Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Feel Better

When I first began to ingest alcohol it was because I wanted to feel better.  I was at some social event and felt awkward, nervous, inept, not fitting in, clueless, and such.  So I had a drink to be at least doing something that others were doing.  Once in a great while when everyone was drinking a lot, I kept up, but felt lousy the next day.  Since I was an athlete on a scholarship, I stayed pretty healthy.  But after I got out of formal education and moved to a full-time corporate job in a new city, over time something changed.  I went from drinking to feel better, to drinking because I wanted to drink.  It was a gradual process, going from mostly drinking to feel better and occasionally drinking to drink, to where the drink was the focus.  I even enjoyed drinking by myself.  God seemed to have other plans for me that did not include drinking.  Why me?  I don't ask anymore.  Rather, I get up each morning and say "Thank you."  On my good days, when I remember my "Thank you," I try to be helpful to others.  It is hard to be judgmental and heartless when you have been where I was.  Now, many of you who thought I was a holy priest on your pedestal will want to dump my blog from you Facebook.  But maybe one or two will be helped.  I am really not THAT unholy!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Open Doors

Often, when people look to religious institutions to quench their spiritual thirst, they find that the door is closed.  Signage such as, "No one in the office."  "Come back later." "Leave a message and someone will contact you."  "See our web site."  And when institutions do offer to help, their solution is one size fits all.  So that door "Religion" does not seem to open to quench your spiritual thirst.  Now right next store their is another door that is always ready to welcome you.  The signage reads, "Drugs, Alcohol, Sex, Food Binges, and Sundry Others."  This door beckons you in your spiritual search.  But I guarantee you that the only time you will feel better is in the entryway.  Beyond the entry is excess.  But when you are empty, any door that will open seems to be a solution.  We all have a spiritual place in our heart that wakes up hungry every day.  I don't wait around until my hungry has reach the place of starvation.  I try and feed it earlier in the day rather than later, so that bad things don't happen.  I don't want to end up knocking on the wrong door.  Oh.  My door needs to be open for others who show up spontaneously.  I want to be part of the solution not the problem.   For this I need my sanity to be fed.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Real

Lots of people who do 12th step recovery work get all hung up on the word "god."  We all have our histories with this word, and some of that history is dysfunctional.  So why not drop the word god and try the word "Real."  When you are trying to mediate, stop focusing on your thoughts.  There are methods to do this.  You may continue to have thoughts but you need not focus on them.  Why the word "real?"  Well, most of your thoughts are real thoughts but not about real things in the here and now.  You have resentment thoughts about things are NOT happening now.  Events may have happened in the past, but you are resentful in the present as if the event is current.  Or you are escaping into fantasy thoughts which of course by their very nature are not real.  They are fantasies.  so if you stop clinging to such thoughts you might begin to have some space for real things.  "The Real" may now have a chance to reveal itself.  By not paying attention to my monkey mind I have found that something else at times comes into my presence or maybe I finally come into the present moment.  This is "The Real" or "the real" and it is where spiritual growth can happen.  The really real is a loving look at me just as I am.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Puzzle Pieces

A life that is contented, peaceful and with some serenity looks like a puzzle with all the pieces connected in their proper place.  The puzzle pieces include prayer, being of loving service, acceptance, balanced diet, moderate exercise, proper rest, fulfilling work, and you could add some others.  No one piece looks exactly the same as another.  The secret is how to fit them together.  You cannot wedge prayer into where it does not fit.  You cannot do spiritual reading in the dark.  You cannot immediately follow your main meal with a jog.  To try and replace rest with more exercise won't fit either.  We all have our own puzzle pieces.  I can only tell others what my pieces are and how I fit them together successfully.  Life well-lived is a good fit.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mad As A Hatter

In "Alice In Wonderland" there was a fellow called the Mad Hatter.  Why?  Well, he wore a hat remember.  People who made hats were called "hatters."  The hats were made of animal pelts.  In order to keep the animal pelts fresh, mercury was applied.  Now being exposed to a lot of mercury in making the hats, brought about symptoms of insanity.  Thus you have people called, "Mad as a hatter."  Of course, you don't have to be a hat maker or work with mercury to be insane.  I have friends who have found many other ways to insanity.  I value such people because they have also found a way out of insanity on a daily basis.  Who helps you to stay sane on a daily basis?  False pride says you don't need anyone to help you since you are always sane in action and attitude.  If so, you certainly don't need this blog.  Am I actually helping you stay sane today?  One can only hope.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

