Saturday, October 25, 2014


I recently found out that there are various people out there with the same name as I have. I checked them out.  How about you?  How many people have your name? What are they doing?  I also noticed that some folks with the same name as me are in trouble with the law. Uh oh!

So I guess if one does this, it's like looking into at one's family tree and finding skeletons hanging on the branches.

Best of luck. Just type your name into Google and see what hits you get.

Australian TV

 Baritone Singer

Piano Player U.S.

Boxer - Europe


Poem for Today - Saturday  - October 25, 2014

If I were a leaf
(but I wouldn't be)
I'd have to be tied
to a tree, tree, tree.
I couldn't walk off
(or skip or run)
and my nose would get burned
by the sun, sun, sun.
In summer I'd roast,
(in winter I'd freeze)
and all through October
I'd sneeze, sneeze, sneeze.

© Aileen Fisher 

Friday, October 24, 2014


Poem for Today - October 24, 2014


Anger serves no purpose 
It doesn’t satisfy the wounded 
It does not resolve the delinquent
It boils up like a festered infection
Running oozing pus, it runs despondent
In a stink causing an antisocial infestation
Initiating all to tread on broken egg shell
It curves a wedge in a work of soul partnering
It is the death of many, a lonely incarcerated state
Soon festers to include no one but an egotistical
Singular resentful state of unlikelihood to the lifeless 

© Cathy Hodgson

Thursday, October 23, 2014



The title of my thoughts for this 29th Thursday in Ordinary Time is, “Playing And Praying With Fire.”

There’s a fascination with fire.

Watch little kids when they are watching a candle – a lit candle -  in church or burning candles on a birthday cake.

Watch the faces of people on a cold evening – sitting there – no TV on – looking into a fireplace – or a barn fire with burning logs - crackling fire snapping sounds.

Watch people running to where a building or a car is on fire.

There’s a fascination with fire.

According to the ancient Greeks, It’s one of the four basic elements: earth, fire, air, and water. [Empedocles 490-435 BC]

Fire is as basic and as primitive as the planet we live on. Forest fires, volcanos, the flow of red hot lava are part of life here on earth.

Or look up and out into space and see  the burning bursting fire flame leaping sun rising every morning and setting every evening – and riding across the sky like a chariot as the Ancient Jews pictured it.

There’s a fascination with fire!

Red is its color.

Just look at something bright red – and then something bright blue.

Different things happen in our psyche – based on colors – especially red and blue.

It isn’t by accident that the Communist flag in China was red – the color of revolution. It isn’t by accident that the United States flag is red – white and blue. We too are a country that started with a revolution.

In this homily I’m mainly looking at red – leaving blue for another day.


In today’s gospel Jesus talks about two hot topics:

1)   Being on fire
2)   And the Division that fiery messages and actions can cause.

Jesus came to fire people up. He came that we might have life and that we live it to the full. He calls us to be alive – to be passionate – to be concerned – to be creative – energetic – for the good – to make this earth not a cold place – where people are cold and indifferent to each other – but a better place each day – because we’re here.

He came to cause a revolution – that our lives revolve around God and others – not around ourselves. That’s self-centeredness.

He called people to die to self and rise – get off their fannies – to serve one another.

Speak that message – and you’ll get results.

You’ll get followers – as well as those who want to kill us – because if you speak that message – and you’ll get division.

Jesus challenged the Pharisees or anyone who was lazy or cold or self-centered to catch the fire – the power of fire – in the belly – and become the best person we can be. Amen.

Listen to Jesus’ words once more from today’s gospel: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Division show up when folks are challenged to die to self.

Then they act to protect their turf.

Anger is a fire – a reaction – and the color of anger is red – like fire – like blood – like in our faces and fists – which become red – flushed.

Anger can cause division – sometimes long division.

The title of my homily is, “Playing and Praying With Fire.”

Anger is the stuff and substance of prayer – and sometimes people turn to God in prayer when they have been burnt and hurt.


Look around at families. Listen to people tell you about family struggles. You’ll hear about good times and bad - being united and being divided.

War and Peace.

Those are two common denominators – and dominators – peace vs. the angers of war.

War and Peace!

