"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself, for better or for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his soil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till."
Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882]
I was tempted to add "woman" and "she" and "her"
to the above quote, but didn't. I've learned
I can attempt to make this change in what
I write and simply say that this was the viewing point
of the time Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote.
Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn! Look to this Day! For it is Life, the very Life of Life. In its brief course lie all the Truths and Realities of our Existence. The Bliss of Growth, The Glory of Action The Splendor of Beauty, For Yesterday is but a Dream, And Tomorrow is only a Vision: But Today well lived makes Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness, And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope. Look well therefore to this Day! Such is the Greeting of the Dawn.
The title of my thoughts this morning is, “Seven Types of Peace.”
Today’s gospel has
Jesus saying something he often says in
the Gospel of John, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
[John 14: 27]
Last night, as I was
looking at my notes for this text from the Gospel of John, I found something I had discovered somewhere along the line that I thought was peaceful and practical.
Cristovam Buarque wrote an article, “There Are Seven Types of Peace.” Then he
has a sub-title: “Brazil Needs to Make Each of Them.” 
He discovered these
7 types of peace - not in Brazil
- but amongst the Aymara People who live in the Andes in Western Bolivia,
Southern Peru and Northern Chile - and especially around and near Lake Titicaca
- which borders Peru and Bolivia.
To make this homily
or explanation work you have to do some work; you have to make some gestures with your hands
this morning. This might seem Hokey Pokey. Relax. It's not too complicated. Be at peace with me
today. No problem. We Catholics know how
to move our hands during Mass - to make the sign of the cross, to receive a
blessing, to fold our hands, to make the sign of peace, to reach out our hands
or tongue to receive Holy Communion.
So I’m going to ask
you to follow directions - and to make some gestures with your hands and to do
this at 8 AM in the morning. I’m going to describe the type of peace that is
being talked and then give a blessing which I formulated from the description
of these 7 types of peace I found in the article.
FIRST TYPE IS INNER PEACE
So can you put your
hand on the top of your head: “May we have peace with ourselves - peace today
with our body, with our health, with our mind, with our work, because
without peace with ourselves for starters, we will not be at peace with others. Amen.”
SECOND TYPE OF PEACE IS UPWARD DIRECTED
So raise your hand
towards the sky - so as to be at peace with the above. “May we be at peace
with God above - with all those who have gone before us who are with God - with
the Spiritual. Amen.”
THIRD TYPE OF PEACE IS DIRECTED
Point your hand
forwards. We put our past behind us. The Aymara people put their past in front
of them - because they know it. It’s been lived and experience. So, “May we have peace with our past - that we let go and be forgiven of mistakes. Let guilt, regrets, debts, be taken care
FOURTH TYPE OF PEACE IS DIRECTED
Point your hand
backwards. “May we have peace with our
future, peaceful, not nervous, about time always ticking, with what we can’t
see, uncertainty, and what is to come. Amen.”
FIFTH TYPE OF PEACE IS DIRECTED TO
Point your hand to
your left. This is peace with those
close to you - those around you - close friends, but family especially. “May we have peace with all those in our family - with those who are close to us - especially with those who take away the feeling of peace at times. Amen.”
SIXTH TYPE OF PEACE IS TOWARDS THE
Point your hand to the right. This is peace with neighbors and those we see and
interact with. “May we have peace with those across the street - those in the other
car - those at the other desk - those in
the next section at work - especially with those we experience who bring friction
and frustration and the unknown at times. Amen.”
SEVENTH TYPE OF PEACE IS POINTED
This seventh and final peace is directed towards the earth from which we came
and towards which we will return. “May we have peace with the earth on which we
walk - the source of our sustenance. When storms or drought comes or the
earth shakes or quakes, may we stay calm and peaceful. Amen.” 
 "There Are Seven Types of Peace. Brazil Needs to Make Each of Them," written by Cristovam Buarque. I found this on line from back in 2007, but I'm not sure where this was written. I want to give Cristovam Buarque credit for this "study". I found that I had jotted down the following about who he is: Cristovam Buarque has a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PDT
senator for the Federal District and was Governor of the Federal
District (1995-98) and Minister of Education (2003-04). He is the
current president of the Senate Education Commission. Last year he was a
 This blessing could be used as a daily family morning or evening prayer. A mom or dad could stand there and give this blessing to their family - with all doing the gestures indicated.
 Peace Prayer of St. Francis on top is sung by Sarah McLachlan.
This might be a strange homily. The title is,
“God With A Toupee.”
