Saturday, May 12, 2012


May  12,  2012

Quote for Today

"The game of  life is a game of boomerangs.
Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us
sooner or later with astounding accuracy."


Friday, May 11, 2012


May  11,  2012

Quote for Today

"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.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


May  10,  2012

Quote for Today


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.


  •   From the Sanskrit - perhaps from Kalidasa

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


May  9,  2012

Quote for Today

"The toughest type of climbing is getting out of a rut."


Tuesday, May 8, 2012



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.


Someone named Cristovam Buarque wrote an article, “There Are Seven Types of Peace.” Then he has a sub-title: “Brazil Needs to Make Each of Them.” [1]

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.


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.”


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.”


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 of. Amen.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


Point downwards. 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.” [2]



[1] "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 presidential candidate. 

[2]  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. 

[3] Peace Prayer of St. Francis on top is sung by Sarah McLachlan.

May 8,  2012

Quote for Today

"Good is an orchard, the saint saith,
To meditate on life and death."

Katharine T. Hinkson: Of an Orchard (20th Century)

Monday, May 7, 2012



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.


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 at that.

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. Why?

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.”


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 about? Amen.

May  7, 2012

Quote for Today

"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."

Ray Faraday Nelson

Sunday, May 6, 2012



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 his life.

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?


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 earth?

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 others. 

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, 2012 issue of America magazine 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 Scranton University and Catholic University 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 Villanova University. 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 heart.

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 already.

The second article, by William Byron and Charles Zech on Why They Left, is equally challenging. The new bishop of Trenton New Jersey, the former president of Catholic University, 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 that pain.

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? 


Painting on top: Kobe Art from on-line

May  6, 2012

Quote for Today

"Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived life of their parents."

C.G. Jung

Questions: Do you agree with Jung's comment?  Have you ever witnessed this comment in the flesh? Give specific examples. How about you?  Is their any unlived reality you act out about?