Saturday, September 14, 2013


Quote for Today - September 14, 2013 - Feast of the Exaltation of the  Holy Cross

"The Cross does not abolish suffering, but transforms it, sanctifies it, makes it fruitful, bearable, even joyful, and finally victorious."

Joseph Rickaby, An Old Man's Jottings, 1925

Friday, September 13, 2013



Have you ever hurt someone that you didn’t know you hurt them and then you found out about it a long time afterwards?

The title of my homily is, “Father, Forgive Me, For I Don’t Know What I’m Doing!”


For example, it might have been a comment we made that the other heard as a reject slip. Or it might have been something we were doing that drove the other person crazy, the way we drive, or the way we clear our throat - and we never knew it bothered them.

Just listen to people. We’re always talking about others and often it’s about how they are driving us nuts. Well, there has to be someone out there who is complaining about us and we don’t know it.


In today’s first reading from Paul to Timothy, he says, “I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a man filled with arrogance but because I did not know what I was doing in my unbelief, I have been treated mercifully, and the grace of our Lord has been granted me in overflowing measure, along with the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Isn’t that so powerful?

We all have “used to’s”. We all used to do this and do that.

Hopefully - if what we used to do - bothered others - we have changed.

Hopefully, as we age - there will be a lot more insights - about bothersome behaviors.

Isn’t Paul’s message of God’s overflowing compassion to Timothy so moving?  It fits in with yesterday’s gospel about compassion overflowing into our lap  -- if we are compassionate.


Today’s gospel indicates that we can be so blind. We can forget these great truths.

Today’s gospel has the famous saying about seeing specks in our brother’s eye and missing the plank in our own.

Jesus knows people. We don’t want to smell our own stink, so we smell other’s. We don’t want to hear about out selfishness, so we block that out, by using our energy in spotting it in others.


The day we admit our blindness, the day we are as honest as Paul, can be the day we experience God’s compassion to us, a compassion we can then share as we can forgive each other. Amen.

Quote for Today - September 13, 2013 - Feast of St. John Chrysostom

“Work is a powerful medicine."

 St. John Chrysostom [c. 347-407] in a Homily.

Thursday, September 12, 2013



The title of my homily is, “What Are My Life Principles and Basic Sayings?”

Today’s 2 readings have many prayer leads for personal prayer - as well as bringing up life principles and inner sayings.

                       Colossians 3: 12-17
                       Luke 6:27-38

Suggestion: read today’s readings and let what’s being said sink into your mind and soul. 

Then see which saying, which word, keeps bopping up to the top of our mind from the bottom of our soul, from out of our depths.

Hidden in the first reading is an excellent suggestion: “Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you.”

We might add or ask: Which word? Which sentence of Christ, should we let dwell in us?

Once more I would suggest spending some time simply pouring these words into our soul through our eyes and our ear and into one's mind, into one's soul, into one's depths.


All 4 gospels, but especially today’s gospel which gives part of Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, have great words of Christ to dwell on.

We might call them one liners. We might call it bumper sticker theology. Yet, sometimes it only takes a word or a few words for something someone says to us for a new word  to begin to dwell within us.

It can be a positive or a negative word!

If it’s a hurt or an attack, it might act like a poison or an acid that eats at the inside of our mind and feelings.  If it’s a compliment, it might change our attitude towards ourself. It might help heal us.


Augustine, whose feast we celebrated at the end of last month, kept hearing the words, “Take and read. Take and read.” So he took and read the Letter of Paul to the Romans and read 13:13-14.

Augustine then turned over the words of Paul in his mind and changed.

Before that he kept on saying two sentences: “I can’t do it. How can you give up sex?” That’s the first tape recording. The second was, “Well, if these young people can be chaste, why can’t I do it as well.”

Haven’t we all had someone say to us, “You know something you said to me ten years ago, really helped me. I never forgot it. Thank you.”


If it’s a positive suggestion, a saying, a proverb, it can become part of our basic life principles.

Have you ever noticed that some people clearly have life principles that they go by? You know this because you often hear them quote these principles as they face a situation in which they are called upon to act.

