Saturday, January 5, 2013


Quote for Today - January 5, 2013

"There exist only three beings worthy of respect: the priest, the soldier, the poet.  To know, to kill, to create."

"Il n'existe que trois etres respectables: le prétre,  le guerrier, le poéte.  Savoir, tuer, et creer."

Charles Baudelaire [1821-1867], in Mon Coeur Mis a Nu [1887, 1897], XXII


That was published in France in 1887 from Charles Baudelaire who died in 1867. If you were to list 3 beings worthy of respect today, whom would you list?

How would you understand the second part of the quote: to know, to kill, to create"?

Friday, January 4, 2013


Quote for Today: January 4, 2013

"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves, as fiercely as if they had never happened before."

Willa Sibert Cather [1873-1947] O Pioneers [1913], pt. ii, Chapter 4


What do you think are these 2 or 3 human stories?

What are the 2 or 3 key stories of your life?

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Quote for Today - January 3,  2013

"Three passions, 
simple but overwhelmingly strong,
have governed my life:
the longing for love,
the search for knowledge,
and unbearable pity
for the suffering of mankind."

Bertrand Russell [1872-1970] in Autobiography [1967], chapter I.


What are the 3 Main Passions that overwhelm and govern your life?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Quote for Today - January 2, 2013

"Two daiquiris
withdrew into a corner
of the gorgeous room
and one told the other a lie."

John Berryman [1914-1972], 77 Dream Songs [1964] Poem # 16

Tuesday, January 1, 2013



The title of my homily is, “On Having a Blessed New Year.”

Isn’t that we want for our family and our world for this New Year: blessings.


One of the nicest blessings I have as a priest is to put a blessing on a new born baby or a newly married couple: blessings.

It’s also a blessing at times to put a last blessing on someone who is dying.

This past year a moment that stands out is being called one afternoon to a give the last rites to someone who was dying. The caller said, “No rush! You can come anytime in the next week or so.” For some reason I said, “I can come down right now!”  I did. The family was there. The person who was dying was conscious and talking. We said all the prayers and I blessed the man and right then and there he died. Woo. It was a blessing that I went down when I went.

This past year I was baptizing some babies and as usual I ask the moms or dads or both to bring their baby to every one of those present as part of their group. I asked that they have each person there to put a small sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead. I mentioned out loud to pray for that baby as you’re blessing her or him - and that you also pray that you witness faith, hope and love for that child and all children you meet.   After the baptism, a mother of the father of the baby who was baptized told me she did that for her son every night since his baptism before he went to bed up to the time he went off to college. They she added that her son told her that he and his wife are going to do the same for their children.

The title of my homily is, “On Having a Blessed New Year.”

It’s not just for priests to do the blessing. Better all of us by our baptism are anointed priests, prophets and kings.

By our baptism we are called to bless our children - our food - our days - our year - as well as to bless ourselves each morning, noon and night.

How about every morning and every night for this New Year of 2013 - we bless ourselves and each other? It’s a nice morning and night prayer. It’s short and real. “God bless me or you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”


The meaning of a blessing is self explanatory.

We are praying and wishing blessing - favor - health - happiness -  joy - redemption - salvation - holiness - the sacred - God - Mary - the Saints to come upon this other person or ourselves.

The English word “blessing” goes way back - some think to a Germanic custom and word. Some thing it’s a pre-Christian practice of marking another with blood - as a blessing.

The human custom of blessing another is found in all religions - wishing the best to come down upon  this other person.


Today’s first reading gives us the so called, Aaronite Blessing - which some date back to 600 years before Christ if not earlier.

The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord let his face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly
and give you peace!

I remember reading somewhere that they found a silver amulet in an archeological dig in Israel. The silver piece had a hole in for a string. It would go around a neck. This specific metal piece - was very delicate - wrap around metal - like you get a piece of wrap around ham as a hors d oeuvres. When the specialists flattened it out - they saw writing on it. It was the Aaronite Blessing.  I rechecked this out on line this afternoon. Sure enough - that’s the date - checked out by NASA scientists as well. It’s listed as one of our earliest Jewish scripture writings - dating it some 400 years before the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Today’s second reading from Galatians spells out that we have been blessed by being adopted as children of God. How many times in our have we been talking to someone who tells us the story of adopting a baby or being adopted themselves. What a blessing! Well, pause at St. Paul’s words here. We have been  adopted by God as children of God.  I hope we all see that as a great blessing. We can cry out that God is Our Father. We are in the will. As Paul tells us in today’s second reading, we are heirs. We’re in the will of God.