God's Plan

I was supposed to teach at a church on a Saturday morning.  The session was to begin at 9:00 AM.  I had never done any of my prayer teaching at this parish.  So I arrived twenty five minutes before the talk was to begin.  Only one car was in the parking lot.  When I went inside I heard no sound, saw no person, found the corridor and room in which I was supposed to teach in be in utter darkness.  I thought, “I am a failure.  No one wants to hear me teach.  My ministry is over.  This is God telling me it is time to become a hermit.”  And so on.  Then the pastor came in.  He seemed nonplused by the emptiness.  He put on the lights and turned on the coffee.  The room was big and empty.  It was 8:45 AM.  

My plans to teach in disarray, I unpacked my notes and such anyway.  My back was to the entryway.  I turned.  People began to come in.  They came in waves.  A hundred people came to the presentation.  And this was with a famous spiritual adept speaker from out of town in a setting not very far from where I was talking.  This is when I am reminded that my plans, with their timelines, are only my plans.  God’s timeline, much less plan, might differ from mine. 

John the Baptist was connected to God’s plan.  God’s plan was that the Christ, Messiah, would come in John’s lifetime.  John only had to stay open for whenever it happened.  John had no timeline such as “soon,” or “in a little while.”  Because John stayed open he was able to see the Christ, the “Lamb of God,” when Jesus came along.  John was able to see the dove.  Everyone else saw nothing but Jesus of Nazareth among the crowd.  Everyone else was simply self-preoccupied with their plans.  So they missed God’s plan.

When your plans and timelines don’t work out according to your expectations, it does not mean that God has abandoned you or is not at work.  God too has a plan for you.  It may not be your plan, but if you can stay open to the unexpected, the surprise of divine action and event in your life, you will not miss God being at work in your life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Soon my baby sister, Janie, will retire.  I liked her working because I liked to spend her money.  She made the big bucks.  "Let's go out to dinner, to the theatre," I would say.  I, of course, am a poor mendicant preacher.  But now Janie will be on a budget, which limits what we can do with her money.  I used to have a rubber dollar bill that I put on the bar at the beginning of an evening of drinking.  At the end of the evening, the rubber dollar would bounce back up into my hand as I left the bar.  I benefited from friends trying to buy their way out of purgatory by buying me drinks.  But all this is over now and retirement further limits my options with my newly poor sister.  But isn't it nice that God does not have a budget for love?  I am not a liability  in God's love budget, getting just so much and no more, or being a drain on God's limited love and acceptance.  God sees us as assets not liabilities.  God is always positive about what we can become.  God's love knows no bounds nor ever retires.  I wonder if God can get Jane and I two tickets to "Hamilton?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Second Thoughts

People sometimes ask me where I experience God, or a Spiritual Power.  I find the experience in my second thoughts.  When things don't go according to my plans and expectations each day, my first thought is that the person or situation that upset my plans/expectations is stupid, lazy, uncaring, spoiled, and just plain old all wrong.  The first impulse may then be anger, resentment, self-pity, and even some fear.  If I were to act on the energy of these first thoughts and impulses, my day would be chaos.  But then a second thought comes and with it some relief of negative energy.  This second thought is my experience of a spiritual power.  I am not sane enough to come up with second thoughts by myself.  The second thought might be, "Terry, if you go through the day being angry and negative about things, you will have a miserable day."  "My plans are just my plans."  "Let it go.  Live with gratitude."   And such like.  When my big sister, Maureen, was bossy or failed to spoil me, my first thought was that she was a witch.  It took a long time to get second thoughts.  Only much later in life did I come to realize it was me who had to change....even if she was a witch, but a nice witch.  

