Saturday, May 26, 2012


May 26,  2012  Quote for Today

"Experience is a good teacher,
but she sends in terrific bills."

Minna Antrim

Friday, May 25, 2012


May 25,  2012  Quote for Today

"Of all the things you wear,
your expression is the most important."


Thursday, May 24, 2012


May 24, 2012  - Quote for Today


"Here lies the body of Sarah Sexton,
Who never did aught to vex one.
Not like the woman under
the next stone."

Written on a grave stone in a church yard in Newmarket, England. Thomas Sexton's first wife was buried under the next stone.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012



"No" in more than 520 languages

another green bar

May 23, 2012

Quote for Today

"Learn how to say 'No!' - and it will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin."

Charles Haddon  Spurgeon [1834-1892]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012



The title of my homily is, “The Hour Has Come” [John 17:1]

As you heard - or if you read along  today’s two readings from a book -  did any words grab you?

I read the readings the night before and see what words trigger wonderings. Then - I usually select a few that I want to know more about - or that I hear a challenge from. Then I put together a two page homily - for weekdays - and five pages for Sundays - 14 Pica.

Then when I hear the readings once more here at Mass, I can hear some people - including myself saying, “What does that mean?” or “Please explain that!” and I think, “Uh oh. Sorry! Not today!”  That happened yesterday with the text from Acts. I had put together 2 pages on the first sentence, but as I heard the readings, I found myself saying, “What about speaking in tongues?” Or on Sunday it happened with the gospel text about handling snakes and drinking poison? Can’t do it all. Sorry. Next year or some other time.

So today a few words on, “The Hour Has Come” [John 17:1].


I was thinking, “We know the sound and the feeling of those words, ‘The hour has come.’”  When have we said or felt them? 

Many Saturdays I see this happening at weddings here at St. Mary’s. It’s 3 minutes to 3. The moms are about to come down the aisle - and then the bridesmaids - then the flower girls and then the bride.  It’s 3 PM. The hour has come. I go out into the sanctuary with the best man and the bridegroom. I’m thinking to myself that I saw this couple a year ago or so and here it is now - here it is vow time. It’s time for them to make the marriage covenant!

When else do we have that same reality of time’s up? The hour is here? Test results have just come in. We’re being prepared for the operations. We’re walking up the aisle for the graduation. We walk in the door for a job interviews. We see the car pull into the driveway. We’re about to meet a son or a daughter’s significant other for the first time.

We like to watch a ballgame on TV at night. It’s a significant moment when a kid comes up to bat or takes the mound for the first time in the major leagues. What a kid has waited for - perhaps for many years - is finally here. It’s show time. His or her parents are in the stands - which can add to the stress and the moment.


As I thought about all this I began trying to come up with variations on this theme.

There are moments we dread and there are moments we really look forward to.

A spouse or a parent is in hospice. The last few months or years have been tough. The hour has come. A loved one is about to die.

Someone in the military in Afghanistan is looking at their watch - 4 days and 22 hours I’m going to be on a plane out of here. This has been my 3rd and last deployment. They start picturing the arrival and the airport - and family standing on the Tarmac. They too have been looking at their watch and clocks for months and weeks and now days.

Our high school seniors are about to graduate this Friday - so too the Naval Academy - and so too our grammar school - and so too the schools in the area. What is going to happen next. Time is ticking. The hour is coming. We see someone handed a diploma.

We can do what Jesus did. We can make it a prayer - by simply adding the word “Father” as Jesus did - making all these moments a prayer, “Father, the hour has come.”


Time is funny. Time is relative - as Einstein said - and people who have obnoxious relatives who visit them - know the clock moves slower with some people than with others.

Time is relative. I know I pray better after the homily at Mass than before it. Got that out of the way. Now I can move deeper into God.

Time is relative. I can’t wait for November 7th - when we’ll have an end to obnoxious accusative TV ads and e-mails.

Time is relative. The hour is come. How long did this sermon seem to take? 

May 22, 2012 - Quote for Today

"So I don't spend much time 
with the radio, television, 
and the daily paper.  
A car without a radio 
is a place for contemplation.  
When friends object 
that I don't know 
what is going on 
and am not concerned 
with the life our our society, 
I answer that they are deluded.  
History does not happen by the day. 
Once I read every copy
of a leading newspaper 

from January to September 1870, 
with the intention of discovering 
the nature of the historical forces 
of that period.  What I did discover 
was a host of superficialities, 
fleeting illusions, 
and enormous blind spots 
as to what was really going on ...."

George Peck, 1973

Monday, May 21, 2012



The title of my homily for this 7th Monday in the Easter Season is, “The Pause That Refreshes!”

As I read this morning’s first reading from The Acts of the Apostles, I noticed in the first sentence mention of Corinth and Ephesus.

