Thursday, November 30, 2017

Male Power

Staying with the blog idea of yesterday, when men are in power, and women are not, women's bodies do not do so well.  In the male dominated Church that is mine, women who wanted to have an especially deep and intimate relationship with God, a male image, needed to be in a cloister.  Married women, having some sex, were too tainted.  It seemed weird to the Jewish male leadership that Jesus would have anything to do with hanging out with prostitutes or even talking to a married woman.  The first thing a woman had to do if she wanted to get close to God was shut down the body.  Cloister life, no men in sight, lots of strict rules, was a severe way to do this.  Monks did this too.  Eventually, the clergy were not to marry or mess around, though they did.  See the Renaissance.  The body, feelings, emotions, are always things that get in the way of intimacy, so goes the thinking.  But God made the body and in my faith, even took one on in Jesus of Nazareth.  He seemed to empower women.  Hollywood, Corporate hierarchs and anywhere that male power prevails, never seems to be good for women and their bodies.  Many a man leaves a marriage because he cannot take a woman's self-empowerment.  But some other reason is often given for the divorce.  But of course, I could be wrong.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


In the recent movie, "Novitiate" which is in an art theatre of San Francisco and probably not in Boulder, Colorado, one of the norms is that punishing the body is a good thing, but giving comfort to the body is not so good.  Feelings, especially of a sexual nature, the wanting to connect to another in touch, for instance, is a bad thing, but whipping the body is a positive thing that helps to make us more perfect or less imperfect.  The movie takes place in the early 60s before my church went through a change toward openness to the modern world.  So, I remember the time.  I still here about this old attitude today.  The body is problematic because it has feelings.  If it is one of anger, especially in women, then it needs to be confessed as a sin.  If it is one of physical desire, well, you have really gone beyond the pail.  You won't get to perfection that way.  You love God, your spouse, by sacrifice.  Love and sacrifice can go together of course, but the sacrifice that is exhibited here is one of confusing what is normal.  It becomes normal to punish yourself by fasting (starving) or beating yourself.  Abnormal, in the path to perfection, is to accept feelings as indications of something that needs attention.  you must be rid of these feelings and or punish yourself for having them. We are not talking about sex addicts here.  Good Catholics cannot go see this movie because it has sex in it, but being a not so good Catholic, I saw the movie.  Melissa Leo is great as the Mother Superior.  Probably an Oscar nomination.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Helping God

I have heard and even said myself, “God has no hands.  God needs our hands to do the work.”  Oh?  What happened to the all powerful God we are supposed to believe in?  I think maybe God can do whatever God wants and does not need me as much as I think.  So what is my first chore each day as relates to God?  I think it is to allow God to love me and just to love God, first without doing anything.  I need to stop making love happen by my actions as it relates to this God who is supposed to be love.  Love God without doing anything, without pious thoughts or words is a good way to allow God to love us.  If I start out by first doing good works to help God out, that seems to me as something that is energized by a big ego trip.  “I “ am important to God’s work soon becomes doing things without first checking in with some intimate loving of God.  Do less and mediate more might be what many of us active people need to do.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Soon, in Texas, you can call your doctor when you are sick and talk to the doctor on your computer.  You get face time but can stay at home.  Say you have the flu or feel fluish.  You want to talk to your doctor “now.”  You are sick and don’t really want to go out into the cold winter to drive to the doctor’s office.  Plus, you probably cannot see the doctor for several days.  By then you will be dreadfully feeling near-death experiences.  With this new method, you get on your computer and talk to your doctor who can look at you on the computer screen.  Assessment is made and medication proscribed.  No visit out into the cold weather is needed.  Now how about my church doing this with confession.  You would still be having a live encounter, face to face with the priest.  He does not have to have specific confession hours that are usually inconvenient for many people but not for the priest. Or there could be specific times for teleconfession.  With new technology, physical presence is not so important.  If you are elderly, in inclement weather, cannot drive, you still get the sacrament.  Media can be the Churches Friend.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Trying