Monday, January 23, 2017


When I label someone I narrow them.  If my label is negative then I fail to recognize the wider aspects or fullness of a person.  Someone may in fact be "illegal," or "a minority" and in my worst moments some people are "worthless."  These are people who upset my plans of how things are supposed to go.  Some labels may be facts but a person is more than a fact.  Until I get to encounter the person and open myself to listening, or being with, I won't get beyond my labels.  Tribal groups of religious believers may call themselves "saved" but that does not express all parts of such persons.  I tend to look for attributes, good habits and attitudes in others that more define their innards.  One is kind, loving, compassionate, responsive, generous, full of gratitude and can listen.  Whether they are Conservative, Liberal, Reformed, Orthodox, Eastern or Western seems to me to be secondary and only leads to separation and judgment.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Blocking And Tackling

In Buddhism it is called, "Chop wood and carry water."  This is equivalent in football to "blocking and tackling."  Do the basics on a regular basis if you want to be at your best.  The occasional good action is just that, occasional.  In football, no one can run with the ball to score or pass to someone who catches it and scores unless everyone else on the team is blocking.  For the other side, the defense, they have to be tackling.  Over and over in the game blocking and tackling is going on.  A fan who watches the game looks for the spectacular.  The spectacular happens occasionally, if the unsung others are blocking and tackling.  To have a good day, I try to do my blocking and tackling, my chopping wood and carrying water.  No one will notice that I continue to do what is in front of me, that needs to be done.  I can recollect that God is with me, that God is active in my life in an unspectacular fashion.  Spiritual practice that is steady very well goes unnoticed by people around us.  To cease the practice is to have no wood for the fire and no water to drink.  I need to warm and hydrate my soul.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Without Mask

I use to think that if people really knew me, my faults, shortcomings, interior darkness, insane thinking, they would not like me.  But only the Catholic parishioners and Catholic school teachers would not like me. They put us clerics on a pedestal.  But I have found that when I tell non-Church people who I am, they like me more!  Why?  Some people seem to benefit from hearing truth to which they can connect.  A lot of us seem to have problems.  I wonder if all those holy Catholic school teachers are imperfect like me?  I would like them even better if they were less perfect.  It is trying for me to be with perfect people.  I wonder if the nuns who taught me, were not as holy as the movies made them?  Catholic schools seem to have a "Perfection Quotient" and I would bring it down by my presence.  I would get C to F grade for perfection depending on any given day.  I hang out with sinners.  Come to think of it a couple of these school teachers do know me and still like my blogs.  Guess these teachers have to come off my pedestal.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Peter's Mother In Law

Peter's Mother-In-Law teaches me a lot.  In the first chapter of Mark's Gospel, she is the first person, besides Jesus to do any action.  The men not so much.  She is sick with a fever.  Jesus heals her.  She gets up.  Does she say, "I will go into the streets to begin a ministry." or "I will now do some bible sturdy," or "Now I will meditate."  No.  She gets up and does what is in front of her.  Hungry, and helpless men.  She feeds them.  Peter and his friends, including Jesus, are bringing their travel dust into her home.  She is the boss in her home.  She sets the tone for allowable mess. The Gospel says that when evening came, people came to the door with the sick and possessed.  Jesus met them at the door.  He may be God, but he is not going to mess up her home with more street dust.  Today, I did not meditate or spend time with the Bible.  I did what is in front of me.  It is cleaning day.  I changed my bedding and towels, put the dirties into the wash and then I cleaned the bathroom.  Like this woman I did what is in front of me, instead of multiplying tasks, even good deed tasks.  So many of us avoid what is in front of us to do some "outside" stuff, that really just feeds our ego and self-importance.  Cleaning can be rewarding and humbling, and I did it with joy rather than resentment.  Where was Peter's wife?  I have to work on that.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Saying "Yes"

Someone recently asked me for some help in trying to escape his insane life.  My first thought was, "Go away.  This will eat up my time for doing things I want to do."  I have learned that when people ask for help and I think "no" it is really my desire to isolate.  I did not say my first thought, "No."  Instead, I said "Yes," before I could come up with some acceptable excuse.  In my case, yes is the right answer.  So I took out some "valuable personal time" to meet with this person and be of help.  The result?  For him, I am not so sure.  My advice/suggestions require him to take action.  I cannot force action.  But for me, the yes made for a very good and sane day.  I think I became saner!  Maybe this person was a gift from the Presence, the Spirit, to me, to help heal me.  This fellow knew he needed help.  Sometimes, I am not so aware of my own need for Grace!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

