Saturday, November 1, 2014


Poem for Saturday November 1, 2014


A solitary tree atop a mountain rises
straight against a cloudless sky, and I remember
what the medieval painters would have seen:
a cross devoid of depth, flat from head to foot,
from nail to bloody nail, all lines of vision ending
in the innocent agony of a dying man.
We can’t say what they saw was mere distortion
(any serf knew well the depth of hill and sky);
nor can we say they saw no beauty in the world
(like us they loved lush color, reds and blues and yellows
split by smoke twisting up through icy air).
We can only say they knew too well the limits
of the flesh and caught on stark flat surfaces the truth
that haunts me now in the cold fields of November.

© Warren Leamon
Page 30 in
Sewanee Review
Vol. 120, Number 1
Winter 2012

Painting on top:
© Andrew Wyeth,
Public Sale, 1943

Friday, October 31, 2014


Poem For Today - Friday Oct. 31, 2014


He had a dream
he had a dream
one day
living together
in peace.
He had a dream
he had a dream
cut short
by a bullet
now a memory,
a page of history.
He had a dream
Yes, oh, yes
he did dream,
some people
don't understand
how dangerous
it is to dream.
He had a dream
one day justice
would reign
we would live as

Dreams are dangerous
when the poor
believe, trust, love,
and are committed to them.

© Trinidad Sanchez Jr.
Page 54 in
Poems by Trinidad Snachez Jr.
Pecan Grove Press
St. Mary’s University
San Antonio, Texas
  October 31, 2014

Poem for Today - October 30, 2014


For Sr. Jeanette Nitz, OP

White haired woman
daughter of farmers/Wisconsin
years have made you
quiet, prayerful, wise.
Friend, sister, mother
to so many who were without hope
lonely, lost, friendless.
Without fear you shared
life, laughter, gentleness, love.
The first time you needed
directions to the jail;
it was the incarcerated,
and the conditions of the jail
that changed your life.
Confronted by the ugliness,
smells of oppression/pain
of your black brothers/sisters,
the poor
you begin visiting prisoners.

White haired woman
understanding their lives/stories
you move to become part of them
to advocate, to stand with them
for change, for justice.
Your anger at the conditions
 made you dream, one day
liberty would be proclaimed
to the captives,
prisoners would be set free
the poor would share the GOOD NEWS.
You've called others
to share your compromise/commitment
with the many in jail/prison.
You have also touched our lives
we will never be the same.

Fifteen years of jail ministry
not an easy struggle
like the white haired women
of revolutions
you remain a sign of hope
truly a companera!

Introducing you becomes difficult
 for words fail to express
to capture your life ...
I found I do it better with Spanish ...
… una mujer comprometida
de las mas comprometidas!
For the many who never returned
to thank you
for those who found gratitude
difficult to express
for all of us here tonight
we thank you for your life.

White haired woman
take your rest
reflect on those years.
Enjoy them. Pray for us,
that we carry on your task,
that we remain strong.
If I can glance into the future to time eternal, for a moment
I'm sure when you meet your Maker
Jesus will say:
White haired woman- !Companera!
Bienvenida -- Welcome.

© Trinidad Sanchez, Jr.
On page 62-63, 
From Poems by
Trinidad Snachez, Jr.
 Pecan Grove Press
St. Mary’s University
San Antonio, Texas


Poem for Today - Wednesday October 29, 2014



It was a button Michael wore
convinced as he was
"the death penalty was not
the way to deal with life!"

Ironic ... our lives are penalized
with the death of friends
committed to justice and who love life.

Family, friends
young and old
gather for farewells/good-byes
to Michael ... to bear witness
that in their lives
they have known
a man of justice
a man of God.

Death brings us together
to sing, pray and ask questions
to be answered
by those left behind.
Michael wore on buttons
and burned in his heart ...

For Rev. Michael McGough
5/5/40 - 7/20/85

© Trinidad Sanchez, Jr
Page 60 in Poems
 by Trinidad Sanchez, Jr.
Pecan Grove Press
St. Mary’s University
San Antonio, Texas

Tuesday, October 28, 2014



The title of my homily for this feast of the Apostles – Simon and Jude – is, “Welcome! Does Anyone Here Know Me and My Name?”

That’s the theme that hit me from today’s readings.

The Gospel has Jesus calling 12 people by name.

They were nobodies till somebody named Jesus – called them by name.

This unknown God – this unknown person named Jesus - went up on a mountain in the night and prayed with his Father – all night  - and when day came he called his disciples around him and from them he chose 12 by name.

What was that like – to hear one’s name called – by Jesus?

What’s it like to hear Jesus call me by name? “Esther, Edith, Eileen, Evelyn, Eddie, Edgerton” or whatever our name is.

