Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Bronx

I will end this year with a thought on the Bronx, my beginnings.  The Bronx was a place of adventure for a child like me and my friends.  Outdoor play sometimes meant that we went exploring, but we always knew how to get home on our own.  We could be astonished at seeing something new or interesting in the Bronx, or even Southern Westchester County, but at the same time we felt at home in it, because we always could get back "home" on our own.  It was a great way to adventure on one's own, with friends, without having to tag along with adults to some distant place.  Children now don't so much go out to play, as they go on long car rides to places or fly to places and are kept in strict supervision by adults. I did not have to go to a movie to enter into some new world of the movie, while being safe in a theater.  My world was always real.  It did not need the movie or outside entertainment.  The Bronx had enough for me.  I could risk with safety, but risk nonetheless.  I wonder what I will risk in 2017?  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Music And Choreography

Tchaikovsky wrote the Nutcracker Suite music.  He did not control the dance routines, choreography. When his Nutcracker debuted in 1892, it did not go over well.  It was not the big success that it is today.  The music was great.  The dance, costumes, and scenery, not so much.  He needed some help from others in that area.  Eventually, all the other parts of the Nutcracker came together and you have what we see today around the Christmas Season.  Sometimes, a good idea needs help to bring out the best of it.  A choreographer cannot do much with bad music.  So the next time you work on an idea that you think is good, don't give up just because it does not go over well.  It may need some help.  Don't we all at one time or another?  We are all God's good idea, but we need help to bring out our best.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reaching The Child

If God came upon the earth as a baby, why?  Why not come as a fully grown powerful, brilliant hero type figure to fix things for the rest of us?  I think that it is because God wanted to reach children.  God came upon the earth as a baby because God wanted children to identify with God in their own little lives that need love, support and protection.  I think that Christmas is to help children to get the idea that God loves them just as they are, because God knows what is is to be a child.  As children grow up, this often gets lost in catechism, reformation wars about theology, interfaith proofs for the singular specialness of Jesus, and then lots of rules and regulations.  Christmas is a special time for children and the childlike.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


The Gospel of Matthew has a genealogy for Jesus, where he came from in his lineage.  All of us have a genealogy that goes back to beginnings, even of human existence.  What genealogy means to me is that there is some evolutionary plan to each of us coming along as we do, and there will be others after us.  Not me of course, because I am a celibate priest.  Wait!  That's it?  I am the end?  My sister Maureen would probably say, "Good," because then there would be no more brats and pests just like me.  No one has called me uniquely gifted, so maybe it is good for my line the end.  Enough about me.  Overall, genealogy means that there is some evolutionary unfolding from the beginning, that brought each one of us to birth.  So when you think you are nothing, realize that you are part of something much greater and more connected than you think!  You are not random and meaningless.  We are necessary parts of a chain.  If I am the last link on my chain, maybe this is part of an overall process.  Think the Pope will change his mind about celibacy?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Secrets To Happiness

Pope Francis gave a list for the recipe to happiness.  One of them was, "Respect those who think differently. The Church grows by attraction, not proselytism."  This sounds like something right out of a twelfth step program for happiness.  Institutional religions seem to have a problem with listening and accepting differences.  They fear "relativism."  Listening and accepting does not mean agreeing, but not listening or accepting often leads to strife, war, anger, and punishment by those in power over those who have less power.  The pope also added to his list, "Play with children."   This is what seems to give life to grandparents and the elderly as they age.  Pope Francis did not say to play with children all day every day, but rather as some regular part of your weekly life.  Playing with children is a way to "Give yourself to others," which is a third point in the pope's recipe for happiness.  The pope is 80 but he keeps going with plenty of energy.  Maybe his recipe for happiness has some truth?

