Saturday, August 31, 2013


Quote for Today - August 31,  2013

"If people knew how much ill-feeling unselfishness occasions, it would not be so often recommended from the pulpit!"

C.S. Lewis

Comments and Questions:

What happened to C.S. the day he thought that comment to himself? What would be a situation during which you might say that?  Is it a typo?

Friday, August 30, 2013



The title of my homily for this 21st  Friday in Ordinary Time is, “The Sudden and the Too Late!”

I would like to preach on today’s gospel: Matthew 25:1-13. It's the Parable of Ten Virgins.

Today’s gospel is a warning. We can be too late. We can be sleep walkers. We can be unwise. 

So the messages are:  Don’t be late! Don’t be asleep. Be wise and wide awake -because Jesus might suddenly come into our life.  


Joachim Jeremias is his classic book on The Parables of Jesus - spends a lot of time on this unique parable about the Ten Virgins, the Ten Bridesmaids.

He says this parable might not be necessarily an allegory - but a true story that Jesus experienced.  And Jesus took the story - and applied it to staying awake - because sometimes we’re sleeping and the surprise happens.  We might miss God moments and God opportunities in life.

Then the Early Church made it an allegory - that Christ is the Bridegroom - and heaven is the Great Wedding Banquet.

In fact, Joachim Jeremias said that seeing the Messiah as the bridegroom was not a Jewish thought and image - before Christ. [1]

He also says that his dad - when he lived in Palestine in the early 1900’s saw the games and practices that people played at the time of a wedding. There would be all kinds of fun delays - for example, the family of the bride would still be haggling with the family of the bridegroom - over the price of the dowry and the worth of the bride. [2]

There were also dances and processions in the dark night - with lamps or candles - as the bridegroom was marched to where the bride was - and then let the celebrations begin.

So the Early Church - used this parable when talking about the Parousia - the Second Coming - the Coming Back of Christ - to take us all to himself. There is a lot of evidence in the New Testament that this world was going to end - and end quickly - and the Lord Jesus will return and march us all to paradise.[3]

It wasn’t happening - so one of the reasons for these parables and stories of Jesus was to help the folks - realize: there are delays.


We’ve all had experiences of the “Sudden” and the “Too Late”.

Yesterday morning I was in deep sleep - deep, deep sleep - at my niece’s house in New Jersey. A loud knock on the door woke me - along with my nephew walking in the room and asking if the iron was in here. He wanted to iron his suit jacket. I had no clue what he was talking about. He and his sister were going to another funeral. We had just finished his dad’s funeral and I was still sleeping.

It was an experience of the sudden.

I wasn’t going to the funeral they were going to - but they could be late. That’s an experience we’ve all had - that of being “too late”.

As priest we get the view of the back doors of every church. We can’t help but see - who’s coming in late. 

As priest, I’ve been late - for various things. Now one big advantage of being late is this: we can learn to understand that sometimes it’s our fault when we’re late - and sometimes it's not our fault. There was a traffic accident or a wrong turn or someone got sick or what have you.

If being late leads us to understanding of others, great.

If being late leads us to understand that sometimes Christ comes at us suddenly - that's also a great message. So:  Be alert. Be awake. Be wise. Don’t want miss Jesus - who can be the best surprise of a lifetime - and eternity!


The title of my homily is, "The Sudden and the Too Late." 

Hopefully, we can grow from both - because we've had both experiences.


[1] Joachim Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, Scribner Studies in Biblical Interpretation, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1963, page 52

[2] Idem page 173

[3] The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, [1990] Prentice Hall, Englewood Clffs, New Jersey, 07632, Jerome H. Neyrey, S.J. "The Second Epistle of Peter, pages 1021, 1022,  Cf. #23-28; John L. McKenzie, S.J., Dictionary of the Bible, Macmillan Publishing Co.. Inc. New York, 1965, pages 638-640.

Quote for Today - August 30,  2013

"The small-town boy who gone to fame and fortune decided to visit his birthplace after a 20 year absence, so he could gloat a little over his boyhood friends and surviving relatives.

"Half expecting an official greeting and a turnout of the town band, he arrived at high noon. Looking out the train window he saw empty streets, the same sleepy central square, and the old railroad station broiling in the sun.