It’s the title of a great novel – and it’s the theme of the evening news.

We live in the United States – but sometimes we’re the Divided States.

We’ve hear about the red and blue states every November.

We have the United Nations – trying to get people to work on being united not divided.

Looking at our world – we have the haves and the have nots.

Look around the rooms we’re in and the roads we travel, we see other kids and other people who are smarter than us, quicker than us, better than us – and as a result – sometimes that can cause division.

Highly energetic types – highly creative types – highly passionate types – high achievers – can make us feel just the opposite – can make us jealous – can depress us.

Someone at work – who works very hard – putting in a full day of work can anger those who don’t want to work that hard. They feel and think that the hard worker shows them up – or might get the boss to compare them to the harder worker.

Greatness should call us to greatness – but sometimes greatness grates on us.

At the time of today’s gospel – Luke experienced some Christian community  - where folks became Christian and their families disowned them.

Christ’s words and ideas can be fire starters – for better or for worse.

How do you take people who are different than you?

Fear or joy?

Ugly or wonderful?

Do we down deep put down those who never get acne – or pimples or problems?

Do we down deep put down those who have money or a great car or great looks or have lots of friends?

Jesus saw goodness shining through those who were living in darkness.

Jesus tries to burn away the dirt – the dross – in us -  from the gold that is  in us – that is us.

Purity is a possibility.

Impurity of intentions can take over and pervade our thinking patterns.

They killed Jesus because he called us to be our best – and down deep – we have inclinations to be our best – but those calls – the best calls of the human heart – are a fire that often has gone out – and we rather stay in the dark and out in the cold.

So today’s gospel  begins: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.”


How do we deal with someone right in front of us – whom we see as better than us?

It’s often family members – as Jesus gets at in today’s gospel – but it can be someone we’re working with – or playing with.

I was playing basketball once – 3 on 3. I had the ball. I’m standing out there on the court – beyond the arc -  dribbling the basketball. The other two guys on my team were trying to get open for a pass or to open up a lane for me to dribble through to the basket for a layup.

The guy covering me is not standing in front of me – but to my right.

I say, “What are you doing?”

He says with a smile, “You can’t go to your left.”

At the age of 30 – I found out I only could move to my left on the basketball court.”

I said – still dribbling – “How do you know that?”

He said, “I was taught that’s the first thing you look at when you’re covering someone.”

He was right.

I got angry at that at first.

After that I practiced, practiced, practiced, dribbling and being able to move to my left – along with my right.

I could have stayed stuck in an inability. I could have stayed angry at myself for being so slow. I could attack the other person.

It’s a small thing – but I’ve often thought it’s a real cool example about life.

I accepted my lack – my inability – my weakness – my poverty and then worked on being better.

I did just that – and as a result – I was a better basketball player.


The title of my homily is, “Playing And Praying With Fire.”

Instead of red hot anger at self, God, or others, we can pray to the Spirit of God for passion and light – for fire.

Fire has always been an image of God the Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit – light a fire under all of us – to change this world for the better. Amen.

Poem for Today


Fire is the fundamental of all elements
Fire is a classical element
Fire is an element quick to flare up
Fire from heaven denotes lightening
Fire releases heat and light
Fire has a visible portion -the flame
Fire is self-sustaining
Fire is a chemical reaction
Fire involves bonding of oxygen with carbon

Fire does not exist in its natural form
Fire exists by consuming another form
Fire forms from a burning mass of material
Fire is made in a hearth for warmth
Fire is used in a furnace for smelting
Fire is used in cooking
Fire is used in signaling
Fire is used for propulsion process
Fire is used in the process of welding

Fire has been an important part of all cultures
Fire was vital to the development of civilization
Fire is commonly associated with energy
Fire, in Greek myth, was stolen by Prometheus from the Gods
to protect humans but was punished for his charity
Fire in Hindu tradition is termed Agni—the Vedic deity
Fire as the God Agni is the acceptor of sacrifices
Fire in Hindu tradition is linked to Sun or Surya

Fire is a rapid oxidation of material
Fire can result in conflagration
Fire affects ecological systems across the globe
Fire causes physical damage through burning
Fire is all consuming and destructive
Fire causes water contamination
Fire causes soil erosion
Fire causes atmospheric pollution
Fire is a hazard to human and animal life
Fire was invented in a myriad ways
Fire is now got from safety matches, lighters, electricity

Fire represents creativity
Fire represents passion of intellectuals
Fire represents the deep emotions which humans have. 

