Saturday, March 31, 2018

Stripping The Altar

On Holy Thursday, two days ago in Christian circles, the altar is "stripped."  A strange word.  Why don't they simply say, "Everything is removed."  I have an idea.  When you remove your clothes, you do so with your own consent.  You will it, and you do it so as to avoid embarrassment.  Stripped is different.  You don't strip yourself.  Someone else does.  It is against your will and it is embarrassing. You are seen as you truly are, blemishes, and warts, and all.  So what might be the point?  The point, maybe for all of us, is to at some time strip yourself of all that hides who you know yourself to be both the good and the not so good.  I don't mean outer garments, but the ways that we cover up our faults and shortcomings.  Then take a good look at yourself and admit your imperfections.  Two things can come from this.  Honesty is the door opener to becoming a better person.  You are embarrassed to be so short of what you know you could be.  Secondly, at least for believers, is that God knew all along your shortcomings and still loves you.  Jews and Christians know this, so why do they hide from even themselves who they truly are in their less attractive aspects?  This weekend is both Easter and Passover.  It is a good time for believers to take a good look at themselves.  It is always a good time for AA people in recovery to do the same.  They have steps four and five for that.  Talk about embarrassing honesty!  But it is the doorway to new life.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday

Today is a good Friday for a lot of people because they are getting a holiday for a long weekend, but back on the first Good Friday, it was not so good for Jesus, as he was being crucified, a really miserable, torturous way to die.  So, for believers, I ask, what do you feel today about Jesus as relates to that first Good Friday?  Gratitude? He died for all people, so we believe.  Or shame and guilt that you have not been a better person?  Or nothing?  Feeling nothing for a believer is sad.  I've known that feeling, especially when preoccupied with a nice long weekend.  Even non-believers have a better response than that.  When they think of someone, such as Jesus, who would suffer so much for others and then forgive those who are indifferent or hate him, they are pretty impressed even though they don't think Jesus is God.  Some think him kind of heroic even if it seems like folly to suffer for others who are indifferent.  What impresses many people is that Jesus died without any grudges or resentments.  He died believing that he had accomplished all he was born to do.  He sacrificed for others, and died selflessly.  In a word, he did for others what they could not do for themselves.  So when you think Jesus a bit of a nut case, ask yourself if you have grudges and resentments you will take to your grave?
Have you accomplished everything you thought you were called to do? For whom do you sacrifice?  Who do you forgive even though they are indifferent to you?  I think maybe it was a pretty Good Friday for Jesus.  I hope to die half as free as he did.  Enjoy your holiday.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Holy Thursday Again


The Cross

Wearing a cross around your neck can seem somewhat weird.  And when it has a body on the cross it is really grotesque.  It is a sign of torture.  Catholics wear these things around their necks, like other people might wear jewelry.  The cross was the way Jesus was executed.  I wonder if he had been shot by a firing squad, would people wear a rifle around their necks?  Now many Catholics wear the cross as a kind of talisman, asking God to help them in times of trouble, or to get out of some mess of their own making or protect them from harm and suffering.  But that was not the purpose of the cross.  It is not a lucky charm.  It meant, on our part, that change is really torturous and we have to die to our ego-centered self in order to become all God wants us to be.  The cross is a reminder that we are supposed to be changing each day to become more loving, compassionate, forgiving, patient and accepting, while at the same time trying to make the world a better place for more than my tribe of like people.  Most people don't want to do that.  They just want rules and laws to make them feel correct and safe.  Today is Holy Thursday in Christian circles.  Jesus washed feet today.  That is pretty ego-deflating.  It is a reminder and a check on how I am doing on this change that begins within.  It can be somewhat deflating.  But I trudge on.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I am 75 today.  I tell everyone it is my birthday.  This could be problematic.  If I kept it quiet and was not so self-referential, then if someone said, "Happy Birthday" I would be happy and joyous!  But if I tell everyone, and no one seems all that interested, no cake and candles, no chocolate and such, then I would go into the tank and get whiney.  I would start to think, "Boulder has abandoned me."  "No one cares."  "My life is in ruins. I am alone in a world of darkness"  You get the point.  So there is a lot on the line today.  On top of all this, it is Holy Week in the Catholic Church and everyone Catholic feels badly about partying during Holy Week.  Since I am not too good a Catholic, this is not my issue.  So I hope all my non-Catholic and bad Catholic friends come through for me.  If not, I will work on acceptance tomorrow.  But my prayer list will be a lot shorter if that is the case.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Me A Tree?

