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.