Saturday, July 12, 2014



The title of my homily for this 14th Saturday in Ordinary time is, “Just 3 Words: Holy, Holy, Holy”.

“Holy, Holy, Holy” are the words – that Isaiah hears – in today’s first reading. [Cf. Isaiah 6:1-]

Isaiah is in the temple – where he has a God experience. He hears the angels – praying and praising God: “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

The scene is where we get the Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus – the Holy, Holy, Holy, of our Mass.

It’s why we have all these images of angels here in our church – at the old altar, in the Mary Ikon, in the stained glass windows, up there in the ceiling and at our Holy Water fonts in the back.


Find yourself saying that 3 word prayer – “Holy, Holy, Holy” - when you are having awful experiences – that is, experiences of fullness of awe – completeness, wholeness, experiencing the Holy – experiencing God.

Put that prayer – simply saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy” into practice.

The Hebrew word for Holy – and Holiness -  is “QODES” or “QADES”.

It becomes “Hagia” in Greek and it becomes “Holy” in English.

Be aware of the sounds each of us makes when we experience awe or the holy.  These sounds often have an “ah” or an “oh” in them. Amen.

We often make the sound “Oh” or “Ah” or “Ooooh!” whenever we are in an awful moment.

Listen to others and to ourselves and hear the words we use when we experience something awesome – or we’re surprised. We hear, “Wow!” or “Woo!” or “Oh” or “Uooh!” or we say, “Holy” or “holy cow” “holy mackerel” or “Holy God.”


The key ingredients of holiness are: fullness, completeness, awesomeness, the spectacular, beauty.  Surprise!

The opposite of holiness is split, the wrong, graffiti on the sacred walls or beautiful fences, tossed garbage, broken, incomplete, sin, curses, division, the ugly.

Yet paradoxically, holiness means separate. So Sunday is a holy day – separate from the ordinary days of the week. So we wear the more beautiful in holy moments – like vestments, Sunday best, wedding attire…. So a church, a synagogue, a temple, a mosque, is a different building – a holy place.


Here are some Holy, Holy, Holy moments – moments to say those 3 words: "Holy, Holy, Holy" … when they don’t come naturally.

Make it a practice to enter churches we've we’ve never been in before. Try the door. If open, enter. Hopefully it’s a beautiful place. Stand, sit, kneel.  Then, pray, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” May your prayers rise with all the prayers ever said in that holy place.  Some people make their 1 wish  - whenever they enter a church they have never been in before and say three Hail Mary’s.  Others say 1 Hail Mary and make 3 wishes. This second practice is the one I was brought up with.  Whichever way you choose, I’m suggesting, say those 3 words, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

Whenever you go by a cemetery say, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

At times walk through your house and stop and say those 3 words at the holy places: the kitchen table, the dining room table, your marriage bed, a screened in porch, a window that has your favorite outside spot to see, a screened in porch, a garden….

Whenever you see a funeral hearse or a wedding limo going by – say, pray, that those in those cars have a Holy, Holy, Holy moment that day.

Close your eyes – and picture all the beautiful places in the world you’ve been in: art museums, gardens filled with spectacular flowers, the Ocean, lakes, rivers, mountains, canyons, ball parks with great crowds…..

Then there are musical concerts – music of all sorts – rock concerts, folk music, rock-n-roll, orchestras, or musicals. Like last night over in Marian Hall our little kids put on an hour’s concert of the music and dance they learned and practiced in the annual PAC – Performing Arts Camp.   I heard lots of clapping and “Ah” or “Oooh” moments.

Savor the taste of butter and salt on your next ear of corn – corn on the cob – or the taste of watermelon – a great beer on a hot, hot day – as well as your next ice cream cone or apple or blueberry pie – enjoying the moments with family and friends.

Then there are sunrises, sunsets, waking up to a new day, going to sleep after thinking of the 3 best moments of that day: Holy, Holy, Holy.