I read today’s two readings for this Fifth Monday of Easter - in the hope of getting a theme
to preach on. I said my usual prayer, “Come Holy Spirit! Give me an idea or
some words or an image that will help the folks at the 12:10 Mass today.”
The readings and the Psalm in between talk about God - so I
said, “Okay, say something about God.”
Then I re-read the first reading a
few times. It hit me that people can get strange ideas about God. The crowd wants to declare Barnabas and Paul to be gods - who have come down
to earth. And they say, “No, No! Not us. We’re here to tell you who the true God is.”
The Psalm used today continues that theme with the question.
The Pagans ask, “Where is your God!”
And today’s gospel talks about the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit: our God.
THE PRIEST WITH
I once went to Boston
with a group of ladies - a kitchen staff at a retreat house where I was working
- to a 25th Anniversary of one of our priests at the retreat house.
We went out to a local restaurant for supper that first evening.
I noticed a man sitting by himself at another table and he
was looking over at us from time to time. He had on a toupee - a horrible one
After his meal he came over to us. He introduced himself as
one of our priests - who was stationed in our house in Boston. He knew who we were - but we didn’t
know who he was - till he took off his toupee. Then I recognized him and a few
of the others did as well.
I’ve always wondered why he didn’t come over earlier and sit
down with us and enjoy supper together - instead of eating alone.
That was one of those moments in life I’ve never forgotten.
Well it was strange and the guy was a strange guy - from
what I picked up - but why did I remember that story this morning - when I
began thinking about God?
Maybe because God is always with us - at the other table -
but watching us. We don’t recognize Him, but He recognizes us. Then sometimes
something happens and we’re reintroduced to God. God comes over and introduces
Himself to us.
We all have our images and understandings of who God is.
When we die, the blinders will come off. Before we die, the
blinders are on.
This is one of the major themes of the Gospel of John - whom
we hear from a lot in the Easter Season.
John brings us to Jesus. John brings Jesus to our table - to our situations. Slowly we recognize Jesus is God. Jesus tells us this - when he
says, “See me, see the Father.” “Recognize me, recognize the Father.”
APOPHATIC - KATAPHATIC
There is a whole theology that is called Apophatic Theology
- which says over and over again, “To get to God, keep stripping off the images
we have of God, the words we have about God, the attitudes we have towards God
- and then when we are in that absolute emptiness - that absolute darkness - we
can come face to face with God - darkness to darkness - emptiness to emptiness
- darkness to light - emptiness to fullness.
Those of you who have read John of
the Cross are aware of some of this language.
I prefer Kataphatic or With Images - Theology - and enjoy
the great images of God in the scriptures - and spot God in the restaurant -
even if He has a toupee on.
My prayer is that God will come over to our table and introduce Himself. God will take off His toupee - as well as the assumptions I’ve put on Him. Then God will sit down and
eat with us.
Ooooooops. God already has done that. Isn’t that what this Supper with him is all
"In the landscape of the soul there is a desert, a wilderness, an emptiness, and all the great singers must cross this desert to reach the beginning of their road. Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Mohammed. All wandered through the wasteland, speaking to demons, speaking to the empty air, listening to the wind, before finding their dove, their bo tree, their stone tablets, before finding their own true voice. I have hope for you exactly because I see you have entered the desert, following in the footsteps of those few who have been true teachers."
The title of my homily for this 5th Sunday of
Easter is, “Just A Grape On The Vine.”
The sub-title is, “Does Anybody Know I’m Here?”
Ever feel that way?
There is an old Zen story - a Koan - a paradox puzzle - that
I have been thinking about for at least 30 years now - and maybe you have heard
it from time to time and thought about it. That’s what Zen puzzle stories do.
They often have no definite answer or what have you, like the Zen question,
“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
Well this story goes like this. A man climbs up a mountain by himself and
finds himself on a rocky cliff. It’s all rock. He doesn’t go too close to the
edge. It’s kind of scary up there. He stands there and looks off to the other
side - to other mountains and other cliffs. He looks up at the cloudless blue
sky. As he is admiring all this beauty - he hears a scary sound from behind
him. He turns. It’s a ferocious looking big mountain lion. It’s slowly walking
towards him. He gets down on his knees and crawls to the edge of the cliff. It
looks like it’s a mile to the bottom - all rocks and shrub. He sees a branch
about 12 inches below him - just down from the edge of the cliff. It looks like it might hold him. It’s his only
hope. He’s young and strong so he reaches down grabs the branch and then goes
down onto it. He’s hanging there on that branch - with his feet dangling.
