Saturday, August 10, 2013


Quote for Today - August 10, 2013

"Truly there would be reason to go mad were it not for music."

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky [1840-1893]

Friday, August 9, 2013


Quote for August 9, 2013

“What you are, you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am by myself. There are and will be a thousand princes; there is only one Beethoven.” 

Ludwig van Beethoven

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Quote for Today - August 9, 2013

"Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?"

Michael Torke [1961-  ]

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Quote for Today - August 7, 2013

"Whether angels play only Bach in praising God, I am not sure. I am sure, however, that en famille they play Mozart."

Karl Barth, quoted in the New York Times, obituary, December 11, 1968

"En famille" - French for "with one's family"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013



The title of my homily is “Transfiguration Moments.”

They happen. How many have happened to you? Describe them!


Jesus had a few Transfiguration Moments  that we know of.

There was that moment on the mountain - that we heard in today’s gospel - when Jesus shone like the sun.

It was a moment with his 3 key disciples: Peter, James and John.

They saw him in prayer. And wow could he pray.

His face changed. Bright light radiated off the skin of his forehead and cheeks. His clothes became dazzling white.

Notice its connection to a  future moment in the garden - on the night before he died. In both scenes  Peter and the disciples had fallen asleep.

In the Transfiguration scene, they were awakened by the spectacular in the scene.

At that moment on the mountain they saw Jesus with 2 mysterious figures: Moses and Elijah.

They saw a cloud moving over them, enveloping them.

They heard a voice say, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

It was a transfiguration moment - a transfiguring experience.

His disciples were frightened,

His disciples wanted to stay there forever.

Jesus knowing they couldn’t contain this experience, Jesus knowing they couldn’t explain this experience, told them to keep this personal and private - till his exodus experience in Jerusalem - which was to come.

Jesus had a similar transfiguration moment at his Baptism - in the Jordan - when a cloud came over him. Like at the Noah’s ark story, a dove indicated where to land and start again. A voice said, “You are my Son, the Beloved, my favor rests on you.”

The title of my homily is, “Transfiguration Moments.”

Jesus had a few of them - at his birth in Bethlehem - when a great crowd of angels praised God - singing, “Glory to God in the highest - peace on all those on whom his favor rests.” Then there were the moments before he died: in the upper room, at Calvary, and all those resurrection moments.

People were transfigured by Jesus - changed by him - in their transfigured moments with him - especially Paul on his way to Damascus - when a light blinded him. He gets to Damascus - not with his destructive urges - but with new life - as a transfigured human being.


People have transfiguration moments - moments when they saw the light - moments that changed their lives: the birth of a baby; a sunrise at the ocean; waking up and seeing the face of a sleeping spouse in the morning light; seeing a son or a daughter graduate or marry or have their first grandchild; seeing a 7 year old play a piano or a trombone - in a kids’ orchestra.

People have transfiguration moments - transcendental moments - moments filled with light and joy - insight and the shattering of darkness - at Mass while singing a hymn like, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” to the music of Ode to Joy  by Ludwig van Beethoven - or at a picnic in the park with one’s family -or we’re at a parents 60th wedding anniversary - or the death of a loved one.

People have transfiguration moments - like the 3 million people at the World Youth Final Mass at the Cococabana Beach in Rio just two weeks ago. Will that moment solidify their faith life - life in Christ for life - for those people?


Today we’re celebrating the Feast of the Transfiguration - whose Gospel Message - is that Christ is the Light of the World - that Christ can transform our lives - his light can penetrate all darkness.

One of its key messages is that Christ is not only the light of the world - but that we are called to be light to our world. As Pope Francis told  the young people of Brazil - we are called to spread the faith to the fringes of society.

May Christ’s light shine in all the corners of our life - so that we can spread that light to all corners of the world. Amen.

Painting on top:Transfiguration by Lewis Bowman

Hiroshima - August 6, 1945 

Quote August 6, 2013

"O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies! not the smallest atom stirs or lives on matter, but has its cunning duplicate in mind."

Herman Melville [1819-1891] Moby Dick, Chapter 70.


Compare that comment with the following comments:

"The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophes." Albert Einstein [1879-1955], from Ralph E. Lapp, The Einstein Letter That Started It All. In the New York Times Magazine [August 2, 1964]

"Nature is neurtal. Man has wrested from nature the power to make the world a desert or to make the deserts bloom. There is no evil in the atom; only in men's souls."  Adlai Ewing Stevenson [1900-1965], Speech at Hartford Connecticut [September 18, 1952]

Monday, August 5, 2013



The title of my homily for this 18th Monday in Ordinary Time  is, “Avoiding The Title, ‘Complainer’ At The Funeral Parlor.”