God's Love

The Bible says, in some places, that "God is Love."  Skeptics say that they do not see God loving in this cruel world.  Well, maybe God is loving, but chose to do it very inefficiently.  God decided to love through me, and you.  The reason that God's love is invisible is that we are not so loving.  Fear, resentment, reliving the past, anxiety, self-centeredness can all get in the way of love.  Either God is not very bright, in wanting to love through my actions of loving others, or, God has great hope for me yet.  I prefer the latter.  Whenever I mess up, I try to remember to have hope, that the next time I will do better, be more loving.  Will there be a next time? One can only hope.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Day By Day

In 1998 I had back problems.  It was my own fault.  I could not get well on my own, so I had surgery.  After the surgery, I was given as series of exercises.  I was told that if I did these exercises everyday, my back would be OK.  After surgery my back was sore and the exercises difficult.  It was all new to me.  But then my back got better and I was even able to run again.  Now if I had said, "I am OK now.  I don't have pain.  I can stop my exercises," you would think me crazy.  I still do these exercises everyday, and add some yoga and dynamic stretching a few times each week.  I meet so many people who did not get well or stay well, because they did not discipline themselves to do what they were told would heal them on a daily basis.  Healing is a daily reality, not a permanent reality once achieved.  The spiritual life, recovery life is the same dynamic.  You learn to do something to make you well, but then you stop doing it because now, "I feel better."  Better is only for today.  That is why I do the same basics over and over again.  Detachment is not about letting go of healing activities in our daily life.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bad Thoughts

Why bother entertaining bad thoughts?  You are generally powerless to change the situation about which you are so glum.  We approach insanity when we keep revisiting these same thoughts with the idea that something will change.  Why not choose thoughts that inspire good feelings, such as peacefulness?  To get the day started in a positive, sane direction, why not begin, as soon as you awake, with thoughts of gratitude.  We are often surprised at how many things might fit on this list.  One or two would be a start.  I begin with being alive, a roof over my head, and the opportunity to be of some use in my day.  Even if my night's sleep was fitful and yucky, it is over and I cannot change it.  I don't dwell on what is done and beyond my control.  Gratitude can be a New Year Resolution.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Signs Of Omission

I remember hearing about "sins of omission."  This is good stuff that we could have done but did not do.  I think that the mode of living in which sins of omission occur is isolation.   In solitude we simply step away from the active world to connect with ourselves/God in healthy and invigorating ways, to prepare for positive action.  Isolation is when we put up walls, are out of touch with a spiritual side, and are too self-imploded to be of much use to anyone else.  There are many days or moments when I have to ask myself, "Am I in isolation or solitude?" Isolation has no prayer to it.  Isolation is somewhat indifferent to the world around me.  Sometimes I fool even me by saying, "I am too busy, or too overworked."  I find that when I have sufficient solitude, being too busy never seems to come up.  By stepping away from saving all humanity, fixing everything, I enter into quiet prayer that seems to refresh and energize me when I am done.  If I am not sure about which mode I might be in, I go to a meeting of friends where I might be of use.  Works every time.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


This phrase refers to avoiding a focus on the present moment.  Sometimes it shows up as fantasy.  Other times it is focused on a resentment, fear, anxiety, remorse and other negative feeling, rarely about real factual events. The present moment is thus filled with preoccupations.  When we "catch" ourselves in this mode of mood or fantasy, we might ask, "Why am I doing this?"  Why am I so uncomfortable with me as me in the here and now?  When I ask this question of myself, I find that I am uncomfortable in m own skin.  I am too ordinary, or too something else that does not appeal to me.  This is not as bad as it sounds.  Why?  Because it is often followed by a "spiritual awakening."  It is OK to be me.  I am loved by God.  My fantasy me is not loved by God, since fantasy is not real.  Now in the present moment of reality, without all these negative feelings, I often begin to think of some good that I can do.  Example: one day, on the way to the bank, I was in the "not real" world.  I awoke to the present moment of reality.  I am me, loved by God as I am.  Then I remembered someone who mentioned a special white tea that she liked.  After the bank, I went to the nearby tea store and picked up a small bag of this tea.  She was delighted.  Later, we shared a cup of "present moment white tea."  The present moment has such great possibilities.  Future-tripping not so much.

