May 28, 2023

Schedules, Deadlines and Prayer: What Do They Have in Common?

Schedules, Deadlines and Prayer: What Do They Have in Common? Time. Whether it’s a meeting, task or appointment, schedules are part of our lives. Deadlines? Maybe not so much unless we’re working on a project, one that’s required extensive time and energy like writing a book. I use deadlines all the time simply because they give me the incentive I need to write. Okay, but prayer? Schedules, deadlines and prayer? Before I began to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, not infrequently, I’d get to the end of the day and realize I’d been so engrossed in whatever task I […]
May 21, 2023

I Know Nothing About Love

I know nothing about love I’d been Catholic for just a few months when the young priest approached me in the empty church. Everyone had left after the morning Mass but I stayed on my knees staring at the crucifix. The priest who would become my first spiritual director asked, “Are you okay?” With tears in my eyes, I looked up at him and replied, “I know nothing about love.” Somberly, Fr. Greg regarded me for a long moment. Then he nodded and walked away. That was over twenty years ago, but my conviction isn’t diminished. Rather, it’s amplified. Yes, […]
May 14, 2023

Commencement Addresses: Three to Consider

Commencement Addresses: three to consider. Speaking to young people virtually clutching their hopefully hard-earned diplomas requires more than a little preparation, thought and for some, prayer. Regardless of how frequently one addresses large groups, the invitation to offer counsel to young adults who no longer must pretend to be interested, calls for guts, clarity and relevence. None of which seems to be abundant in the public sphere. But in these commencement addresses: three to consider, all three qualities abound. Last year’s University of Pennsylvania’s address given by Ken Burns caught my attention because it was so packed with hope and […]
May 7, 2023

Faith and Its Razors Edge

Faith and its razors edge   Do you ever think you have it wired? Lord, I’ve got this. When suddenly, like a thunder bolt, you realize you’ve been arrogant and prideful? See how special I am? What important job (s) I’ve been given? And then shockingly subdued, back on the knees, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned….” They are gifts I know, these humilations. His infinite mercy in walking with me while I walk rapidly down the wrong road, boggles my mind. On that point, of late I’ve been overwhelmed by books, podcasts, videos and articles, all of which […]
April 30, 2023

Do You Not Know That Life is a Soldier’s Service?-Epictetus

Do you not know that life is a soldier’s service? The stirrings of Greek Stoic’s Epictetus philosophy were formed by his early subjugation as slave to Nero’s secretary, Epaphroditus. Freed after Nero’s death, Epictetus went on to write his Discourses and the Stoic Manual: the Enchiridion.  Although Epictetus had never been a soldier, his slavery immersed him in the battleground that is the human will. Each time he walked the streets of Rome, the consequences of its evil leadership were evident. His statement, “Do you not know what life is a soldier’s service?” applies to each of us, whether uniformed […]
April 23, 2023

St. Thomas And Us: A Twinship of Doubters and Believers

  St. Thomas and Us: A twinship Caravaggio’s magnificent painting of The Incredulity of St Thomas graphically details a story we’re very familiar with. Jesus’ appearance to the frightened apostles through the locked door to the room they hid in, occurs just days after the horror of the Crucifixion. The Lord comes to satisfy St. Thomas’s strident incredulity and breathe the Spirit upon each of the apostles. Could it be that we’re too familiar with this story? And with Thomas’s stidence? St. Thomas the Apostle has a modifier: the twin. John the Evangelist mentions it three times. The repeat makes […]
April 15, 2023

We Are An Easter People and Alleluia is Our Cry

We are an Easter people Easy to say when all is light, love and happiness. But how about when it feels like all is lost?. Or when everywhere we look, we see only darkness. Not just absence of light but a soul-crushing darkness that functions like a magnet for our kids, spouse, ourselves? Isn’t it naive, pollyannaish—even foolish to say we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song, in the midst of threats of new pandemics, nuclear wars and economic collapse? Sure it is. St. Paul preaches, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who […]
April 9, 2023

What’s It All About?