Monday, December 26, 2016


It took a little three year old to remind Christians what Christmas is all about.  God really did become human, with the limitations of humans.  Here is the story.  A mom brings her three year old daughter up to the manger scene a few days before Christmas in church.  The manger is empty.  The three year old says, "Look Mommy, the manger is empty. Jesus is not there!"  The mom then proceeds to explain all about how Jesus does not come until Christmas Day.  It is a bit too theological for the child and misses the point of awe.  The three year ignores her mother's explanation and says," Oh, I know.  Jesus had to go potty."  She got it.  The gospels are all about what goes on between potty breaks.  Jesus does not seem human like you and me in the gospels.  Humanness is all about limitations and human necessities.  If God is willing to be human, why do you have problems with your own limitations.  You and I are not God.  Acceptance of our limitations and those of others makes for more peace on earth and good will to all.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


The big problem with God becoming a human being, as Christians tend to believe, is not that God did it.  It is that God did it outside of anyone's expectation or plan.  It is awfully hard to get someone to believe something that does not fit their plan of how things ought to be.  The Christian teaching is that God came as a baby, to poor people, in a stable, in an out of the way town, in a backwater country.  No one could buy it.  But this seems to be so consistent with the way God operates.  I mean Moses was not prime time for representing God.  He was a fugitive, a shepherd, with a stutter, and God sent him to mighty Pharaoh? No wonder Pharaoh would not buy in.  I can only tell people on this Christmas Day what I believe.  It is God's job to deal with how people respond, since God seems to decide to act in such unexpected ways.  Merry Christmas.  Be open to the unexpected.  God is funny that way.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


The precursor of Morning and Evening News was the Monastic Life!  Yes.  Before television, many people would greet the morning light with some prayer, called Morning Prayer.  I suspect some farmers and ranchers still do that.  In the evening, after it got dark, pre-electricity, needed for TV, people would say an evening prayer and review the day, sometimes called an examination of conscience.  We got all this from the monastic life of praying according to the light and darkness as we greeted God who gave us the light, and then said goodnight with the darkness.  A lot of that has gone by the wayside, replaced with electricity and television and now on line computer time.  With the old time prayer cycle we stayed in our own world, the real world.  With television and now computers, we stay in someone else's world.  I still try to tune into God.  This puts me behind on who won some sport game.  But it also keeps me from escape.

Friday, December 23, 2016


Breathing is a gift.  I don't make breathing or create breathing.  I just breathe.  When I eventually stop breathing it won't be because of my effort or control.  But I can maximize my breathing as in when I jog.  On a cold or windy day or just a day when I am not feeling all that excited about running, I start out rather slowly.  The effort is minimal.  I begin to think that I will have the slowest run of my life.  But at some point I begin to feel better and then for a while I give it my all.  The pace may be slow, but the effort is what counts.  Most of the time I cannot control the pace or speed with which I run, but I can maximize my effort and that is what makes a good run for me.  The results are the results.  I am only in control of the effort.  It is the same with life.  I do not know how something will turn out, but I can control the effort I put into it.  I may start out willy nilly, but if I don't start out, then nothing is done.  Like breathing, I sometimes find that "starting out" is a grace.  Amazing and surprising things seem to happen after the starting out phase.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Pierced Ears

Did Mary have her ears pierced?  Who knows?  Most of the statues and paintings have her with a veil.  But my big sister, Maureen, said Mary had her ears pierced.  Maureen was my first theologian, so I tended to believe whatever she said about God issues.  Growing up went better that way.  But I did have problems with my Blessed Mother in heaven having pierced ears.  To me, back then, girls with pierced ears were Jezebel types, bad girls.  Movie posters had bad girls wearing ear rings in their pierced ears.  My Mom wore earrings but they were clip ons. Maureen had pierced ears.  I suspect now, years later, that she used Mary's ears as an excuse to get her own ears pierced so she could wear earrings.  I told Maureen, "If God wanted girls to have pierced ears, God would have made their ears with holes in them."  I called Maureen a "Jezebel."  That is when she told me that Jesus' Mother had pierced ears.  I was shocked.  What is heaven coming to?  My hope, and belief, was that when Jesus grew up, he healed up the holes in his mother's ears, so that she would go to heaven without pierced ears.  My faith was secure.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Santa Claus God

