Saturday, October 11, 2014


Poem for October 11, 2014


Outside the igloo he waited
for an invitation to come inside.
There was no knocker, no doorbell.
He coughed, there was no reply.

He crouched down and peered in.
He felt the warm air from a fire
pat his cheeks and ruffle his hair.
Hello he said quietly and repeated it.

The frost in his toes urged him in,
so did the pain in his gut. His knees
one by one welcomed the snow
and brought him into the warmth.

He stood up and breathed deeply.
He held a foot up to the flames
then swapped it for the other foot.
He lay down on the polar bear rug

but a smell yanked him upright again
and led him to a dresser of  bone
where a bowl sat with a cover on it.
He lifted this to reveal dried meat.

He grabbed a chunk and tore at it
with his teeth. It was reindeer.
He devoured all that was in the bowl
and went looking for some more.

He found none, but there was a bottle
of firewater which he swigged.
He swigged again and left it down.
He lay on the bearskin and fell asleep.

©  Matthew Sweeney, Poetry Magazine – April 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014


Poem For Today - October 10, 2014


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. 

© Robert Frost

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Poem for Today - October 9, 2014


It was one of those fine October days
free from summer’s heat and haze
but not yet gripped by autumn chill.

It was one of those fine October days
when the sky’s so clear
you can see the moon
through the atmosphere
at midday.

It was one of those fine October days
when the trees sport yellow and red
instead of everyday summer green.

It was one of those fine October days
when one draws a deep breath
and is grateful
to be resident on Earth. 

© Richard Greene

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Poem for Today - October 8, 2014


It troubled me as once I was,
For I was once a child,
Deciding how an atom fell
And yet the heavens held.

The heavens weighed the most by far,
Yet blue and solid stood
Without a bolt that I could prove;
Would giants understand?

Life set me larger problems,
Some I shall keep to solve
Till algebra is easier
Or simpler proved above.

Then too be comprehended
What sorer puzzled me,
Why heaven did not break away
And tumble blue on me.

© Emily Dickinson 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014



Today – is the feast of the Most Holy Rosary – so the title of my homily is, “A  Rosary as a Reminder.”

What’s your take on a rosary?

What does it remind you of?

Every time I see a rosary  around a rear view mirror in a car – I wonder, “What is the meaning of that rosary for that person in that car?” Safety? Putting all in God’s hands? A prayer now and then? Not getting a ticket – hey it might be a Catholic police officer? A reminder?

Last night I was watching a few innings of the Dodger-Cards baseball game.  Yasiel Puig, of the Dodgers, struck out 7 times in a row – and I notice he wears a rosary around his neck.  What does the rosary mean to him? That he’s a Catholic? That he wants an edge? That it connects him with relatives back home in Cuba? That it’s part of his cultural roots?

This parish makes Ranger Rosaries – and they are being used – by our men and women – in the service – all around the world. I assume bullet proof vests are better – but I also assume a rosary has a meaning for the person who wears a rosary around her or his neck – or has one in her or his pocket or pack – and prays with it in good times and in bad.

Every time I visit a funeral parlor – and if there is an open coffin – and the body is there – I like to go up and kneel down at the casket in the presence of the dead person. If they have a rosary in their hand, I like to put my hand on one bead – and say just one Hair Mary – and  unite myself in prayer with this person – who is in the hands of God  - and unite with all the rosaries this person has ever said and I ask God to bring this person into Paradise. I add: “Lord bless all these people in this space and place and in this world today.”

Whenever I pick up an old rosary – I wonder about all the thoughts and prayers – that are contained in each bead.


What do rosaries remind you off?

What do they trigger for you?

Before coming back to the United States, I went into the interdenominational chapel in Heathrow Airport last Thursday afternoon to say a prayer.

I look for them in any airport or hospital I visit.

I’ve noticed the big airports often have Moslem Prayer Rugs on the floor in these chapels.

Sure enough – last Thursday there were two prayer rugs in the first section one entered.  I saw three people praying on the floor in the second section.

I stood there and said some prayers for safe flights – and a good life for all.

I see taking out one’s prayer rug as a reminder to pray. I also see taking out one’s rosary  – as a reminder to a person – that I am now entering into the space and place of prayer – in a car, in a church, on a porch, in an easy chair, in an uncomfortable seat in a plane, in the night.

The flight of life is a mystery.