© Chandra Thiagarajan

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Poem for Today - October 22, 2014



Preacher of lecher,  saint or sot,
What he was once he now is not.


He called on God to smite the foe.
Missing his aim, God laid him low.

© Robert Francis,
From Epitaphs,
Picture on top:
from "Don't Get
Caught Out In
Heavy Rain' 
Concept Art - Kataku.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014



Hi. The title of my homily is, “Walls: Sometimes We Like Them; Sometimes We Don’t.”


Years ago I read a book with a great title, The Broken Wall: A Study of the Epistle to the Ephesians by Marcus Barth.  He’s the son of the famous Protestant theologian, Karl Barth.

That title and theme – The Broken Wall – is the key to today’s first reading.

Paul says to all of us, “Once we were aliens – outside the community, outside the covenant, without the promise, without hope and without God in this world.”

Then Paul preaches the Good News: “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have become near by the Blood of Christ.”

Then Paul says Christ is our peace. Christ broke down the wall that divides us – and makes all of us one.

Christ makes us part of the temple sacred to the Lord. We are being built – becoming part of - that  temple day by day.

What a great message. What a great invitation. What a great way of seeing ourselves: we’re connected to each other – we’re connected to the Lord. 

Everyone who sees St. Mary’s says, “What a beautiful church!” Do they mean the building or do they mean us?

Yesterday a bus with 50 people from an assisted living place near Baltimore visited our gardens – this church and then St. John Neumann for Mass at 12:10 and then lunch at Seelos Hall out there. Last night did they bring good news with a smile to the others there – that they were in a wonderful parish yesterday in Annapolis. Did they say, “What a beautiful church”? Besides our two buildings, did they mean us – at least those of us whom they met?


Religions – like every organization - seem to like walls, steps, dividers, titles, hierarchies, lowerarchies, places of honor and levels of recognition.

Paul discovered that his religion Judaism – put up lots of walls – walls that separated people:  the saved from the unsaved – the savory and the unsavory - the chosen people and the people God didn’t chose.

Check out in the back of Bibles – the divisions – sections – courts within the temple – from the room called the Holy of Holies – to the court of the Gentiles. Then there was the section for the men – and the section for the women.

Paul discovered he didn’t like that wall – and that’s what he wanted removed – torn down. We catch glimpses of that idea and that vision in Isaiah – but many didn’t get it.

And then Christian communities – as we see in Paul  - and in his letters and in the Acts of the Apostles – ended up putting up walls.  The gospels were written after the year 55 till around 100. The messages in there were not about the scribes and Pharisees Jesus dealt with – but the Christian scribes and Pharisees folks were dealing with in local Christian communities.

People put up walls. Some people like walls; some don’t.


Recently I was at a Baptismal Party in a house here in Annapolis.

We were standing in the kitchen – looking out the window – into a nice big backyard – and then there were the hedges. High – tall – hedges – that prevented a view of next house.

The owner of the house – the grandmother of the baby – told me her father in law came to the house from the mid-west and asked, “What’s with the hedges? You can’t see your neighbors and they can’t see you. Why don’t you cut them down?” Her father-in-law came from a mid-west city where you could talk to your neighbor window to window – porch to porch – backyard to backyard.

“Walls: Sometimes We Like Them; Sometimes We Don’t.”


Robert Frost the poet says just that in his poem, The Mending Wall.

It begins, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall….”

The poem tells of two neighbors meeting together every spring to mend the wall between them. It’s a New England boulder wall – that  fell apart in places during the winter. One asks about the need for the wall in the first place. “He is all pine and I am an apple orchard. My apple trees will never get across and eat the cones under his pines” He tells his neighbor and, “He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.”

There it is, “Walls: Sometimes We Like Them; Sometimes We Don’t.”