And on and on and on…. Holy, Holy, Holy, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And at this Mass – this day – when we come to that prayer  - let’s say that prayer with great spirit.

And may each of us have at least 3 “Holy, holy, holy” moments this day. Amen.

Poem for Today - July 12, 2014


Move him into the sun —
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds —
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, — still warm, — too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
— O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?

© Wilfred Owen

Friday, July 11, 2014



The title of my homily is, “Otherness: Learning to Live With Otherness.”

Today is the feast of St. Benedict – and looking at his life – as well as today’s readings – there are various comments and various themes and issues one can talk about and think about.

The theme that hit me last night was a theme that I spend a lot of time thinking about and learning about – and you do too.

It’s the question, the issue, the theme, the reality of otherness.

Other people are different from me. It's their otherness that intrigues - surprises - irritates - and enlightens me.

I consider talking about other people to be the # 1 topic of conversation for all people – most of which takes place under one’s own hood. Yes we talk about weather and sports – but nothing compares with those ongoing questions and conversations we have with them and most of the time they don't know it. They  all have going on inside our brains all the time.

I'm saying: most of the time we’re talking to ourselves about someone else – about their motives – about their behaviors – about their comments.

It’s their otherness that pushes our buttons - and energy flows and flies.

If we sit down in a seat in the mall and watch people going by – we’ll see a lot of different faces, mannerisms, costumes, jewelry – tattoos, shoes, cellphones – so many people different than ourselves.

There are over 7 billion people on the planet – and we’re all different.

We’re all other with our otherness from each other.


Today’s gospel is from Matthew.  Mathew is different from Mark, Luke and John.

Today’s first reading is from Hosea. He is different from the prophet Amos whom we had last week – and both are other than all the other prophets.

Today is the feast of St. Benedict. He is different from other saints – like St. Alphonsus or St. John Neumann or Saint Gemma Galgani or St. Rose of Lima or St. Francis of Assisi.

Our present pope chose the name Francis. Our last pope – who is still alive – chose the name Benedict.

Both popes are different – very different from each other. 

For example, take their shoes. You’ve never seen Francis wearing red leather papal shoes.  Paul Vallely in his book, Pope Francis, Untying the Knots, makes some comments about his shoes. They are only anecdotes – but they are  telling stories. Jorge Mario Bergoglio arrived in Rome from Buenos Aires wearing “an extremely shabby pair of plain black shoes….”  Just before he left, some friends chipped in some money  to get him a new pair. Nope! The ones he had were fine. [Cf. page 149; 170.)

Different shoes are, different faces, different takes on life.... 

This homily is different. I'm simply bringing up the human reality of otherness - so as to trigger your thoughts and experiences on how well you are dealing with others and their otherness.


Besides listening - besides patience - what are 5 life skills needed for dealing with others?

On a scale of 1 to 10 - 10 being the best - how good are my life’s skills in dealing with others and their otherness.

Can I accept that another sees differently than I see – like everything?

In fact, do I realize if I think another is seeing the scene I’m seeing the same way I’m seeing it, I’m being self-centered?

As today's gospel puts it, some people are wolves in sheep clothing; some people are sheep in wolves clothing. Can I tell the difference?  Who  decides?

As today's gospel puts it, some people are shrewd as serpents and some folks are as simple as doves. Thinking about people you know, name some people who fit those labels.

Can I laugh at our differences? Male/female, neat/sloppy, logical/intuitive, liberal/conservative, always late/always early, control freak/a secure person, dreamers/doers, back benchers/front benchers, formal/informal, tall/short, fat/thin, givers/takers, cheap/lavish, conventional/casual, right brain/left brain,  young/old, stuck in the past/stuck in the future, planners/seat of the pantsers, and on and on and on?

Can I ask others what they are seeing or thinking or perceiving?  Then how well do I listen to others?

Do I celebrate otherness – knowing it can lead to better teamwork, new discoveries?

Or am I stuck on myself or in myself?