The mysteries of the rosary get us into the life and moments of Mary’s and Jesus’ life – connecting them with the moments and mysteries of our life.

Life is loaded with annunciation moments – along with visits, births – presentations, loses and findings – along with agonies in gardens and hospitals, moments when we feel beaten – or have headaches, or crosses we have to carry and deaths we are dealing with. There are joyful, sorrowful, glorious and mysteries that bring us out of the darkness into the light.


Take out your rosary today – and remind yourself – refresh your memory – about all the mysteries and moments that make up the chain of your life so far. Say a whole rosary or a decade or just say a Hail Mary, an Our Father, a Glory Be or two – or just use your rosary beads to say 10 or 59 times, “Thanks” or “Help!”

Rosary beads are great worry beads as well as reminder beads. Amen.



First, painting on top - Old Woman Praying, by Nicolas Laurens.

Second, from time to time on my blog I stress, "Rosary beads are not just for Hail Mary's."  They can be used to say short one word prayers - or to come up with 59 people in our life - who we ask the lord to bless - or to come up with 59 moments in our life we loved - or using just decades for the 10 top books we've read, or 10 top moments of your life, or 10 top questions we have or what have you.

Third, I also have two E-Books or two series of meditations on the mysteries of the rosary. If interested, check October 26, 2007 and May 30, 2008.


Poem for Today - October 7, 2014 


And I see you where you stand
With your life held in your hand
As a rosary of days.
And your thoughts in calm arrays,
And your innocent prayers are told
On your rosary of days.
And the young days and the old
With their quiet prayers did meet
When the chaplet was complete.

© Alice Meynell:
Soeur Monique:
a Rondeau  by
Couperin. (19th cent.)

Painting on top:
Rosary with Pomander
bu Barthel Bruyn
the Elder 9 (Circa 1493-1558)

Monday, October 6, 2014



The title of my homily for this 27 Monday in Ordinary Time is, “It’s All Gift!”

Want to know one of the great secrets of happiness?

There it is: 3 or 4 words, “It’s All Gift.” or “It Is All Gift.”

Get that and you got a chance to have a very happy daily attitude.

It’s all gift.


For starters, pinch yourself.

If you feel the pinch you’re alive.

And we had nothing to do with it: this gift of being alive, being me.

It’s all gift.

The gift of our parents embrace – our parents meeting each other – and their parents meeting each other – and in every conception – 250 million sperm in each moon shot – amazing.

One egg, one sperm, unless we’re a twin – and it’s me – conceived with their DNA and I’m on my way – entering into the great experience of life.

It’s all gift!

Making it to birth – making it to the bench you’re sitting in today – pinch yourself. You’re here. You’ve come a long way baby.


We open up the  Paul’s Letter to the Galatians today [1:6-12].

One key message we’ll hear from Paul as we listen to first readings from Galatians – is, “It’s all gift. It’s all grace.”

The Galatians had received the Gospel – the Good News about Jesus – but then they slipped back into B.C. – Before Christ.

All men who wanted to follow Christ had to be circumcised first.

All those who wanted to follow Christ had to keep the Law - the whole of the Law – to be saved.

The Law was like an accounting book.  If you do more good deeds in life than bad deeds – you are saved. Every time you kept the Law – you get a check mark for being good – sort of regardless of Christ..

The symbol of Christianity is not the scales – but the cross – the messy, messy, bloody cross – which tells us – we can be saved at the last minute – being a good thief and stealing the kingdom….. What a gift!


Today’s gospel [Luke 10: 25-37] contains the great parable of the Good Samaritan.

It presents two men keeping the Law – a priest and a Levite. They were keeping the Law – rushing by a bleeding, hurting human being.  The foreigner, the Good Samaritan, not a person of the Law stops and saves the hurting human being.

That wounded person on the road was Paul.

Jesus stopped on the road to Damascus to heal Paul.

Paul got it – the gift of God’s life. He didn’t earn it. He just was gifted with it.

And he grabbed it – got up – and got moving.

The wounded person on the road is me – and Jesus stops to anoint and to heal me.


It’s all gift


Painting on Top: 
"The Good Samaritan"  
by Rembrandt (1630)

Poem for Today - Monday - October 6, 2014


Sitting in silence,
Waiting for things to happen!
There's something in silence,
Waiting for things to happen,
That gathers drama.
Maybe a leaf falls,
Or a raindrop will deepen
The tint of a stone:
A honeybee stumbles
Among foxglove stalls.
A proud spirit humbles
Itself to this humour;
The life of the sod,
The root, the sky,
The quietly known
Presence of God.