One of the metaphors for laws in Hebrew thought was, “The law is a hedge.” Yes a group needs some guidelines, schedules, this and that – but the message of Christ – is resurrection – the breaking of the walls of death and division – when they do harm or sinful separation or apartheid 2014 style.

Remember the old message – when people yelled for Latin: “You could go into any Catholic Church in the world and you knew you were home – because we all spoke the same language?

Remember the new message – which is the old message – when people said, “You could go into any Catholic Church in the world and you knew you were home – because we all spoke different languages – had different costumes and cultures – different skin colors – and eyes – and we were welcomed.”

At this synod in Rome that just finished – it was refreshing to read the call was to be more and more an inclusive church – more than an exclusive church.

To put those walls up – is the tendency and temptation of every religion – and chop the heads off of those who differed

The Catholic Church can says, “Been there, done that – still trying to silence and put in the corner those who think differently, pray differently live differently – and we still look around and sing, “All are welcome all are welcome in this place,”


So yes, we like our privacy, our gates, our fences, our walls. They keep us comfy – but hopefully – when we stop seeing, being with the other guy and gal – hopefully we become Catholic – which means we are one with the whole catalogue of people on the planet. Amen.

Poem for Today - Tuesday - October 21, 2014


Row after row
Com leaves broke their spines
On my shoulders.

I leaned my life
Against harness.
I drew it through
Fields, down trails,
In timbered darkness.

The corn leaves
Then turned brown.
I dragged the logs away
On washed-out roads,
And I became afraid.
I tried the ground for failure
With my feet.
I did not trust
The very earth
Which kept me from falling.
I found no treachery,
No pitfall; just  sun, time,
Dust, and at last the night.

© Boynton Merrill, Jr.

Monday, October 20, 2014



The title of my sermon is, “St. Paul of the Cross and St. Paul on the Cross.”

This is a sermon more than a homily – a homily being reflections on the readings of the day. A sermon is a conversation – thoughts – on the saint of the day or what have you.


Today, October 20th, we celebrate the feast of St. Paul of the Cross.

His name was Paul Danei.

He was born in Ovada – which is near Genoa – now Italy.

His dates were 1693 – 1775.

He died October 18, 1775. October 18 is the feast of St. Luke – so they moved his feast to today.

He founded the Bassoonists – priests and brothers – and then later on – near the end of his life, the Passionist Nuns.

St. Paul of the Cross.


The religious who staff this parish of St. Mary’s, Annapolis are Redemptorists.  We were brought up hearing about the similarities of the Passionists and the Redemptorists. Both we founded roughly at the same time in Italy – one in the north – and the other in the south. Both ended up doing roughly the same work: preaching parish missions, doing retreats in retreat houses, and here the U.S. doing some parish work.


Paul of the Cross is called just that by many sermons and writings on the cross.

Like many statues of saints, Paul is often pictured with a cross in his hands.

You can read his writings and hear over and over again his messages about the cross in our lives  - connecting our sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

Like St. Alphonsus he stands there with the cross in his hands.

St. Alphonsus is famous for pushing the Stations of the Cross – to help us when are walking the tough roads, ways, paths of life.


If you do enough spiritual reading, you’ll pick up that different writers, different sayings, different people stress different this and that's.


Saint Paul, the Saint Paul of today’s first reading – often talks about suffering.

Listen to this message from Colossians 1: 24-25, “It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up for all that has to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church.”

St. Paul has various comments about suffering – as I’m sure he was trying to figure out the mystery of pain, struggle, sufferings, sickness in his life.

Obviously, when talking about suffering he reflected on the sufferings of Christ and he made some sense of the mystery of life and its crosses in, through, and with Christ.

What has been your story, your take on your sufferings so far in life?

How have you changed, grown, this and that, about the cross.

This church here, St. John Neumann, church didn’t have this big cross up front right away.  Only afterwards did they put up this enormous big cross, central for reflection by people facing it while in church.

St. Mary’s, our other church downtown Annapolis, features Mary – much more than the cross.

St. Francis of Assisi for centuries had St. Francis standing there holding a cross.  Then there were all those images of Francis with a bird in his hand.

It was a change in emphasis: how to deal with sufferings – how to experience nature and creation.

