Saturday, November 16, 2013


Quote for Today - Saturday November 16, 2013

"When you're a young man, Macbeth is a character part.  When you're older, it's a straight part."

Laurence Olivier, on playing Macbeth at age 30 and age 48, Theatre Arts, May 1958


What male or female character in what play or movie, could you say the same of yourself?

Friday, November 15, 2013



The title of my homily for this 32nd Friday of Ordinary Time is, “Remember Lot’s Wife!”

This is a message for us from Jesus this morning in today’s gospel. [Cf. Luke 17: 26-37 - especially verse 32]

“Remember Lot’s Wife!”

Could you all repeat that after me: “Remember Lot’s Wife.”

Everybody in Jesus’ audience - who was Jewish - would get what that was all about.

It’s part of an old legend from the Book of Genesis 19:26 - stories about Lot - the nephew of Abraham. It was all part of Jewish culture.

The legend is that God destroyed some towns - but warned Lot and his family - to get out of town - before it happened. They did - but they were told to run and don’t look back.

Well, Lot’s wife looked back - and froze - at seeing the burning horror that  was happening back there - worse - she became a pillar of rock salt.

People freeze. People panic. People get stuck!

Haven’t we all seen what looked like people in trees and objects - in this and that - in the distance or semi-darkness? Well someone must have seen these stone pillars sculpted by the wind - down there near the Dead Sea - and came up with this legend that what they were looking at was once a person.

It’s the stuff of legend - and like lots of legends - there is a truth in it. That’s one of the purposes of telling stories and legends.


Don’t get stuck in a hurt. Don’t get stuck in a mistake.

We get hurt, but we better not identify ourselves as a hurt. We make mistakes, but we are not a mistake. There are disasters, but we are not a disaster.

Everyone has mistakes in their memory. We’ve memorized them - but they don’t have to mesmerize us for life.

We have a past. We have a memory. We know the stuff of our life - but along with the blessing of a memory - comes the memory of the mistakes of our past. Don’t get stuck in them.

People do.

People walk away from or want to walk away from the person who keeps on telling the story of a mistake or a hurt or a disaster they made for the 100th time.

I still remember being in grammar or elementary school and I was on a PAL - Police Athletic League - baseball team: the Bay Ridge Robins. Walter Eckardt was the manager - and his little brother was on our team. Mr. Eckardt put his little brother in to play first base - my position - for every game of the season but one out. That’s all I got to play: one out - for a whole season. Bummer. Evidently I still remember it.

I remember being in the second year of high school and I had the lead in a play: East Come, Easy Go. I had to memorize over 500 lines. I got it done. Couldn’t do it now. Well, it was 4 pages to the end of Act One. Surprise! This other guy forgot his line. Silence. Silence.

Silence feels very long and very slow - when one is on stage.

Silence. So since I had the lead, I grabbed a line I had. The show must go on. And it went on perfectly to the end of Act One. Just after I got the play going again I could see the director in the wings - out of view of the audience - shaking his head and his arms - saying, “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!”

Act One ended. The curtain closed. The audience clapped. I went right to the director and said, “What’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong? You cut 4 people out of the play.” 

Then he added that their names are on the program and their parents are in the audience.

I have remembered that moment my whole life.

I always want to make sure I don’t cut people out of the play of life.


You know the feeling. You know what it’s like to slip or sin or fail. You know your miscues and mistakes. We know when we cut another up or out.

You are reading in public and you make a major mispronunciation or you’re driving and you get a ticket or you bump another car - or get cut from a team or you don’t make the team or the group or you get dumped by someone.

All bummers.

Some people get stuck in their mistakes.

Some people get stuck in a comment made by a parent or they get stuck in their parent’s divorce or disaster or put down.

For life.

Remember Lot’s wife.

Remember Harry Angstum in Rabbit Run - the 1960 novel by John Updike. Harry is stuck in his past - and keeps running away from his mistakes and his disasters. Rabbit, Run!

A car has that big windshield that helps us see where we are headed. It also has a small rear view mirror to show us what’s behind us.

We have the choice to concentrate on what’s ahead or what’s behind us.

We can look at mistakes and missed opportunities or we can look to make the next moment the right moment.

The field goal kicker can see the ones that went through the goal posts or the ones he missed.  He can practice, practice, practice for the next opportunity.


Movies and plays play on this theme of the past and the future.

The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller….  On the Waterfront by Budd Schulberg…. The Greek Tragedies …. Shakespeare’s tragedies …. They all touch on getting stuck in the past - in the tragedies of our life - and the hope and the desire for a solution.

Rick [Humphrey Bogart] - and Ilsa  [Ingrid Bergman] in Casablanca always had Paris - but they had to make a major decision on the tarmac of the Casablanca airport.

The movie I like the best in all this was Shawshank Redemption when Andy Dufresne had it in his mind - all through his time in prison - to escape and to be free. He told Red: “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Andy got busy living.

Remember Lot’s Wife! She was busy dying - looking backwards.

Andy Dufresne was busy planning a life after he escaped from prison. He finally escapes - crawling through 500 yards of crap. “That's the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile.” He did it. He made it. He set himself free - to move into a future - escaping his past in Maine and getting to Mexico!

Red [Morgan Freeman] says in Shawshank Redemption, “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Hope is a virtue - a power - to have for the future. It can be dangerous - because it’s a not yet - and maybe that’s one more reason why folks get stuck in the past. They know the known; they don’t know the unknown.


The title of my homily is, “Remember Lot’s Wife.”

The implication is to use the past - something that happened - to energize for the future.

It worked with mantras and slogans like, “Remember the Alamo” or “Remember Pearl Harbor” or "Do this in memory of me!"

Jesus is warning us with his words, “Remember Lot’s Wife” - to be prepared for the future - to get caught up in resurrection not destruction. Amen.


Painting on top: Lot's Wife by Edward Wheeler

Picture: "Mount Sodom, a hill along the southwestern part of the Dead Sea in Israel, is made almost entirely of halite (rock salt). It is about 5 miles long, 3 miles wide, 742 feet above the Dead Sea water level, and yet 557 feet below sea level. Weathering separated sometimes portions of rock formations. One such separate pillar is known as ‘Lot's Wife’, because the pillar resembles a woman wearing a cloak, with reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as mentioned in the Bible." -- From on-line.


Quote for Today - Friday - November 15, 2013

"I prefer to remember the happy things over 10 years, the things that went well.  Let me see, what did go well?"

Rudolf Bing: A comment after a decade as manager of the Metropolitan Opera, New York Herald Tribune, October 9, 1960


Jot down 10 happy things from your past 10 years - or if you're as old as me - 10 things that happened each decade of the rosary of your life.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Quote for Today - Thursday - November 14, 2013

"Most of the most important experiences that truly educate cannot be arranged ahead of time with any precision."

Harold Taylor, President Sarah Lawrence College, "The Private World of the Man with a Book," Saturday Review, January 7, 1961


List the 5 most important experiences of your life?

List the 5 experiences in your life that you learned the most from?

Be specific!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Quote for Today - Wednesday - November 13, 2013

"Love and memory last and will so endure till the game is called because of darkness."

Gene Fowler, Skyline, Viking, 1961