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.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Walking Into A Room Full Of People

There are several ways I walk into a room full of people, most of whom I do not know, on some social occasion.
1. "These people are all ignoring me."  That is, they are actively not thinking about me.  I am such a focus that they have to work at ignoring me.
2. "This is a room full of competent grown ups and I don't fit."  Suddenly I have no social skills for such grown-ups.  I am a child or a student in a room full of smart, competent people, better read, more interesting than I could ever be.
3. "Everyone is thinking about me."  This comes especially when I am in my clergy cloths.
The reality is that many people have these and other like thoughts when they enter this same occasion.  Just look at how people down the alcohol, or maybe they did some of that and a pill, drug, before coming in.  To avoid giving my crazy mind any space for weirdness, I general go up to someone right away and introduce myself.  It is amazing how many people forget to tell me their name.  I ask about them, and do not focus on myself or why I am there.  It is amazing  how many people I meet this way who are having social skill issues at that very moment.  Would that there were an event in which everyone said what they were thinking when they entered such a room.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Wrong Fit Thinking

I am right size successful, right size famous, and right size important.  But there are days, or moments when my mind gets caught in some weird groove.  It goes like this: "I am a failure.  Everyone else is more successful and competent than me.  I don't get enough recognition for being wonderful."  So what is my solution to this crazy thinking?  A crazy solution, of course.  I do things that focus on my self-importance and popularity.  I might be doing some kindness, being generous and helpful, but my focus is on me and my self-implosion.  It is tricky stuff.  So, I try to examine my motives each day, at the moment I am doing "good" or at night before I go to bed.  "Why am I doing this?" I ask myself.  If the energy comes from a love for others, that is, I am getting out of myself, then the task or work has a certain lightness and joy about it, even if it is a bit difficult otherwise.  If the motive is all about my momentary crazy thinking, then the effort brings out a certain resentment in me or a hurrying to get it done and get onto the next "kind" act.  Be glad that you are selflessly loving all the time.  You are, aren't you?  Could there be people like me out there?  I am not alone!  Honesty sometimes makes the best of friends.  Together, we can laugh at ourselves.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Failure's Timetable

Someone came to me and said that they were now over 50 and their life had become a failure.  Why do we have a timetable for when life "becomes" a failure?  I asked the person if they thought their life was a failure at 15, or 30, or 40?  They said no.  They still had hope, plans, and some optimism.  All these things apparently had a shelf life of 50 years.  It is called expectations.  Some of us run out of expectations and replace it with failure.  However, God's hope, love, grace and patience with us has no shelf life.  God's plan for us, for who we can become does not end with our turning 50 or 60 or whatever.  I just met a follow who is 76.  He is full of compassion, kindness, good works and helpfulness.  He feels his life is full with the power of God at work in him.  He has been sober for 20 years, which means that he was a bit of a nasty drunk until he was 56.  Had he killed himself, the community would not have experienced all the good he has done.  So, even when you give up hope, God does not.  If you see your life as a failure, that is your opinion.  God has a second opinion.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Timely Grace