Someone told me that they had a Santa Claus God at one time.  Ask God for things and expect God to deliver on schedule, that is, fulfill your expectations.  Then this person learned to forget themselves, or at least not to be so self-focused, and began to give of themselves to others.  This person than found that they became happier in giving.  Maybe this is why Santa seems to be so happy, or jolly, as the jingle goes.  Santa is a giver.  God is a giver too, but not much for self-centered people who emphasize their own self-importance over against others.  So my friend has discovered.  Sometimes I find myself drifting into prayer to a Santa Claus God.  So this is a good blog for me.  What about you?

Blog Housekeeping

Most people who make comments to me about my blog come up as "anonymous."  But we aren't AA, so being anonymous may not be all that necessary.  But people tell me they don't know how to identify themselves when they make a comment.  So here is what you can do.  Below the daily blog is a comment box.  At the bottom of the box is something that says, "name."  Hit the arrow and a list of choices opens up.  Choose "Name/URL.  Then you can put in your name and I will get a better idea of who is reading my blog.  If you say nasty things, I will know to take you off my prayer list.
If you would like to read me, NOT in Facebook, for one reason or another, you can simply go to your search engine and type in and get the daily blog.  I suppose you could bookmark this blogspot.  I will have to ask my newly discovered blogmeister, Patty, who could be my new best friend since all I seem to be able to do is content and not tech stuff.  This housekeeping blog is going out thirty minutes before the regular daily blog today.  So look for another blog for today, if you got on before 4:00 AM Mountain time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Care Of The Sick

When it comes to caring for the sick, I am proud of my Catholic Church.  Back when medicine was rather primitive, and not very lucrative as a practice, Catholic women started what became hospitals.  Some started out with bringing the sick into their homes.  This example interested other women, and then they started hospitals.  There was not much secular interest in caring for the poor because there was no money to be made it such medical practice.  In our modern world, where medicine and caring for all kinds of sick people has become a big business, costing lots of money, the Catholic hospitals cannot stay in business.  Governments and corporate business, the johnny come lately ones, have gotten into the hospital business.  But the Catholic Church was there when no one else was, doing social justice.  I like that.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Post War

After WW II, Europe was a mess.  Many people were homeless and starving.  Governments had to be reformed, or formed anew.  What much of Western Europe decided is that free market capitalism, left to itself would not work for taking care of all the suffering people in the present.  But Europe did not want communism.  So they wanted some form of socialism to moderate Capitalism.  What to do?  Along comes the Catholic Church.  Europe decided that the model to use was the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church as a safety net, working with capitalism to build up the economies while caring for suffering humanity.  This was enacted before the Marshall Plan of 1948.  So, when we are kicking around the Catholic Church for its human blunders, it would be good to know history. Yes, we are human, but with a touch of the divine.  At its best, my church is quite good.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Suddenly, the number of people reading my blog has dropped by a lot.  Maybe I am washed up?  A person of little substance, tiresome over time.  People may have moved on, which is good for them if they are growing.  What to do?  Ah!  I will blog less and train more, doing doubles (two workouts a day, gym rat) to get into peak condition for my age.  Well maybe not.  That could lead to heart attack or injury.  Maybe move to a cave that has no internet.  Become a hermit.  No, that would be isolation for me.  Maybe God wants to teach me something about being ignored.  I will ponder this.

