Saturday, September 1, 2012


Quote for Today -  September 1,  2012

"Technology ... the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it."

Max Frisch [1911-1991], Homo Faber  [1957]

"Honey! I'm home!"

"Where are you?"

"Over here at the computer!"

"When will you be at home?"

Friday, August 31, 2012


Quote for Today  - August 31,  2012

"It seems that the analysis of character is the highest human entertainment.  And literature does it, unlike gossip, without mentioning real names."

Isaac Bashevis Singer [1904-1991] in Isaac Bashevis Singer Talks ... About Everything, interview with Richard Burgin in the New York Times Magazine [November 16, 1978]

Picture on top - Isaac Bashevis Singer

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Quote for Today - August 30,  2012

"When the writer becomes the center of his attention, he becomes a nudnik.  And  a nudnik who believes he's profound is even worse than just a plain nudnik."

Isaac Bashevis Singer [1904-1991] in Isaac Bashevis Singer Talks ... About Everything, interview with Richard Burgin in the New York Times Magazine [November 16, 1978]

Picture on top - Isaac Bashevis Singer

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Quote for Today - August 29, 2012

"Change the environment; do not try to change man."

Richard Buckminster Fuller [1895-1983], Design Science [1969]


This quote addresses a central question in life: wanting another to be different than they are.  Can someone change? Is conversion possible?  How do those who interact with me - want me to change? Jesus said to change one's heart - not one's garments. Does Buckminster disagree with that challenge of  Jesus? I believe the place to address this question is with oneself. Be specific. Name a way I have changed? For example, "When I walk into a room of people I would say something - out loud - without being quiet. Sometimes this ended their conversation or whatever they were talking about. Now I walk in and try not to interrupt the current conversation."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012



The title of my homily for is, “Write Your Confessions.”

Today - August 28th,  is the feast of St. Augustine. When his name is mentioned the word “confessions” pops up by association - that being the name of his famous book.

Confession meaning statements of religious belief - how one sees God in the details of one’s life - how one sees God walking with us in the unfolding or unraveling or the weaving or quilting party of one’s life.

Confessions could be announcing where I see God in the pages and stages of my life.

We’ve all heard the cliché that the devil is in the details - meaning making plans and making general statements - they are easy - compared to the struggle and the work to get the details and the specifics done.

Well confessions fit the opposite cliché: “God is in the details” and spelling them out is one of the meanings of making a confession of faith - or writing it out.


Wouldn’t it be interesting if your kids in rummaging through your stuff after you die, someone finds in a desk or a bottom drawer, our  Memoirs or Diary or Confessions?

Wouldn’t that be interesting? What would be their reaction to it - reading our take on life - our take on family - our take on religion - God - the ups and downs, the ins and outs of our experiences - doubts - difficulties - and expressions of great joy and wonder and celebration.

Augustine left us a lot of sermons and  three books: The City of God, On the Trinity and the Confessions. His book, his Confessions, is his book - his comments about life and how God finally overwhelmed him after a lot of meandering in sin and various religions and philosophies - and  he finally discovers how God has been leading him forward.

Every time I’ve read Augustine’s Confessions,  I’ve been moved by it - so too - so many people.


Read any good confessions lately, any good autobiographies, any good stories. Have you listened to anyone tell you their life stories lately? How about that of your parents if they are still around?

I always like to push from the pulpit for folks to write their autobiography, their memoirs, the value of jotting down the details of one’s life. Genealogy could be the first step - which can lead to confessions of faith.

I was able to sit down with my dad before he died - and write down about 40 pages of notes - on a yellow legal pad. I was able to tape my mom before she died. And way back in 1996 - while in Ireland -  I sat down with my father’s brother,  Coleman. They told me if I went over to see him - just the two of us - he would speak in English. He was in his late 80’s and I was able to get a few hours notes on my father’s life. The questions I asked back then were detail questions. The questions I have now - well it’s too late - except I like to talk to my sister Mary about what was going on in my mom and dad’s minds - Mary having been with them much of their lives.

In a way my feelings of “too late” are sort of the very words of Augustine in his Confessions about loving God, “Too late I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new! Too late I loved you! And, behold, you were within me, and I out of myself, and there I searched for you.”

So there are questions I have of my parents - and it’s too late. If yours are alive and you can talk with them, talk with them.


Back to the main point of this homily, Write Your Confessions.

I have made this suggestion  to various people down through the years. This is one more push. My dream is that someone took me up on it and after they die, their kids find in their stuff, their memoirs or confessions or autobiography.

And when someone has said to me, “I wouldn’t know where to start” or “I wouldn’t know how to do it,” I say, “Take someone else’s autobiography and see how they lay out their life.”