In my work in Spirituality I’ve seen a vast change in thoughts about the cross, suffering.

One major change is to call folks away from hurting themselves, wanting to suffer, and ask God for more and more suffering – to be a victim soul.

Take St. Rose of Lima as someone who cut and disfigured herself to sufferer more for others.

I think we have taken on a healthier spirituality – when it comes to suffering.

Each person has enough suffering, the crosses from family, ageing, each other, addiction, abuse.


What’s your thoughts and prayers about the Cross?

How have you grown through the years understanding the meaning and meanings of carrying your cross.

Do you see life as more than the Sorrowful Mysteries of life? What about the Joyful, Glorious, and Light Giving moments and mysteries of life?

Poem for Today - October 20, 2014


Today I'm thinking of St. Paul—St. Paul
who orders us, Be perfect. He could have said,
Touch your elbow to your ears, except
that if you broke your arm, then snapped your neck,
You might could manage it. The death inside
the flawed hard currency of what we touch
bamboozles us, existing only for that flaw,
that deathward plunge that's locked inside all form,
till what seems solid floats away, dissolves,
and these poor bastard things, no longer things,
drift back to pure idea. And when, at last,
we let them go we start to pity them,
attend their needs: I almost have to think
to keep my own heart beating through the night.

I have a wife and four pink boys. I spin
on all this stupid metaphysic now
because last afternoon we visited
some friends in town. After the pecan pie,
I drank until my forehead smacked the table,
and woke to find my shirt crusted with blood.
When Mary didn't yell at me, I knew
she finally understood that I was gone,
dissolving back. As we rode home, I tried
to say, I'm sorry, Hon. The carriage bucked
 across the mud-dried ruts and I shut up.
And she, in August heat, just sat, head cocked
as if for chills hidden in the hot, damp breeze,
as if they were a sound, time merely distance.
0 Death, I know exactly where it is
your sting. And Grave, I know your victory.

That night, around the tents, the boys caught fireflies,
pinched them in half, and smeared them on their nails,
then ran through pine-dark woods, waving their hands.
All I could hear was laughter, shouts. And all
that I could see for each one of my sons
were ten blurs of faint, artificial light,
never too far apart, and trembling.
Like fairies, magic, sprites, they ran and shouted.
"I'm not real! I'm not real!"  The whole world fell
away from me—perhaps I was still drunk -
as on the night Titania told dazed Bottom,
"Put off your human grossness so, and like
an airy spirit go." But even then
the night could not hold long against the light,
and light destroys roots, fog, lies, orchids, night,
dawn stars, the moon, delusions, and most magic.
And light sends into hiding owls, fireflies,
and bats, whom for their unerring blunder, I
adore the most of all night fliers. But owls,
hid in a hickory, will hoot all day,
and even the moon persists, like my hangover,
some days till almost noon, drifting above
the harsh, bright, murderous morning light—so blue,
so valuable, so much like currency
that if the moon were my blue coin, I'd never spend it.

© Andrew Hudgins
In Upholding Mystery,
An Anthology of
Contermporary Poetry,
Edited by David Impastato,
Oxford University Press,

1997, pages 72-74
photo by William Abranowicz

Sunday, October 19, 2014



The title of my homily for this 29 Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, is, “Is Life a Question and Answer Period?”

That’s a question.

That’s one of my life questions?

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of my time figuring – questioning – wondering about a lot of stuff. 

Does everyone do that?

Is that why people check out the news, read the papers, and ask, “What’s new?” “What’s happening?” “What’s up?”

Why do people – who pick up the papers – pick up the papers?

This is a test:  if you pick up the papers in the morning - what is the first section you check out: comic strips, obits, sports section, local news, world news, crossword puzzle, horoscope, stock market? Sales? Employment – Help Wanted?

What does our answer tell us about ourselves?

If people don’t read the papers – are they doing any of that – any other way?

That’s a lot of questions?

What’s normal? What’s healthy? What’s everyone?  Oops, more questions.

“Is Life a Question and Answer Period?”


Today’s gospel - Matthew 22: 15-21 -  triggered this topic for me.