If we are truly evolving, then we humans are the most evolved in creation, as far as we know on earth.  Most of the DNA in everything alive is the same.  We are just a bit different or more evolved.  So even our image, the way we look, will evolve if we don't destroy ourselves.  So if all of nature is part of our past, why do we treat it as totally other and destroy it?  Animals, less evolved than humans, do not destroy so wantonly.  So why do we?  Why not focus on connections rather than differences.  Not only treat the tree better, but also the poor, the disfigured, the unbalanced, the disabled.  They are all us, but just look a bit different.  Probably someone looks down on me, or you, dismisses us as "less than" which allows them to do thus and so to feather their nest or go on living without concern for us.  Tomorrow I will turn 75 years old.  I hope I am not too dismissed or looked down on or ignored, being old and coming undone.  We will see.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Garbage Man

Say thank you to your sanitation workers.  Why?  Well, it is more dangerous being one of them than a police or fire person.  Injuries and deaths are riskier for the person who picks up your trash, than for these others.  in 2016, 82% of the sanitation companies were private businesses.  Think profits.  The driver worker gets a long day of 10-14 hours and the pay may be a flat fee per shift, no matter the hours.  So there is fatigue, and the helper might be paid off the books, so a lot of turnover there.  The garbage can have sharp objects, poorly maintained equipment and even fires.  These people come around once or twice a week, so maybe do a good deed of gratitude and write a note, or leave out some treats with the note.  The more we take people for granted, the less grateful our lives.  I have found it so.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Christians are supposed to believe in the Annunciation which is normally celebrated on this date.  What is it?  Well, it refers to God becoming human when Mary said yes to being pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  Now, none of this is of concern to nonbelievers but, for Christians,  I want to point out some logic here on a wider issue.  The teaching for Christians is that God became human at conception, not a fetus, that is not yet fully human as many modern people would say.  So, if God becomes human at the moment of conception, and we are made in God's image, as Christians believe, then why do so many Christians say they believe in Incarnation but hold that one becomes human only at birth?  Now one could argue that the fetus does not look human, as it has fins instead of hands or that the church teaching on Annunciation is hopelessly behind the times, all so that one can go on being a Christian but not holding to a core teaching.  Where does one stop?  It can become a slippery slope.  At least with the Sermon on the Mount, we agree that we just cannot do this teaching, that we are weak or selfish or whatever, but we do not deny the Sermon on the Mount as hopelessly out of date.  I find it is not very easy being a Christian.  It would be a lot easier if I could just drop some parts of it.  But I find it better for my growth to say Christian is a darn hard life filled with my mistakes and mess ups in my life.  I find that repentance works better for my transformation rather than writing things off.  I think that AA people would say that 12 steps work, but less than 12, not so much.  I try not to make up my own programs for spiritual growth.  It has not worked so far.  I am a follower, not a founder.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Apple Skin

A lot of people like to peel away the skin of the apple to get to the juicy fruit and good taste.  But you may be shortchanging yourself if you do away with the skin.  The apple is a metaphor for the spiritual life.  When we are deep into the spiritual connective way with all around us, and not into our own personal pity pot, we are living "on the edge."  The spiritual life is that thin edge that we often ignore to get to something else.  We can wake up in the morning all connected with the world around us, but then quickly go into planning, worrying, criticizing, complaining and so on about our life or people, places and things connected to our life.  We wake up connected but then disconnect.  We wake up on the edge, but ignore it.  We have to get things done or undone, like we have to eat the apple beneath the skin.  This is why I like to pray when I first wake up.  I want to stay with the edge of spiritual connection that is non-judgmental, non-controlling and non-complaining.  I find that I may still whine later, but for a shorter period and for less time and energy.  I bought some apples today to put one by my bedside so that when I wake in the morning I might take the advice of this blog.  

