Saturday, December 13, 2014


Poem for Today - December 13, 2014


Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

© Robert Frost

Friday, December 12, 2014


Poem for Today - Friday - December 12, 2014


The river and its waves are one
surf: where is the difference 
between the river and its waves?

When the wave rises, 
it is the water; and when it falls,
 it is the same water again.
Tell me, Sir, where is the distinction?
Because it has been named as wave, 
shall it no longer be considered as water?

Within the Supreme Brahma, 
the worlds are being told like beads:
Look upon that rosary with the eyes of wisdom.

©  Poem by Kabir

Translated by Rabindranath Tagor

Poem for Today - Thursday - December 11, 2014


What is seen is not the Truth
What is cannot be said
Trust comes not without seeing
Nor understanding without words
The wise comprehends with knowledge
To the ignorant it is but a wonder
Some worship the formless God
Some worship His various forms
In what way He is beyond these attributes
Only the Knower knows
That music cannot be written
How can then be the notes
Says Kabir, awareness alone 
will overcome illusion

© Kabir


Poem for Today -  Wednesday -  December 10, 2014


Does no one the depth of this darkness
Of it's presence within our mist
So heavy it rains on the Glory of life
We choose to let it be
Not to see
Words of choice
To hide it from display
It will grow
From seed
To plant
To tree
It's roots of hate have already captured some
I thought these souls were safe from harm
But now they have joined and seem bound to the roots that have entangled them
No where
To run
To hide
The daylight grows darker daily as it struggles to survive
How can mankind repeat these atrocities over an over
Justifying their hate in any form
We have learned nothing
For our young we create the gift
Of hope
Of love
So wondrous in the  morning dew
Why have we chosen again and again to embrace the darkness

© Nina Carey
Picture on top:
"Deep purple morning dew
clinging to grass,"
by Lisa Fiedler

Tuesday, December 9, 2014



The title of my homily is, “Get Found Kid!”


One of my favorite stories  - that today’s gospel triggers for me – is found in Robert Fulghum’s Book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.

If you haven’t read that book – or any of Robert Fulghum’s books – hint, hint, great Christmas gifts for those you love.

I have five of his books – one of which is autographed for me. I have read his books over and over again. I had told my niece Margie’s husband about Robert Fulghman. Next he spotted that Fulghum was giving a talk and book signing in Phoenix, Arizona – so Jerry went to hear him.

After the talk, Jerry went up to him  with two books with the same title to be signed.

Robert Fulghum - with pen in hand said, “Who’s this second copy for?” 

My nephew-in-law, Jerry,  said, “For my Uncle Andy. He’s a priest and he loves your stuff.”

Fulghum looks up and says, “A priest? He likes my stuff? You know I’m a Unitarian Minister.”

Jerry says, “Yep and my Uncle Andy loves your stuff.”


The story I want to report on goes something like this.

Fulghum is in his house. He can hear kids outside playing one of their favorite games: “Hide and Seek”.

He asks his readers, “When you were a kid, did you ever have a kid in your neighborhood who always hid so well, nobody could find him?”

He answers his own question by saying, “We’d all get mad and give up – because we couldn’t find this kid.

After a while this kid would show up – all mad – because we gave up trying to find him.

We’d say he wasn’t playing the game the way you’re supposed to play it. “There’s hiding and there’s finding.”

He’d yell back, “It’s hide-and-seek - not hide-and-give up.”

And we’d yell back about who made the rules and who cared about who anyway.

Well, in this story, there’s a kid in his yard – well hidden under some leaves. He’s been there a long time. He hears the other kids yelling after him. They can’t find him and everyone else is found.

Fulghum says he thought about going to the base and telling the kids where the lost kid was.

Finally he yells out the window, “GET FOUND, KID!”

Fulghum adds that I scared him so bad that he probably wet his pants and ran home to tell his mother.

Fulghum then adds a message about a man in his neighborhood – a doctor. He had terminal cancer and didn’t tell his family or friends – because he didn’t want them to suffer.

“So he kept his secret.”

When he died everyone said how brave he was to bear his suffering in silence…. “But privately his family and friends were angry because he didn’t tell them. He didn’t say he needed them and their strength. And it hurt that he didn’t say good-bye.”


Take what you need to take out of that story.

That last message might be the best take out.

In the light of today’s gospel, hear Jesus the Good Shepherd searching for you. Hear God screaming out, “Get Found Kid.”

Maybe our best prayer is simply, “Baa, Baa, Bal,” as the old Whittenpoof song goes. But make it loud.

“We're poor little lambs who have lost our way. Baa, baa, baa. Doomed from here to eternity. Lord have mercy on such as we. Baa, Baa, Baa.”