"Getting off his train, his suitcase in his hand, he wandered over to the white-haired baggage handler and stood waiting for a sign of recognition and welcome.

"The old man shuffled forward, squinted in the sun, and smiled. 'Hello, Jimmy,' he said. 'Going away?'"


Monday, August 26, 2013


Quote for today - August 29, 2013

“Every time you lose your temper you advertise yourself.”


Quote for today - August 28, 2013

“If tombstones told the truth, everybody would wish to be buried at sea.” 

John W. Raper


Quote for today - August 27, 2013

“A reformer is one who insists upon his conscience being your guide.”

Town Journal

Quote for today - August 26, 2013

“Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”

Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, August 25, 2013



The title of my homily for this 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, is, “Will My Name Be On A Card On The Table?”

Have you ever been at a wedding banquet and you see the table that has the cards with the names and the table of those who have been invited and replied, “I’ll be there!” and you can’t find a card with your name on it?

I do a lot of weddings and I often can’t give a “Yes” or a “No” whether I can come to the wedding banquet.  The weekend schedule - with confessions and Masses can be tricky. I like  to do the prayer before the meal - after the father of the bride’s speech -  if I can - and then escape - often because I got to get a homily written for the morning - like this one. 

I was at a wedding banquet last night - and didn’t escape till 9:30. Yet it was a great meal and I had some good conversations.

But what I want to focus on in this homily is that table. I see that table with the names and tables for the guests at every wedding  and sometimes I see people with an “Uh oh!” look on their face. There doesn’t seem to be a card for them.


Well, when I read today’s gospel - Luke 13: 22-30 - I get that “Uh oh” feeling.

When I die, when I get to heaven, please God, will there be a table there outside the giant wedding banquet hall, and will my name be on a card - with the table I have a place at?

When we start moving towards the end of the gospels, we start to have these end time readings - and they often have “Uh oh!” feelings.

Today’s gospel has that theme and it’s only the 13th Chapter of Luke. 

Last night I went through the upcoming Sunday gospels from Luke - till the end of this church year. It seems that many have those “Uh oh!” challenging feelings. They are wake up calls. They are asking if we are using our gifts and if we are aware of others. Luke seems to be saying: the clock is ticking; we’re getting closer to judgment times; take stock; wake up. 


People are living a lot longer than 100 years ago - so I suspect that’s why there aren’t as many sermons today about next life stuff - as much as this life stuff.

Yet be reading for this theme that shows up in the our readings - like today. Should we address them on a beautiful Sunday morning?

In today’s gospel we heard the bold question someone asks Jesus as he’s making his way to Jerusalem, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

I don't know about you. I know about me. That question gets me to make the jump and ask the deepest question: “Will I be saved?”

As you know people call for a priest when they are starting to get to their Jerusalem - to what they or their family think might be  the end of their journey.

In today’s gospel as Jesus is heading for his Jerusalem experience, Jesus tells us to strive to go through the narrow gate. He says many will come to the gate - to the door - and it will be locked - and the Lord from inside will say, “I don’t know where you are from. Depart from me you evildoers!”

I’m equating in this sermon that feeling of being locked out -  to the feeling one has standing there - and we can’t find a card with our name and table on it.

That moment outside the big room at a wedding - and not seeing a card with our name on it - seems however, to be much softer than the words Jesus uses in today’s gospel.

We don’t want to die and hear God say, “I don’t know you.” “I don’t know where you are from.” “Depart from me, all you evildoers.”

Next comes the bummer text in today’s gospel: “And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom and you yourself cast out.”

Then Jesus adds, “And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some who are first who will be last.”

That text corresponds to today's first reading from Isaiah 66: 18-21 - where we find a big picture image of who's going to be saved: it's folks from all over the world - not just Israel - coming on horses and chariots, carts, mules and camels, heading towards Jerusalem, God's holy mountain. 


I assume that this deepest question, “Will I be saved?” or “Will I make it?” or  “Will I have a place at the table?” or  “Does God / or will God know my name?” is always present - maybe under the table - but that question is there.

When we sing the “When the Saints come marching in” song - don’t we hesitate a tiny bit when we sing the words, “I want to be in their number - when the Saints come marching in”?  Will I?