Friday, March 23, 2018

An Early Holy Thursday

It appears that yesterday a blog of mine appeared that was supposed to be for Holy Thursday, which is next week, but for some reason, my computer would not let me do it.  So it showed up yesterday.  Lo and behold, outside of Paul Snatchco, who saw it to be a week early, I had a lot of hits for the week early blog.  So maybe it was supposed to show up yesterday.  I decided to copy and paste it to show up again on the REAL Holy Thursday, March 29, the day after my birthday.  Just sayin.

The Face

Animal faces are not like our faces.  You say, "Yeh, so what is new about that."  Well, I don't mean appearances.  The more profound difference is that animal faces generally do not look up into the sky.  They look down to the ground or around them to see what danger or food might be available.  A pet might look up as far as its owner, its food source.  They are very much into basic needs.  At the monastery the cows look at one another or look down to find grass to eat.  But human faces are made to look up to the sky, to the infinite, the beyond.  We are made to look at wonder and mystery.  Our faces can give us a sense of gratitude that we can do that.  When we look into the mirror at ourselves we can get critical and narrow focus on perceived or imagined limitations in appearance.  Let your face remind you that you are made for more than appearances or approval from others or popularity.  You are made for wonder, the infinite, the expansive, represented by sky, stars, and space.  You are connected to it all, and none of this connective mystery cares a fig for how you look.  It cares that you look, and see.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Don't you like to put down others so that you will feel better about yourself?  Gossip is one way to do that.  I do it enough so that I must like it, or else why do it at all?  Now my religion is a great anecdote to this put down way of life.  One of the reasons for the put down is because we don't feel all that good about ourselves but don't seem to be getting better.  This can be somewhat of a downer, but we put down others and voila!  We feel better, at least for the moment.  Someone else is a bigger mess than we are.  My religion, however,  has Jesus and he is all about mercy.  I can be bad, and Jesus shows mercy, forgiveness and patience, at least so says the bible.  Why not enjoy that if you believe Jesus is God?  It seems there is an inconsistency, because a lot of Christians go on putting people down but say they believe in Jesus.  I find it such a solace to just sit and enjoy the mercy that meets my messy life of imperfection.  Then I do't have to put others down.  I then recognize, one, I am no better, and two, I am loved anyway.  You don't even have to love Jesus or love the people you put down.  You feel better and you do less damage in the gossip world of character assassination.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Marie-Joseph Legrange

My Catholic Church has a problem with being wrong.  It finds it very hard to be on the wrong side of an issue.  My church was a bit slow to get into the archeological research trend in bible study.  We thought that Moses wrote the first five books of the bible.  Then along came a Dominican Priest, Fr. Lagrange who in 1890 founded our first school for such research in Jerusalem, a good place for bible research at that time.  The Protestants had been at it for a good part of the 19th century, and you know how it was back then.  If the Protestants do it, then it must be wrong.  We were not too much into working together with other denominations.  But bible research was where we began to study with "outsiders."  Lagrange faced relentless criticism and some censorship within the Catholic Church.  But Lagrange loved the church and carried on quietly with his research.  He died in 1938 before Pius XII, who became Pope in 1939, backed his research efforts.  By the mid-sixties the Catholic Church was all in on biblical research and study.  So maybe it is a wait and see on modern issues in which you think the Catholic Church is way behind.  Of course, you could die first, as did Lagrange.  Institutions tend to move titanically while individual life is short.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

People Are Work

Someone said that they would be a lot better persons, more patient, loving and accepting, if people would just leave them alone, or go away.  Being a hermit might seem to be attractive in such a case.  You think you would be better if a hermit, or left alone or if people would just go away?  With whom then would you be patient? Or loving? Or accepting?  Patience is practiced with people who try our patience.  So really, it is in temptation and testing, that we get to practice virtues.  Other people are important to us because they will reveal to us who we really are.  We can live in the delusion that we are kind and loving, as long as no one messes with our world.  But when people are well, people, wit hall their shortcomings and bad habits, then we are tested.  The we find out just how loving and patient we are.  The mirror to ourselves is the community with another or others.  Did you marry or are in relationship with an "impossible" person?  Oh dear.  Someone might need to change.  The "impossible" people in my life never seemed to change.  But where I did change, it was always for the better.  I used to have a whole bunch of insane friends.  I became sane, and they all seemed to drop out around me.  Did I become boring?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Bill W. and Jesus