The mountain lion comes to the edge and looks down at him with a hissing growl.
Just then the man sees a berry - a real berry on the branch and it looks good.
He carefully moves his hand and carefully plucks the berry and puts it into his
mouth. And it was the most delicious tasting berry and fruit he ever tasted in
End of story. Take that story and taste it. Digest it for
the next 30 years. Listen to what it tells you. You're on your own with that image.
Like that berry, like that man hanging on that branch - just
off the edge of that cliff, “Does Anybody Know I’m Here?”
Ever feel that way?
JUST A GRAPE ON THE VINE
The title of my homily is, “Just A Grape on the Vine.”
Since grapes and vines are mentioned in today’s gospel, I
began thinking about Jesus and grapes. And it triggered the memory of that Zen
story about the berry on the mountain cliff.
As I read the gospels, I like to picture when Jesus experienced or
noticed what he was talking about.
Did he like to walk the countryside and stop to look - not just at the birds of the air and the
beauty of the flowers of the fields?
Did he walk into vineyards and see the color and glistening
skin of different grapes?
Did he watch vine dressers or even talk to them and learn
about pruning grape vines to get better fruit?
Did he sneak a grape off a vine
and eat it then and there and praise God for the delicious tasting fruit of the
Did he watch folks crush grapes at a vine press and see the
red juice flow into wooden or earthen tubs?
Did he realize this is life: being
food for others - being crushed at times - in sacrifice - to give life to
Did he think about all this at the Last Supper where today’s gospel is
part of - and then he said, “This is my blood which I’m pouring out for you?”
At the Last Supper as Jesus said his powerful words, did he
feel like just a grape on the vine? Did anyone know what he was really saying
that night at that Last Supper? Ever feel that way at the dinner table?
The April 30, 2012issue of Americamagazine has two articles that I found very
interesting. They follow each other. I was wondering if the lay out team
planned it that way. If yes, good move. If not, good luck.
The first article is by a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Father John
Jay Hughes. I’ve heard his name before, but not lately. His article tells why
he became a Catholic. The second article is by two people: William Byron and Charles Zech. Byron is a
Jesuit and former president of ScrantonUniversity and CatholicUniversity and now a professor of
business and society at St. Joseph’s University
in Philadelphia. - Charles Zech is a
professor of economics and director of the center of Church Management at VillanovaUniversity. Their article, the second
one, is entitled, “Why They Left” with the subtitle, “Exit interviews shed
light on empty pews.”
Two articles: why someone became a Catholic; why some
Catholics stopped being a Catholic.
The first article - “A Convert Looks At Vatican II” - is a
convert story. It’s not a dramatic conversion story like Saul becoming Paul -
part of whose story is in today’s first reading. [Cf. Acts 9:26-31]
John Jay Hughes was born in New York City in 1928 - the son and grandson
of priests of the Episcopal Church. Interesting. At times I’ve heard one smart
move of the Catholic Church with celibacy is that priests have to come from the
laity and ordinary families. In that way we can avoid inbreeding of priests.
As I read his tale - on why he became a Catholic - I kept on
wondering, “Why did he?” He didn’t sense that Catholic Mass and worship was
life giving. In the meanwhile, public worship and
prayer in the Episcopal Church was devout and filled with reverence.
He tells about being 7 and his Irish Catholic nurse takes
him into a Roman Catholic Church one evening for the recitation of the rosary.
He said, “My 7-year-old soul was traumatized.” A young priest in the pulpit was yelling out the rosary at breakneck speed and the congregation answered at the
same speed. There was no attempt to pray together.
Later on when he attended Mass in various Catholic
churches, it was the same bleak scene. Mass took 15 - even 12 minutes at times.
It was done in silence. He said that the spoken parts might as well have been
Chinese - because people didn’t understand the Latin. Even when it shifted over to English, it was
still too, too fast.
In the meanwhile, he became an Anglican priest. The
Elizabethan language of the Anglican liturgy had a deep beauty to it. He didn’t
sense that in the Roman Catholic Mass.
He experienced the Catholic Church
as a closed, private club - to which nonmembers were not welcome. He mentions a few times on how he was treated
rather roughly by Catholic priests at Catholic churches. Yet at times he did
hear some powerful preaching in Catholic churches.
So as I read that article, I kept wondering with all the negative reactions, why did he
become a Catholic?
His big obstacle was Infallibility: the Infallibility of the
Pope - as found in the Catholic Church.