Do I agree with this quote or statement, “The greatest sin is our inability to accept the otherness of the other person?”

Poem for Today - July 11, 2014


I'm writing just after an encounter
With an English journalist in search of  'views
On the Irish thing'.  I'm back in winter
Quarters where bad news is no longer news,

Where media-men and stringers sniff and point,
Where zoom lenses, recorders and coiled leads
Litter the hotels. The times are out of joint
But I incline as much to rosary beads

As to the jottings and analyses
Of politicians and newspapermen
Who've scribbled down the long campaign from gas
And protest to gelignite and Sten,

Who proved upon their pulses 'escalate',
'Backlash' and 'crack down', 'the provisional wing',
'Polarization' and 'long-standing hate'.
Yet I live here, I live here too, I sing,

Expertly civil-tongued with civil neighbours
On the high wires of first wireless reports,
Sucking the fake taste, the stony flavours
Of those sanctioned, old, elaborate retorts:

'Oh, it's disgraceful, surely, I agree.'
'Where's it going to end?' 'It's getting worse.'
'They're murderers.' 'Internment, understandably ...'
The 'voice of sanity' is getting hoarse.

"Religion's never mentioned here", of course.
"You know them by their eyes," and hold your tongue.
"One side's as bad as the other," never worse.
Christ, it's near time that some small leak was sprung

In the great dykes the Dutchman made
To dam the dangerous tide that followed Seamus.
Yet for all this art and sedentary trade
I am incapable. The famous

Northern reticence, the tight gag of place
And times: yes, yes. Of the "wee six" I sing
Where to be saved you only must save face
And whatever you say, you say nothing.

Smoke-signals are loud-mouthed compared with us:
Manoeuvrings to find out name and school,
Subtle discrimination by addresses
With hardly an exception to the rule

That Norman, Ken and Sidney signalled Prod
And Seamus (call me Sean) was sure-fire Pape.
O land of password, handgrip, wink and nod,
Of open minds as open as a trap,

Where tongues lie coiled, as under flames lie wicks,
Where half of us, as in a wooden horse
Were cabin'd and confined like wily Greeks,
Besieged within the siege, whispering morse.

This morning from a dewy motorway
I saw the new camp for the internees:
A bomb had left a crater of fresh clay
In the roadside, and over in the trees

Machine-gun posts defined a real stockade.
There was that white mist you get on a low ground
And it was déjà-vu, some film made
Of Stalag 17, a bad dream with no sound.

Is there a life before death? That's chalked up
In Ballymurphy. Competence with pain,
Coherent miseries, a bite and sup,
We hug our little destiny again.

© Seamus Heaney

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Poem for Today - July 10, 2014 
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. 

At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail
Unwillingly to school. 

And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. 

Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. 

And then, the justice,
In fair round belly, with a good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. 

The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. 

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

© William Shakespeare – 
Monologue in As You Like It.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Poem for Today - July 9, 2014


Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

© Mary Oliver

Poem for Today - July 8, 2014


Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you foredefeated
Challengers of oblivion
Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down,
The square-limbed Roman letters
Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain. The poet as well
Builds his monument mockingly;
For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun
Die blind and blacken to the heart:
Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found
The honey of peace in old poems. 

© Robinson Jeffers

Sunday, July 6, 2014



 This week – for our first reading at 5  Weekday Masses  - the Prophet Hosea is featured.

We can thank Gregory Norbert of the Weston Priory in Massachusetts for making Hosea better known by his song, “Come Back to Me.”   We’ve heard it sung at many Penance or Reconciliation Services.

If 100 people were given a box of crayons and a piece of clean white paper – and told to draw a picture of God what would be their response?

If they were little children – I can picture them – reaching for their crayons and immediately drawing an old man in a robe with a beard.

But maybe not……….

Unless you be like little children – as Jesus once said – you won’t picture the kingdom of God.

If the 100 people were adults – what would we get as an image of God? Circles? Arrows? A Hand? A Question Mark? An Eye? A Face?