T. S. Eliot, the British poet, said that “for us, there is only the trying.  The rest is not our business.”  I don’t think he ever met Bill W. They think alike in this regard.  We spend so much energy fretting about results and have too little energy to focus on our own efforts, “the trying.”  I can pray all I want for results, but at some point I have to act, do something.  This is what I can control, and my prayer is more that I do the action, rather than wallow in sloth or whining.  If I do act, but with a bad attitude, then I whine about the results not being what I want.  “God has abandoned me,” becomes my mantra.  So I focus on trying to do the best that I can now and let go of fretting about the results.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Beatles

Why were the Beatles, from Liverpool, England, and other British rock groups so popular in the early  60s?  Because there were teenagers and  these teenagers had money to spend.  They were the new generation of consumers.  If you read yesterday’s blog, you learned that Europe lacked young people after WW II.  Then the babies came as the economies rose up from the rubble of war and bad pre-war economic decisions.   Eventually, money became less scarce.  No longer was all family income needed for necessities.  Now there was a bit “extra” and there were thing to buy.  Remember transistor radios?  No?  My friend Margo and I remember.  Anyhow, “teenager” became a category somewhere between child and adult.  In Europe, this was a late 50s development.  They were a consumer group with the desire for their own music.  Along came the Beatles.  They did have talent.  But now they had an audience who would pay to hear them or buy records and record albums.  This teen group would have its own hairstyles and fashion clothes.  Remember Neru suits?  No?  Well, welcome to a cultural history lesson.  Do teenagers read my blog?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Birth Control

Many people think that the reason the pope was against birth control in 1968 was because it was the traditional teaching of the church, and the church was against change in tradition not to say morality too.  But there is a reason that is rarely heard: Europe lacked children.  Birth rates had been down due to World Wars, Depression Era, infant death, lack of men all after the end of WW II.  If Europe was going to recover, it needed people, young people.  With the improvement of medical care, more prosperous economies, the chances of living past birth and into adulthood picked up.  Italy was one of the latter countries to get onto the economic bandwagon, though it did too.  Most of the lifetime of Italian Pope Paul VI in his early formative life was in this era of low birth rates.  One of the engines of morality is often economics.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Many people will be eating a feast of food on this day, Thanksgiving.  I hope you are with loved ones at table.  But it is also a day to feed the hungry, the poor, the homeless.  My parish in San Francisco does just that on Thanksgiving.  Our auditorium is full of anyone who wants to come and eat turkey and all the fixings.  It is cooked and served by volunteers.  Not only the poor come, but people who would otherwise be alone that day.  People of every culture, ethnicity, income, color and language sit side by side enjoying the dinner.  It is all free to the participants.  Some of the priests from the Paulist residence attend.  Many people will go to recovery meetings and give thanks for the miracle of their sobriety.  Some, like my friend Margo, will celebrate Thanksgiving during the day and then go to the opening of a movie that evening.  How are you giving thanks today?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What You Give, Not What You Got

A call, a choice of vocation or relationship, or career is not so much based upon what you have, but in what you give.  I am an example of this.  When I joined the Paulist Fathers, I was not anything special, except in my own delusional mind.  Big ego filled me up.  I was ordained as one of nine.  I have never been a “Star” in the Paulist Fathers, never asked to do the big jobs, or assignments.  The Administrations knew me better than I knew myself.  But God had a plan for my ordinariness.  God would do the heavy lifting while I simply persevered in my stumbling and wandering way.  Anything I did that was successful, in a parish was due to the lay people who did the ministry.  I was a sort of “chaplain.”  I might have an idea, but the parishioners were the ones who actually adapted and made it work, from my days as Catechism coordinator for Children in Houston, to Baptism and Marriage Preparation ministry in Boulder, and the Bookstore in San Francisco, to Camus Ministry in Knoxville.  Thanks to my sister, Maureen, I had lots of stories to tell for successful parish missions.  Now I simply teach about prayer, and can only do that successfully where parishioners or local lay groups do all the work but teach.  I have come to realize that God can take a bit of mediocrity and do a lot of wonderful things for others.  I just keep doing.  I am not retiring.  I give what I got, like a long distance runner who can but put one foot in front of the other for a long time.  Many people thing I am wonderful, but it is God’s doing.  I am the vessel, empty without Grace.  So don’t worry if you think you are not pretty enough, or strong enough, or smart enough.  Give what you got.  God is at work for the giver.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