© Richard Church

Sunday, October 5, 2014


[I like to write stories for these Young People’s Masses. So for my homily today I read Jesus’ story which we just heard about the man with the vineyard that grew grapes and made great wine. I read it 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times – trying to come up with a way of telling the story in a metaphor – other than a vineyard – the image that appears in today’s first reading from Isaiah 5:1-7 and today’s gospel Matthew 21:33-43. An “Uh oh!” sound hit me as I realized – besides coming up with a different metaphor - this is a very difficult message to tackle. Jesus’ story is a tough story – with a tough ending – and I’m supposed to have young people in mind. Still I wanted to try – so here goes – here comes a story entitled, “Does Generosity Have Boundaries?”]

Once upon a time a man and a woman had one son – and their son was like every other son – a nice kid – at least -  that’s what his mom and dad thought – and they told him so  – and each time he knew how to say back to them, “I love you too – mom, dad.”

Mom and dad wished they had other kids – but they only had this one son.

They thanked God for him and for the love they had for each other – as well as for their health and so many everyday blessings.

Life went on – work, weekdays, weekends, vacations, school – eating, sleeping – coughs and colds – flu shots – visiting cousins – their parents – friends.

They had normal gadgets and gizmos – “What’s a gizmo?” their son often asked. Yet - year after year after year -  they still used a paper calendar in their kitchen –– as well as magnets with notices and reminders on their kitchen refrigerator door.

Sometimes they envied other families – spotting bigger families in church or restaurants – or at baseball, football or basketball games. They both came from larger families – so they wondered and worried at times – about their son – being an only child.

So they loved it when their son brought other kids over to play in their back yard or house – or when their son was invited to play with other kids at their homes.

Life goes on. Sometimes there are surprises – like roads aren’t always straight – they have curves – and streets have around the corners.

Surprise – a big, big surprise – happened when this mom and dad hit the lottery. They hit the lottery big time. They were the only winners – with the right numbers - in that particular Powerball lottery. They won 221 million dollars. After taxes it was 164 million dollars.

Surprise. They didn’t move to a bigger house. They were happy with the house and neighborhood they were in.

Surprise. Another surprise…. One day – this mom - got an interesting idea. Behind their house there were no houses. But there were 10 empty lots – so they bought all 10 lots. On this land they had built a little league field – which could also serve as a football field. Then thinking winter and January and cold and snow - they had a big building put up. It had an indoor basketball court – plus a swimming pool – plus pool tables – plus ping pong tables -  plus a bowling alley – with 6 lanes - and with all their money - they were able to hire lifeguards, referees, and bowling alley attendants – cleaner uppers – etc. etc. etc.  And,  well, obviously, all the kids in the neighborhood could use the facilities – free of charge.

Well the kids loved this mom and dad – as well as this kid who was an only child kid. Kids and their parents aren’t stupid. They knew a good deal when they were getting a great deal.

And having money – lots of money -  – didn’t go to their head – or change their personalities. They were sort of quiet people – but also thought to be nice neighbors – before and after hitting the lottery.

And so – their son and all the neighbor kids - used this great sports complex 7 days a week – 365 days a year. Hey, it was free of charge.

Surprise – there was one little thing – there’s always at least one thing – and this one thing embarrassed their son from time to time: they named the sports complex after him – their only son.

Time moved on.

Their son – their only son – graduated from high school – went off to college – far, far away. His choice surprised the – but they told him – it’s your life. Go for it.

Since his mom and dad loved to see kids having the time of their life in their sports complex – they kept it going all through the years. It became part of the neighborhood and part of the town.

After college their son met a great gal – at his job – in another city.

They got married – and had 6 kids – 3 girls and 3 boys.

And mom and dad – always wanting to have had a big family themselves - were super happy to see their son and daughter-in-law so happy – having such a nice big family.

Now every story – well most stories have at times a negative twist or an ugly turn – like coming around a curb or corner – or over a hill - and traffic is stopped  - because of an accident.

One Thanksgiving – when their son and daughter-in-law – came to see mom and dad with all their kids– two of their girls went over to the gym – to play basketball.