Grace overwhelms me in its timeliness.  God is at work.  Recently, I was the Saturday confession priest.  I was in one of those narlie moods, unfit to offer much compassion and love.  Fortunately, the first half hour of confessions did not extend my few spiritual resources at the time.  Then there was a lull.  The confessional was cold, a ready excuse to be out of sorts.  I went home to get my heating pad and woolen prayer shawl.  I came back and got comfy in the confessional.  Still a lull.  I settled into a quiet time of deep stillness and silence.  Mood changed.  Grace arrived.  Then a women came to confession who needed lots of compassion, kindness, patience and a listening ear.  I was on my "A" game!  God was a work through me.  She left comforted.  She seemed to know who I was.  Then  someone came face to face.  She was a beautiful young girl.  She needed the same compassion, etc, and just the right words to help her.  Her good looks did not distract me.  God again worked through me.  After these two confessions, I realized what a gift it is for me to be a priest if I can be open to God's power, God's grace.  It is totally unearned.  I am as much of a mess as anyone who comes to confession.  God uses me.  If I were God, I would use someone more perfect.  I am work for God.  Are you not amazed at times at the good you do in spite of yourself, your shortcomings and sheer humanness?  I am.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Being ignored should not destroy your self-esteem.   Recently, I returned to Boulder and the pastor was away.  He usually puts a very good article in each of the weekly bulletins.  It was decided to put in something I had written.  I thought it was a great, insightful, and helpful piece.  Some depth even.  I waited for a response on the weekend of that bulletin.  I said nothing to call attention to the article.  I was practicing being a humble monk, of course.  No one has yet said anything.  My ego is not crushed however.  The monastery takes care of that.  I simply tell myself, that what I do is done for the glory of God.  This is very Jesuit.  God is pleased with my effort.  The results or reviews are not up to me.  This very blog could be pious drivel to you, but I am doing it for God's glory.  It is the best I can do at the moment.  You parents, grandparents, students, children (do children read this stuff?), workers, exercisers, God is pleased with the effort and the love you put into something.  If love had to wait for a "thank you'" there would be a lot less love in the world.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Joan Rivers

Why did she make me laugh, or at least smile and be bemused?  "You talking to me, Joan?"  Yes, she was.  She helped me to laugh at myself without becoming guilty or ashamed at my antics to stay forever young, or seem "together," to hide my secrets.  I wish more clergy could help us to laugh at our humanness, rather than load us with feeling badly about ourselves.  Joan had a bit of the saint in her, in that she helped me to see my silliness.  When I try to ignore or avoid the inevitable aging process, it really is silliness.  St. Therese of Lisieux called it silliness when she referred to the faults and shortcomings of our delusional life.  It is a gift to speak the truth and help people to take it in with some laughter.  Joan did not laugh at me.  She laughed with me.  Hey, don't I make you laugh sometimes?  I could have a bit of the saint in me.  Could Maureen be wrong?  I won't burn!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dropping The Solution

I saw someone recently who struggled with an addiction problem.  They told me, " I went to recovery meetings, did what was suggested and now I feel better, so I don't feel a need to go anymore."  I thought about that decision in terms of my own life and solutions I have found to discomfort.  If I eat today and feel better, do I not eat tomorrow?  No, rather I have learned that it is good for me to eat every few hours, certain foods, so that I continue to feel better.  If I pray today and feel better for it, do I skip prayer tomorrow?  Do I wait until I feel miserable, barely able to cope, before I pray again? NO, unless I am insane or like feeling miserable.  I find that if I exercise today, but then skip it for a week, exercise will feel strange and be difficult.  So I exercise a couple of times a week, i.e. regular intervals.  I think if you are acting insanely, or with much disfunction, and then find a solution, why would you give up the solution when you feel better?  Maybe some insanity it never really cured, but only placed into remission?  Any insane people out there want to comment?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Left-handed Desk

When I started school, I was left-handed.  I still am.  Sister Mary Phillips did not try and change me.  Fortunately, our first grade desks were full desks, so that both a left or right handed person could work without having to distort their bodies.  Between Sister and the desk, I was given an early sense that left-handed was just fine.  This solid base of self-esteem allowed me to put up with the many desks that cottoned only to right-handed people in the upper classes.  I had to scramble to find one of the few if any user friendly left-handed desks.   Typewriters and early computer keyboards were not geared to me.  I had to adjust.  Thanks to Sister Mary Phillips and the first grade desks, I could accept a lot of reality as it later was presented to me.  May we all be a Sister Mary Phillips to the young and innocent who are the way God made them.  My big sister Maureen thought I was going to burn, but never because I am left-handed.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Love Of Self

Does God love drunks?  Yes, but drunks don't love drunks.  Instead of admitting that I don't love myself, the drunk pulls everyone else into their mess.  "No one loves me."  "God hates me."  Everyone else gets the blame and isolation soon follows.  So, you may not be a drunk, but if you find yourself isolating in defense of a hostile and uncaring world, you might ask yourself, "Do I love me?"  What if you are not sure?  I would then try and be helpful to someone(s) who wants help, or who may themselves be practicing or feeling isolation issues.  Does anyone do snail mail anymore?