In the movie, “Wonder” which I recommend to junior high students and teachers in elementary school, there is a line that says, “Augie cannot change the way he looks, so maybe we can change the way we see.”  Brilliant.  Augie has a face that is scarred by many surgeries since he was born.  He is homeschooled until middle school.  Then he begins going to school where he encounters students who “see” him in a certain way.  The way they see Augie directs the way they act toward him.  Children can be cruel and boorish.  Augie will always look “different.”  The students begin to change the way they act towards him and with him, when they change the way they see him.  AA has a book entitled, “A New Set of Glasses.”  We tend to see the world as distorted when in fact it is often the way we look at things that is distorted.  So whenever I catch myself seeing people in a way that seems to want me to separate, ignore, judge or distance myself, I will ask myself if I need to see differently.  At time it is me who needs to change.  How about you?

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Bezel Person

Are you a Bezel person?  A what?  Well, a Bezel is the border around your iPhone, if you have an iPhone.  You never think about it, but it is there.  Is it necessary? Apparently not so necessary says the iPhone X ( that is 10, not ex).  There is no border, which allows for a smaller phone with all the stuff of a bigger phone.  So, something we take for granted and even think is necessary, can be eliminated. Are you a bezel person, someone who you think is necessary, and even taken for granted, being so necessary, who can be eliminated from a job, a marriage, a friendship, a relationship?  People might say, “Oh, we cannot live without you,” or “What will we do without you?”  Then when I am not around, people seem to do just fine.  If I thought I was so necessary, then I would be a “Bezel person.”  I can be eliminated from people’s lives and they do just fine, or so it appears.  Bezel people are basically delusional.  They think they are so important, until they find out they are not.  My blog is a bezel blog.  It can be eliminated.  Oh! Say it isn’t so.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Airport Seating

Why do people take up two seats at an airport, one for themselves and one for their luggage?  One reason might be that it is convenient to do this.  Nothing on the dirty floor, plus stuff reached without having to bend over.  But there might be another reason.  We don’t like strangers to sit next to us.  Some people who are standing feel the same way.  Even though there is seat available, they will stand until there are two seats, one for themselves and one for their stuff.  But we are not really alien strangers to one another.  We travelers are all “refugees” type persons.  We are not at home and are either trying to get to someplace that is not home, or trying to get back home.  If we think of ourselves as fellow travelers, it might not engender enough compassion to give up your luggage seat for someone else.  But as fellow sufferers, compassion might be engendered.  So I tend to just take one seat.  And I will sit next to someone in the waiting area, though they might be thinking of me as somewhere between a nuisance and a terrorist.  I will even talk to strangers sitting next to or near me.  We are fellow refugees.  We are at that moment without homes.  Like flood or forest fire victims in Houston and Santa Rosa.  Human contact is not all bad.  Isolation does not have to be the norm when traveling through airports.  Our behavior often depends on how we see the other person.  If you think you are married to a jerk, or work with a jerk, or are associated with a jerk you will treat that person in a certain way.  Terrorists, likewise get terrorist treatment.  My deportment at airports gives people a second chance to have an opinion or judgment about the “stranger” who sits next to them.  Fear is often what gives our luggage a seat.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Compass

As a Boy Scout I had a compass.  It gravitated naturally to the north.  It gave me a sense of direction so that I would not get lost.  Well, my soul has a moral compass and it is broken.  It is supposed to gravitate to doing good, but it is not very consistent.  Left to my own unaided power, I will somedays stumble into the right direction, but more often than not, I will go in the wrong direction behaviorly or just wander about clueless.  So for me, I do not buy into the cultural ideal of “being free to do as I please.”  Prayer for me is not optional.  It is the exercise of my soul.  If you commit to exercise or diet, do you not have somedays when it is more difficult to discipline yourself?  Prayer is like that.  So in some way, I need to be a ‘Slave” to a spiritual practice and just do it out of obedience to my commitment, or in my case, God.  Most of us don’t like discipline, but Olympic Atheletes and Saints seem to find it crucial.  I will be neither, but at least I need to get pointed in the right direction.  Is your spiritual compass broken too?  “Going South” is a phrase that points to failure of one sort or another.  Addicts who do not practice daily recovery know what “going south” means.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Living Room

