Saturday, September 7, 2013


Quote for Today - September 7, 2013

"The only war  is the war you fought in. Every veteran knows that."

Allan Keller, N.Y. World-Telegram and Sun, August 1965

Friday, September 6, 2013



The title of my homily for this 22 Friday in Ordinary Time is, “The Old and the New.”

We hear about both in today’s gospel - new wine, new wineskins, old wine, old wineskins. New cloth, old cloth.  [Cf Luke 5:33-39]

The old and the new.

In today’s first reading from Colossians - we have some mysterious words about Jesus. He is described as the first born of all creation. [Cf. Colossians 1:15-20]

That makes Christ forever old. Yet he is listed as the first born from the dead. That’s the theme of resurrection - which is the forever new. As soon as we die, because of Christ we who believe - we believe he’ll make us brand new all over again.

Bye, bye wrinkles. Welcome in new skin - the skin of a new baby.

It’s a win-win situation.

The title of my homily is, “The Old and The New!”


Obviously, we know life is both.

We go into any house and we see the new and the old - and the older we get - the older the old.  Yet there’s always that something new - somewhere - a new TV, a new refrigerator, a new ramp that leads to the car - because of a wheelchair - a brand new metallic red wheelchair.

We spot a novel - the new - but we see the classics on a book shelf.  

We walk into a house and we say, “What’s new?”  And we get the latest news about each other’s family.  We don’t want old news - but after the new news, we revert to telling the old. We tell the old stories about the time we went to Barbados or Barcelona or Boston. We tell the story about how we almost won the state Spelling Bee in 1943. We talk about what our salary was in 1950.

Obviously, life is both the old and the new.


The planets in our Solar System are dated from 5 to 15 billion years old. But what will we know in 4013 that we don’t know in 2013?

How old is old?  How new is new  Maybe new galaxies are being born this very minute, this very million years.

Yet on this old earth, each day mosquitoes and mice are being born - and there is a new song and a new dance and a new procedure for arthritis and aneurisms.  The newspapers give the new - the news - otherwise they go out of business. So too television….

Yet sometimes we love the old - TCM - Turner Classic Movies - present in Black and White - a great movie. I noticed at weddings when the Golden Oldies are played, the Golden Oldies get out on the dance floor.

I noticed at Baptisms of brand new babies, the joy in grandparents faces because the kid is going to be baptized in a baptismal garment that is over 100 years and it’s a family tradition to use it.

The old on the new…..

The Annapolis Historic Society sticks to it’s Rules and Regulations to preserve the past whenever someone wants to make new an old house.

And Williamsburg and Annapolis, St. Petersburg and Rome, keep featuring the old to new customers.


Are there any messages here?

I would think that it behooves us to carefully preserve our past - gather the pictures. Label them. Make sure they are passed down to someone who will also preserve them.  It behooves us to put in the will not only who we want to have a special table or sewing machine - but also it’s history and story. It behooves us to write our autobiography, our memoirs, our story, for generations to come.

I would think that it behooves us to listen to each other tell our stories - our old - not just to write them down - but to share them with each other.

I would think it behooves us to not become a broken record or an old cold cheeseburger on a soggy paper plate at a picnic, but to read, to think, to go figure, to take long walks, to use TV and lectures well, to get fresh takes on life - and discover areas of life and the planets we don’t know much about.

I would think it behooves us to talk to Christ daily - about out future eternity with him and those who have gone before him - to picture heaven as the great wedding banquet - in which all will dance before the Lord. Amen.  It behooves us to have faith - because of Christ - that these wrinkled skins of ours - holding old wine - will one day rise - body and soul - and become brand new bodies - Risen Bodies - filled with the Newness of the Eternal Christ. Amen.

Quote for Today - September 6, 2013

"I gave in, and admitted that God was God."

C.S. Lewis, on relinquishing atheism at the age of 31 in 1929, quoted by William Griffin, Clive Staples Lewis,  Harper and Row, 1986

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Quote for the Day - September 5, 2013

"You use a glass mirror 
to see your face; 
you see works of art 
to see your soul."

George Bernard Shaw [1856-1950]

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Quote for Today - September 4, 2013

"Religion to me has always been the wound, not the bandage."