For example, “A stitch in time saves 9.” “Buy cheap, buy twice.”  “People who live in a glass house shouldn’t throw rocks.”


How many times have we heard people say,

“Turn the other cheek.”

“Do to others what you would have them do to you.”

“Do not judge, and you won’t be judged.”

“Do not condemn and you won’t be condemned.”

“The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.”


My suggestion is you take both readings to prayer and see what saying pops to the surface. Make it your own. Own it. Then live it. Then send out old words, unwholesome words to get lost, to become homeless - from from your mind. 

Quote for Today - September 12, 2013

"Dogs bark at every one they do not know."

Heraclitus [c. 535 - c. 475 BCE]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Quote for Today - September 11, 2013

“The moment to spend with a husband who loves me, or a sick friend, or a delicious new grandchild is here and now. Not some time later .... 

The nation learned this lesson all at once that horrible day in September 2001. 

The pictures stay with us -- the fires and falling debris, and, most hauntingly, the faces. 

Look how young so many of them were, people who thought there would be much more time, a lot of 'later' when they could do all the things they really wanted to do. 

I grieve for their families -- especially for those, like me, who haven't found any trace of the people they loved. 

But I grieve even more for the people who died that day. 

They couldn't know what we know now about the precious gift of time.” 

Cokie Roberts -  contributing senior news analyst for NPR News

Tuesday, September 10, 2013



The title of my homily for this 23 Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Baptism: Picture That.”

Picture the day we were baptized. We were in a church - or in the hospital or somewhere. We were surrounded by others - family, friends. We were called by name. “Elizabeth, Eileen, Evelyn, John, James, or George, I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Picture that. Picture God the Father seeing that and saying what He said over Jesus at his baptism: “This is my beloved daughter….” “This is my beloved son ….”

Baptism is something all of us here this morning have in common.


Picture people like we heard in today’s gospel hearing Jesus and then deciding to follow him - and Jesus calls various people by name. [Cf. Luke 6: 12-19]

Picture people heading for the Jordan river to be baptized - and called by name.

Picture the Early Church developing and evolving this beginning ceremony - this beginning rite - called “Baptism” - meaning “being dipped, immersed”.

Picture people standing there after a long tough training year - or years - learning the gospels - learning Jesus’ life and teachings - and then that night before Easter morning - they stood there and were walked to some steps - and went down them - into the waters - were immersed in the waters - washed in the waters - and walked up the steps on the other side - robed in white - and then celebrated as newly baptized Christians - people on the Way.

Picture that.

Picture people hearing today’s first reading  - a letter from Paul to the people of Colossae [Colossians 2:6-15]. Picture them hearing they are receiving and meeting and being with Christ Jesus as now the Lord of their life. Picture what Paul is saying here in today’s first reading. Baptism gets us walking with Christ and being rooted in Christ.  Baptism is being and having the house called me being built upon Christ - upon rock. Baptism gives us - better Christ gives us faith - and this leads to thanksgiving - because Christ has been established in us.

Picture, hear, grasp, deepen what Paul is telling us in today’s first reading. Christ has teachings and images and sayings and stories - but it’s seeing our faith not so much as a philosophy - but as a relationship - with each other in Christ. We’re called Christians.  We have been forgiven our sins. Jesus took upon himself all our faults - and graced us - and challenged us to make this a better world because of our presence in it.


Picture the big mosque in Istanbul.  It’s a tourist spot - like the famous Blue Mosque. This one is enormous. It’s the former Basilica called "Hagia Sophia” or “Holy Wisdom.”

I’m sure you’ve seen it on post cards or a James Bond or Alfred Hitchcock movie. It’s a big building.

Picture that building. It has history - going all the way back to its completion in 537 AD. It also has had fires - reconstruction - many roof repairs - more fires - earthquakes. It was a Christian center till 1453 - when it was taken over by the Moslems. It was a mosque from 1453 till 1931 - when it became a museum.

Picture a tourist coming in and looking around and seeing Moslem religious objects. Then they look up and see on its upper walls, big Greek Ikons of Jesus and Mary.