Take Augustine’s Confessions or The Seven Storey Mountain of Merton or Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis or any of the many autobiographies in any library or bookstore.

Augustine heard the words in the garden, “Take up, read. Take up, read.”  And he read the great text of St. Paul in Romans 13:11 - it was time to wake up - to put off the works of darkness - and to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m saying:  take up a ballpoint pen and get a good pad. Jot down the details of your life. Or do it on a computer. Then reflect deeper on the details and see God behind your story. Write them out and you’ll have your Confessions - like that of St. Augustine.

And surprise, after you die, maybe someone will discover them deep in a bottom drawer or deep inside a computer. 


Quote for Today - August 28, 2012

"Hear the other side."

St. Augustine [354-430], De Duabus Animabus, XIV, 2

Monday, August 27, 2012



The title of my homily is, “Prayer: Knocking So Doors Will Open.”

Tomorrow, August 28th, is the feast of St. Augustine.

Today, August 27, is the feast of St. Monica, his mom.

When Jesus talked about prayer, he said to ask, to seek, and to knock. [Cf. Matthew 7:7-8.]

Prayer is knocking on God’s door - and for us Catholics, Saints’ doors as well.


St. Augustine, if you read his Confessions, you find out that he knocked on many, many doors. He opened many books. He was with several women. He studied various religions and philosophies - for example, Manichaeanism and Skepticism, and finally full blown Christianity. He went to study in Carthage, Rome, and Milan.


If you read his Confessions you also find out his mother tried all kinds of prayers, all kinds of nagging or begging of Augustine, entering the doors of all kinds of churches - to pray for her son Augustine.


Finally, as you know, he hears a voice and he opens up a copy of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans and he’s converted.

He hears a sing song child’s voice in a garden, “Take and read. Take and read” and he read Paul’s call to change now - right now.

It was sort of like what happened - but in reverse - in another garden - when Eve and then Adam heard, “Take and eat. Take and eat.” And they ate the forbidden fruit.

Sometimes when we pray, we hear these deep inner urges to look at what we’re eating - and realize what’s eating us - what’s killing us -  and what’s giving us life.


The message from the life of St. Monica has always been to keep praying, keep knocking, keep begging at God’s door - even if it takes 30 years as the life of St. Monica points out.


Prayer is knocking on doors.

Prayer is persistence and patience.

How many times have we prayed and prayed, knocked and knocked, nagged and nagged at a son or a daughter’s door and it seemed they would never open up. They always remained shut, closed and it seems they were always unwilling to hear our screams.

Yet we don’t give up, because  we known someone is in there - someone who won’t answering their door. Yet we won’t give up. Hold fast - as today’s first reading puts it - we hold fast to that door knob and shake it - till someone opens it up.

Praying is knowing the best is in there.

Prayer is knowing God is in there.

Prayers is knowing conversion, change is in there.

Sometimes all this takes 30 years.

Talk to St. Monica about all this in prayer. Amen. 

Quote for Today - August 27, 2012

"You'll find us rough, sir, but you'll find us ready."

Charles Dickens [1812-1872], David Copperfield [1849-1850] Chapter 3

Sunday, August 26, 2012



The title of my homily for this 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time B  is, “Wrong Three Words.”

Today’s Second Reading is from Ephesians 5: 21-32. It talks about marriage, so I would like to say some words on Marriage. I hope some of my words are insightful, helpful and challenging.

I remember someone saying that every time this reading from Ephesians was coming up the following Sunday, a lady would call the rectory and ask if they were going to use the long form or the short form. In the missalettes you can see brackets - for that choice.

That’s evidence enough for me that some people get antsy with this text as well as a few of St. Paul’s other texts.  Some of his words hit buttons.


I remember attending a Scripture Workshop a bunch of years ago and the speaker was asked the question about Paul’s attitude or words about women and men, husbands and wives, that some people found “uh-ohish”!

The speaker took the question head on and said, “In the Mediterranean Basin - in all those countries that surround that body of water - in the First Century - women were in the kitchen  - and back stage very much - and the Jewish and Christian scriptures mirror that culture - that way of doing life.

In fact, he showed us a old documentary film about life on a Greek Island in the early part of the last century - that showed the men standing on the corners - smoking their water pipes and talking - and all the women are inside the house - doing their domestic tasks.

And if we read the Gospels, it’s amazing how women and children are treated by Jesus in a way that is extremely counter cultural.

The speaker of the workshop simply said, “What are we going to do? Ignore or change the fact that the scriptures were written when they were written and in a culture that is different than our cultures or what?”

That was enough for me - but I’m not a woman.