I think that Bill W. the co-founder of AA, and Jesus had about the same sense of the value of knowledge, that is head/brain knowledge.  Having facts, information, and general knowledge about a subject does not really amount to much change in a person.  Bill said that "knowledge avails us nothing," that is without practice of what it is you say you know.  Jesus said that one is "not far from the kingdom" if they know key answers, such as which is the greatest commandment in the Jewish Law.  Not far, is still not in the kingdom.  Knowledge can point to the door, or draw us closer to transformation, or sobriety, which is surely transformation for an addict, but pointing and drawing close is still not being there.  YOU HAVE TO ACT.  Transformation is a program of action.  Just because you know you are supposed to love your neighbor, does not make you love your neighbor.  Just because you know all about alcoholism and the twelve steps, does not make you sober.  You have to do something and do it every day.  For some of us, it is not easy being good.  We have to work at it.  I am just speaking for myself of course.

St. Joseph

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Nothing of what he ever said is recorded.  But not so for me.  This past Saturday, I gave a great talk on the Celtic/Cosmic Christ, and I did record it. You can find it on which is a u-tube type thing.  Look for me under frterrysspiritualstuff.  Now I forgot to turn the recorder off during the intermission, so there will be a long time with background noise and then I come on again.  I am my own techie recorder and so there are glitches.  But I was really good in this talk.  My next talk will be on humility😇

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Home. No Phone

Someone said, and I tend to agree, "Being home is being no place else."  Say what?  Turn off your phone if you want to feel really "at home."  With the cell phone, you are always somewhere else in thinking, imagining, wishing, on the Internet.  Electronically, we are always somewhere else when we are on the cell phone checking something, texting someone, emailing, and so on.  To be where I am, I need to turn off my phone.  Certainly, when I want to be at home within myself, to be just with me, I need to make sure that I am not hearing bings, buzzes, rings, that call me to the needs, wants, or agenda of that world outside myself, the world that is not home.  If you are always an attachment to the wants and needs of your family, as much as you may love, them, when are you ever at home with just you?  Excuse me, I have an important email.  Just kidding.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

St. Patrick

Well, Happy St. Patrick's Day.  Even if you are not interested, or clueless, at least when you see lots of green today you will know what it is all about.  Two things I remember from St. Patrick's Day years ago.  One, is that we got off from school.  Because it is a Saturday this year, the point is mute.  But Catholic schools are not really Catholic anymore because they have school on St. Patrick's Day.  The second thing I remember is lots of drinking, and not only by the Irish.  There is a lot less of that because of DUI stuff, many Irish now in AA, and fear of losing your job.  That leaves students who take public transportation I guess.  This year, I am going to have corn beef and cabbage with an Irish friend, and teach something about The Celts and Prayer.  And of course, the wearing of the green.  If you want to see a big St. Pat's parade, New York City and Savannah, Georgia are the best places. Boston and Chicago try.  If the parade is not on the actual day, then forget it.  That is not Irish.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Group Conscience

There is such a thing as a meeting to make a decision in which "group conscience" is paramount.  I have rarely been in such meetings.  Most meetings in my life are hierarchical.  Someone is the boss in the room.  Others are underlings, or someone is seen as in charge, and the rest have lesser titles.  In these meetings it is not always safe to give an opinion.  Some people are just naturally less likely to speak up.  A few people, usually the more outspoken ones, speak up and then the boss pushes toward a decision that generally agrees with the boss.  In group conscience none of this stuff happens.  No one is in charge though someone leads the meeting.  The meeting is made safe by not commenting approval or disapproval.  Everyone is given time to speak.  It is not a "group" conscience if some people say nothing.  These meetings can take a long time or there will be multiple meetings before a decision is made.   What is the purpose of this?  Group unity, and the thought that a minority opinion might in fact become the decision.  Everyone takes ownership and no one walks away feeling left out.    When I was in charge of stuff, I did not much like group conscience.  How many people felt left out or diminished, I don't know.  But now that I am in charge of nothing, I like group conscience!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Baptism Way