Dennis Potter (1935-1994)

Questions: Where does that comment by Dennis Potter take you? Talk to one other person - one to one - and compare your takes with that person on this quote.  Does putting a picture of a crucifix change the comments?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013



The title of my homily is, “Seeing the Good Things!”

This morning I would like to preach on today’s Psalm Response - and just part of it. It’s a bit long: “I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.” It’s from Psalm 27.

For a homily and for a thought for the day - why not try to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living today?

I don’t know about you, but some days, I spot the dust  and the scratches and miss seeing the strength and beauty of the chair and the rest of the furniture.

I’m more an optimist than a pessimist - but some days I forget that - and see  the chalice being half empty - and it’s good to be reminded to see the fullness of the Lord in each day.

So today, let’s spot the good things that will appear on your paths or on your plate.


Today - let’s see the person who holds the door for us - not those who shoot by us and don’t even know we’re on the planet.

Today - let’s see the people here in church with us - instead of worrying about the drop outs - especially amongst our kids.

Today - let’s see the smiles and not the scowls.

Today - let’s see the person who gives us the right of way in traffic - and not the person who’s trying win the Indianapolis 500 the Annapolis 5 M.P.H.

Today’s let’s spot the 50 shades of green on the trees and the grass that carpets and decorates our city and neighborhoods.

Today - let’s see the glass half full - rather than water we spilled when we missed our mouth in trying to get an ice cube in our mouth.

Today - let’s see what we got done - rather than what we don’t get done - because we stopped to smell the flowers or we took the time to call someone to see how their mom did in her operation.

Today - instead of feeling the weight of the cross on our back, why not spot the cross on the top of this church - and think of its history down through the years - giving sailors a signal - I’m not that far from port, harbor and home.

Today - let’s see the good things that surround us in this land of pleasant living.

Today - let’s think of all those people - who never make the news- because they are honest. As St. Gregory the Great - an early Christian saint and pope - whose feast day is today - said, “The universe is not rich enough to buy the vote of an honest man.”

Today - let’s walk in the light - and not the darkness we heard about in today’s first reading. [1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11]

Today - let’s notice the cries to the Lord of others - instead of hearing their demons - as we heard about that guy in today’s gospel. [Luke 4:31-37]


The title of my homily was: Seeing the Good things. I’m preaching good  news -  to be grateful for all the good things that are going to happen to us today - in the land of pleasant living. 

Quote for Today - September 3, 2013

"You don't have to attend every argument you're invited to."

Brenda Ashford, Guideposts, August 2012

Monday, September 2, 2013


Quotes for Today - Labor Day - September 2, 2013

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy - and Jill a wealthy widow."

Evan Esar

Or: "A society that gives to one class all the opportunities for leisure, and to another all the burdens of work, dooms both classes to spiritual sterility."

Lewis Mumford

Sunday, September 1, 2013



The title of my homily for this 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C,  is, “Proverbs and Parables.”

“Proverbs and Parables” ….

Today’s first reading from the Book of Sirach - which is one of the Wisdom Books in the Bible - and is a great collection of proverbs -  has this comment: “The mind of a sage - a wise person - appreciates proverbs and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.” [Cf. Sirach 3:29]

Today’s gospel from Luke - our gospel for this Church Year - has the comment, “He told a parable to those who had been invited….” [Cf. Luke 14:7]

There they are: Proverbs and Parables - the title and the topic of this homily.


So I have 2 questions: What are the proverbs you use in your life?  What are the parables you use in your life?

I am assuming everyone has proverbs and parables in mind....

Wouldn’t it be wise  to know our proverbs and parables - the ones that we inwardly say - when we’re doing our day - especially when we come to a crossroad or a check point or an itchy situation? 

Wouldn’t it be wise to know the proverbs and parables that others use - that they think work for them.

If the answer to those questions are yes - then I assume it would be the wise to be more conscious of our inner workings with proverbs and parables. 

That’s the message of this sermon.


For example, I once worked at a retreat house - 1969 - 1976 -  along the New Jersey shore - right on the ocean. We had this big storm and the boardwalk we had along the property right above the ocean, got ripped up and tossed onto  the lawn - going towards our house - away from the ocean.