The First Reading from Ephesians says we are no longer strangers and sojourners – but we’re fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.  We’re part of the structure – the temple built upon the Apostles and prophets – with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.

And this temple – this church – is still being built. We’re still in process.

Not bad – we Christians are connected – well connected with each other – with Christ to cap us all off.


Yet, in spite of all that, sometimes we feel all alone – not at home – out of sorts -  not connected with anyone – anyone at all. Honestly, that’s how we feel at times.

Loneliness is not being alone – but feeling all alone.

Sometimes a person can be all by herself or himself – and not feel lonely.

And as someone said, “Sometimes loneliness is being in a room full of people and not knowing or being know by any one of them.”

To some the most important part of Mass is communion.

To some that means it’s just me – myself – and I – and the bread – and the wine – and I don’t notice or know those in the benches – or on the line – or with me in community.

To some communion means being in community – to be in eyesight – [Spell:] EYESIGHT – as well as in I-sight –[Spell:]  I-SIGHT – as well as we-sight [Spell:] WE-SIGHT -   with the people right here with me in this church or in a room or house or work space. They know me by name and some even know me – and when I come to worship God – I come to be in communion with Jesus in the bread and in the body of the bodies with me here in church.

I’m not just – just another me – I’m a we.

I’m connected.

We are the Body of Christ – member with member – Amen!


A couple told me once, “I’ve been in the parish 8 years now and no priest” – and then they added “Nobody ever really welcomed us.”

After that I try to say welcome from the pulpit and the parking lot – in the back of church and in the corridor.

Once I said “Welcome!” to one lady. “Uh oh!” It seemed she got ticked at me – as she said, “I’m been in this parish all my life.”

Sorry to say I hadn’t really seen her ever before.

That’s a lonely feeling when one thinks one just put one’s foot in one’s mouth – or one feels the other doesn’t know where one is coming from.

It’s nice to be known by name and by face – voice and wrinkles – eye or eye brows – smile or scowl - and even more by glimpses of one’s personality.

There’s an advantage to sitting in the same bench in church when one comes to pray – and comes for communion. There’s also an advantage in moving around and shaking hands in peace with those we don’t know.

Communion – community – connecting - connections – feeling at home is the greatest of one’s richnesses.

And the opposite can be true. As Mother Teresa once put it, “Loneliness is the most terrible poverty.”


Today is the feast of Saints Simon and Jude – two disciples of Jesus – called by him by name.

I don’t know about you – but I fail regularly in not knowing another’s name – as well as being welcoming.

I guess the challenge is to keep working on it and maybe someone who feels like a hopeless case – will finally feel at home with others – starting with us. Amen.

Poem for Tuesday - October 28, 2014


you have no name, no form
when satisfied, you’re like nothingness
when unhappy, you’re perceived as pain
in a breeze, a landscape
in memories snatches of melody, certain phrases
brief flowering and fading
blood and tears
the simple ocean, useless stars
and warm-bodied mammals
you are the beloved
you made and you shattered my soul
caused me to be born by chance in this world
to seek you out
and to die at last a willing death

© Han Dong 2003; 
© Simon Patton, Translation 2006

Monday, October 27, 2014



The title of my homily for this 30th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “18 Years Crippled in Spirit.”

I reflect on the story of the lady in today’s gospel – Luke 13: 10-17. She has been crippled for 18 years. Her story connects me to the story of the man in the gospel of John – Chapter 5: 1-9 - who has been sick for 38 years.

I find it fascinating that numbers are given: 18 years and 38 years.


There are all kinds of problems – sicknesses – struggles.

Today let me say there are two kinds of struggles, sicknesses, problems – two ways of being crippled.

The first type are immediate problems – short term set-backs – like the flu – like a broken glass – like a sunburn. They are not forever.

A person has a car accident…. A person says the wrong thing …. A person loses his or her wallet…. A person  walks into the edge of an open cabinet in the kitchen and gets a cut or even a black eye.

Those problems are nothing compared to the second type of problems. These are the lifetime struggles: like having bad lungs or eyes or deep anger or depression or lust or jealousy or alcoholism or inferiority feelings.


Everyone has a bottom drawer -  or the top back of a closet – or a place under a bed or where have you – where they keep their secret long term – lifetime problems – sins – worries – hurts – mistakes.
The lady in today’s gospel is stooped over for 18 years. The man in the gospel of John that I mentioned keeps crawling back over and over again to the healing water pool at Bethsaida – for 38 years.

When we see someone hurting, bent over, in bed forever, needing a walker or wheelchair, doesn’t our heart go out to/for  them?  Don’t we admire their patience and perseverance? Don’t we wish we or someone could heal them? Don’t we love those feel good stories or pieces on the evening news or YouTube – when someone is healed by a new process or what have you?