Poem for Today - December 9, 2014


God of the waiting,
give us courage to wait with those
in the most broken
places of the world,
and with all those who struggle
to be bearers of hope there.

We pray with those
who wait for wars to stop,
for violence to cease.

God of the waiting,
turn conflict into peace.

And we pray for those
who have given up
on the coming of hope,
because they feel they wait in vain
at checkpoints, at borders, for jobs, for food,
and for all those whose lives are crushed
under the structures and systems of injustice.

God of the waiting, wait with your world.
Turn anger into reconciliation,
and our lack of hope into courage,
so that our waiting may be over 

and all the things of darkness shall be no more.

© Nina Carey

Monday, December 8, 2014



The title of my homily is, “Immaculate.”

“Immaculate” is a word – a concept – that we usually only use when we talk about this feast of the Immaculate Conception.

This title – this teaching – this statement – this concept - brings us to some very mysterious and intricate God stuff.

Mary is the Mother of Jesus.  People don’t scratch their head with that statement – but once you hear the scriptures stressing her virginity – becoming pregnant by the power of the Spirit – then inner intellectual “uh oh’s!” start sounding.

Mary is also called “Mother of God”  – because we believe Jesus is God – and therefore – we also call Mary, the Mother of God.

Then when we move backwards in time – and we hear the statement that Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb without sin – we wonder what that means. This statement that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin – an immaculate conception – moves us further into some complicated concepts and theology.

I would think this is why this dogma of describing Mary being conceived in her mother’s womb – free from Original Sin - as an “Immaculate Conception” wasn’t announced and pronounced as a Church teaching till 1854.

It’s important to note that there have been theologians and Christian writers on both sides of the question when it comes to Mary’s maculate or immaculate conception in her mother’s womb.

Theologians and Christian writers from way back said this she was without stain. Others – like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas did not hold this.


I was wondering if the word “immaculate”  would be around without this feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Okay we use the word “immaculate” to describe a kitchen – after all the dishes are out of the sink  - put into the dish washer – or back in the cabinets. Everything is put away. There is a clean empty bag in the plastic garbage can. The kitchen is, “Immaculate.”


In trying to come up with some words about all of this in a homily for this feast day – I realized we need to hear 2 things for starters.  We need to hear that Mary was described from near the beginning as Mother of God. We also need to hear that various other folks had some doubts about what can be said about Mary.

It needs to be stated that Origen – who died in 253 or 254 called Mary “Theotokas” – translated into English, “Mother of God”.

So too Athanasius – who died in 373 – saw Mary as “Theotokas” as well.

So too Cyril of Alexandria – who  died in 444 – spoke of Mary as “Theotokas”.

The Counsel of Ephesus 431 declared Nestorius wrong – when he said we can call Mary – “Christokos” – but not  “Theotokos”.

Many Christians – think that title “Mother of God” is wrong. They add that Mary is not God. Correct. They then say Catholics are worshipping Mary as God. Wrong. We Catholics don’t say that, don’t teach that. We teach that we honor Mary. We praise Mary. We ask her for help. We name churches and schools after her – but she is not God. Yet, she is called – not just Mother of Jesus – but “Mother of God” because Jesus is one person – with 2 natures.


Let me make a few key comments.

Before formulating questions about Mary, we ought to line up various comments and wonderings about Jesus’ makeup.

First of all – like Mary – we accept the reality that Jesus was human. There was a historic Jesus Christ.  So there was a Julius Caesar and an Alexander the Great.  So too there was a historic person named “Mary”.

Secondly we believe with most Christians that Jesus is God.

So we accept and  believe those two realities about Jesus. He is both human and divine and also human.

It took centuries for the Church to come up with language and theology – that is, “God Words” to state what we believe what was Jesus like to the best of our ability.

During those centuries of our Church there were arguments and discussions and disagreements – different and differing articulations – of how God is and how Christ is – how the Trinity is – how the Holy Spirit is – how Jesus could have a divine as well as having a human nature..

In 325 – at the Council of Nicea – it was stated that Jesus is one person – the second person in God – the Trinity – who is 3 persons – one God. All 3 persons – are equal – all at the same time – forever and ever - before and before God is  – forever – without beginning, without end.

This is inconceivable – meaning we can’t conceive how this is – 3 persons in one God. 

We can conceive of one God. We can figure out there is a God behind all there is – God the Maker, God the Creator. God the Engineer, God the Artist.

When we see a painting on a wall – we can logically, rationally, conceive – and then put into words and thoughts – that there is an artist who made – painted – conceived – came up with this painting. 

What that creator is like – personality like – we don’t know. We can guess some things about him or her or even they – but usually one person – from the painting on the wall. She likes blue or nature scenes. He likes shapes. She likes small pictures. He likes big paintings. So we can conceive things about the universe maker – by looking at creation.