I picture myself - when I visited it in 2011 - going off to the side - and seeing in an alcove a baptismal font. I don’t remember what I read about it’s history - whether it’s the one I read about on line that was recently discovered and goes back to the 6th century. The one I saw was about 5 yards all around. I climbed up the steps - nobody stopped me. I looked down into the empty stone tub. It was empty. Yet I pictured and celebrated with all those way, way, way back people who were baptized in this very stone pool. I came down those steps and looked around the basilica once more - thinking of all the famous saints - like John Chrysostom - as well as millions and millions of others - who were in this sacred place.

Picture sacred places on our planet - natural beauty shrines or human made shrines.


Picture the church where we were baptized and those who were baptized there. Picture all the churches that were closed as churches - like that one in Istanbul - and thank God for the good times - the sacred moments -  that were had there - and that they always be seen as sacred places.

Picture this place - and all those who were baptized into Christ Jesus here - and are still called by name by Jesus - and can continue to be healed by Jesus - and grow into Jesus - in this sacred place.

Picture people like us - in this sacred place this morning - in this sacred place - asking God for a great day today - and to walk out of here and bring Christ to our world today. Amen. Okay.


Quote for Today - September 10, 2013

"Puritanism - the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

H. L. Mencken, "Sententiae," The Vintage Mencken, 1955

Monday, September 9, 2013



The title of my homily for this 23 Monday in Ordinary Time  is, “Suffering.”

Yesterday in The New York Times  - in the Sunday Review Section -  there was a front page article entitled, “The Value of Suffering.”

As of 11 AM  this morning there were 241 comments from all over the world - on line - expressing thoughts etc. about the article.

The article was by one of my favorite writers, Pico Iyer. I spotted the large print title of the article first - then noticed the author - who travels the world - making comments about life as it is lived everywhere.


Then I noticed this morning - in today’s first reading from Colossians - that St. Paul spells out some of his comments about sufferings.  He begins by saying,

“I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
on behalf of his Body, which is the Church,
of which I am a minister
in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me
to bring to completion for you the word of God,
the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.” [Colossians 1: 24-26]

In the article on suffering by Pico Iyer, there is no mention of Christianity. However, there are a few in the comments by others that follow.

For the Christian, the cross with Christ on it is our symbol.

Christ on the cross stands center stage!

In our church here, Christ on the cross is loud and big and clear.

Christ on the Cross hangs there to help all human beings deal with suffering.

Paul is saying amongst other things - that he sees his sufferings working to help the rest of Christ’s Body - the Church - others - along with the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

Being a Christian - what are your comments - what are your insights - about dealing with the crosses and sufferings of life?


Today - September 9 - is the feast of St. Peter Claver. I checked out his life - from the angle of suffering - having had the first reading and Pico Iyer’s article coming together with the issue of suffering.

Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit - who left Spain as a young Jesuit - for Cartagena - which is now part of Colombia in South America - where he was ordained in 1615. [1]

Cartagena was one of the chief centers for slaves coming to this hemisphere. 10,000 slaves arrived every year.

Peter Claver took on the ministry of reaching out to these folks - a ministry he took over from his predecessor, another Jesuit, Father Alfonso Sandoval - who did that for 40 years.

Peter Claver then does that for 40 years - meeting slaves at the boats with “food, bread, brandy, lemons and tobacco”. He gave them hope. He gave them instructions in the Christian faith - baptizing over 300,000 slaves. He protested and pleaded for them.

After all that, he ended up with 4 years of sickness. He became disable.  Moreover, he ended up basically neglected - and looked down upon by anyone of importance.

Yet his memory continued and he was canonized a saint in 1888.


Pico Iyer is not a Buddhist - but he gives a bit about the Buddha’s take on suffering in his article.

Suffering is part of life. In fact it’s the first rule of life for the Buddha.

The article gives example after example of violence and suffering - children and parents dying - destruction by people and destruction by storms - and nature.

The article - if I read it correctly - makes various observations about suffering. Here are some of them:

  • There is plenty of suffering.It can wake us up to what is really important - getting us to listen to ourselves down deep.
  • It can wipe us out.
  • People do stupid things.
  • Who said, “Life is easy!”
  • It’s part of life - like the dew on the grass in the morning.
  • We can give up or we can do our best.
  • We can change our heart and mind and deal with suffering.
  • Suffering can get people to help one another.
  • Sometimes we’re given an insight - or a sight - that gives us new understandings.