What’s it all about? Do you remember that Burt Bacharach song, What’s it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live?What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?Are we meant to take more than we giveOr are we meant to be kind?And if only fools are kind, AlfieThen I guess it’s wise to be cruelAnd if life belongs only to the strong, AlfieWhat will you lend on an old golden rule? Bacharach and David’s haunting melody and lyrics pair magificently with Dionne Warwick’s 1966 interpretation. She cries out humanity’s existential search for meaning: Who am […]
April 2, 2023

The Awful Simplicity of Sin

The awful simplicity of sin Isn’t it strange when something we’ve repeatedly read and/or heard in the liturgy one day seems to shout out at us? As in STOP, PAY ATTENTION!! Monday’s reading was from the Book of Daniel and if we listen closely, brings sorrow, if not shame. Why? Because we see ourselves. “they began to lust for her.They suppressed their consciences;they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven,and did not keep in mind just judgments…” It’s this passage that evokes the phrase, the awful simplcity of sin. These men are elders appointed as judges and teach […]
March 26, 2023

Deeply Invested in Blindness: We Are All Jews Now

Deeply invested in blindness: we are all Jews now. The sobering, jolting truth of a phase penned by Liel Liebowitz: we are all Jews now, shouts out to us. “Maybe it was the spirited conversation, or maybe just the spirits served liberally throughout the evening, but at some point I turned to my friends, raised my glass, and made a toast. “Mazal tov,” I said. “You’re all Jews now.” The line got a big laugh, but I was being serious. Growing up in what, until five or six years ago, felt like a very different America, my friends had no […]
March 19, 2023

A Journey of Forgiveness: Our Life on Earth

A journey of forgiveness “Our life on earth is a journey of forgiveness,” declared Fr. Paul at the St. Matthew’s Tuesday 6am daily Mass. Commenting on the Gospel for last Tuesday, the priest spoke of a recent experience with a parishioner following the sacrament of reconciliation. He told the contrite young man, “I see Jesus in you. Yes, I see Our Lord in your repentance and love for His Law.” At hearing the priest’s words, the penitent began to sob, Fr. Paul said. Then, looking out at each of us as, he observed, “Often, the one we need most to […]
March 12, 2023

Do We Know How to Pray?

Do we know how to pray? The blue-jacketed 40 Days for Life prayer warrior approached the driver of the car leaving the San Antonio Planned Parenthood building with her small pink bag of free gifts. I watched as the young woman’s face contorted in rage. Rolling down her window and using her middle finger as emphasis to words I didn’t need to hear, she shouted at Racquel. Then angrily drove away. Walking back to where I stood praying, Racquel was smiling. “It’s all good. I’ve done worse. I used to be there, too. One day she’ll see.” Indeed. Prayer is […]
March 5, 2023

Whatever’s Happening: Make it Holy!

Whatever’s Happening: Make it holy It is wonderful to be alive in asmuch as our true life is the life beyond; otherwise whocould bear the burden of this life if there weren’t a prizefor suffering, an eternal joy; how could one explainthe admirable resignation of so many poor creatureswho struggle with life and often die in the breach if itweren’t for the certainty of God’s justice?… My life is monotonous, but every day I understandbetter what a grace it is to be Catholic. Poor unluckythose who don’t have a faith: to live without a faith, without a patrimony to defend, […]
February 26, 2023

Give Up Nothing for Lent!

Give up nothing for Lent! A good title gets our attention and this one sure does grab. It’s Father Casey Cole’s exhortation as we begin what our Byzantine friends call The Great Fast: Give up nothing for Lent! Fr. Casey’s point applies to those of us thinking of Lent as a time to give up our morning cup of coffee. And make everyone around us miserable. Deprive ourselves of things to make us uncomfortable. Maybe giving up social media or desserts. Or chocolate. Or…? Fr. Casey looks earnestly at us as he entreats: “Please. “Stop giving up things for Lent….Giving […]
February 19, 2023

The Right Not to Know: Advice from Solzhenitsen

The right not to know Since I’m an admirer of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, I’ve used excerpts from his speeches and books, for articles about his riveting observations. Many of his comments feel relevent, almost urgently so, although they were penned decades ago. This one: the right not to know, is another of the Russian’s remarks that seems to leap off the page and into our living rooms. In 1978, former Soviet political prisoner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gave a speech at Harvard University entitled, “A World Split Apart,” in which he spoke about individual and social fragmentation. In his assessment, a significant cause […]
February 12, 2023

The World: The Great Yes and the Great No.