When my parents moved to Florida, there home had “the living room.”  Lots of homes in their neighborhood had this room.  It is nicely furnished, neat and clean, and no one uses it.  It is for special guests, and “special” means people we hardly ever see, and with whom we lack a certain amount of comfort in their presence.  A priest would qualify for this.  So, the few times that people invite me into their homes, they offer the living room and we eat and drink off of special plates, cups and glasses that are rarely used.  It is a bit too formal and dreadful for me, but I comply.  If someone asks where I would like to sit and talk, I would say, “the kitchen.”  This is where my family gathered most comfortably in the Bronx.  Some people’s kitchen have no place to sit or the chairs are dreadfully uncomfortable, so the den would work well too.  Well, my soul has rooms too.  When I am feeling guilty or ashamed of bad behavior, I tend to the “living room” motif for God.  I am not too comfortable in God’s presence due to my failure to measure up to God’s love.  When I am more balanced, with my spiritual practices active, I welcome God to the kitchen of my soul. Prayer and action give me a sense of comfort with God.  So where do you welcome God?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Minds Tongue

When my church speaks of “sins of body desires” we Catholics jump to sex sins.  But the body has many other parts that could practice bad behavior.  I find the tongue to be a powerful and oh so easy way to drag me down.  How? One obvious way is in gossip, speaking judmentally about someone, in which we practice false pride.  You say “I am not a gossip!”  Well, there is the “Tongue of the Mind.”  The tongue of the mind is where you might think something about someone, and carry on a whole conversation with yourself, muttering and grumbling silently or even talking to yourself out loud.  Yes, some of us do this while driving alone in the car.  We think of gossip, or making judgments about another, as something we say out loud to another person.  Some of us can avoid that or at least repent of doing it afterwards.  But we seem to let slip by, and therefore repeat habitually, the gossip of the mind’s tongue.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Final Plan

Each day I make plans for the day or the next few days or coming weeks.  I have my plans for various events and times.  But I never make a plan for today being my last day.  Someday will be my last day.  Do I have an “in case” plan?  I did finally make up a will, and it was not easy.  I don’t have much, but there are so many things that have to be considered.  I have to name a person for this and that, and then back up people if the named persons die before me or go crazy.  I did the will and try to have things such that friends and relatives won’t have a big hazzle to deal with when I am dead.  At least for those you care about who live on after you don’t, maybe make a plan for your last day?  Why leave a mess for someone else you love to cleanup or figure out?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Giving All

Some people ask me why the Holy Communion, or Eucharist, is such a big deal for me.  What is the attraction since God is everywhere?  True, God is everywhere, if you believe in God.  What attracts me, is that someone would give themselves completely for me.  “This is my body,” “This is my blood” sounds pretty complete.  It is not metaphorical.  Jesus really did do this.  If he is God, then God gave all of God for me.  But more, I am drawn to the whole possibility of someone giving themselves for someone else.  It is a challenge for me.  Do I do this for anyone?  Can I?  If not, why not? What holds me back?  I ponder this at each mass when I say and hear these words.  I am attracted to the whole idea of self-giving.  I think it is a secret to fulfillment.  Maybe even happiness.  I have seen people give themselves for the sake of others, such as sponsors in recovery programs, caring for the less fortuanate, the poor and so on.  These giving people seem rather fulfilled and happy.  Selfish people seem less happy, if at all.  I know that side.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Circle of Love

A Desert monk once said the world is like a large circle with God in the middle.  We begin our spiritual journey from the edge of the circle.  Everyone else does too.  As we journey closer to God we grow closer to one another.  We experience a sense of solidarity and oneness with all around us.  If your spiritual journey is giving you a sense of isolation and distain for others, you might want to try a different path.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Magnifying Mind