Near the end of the article he talks about the Dalai Lama - who at 23 - was told one afternoon to leave his home that evening - to prevent further fighting by Chinese troops and Tibetans around his palace.

He did.

He never did  get back home in 52 years. He left friends, home, a small dog. Two days later he heard all his friends were dead.

He realized being out of Tibet he had the opportunity to spend the rest of his life trying to make life better for others.

The article ends by saying two things: suffering has been around and always will be around - like the dew -  and there is always something we can do.


[1] Leonard Foley, O.F.M.  Saint of the Day, Volume 2, “Peter Claver, priest (1581-1654) pp. 77-79. I make my comments based on what I read in this book.

Quote for Today - September 9, 2013

"A real book is not one that's read, but one that reads us."

W. H. Auden, recalled at his death, September 28, 1973


What are your favorite 5 books?

Name a book that has read you - got you to go down into your basement or up into your attic - and you started talking to yourself about stuff you should have talked to yourself - a long time ago?

Sunday, September 8, 2013


[The following is a story homily for this 23 Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C. The Gospel is  Luke 14: 25-30.]

Everyone who ever knew him, knew him to be the perfect gentleman: the perfect son, the perfect father, the perfect spouse, the perfect brother, the perfect neighbor, the perfect boss, the perfect person.

All his life - he did what was right - never once did he veer off course. Being and doing what is right - was what he thought was the bottom line. “Of course it is,” he thought. “Isn’t that what God wants of all of us?”

Yet, Jack thought, "Something is wrong!" 

There ... he said it to himself - “Something is radically wrong with me!” “Something is missing!” 

So down through the years - he felt - on and off - the itch - the inner sort of twitch - that maybe he should be making some kind of switch in his soul - for something more - or different - or what have you. 

But what?

That scared him - but never once did he tell any of this to his wife - or anyone else - about these inner scratches on the inside skin of his soul.

He went to every game his son - as well as every game his daughter -  played - as well as every art show his wife, Jill, exhibited her paintings. He gave nods to people in the car next to him at long red lights in city heavy traffic - as well as the guard at the front door at the bank he worked.

Enough of that - you got it - Jack was a straight A student and a straight A person.

So from the outside people saw Jack as one of those people who have life radically right. 

From the inside, at times Jack sensed that life was supposed to be different than this life he was living.

At Mass that September Sunday - when the Gospel was read - he heard the word “HATE”. 


That was a foreign word to him.

It was like the name of a one word horror movie on the marquee movie listings outside the mall - a movie he would never see.


Jesus was telling great crowds traveling with him that if they want to be his disciple,  they would have to hate their father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, and even their own life.

The priest preaching after that gospel tried to backtrack a bit. He explained that the word “hate” was a stark Jewish way of speaking in early Christian communities. Someone would  say, “Jesus said, ‘You can’t let your families - or reputation - or worries what others in the village might say, if you want to start following me.’”

The stress was: “If you want to follow Jesus you’re going to be considered different - strange - even laughed at. If you want to follow Jesus, you have to expect the cross. You have to expect death to self.”

Jack said to himself: “I have to think about this!”


He kept thinking, “I can’t hear Jesus saying that - to hate even one’s family members - if you want to be my follower.  All my life I’ve been trying to love everyone - even the difficult ones. Now I have to hate even those I love. Something’s tricky here and I don’t get it.”


The priest that Sunday morning was repeating himself. Jack thought that he too must be having troubles with that word “hate.” 

The priest said, “Look it up on your computer. Type into Google, ‘Hate. Luke 14: 26.’ You’ll find out that most  translate the original Greek word “MISEO” as hate. 

The priest that Sunday morning continued that the word “hate” is tough and rough - so some translations give notes saying that this was a Jewish way of speaking  - saying bluntly - that nothing should separate us from the love of Christ - that Christ should come first.

That rang some bells for Jack.  But he still sort of couldn’t hear Jesus walking around telling people, “Love me. Make me # 1. Make me first." 