Well, Jesus sees this woman who is bent over for 18 years – and has pity for her – and heals her – just as he healed the man in John’s gospel who was handicapped for 38 years. Praise God.


As priest – and I’ve heard this from many priests – that we feel worthwhile – it makes being a priest seem like a great life choice  - when someone comes to us to talk about a lifelong problem – and they want to be healed if possible – or listened to….

They have been bent out of shape. They have  been bent over, worn down - they feel rotten, because they are holding onto a hurt from someone else – it could be abuse – for 18 or 38 years – and they finally talk to someone. 

Or it could be something they did wrong.

The Seal of Confession – the absolute secrecy of the Sacrament of Reconciliation – certainly helps.

I’ve heard many people through the years go “phew” in the dark other side of a confession box – because they’ve come to confess what’s been wearing them down for years. It could be stealing. It could be an affair. It could be a sexual mistake. It could be a lie. It could be a family apartheid.  It could be being dropped or someone broke our secret or what have you – years and years ago and we can’t seem to let the hurt go – or to forgive the other.  

And in this sacrament, this sacred sign from Jesus, Jesus heals them – forgives them or helps them forgive the one who hurt or abused or cut them. Not easy.


The title of my homily is, “18 Years  Crippled In Spirit.”

That could be me – my story.

Today’s first reading from Ephesians 4: 32 to 5: 8 – is worth going through again. It begins with these words:

Brothers and sisters:
Be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

It then gives various problems, sins, addictions, struggles, that can be long time long term, sicknesses, hurts or what have you, for many people.

The Gospel – the Good News for today says they can be healed – our spirits lifted – even if we’ve been down for 18 or 38 of 58 years and we can walk away – renewed – forgiven – by the kindness and compassion of our Lord and Savior and Redeemer.


Painting on top: Woman Sick for 18 Years by James Tissot, c. 1890

Poem for Today -  Monday - October 27, 2014


(to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”)

The leaves of the trees turn orange and red
orange and red, orange and red
The leaves of the trees turn orange and red
All through the town.

The leaves of the trees come tumbling down
tumbling down, tumbling down
The leaves of the trees come tumbling down
All through the town.

The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish
Swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish,
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish
All through the town.

© Irmgard Guertges

Sunday, October 26, 2014




The title of my homily is, “Vertical & Horizontal.”

[BIG GESTURE WITH HANDS] I   the vertical, I  the vertical;

[BIG GESTURE WITH HANDS] -  the horizontal; -  the horizontal.

This is good stuff to think about – to ponder its simplicity - this reality of the up and down [GESTURE I] and the side to side,  sides of life [GESTURE -].

I don’t know if I can put this reality into words, but I’ll try.

And I urge you to think about this reality - of the vertical [GESTURE I] and the horizontal [GESTURE -] – for the way we are called to do life – our spirituality – our religion – our way of thinking and being – our awareness’s – with God and with each other.

Hey the sign of the cross is our sign – our plus – our message – our life.

It will be a plus when do - and a minus when  don’t.

And we all know the difference between a plus sign and a minus sign.

The plus sign has both the vertical – the up and down line – as well as the horizontal line – sideways to sideways. 

The minus sign – is a minus – because it lacks one line – the vertical.

I don’t know about you – the vertical and the horizontal – are terms that I sometimes mix up. Sometimes I have to pause and say to myself, “Okay the horizon is out there – over there – the sun is setting in the west – on the horizon - in the distance – so okay – horizontal means this way – east – west – so that means the vertical is the opposite – up and down – north to south – and south to north. Okay I got that for now.

I have to make a similar  pause to think about the words and concepts of “affect” and “effect” I often don’t get the difference between those two words and thought. At times I also find the idea of “latitude” and “longitude” – tricky in my mind as well.

Okay back to vertical [GESTURE I] and horizontal . [GESTURE - ] – the title and theme of this homily.


You’ll find in today’s readings a stress on both the vertical – me and God – the up down line – as well as the horizontal line – me and we – my neighbor and I – the sideways line – those in the same bench and highway and street and planet together.

Today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus has Moses telling the folks not to molest or oppress the alien  - the widow or the orphan – the poor or the needy. Hey you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.

That’s the horizontal line. Moses had also told them elsewhere about the key words of the everyday Jewish morning and evening prayer – the Shema, the vertical:  "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the LORD is one"

But there is also the other – the others with us on this planet – so Moses calls out not to neglect anyone – especially the aliens, the widows, the orphans and the poor.

I hear that loud and clear. My mother and father came from poverty in Ireland and my mother often said about where she came from, “Ireland has nothing.” And in 1994 I finally saw where she and my dad came from in a small rocky coastal area above Galway. And as I stood on the edge of the rocky grey shore I thought: “Thank you mom and dad.” They got married over here in the States – but their brother and sister married each other over there. 