Ug – ugly – boo - bummer – the kids there not knowing who the strangers were - wouldn’t let them into any games. They weren’t locals and they didn’t want new comers hoarding in on their good deal.

The two girls waited their turn – but the locals still wouldn’t let them into a game.

The same thing happened when they tried to bowl - play pool – or play ping pong.

So without saying anything – or who they were - they went back to their grandma and grandpa’s house.

Seeing their faces, grandpa said, “What happened?”

Not wanting to disappoint their grandparents, they said, “Nothing grandma. Nothing grandpa….”

They knew how proud their grandparents were of the Sport’s Complex – named after their father. They had overheard from time to time – how someone upon hearing that this couple had won the lottery  - would ask, “What did you do with the money?” And they would answer, ‘Oh we invested some of it – and we had built a great sports complex just behind our house – so kids could have a chance to play sports – all year round.”

Then they would add, “Oh – okay, we named the Sports Complex – after our son  – our only son.”

Next:  grandma and grandpa – pushed – to try to find out why their two granddaughters seemed a bit agitated and disappointed – after coming back from the field of dreams just on the other side of their backyard.

One of their granddaughters finally said that the kids over there didn’t like them and wouldn’t let them into any games.

“Whoa!” grandpa said.

Then he added, “Okay, go back over there and this time bring your other sister and your three brothers. I’m sure they will respect all of you – if you go as a family.”

Then he said,  “I’m sure they’ll get the message that if our family hadn’t had all this built and attended to – all these years – they wouldn’t have such a great sporting paradise for themselves. Fair is fair!”

All six went over – and went to the edge of the basketball court – waiting their turn for the next game.

The same thing happened again – this time even worse.

Rejections happen.

It’s not just poor people who get looked down on; it’s rich people as well – at times.

Sometimes when folks get something for nothing – they don’t respect it – as much as if – they had to raise money and pay for it  themselves.

The 6 then went to the ping pong and pool tables as well. Still no luck – no respect. Nobody stopped to say, “Hey kids. It’s your turn to play.”

So all 6 came back home to grandma’s and grandpa’s – kind of dejected and kind of depressed.

Grandpa – was really disappointed.

So he went to his son – and told him what had happened.

Then he asked his son to go over and talk to any parents over in the Sports Complex – and explain what their kids did to his kids.

He went over. He looked around. He spotted about 7 different small groups of adults - parents – here and there - around the different places in the complex.

Without pushing who he was – and what his name was – he told them what happened to his kids – and how disappointed and hurt they were – in not being given a turn to play.

They said, “Mister. Whoever you are. Kids are kids. They don’t know who your kids are. And they were there before your kids were there.”

It was then that he said, “My mom and dad built this place years ago for all the kids around here – so fair is fair. They built it so every kid could get a chance to enjoy playing together. I know I did when I lived around here.”

A man said, “Wait a minute. In reality – this is our place. We never see your mom and dad over here – so what’s your gripe? Just because you have money – if your parents hadn’t won the lottery – you’d be like the rest of us – so show us some respect.”

At that he walked away and went back home to his mom and dad and told them what had happened.

Does generosity and goodness have boundaries?

At that his mom and dad – became silent.

After his son and daughter-in-law and family left – his mom and dad became even more silent.

Then they made a decision. “We’ll move. We’ll sell the whole kit and caboodle – and move on.” Their son once asked, “What’s a caboodle?” and neither mom or dad really knew what a caboodle was.

Well, that’s what they did. They sold the whole kit and caboodle for millions and moved on. The land the sports complex was on had become prime real estate – and from time to time developers came to them with offers. This time they accepted a great offer.

And they moved to another state – closer to their son and daughter-in-law and their kids.

They added – “We’ll do this again in another place – but this time – we’ll hope – things will work about better – because we’ll be over there volunteering more with the kids. This next time we’ll be more involved.

Happy ending to this story? For some, “No”.

Happy ending to this story?   For some “Yes”.

Generosity sometimes has boundaries – sometimes it doesn’t. 


Poem for Today - Sunday October 5, 2014


Stay beautiful
but dont stay underground too long
Dont turn into a mole
or a worm
or a root
or a stone

Come in out into the sunlight
Breathe in trees
Knock out mountains
Commune with snakes
be the very hero of birds
Dont forget to poke your head up
and blink,
Walk all around
Swim upstream
Dont forget to fly.

© Al Young