I read where in the early Christian church, people who wanted to be baptized had to go through this long process of initiation.  That was the basis for the long process we have today.  Then I read where this fellow Ambrose, in the 4th century, a declared saint, mind you, was not even baptized but the town wanted him to be their bishop.  So in a week's time, they baptized him, confirmed him, ordained him a priest, and then ordained him a bishop.  After that, he read a lot a scripture, and did good for the poor.  He became a saint, while many a people who go through this long process today, stay a few years, if that, and then drift off to something else.  I am for a quicker process.  There is no guarantee.  Besides, the Holy Spirit is supposed to do the heavy lifting.  Then we could shorten the Easter Vigil!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Sword

There is a Jesus bible story where he is about to get arrested and one of his friends draws a sword and cuts off the ear of a one of the arresting group.  Jesus says, "Put away your sword."  I find that a lot of people who say they believe in Jesus and follow him, including me, don't.  We still use a sword against others.  Not the one with the sharp steel blade, but the tongue.  We cut people up with our words, opinions, behind the back gossip and betrayal.  We make judgments, put people down and enumerate their faults as we opinion them.  I think that our own ears are cut off from listening to the gospel we are supposed to believe in and follow.  The one who lives by the sword dies by the sword.  So why be upset when others cut us up with their tongue if we do the same with ours?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


I read a study that said of the people under age 30, 23% met the criteria for alcoholism.  Wow.  But at the same time studies seem to point to people on Facebook always painting  picture of themselves as happy, doing well, being successful.  Maybe the 23% don't use Facebook?  Who reads on Facebook someone saying that they are depressed, stressed, drinking too much and having suicidal thoughts?  They would get no "like" hits on that one.  But they might get some needed help, or connect with other people who are feeling the same way, but are afraid to look like failures among all the "happy" facebook friends.  I suspect that this blog won't get many "like" hits, nor be sent around to others to share a feel good story.  But the truth is, many more young people are miserable, and maybe older people, than they let on in their Facebook postings.  My blogs about me, on the other hand, show I am often in a bit of a mess.  No wonder those don't get many hits!

Monday, March 12, 2018

John Wesley

John Wesley, the fellow who is credited with founding what became called, "Methodism" felt that the essence of Christianity is love.  I tend to agree.  But so many people who profess to be Christian focus on knowledge and dogma as the essence.  Do you have the correct creed?  Do you belong to the correct denomination or church group?  Wesley believed that piety had to go along with morality and morality was "love."  You lived out a moral life by loving.  All of us will die not having read a lot of good books, and without the knowledge of many truths.  That is OK.  But to die without love?  What would all our knowledge do for us if we die without love?  I need to make sure that I balance my reeding with my loving!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sowing And Harvesting

Dorothy Day talked about love and its fruits.  The act of love is like sowing seeds in planting.  You can sew the seeds of love, but the harvesting is in the future and you don't have a lot of control over how things will bear fruit.  Don't look for immediate payoffs when you love.  Just love.  It can sometimes seem thankless and painful.  Our hearts may even be crushed by love.  Don't we all want to be loved even in those times when we do not or did not seem to bear fruit?  Such love can change the lover for the better even if it does not change the one loved.  I am still waiting for some people to bear fruit from my efforts to love and I am sure that some are waiting for me to bear fruit from their love for me!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Robert Palladino

The fonts used by Apple Computers had its roots in the Catholic Church.  Robert Palladino was Trappist monk who had handwriting skills.  So he got special calligraphy training from the monastery scribe where he was a monk.  Robert left the monastery and went on to study calligraphy at Reed College in Oregon.  He then joined the Reed Faculty in Portland and taught calligraphy.  Apple founder Steve Jobs audited his calligraphy class.  Jobs later credited Palladino and his class for Apple's distinctive onscreen fonts.  So all you Apple users can say," Thank you Catholic Church."