Friday, January 13, 2017




Are you physically healthy, and can walk without assistance?  Here is a good deed or service you can perform almost every day.  I got this idea from someone.  Far be it from me to think it up.  Here is the good deed: don't park your car as close to the place you are going as you can.  Why?  There may be elderly people with canes and walkers who could use that convenient place in front of the store, theatre, park, meeting.  I tend to thank the "parking gods" when I find a convenient parking space.  This is all about focus on me who can still jog and walk fine.  The everyday and the ordinary is a way to live out our best self, rather than the occasional good deed that goes recognized.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Muchness And Manyness

I like his one from, "A Testament Of Devotion" by Thomas Kelly.  How often do our lives get caught up in "muchness and manyness," the over scheduled world in which we put ourselves?  Rather than cut down on the "much and the many," we tend to get resentful, blame others, judge others, but still try to get everything done.  When we fail, which is often, we tend to feel guilty and judge ourselves as inadequate.  We will try harder tomorrow.  Rather than wait for a miracle to stop this pace of life, maybe change the label on the list from "Must Do, Really Important," to "Muchness and Manyness."  If there is a God, there is only one of those, and you are not it.  We will all die with books unread and things not done.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Divine Ordinary

There is a great insight in the idea that the divine would show up in a human being.  In the case of Jesus, he spent some thirty years in an ordinary way of life, nothing worth writing home about, or writing about at all.  The insight is that God shows up in ordinary life, more than in wow moments.  You don't need a big spiritual or mystical experience to be God touched.  God is not so dramatic as we might want or think.  For that matter, most of the drama in our lives is human made.  God is more likely in the ordinary, everyday time and events.  What gives you the energy to do daily tasks faithfully, even when no one seems to notice nor say, "Thank you."  This is God at work.  Many people do works of service and love to make the world a less painful place for others, and these faithful workers never have a mystical, contemplative experience.  Anytime you are making the world a less messy place, you are the divine in action.  Resentments hurt only yourself.  The selfish and self-absorbed could care less about your feelings.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Individual Interest

One of the precious and often unappreciative aspects of our country is the freedom to choose a religious interest.  It was a hard won freedom.  Even our original settlers, who were escaping religious persecution in Europe, once they came here and got power, wanted everyone to believe as they did.  Bad habits about culture and religion are hard to overcome.  Even today we see people in war torn places who fight over religion.  Terrorists are about everyone being the same, whatever that may be.  Within a religion there are often rules that talk about punishment if you do not conform to a way of being part of that religion.  Sunday worship or burn is one of them.  I don't believe that anyone comes to faith or practice without the courtesy of letting them choose.  We can show a path, more by attraction than promotion, but we get only lukewarm followers when they are coerced in some way.  God is Love.  You cannot coerce that.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Love And Football

Today is the National College Football Championship game.  It begins here at 6:00PM.  My friend Dan is a big sports fan.  I figured that he would be home in front of his huge TV screen to watch the game.  NO!  Today is his 24th wedding anniversary of being married to Rhonda, his wife.  They are going out to dinner to celebrate their anniversary and taking thier daughter, a gift of their union, with them.  Wow.  This is love.  You give up something for love of someone precious in your life.  You give up the National Championship Game for your wife!  You let go, surrender, detach and you receive so much more.  We all need to be reminded of this.  Many people want love as long as they get all they want and give up nothing.  This is not love, but a self-centered way of life.  I will be watching the game tonight and may have my cell phone on silent.  Maybe there is a TV in the restaurant?