At many funerals there is a eulogy - by a family member or a friend. It’s  a description - or a rendering of the person who died - usually edited - to avoid the negatives - to help all deal with the death of a loved one.  Hopefully, there will be many  positive comments.

Then there is the unofficial eulogy - the real one of the person who died. Most of the time it’s kept within - but sometimes people whisper - with hand to their mouth, “You know, she was a complainer.” Or “He liked to “gripe, growl, and groan.”  Hopefully, there will be some good stuff as well.

The title of my homily is, “Avoiding The Title, ‘Complainer’ At The Funeral Parlor.”


In today’s two readings - especially the first reading - folks are complaining. In the Book of Numbers they are complaining about the horrible food in the desert.  They also start voicing a basic complaint: we should never have moved in the first place.

The gospel complaint is about inconvenience - of having to feed all these folks. The disciples want Jesus to dismiss the crowd.

Jesus says: “Feed the crowd.”


Is there a definitive list of life’s top ten complaints?

I don’t know. That’s my first response to that question. Now I’ll be on the lookout for the most frequent gripes or complaints of people.

My guess would be that the list would contain: food, weather, noise, interruptions, traffic,  aches and pains, not getting my way - and especially others.

Yet, I don’t know. I have to think a bit more about all this.

I would think a basic question is whether most of my complaints are about myself or others. The answer to that would tell me a lot about myself.

Complaining about sloppiness, mismanagement, lateness, laziness, might indicate that I’m a neat person. Show me your house, your closets, the trunk of your car, and if it’s very neat, I might be able to tell you what you complain about. I would assume it would be the opposite: sloppiness and lazainess.

Knowing our pet peeves - would also tell us a lot about ourselves.

Listening to a person’s political complaints will tell others what TV news channel that person might  watch for news.


The title of my homily is, “Avoiding The Title, ‘Complainer’ At The Funeral Parlor.”

I was talking to a lady yesterday who has lost her hair and a lot more - because of cancer. She and her husband are praying for a cure, and she’s going for another major surgery next week, yet she said with a rich smile: “Death it’s a part of life! I’m ready.”

Mark Twain in his  Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, Chapter 10, wrote, “All say, ‘How hard it is that we have to die’ - a strange complaint to come from the mouths of those who have had to live.”

I would assume then that the bottom line is gratitude and joy for all the days of life we have had so far - for our food - our home - where we live, our relatives and friends,  and our hope for more - and we learn to enjoy them all - before we die. Amen

Quote for Today - August 5, 2013

"Being with an insanely jealous person is like being in a room with a dead mammoth."

Mike Nichols, New York Times, May 27, 1984

Question: Which came first, the dead mammoth in the room or the living elephant in the room?

Sunday, August 4, 2013


[This is a story  homily  -  based on today’s readings - for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C. It’s entitled, “He Couldn’t Speak.”]

He couldn’t speak - but he could see.

He couldn’t speak - but he could think.

He couldn’t speak - but he could cry.

And so Jack sat in his blue vinyl seat - in his standard wheelchair - with stainless steel bars - hard rubber wheels - watching everyone in the nursing home.

He couldn’t write - his stroke - pretty much wiped out his ability to tell others what  he was thinking - what was going on in his mind and heart and soul.

At first it was hell.  All hell had broken loose in him.

He had everything and now he felt he had nothing - nothing - lost - gone - in one quick stroke.

At first it was hell  - being in a room with Joe - who snored - snored - very loudly - every night - every night.

Joe - being very much overweight - was also a wheel chair patient -  but he had one with a deluxe size seat - dark maroon  vinyl - with  more stainless steel metal than Jack’s wheelchair.

Joe could talk - but it drove Jack crazy at first - “Talk. Talk. Talk!” Jack would say in his brain of Joe, “Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk!” Then that was followed by an inward litany, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”

So Jack loved it when a nurse or an attendant would ask, “Do you want to sit outside and get some fresh air?”

With his eyes and a learning to smile, smile, Jack would always say, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Get me out of here.”

Jack had few visitors. His wife had left him many years earlier. They had two children: Jack Jr. who lived on the other side of the country and Sonya - who lived on the other side of the county. Neither had kids. Both were divorced. Jack Jr. was in a second marriage.

Before his stroke - Jack had everything - stress on things.

After his stroke - Jack had nothing - really nothing.