Today’s gospel tells us one of the Nativity stories - that the shepherds were the first to be blessed in seeing the new born baby in the manger in Bethlehem.

One of the blessings of Christmas for me has always been to see parents take their little one’s up the crib before or after Mass and have them experience what the shepherds experienced: witnessing the Gospel scene of Jesus as a baby in the manger as Luke describes the first Christmas in his Gospel.


Enough. The title of my homily is, “On Having a Blessed New Year.”

My message is to bless each other during this new year and to ask God to bless all of us so as to have a blessed new year - and then to work at making it a Happy New Year. Amen. 

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Quote for Today - January 1st. 2013

"I saw three ships come sailing by,
Come sailing by, come sailing by,
I saw three ships come sailing by,
On New Year's Day in the morning."

Song: I Saw Three Ships, Anonymous

Sorry! The song on top doesn't mention New Year's Day - but the old song does!


Spot the three ships. 

Go down to your dock and enter the first ship. It contains the key people in your life. Who are they by name? What's going on with you and that person? Any hopes for the New Year with them? Is there anything that needs to be said? Is there anything that needs forgiveness and reconciliation? Where is the laughter and where are the tears?

Then go onto the second ship. This one carries your stuff. What's important? Is there anything that needs to be dry docked, dumped, thrown overboard, removed?  Is there anything that you need for your  trips of this New Year - that you don't have yet?

Then go onto the third ship.  This one contains God. This one - if you're a Christian - contains Jesus. Is he asleep on a cushion and you need to awake him for this New Year of life?  [Cf. Mark 4: 38]

Monday, December 31, 2012


Quote for Today - December 31,  2012

Year: "A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments."

Ambrose Bierce [1842 - c. 1914] The Devil's Dictionary [1906]


We are not sure of the date of Ambrose Bierce's death - because he disappeared into Mexico to seek "the good, kind darkness" in 1913. His The Devil's Dictionary was first published as The Cynic's Word Book - and that's exactly what much of it is.

Looking at your year, looking at your appointments in 2012, what were the wonderful moments - the graces - the gifts - the splendors and what were the disappointments?

Sunday, December 30, 2012



The title of my homily is, “Family: The Sounds of the Heart.”

This Sunday after Christmas - is called, “Holy Family Sunday.”  The Church asks us to look at our family. How are we doing? What’s going on? What does our family look like?  What about the upcoming year?  What needs attention?  Who needs to be noticed? Is there anyone who is lost that needs to be found?

Family…. Evaluation ….  Recommendations…..

Recommendation - suggestion: every once and a while -  grab a newspaper - find a comfortable chair - put the newspaper up to your face. Don’t read it. Close your eyes. Listen carefully to the sounds in your home.

When we get a physical check-up,  the doctor puts a stethoscope to our heart - to our lungs - to our back and front. What does the doctor listen for? What sounds does she hear?  Are there unhealthy sounds? Are there healthy sounds?

If we give our family a check-up, what sounds do we hear? What’s the diagnosis? What’s the prognosis? What’s healthy? What’s unhealthy?  When was the last time we had a family check-up?

The title of my homily is, “Family: The Sounds of the Heart.”


In today’s first reading from 1 Samuel and today’s gospel from Luke we hear about something many families do: they bring their child to the temple - to the Lord - for blessings, in thanksgiving, for celebration.

In  today’s second reading from 1 John 3, all of us are seen as children - children in the family of God - called to believe, called to love, called to have confidence in God. In other words, to see ourselves in the family of God the Father - with Jesus as our brother.

The Psalm for today - Psalm 84 - simply says: “Blessed….”  or - “Happy are those who dwell in the house of the Lord - in his courts.”

Obviously, many people believe Church, religion, faith, helps with family and life. The statistics bear this out. We have to keep reflecting upon the old saying, “The family that prays together, stays together.”


Would you add anything else to that formula? 

I would add: The family that plays together, stays together. The family that eats together, stays together. The family that take time for each other, stays together.  When was the last time you as a family found yourself sitting at the family table for an hour at least after the meal was over?  That to me is a barometer. Hint. Hint. Hint.

In preparing for marriage, I always ask a couple what they think are the 3 key things - 3 key ingredients - to put in the mix to make a great salad or meal or cake called marriage.