That triggered a slight pause. Something hit me that never hit me before. I’ve heard and read those words “Corinth” and “Ephesus” before. I’ve read the letters of Paul to the Corinthians and Ephesians before. What hit me that was new - was that since the last time I heard this reading I’ve been to Corinth and Ephesus. Last October 5th  2011, I was in Ephesus. Last October 6th I was in Corinth. It’s the same thing that happened to me as a result of being in Israel - Palestine - in January of 2000.  When I hear about the Lake of Galilee or hear about Jericho or Nazareth or Jerusalem - or the Jordan River - I pause and picture those places - based on my experience of these places.


That’s a duh - an obvious - duh! - but sometimes it’s good to hear the obvious. Duh!

Today is May 21st. For most people it’s just another day - just another Monday. But for some it might be a birthday or an anniversary - or a death day. For Catholics in Mexico it’s the feast of a new saint, Saint Christopher Magallanes and 21 diocesan priests and 3 lay persons who were shot or hung between 1915-1937 for being members of a group that opposed the anti-Catholic government in Mexico during those years.

The title of my homily is, “The Pause That Refreshes.”

Knowing that places and dates might be more than we realize, it might be worth while pausing when we're with others. It might call for more listening. It might call for more awareness of the sacred.

This church - specific benches - specific parts of the Mass - all might be very specific to specific persons.

Hearing about these things - might cause us to pause. And those pauses might help us to be more aware of each other - and the specific realities all around us.

I was talking to a lady this morning and she told me about her rain coat. I had simply said, “Interesting raincoat!” She then told me where she bought it - when she bought it [10 years ago] - who she was with when she bought it - and how much it cost. It was on Sale!

What hit me after that was interesting - and surprising. I paused for a moment and thought: all those clothes in Goodwill Thrift Shops have a history. Every item. Wouldn’t that make a great imaginary movie? The store is closed and the different items begin telling each other how they got there - where they were bought - by whom - where they went in it: weddings, wakes and funerals, first communions, confirmations, cruises, what have you.


The title of my homily is, “The Pause That Refreshes.”

If what I’m saying - that every place and every thing has a history, so much more - us.

The first sentence in today’s first reading goes like this: “While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and down to Ephesus where he found some disciples.”

What hit me for this sermon is that I need to pause more and listen more and travel into the interior of the country of another. It’s not enough to know our  birthday and anniversaries and our birthplace and our job. There’s more - much more - the deep interior of another.

And I assume the more we get out of ourselves and into the interior country  - not just of stuff - but especially of each other - the more we will journey into the inner country of God.

God - the Great Pause - who refreshes. Amen.


May 21, 2012

Quote for Today

"It is not in differing from one another
that disunity arises -
it is in not listening to God
and each other."

Kenneth Sutton, 1989

Sunday, May 20, 2012



The title of homily is, “Ascension: Good, Better, Best.”

This Sunday in this diocese we celebrate the feast of the Ascension - the leaving of Jesus - the heading of Jesus into eternity - post resurrection - as pictured in the mural painting up on the left of our front wall here at St. Mary's.

The Early Church had begun - with Christ in a new and different dimension - as well as his disciples - beginning to see themselves in a new way - now in newer leadership roles - adjusting - figuring what’s next.

When I read today’s readings, the theme that hits me, is adulthood. We’re now on our own.  Jesus says, “Goodbye!”

It’s like graduation - now get moving.

He sends his disciples forth. He’s tooled them. He’s taught them. He’s educated them. He trained them. Now go into the whole world and bring my Good News to all peoples! [Cf.  Ephesians 4: 1-13]


I have two favorite examples that get into what’s going on here. I have used both of them many times not only with high school kids, but also with little kids as well - and I think all get the message.

The first is the story of the mama bear and the two baby bears. I saw this on TV somewhere along the line. It might have been on Discovery Channel or Animal Kingdom.

The opening scene shows Mama Bear leading her two little ones out of a cave or den. It’s time. She pushes them forward for a good distance. They come to a tree - which she makes them climb up. As they are clawing their way up the tree, she starts to walk away. They immediately start downwards. She comes running back at them and growls. They start climbing the tree again. This time they get a bit higher. Not seeing mama they come down again. Mama Bear who was hiding behind a bog rock comes running back towards them again and growls. Once more they climb the tree - this time higher. Not spotting mama they start down again. Watching all this from a distance mama growls again - while shaking her paws at them, “Get back up that tree!”

And back climb that tree. The screen gets dark. Mama Bear disappears for good.

Obviously, I couldn’t tell this story on Mother’s Day.

Next, the TV screen, which was dark,  becomes light. It’s morning. It’s sunrise. Down from the tree come the 2 little cubs and head for where they came from - but mama’s gone. End of the movie.

The second story - which is the same story. Once more I love to tell this story to kids and young people. It’s a story that happened to me on the N subway train - in New York. My trip was to go from 59th Street Station in Brooklyn to 42 Street Station in Manhattan. That’s 6 or 7 stops. Sometimes the N train stops at DeKalb Avenue.

It’s around 11 AM. I walk to the subway and get on the N Train when it comes into the station. It’s not crowded. I take a seat.