How would you picture God?  

Those who got their words and images into the scriptures have pictured God as a Shepherd, a Warrior, a Father, a Mother, a King?

Hosea pictures  God as a Spouse  - who wants to marry us – stay loyal to us – come back to us – forgiving us no matter what - because of this God has for us..

Unless one has a good hand and a good imagination for drawing – I would assume that adults would prefer words to crayons.

Read Hosea – read the 5 readings for this week – and see what images and pictures about God – in his words hit home.

We can thank Hosea the Prophet – who lived around 725  B.C.  – for telling us that God is a forgiving God – no matter what.

When it comes to the theme of forgiveness and second chances  - we’re used to sons returning home  to their father or lost sheep being found. Hosea uses the husband and wife reality – and in this case a forgiving husband taking back his wife – even though she was prostituting herself.

Hosea is telling Israel what God is like.

Doodle with that image – pray and play with that image – and see where God takes you - hear what God is saying to you.

Poem for Today - July 7, 2014


The extraordinary patience  of things!
This beautiful house defaced with a crop of suburban                                 houses -
How beautiful when we first beheld it.
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;

No intrusion but tow or three horses pasturing.
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop                              rockheads -
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine                            beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs out cliff. - As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become                            confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

© Robinson Jeffers,

in Selected Poems,
A Vintage Book
Page 102


The title of my homily for this 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time is, “What’s She Like? What’s He Like?”


One of these years I’m going to sit down and write down Life’s Ten Most Frequent or should it be Life’s Ten Top or Significant Questions?

I think that would be an interesting exercise. I’m assuming some of those questions would be: What’s for supper? Where’s the bathroom? Are you listening?  How much does it cost? What’s the weather going to be like? Is it worth it? What now? What’s next? When do you want this? How long is this going to take? How much time do I have l left? What would happen if this is cancer? Are you sure? Is it any good? What would you recommend?  Who are you?

I would assume that there is a significant difference between Significant Questions and Most Frequent Asked Questions.

My question for today, “What’s She Like?” or “What’s He Like?” would fit in the category of Most Significant Questions.

We ask it when getting a new boss or supervisor or teacher or priest or neighbor.  We ask it when our kid starts dating someone. Then another series of questions can follow: Who asks the the dating whom question more: a dad or a mom? Do dads ask that more about whom a daughter  is dating? Do our kids ask that question enough: What’s this person I'm dating really like – like down deep other person – who are you and what are you really like?


I was wondering if we ever ask that question of or about God.

What’s God like?

I was wondering if we sculpt with words and images and experiences our image and likeness of God.

We do this of others. And sometimes – in time – we discover the other is not the person we thought the other person to be.

We’ve all heard about the 6 people in every marriage: the she I thought she was; the she, she thought she was; the she, she really is; the he I thought he was; the he, he thought he was; the he, he really is.

In the meanwhile to further complicate all this people change.  How much? How significant? For better or for worse? Or are we basically the same personality – all our lives?

I love to quote something I heard a Dallas, PA, Sister Maureen McCann say in a talk she was giving. “Life is illusion, disillusionment, and then decision.”

We’ve all had that experience when it comes to things we buy: computers, cars, weight loss pills, diets, dreams, the meal that turned out nothing like we thought the menu described it or pictured it.

Back to our image and likeness of God.

Do we have a different perception of God than how we understood, pictured, imagined God to be 10, 20 or how many years ago?


I remember someone telling me about one of their childhood heroes: Mickey Mantle. Someone said if you wait outside Yankee Stadium after a game – and you hand Mickey Mantle a post card with your name and address and a stamp on it, he’ll sign it and drop it in the mail for you.

The guy - who was telling me this experience said – standing there after the game - he got the card into Mickey Mantle’s hand and he took it – got into a car – and they headed down the street driving away from Yankee Stadium. Then he said, “I saw this hand go out the back window – and I saw that hand drop a crumbled something into the street.  I ran up to where the paper or card was – and sure enough there was my discarded postcard.