Then two years ago I picked up sort of accidentally a book with the title, The Bookseller of Kabul. It’s a 2002 book  by Asne Seierstad, a Norwegian  journalist - who embedded herself with burka-clad women in a Muslim home in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Woo. Reading it I was back in another age and in another totally different culture. If you are looking for a read that will grab you, find that book. It bothers me every time I hear of another death of another one of our people or any person in Afghanistan - but that book gave me this thought. Even though it’s horrible, every day we’re there, I hope women are solidifying their rights and positions, because when the Taliban and others were in charge, women are in the back room and are bedroom objects and servants to the men.  And when we leave there, I suspect it will be back to being like a lot of other places in our world.


What a contrast with our world. The old saying, “You’re come a long way baby” is very true. Women didn’t get the vote in the United States till August 18, 1920.  Maryland didn’t ratify that 19th Amendment till 1941.  That struggle for women to be able to vote took a long, long, long time - well before the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

The struggles people go through take a long, long time. Walls and ceilings exist - and walls sometimes crack and fall apart.


The title of my homily is, “Wrong Three Words.”

It seems to me that the button word in today’s second reading is “subordinate” - as in the sentence, “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.”

Other English translations use the phrase “give way to”. Other similar texts from Paul on this issue - for example, Colossians 3: 18 and 1 Corinthians 11: 3 Paul says “man is head of the woman” and “submit to”.

My hope would be that these texts and these worlds would lead to dialogue - not monologue - discussion and communication - amongst husbands and wives - as well as family communication.

The question in talking about a marriage, “Who’s boss?” can be cute - but it can also be cutting. The best answer I would assume is, “It all depends.” “She’s better at this.” “He’s better at that.” “But we work together well.”  

And if it’s a Christian marriage - I would hope both husband and wife - follow the message and mystery of Christ where each gives his or her life for the other  - as well as the family - and that the greater position is that of serving rather than being served as Jesus put it.


Having said all that, let me get to something that I hope will be interesting and challenging and hopefully marriage improving.

I was reading the Hagar the Horrible comic strip in Thursday’s Baltimore Sun - August 23, 2012. 

 There are 3 boxes - 3 scenes.

In the first box, Hagar is coming up the road heading towards his home. He has a pack on his back and he’s saying, “When I return from a raid, I love to hear Helga say … … those Romantic “three little words” …

In the second box Hagar is at the door and he is singing, “I’m home Helga!” and in that same box comes Helga’s words in bold print from inside, “Wipe Your Feet!

In the third and last box Hagar, still outside, shield in hand and pack on his back says, “Wrong Three Little Words.”


Now for those of you who are married or what have you, what three words do you love to hear when you come in the door?

Now for those of you who are married or what have you, what three words do you say to the person coming in the door?

I was talking to a lady the other day about this just after reading the Hagar the Horrible comic strip.

I said that a man I knew in Ohio once told me that he worked late and at quite a distance and for 20 years it really itched and irked him when he came up the street to where they lived and the outside light was never left on for him. That really bugged him. And he said, “If I told her and then the light was on, I would think, she has it on because I nagged and begged her - not because she was welcoming me home after a long day.”

That’s a dilemma. I told the guy to look for the other ways she was happy that he was home. Then I added, “What do you do when you walk in the door - besides being irked the light wasn’t on for you?”


The lady the other day said: “Woo! Right. When my husband comes in the door it is always 3 words, 'Did you do________?'”

Hagar the Horrible would say, “Wrong Three Little Words.”

I cut out the word “little” for the title of my homily.

What are the three right words? What are the wrong 3 words?

The lady the other day added, “I was in a restaurant once and this gal came in and this guy yelled in delight, 'Jessica. It’s you!'  And I’ve always wished someone would say those 3 words when I walk into some room or some restaurant."

Wow. Right three words - because Jessica lit up the room with her smile after hearing those three right words.


We’ve come to the end of these 5 weeks on the 6th Chapter of St. John’s gospel - on the Eucharist - on Jesus as the Living Bread and everyone is leaving Jesus - because they can’t buy his message that he is living bread. Bummer. And Jesus says to the twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”

And Peter says the right 29 words - I don’t know how many words they would be in Aramaic, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Right words Peter.

Now some homework for all of you. Two tasks:

1) For the rest of this Mass till you come up for communion today come up with the 3 words you’re going to say to Jesus today.

2) For the rest of this Mass and for this week come up with the right 3 words you’re going to meet and greet the key people in your life when you meet them. “I love you” or "I miss you!" or "Great seeing you!" or "Together at last!" or "Thanks for so much!" are not bad ones to put on your list. Amen. Amen. Amen.


Quote for Today - August 26, 2012

"We shall never understand one another until we reduce the language to seven words."

Kahlil Gibran [1883-1931]  Sand and Foam [1926]


That's an interesting quote. What would the 7 words be? What is he talking about?  Where does that quote take you?