Sunday, January 8, 2017


I was vacuuming our two story office, because no one cleans the offices in the  parish center.  I decided that with a new year, I would get my office ship shape.  Then I vacuumed two other offices and some stairs and hall.  Suddenly, a thirteen year old girl, who was sitting in one of the offices with her Mom, who was crunching some numbers for us, asked, "Fr. Terry can I help you?"  OMG, I was experiencing a paradigm shift!  In my many years of experience in ministry, never has a thirteen year old girl offered to vacuum.  My sisters would run the other way, fane illness, a broken arm, polio, whatever, to not vacuum.  It is not something that any one of us get up in the morning and say, "I think I will vacuum the church offices today!"  Lindsey is my example of a saint.  Saints are extraordinary people, doing ordinary things that no one else wants to do.  I still have trouble getting myself to do the ordinary things no one else wants to do, and not whine.  Saints don't whine.  Oh, we have an opening for anyone who wants to vacuum AND dust.  Super-Saint!

Intimacy Dysfunction

This one is just for alcoholics and people with other addictions.  There will be another blog for the non-addicted, to follow in a few minutes.  Someone referred to Alcoholism as intimacy dysfunction.  I like this.  You think you are done with alcohol, but if you are having a stretch of intimacy dysfunction you are not yet done with the "ism" in alcoholism.  There are various ways to act like a jerk in this intimacy thing.  You find yourself not listening to another person, but thinking about you or wandering off in your mind, or feeling bored because you are not getting something you want at the moment with or without this person.  OR, you talk endlessly about you and your troubles, simply another way to be all about yourself with no room for another person.  OR you fail to ask a person about themselves, but should you stumble onto this question, you too soon interrupt to talk about you as you think relates to the same topic.  OR people actually invite you to do something, but you say no, because in truth you prefer isolation to actually putting yourself out there for someone else.  OR, you think that you don't need a meeting because, well, you don't want a drink at the moment.  That will change.  How do I know any of this to be so?  Mea culpa.

Saturday, January 7, 2017


I am afraid that my recovery from insanity is in danger of being ordinary.  I always thought that once I got on a spiritual program of prayer and selfless acts, such as priests are supposed to do, I would grow and grow until one day I would be a guru who floats along in a good mood and at peace every day.  In all honesty, it has not gone as I had envisioned.  The sanity of peace, acceptance, selflessness, humility, being non-judgmental, is all fleeting. It seems to come and go, plus I really have to work at maintaining a sane balance in my life.  I find that when I am feeling balanced emotionally and relationally, that is when I need to work the hardest at my spiritual program to maintain this sane space.  If I wait until I am feeling in a darker space, I have trouble braking the downward spiral.  So my thought for today is be grateful for what you have and take nothing for granted.  Spirituality is action.

Direct To Email

Here is a secret for my bloggers who would prefer to get the blog direct to their email instead of mixed up with a lot of Facebook stuff.  Instead of reading me on Facebook, you now have the option of going direct to the blog, frterrysspiritualstuff.blogspot.com and look to the left side.  You will see an option to have the blog show up on your email.  Two people did this and it worked.  I have my friend Patty to thank for this.  She set it up.  There is a separate blog coming up in a few minutes after this one, so don't run away.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Meditation Or Me

Why do alcoholics have so much trouble with meditation yet seem to be attracted to it?  My thoughts might be helpful to many people outside of addiction.  What is it that alcoholics spend most of their time doing? No not drinking.  Most of their time is spent thinking about themselves or things as they pertain to themselves.  What is it that one must do to meditate? Forget self, or detachment from thinking about self.  That is why mediation is hard for recovering or drinking people.  But they are at the same time attracted to meditation.  Why?  Because when they do slip miraculously into meditation, they are detached from thinking about self, and they feel so good.  You may have the same problem and you don't even drink much, or at all.  Attraction to self is the opposite of meditation.  The good news is that they are so closely connected.  One side is self/self-centeredness, and the other side is meditation.  Try meditating while thinking all about you and your world and how everyone and everything in your world needs to shape up for things to be "good."  Having a restful, spiritual experience?  Me neither.  Maybe that is why there are ten steps before the meditation step in AA.  Most spiritual guides counsel a few steps before you are invited into meditation a a prayer.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Your Story