Someone reminded me of my “Magnifying Mind.”  Say what?  Well, a magnifying mind is one that takes a negative comment and makes its into a much bigger deal than it need be.  A classic example is when someone has a problem and makes it your fault.  Example: the other person cannot stand any distractions, or noise.  They lose concentration, so they say.  They blame you for the noise, for their being unable to listen to something.  You might have a baby with you.  You might be stuck in the only squeaky chair in the room, and there are no other seats.  You may be allergic and sneezing, or have an oxygen tank.  But you magnify the comment and decide never to go back to that place again, even though it was a very helpful place for you...before this negative comment was made.  Why punish yourself for other people’s shortcomings, or problems or lack of tolerance?  I have seen people never come back to church or recovery meetings, or other assemblies they enjoyed.  In your absence these same people will find something else that bothers them.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Rich

Jesus did not have a problem with people being rich.  Rich can be OK in the Bible.  It is what you do with it.  I learned that the word used for rich by Jesus meant, “wanting more.” “More” can be a sign of addiction.  Jesus is concerned with what one does with their excess, their riches.  If you hoard it, or spend it all on yourself, that is no good.  There is a blood disorder with the same Greek root word as “rich” meaning wanting more.  Normally, the blood takes the oxygen that comes into it and spreads it throughout the body.  The blood is the highway and distribution center for oxygen.  In the disease, the blood hordes all the oxygen and one dies.  Be good blood.  Spread your extra stuff around.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Texas Freedom

I was taught that Texas wanted freedom from those mean Mexicans so that Texans could be in a control of their government and culture and not under the thumb of foreign rulers.  Well, there is more or less to the story.  Freedom yes.  “Remember the Alamo!”  But not freedom from all.  Mexico did not favor slavery.  Texas territory was cotton country.  If you want to attract Cotton growers, all white people, from the Eastern United States then you needed to make cotton profitable.  Slavery made cotton profitable.  Texas wanted the land to be pro-slavery for the sake of the economy.  It joined the Union as a slave state and then the Confenderacy in the Civil War.  Sometimes the expressed desire for freedom is all about money, and not freedom for all.  I am in Texas as I write this.  Texas is not so much about cotton, oil, or cattle.  It is now also about High School Football and Friday Night Lights.  Great Sports Pages! Hey, this is Friday night. Gotta’ go.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Stolen Check

I just found out that there is more bad news about the insurance check made out to me for $2045.  Yes it was stolen from the rectory in San Francisco.  We knew about that.  I just found out that it was cashed in a Capital One Bank in St. Cloud, MN and with my signature forged.  I saw a copy of the signed check. Bye, bye money.  Hello Debtor’s Prison.  I won’t even have a stocking at Christmas for coal.  The Medical Insurance people will have a long investigation, and I believe the bank will have an issue to deal with as well.  Eventually, maybe six months, I will be sent an affidavit to sign.  Should I live long enough I might see some money some day.  But I am maintaining my elusive sanity.  I was not murdered in church while praying, nor did I lose my home and all my possessions in a fire as happened in Santa Rosa, CA, not far from where I am typing this blog.  There is the lingering sense of being violated, and I will be dealing with this with friends.  Is this life on life’s terms?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Tree