Then he found out from some theologians, not all, that it was rather
rare that a pope would make an infallible statement.
So even with various things
he didn’t like, he made a decision to become a Catholic. It was Easter
1960. He said he did it with a cold
Since the article is entitled, “A Convert Looks at Vatican
II”, John Jay Hughes tells how Vatican II hit him - mentioning some of the
heady stuff he liked and some of the local stuff that he didn’t like. For
example: clown Masses, “pulpit messages
consisting of little more than ‘I’m O.K., you’re O.K.” etc.
He ends his article by saying he still has questions. He is
still looking for more prayerful and devout liturgies.
His article still intrigues me and I read it 3 times
The second article, by William Byron and Charles Zech on Why They Left, is equally challenging.
The new bishop of TrentonNew
Jersey, the former president of CatholicUniversity,
David O’Connell wanted a survey of why people were not going to church and why
Catholics drop out. Byron and Zech came up with the names and addresses or
e-mail addresses of nearly 300
non-churchgoing Catholics in his diocese. They were asked to fill out the
survey. The article does not provide the questionnaire. I’ll be looking for it.
Wouldn’t it be worth giving it to not just those who dropped out - but to those who are
staying - to find out what people are thinking.
We’re more than a bunch of silent grapes on a vine. If I hear people clearly, we can at times have a bunch
of gripes hanging in our mind.
The responses in the article are worth hearing and reading.
If you use Google, just type in America
magazine, April 30th issue and read the article. I hope that not
just the Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey, but lots of Bishops and priests and
parish councils and folks in our Catholic Church will read it and say, “Okay,
now what? What do we do about all this?”
The issues listed are: horrible homilies, poor music, the
priest scandal and cover ups or doing nothing by bishops, no childcare, not
being made welcome, enough with the money stuff, clerical privilege, hypocrisy,
discrimination against women, the divorced, its anti-gay stance, overemphasis
on abortion. On abortion the magazine adds, “This was mentioned by many, who
think abortion is wrong but overemphasized to the exclusion of other social
concerns.” Some say we don’t want to hear that God is cold, ritualistic, judgmental, harsh, unforgiving and unyielding. Who would want to be in communion with that kind of God?
There was no mention in the survey of the recent conflict of some in the Vatican with nuns in the United States - specifically with the LCWC [the Leadership Conference of Women Religious]. I assume that the articles were in place before this. I have a sister a nun and I've been following the uproar. Timing is everything. I wish someone in Rome would have screamed, "Are you crazy? Don't you realize how this is going to play in the United States? People love nuns and all that they have done for the Church and the poor. Doesn't anyone in Rome know that perception is reality?"
It sounded like one question in the survey was to ask people to describe or talk about
any bad experiences. The article in America has this comment: “A 78 year old man said
something that could serve as a guideline for the bishop in reacting to this
survey. This man wrote: 'Ask a question of any priest and you get a rule; you
don’t get a "let’s sit down and talk about it" response.'”
The article states that the survey asked, “If you could
communicate directly with the bishop, what would you say?” That brought a few barbs
and 10 helpful comments. The first
comment was: “The church should not condemn gays, but embrace them as God’s
people. The church should also recognize women as equals.” The last one was: “I would advise the bishop
to make training in public speaking mandatory for every priest. They should
also be trained in how to relate their homilies to the people and inspire them.”
The authors said the bishop of Trenton, Bishop O’Connell, has indicated that
he personally will contact 25 people who said they would like to talk to him. The authors
write that they hope the bishop for starters takes the advice of the 78 year
old guy and doesn’t give Church rules but listens.
Grapes on a vine are beautiful and they are hanging there in
bunches. We Catholics come to church -
sitting here in bunches.
If we are connected to the vine, the life blood of Jesus
flows through us. If we cut off, we can die.
Some of us need to be pruned.
Sometimes we’re delicious and people want to eat us up.
Sometimes we are crushed. Hopefully we discover Christ in
Sometimes we might feel nobody notices that we’re just
hanging here - like a single grape - part of a bunch of grapes - on a vine.
Does anybody know I’m here? Ever feel that way. I want to
thank those who have made comments, criticisms, suggestions, to me one to one. I’m well aware that we are
a very big parish - with voices on the so called right and left, liberal and conservative. I know I tend to be to the left - but there are various priests here and you can check the blog to see who has what Mass. We are a big vineyard here on Duke of Gloucester Street and on Bestgate Road. May we all become
delicious grapes. Who wants to sit down with sour grapes - or have vinegar flowing through our veins?