No boardwalk. So I got a hammer and nails. I was younger then. And every afternoon for about an hour I would take the loose boards - or I would pull boards loose from the wreckage - and bring them down to frame foundation of the old boardwalk - and redo the boardwalk.  Well, one day while banging nails into a board,  I found myself saying, “Board by board the boardwalk is built.”

And in time we had a boardwalk. It was the only thing I ever built. I got transferred a year after I finished my masterpiece - and I came back a year later - and my boardwalk was gone - replaced by a much longer and better boardwalk.

Today’s gospel says: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The boardwalk no longer existed on the ground - but it had become built into my brain. I had constructed a proverb - which was also a parable.

For the rest of my life since then, I have often found myself chopping away at a task - step by step - saying inwardly, “Board by board the boardwalk is built.”

Page by page the book is read. Word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, the sermon is written. Dish by dish the dishwasher is filled. Dish by dish the dishwasher is emptied.

It’s the same message in any 12 Step Program. A day at a time. A journey of a 1,000 miles begins with that first step. Piecemeal brings peace.


That first example came from a personal experience.  My second example comes from an old priest I was once working with. There was this lady at the place - it was not here - who could be difficult. This old priest would often say - after an incident,  “As my father used to say, ‘I’d give that lady a wide berth.'” That was around 1980 or so and I’ve said that inwardly many a time since - about various men and women.


It’s the same with parables and stories.

Not only do we find ourselves saying proverbs inwardly, proverbs like, “A stitch in time saves nine!” or “Practice what you preach!” - but we also refer inwardly to a bunch of inner stories that we use for how to deal with life.

And sometimes proverbs and parables - are interconnected.


Once upon a time, I was working with a priest named Tom.  This was from 1994-2002. We worked on the road out of St. Gerard's Parish, Lima, Ohio. Once in a homily he was giving, he told the story about visiting one of our rectories - priest houses. He said he had walked in and this other priest really beat on him verbally. Off to the side, and later on, another priest who saw the whole thing, said to him, “How could you let that guy beat on you like that?”

Tom answered, “Oh that was Charlie just being Charlie.”

That to me is the Charlie being Charlie parable.

I always hope something I say in a homily would help someone all these years like that comment in that homily has helped me.

When a similar thing happened to me, I have found peace inwardly saying, "Oh that's X just being X."

I’m sure you’ve heard us priests get nonsense off or stuff you disagree with. I’m sure some of you when our babble gets too much - when our words are on sand paper - you have thought, “Oh that’s Father X, just being Father X.”

Tom's message had the same message as the parable of the scorpion - which I’ve read in a dozen versions. Evidently, it has helped many people down through the years.

An old man was walking down a road along side a stream. He stops and sees a scorpion out on a dead tree limb. Slowly he works his way down the bank of the river sort of crawling towards the scorpion.

Just then two men are walking down that same road and they call out to the old man - struggling to get out onto the branch towards the scorpion, “What are you doing?”

The old man turned and said, “Oh I’m trying to save this scorpion out here. He’s going to fall and drown.”

One of the two men says, “Are you crazy? He’s going to sting and possibly kill you.”

And the old man says, “Well, his nature might be to sting and kill. It’s my nature to help and save.”

And he continued to work his way towards the scorpion. In some versions he’s stung by the scorpion. But the main message is that we do in life what our nature is - while others go through life as stingers.

When I’ve dealt with folks who can give a nasty sting - with some nasty comments - I try to remember that saying and that story - about the scorpion and about Tom -  that proverb and that parable - whenever I’m dealing with stingers.


That’s my homily - short and sweet - as the proverb goes - to do some homework on what our personal proverbs and parables are.

Ooops - I better mention that today’s gospel has both a parable and a proverb. The parable is a reminder to not get filled up with self and want to sit in the seat to be seen. Nope Jesus’ parable has the message to take the back seat - and have others tell us to step up. Today’s parable then has the great proverb, “Everyone who humbles themselves will be exalted and everyone who exalts themselves will slip on a banana peel.”

Ooops! And the banquet in today’s gospel is this Mass - and guess who the poor, the crippled, the lamb and the blind who have been invited are?

Quote for Today - September 1, 2013

"A proverb is much light condensed in one flash."