I came back to the monastery, to my room, and it was filled with light.  What happened?  My room is like a cave, the sun shut out by a big wide evergreen tree outside my window.  I look out the window. Oh!  No tree.  It was cut down.  I liked my room because it was dark.  I felt like a hermit living in a cave.  Now I live in sunlight. I can see aspen tress and mountains.  Is this not a metaphor for the spiritual life?  First we are not prayerful.  Then we are prayerful, but with ideas of how it will all play out.  I will be a hermit, hidden away in the monastery.  My room gives me a sense of being separated from the world of light.  I could go visit the light, but then come back to the darkness.  God is hidden in the darkness.  God seems to have other plans, and seems, in my case, to be quite out in the open light.  God wants me connected with the world.  Maybe for all of us, it is OK to now and again enter into a retreat setting or the interior darkness of ourselves.  Yes, God can be found in this way, but God also wants us to come out into the light and be light for others.  So now, my monastery seems to be bathed in light.  But it is very cold inside.  Can God be found in the cold?  I am working on it.  I hate suffering.  But, as with yesterday's blog, I have a second chance to examine the cold and see what positive things are here.  So far, just cold.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Trust is the engine of action, not faith.  Lots of people say they believe, but they don’t act on that belief because they do not trust.  Say what?  Example: I believe in God.  OK.  God says forgive others.  Someone does me bad.  Do I forgive? No.  Why? I don’t trust that forgiveness is going to “fix” things.  The offender needs to be punished.  I don’t want to be taken advantage of.  I want them to suffer for what they did.  If I simply forgive they will never change.  BUT the issue might be that my belief is supposed to help me to change.  I need to trust in this God in whom I say I believe, or else I will not change for the better.  I need to forgive and trust that God is at work, and all will be well and I will become a better person.  Lots of people believe that Recovery Programs and the 12 steps are good for them, but they don’t trust the process enough to actually take action.  Some of us want faith to be “certitude.”  Move into trust, and certitude may disappear.  Thus the journey really begins.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Doing Beats Saying

A teacher once said, “It is not so much what to say or do that educates; what really educates is who you are.”  I like this, but it is a challenge.  As a teacher, I ask myself why sometimes a lot of people come to some of my presentations and sometimes hardly anyone attends.  Now I know that in some places I must be a rotten person who talks good stuff.  Though I might say, “They hate me,” that is but drama and whining.  If I don’t exude the transformation about which I speak, I deserve no participants.  Enough about me.  As for you, recall that God is not unduly upset about people who speak against God, or in my tradition, Jesus.  This means God does not get all upset about angry believers, or atheists or pagans.  That is all about belief issues.  God does get upset about people who “blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.”  It is in Roman’s Chapter 12.  Blasphemy refers to how you act in your Daly life as the person you have become.  Again, who you are is more important than what you say in faith areas.  If you are kind, loving, compassionate, selfless and forgiving than you are following the Holy Spirit Energy, regardless of what you say you believe or don’t believe.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Good News

I hear a lot of talk about the Gospels, the New Testament writings for Christians, as being Good News.  My sense is that most of the people who say that, don’t really mean it.  First, the root meaning of Good News in the Bible is something like tidings of joy and power.  In Roman military terms it meant a big military victory announced.  Such news is powerful enough to at least change our day if not our life.  But for most so-called believers, Good News is treated more like old news.  Old news was good yesterday, but today it is just old and does not affect me so much as it did when I first heard it.  I become mediocre as does the news.  “Oh, I heard that already.  What else is new!” This is the attitude.  The effect of the news quickly wears off.  The news quickly loses its surprising freshness.  It is like the day after Christmas or Easter Monday.  “What’s next?”  The good news of our marriage, health report, surgery, fade over time, and gratitude, much less joy, seems to seep away.  I am trying to keep my health, friends, spiritual condition, as Good News, rather than take anything for granted.  This way, I won’t become such bad news for those around me.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Do you notice that when you suffer alone, you whine, but that when you suffer for another, or to relieve their suffering, you don’t whine, and even feel quite good.  So it is not what you do, but the reasons and circumstances that induce your reaction.  Example: my sister Jane, cooked roast pork for dinner on our vacation.  I clean up after dinner when she cooks roast pork,  and it is quite a mess, being roast pork pans and such other pots and pans.  Janie usually is my assistant clean-up person.  But just before dinner she burned her hand on a hot dish.  She became useless to help clean up.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner though, and then I suffered in cleaning up by myself while she sat and attended to her burnt hand and sore back.  But I did not whine.  Why?  I was relieving her suffering by letting her sit and relax and defuse her pains.  Had I been cleaning up alone because of a bunch of lazy and uncaring persons who would not lift a finger to help, then I would have whined and had a long resentment list.  So my sister Jane and her burnt hand are a source of grace for me.  Think about that when next you do good deeds that extend you, for others.  Children are a source of grace for parents.  Co-workers, friends, club associates can all be sources of grace if we see our efforts as that of relieving the sufferings of others.