Start Ups

There was a woman named Crispina.  She was a martyr  and the Catholic Church said she was a saint, as martyrs tend to be in my church.  I love here quote when she was on trial for her faith before the Roman Proconsul.  She said, "A religion that inflicts torture on those who do not adhere to it is not a religion."  This was in the year 304.  Christianity was just in the "start up" phase.  Start up religion generally does not persecute.  But if they get powerful, and even control the government, then things tend to change, e.g. the Inquisition, and Religious Wars in Europe.  So it is probably good that religion not have such free reign.  But even within the religion, is it not a form of terror to tell someone that if they do a certain action, then they go to hell?  I mean, how do you know?  No religion is so powerful that it can tell God what to do.  My God may be powerful, but is not a terror God.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Not Like Me

Someone gave me a piece of advice that I have found helpful.  When I walk into a room of people and "judge" someone, or think someone to have little in common with me, I should try to go up and say hello.  Why?  The idea is that all people are wounded, including me.  I might find out something about myself through this other different person, that will help expand or deepen me.  I can learn something from hanging around people who I judge to be just like me, in my comfort zone, but this is still too narrow a group for a deeper growth.  Differences perceived can be great teachers.  I sometimes find out that the difference was only in my head, or heart.

Friday, December 16, 2016


I read that the root Latin word for obedience means "listening intently."  This makes sense to me.  How am I going to follow directions if I don't listen intently?  My ego driven self-centeredness will get in the way if I don't listen.  I think this is why meditation, prayer of listening, is recommended for all people who are trying to be on a spiritual path.  For believers who don't have this prayer of listening, their ego begins to play God and tells them what to do.  This gives religion a bad name and bad advertising.  It becomes a place where we find a lot of silliness being expressed as the will of God, when in fact it is simply self-will run riot.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Nature has seasons.  A tree, plant, flower and such have times when they blossom, bloom, sprout and grow, and then times when they seem to die or be dormant, barren.  Nature has its ups and downs.  So why not us too, since we are part of this universe. a species among species?  Cannot it be normal for us to have down times and up times, times of energy and times not so much?  Why does every day have to be an up day?  Why take drugs to feel better?  Why not just say it is a winter day for me, or a winter hour, and let it be or pass?  Just as nature needs these seasons to grow, maybe we do too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Immaculate Conception

In the Catholic Church we have this celebration of Mary being conceived without original sin.  It is a gift, right?  I mean you don't earn something like this.  So it made me think about gifts in general.  Do we not all have some gifts that we did not earn?  That seems to be the nature of gift.  In the Catholic thinking about Mary, she gets this free pass to grow up without having all the personality shortcomings of people like you and me.  When things don't go her way, she does not have an episode over it.  Maybe she has no plans that have to go a certain way.  Who knows?  The important thing for us, is that one day, in the bible story, an angel tells her that the gift has strings.  She is asked to be the mother of a baby savior but with no sexual relations.  Tough call.  Who would believe that!  Plus, she does not know how it will all work out.  Way over her head, but she is asked to take it or leave it, participate in God's work or not.  She says yes.  Now back to us.  We each enjoy unearned gifts, but at some point, like growing up time, we are supposed to use our gifts in service to make the world a better, or more whole (holier) place.  Believe in God or not, that is what gifts are for, not to be buried or misused.  A spiritual path allows us to not get in our own way, so that we can use or allow our gifts to be used for a better world.  So what are your gifts?  Don't know?  Ask a friend.  Don't ask your big sister.  I did that once, and she said I had no gifts and was useless.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cold Office

I got back to Boulder, Colorado with the air at a single digit number and snow falling.  No heat in my office?  Does God hate me?  Maybe, but that was not the reason for lack of heat.  It seems that someone at some point late last winter, felt that his office was too hot.  He does not spend much time in it.  So, as the rumor goes around, he turned off the valves in other offices so as to cut the heat off to his office.  I guess this is possible.  I know mediation not heat pipes.   When we tried to crank up the furnace to heat our offices, nada in the offices that had their valves turned off.  The valves have now been opened, and we have heat.  I am hoping that when this valve-turning-off person dies, he will have lots of heat for a very long time.  Oh! I forgot.  I am spiritually evolved.  Or maybe not, if I think this way.  I need some prayer that will turn on the spiritual juices of my heart so I will love wicked people.  But then, maybe it was all just a rumor.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Baseball Salary