The Pharisees and the Herodians question Jesus about religion and politics – today using the question of taxes.

The Pharisees and the Herodians argued with each other a lot – over lots of issues – but in today’s gospel both joined up with each other to try to trap Jesus into an argument.

The Pharisees were ultra-religious and they didn’t want any images on their coins. The Herodians were in league with Herod and the Romans and the powers that be and they didn’t disagree with Caesar’s image on their coins.

Jesus doesn’t get into their argument. Notice, however, he does in other gospel scenes. At times Jesus starts arguments. He questions the Pharisees as well as the Scribes  - those who could write, those with the education. 

How do you see the gospels? 

How do you see Jesus?

What does what we spot - tell us about ourselves?

Is a relationship with God a question and answer period – or is it a banquet – a meal – good bread – good wine?

Is life an argument with God – or a love affair with God?

Is life an argument with others – you’re wrong – I’m right – or a love affair with each other?

Is life a debate or a discernment?

How do we see life?

In a given day – how many questions do we ask?

Are some people more questions? Are some people all answers? Are some people somewhere else?

What are your thoughts and experiences about questions and answers - arguments and arguing?

How do you see life?


Are there people who ask too many questions?

Is this sermon PITA stuff?

Is there anything wrong with the Rabbi – who when asked, “How come you are always asking questions?” – answered by asking, “Why not?”

Then there are people who seem to be arguing an awful lot – and it’s awful.

Are there two types of people: those who argue a lot and those who avoid arguments?

And do those who avoid arguments avoid those who argue a lot?

Are there two types of people: those who need to be right – and those who see nuances – other points of view – and allow others to see things differently than the way they see?

How well does a marriage between an arguer and a non-arguer work?

How well does a marriage between two arguers work?

How well does a marriage between two people who never argue work?

Why do some people argue more than other people?

Do some people think they won an argument because the other person has become silent?


There has been a lot of press on the Synod in Rome.

There have been points and counterpoints.

I’m reading that the pope and others say the Church needs to take on a listening mode.

Is the church healthier – different – better – worse – if the stress is on love and mercy – more than truth – and being right?

Is the church called to be the teaching Church – more than the serving, loving church - listening?

Is the church’s job to correct nuns and women who are theologians – or men who are theologians – or is the job to say, “Nice going. Thanks for exploring – helping us to get our hearts and minds on what life is all about a little bit more?"

I remember attending a series of theology talks once – in which the speaker – saw everyday life as a battle.  One can find that image, that metaphor, in the scriptures. And those are the texts he chose for his talks.

As I listened to him – I realized this was not me.

As I listened to him – I realized people are different than me. They see differently. They think differently. They do a lot more arguing than me.

There is a difference between sand paper and tissue paper.

What’s your take on the saying: “You catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel of vinegar”?

Is the purpose of life to catch others and move them over to our side of the board?

Is the purpose of Church truth or love? Do differences happen if one stresses one over the other?

Is God more ear and eye than mouth?

Is the pope, church, parents called to be teachers or to be shepherds?

Is the present pope more into listening than giving answers? Is that what he said when he called this latest synod – this big meeting in Rome? Did he see this meeting as a family gathering around a table. Do others see it as a boxing ring or courtroom or legislation session?

If one answers these questions – does one fall into the argument trap?

Is this whole sermon an argument against arguing?

Do you agree with Gracie Allen’s message: “Never put a period where God has put a comma?”


Several times in the gospel – like today’s gospel – Jesus avoids the trap question.

Is that a good idea for all of us -  sometimes to just listen.

In the late 1960’s I was at a power breakfast in a big New York Hotel. The topic was the question of youth drug problems in New York State.  Nelson Rockefeller gave a big speech. I don’t remember a word he said. What I remembered the most was the question and answer period. Someone stood up and asked him a question. And he said, “Are you crazy? I’m not going to answer that.” Then he said, “Next question?”

All laughed.

From that I learned to do just that in lots and lots of question and answer periods that I was in with groups and one to one’s in my life?

How about you?

Are you all questions? Are questions enough for you? Do you want answers? Are you mainly a listener? 

Or are you somewhere else – because you don’t see life as a Question and Answer period.