God is Amazing. The universe as we see it – is 15 billion years old or sense.  There are billions of stars. There are billions of mosquitoes. There are billions of people on this planet.

That’s God the Creator.

Next comes the great mystery of Jesus. God could have come anyway he wanted to come.

We who have faith – we who have heard the story of Jesus  - accept the story that in time Jesus is born.

We believe that God picked Mary. Why? Mystery?

In time our church said God made the Mother of Jesus immaculate – without original sin – way before Jesus’ birth and bursting onto the planet.

Why? Why did God go the way he went – born as a baby somewhere near the year 0000? Why? Mystery.

Spiritual writers, theologians tried to give reasons.

For Jesus I like the poetic and enigmatic explanation about Jesus in the opening chapter of the Gospel of John.

We read it at Christmas time.

When you have time, read John 1: 1-18.


Let me close by giving my best explanation for the Immaculate Conception.

Parents make that room for their first child – perfect. I don’t know about the 4th child. 

This feast is saying, God made Mary the very best – for Christ who was to come in his time.

So when Mary was conceived by her parents – God made her the best – the best woman he could see.

I believe that’s the best way to explain the Immaculate Conception. 

Poem For Today - December 8, 2014 



I searched for a lady
With beauty, not external,
But of the heart,
And I found no one,
And still I find none! 

I searched for a lady
With eyes without envy,
But glowing innocence,
And I found no one,
And still I find none!

I searched for a lady
With modesty, not vanity,
And heart full of piety,
And I found no one,
And still I find none!

I searched for a lady
With grace, not of movements,
But of the soul,
And I found no one,
And still I find none!

I searched for a lady
With wisdom, not knowledge,
And full of kindness,
And I found no one,
And still I find none!

I searched for a lady
With virtues, not vices,
And one who’s exemplary,
And I found no one,
And still I find none!

Where can I find her?
-One without sin, not earthly,
One born immaculate:
And it was Mother Mary-
The Mother of Jesus:
She was that only one! 

© Dr John Celes

Painting on top:
Immaculate Conception
by Velasquez

Sunday, December 7, 2014


[The following is a story I wrote last night for our Kids' Mass - today - the Second Sunday in Advent - Year B. The theme was "Prepare the Way." There was a long brown cardboard trailer down the main aisle with lots of tiny footprints on it - with kids' names on the footprint. Prayers and readings featured the 7th Grade religious education class.]

Looking backwards, he figured it started way back  in the 7th grade.

He was now 67 years of age. He was  finally retired. He now had time to look at stuff in lots of cardboard boxes he had stored in his basement. It was time to get rid of stuff he had saved all through his life.

Paging through some old notebooks – he found  hundreds and hundreds of tiny drawings of footprints. Tiny doodles – tiny drawings of footprints - in pen or pencil - populated the tops of the pages in those note books.

He smiled.  Wow,  I was doodling footprints way back then? And ever since – in classrooms, in boring meetings, in restaurants on napkins, when stuck in doing a crossword puzzle, he would doodle footprints  - off to the side of a page in a magazine.  Footprints were his default doodle.

He noticed one notebook which had hundreds and hundreds of tiny footprints in it - also had his name - as well as - 7th grade - written on the cover.

He asked himself, “Maybe that’s when this habit and hobby of drawing lots and lots of feet – on pages – started. But why?  Why do I draw all these tiny footprints.”

That was his question.

He was the youngest of 5 kids and not only were his mom and dad dead – but also this 2 sisters and 2 brothers. He was the only one left – so he had really no one to ask why he doodled these drawings of little footprints in these note books. That  is, if they knew he did this – they might know why.

Footprints? Why? Why? Why?

Why did he draw footprints all his life?

With time on his hands – with his 3 kids finished college and on their own – with his wife working part time at Macy’s in the jewelry department – he decided to do the research about drawing footprints.  Why? Why? Why?

He remembered reading his first novel when he was in the 6th grade: Robinson Crusoe. He got a copy out of the library and started reading it again. It was one of his favorite books when he was a kid.

He came to the page - the moment – when Robinson Crusoe – all alone – one morning - on an island - spots a footprint in the sand.

Uh oh!

Reading that …. Picturing that scene ….  Was that the reason why he started to draw footprints in his note books?

Mind you…. when he was in the 7th grade –  was a long, long time ago.

This question of motive – this question of “Why?” – this single, solitary, 3 letter word, “Why?” opened up all kinds of memories and wonderings.

Question marks are shaped liked hooks. They are like hard iron crowbars. They can pry open a lot of doors – locked desk doors – blocked trapdoors.

He asked himself again, “Why have I drawn tiny footprints all my life?”

He put on a winter coat and went for a late afternoon winter’s walk.