Friday, March 9, 2018

Lately Noticed

If you are doing the best you can at something you love, don't worry if no one seems to notice.  It may be something you love that has little to do with your work.  It may be a truer vocation than your day job. If you do what you love with the hope of being discovered or becoming famous, then you will very well stop because no one takes notice. Gerard Manley Hopkins was possibly the best poet of the English speaking world in the 19th century, but no one knew it...while he was alive.  His day job was a Jesuit priest who worked in the London slums, taught Greek and Latin in Dublin, Ireland and died at age 44 of typhoid fever in 1889.  No one seemed to know that he wrote poetry.  Then in 1918, long after his death, a fellow poet and friend published Hopkins.  His poetry has benefitted many people since being published.  We usually don't know all the people we help when we do what we love.  Maybe my Maureen stories will be published after I die?  Be still my heart.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Fleeting Concern

In centuries past, some ascetic monks and hermits counseled a "careless and fleeting concern for the world."  They said we were to fix our energy and attention on the next life, the everlasting one as they saw it.  Back then, there was little knowledge of how our earth is adversely affected by what we do.  Life was hard and short and you did what was needed to survive.  The communal monks, such as Benedictines, who farmed and ranched the land, had a better idea about ecology, though that was not a word used back then.  Nowadays, we realize that whatever comes after death cannot be our only concern. If we don't take care of our planet, there will be no life that precedes death.  Eternal life presupposes a temporal one on this earth.  A modern mystic who is not concerned and connected to the earth is probably part of the problem.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Pierre Toussaint

All of us need a little help and then a little luck to make some success of our life and to be helpful to others.  Pierre Toussaint got a little help and had a little luck.  He ended up buried under the main altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.  He started out as a Haitian slave of Jean Berard.  Berard taught him how to read and write. It was a crime to teach slaves how to read or write in the United States.  That was the little bit of help.  Then the luck.  There was a slave revolt in Haiti.  Berard and family fled to New York City and tool their slave with them.  Berard died and Toussaint, being able to read and write studied and became a hairdresser to the rich, to support the Berard family.  Mrs. Berard freed Pierre just before she died.  That was a little more help.  Pierre married.  With his money he purchased the freedom of Haitian slaves, and as refugees in New York, he found them jobs and gave them money.  The Toussaints cared for abandoned children, helped open a school to teach children a trade, helped found the first Catholic school for black children in New York City, and an orphanage with Mother Seton.  Church hierarchy get buried under the altar of famous cathedrals.  And then there is Toussaint.  So what are we all doing with the help and luck that came our way?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Tip

A way to be helpful to those who have less comes our way whenever we eat in a restaurant.  The waitperson does not have health insurance and is not making a lot of money.  It may be a second job.  It may be the only job they can get or qualify for.  Maybe they are poor students.  Who knows?  But what if the tip is going to them or shared with the person who cooked your food and cleaned off the table or washed the dishes?  If you have the means, then think about the tip.  Extravagant love is a way to look at it.  Or just a matter of sharing your good life with someone who is struggling.  If the service is lousy and the food terrible, you might be helpful by telling them so.

Monday, March 5, 2018

New Bed

JOHN 2: 13-25
MARCH 4, 2018

I bought a new bed, but there was drama.  Each year that I come to spend some time teaching and preaching in Vero Beach, Florida, I stay at our Paulist community home that we have here for senior priests.  I stay in a room no one else really wants.  It has no air, but during Lent the weather allows for me to make it livable.  Anyhow, the room is always available, but it has a bed that is very old and has bothered me in the past.  My first night here in the bed was dreadfully uncomfortable.  I said, “This is unacceptable,” and told the community here that I was having trouble with this bed and we needed to buy a new one.  

No one jumped at spending money for a new bed, but the priest in charge said, “Go to Sam’s.”  I was hopeful that I would find a good bed there for a good price.  Another Paulist priest went with me.  It is good to have another opinion when buying a bed.  Sam’s had only two mattresses for single bed.  They were cheap, but dreadful.  I would have been in back surgery before my time in Florida was done.  So we went to a mattress store and found lots of mattresses, but way more $$$ than Sam’s.  I did not find anything that was so right that I would buy it.

We went across the street to another mattress store.  We found a mattress that was very nice but it would be ten days until delivery.  Back surgery for sure.  There was a second mattress that was “not as good” said the salesperson.  It was cheaper and could be delivered in one day.  As I sat deliberating, the Holy Spirit got involved in buying a mattress!  