I know where I come from so I get today’s first reading from Exodus. I became a priest to work as a missionary in Brazil and never got there – because I heard of the need for priests in a Catholic school classroom and from the pulpit in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Brooklyn N.Y.

Today Ireland and Brazil are doing better. But the poor – the immigrant – those without – are in our midst. As Jesus said, “The poor you always have with you.”

I know I can be blind to the poor and think at times, “Get a life. Pick up a shovel. Get a job – instead of a hand-out.” I know when I say that I’m thinking from my mind-set not theirs.

Isn’t that one of the reasons folks skip the vertical and don’t come to church – because they think we who go to church are a bunch of selfish hypocrites who are screaming and blocking illegals from entering our melting pot or land of opportunity.  They see bishops and priests concerned only about themselves and career and upward mobility – and in the meanwhile we didn’t see on the horizon all these kids who were abused.

Today’s second reading begins with the words: brothers and sisters – and then talks about how the folks in Thessalonica were so generous and so hospital to Paul and his companions. He adds how they had turned from idols to Jesus. There they are: the horizontal and the vertical.

Today’s gospel has the two commandments – the vertical command – “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.”   Then we have the horizontal commandment.  Jesus tells the scholar of the law in today’s gospel, “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Then Jesus concludes with the comment: The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

It’s interesting that Luke in his Gospel has Jesus asking the scholar of the law this same question about the answer to the question: what’s the greatest commandment in the Law.  Here in Matthew Jesus is asked the question.

Luke – then adds perhaps the most important short story ever written: the story of the Good Samaritan.

Talk about vertical and horizontal: read that story. It’s written in the Bible in Luke 10:29-37. Just remember 10 as in 10 fingers. Better by now it’s written in your brain and memory if you’re a Christian. You know the story and its message.

A man is beaten up and left half dead on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. The priest and the Levite go right past him – stepping to the other side of the road. They are keeping the law – the vertical me and God line and  Law -  maybe even rushing to the temple as they go by their neighbor – to get to God. Talk, think, ponder the vertical line.  The Samaritan, the stranger, the foreigner, the man outside the Law – stops and helps his neighbor – regardless of Law – on who should help whom? He sees his neighbor – on the ground – on the same line as he is – the horizontal line.  He stops, cares for him, brings him to an in, and pays for him and promises more if it costs more.

There they are – the vertical and the horizontal.

Both are called for in commandment and in practical reality.


A few years back a man called and asked if I could do some paper work for his upcoming marriage – which was to take place out west.  The priest in California said he should see his local priest for proper paper work on this side of the country for him.

He came in on a Wednesday afternoon – when St. Mary’s corridor is filled with poor people asking for help with food and fuel bills. And our St. Vincent de Paul Society and the many volunteers from this parish are fabulous – plus all the money you put in the poor boxes here, etc. etc. etc.

During the course of our conversation the man says to me that he’s Catholic, but he doesn’t go to church – but his fiancĂ©e does.  He’s noticing people out in the corridor and asks who are they and what’s going on?

I tell him about the St. Vincent de Paul Society and how great this parish is for the poor and he says, “We’re going to live here – after we get married – could I volunteer to help the poor?”

To me there it was: the horizontal and the vertical.

The going to church didn’t grab him; but the helping the poor did.

That's one reason I love it that our high school has kids having to do mandatory service hours - and I love it when at graduation time I hear about some kid doing hundreds and hundreds extra hours of service.

If I was giving this homily at St. Mary’s I’d point to the corridor and the Blessed Sacrament chapel.


While watching a football game we often see a player make a great run or a great catch or a great TD throw and they raise their one finger up to God: Give God the Glory!

That’s the vertical – and sometimes they give a horizontal gesture to another player or players who helped make the run or what have you work.

Give God the Glory.

Give others the glory – give the other a word of thanks.


So we come to church to give God the Glory – but we’re told during the Mass – “Let us give one another a sign of peace” and we’re told at the end of Mass – to go in peace and bring the love of Christ to our world.

Vertical and Horizontal.

The word “Mass” comes from the Latin word “Missa” – to be sent.

So we come to Mass – we come to God – the Most High – and we are sent by God to the mass of humanity – to go out from this time and place to all the world and made a difference – to make this world a better place to be in today. Amen.


Poem for Today - Sunday October. 26, 2014


Towards not being
anyone else’s center
of gravity.
          A wanting
to love: not
to lean over towards
an another, and fall,
but feel within one
a flexible steel
upright, parallel
to the spine but
longer, from which to stretch;
one’s own
grave springboard;
             the out-flying spirit’s
vertical trampoline.

© Denise Levertov