He could hear Jesus saying to make his Father, God Our Father,  first, but not me, myself and I - first. No.

Jack could hear Jesus’ disciples saying that. He could hear St. Paul saying that. He could hear Matthew, Mark, Luke and John saying that, - but he couldn’t hear Jesus saying that. He could only hear Jesus saying: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Or “Love one another as I have loved you.”



Jack then began wondering, “Does life boil down to love-hate relationships. Could both be the flip side of the other?”

He thought of his two kids when they were very little. If he held one, the other tried to squirm into his arms - till he learned to hold one in his left arm and the other in his right arm. That would work - for a time - sometimes - but one always seemed to want to be number 1.

So as he sat there in church,  as he was talking to himself about all this - lights kept going on. Question mark hooks kept hooking him.

He thought about his father - who was still living - but a couple of thousand miles away and retired. His mom had died 3 years ago: cancer. 

He thought, “I have give dad a call.”

He thought, “Jill and I have to go down to see him.”

He thought, “I have to get some alone time with him - to talk about these wonderings I have often had about him - from when I was small - what made him tick - what his questions were - what he wondered about me."

His father had been a president of a small company. A good education, good luck - as well as having the gift of being in a high energy family certainly helped his dad make it big in this world.

Jack and his three sisters  and an older brother - also got the best of a good education  - at home and at schools - so they  too did well.

Jack's mom always thought they had the perfect family.

Yet Jack still had that itch - that maybe there was something more - something more under that bottom line - that bottom line of loving one another.

At communion time - at that same Sunday Mass - the one with the gospel about hating dad, mom, family, everyone - and putting Christ first - something else hit Jack.

To be bread, to be wine, to be communion, which enables Jesus to get into us - starting as food - for him to get into our very inner being - underneath our bottom lines - Jesus had to die - like wheat which has to be cut down, crucified, crushed to become flour - then mixed and baked to become bread. It's just like grapes also being crushed to become wine.

He received communion.  

Jack got back to his bench in church and sort of knelt and sat next to his wife and kids. 

At that Mass all these thoughts were giving Jack glimpses of the whole scenario - of Jesus. 

He realized the Mass was about to end.  

He would be told to go in peace.

Then he got one more glimpse - one more insight - one more glimpse of Jesus. He said to Jesus - “Okay, now I see why we have to do this over and over and over again - this communion after communion - this Mass after Mass - to be in communion with you.”

His tongue was trying to dislodge some of the communion bread he felt was still felt caught in his back upper teeth on the left. 

He laughed to himself. "There I am  trying to be perfect again, to look perfect - to have nothing caught between my teeth. I guess that's why I always floss and brush my teeth. I have to be perfect."

He laughed at himself - because  that Sunday morning - he got it. He was digesting Jesus. 

He was thinking to himself, "These tiny glimpses - like these tiny bits of chewed bread - still stuck and mushy in his teeth and in his mind - maybe this is how Jesus works. Jesus gets in there under out teeth, under our skin, under our bottom lines - and tells us to be in communion with him - in the messy - in communion with our mom and dad, brothers and sister, spouse, children, the guard on the way into the bank. We have to die to self - like wheat cut down and grapes crushed - ooh that hurts - so that others can rise and be in communion with us and all."

Jack got it that his dad and mom, brothers and sisters, his wife Jill, their children, neighbors, strangers, people at work, customers - were not who he thought they were.

"Now to be in communion with them, I have to hate - kill - cut down - all my preconceptions of them - like that of Jesus - and let them rise from those deaths before me- so that I  can discover who they really are."

“Whoa!” Jack thought. "I need more time here in church - in this moment - to go underneath all these thoughts  ...." 

His kids and his wife were moving out of their church bench - heading for the back of church - for the parking lot.

“Ooops!” Jack thought as he stood up,  “Who said things have to be perfect?”  “Who really knows what the real bottom line is and what’s underneath it."

"Wait,” Jack thought as he too headed for the church door to catch up with his wife and kids, "what just happened here?"


Quote for Today - September 8, 2013

"Basic research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I am doing."

Wernher von Braun