Saturday, October 13, 2012


Quote for Today  October. 13, 2012

"It is sad not to be loved, but it is much sadder not to be able to love."

Miguel de Unamuno [1864-1936], To a Young Writer



Who loves you? Name some names.

Whom do you love? Name some names.

Is it true that there would be someone who is unable to love? If you answer yes, could you hazard a guess, why? What happened?  Could they recover if such a person existed?

How would you describe love or define love?

Friday, October 12, 2012



The title of my homily for this 27th Friday in Ordinary Time is, “The Curse [KATARA] Be With you”.

KATARA is a Greek word that appears in today’s first reading from Galatians. One English translation is “The curse”. This word and idea  shows up in Galatians 4 times: 1:8; 1:9; and in today’s first reading in 3:10 and 3:13. In looking at this I noticed that it’s a rare idea in the New Testament in today’s sense of the word. The only two other places we see it is in First Corinthians 16:22 and Revelation 22:3.

In the New Testament people curse at each other here and here - but not in the sense of KATARA here in Galatians. Paul is talking about something that shows up more in the Old Testament. You read about people from time to time who seem to be walking around with a curse on them or in them.

Based on that in the Old Testament the reality of “The Curse” seems to be very much part of people’s thinking. If you eat this or drink this water, you’ll be inflicted with “The curse.”  If you cheat on others in the marketplace, you’ll receive “The curse.”  If you don’t care for your parents, you’ll receive “The curse.”

In the Mediterranean Basin - or in Anthropology courses on primitive peoples, you’ll hear about “The Evil Eye” or “Putting a curse on someone”.  I think I’ve overheard women talking about “The Curse” at times.


So I’m sure you have heard people refer to “the curse” from time to time. For example, bad things keep on happening to someone and someone says, “It’s as if he had a curse put on him.”

Or for example, someone makes a big mistake and they say out loud in frustration, “I’m cursed.” Or “I seem to be cursed.”

In general this is not the thing people confess when they say, “I used curse words.”

No. This is heavy duty stuff. Someone hurts a child or a wife or a parent - and someone in deep anger prays, says, screams, “I hope God punishes you. I hope God puts a curse on you.”

For example, someone grabs their parents’ money - without any consideration of their parents’ wishes for the rest of the family - and someone says, “Well that money is cursed.”

That’s roughly what Paul is talking about here.


Now let me give the Good News….

Paul is saying that because of Adam and Eve, because of the Sins of our world, because of personal mistakes, because of selfishness, because we live with the consequences of our sins - mistakes - cheating - sometimes our life is “gicked up” - “messed up” “a disaster” and we feel cursed. The Good News is Christ comes along and becomes the curse. He takes the curse off us and puts it on himself. He dies on the cross for us - to take away the effects of the curse on us.

He takes away as they say, “the doom of sin.”


I don’t know if that hits you, but that hits me. It helps me understand today’s gospel. People in the Middle East know about demons - inner demons.  They can drive us nuts. Sometimes they can get worse. We’ve been cursed. We need Jesus the Prince of Peace to come and create order - peace - the kingdom inside us.

Hearing all this should help me say at Mass and then understand the meaning of, “Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world - the curse of the sins of our world” better. This should  help me understand the prayers, “Lord have mercy!” and “My soul shall be healed” better.  Amen.


Picture on top: The Father's Curse: The Unagrateful Son, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, French, about 1778.  Brush and gray wash squared in pencil.


Quote for Today  - October 12,  2012 - The day Columbus saw land in this hemisphere.

"The America of  Moctezuma and Atahualpa,
the aromatic America of  Columbus,
Catholic America, Spanish America,
the America where noble Cuauhtemoc said:
'I am not a bed of roses' - our America,
trembling with huricanes, trembling with Love:
O Men with Saxon eyes and barbarous souls,
our America lives. And dreams. And loves.
And it is the daughter of the Sun. Be careful."

Ruben Dario [ Felix Ruben Garcia-Saramiento], 1867-1916, Cantos de Vida y Espearanza [Songs of Life and Hope] [1905], a Roosevelt (To Roosevelt)

Picture on top: 1993 replicas of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


some doors have a sign on them, “Pull!”;
some doors have a sign on them, “Push!”
May we see at every door
an invisible sign saying, “Pause!”
Then during this year of faith
before we make our entrance or our exit,
may we pray this simple prayer:
“Lord, may I bring peace to all in this place
I’m  about to enter: home, school, store, work;
and when I’m going out, “May I bring peace
to everyone I meet out in our world today. Amen.”