Friday, November 3, 2017

All Souls

Yesterday, in my church tradition, we celebrated the Feast of All Souls.  This is a special day of prayer for sinful, imperfect people like me who are not going non-stop to heaven.  We would go to purgatory.  Now, not everyone believes in purgatory in my tradition.  It is being debated even in theological circles.  But if it exists it is a place much like being on a New York Subway in the summer, very crowded and stuffy hot/humid, stuck in the dark tunnel, electricity off, waiting for someone to fix the electrical grid and get the train moving to our preferred destination.  On the purgatory train, we suffer, but are powerless to fix anything.  Outside forces are our hope.  Prayer for those in purgatory is like helping to get the grid back on.  We are the people outside purgatory, praying for those in purgatory.  Our preferred stop is heaven.  Since my sister Maureen spent some time in purgatory for being mean to her little brother, I prayed especially for her.  I hope it helped get her out.  If so, she can pray for me when I get onto that train of misery.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Then again, maybe if you have suffered the New York City slow, antiquated public transportation system, you will be doing purgatory on earth!  Then it will be non-stop to heaven when you die.  Think on that when you are next stuck on a subway train.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Grumbling Goodness

Yesterday was my sister Janie’s birthday.  I told her she did not have to do anything.  I would cook and clean up.  I prepared cheese, sliced bakery bread, apples for before dinner and then cooked fish, had shrimp cocktail,  and cleaned up.  I was thinking, “I can’t wait until her birthday is over.  I am exhausted!”  Oops!  Good deeds while grumbling only get you partial credit in Good Person School.  My heart and soul might be into cooking and serving, but my body was not.  I was not “all in.”  Does this not happen to parents, co-workers, teachers and clergy and church worker people?  I think so.  We are doing good deeds but grumbling and mumbling about our sufferings.  Don’t beat yourself up too much.  Partial credit is still credit.  You are doing the assigned work that you have been given.  Sometimes we cannot be “A+” in the School of Good Person Deeds.  But we did not drop out.  Children, friends, co-workers, associates, and people whom you serve are glad you did not drop out.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Dark Times

Today, as related in yesterday's blog, according to our ancient Irish Celtic way of seeing things, is the beginning of the Dark Season.  It is my sister Jane's Birthday.  On the day Janie was born, Pius XII declared the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary.  Mary was considered a person of Light, and so my church wanted to say that Light overcomes Darkness.  I think that my sister Jane caught some of that light, unlike my big sister, Maureen, who was not so much light.  Maureen liked the darkness, as when I walked into our walk-in closet at night once to get something in the back of the closet.  Maureen came in after me, put out the closet light and made eerie, scary sounds.  I about soiled myself.  She was a witch in the making.   Janie, my youngest sister, the baby, is most like me, because she likes sports.  But I digress.  For years, on her birthday, Janie and I go to a remote place on the northern California coast, to celebrate.  I cook her birthday dinner.  I used to be more helpless, but love expands our horizons and now I can cook.  Janie is also like me because she will eat treats.  Maureen was not much for treats.  They make you sweet.  We talk about Maureen.  I tell Janie Maureen stories on Janis's birthday, and she tells me I am fibbing.  Maureen was way older than Jane, so Baby did not know Witch very well.  Then something very strange happens by the end of the dinner.  We both miss Maureen and realize what a treasure Maureen was in our lives.  Big sisters are very special and important.  But it is only on Janie's birthday that I remember this.  So, what do you do for people you love on their birthday?  If you could be with them on their day?  The first thing is that birthdays have to be special.  They are not for a lot of people.  So what day do you make a day special for someone you say you love, that takes you beyond a Facebook timeline note?  I cook, and I am good at it.  And my sister Maureen is very special to me, but if I always said that, these blogs would not be so much fun for me or interesting for you.  I try to make sure that I see my two still living sisters each year.  Maureen died too suddenly and too young for me.  "Next year" is not always an option.