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Medication

Religion can be a medication for bad feelings.  I have found it to be a wonderful medication, but it took me a while to figure out why it worked for me.  Many people leave religion because they are not feeling better.  They feel worse.  Many people don't mind a path that is a bit demanding and challenging if they are given some tools.  Many people are not lazy or looking for an easier softer way.   Religion stumbles when it delivers shame, guilt, condemnation, boredom and rules that make no common sense.  In many ways people take up their cross every day, and a lot more than the preacher in the pulpit.  What people want to know is how taking up the cross can be uplifting and lead to wholeness and holiness.  A good blog would help.  Tell me if you find one!  Be gentle.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


I read this and pass it on.  "Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past."  It stopped me in my tracks.  I need to live in today.  It is all I have.  If I get up in the morning and am resentful about some past event, I cannot focus on preparing for today, with hopes and needs.  Why do I dwell on the unchangeable yesterday?  This is not the same as talking to someone or doing something about a past situation in order to effect the future.   I sometimes hold onto forgiveness until someone changes or apologizes to me.  Neither of these things changes what happened in the past.  When I see forgiveness as having little to do with someone else's behavior, and a lot to do with me hoping for a better past, it becomes easier to forgive.  Forgiveness is about changing me and not someone else.  I might avoid a person or place, but I stop trying to change them to make me happier.  I might not forget.  Some of us Irish don't forget.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Theology Of The Body

This is a marriage theology that my church proposes.  The conjugal act is central to the renewal of vows to a faithful love.  Well, how about a different approach to the married body.  This body takes out the garbage, puts dirty dishes into the dish washer, empties the clean dishes and puts them away, hangs up clothes after taking them off or puts them into the hamper, puts down the toilet seat after using it, cleans up the sink after washing, helps make the bed, helps with laundry, and the list goes on.  Don't come with kisses and conjugal acts if you are otherwise self-imploded or clueless.  As marriage goes along, the conjugal acts become more infrequent.  My list is a daily way to renew the vows and be faithful.  But then I am a priest.  What do I know?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Salt And Pepper

We cannot live on salt and pepper.  These are condiments, meant to flavor the food.  We need the food, though condiments are quite yummy, and sometimes the food is not so yummy without a little added flavoring.  At times, I live a day without feeding my soul.  I attend to outside stuff, errands, tasks, and yes, trivialities.  This is like trying to live on condiments.  Prayer, reflection, time just for me to be a bit quiet and still, is the food I need each day.  Why do I starve myself some days?  Surely, you who read this blog early in the morning, are not going to try to get through your day on condiments and ignore the spiritual life?  I am going to pray right now, early, before I load up on the guilt and shame I just sent your way!

Monday, September 1, 2014

The reward

I read an article where it was asked why so many priests are alcoholic.  I really don't know what "so many" is, but I have one idea why the drink is popular among the clergy.  In the seminaries of old, which were run a bit like monasteries, seminarians could not drink or smoke until they got ordained or reached some other level of seminary training.  Drink and smoke became the litmus test of "having arrived" which appeals to the male ego.  So new priests would drink and smoke as a right of passage or of having arrived at some completion.  This withholding of something as a reward does not go anymore  with drink and cigarettes, plus the screening is better in seminaries.  But if you are thinking of withholding something from someone, be it a child or adult, as a future reward for proper behavior, you might think about it.  The seminarians of old simply conformed on the outside to get the reward, ordination.  The insides were given much less attention.  There is a difference between not drinking, and sobriety.  One is behavioral.  The other, sobriety, is transformational.