I have problems with the idea of being paid for something that you did not do and may never do.  A professional baseball player signs a contract that says he will be paid a certain amount for the next several years.  The team wants stability and order, but this is really disorder waiting to happen.  There is no guarantee that the player will do the things for which he is guaranteed a "salary."  You don't really earn something, if you get the money no matter what you produce.  No business ever hired me, saying I would be guaranteed  so much money for so many future years.  They would pay for performance, and if I did not perform, or performed badly, out the door I would go.  Would God say, "I guarantee you heaven for the next six years based upon your performance for the last year?"  It does get silly.  I think we grow by way of a certain creative tension.  I pray each day, practice certain healthy exercises, eating a certain way, do certain things on a daily basis, because I know that as soon as I stop, I begin to go downhill.  Human nature, being what it is, does not respond  to guarantees without performance.  Saints and Recovery people know this.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

First Martyr

I read where the Vatican is going to recognize the first USA martyr, a priest, Fr. Rother, killed in Guatemala in 1981.  I am confused.  Were not four women killed, two raped, in El Salvador, in 1980?  To me they were martyrs.  Military people killed them.  It is documented, as far as I know, but then maybe I know nothing.  Are not nuns and lay women martyrs just like priests?  if you get some facts to clear all this up for me, please do.  Thank you.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tidying Up

In my rectory in San Francisco, 10 priests live.  Some simply do not clean up.  They have low housekeeping skills or low interest.  I like to clean up after them because it allows me to be of service AND to check my tendency to judge others, generally as so much worse than me.  When I clean up after them I get to check what I am thinking about my housemates.  If I am into acceptance, at peace, feeling uplifted by being of service, then I know that I am truly on a spiritual path of growth.  Change does not come from simply sitting in meditation and letting go of stuff.  This is only part one.  There is a part two: action in the everyday world.  That is where I test for the fruits of my prayer.  As for getting people to do what I want them to do?  That ain't never gonna happen!

Friday, December 9, 2016


General Franco in Spain, back in the 1930s wanted to restore Spain to the time when the Catholic Church reigned as in former centuries.  The Catholic Church supported this idea over against a government that might burn down churches for being cozy with people of money.  But what gets really interesting is that both Hitler and Mussolini supported Franco in the Spanish civil war because Franco would triumph over a liberal government that included Socialism.  Franco won.  The Spanish church stayed conservative.  Years later, religious groups formed in the conservative Spanish church to spread a conservative theology that cared little for modernity.  It was exported to the Western Hemisphere of Central and South America.  Then it came here in the face of Spanish speaking priests from these countries, who think little of our secular government.  Such priests would think they had a more "pure" Catholicism than what we had without them. They are here to convert us "nominal" Catholics. A little knowledge of history might show that even the "pure" have dirty hands.  For the spiritually evolved person, history brings humility.  For others, it brings denial.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

God At Work

The experience of Grace, or God at work, comes to me when something good happens, and I have no idea how it came about.  It seems to be pure gift.  Fro example, I have been trying to get work in the San Francisco Bay Area for the 9 years I have been out here.  I have never been asked to speak in the East Bay.  I offered.  Nothing happened.  I had pretty much given up.  Then one day, I was asked to speak over there.  I have no idea how it came about.  My presentation went well.  I don't do mass mailings, brochures or calling cards much at all any more.  I probably did something to get this invite, but I like that I don't know what I did because then I can experience the event as pure grace, God at work.  It keeps me humble too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Little Spirituality