© Andy Costello, Prayers 2012

Quote for Today - October 11, 2011

"Faith which does not doubt is dead faith."

Miguel de Unamuno [1864-1936], The Agony of Christianity.

Picture: Blue Angels going over St.Mary's Church Annapolis, Maryland

Question: Do you agree or do you have doubts about that statement by Miguel de Unamuno?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



The title of my thoughts for this 27th Wednesday in Ordinary Time is, “Treadmill or Macadam?”

That’s the thought that hit me when I read today’s first reading from Galatians  2: 1-2, 7-14.

Paul writes that he does not want to “be running, or have run, in vain.”

Don’t we all?


I try to get some walking in 4 times a week. Depending on the weather and depending on how much time I have, I go out the front door and take a 45 minute walk through downtown Annapolis and then through the Naval Academy or I go downstairs and spend a half hour on the treadmill.

On the treadmill I watch TV. Going through downtown Annapolis and then walking along the water in the Naval Academy around 4:00 PM - I see Navy folks practicing on big flat green fields, running, moving fast - as well spotting silent sail boats on the bay. 

Madam: there is a difference between treadmill and macadam.


When I walk through the gospels - as I read the New Testament - I get the sense that there was a bad bit of infighting - insider fighting - inner rock throwing - going on.

I sense that the Early Christian Communities that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James dealt with - had their share of Pharisees and Scribes - just as Jesus had in his day. 

Sometimes dealing with some church folks - the complainers - the letter writers - the angry - the mind made upperers - the rigid - the non-listeners - the Law Keepers -  the I got an agenda types - I get nowhere. I get what Paul felt with Peter in today’s first reading as well as some others in the early Christian communities.  I’ve been on this treadmill before. I want to run away from them. They make me realize my agenda - I want to escape - not listen - be rigid - hide - I want to walk along the water and see Christ walking on the waters - as well as calming the sea.

So what else is new?


The old is ever old. Life is déjà vu. Jesus is ever new.

In the midst of the rumble and the rant of those with different positions in politics and theology - in the channeling of TV treadmill same old same old - attack after attack after attack - I close my ears - and like Jesus head for a garden or a deserted spot or the quiet mountains - in my mind - and ask Jesus the age old question voiced in today’s gospel from Luke 11:1-4 - “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."

And I hear him say, "When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone 
in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test."


Then I get back on the treadmill and hit the macadam - and life goes on. Amen.


P.S. This is a written homily - not given in church - but only on my blog - because if spoken from the pulpit - it might sound like the shrill I can't stand from the TV box or pulpit. On a blog, in print, one can slowly reflect upon someone else's comments. Morever, it might cut down on letters of complaint about what one priest preached. Don't we all scream: "Enough already"?

Quote for Today - October 10,  2012

"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.  But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.  If you are none of these you can be sure that it will kill you but there will be no special hurry."

Ernest Hemingway [1899-1961], A Farewell to Arms [1929], Chapter 34

Tuesday, October 9, 2012



The title of my homily for this 27 Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “There Are Meetings and There Are Meetings.”

Today’s two readings talk about significant meetings.

The Gospel talks about the meeting of Christ with Martha and Mary.

The first reading from Galatians talks about a meeting between Paul and Peter.


Two questions for the sake of a homily: What have been the most significant meetings in our life? What has been the most significant meeting in our life?

To get the answer to the second question, I would think the first step would be to just brain storm and come up with significant or special or key meetings we’ve had in our life:  Meeting one’s spouse. Seeing a doctor about cancer. Meeting the pope. Being called in to see a boss and we’re told we’re no longer working there.

It’s a great conversation starter and ice breaker to ask people whom they have met. The answers are often quite surprising.

When my mom worked as a maid in the Boston area she met Charles Lindbergh a few times. The daughter of the family she worked for was a college friend of Ann Morrow - who married Lindbergh. People tell you about the time they met John Fitzgerald Kennedy or Johnny Unitas or Mother Teresa or Elvis Presley or their aunt or a college professor

So in this homily I would suggest making  a list of significant meetings that changed our life and then pick the most significant one.


When Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better part, did Martha get over that - and accept Jesus’ verdict on the differences between his meetings and his experiences with the two sisters?

Another question, “Looking at our life, was there a meeting we had where we got burnt or told off or we felt we were not treated fairly or we were ridiculed?  Whenever I read the Martha-Mary story - I side with Martha every time. Maybe she was making Jesus a great lunch with delicious bread and wine. Sometimes a hurtful meeting or a painful or a nasty meeting is the most significant moment in one’s life.

Today’s Letter from Paul to the Galatians has Paul saying that after 3 years he went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas. To me that is one of the most mysterious and interesting comments in the scriptures. It took Paul 3 years before he met  Peter? What happened at that first meeting that took 15 days? Tomorrow we’re going to hear that the next visit - at least according to Galatians - took 14 years before they met again. That sounds strange to me!

We find out in tomorrow’s first reading from Galatians that Paul challenged Peter when he seemed to be two-faced - in giving different answers to the same question - depending whether the listener was a Gentile Christian or a Jewish Christian. [Cf. Galatians 2:11-14.]  We find out in the Second Letter of Peter 3: 16 a criticism of Paul that he is hard to understand at times. So I don’t know about these two - and the times they met.


The title of my homily is, “There Are Meetings and There Are Meetings.”

It’s important to meet with each other - and talk with each other - and surprise - some of these meetings are profound. If we never meet, we’ll never have significant meetings.

It’s important to pray with Christ - because if we never do that - we’ll never have a profound meeting with Christ - like Paul had on the road to Damascus and Mary had with Christ at their home.

So we come to Mass and go to the Eucharistic Chapel - and take prayer walks when the weather is decent and we meet with each other and surprise some of those moments make our list. One might become the most significant meeting and moment of our life - the key that opened so many other doors.

Quote for Today - October 9,  2012

"Not that I don't value my life ... but sometimes I wish I could spread it all out on a piece of paper and take some Whiteout to it."

Jill McCorkle, "First Union Blues"

Monday, October 8, 2012



The title of my homily for this 27th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “17 Miles.”

Sometimes it takes a long time - like a journey of 17 miles - before we finally understand something that can be explained in less than 2 minutes.

The journey from Jerusalem to Jericho is 17 miles.


It’s the year 2000. We’re in Israel. We’re in a bus heading for Jerusalem. I’m with a good priest friend of mine and about 20 other priests. The tour guide / retreat master, Father Stephen Doyle,  says over the bus loudspeaker, “We’re going to take the ancient road from Jericho up to Jerusalem - that is - unless we get a bad weather report - which could happen. We’re not sure yet.”

It was January - and when I heard that comment, I went inside myself and said, “Uh oh, oh no! No. No.”

I didn’t realize till that moment - till that comment - till that trip on that road - even if it was in a bus - that I was hoping to make that trip sometime in my lifetime. It was the road from Jerusalem to Jericho that we heard in today’s gospel - in the story of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10: 25-37] - but we would be doing it in reverse.

Father Stephen Doyle said that it was a very close road - with very high sides - and if it rains while we’re in that small valley of a road - it floods and is very dangerous.

The other road to Jerusalem was a major highway - the easier way. I rejoiced when it was announced we were going to take the harder road: the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

I had a window seat, so I could see how dangerous a road it could be - not just in bad weather - but if you walked it - from robbers.

Some sections had very little shoulder - and 14 foot high cliffs or edges on both sides of the road. It would be easy for robbers to jump off the edges on either side and rob the traveler if they were on foot.

Father Stephen Doyle read for us over the bus’ loud speaker today’s gospel, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.”

We heard the words: He was beaten, robbed, left half dead. A priest went down that road and walked right by the wounded man. A Levite did the same. These stories often have 3’s. The third man was a Samaritan - making that same journey with his pack animal. He stopped. He poured oil and wine on the man’s sores and bandaged them. He put him on his animal and brought the man to an inn. He told the innkeeper to care for the man. He gave money for the inn and the care and told him if it costs any more, I’ll repay you on my way back.


There it is - one of the worlds most important stories. It can take a minute in the telling. It’s very easy to memorize. If you add the back-story it takes less than two minutes. And the back-story is essential to the story. Luke indicates that the scholar of the law gets the story - gets the answers to the questions he asks. Now whether he really got it - God only knows.