Sometimes our idols fall off their platforms.

What’s God like?

What are these people all around me like?


Today’s readings triggered these thoughts and these questions.

In today’s first reading - Zechariah the Prophet pictures God as a King – but a king who is meek – and who comes riding into town on donkey.

The history of world has had kings and leaders and generals and popes riding into town – in limos or tanks or chariots o– but only 1 moment – when a king rode into town on a donkey as promised.

We hear that story every Palm Sunday – commemorating the day Jesus did just that.

And just as Zechariah promised – Jesus proclaimed peace.

In today’s second reading from Romans – God is presented as Spirit – who wants to dwell within us  - in our flesh – indicating to us and our world – we are flesh – but we are more than flesh.

In today’s gospel Jesus tells us about God as a Father – the Lord of Heaven and earth. Then he tells us that he is the Son – and if you know the Son – you know the Father.

Then he uses the image of a yoke – something a rural people would know about – seeing animals yoked  together as beasts of burden – to work the earth, the farm fields of life.

How many times have we seen people pushing a shopping cart – or pulling two suitcases – struggling with 3 kids – and some packages – and they are trying to get through a door – and another stops to help – that person get to where they want to get.

Yes at times we are like a beast of burden – in a yoke – and life seems so, so difficult – and life is easier when we realize Jesus is with us – helping us – yoked with us - all our days even to the end of the world.


The title of my homily is, “What’s She Like? What’s He Like?”

Maybe the other person is not the person I think he or she is?

Maybe the person I think Jesus is – isn’t really the person Jesus us. In fact, a good question to ask: which of the 4 Gospels and Paul presents best whom I see Jesus to be?

Maybe the God I  think God is – isn’t really God?

Maybe the person I think I am or I’m supposed to be – is not the person I ought to be.

Maybe I have made life too tough for me – or too easy for me to be.

It’s good to talk to each other and to God about these things.

It’s good to hear Jesus’ words from today’s gospel, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

It’s my experience that some people make life too tight, too tough, too rough, too rigid – on themselves?

It’s my question then: do they see God that way – because that’s the way they are to themselves?

Then the question: is God the way I see God or is God the way God is?

Maybe I’m wrong – but there can be a lot of self-centeredness in all of us – along with judgment and projections on to others from our bias and our way of seeing life.

The sin of idolatry is to make an image of God and worship that image.

Nobody today – at least in the Christian tradition – has a secret statue of God – that they secretly worship – when nobody is looking.

But maybe we have an image and likeness of God within our minds – that we run our lives on – and that image is false.

We do this to each other. Why can’t we realize we do this to God?

I suspect the first experience of heaven is going to be, “Oh my God, was I wrong about you – who you really are.”

I think of Lou Holz, the former football coach, who said, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it."

And I suspect that 90 % of the time we respond to life with an image of God and ourselves that is not the God Jesus is revealing to us.

I was fortunate to live and work with an old priest once — who used to say —when folks were ranting and raving about different things happening in our church and world, 1 don't think Jesus meant life to be as tough as this person makes it out to be."
Thanks for saying that Father Alfred Rush — and when I die — I hope to see you at the edge of the crowd when I meet God and I see your smile and your wink. Amen.


A Poem for Today - July 6, 2014


Here is a symbol in which
Many high tragic thoughts
Watch their own eyes.

This gray rock, standing tall
On the headland, where the seawind
Lets no tree grow,

Earthquake-proved, and signatured
By ages of storms: on its peak
A falcon has perched.

I think here is your emblem
To hang in the future sky;
Not the cross, not the hive,

But this; bright power, dark peace;
Fierce consciousness joined with final

Life with calm death; the falcon's
Realist eyes and act
Married to the massive

Mysticism of stone,
Which failure cannot cast down
Nor success make proud. 

© Robinson Jeffers,
Selected Poems,
A Vintage Book,

Page 56