A little spiritual evolvement is a tricky thing.  If there is a devil, it usually would trip you up here.  See, when our lives are a disaster, zero connect to soul, God, a healthy lifestyle, we might be willing to do anything to get better.  This is when we are most likely to follow directions, to get out of our hell.  When we are in very fit spiritual condition, we will continue to do those things that got us there.  It is the in-between times that get us.  How?  Well, you get a job, you feel physically better from good diet and exercise, you may have a family or your family back.  Life is getting busy with good things.  So you begin to say, "I am too busy" to do whatever got you in this fit spiritual condition in the first place.  I have these "important" things to do.  I have no time to meet with my group, read uplifting literature that directs my life, be of service to someone who is now where I used to be, a mess.  We are too busy to attend to soul with meditation, or a walk or exercise, or correct diet.  The "too busy" temptation is really a tuxedo/evening gown excuse to trash our lives, but we are too evolved to be that directly tempted.  So the evil one comes up with some more acceptable excuse that will ultimately send our lives into the spiral downward that never seems to go away.  How many times have I heard someone say, "I was too busy to...." and then they lost their job, family, health and pretty much every other good thing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Halo Plate

If my Mom had a halo over her head, as in a Saint, it would be in the shape of a dinner plate, just like the halo over the head of St. Martha, the patron saint of cooks, depicted on the early cover of The Joy Of Cooking cook book by Irma Rombauer,  My Mom cooked us countless meals all my life.  Even as a priest I would love to go "home" to her cooking.  She never complained or seemed to be resentful or angry about cooking.  She just cooked, night after night.  As a boy, I rarely said "Thank you."  Sunday dinner was in mid-afternoon, so there was no cooking at night on Sundays.  Friday was fast and abstinence in Catholic homes, so the meal was simpler, but still she prepared it.  I grew up on pork loin, lamb, chops, goulash, pasta and meatballs, roast beef, and some chicken.  She served without complaint.  She did put on the plate what portions we were supposed to eat.  Eat everything was the rule.  I would like to be a saint who serves without resentment, complaint, or whining.  I have a long way to go.  How about you?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Run The Show

Now that I am older, I no longer want to run the show.  But there are times when I realize that my ego does not want to retire from running the show.  I know that this is happening when I find myself judging others, being critical, resentful, with feelings of self-pity.  I still work, but try to stay out of the way of managing parish decisions, or the machinations of people for whom I am working.  My good days are really good.  Bad days, not so good.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


If a person is not willing to change, why bother to tell them about their faults, or spend useless time focused on their faults as you see them?  It won't change those persons.  You are the only person you can change.  Concentrate on your own faults.  If another person wants to change and asks for advice, opinion, help, then you can bring things up.  You can only help people who want it.  Of course if you don't change then you probably don''t want to either.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Cans can rust.  They is metal.  To prevent rust, the cans are coated on the inside with a plastic based product.  However, the chemicals in the liquid soda drink can react with the plastic coating.  Stuff happens.  It is called chemistry.  It is best to store a can upright so that the sealant of the lid does not interact with the soda itself. Lid interaction seems to especially bad.  The sugar of the soda itself is actually used to keep rust and bad interaction down.  "Rust" is a book by Jonathan Waldman.  See, you don't have to read my blogs just for spiritual issues.  Enjoy your next plastic, I mean soda drink!  Yikes, in Boulder, our rectory stores the cola cans on their side.

Friday, December 2, 2016


"Sobriety" is not a word for drunks only.  It refers to a way of living for everyone: live in the present moment.  Everyone is called to sobriety, but many of us spend time and energy escaping the reality of the present moment.  Addicts do it through their drug of escape.  Others do it through fantasy, or resentments which keep us in the past, and fear which keeps us in the future.  Spirituality is all about getting us anchored into the present moment where God lives and loves.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Who?  A fellow named Exsuperius lived in the 5th century.  He was a bishop so concerned about the poor that he sold off the church's fine vessels to obtain more money to help the poor.  He carried the consecrated host in a willow basket and the consecrated wine in a common glass vase.  Why would God want to dwell in expensive gold while God's people suffered hunger, homelessness and nakedness?  I think that maybe he has a point?  I like it that our Paulist Church here in San Francisco does not have much in altar finery, and that we inconvenience ourselves so that the hungry might be fed through a feeding program that is organized and distributed from here.  Our finances are scary, but we seem to hang on.  Maybe God wants us here?