Do I get it? Do I put the Good Samaritan story into practice?

Sometimes it takes 17 years - 17 miles - 17 bypasses of those in need - before we get this story that Jesus gifted us with.

The Levite and the priest - were following the rules - the Law.
The Law quoted here in our text  - Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 are only about 29 words in English, 33 words in Greek, and 15 words in Hebrew. I counted them up last night - but I wasn’t too sure about the Hebrew.

We know the words by heart. The call is to translate them from any language into action.


How many miles - how many hurts - injuries - problems - falls - denials - how many people in need do we have to pass by before we get the story?

How many years does it take - 17 or 37 or 77 - before we realize this story contains the meaning of life?


Today’s first reading is from Galatians. We have this Letter from Paul for our first reading every day this week and into next week.

I noticed that because my favorite text in the Bible is in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians - Galatians 6:2.

Bummer.  We get a lot of Galatians - but our Lectionary does not give us Galatians 6: 2 this week or next.

To me, since it’s my favorite text, I believe it’s the most important message for the world - for the church. It’s the message of today’s Good Samaritan story.

Here it is. Paul says in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens and in this way you’ll fulfill the Law of Christ.”

What’s your favorite Bible text? If you don’t have one, you can plagiarize mine.


I’ve traveled my 17 miles. I’ve reached the age of 72 and I think this is the Law for Life - to stop to help each other carry the burdens of life.

I think Pedestal Catholics fail on this over and over and over again.  Priests, Levites, bishops, cardinals and popes have walked by those in need - walked by those who are hurting over and over and over again. I know I have.

Thank God the Good Samaritans of the world stop to help from time to time the abused, the hurting, the poor, the divorced, the broken, the lonely, the war torn and ripped, the rejected, the abandoned, those whom nobody visits in prisons or nursing homes, the families of those with AIDS etc. etc. etc.

I also understand that people don’t seem to get this message till they are hurting - till they have been beaten up - till after they have a divorce, an abortion, a gay person in their family, an alcoholic, a drug addict, someone with HIV, those with cancer or what have you in their family,  then after traveling those 17 miles - they sometimes get it. Praise God.


Painting on top: Echo of a Scream [1937] by David Alfaro Siqueiros, Duco on Wood, 48 X 36", The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Edward M.M. Warburg


Quote for Today - October 8, 2012

"I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear."

Martin Luther King Jr. [1929-1968]  


Have you been hearing a lot of hate going around lately?

I have. It seems there is a lot of rock throwing going on that usual.

Maybe we need to read John 8: 1-12. What do you think?

Sunday, October 7, 2012



The title of my homily for this 27 Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, is, “Name The Key Ingredient for a Great Marriage.”

Today’s readings beg for a homily on Marriage.

The last time I preached on these readings I preached on divorce - so today I decided to preach on marriage.

Today’s first reading has a great folk tale. It's great literature. As you hear it, you can hear it being acted out in Jewish synagogues and circles for thousands of years and thousands of times.

You can hear a character up front playing God and saying, “It’s not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.”

Silence!  The audience waits to see who will be the suitable partner.

You can see Adam standing there as well - waiting for God’s answer and God’s gift of a partner. Next you start to see God going off to the side - making out he’s sculpting something out of the ground - just as he had made Adam out of the earth.

Drum roll: and God presents Adam with a goat and everyone laughs. Next comes a monkey, then a dog, then a cat and then a bird - and everyone laughs as Adam gives thumbs down or gives a frown to every one of these creations of God.

In his rejections Adam gives each animal a name as well.

It’s a great story - but Adam still has no suitable partner.

So the storyteller of Genesis has God casting Adam into a deep sleep. Then God reaches into Adam’s chest and dramatically pulls out a rib - and then you see God creating out of Adam’s rib a woman.

When the audience sees her - when the audience sees Adam’s face radiate in seeing the woman - the suitable partner - I’m sure they clapped and shouted - if the play was done well.

Then Adam bursts into his closing speech. Pointing to the woman, he says, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

Then the narrator of the play closes with the very familiar words, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.”

I think Bill Cosby does this skit the best when he has Adam saying when he sees Eve,  “Wow Man!” - the last great naming!


The title of my homily is, “Name the Key Ingredient for a Great Marriage.’

In the story,  Adam named the animals - but none proved a suitable partner. Then God gave him a partner: woman.

