I used to hear that these people wanted a smaller and purer church.  Get rid of all the liberals, and modern thinkers.  Many liberals obliged and left.  So we got a bit smaller if not purer.  Now the radical right may leave.  We will get smaller still.  I think that I will hang in there anyway and see who survives change.  Happy Valentine's Day Pope Francis I.

God Hates Me?

Why does God hate me?  At this moment, it is colder in Vero Beach, Florida than in Boulder, Colorado or San Francisco, California.  God is not showing me the love on Valentine's Day.  It is God's fault when I don't get what I want from Mother Nature.  Blame God.  But then again, the people in Boulder are happy with no snow, and warmer weather than they had been getting.  I guess God cannot make everyone happy at the same time.  So how to be happy while "freezing" in 41 degree temperatures?  Maybe, I might try to have a warm heart.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  Oh!  It is getting warmer already…on the insides.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Florida Cold

It is amazing how we change the standard for happiness.  Here in Vero Beach it has gone below 65 degrees and a cold wind comes in from the North.  We are all suffering.  In Boulder, Colorado, we would be rejoicing in this break from the cold.  In San Francisco we are rejoicing because it is raining.  We have been in a drought out there.  I believe that expectations influence our feelings of misery or joy.  In Florida we expect warm.  Our closets have shorts and tee shirts.  Misery begins below 60 degrees, including wind.  in Boulder, happiness is anything above freezing, and we have clothing to get through the expected sub freezing temperatures.  In San Francisco, sun is no good for residents.  Only tourists want sun now in California.  The same people live side by side.  One is happy.  One is not.  Expectations separate them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Hey, United Nations!  Why are you picking on us for being backwards and outdated in our theology.  You have gone too far.  If we want to be outdated and backwards, that is ours to do.  We call it "Tradition."  So, yeah, slavery and usury used to be on the list, but they became too outdated if not inconvenient.  God moves in strange and mysterious ways.  We do too, only a lot more slowly than even God.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I wonder why some Catholics pray so much and work so hard to get souls out of purgatory, who probably earned their place there, but ignore doing anything for the living poor who did nothing to be poor, except be a casualty of trickle down economics that never really trickled down.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

He was a Catholic.  It figures.  He was able to get inside the person who suffers, is marginalized, persecuted, and isolated.  Jesus knew how to touch these people.  They both could connect.  Hoffman never would have made it as the swashbuckling hero, like a John Wayne.  Hoffman played real people, with whom we could identify, if we were brutally honest with ourselves.  I never could get into Rooster Cogburn with the eye patch in the western.  Oh. John Wayne became a Catholic on his deathbed.  Had he lived, I think he would have told his agent to get real.  Real can be tragic.  Hoffman had his demons.  Don't we all?  Constant vigilance is what I know.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


A lot of conservative Catholics have problems with the Pope.  He is too much like Jesus and not enough about rules and laws.  Rich people don't like that stuff about how it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich person to get into heaven.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Final Generation

Here in Vero Beach, Florida, the weekday attendance is about the same as a weekend mass in Boulder, Colorado.  This is the last generation that goes to daily mass.  Florida is filled with Catholics who are retired.  They were brought up in a church that has vanished.  When this generation dies, churches will be pretty empty.  The children of these people don't have the same stuff to go to daily mass when they might retire, if they can ever retire.  Even if the church goes on an evangelization binge with some success, daily mass is a dinosaur.  A couple of times a month would be "regular" attendance.  The only people I know who are on a spiritual path with daily attendance, are in AA.  No mediocrity there.  Most church people younger than 50 have little hunger and have not known the darkness the way an addicted person has.  There is something to be said for a messy life, if you don't die before the light comes on.  Anonymous miracles are everywhere.

Friday, February 7, 2014


A UN report says that fertility rates are down.  There seems to be some alarm.  You want more people?  We cannot feed the ones we have.  Plus, governments seem to want more people but do not want to do the hard work to make a better economy so that people would feel there is a chance for a good life if they have children.  If you want to have more children born into the world, it seems to me you have to work for programs and economies that give them a chance after they come out of the womb.  Women are not so stupid.  They see the hypocrisy.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Light

Sometimes I light a candle to ask God for something.  Fine.  It is part of my tradition.  But sometimes, I need to be the candle, and become a light for someone else.  Always asking but never giving makes for a dark and selfish world.  I have found it so.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I belong to various communities, associations, clubs and such. I have never found one in which everyone else is just like me.  If I am in a room or place where someone says or does something I don't like, I don't quit or leave.  Someone else might say or do something that is really helpful to me.  Also, I join some groups to be of service, to get out of myself, to learn acceptance and tolerance.  My church can do some pretty weird things, but why should I leave?  Other people do some wonderful things in the same church.  I make friends. I help someone.  If I just join for what I can get out of it, I would be a hermit, a recluse, an angry old man.  Good grief!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I have a personal interest in Atlanta's debacle with its 2+inches of snow.  I have been trying to get there for three days and three flight cancellations.  What can I learn from all this?
1. Don't whine.  Be thankful I am not the Governor of Georgia.
2. I have no control over the weather.  Acceptance
3. Do what I can do in changing reservations and then light a candle. Wait
4. Try to be of use.  It is better than worrying and does more good in this case
5. Anger won't get me to Atlanta any faster than serenity, but will be more painful, to me and surely to others.
6. Laugh.  I am in San Francisco, not Georgia.  Suffering is easier here than there.
7. Ask God to send the snow out here since Georgia does not know what to do with it and we are in a drought.
By the time you read this, I hope to be working in Florida.  I need to avoid Debtor's Prison.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Southern Snow

It is snowing in Atlanta.  A lot!  I am supposed to fly through there tomorrow.  I am anxious, thinking worse case outcomes.  Why be anxious?  I cannot control any of this weather.  It is not in my hands.  Better to spend my energy thinking about why I decided to fly there in the dead of winter.  Decisions I make bring me to unexpected situations.  The snow is not mine to control.  The decision was.  My decision relied on a very nice clear day in Atlanta.  Sometimes, I play God but without the God power.  Then I get upset when things don't work out "as planned."  I ought to be praying for more sensible decision choices rather than better weather.  But being Irish Catholic, I will be praying for good weather to suddenly show up in Atlanta tomorrow.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sport Challenged

Someone remarked about the Super Bowl, "Who Cares."  I know that he dislikes sports and loves opera.  So I told him that 108 million people will be watching the game, and that is a whole lot more than watch opera.  Now I like opera too.  Just because I cannot sing an aria, does not mean I would hate opera.  Yet, I have met many a person who dislikes sports either because they cannot or did not ever play or because they had some bad experience from others when it came to sports.  We really narrow our world down when we write something off simply because we cannot do it ourselves or we cannot get over childhood immaturity from our classmates.  Just because you have God issues does not mean that religious people are idiots.  Tolerance and acceptance can be doors to a bigger world of experience.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Jesus did not say, "Get Baptized."  He said repent, that is, get a new life, change the way you are living, attitudes, motives, actions, and priorities to say the least.  Some people think, "Get baptized and be saved."  Sorry, but that is only step one, if it is that.  Ever look at the 12 step programs?  Step one is the only step that brings up the addiction, such as food, sex, booze, drugs, gambling or whatever.  The other eleven steps are about change.  Get a life, a new one, because the one you have got you where you are and that is not such a good place.  The addicted know this.  The "Saved" are still clueless.