The world: The Great Yes and the Great No It’s a cryptic but arresting phrase, isn’t it: The great yes and the great no? I tripped on it while searching for something online a couple of weeks ago. After listening twice to a ten-year-old homily of Bishop Barron’s called—you guessed it—The Great Yes and the Great No, I decided to write this piece. Although the Bishop intended the homily for the Sunday readings of August 4th, 2013, his words pack a whallop today—every day. POW! The ongoing battlefield between good and evil is reduced to these seven words: The Great […]
February 5, 2023

What Have You Got to Do With Me?.

What have you got to do with me? “…Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,he ran up and prostrated himself before him,crying out in a loud voice,“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” It’s a very strange Gospel passage: The one for this past Monday in the Christian liturgy. Jesus and His disciples have traveled to the Decapolis. Although I’ve heard it countless times since I’ve been in the faith, this time, the reading sticks with me days later. There are a number of reasons I find this passage memorable. But primarily these: […]
January 29, 2023

In Praise of Inequality

In praise of inequality Title grab your attention? Good. Because the notion of universal equality is irrational and foolish. Perhaps even sinful if done against God’s Law. In praise of inequality!! Take just a moment and look about God’s creatures and creation: the massive inequality of it. That Great Dane will be fortunate if he makes it seven years before dying. But the Chihuahua will likely see over twenty years of life. Attempting to equalize the heights of trees would be futile and idiotic, we’d never try. Although we accept and delight in the astounding variations in animals, variations that […]
January 22, 2023

The Use and Misuse of Power

The use and misuse of power. When we see a phrase like this, we think of powerful persons, institutions or some kind of disaster, don’t we? The use and misuse of power connotes vastness. Someone Huge! Something colossal! We sure don’t think of ourselves—our reason, will or our intellect as method for the use and misuse of power, at least I didn’t. Until I read last Tuesday’s Office of Readings: St. Basil the Great’s excerpt from the Detailed Rules for Monks. The excerpt is maybe 500 words. But just about each word seemed to leap off the page and appear […]
January 15, 2023

The Loss of Context: Pope Benedict and Islamophobia

The loss of context: Pope Benedict and Islamophobia If you’re wondering why I’d add another opinion, analysis or virtual eulogy to the many thousands already published about the death of Pope Benedict, I understand. Especially since I’m woefully ignorant of this man, his thoughts and writings. Of over 200 published books, I’ve read one. Of Pope Benedict’s many thousands of speeches, articles and essays, I’ve read only a few encyclicals. So why then add to the plethora of words that have been published about Pope Emeritus Pope Benedict? Because of my surprise, actually astonishment, at the controversy attached to his […]
January 8, 2023

Epiphany – What Does It Mean Again?

Epiphany: What does it mean again? “You have had an epiphany,” remarked my friend when I told her about my decision to become a Catholic Christian. Although my friend Adele’s comment occured a couple of decades ago now, I think of it on this day we celebrate Epiphany. Perhaps I’d heard the word before but certainly it was not one used in my every day thoughts or speech. Or that of the people around me, for that matter. I was silent so long that she thought I’d hung up. Deciding that the word meant seeing something in a new way […]
April 9, 2023

What’s It All About?

What’s it all about? Do you remember that Burt Bacharach song, What’s it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live?What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?Are we meant to take more than we giveOr are we meant to be kind?And if only fools are kind, AlfieThen I guess it’s wise to be cruelAnd if life belongs only to the strong, AlfieWhat will you lend on an old golden rule? Bacharach and David’s haunting melody and lyrics pair magificently with Dionne Warwick’s 1966 interpretation. She cries out humanity’s existential search for meaning: Who am […]