As just me, these things scare me from time to time?

As priest, these things scare me when people ask me these questions - many times.

I don't know the answer. God does.

And the key question is: "What is God like?"

I’m for the God described by Jesus in Luke 15. That’s my God. 

Not to be over dramatic, I remember a moment when I  said to God in prayer, “God the Father if you’re not like the God Your Son Jesus describes in Luke 15, the hell with you.”

"Ooops," I went, when I said that.  I put my hand to my mouth as if to shut myself up. 

Then I took my hand away and said it again to God: “God if you’re not like the God Jesus describes in Luke 15 - the God in the story of the Shepherd going out after the one lost sheep or the woman searching for the one lost coin or the father waiting for the return of the prodigal son, then after I die, I’m going to go in search of that God - the God our Lord Jesus describes.

But will I have a choice? 

What is God like? 

Is my picture of God the correct picture of God?


Then it hit me. That’s the question. Is my image of God, God?

I have been wrong dozens and dozens of times about others - so I assume that my image and likeness of God, is not God.

My prayer is that God is even more understanding - more loving - than I picture him. I hope he's more  like my dad who was a piece of cake - and we got away with murder - growing up.

However, I'm very aware that the scriptures have tough images of God. Yet they also have tender images of God. Spinach and donuts.


When reflecting on all this, I think of two very different Redemptorists who preached here at St Mary’s - two priests who were stationed here at St. Mary’s. I’m sure you have your list of priests and others who had a different image of God than you had.

The first Redemptorist was Father Michael Mueller [1825-1899]-  the fourth rector here at St. Mary’s. There is a white plaque dedicated to him in the center vestibule on the way out of this church. Check it out.

From what I read about him - he was a tough man - severe preacher and writer. The books about our history say he wasn’t a great preacher - but he was a well known writer - famous for the very theme of this homily - who’s going to be saved. He was famous for his stress on the text: Outside the church there is no salvation. [1] Only Catholics make it and they better be careful. Other Catholic writers and authorities in his day got him silenced on this issue. It must be noted that it was a different time and Protestant writers were putting us Catholics in hell as well - and that battle has been going on for centuries.

The second Redemptorist was Father Francis X. Seelos [1819-1867] - rector here at St. Mary’s before and after Father Mueller.[2] He was the man with the sense of humor and joy. He was the person people would line up sometimes around the block to go to confession to. We have him on a bench out in our Mary Garden.

Father Michael Mueller is buried down in our cemetery - here on Duke of Gloucester Street. 

Father Seelos is buried down in New Orleans at his shrine. There is the same bench statue of him down there as here - but the one there has bars at the end of the bench. Our's is more inviting - just kidding New Orleans!

The literature says that Mueller was on Seelos’ case for being such a joyful person. [3] I’ve read the literature and obviously I prefer Seelos - especially when I see their faces in the pictures of them. Smile and scowl. Yet I don’t know their souls. I don't know what their fathers  were like - and down deep I don’t know God. But I hope God is more how I have discovered Him. [4]

One of these days I’ll find out. So when I die I’m hoping Father Seelos will be there - sitting outside the wedding banquet hall on a bench - and he says to me, “Andy, sit here while they are looking for your name.”


[1] Cf. The Catholic Dogma: Extra Ecclesiam Nullus Omnia Salvator [188] by Father Michael Mueller, C.SS.R. 

[2] Cf. St. Mary's Church in Annapolis, Maryland, A Sesquicentennial History, 1853-2003, by Robert. L. Worden, pages 116 - as well as 94 - as well as 53-56, etc.

[3] Cf. "The Life of a Roving Redemptorist," by Father John Murray, C.SS.R.

[4] Check out this You Tube on Bl. Francis Seelos, C.Ss.R. 


Quote for Today - August 25, 2013

"The bottom line is in heaven."

Edwin Herbert Land, 1977, Shareholders' Meeting, Polaroid Corporation., April 26, 1977

Comment: I've heard the phrase, "bottom line" - especially in reference to, "The buck stops here!" or "This is where I stand!"  What does it mean in the above quote?  Is it a call to having the deepest values - clear fairness and justice - when it comes to business? I don't know.  At times - not knowing - hearing cryptic statements - can be very helpful.