One of the differences between an alcoholic who is still drinking and one who is into recovery, is that the former is still working on their story and the latter is done, at least for the moment.  The "story" is the episodes and results of the insanity of drinking.  The longer you drink, the longer the story, though much of it is repeated, as you spiral downward.  Only the dates change.  The recovering alcoholic has finished their drinking story and are now into a new story of a better life.  I think of this in all of my various endeavors.  Where there is bad behavior, I want that story to end.  I want it to be something of the past and not present behavior.  Each morning I ask myself in meditation, "What story am I going to write today?"  More bad behavior episodes rooted in faults and character defects or some new behavior or maybe ongoing spiritual centered behavior?  Usually it is a mix.  Maybe that is why I am all mixed up?  Oh, I forgot.  Gina tells me not to put myself down.  That would be bad behavior.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Vernacular means language of the people.  My church did mass in Latin when only prelates and Latin teachers knew what was being said.  So what did the people mass?  They prayed rosaries, devotional pieties, novenas from little books or cards they brought to church.  Well, my church decided in the early 60s to do mass in the language of the people so that there would be better understanding and participation.  So in the USA we have English.  But then my church could not convince enough guys to be priests, who spoke English as their first language, and were willing to be celibates.  The solution was to go to Countries that did not have English as its primary language, and bring over here priests/seminarians, with their accents, to do mass.  All sound systems destroy these accents.  A priest you can understand face to face, one on one, is totally unintelligible from the pulpit.  Solution?  For the laity it is back to the rosary and prayer books.  Or people with smart phones could say they were saying prayers from church apps.  For the Vatican it might be looking beyond male celibates, at least in this country.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Trip To Bethlehem

So why did Mary go with Joseph to Bethlehem when she was due to have her baby?  A census made her have to go?  Try again.  Mary did not have to go for a census.  Only the males had to do it.  The Roman culture did not count women for tax purposes in this conquered land.  It was an 85 mile trip. The smart and safe move would have been to stay with relatives who would help her with the birth.  Beats a stable as a hospital.  Her going made no sense.   It was not practical.  Now the sceptic or non-believer might say this is a lot of made up stuff, and there was no census or going to Bethlehem.  But spiritual writings have several levels of meaning, the literal being only one, and a surface one at that.  Maybe there was a deeper meaning to the story?  You think?  What if the point is that God is not practical or sensical as we mere human beings would judge it?  What if God is the unpredictable?  That would be humbling...for us.  But beyond that, what if Mary went because she loved Joseph very much and wanted to be with him, trusting that God would be there for her.  What a concept!  Mary was in deep love with her husband.  She was trusting that love would win out.   I can relate to this Mary.

Monday, January 2, 2017


I was invited to a young couple home for dinner.  They have an eight month old baby.  At one point, Kyle took the baby and put her on his lap.  She looked so contented to just be held by Dad.  Then Kyle said that when he got up early in the morning with the baby, that was their time together, instead of his going off to work out.  Thus, the baby is feeling content with Dad.  What a metaphor for prayer.  Get up early in the morning and put the God relationship first.  God is awake, and wants to be held by you like a baby.  Is that not part of what the Incarnation is all about, God being a baby?  On the other hand, in prayer we are also being held by God, like a parent embraces its child. This early morning prayer can help us feel safe and contented as the day goes along, knowing we are in God's embrace.  But I like "God as the baby" image.  I like the thought of God needing me.  I am never nobody, nor are you.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hide And Seek

I will start out the New Year with God at play.  Yes, God does play, not only in creating, but in our childhood games, such as hide and seek.  When you first played the game as a child, you are not good at it.  You don't yet know where the good hiding places are or what hiding patterns people have so you can find them and say, "You're it!" You lack experience as a beginner.  They all get to the goal before you find anyone.  Then you are discouraged and don't want to play anymore.  Prayer is like hide and seek.  When you first start out, God seems to be hiding.  "I cannot find you God!"  But God is only hiding, yet patient.  God does not want to win, as in getting to the goal before you find God.  God wants to be found, but it takes some doing.  If you quit in frustration, you will not find God in prayer and maybe even decide God does not exist or prayer is a waste of time.  God only hides so that you will seek to find, be steadfast and trust it will all work out.  Now Susan Abernathy, you have a way to teach your children about prayer!  Maybe this will help other Catholic school teachers too.