At 36th Street, the next stop after 59th Street,  in comes a father and a son - a little boy. At first the kid is sitting on his father’s lap - but he wants down.  I’m watching this - just sitting across from the two of them. The little boy wants to stand.  His father puts him down on his own two feet. He’s knee high to his father. The train is moving and shaking. He frees himself from his father’s grip. He’s laughing, smiling, shaking with the roaring train  - standing on his own two feet - his hands like Rocky on the top of the Philadelphia Art Museum steps in Rocky #1.


Then the train starts to brake and slow down - because the next stop is almost here: Pacific Street. To prevent himself from falling - he runs back to the safety of his father’s knee. The train stops. He relaxes. By now different people are observing these two - a father and the son. It’s a story as old as humankind.

The train starts moving again. He shakes himself free of his father and goes out into the freedom of standing on his own two feet in the center of the train. Once more, as the train brakes and shakes - as we are coming into Canal Street Station, he runs back to his father. He does this all the way to the 42 Street Station  where I got off.

As I walked away,  I wondered if this was a parable of life.  

Is this the human hope for independence  - but sometimes I’m scared?

Dependence. Independence. Dependence. Independence.

Others add interdependence - a combination of both.

Is this the story of marriage, family, relationships, work, life?

Life: birth, dependence, independence, interdependence, dependence - no wonder they call them "Depends" …. till death do we part.


Today’s first reading is from the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. It’s addressed to Theophilus - which most say is to us - that is,  if want to be a lover (PHILOS) - of God (THEOS).

It begins with the comment that Jesus gave instructions through the Holy Spirit - gave proofs that he was alive after his sufferings and death.  Then he leaves them - pictured as going up to the heavens. Then today’s first reading ends: “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?”

Translation: get moving - like the two bears, you’re now on your own. Like the little kid on the train, don’t we all have the desire for freedom - as we move along on the train of life - station to station?

Ascension: Good, Better, Best

The title of my homily is: "Ascension: Good, Better, Best."

Isn't that the journey of life: to become good, to become better, to reach our best?

Wouldn’t  that be a good morning prayer? “Lord, today, help me to do good. Lord, help me to be better. Better, Lord, today, help me to do my best.”

Wouldn’t  that be a good evening prayer? “Lord, looking back on today I thank You for the good I did - for the better I did - for the best I  did, today.”

In fact, isn’t it a good night prayer, to pick out the best thing we did that day - and go to sleep saying, “Thank You Lord, help me to do some good again tomorrow - to have a better tomorrow - to do the best I can do tomorrow - at least in one thing.”

Good, better, best. That’s very simple. It’s not too complicated.

But we also know we can do: bad, worse, worst.


Christianity is realistic. Sometimes we do our worst. The Prodigal Son or Daughter in us - sometimes messes up. We want independence and we blow it - and the message of that story is: “We can come crawling back to the Father’s embrace.”

Christianity is also unrealistic. The best we can do is to lay down our lives for our family and for friends. “Greater love than this no one has, but to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Jesus did just that! He gave his life for us. It’s the Mass. It’s this sacrifice. It’s this call to give of self everyday. Isn’t that’s when we are at our very best.



The little kid on the subway train had his dad to run back to. The 2 little bears had what they were trained by their mama to go by. What are our rock solid foundations to help us move into our future - with security and strength?

One last example.

As you might know, Broadway now has  another revision of Arthur Miller’s Play, Death of a Salesman. Years ago I saw it with Dustin Hoffman in the lead. I also saw it in college and I saw it in a movie. Each time it moved me big time.

As you know the main character in the play, Willy Loman, a salesman, finds himself without any security. His whole world has caved in on him. Maybe he felt like those two little bears - without a mama. Maybe he felt like that little kid on the train - but there was no daddy to run to and lean on.

What made me think of this was an article I noticed about the play in yesterday’s New York Times. The question was asked whether Arthur Miller was picturing Willy Loman as Jewish. Then like so many people, he had distanced himself - as second generation - from his religious roots and cultural background  - into becoming simply an American. Then when he was getting older - then when his family had changed - then when he had lost his job - he had nothing to run back to.

The paper quotes Mike Nichols - who is directing the new revival - in an interview this month, “Willy has no forebears. He’s not from any country. He has no holidays of any religion. So you have to assume Miller’s making a point. We who are struggling to sell enough have to drop everything — religion, nationality, family. There is nothing except, as Willy puts it, being known and being well-liked.”
That last sentence grabbed me: is that the goal of life - to be known and to be well-liked?

For some, maybe yes. How about us? Where do we want to ascend to? What’s good, better, best for us?

Aren’t we here,  because we know there’s more?  There is the good, the better, and the best. We can keep on ascending to higher and higher values. Don’t we come here to Church to hear just what the disciples and apostles heard - before they were sent into the world with Good News and to make our world good, better and best?  Don’t we then leave church not just to go in peace, but to keep growing - keep going forth to avoid doing bad, worse or worst, but to do good, to do better, to do our best - each day. Amen. 


May  20,  2012

Quote for Today

"Then the sea
And heaven rolled as one and from the two
Came fresh transfigurings of freshest blue."

Wallace Stevens [1879-1955] 
lines found in Sea Surface Full of Clouds [1923], V