Answers: communication, honesty, respect, love, time together, fun --and God and faith and forgiveness sometimes sneak onto the list.

What would you list as the 3 key ingredients for a strong family? After listing your 3, score yourself on a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest score.

Then as Nike puts it: Just Do It!


I’m sure you have heard Leo Tolstoy’s [1828-1910] comment  about families:  “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Those are the opening words of his novel Anna Karenina [1875-1877]. The 5th or 6th if you include a TV series, English version of the book is out as a movie right now - starring Keira Knightly. One reviewer said, “Skip the movie. Read the book.”

We know the stuff that destroys family: cheating, lying, jealously, breaking one’s vows and promises. Tolstoy’s book talks about the unhappy consequences of sin and selfishness. Being a novelist, he’ll present unhappiness in it’s own way. He gives names and situations when people poison themselves and self destruct.

The title of my homily is, “Family: The Sounds of the Heart.” I would hope the movie will challenge viewers to listen to the sounds of their own hearts - listening to their personal happy and unhappy sounds - their own healthy and unhealthy sounds - hearing their own “Oh no!” sounds - as well as their “Oh wow!” inner sounds.

Which would have the greatest impact: seeing the movie or reading the book? Only the reader or viewer can answer that. I noticed that there are at least 9 English translations of the 864 pages in Russian of the book. Rosemary Edwards - translator of the 1954 Penguin English translation said that one of Tolstoy’s major themes is: “No one can build their happiness on another’s pain.”


In looking up stuff on family to come up with this homily, I noticed not only Tolstoy’s quote, but also the word “hint” in the writings of Robert Frost.

I like his poems - and unlike Anna Karenina - I’ve read the big fat book of Frost’s poems - as well as stuff about Frost and his family and his marriage - but I never noticed the word “hint” before.

I noticed it in this quote by Frost  about family, “The greatest thing in family life is to take a hint when a hint is intended - and not to take a hint when a hint isn’t intended.”

What does that mean?

I need to think about that. Hint. Hint. Hint. I’m suggesting you to think about it as well.

Are we a bunch of hinters?  Are we a bunch of not so clear communicators?  Are we all so wrapped up in ourselves and our cell phones and computers and TV sets - that we’re not picking up the hints - the signals - we all give off.

Frost made his comment well before these modern gadgets - so he’s saying that people are hinting or not hinting during his time.  And Tolstoy is saying folks are making these hints, sounds and signals in  the late 19th century, the time of Anna Karenina. And Jesus was well aware of the sounds of the human heart in his time - sounds that became part of the gospels -  the scriptures - the sounds we hear in every relationship and every family.

Does every marriage that broke up - have the people saying, “I was so stupid. I missed the hints that were there all along!”?

Are we giving hints in our marriage and our family  that we need to be heard, listened to, respected, given time to, eat with, play with, pray with, take a walk with, or a drive with, or left alone - and given our space?

We’re slow - if I hear Frost. And if I hear Frost in his poems and his writings - we get nature’s hints easier than each other’s eyes, throats, twists, turns, the sound of our words, etc. etc. etc.

Hint. Hint. Hint.

If I hear Frost’s life - he had lots of family problems - as a child with an alcoholic father - who died when Robert Frost was around 11 - and then his marriage was rather wintery - like New England winters can be - with a cold marriage - a death of he and Elinor’s first son Elliot as a baby. Two daughters had marriages that had nasty divorces - and one son, Carol, committed suicide. Tough stuff.

Family life needs lots of attention and work.

The title of my homily is, “Family: The Sounds of the Heart.”

In this homily I’m hinting that the family sounds are lots of hints - which we’re slow in getting.

Get them before it’s too late.

Robert Frost once made another comment about hints. We’re aware of two people mentioned in this comment - Ben Franklin and Sir Isaac Newton. Frost asked, “How many times it thundered before Franklin took the hint!  How many apples fell on Newton’s head before he took the hint! Nature is always hinting at us. It hints over and over again. And suddenly we take the hint.”


Of course clear blue communication is better than the hints - but maybe family life would be better if we start with the hints. Why not read or view each other - as if each of us was a book or a movie? Then we can talk to each other about what we’re seeing - what the other is showing - by simply beginning with a question, “Are you trying to give me a hint here?”


“Okay, just wondering….”

Then an hour later we hear, “Well, yes, I was trying to say ….”


Quote for today - December 30, 2012

Family: "The we of me."

Carson McCullers