It would soon be getting dark, but as he looked down at the ground – he saw some footprints – in the snow.

“Wow,” he thought. “There must be a billion, trillion footprints on this planet – from all the people who walked the globe. Of course the snow covers them. The rain washes them away.  Time erases so much.”

“Footprints!” He wondered, “Was this realization the reason why he started drawing footprints in his white school note books?”

From his note books he knew he was thinking about footprints from way back  when he was in the 7th grade.

That was long before computers and iPads and all these electronic gadgets.

He wondered about what will the kids of today be looking at 60 years from now? What will last – if everything is electronic?


He looked up and noticed the moon starting to appear in the evening sky. He remembered that first moon landing Buzz Aldrin put his foot down on the moon July 20, 1969 – and how that footprint was forever engraved in his brain.


Next, that word “footprints” triggered thoughts about the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York – September 11, 2001 - being hit – being destroyed. He remembered now – now that he was thinking about footprints – that they needed to mark out the footprint of each of those two big buildings – if they were going to rebuild and start again.

Footprints are important.

He remembered a family wedding some 20 years ago or so – when he found himself sitting with an old uncle – in the lobby of the wedding reception place. The music was too loud – and nobody could really hear each other. So the old folks complained. They came to the wedding to watch and see – meet and talk -  with each other while the young people came to dance and party.

In their conversation his uncle used the word “footprint.”

His uncle said,  “I was looking at you in there at the dinner. You have your daddy’s footprints all over you: the way you smile, the way you gesture, the way you talk, the way you walk. Wow.”

He had never heard that use of the word "footprint" before. 

Besides his dad, that comment from his uncle got him really wondering whose footprints were on him.

He thought of a buddy from when he was in the marines in Vietnam. Someone said, “If you have 5 friends in a life time – 5 friends – in the deepest sense of the word – not just acquaintances – whom many people label friends – you’re lucky.”

Bud was a buddy and both were always together all through their days in Vietnam. He figured Bud would be his best man in his wedding for sure – when he got home – after their time of duty – after their time of fighting.

Bud’s footprint was all over him – especially when Bud got killed by a sniper – just one week before they were to be out of there – out of Vietnam.

He was able to go home – his time was up – as well – for the funeral.

All through the years – he would remember all the long conversations they had – their fears, their worries, their hopes for the future.

Bud’s footprint remained on him big time – not only on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. – but on the Memory Wall in his soul.

As he was walking in the snow that early evening  he wondered who else left their footprints on his life.

There was Mr. Jackson – a baseball coach they had in high school. Whether you started or sat on the bench – Mr. Jackson made your team – as a person – as an influence – as a footprint that was cemented into the permanency of your life.

There was Mrs. Trotto – an English teacher their senior year in high school – who taught him to write – and to love to write.

As he walked – he wondered – did he draw any footprints in his notebook during his high school senior year? What Mrs. Trotto  said was so unboring – so why would he draw – why would he doodle footprints?

As he walked – he thought of his grade school religious Ed teacher – Mr. Tex – who was from Texas. He made Jesus so real for us kids. He would love to say, “I’m like John the Baptist. I’m preparing the way for you to meet the Lord.”  Then he would add: “It’s your job in life as well – to be like John the Baptist. You’re going to be with – you’re going to have people experience you – and you might be the only Bible – the only religious Ed – they’ll ever be in touch with.

Mr. Tex didn’t use the word, “footprint” – but as he walked that afternoon – on that December  slightly snowy street - he realized, Mr. Tex, Mrs. Trotto, Coach Jackson, his dad, his mom, Bud, his army buddy, all left their footprint on him.

And at one point in his cold walk – he stopped – and looked up to God in the heavens and said, “Thank you God! Thank you all you folks up there. Thank you for leaving your footprint on my life.”

Then he walked on – leaving footprints on the ground – but they were disappearing into the dark as he headed back home in the dark.

He realized his wife would be home by now – wondering where he was and where his footprints took him.

Poem for Today, Sunday, December 7, 2014


Sunday, December 7, 1941
Was a day like any other
Nothing new under the sun
But the silence was shattered
By the roaring of warplane engines filling the air
We thought they were our own
Until something happened
That told us this just wasn’t so
A rain of bullets fell upon aircraft, ships, and land
Destroying the life we knew
Thundering bombs fell to the harbor
Bursting holes into our ships
That were docked here at Pearl Harbor
The Arizona was hit
Wrenching it upwards then sinking it to the bottom of the harbor
The Oklahoma rolled over on its side
With men trapped in the capsized hull
Complete chaos spread across the land
Fighters manned their battle-stations
As the medical staff worked to patch up the wounded
We saw our friends, our family, our comrades
As they fought and died
Then just as suddenly as it began the attack was over

© Victoria Roberts