His kids - Jack Jr. and Sonya - met and decided on selling the house - and his cars - one of which was a green and white 1954 Eldorado Cadillac convertible - which Jack loved to ride in - all by himself - actually - in every Fourth of July - town parade. They put the money in the bank - in an account for him - and Sonya and Jack Jr. decided that Sonya - since she was closest - and Jack Jr. was very successful - and didn’t need anything - Sonya would visit their dad on a regular basis - and get everything when Jack Senior - their dad -  would die.

Jack Jr. and Sonya with a lawyer visited Jack Sr. in the nursing home and told them all this and he nodded agreement with everything. At that point, he really didn’t care. They got it notarized - so they had a plan. Just get it done.

The house was sold - everything was sold - the money was put in the bank - and Sonya would visit her dad at least once a week - and find him either in the corridor - or in outside alcove in the middle of the nursing home complex - depending on the weather.

Jack didn’t care about any of the money or the house stuff. He was stuck in anger because his whole life went down the tubes. He was just stuck in a hell in his mind - in that blue vinyl seated wheelchair.

Time ticked on. Physical Therapy - Speech Therapy - did very little.

What nobody knew was the spiritual therapy that was about to begin in Jack’s brain and being.

The electric shock moment was the Mass moment.

One Sunday morning Jack looked over to the TV screen Joe was watching.  Joe - had to watch this Sunday Mass every Sunday - because that would be the first question Joe’s wife, Angela, would ask him when she arrived around noon. “Did you go to Mass today?”

Jack had been Catholic,  but never went to Mass.  The priest on the TV screen was rattling on that Sunday morning with a sermon that was very short and disjointed. The priest was talking about the first reading for the day. He kept quoting  the opening words of that first reading, “Vanity of vanities..,, All things are vanity!”

Jack was wondering who the Kardashians were….

Jack really didn’t hear anything else in that sermon about “Vanity of Vanities ... and all is vanity”.

What clawed and floored  him was the gospel story the priest read out loud before his sermon.  In an electric lighting flash Jack realized he was the man Jesus was talking about - the man with the barns - who was planning on bigger and bigger barns - bigger and better everything - and Jesus said the poor fellow was to die that night as he dreamed about bigger and better tomorrows and years to come.

Jack couldn’t speak - but he could cry.

He turned to the wall. He didn’t want to see anyone or anyone to see him. And he couldn’t  move his arms or hand to wipe the tears from his eyes.


And he knew Joe’s whole family - wife and kids and grandkids were about to  show up - as they always did on Sunday at noon - and take over the room - and their grand children loved to take each other for rides in Joe’s wheelchair.

Sure enough - they came. They came in hoards that Sunday - high noon.

Jack turned around in his bed and watched Joe’s family in action.

Jack wished the little girls would borrow his wheelchair. When one gal sat in it - he motioned with his nose and his head - and his face with a rich smile, “Take it. Take if for a ride!”

She did and that became one of the first great signs of Jack’s new outlook on life - thinking of others. Celebrating others - celebrating living by giving.

As a result of Jack’s signaling to the little girl to use his wheelchair, Joe’s grandkids became famous for wheelchair racing in the corridor outside Joe and Jack’s room.

The nurses seeing Jack’s chair without Jack in it - went into the room and were about to ask him if it was okay. Seeing the smile on his face from his bed - they knew it was perfect - because they never saw him smile before.

Around 3:00 PM that afternoon, Jack was sitting outside in the front of the nursing home. This was a first for him.

Surprise, Sonja showed up in the 1954 Green and White Eldorado Cadillac Convertible.

Double surprise.  There was her dad - in his wheelchair - sitting outside in the sun - near the front entrance of the nursing home - hoping she would come.

“Uh oh!” she thought. “I know he thinks we sold it.”

As she headed towards him she saw a great big smile on his face.

“Uh oh!” she thought. “Something’s different.”

“Okay, dad,” she said, “I couldn’t sell the convertible. It is too precious. It is too much you. So I had to keep it.”

He motioned with his face, with his eyes, with his neck and head going up and down with a “Yes” signal - that this was wonderful.

“You mean it’s okay dad,” said Sonya - and she started to cry and smile and go over and give him a first big real hug in years.

And after that, all was great for Jack.

He got to love to hear Joe’s stories about his life - and his family - and he loved it when Joe’s grand kids would sit in Jack’s bed as the whole family laughed and shared food with each other.

And their tiny nursing home room - #607 - with its two beds and two wheelchairs - became home and playground - picnic area and therapy center - chapel and cathedral  for them. Amen.

Quote for Today - August 4, 2013

"I've given my memoirs far more thought than any of my marriages. You can't divorce a book."

Gloria Swanson [1899-1983], New York Times, March 10, 1979

Photo: from movie - Beyond the Rocks, 1922 - with Rudolph Valentino [1895-1926]