As I pictured today’s first reading I wondered what would it be like to have a play with God creating all kinds of ingredients to make a marriage work - and Adam is asked to name the most important ingredients and then  the  key ingredient for a great marriage.

If I polled all the married folks here, what answer would you give? What would be the key ingredient that would make you a suitable partner: love, respect, caring, communication, trust, making time, listening, children, working on making it work?

I would say that 66% of the marriages that I’ve been the priest for, couples pick for one of their readings, the love is this and love is that text from First Corinthians 12:31 to 13:8. Paul tells us that love is the greatest gift - the greatest ingredient. He spells out what it is and what it isn’t. It’s not rude, it’s not crude, it’s not pushy or pompous. Nope. It’s patience. It’s acts of kindness. It’s trust and hope. All these ingredients and more are what love is all about.

When heard, when done well, that would get a lot of Amen’s.

If we asked the divorced, "What happened?", we would get some of the same answers. They might say the negatives ran the show and the positives had disappeared and failed to show up. Those are ingredients for a disaster - an actual disaster or a silent divorce where a couple are still together - but where two are two and not one.


I’m not married - so I’m a bit hesitant to give my take on what it would take to make a great marriage.

As I thought about this, I wondered how Protestant ministers or Eastern Rite priests and now various former Anglican priests who are or were married would preach on marriage. Would they be much more practical and down to earth than a celibate?

Would there then be pressure to make sure they practiced what they preached?  Would they feel under the microscope in their marriage? What happens when a minister or a rabbi and his or her spouse break up and divorce?

As I thought about all this yesterday - after coming back from doing a wedding at the Naval Academy, I wondered if I could present an ingredient - that if it was made key - in a marriage - it would it be so convincing that married folks upon hearing it - would decide to work at putting that ingredient into their marriage - if they haven’t already - and married life for them would be great this coming week - and any week or day they put that ingredient into practice.

Then it hit me - that ingredient - would also make a great priest - a great boss - a great teacher - a great person to spend a lunch break with - a great person to spend one’s life with.


As I was thinking about all this - trying to come up with the key ingredient - I remember listening to a tape of Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He died recently, but his stuff is still good.  Habit # 5 was to “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.” What I heard with this habit was the message to forget self and take the side of the customer - or the other. Instead of giving the sales pitch, find out what the buyer feels fears about  - what the buyer is wondering about - what his or her questions are.

In other words - to shut up - and find out what the other is thinking, feeling, wondering about - and then the buyer or the other might ask, “What are you selling?”


As I remembered that, I realized that is a key idea about Christ. “For a little while” as today’s second reading puts it - the Second Person in the Mystery of God - was made “lower than the angels”.  That’s what we Christians believe - when we believe in the Trinity. We believe that God did just that in becoming one of us. Jesus Christ started as a baby. He came into our skin - into our flesh.

The theological word used is “Incarnation” - but the specialists tell us - not to use such words in a sermon.

Still, whatever word is used, there it is: Christianity. There it is:  Marriage. There it is: the secret of life and love.

The key ingredient to a happy marriage and a happy life - is become like Jesus - who said, “Everyone wants to be served, but here I am in your midst as one who serves.” There’s the key ingredient: to die to self - so the other can rise.

So the couple who are there for the other - who listen, who ask, who is concerned what’s going on inside the other - incarnation - it is they who understand sex - understand life - understand Christ - understand partnership.

It is they who understand the Mass - and every meal. It’s all about serving the other. It’s all about letting the other person eat us up - because we’re willing to be consumed by the other - and if we’re blessed by children - to give our lives for them as well. Listen carefully to the prayer at the end of Mass today. It basically says what one woman told me after the 7:30 Mass. She said, "It says, 'We become what we eat!'" We become Christ. We become the other. We become one!


So the key ingredient for a great marriage is: you before me. 

It's to serve rather than wanting to be served.  It's to let the other eat us up - to be Eucharist - Christ - for the other. St. Thomas Aquinas said it this way when he described what love is: Love is wanting and working for the well being of the other. 


Painting on top: The Arnolfini Marriage by Jan van Eyck [1434] - National Gallery London. The wedding took place in Brugge in 1434 between Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami.

Quote for Today - Oct. 7, 2012

"A successful marriage demands a divorce; a divorce from your own self love."

Paul Frost