The salesperson came back and said, “I never have this third mattress in stock, but I happen to have one now.”  I tried it> Perfect.  He could deliver it in a day, and I would get “President’s Day” discount of several hundred dollars.  The mattress and box spring cost $500+ and the Paulist I was with produced a credit card and we bought it.  The mattress is wonderful, but the cost was several hundred dollars more than I think our house money manager was hoping to spend.  

So at church I preached on this incident.  Does it not speak of how Jesus acted?  He came into the temple and said, “This just won’t do,” in so many words.  I said this about my bed.  Jesus wanted change and the people in charge liked things just the way they were.  No one at the house wanted to spend money on a new mattress for a guest room.  So if you think that something is “just not right,” then act to change it.  If the Holy Spirit is with you, then you will know by how things go.

But here is the best part.  I said in my homily, in passing, of course, that I hoped to find a way to pay the community for the bed.  After mass as I was greeting people someone walked up to me and pressed some money into the palm of my hand.  “This is for the bed,” he said.  I put the money into my pocket.  Later, I looked at the money.  It was five One Hundred Dollar bills!  Maybe I will stay in Florida! 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Call

Become who you are meant to be, or find your true vocation.  It may be a second calling, or a change in lifestyle and work.  How will you know you have made the right change?  You will live a more intense and beautiful life.  You will discover a more authentic happiness.  You may not have as much money or things or comfort, but if chosen freely, you will find more fulfillment.  The ego driven life is too fear-based and lacks fulfillment.  There are many rich, famous, 'important" people, and they keep making changes in their life to find happiness, but it is not driven by becoming all they were made to be.  More money, a different partner, bigger house, car, office, but not more fulfillment.  I did some teaching this morning on prayer.  The morning was three hours long.  I made $75.  I am on the way to the poor house at this rate, but I happy with what I do.  Maybe teaching about prayer is not what I am supposed to do?  Can I blog from the poor house?  Not to

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Someone said that if you cannot think of anything to be grateful for, start with not being on fire.  I thought it was a bit silly until I woke up one night with some physical pain that would not go away.  I was most ungrateful for this powerlessness.  Then I thought, "Well, I am not on fire."  It worked.  And after a while, the pain went away too.  Don't judge suggestions as silly, until you might need them.  Maybe that goes for people, and places too.

Friday, March 2, 2018


When the pilgrims' ship, the Mayflower, reached land, they docked off shore.. It was a Saturday.  A few guys went on shore to look around and collect some wood.  The next day was Sunday.  No one went on shore.  Then on Monday, women went ashore to do laundry.  That is why Monday is called, "wash day."  The pilgrims were a religious group who took seriously the Sabbath as a day of rest in honor of God.  Well, I am a Christian believer.  When do I do my laundry?  Sunday.  It is convenient for my schedule.  I never have church work on Sunday afternoon.  But this is Lent.  What am I doing or not doing for these six weeks to remind me that I am somewhat self-willed and wanting things to go my way?  Why not give up doing my laundry on Sunday for these six Sundays?  Hmmm.  I prefer something more general, that is not so easily measured, like being kind to the poor, or something that does not interfere with my plans or routines, such as giving up Brussel Sprouts.  We will see about the laundry.  It is tough to toughen up.  

Thursday, March 1, 2018

St. Frances of Rome

My boyhood parish church, St. Frances of Rome, in the Bronx, was where I had my first memorable experiences of God.  All we had back then, and it was enough for me, was the basement part of what was supposed to become a bigger, more ornate church to be built on top of it.  That did not happen in my lifetime at St. Frances of Rome.  I knew every part of that basement church, as I was a student in the school and was a frequent altar server.  Whenever I went in there, I felt that I was around God.  It was what you might call "bonding with buildings."  The question I ask is, "Did the bonding experience of building and God change my heart?"  I would have to say, "Not much."  I had guys I did not like.  I judged people and got into fights.  Inside the church building I was better.  I think this is what is called "externalizing" the faith.  It is most affected by external beauty, but that does not translate into active internal beauty that sees all people as connected, and in my faith, as Christ.  Now you might have no interest in buildings and faith, but maybe your externalizing connection is with nature, a special place or walk that holds you in its beauty.  Ask the same question.  "Does the external beauty make you see more beautifully from the inside, act more compassionate, loving and forgiving?"  For many of us, we need more than external scenes or buildings if we are going to change for the better.