Blog

May 22, 2022

In Praise of Work- The Christian in the World

In praise of work- The Christian in the world. If the title seems peculiar, particularly the correlation between praising work with the Christian in the world, by the end of this piece, I hope you’ll see the association between work and Christians living in the world. “So Lin, what will you do when you retire?” My friend Steve, then an intensivist at the Texas Medical Center where we both worked, knew my answer. He just wanted to see what happened when I said what I always did: That I never wanted to retire in front of the group of burned […]
May 15, 2022

We Have No Right to Happiness: Last Words of CS Lewis

We have no right to happiness: Last words of CS Lewis Right, it’s the title of the last article CS Lewis penned before he died. I’ll admit his statement consititutes a 180 for me since I have written numerous times about happiness—what I think is entailed to be happy. And more recently, thoughts that achieving happiness have more to do with avoiding unhappiness (the last I don’t think Mr. Lewis would disagree with.) Lewis begins his last written words this way: “After all,” said Clare. “they had a right to happiness.” We were discussing something that once happened in our […]
May 8, 2022

Listen Carefully My Child: The Labor of Obedience

Listen carefully my child, Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to him from whom you departed by the sloth of disobedience. To you therefore, my words are addressed, whoever you maybe, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience. And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do you must beg of him to perfect […]
May 1, 2022

Forgiveness, Ignorance and Redemption

Forgiveness, ignorance and redemption We pray it every day. “…Forgive us as we forgive those who…” But too often, the routinized words fall from my lips and disappear into the petty details of the day’s tasks. I know well the essential correlation between forgiveness and redemption in my own life and therefore I’ve written about its essential components. Like the truth that forgiving ourselves is the first step in spiritual growth. And that the act of forgiveness can function as a razors edge. Until the last couple of weeks, however, I’d not considered the essential correlation of forgiveness, ignorance and […]
April 24, 2022

A Little Spark Gives Way to a Great Fire

A little spark gives way to a great fire. I’ve known forever that I should read Dante’s Divine Comedy. After all, it’s one of the most famed of all literary writings. Hence we should all have at least a nodding acquaintance with the Inferno and Purgatoria, perhaps even Paradisio, right? But yet I managed to avoid reading it in undergraduate English classes. After all, I was an atheist, why would I want to read about hell, purgartory and heaven? Much later, after converting to Catholic Christianity, I made a few perfunctory attempts to read the epic poem. But it was […]
April 17, 2022

How Do I Pay for All the Blessings? Father Stu, the Movie

Father Stu, the movie How do I pay for all the blessings? It’s a question all of us ask, or should. But the phrase is Mark Wahlburg’s explanation for what he calls his “passion project,” the film Father Stu. Coarse, raw, and at times, vulgar, this movie is ideally suited for Holy Week and today, Resurrection Day. But it takes a while to understand this. The true story (Biopic, in Hollywood parlance) is that of Stuart Long, a former Montana boxer who moves to Hollywood to be discovered as an actor. Wahlburg’s Stu is obnoxious. And so is his father […]
April 10, 2022

He rides into Jerusalem: Palm Sunday

He rides into Jerusalem He rides into Jerusalem amidst lavish, unrestrained, almost unanimous exaltation. Slowly-on the colt of a donkey. So many details here, in this story. Why a colt? So that a fully grown adult male on the colt prefigures the excruciating burden He will soon carry? To assure that these faces, now adoring, soon to turn vicious as they scream, “Crucify Him!”,  to the ones who know His innocence, perhaps even sense that “Something greater than Solomon  is here” but who lack the courage to defy the mob and confess the Truth that stands before them can see […]
April 3, 2022

Lenten Greetings from Texas: Have A Joyous Lent

Lenten Greetings from Texas Right, after twenty years in the west: eighteen in Nevada and a year and a half in California, we’ve moved to Texas. Precisely like every other major event in my life, this was not in the plan but an astonishing surprise, because, for me, it feels like returning home to Texas. A couple of essays ago, I alluded to “huge aliquots of chaos” in my life, meaning that selling the California place and buying this lovely oasis in the Texas Hill Country was, as you may imagine, not without it’s trials-some of which felt overwhelming. And […]
March 27, 2022

Most of Us Are Settling for Bette Midler’s God.

Most of us are settling for Bette Midler’s God. “I think most of us are settling for Bette Midler’s God.” It was a terrific headline. Hardly what anyone expects a priest to say when starting his homily on a Bible passage. Fr. Chris Kanowitz, smiled at the cognitive dissonance apparent in the expressions of each of us seated in front of him at that Thursday’s daily Mass. A newly ordained priest, he’d gotten the reaction he wanted: we woke up. Although it’s been close to five years since Fr. Chris grabbed and held the attention of everyone of us, I’ve […]
March 20, 2022

Our Citizenship is in Heaven

Our Citizenship is in Heaven Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,Nor have entered into the heart of manThe things which God has prepared for those who love Him. “Think on these things folks as we slog through Lent. Our citizenship is in heaven, ” said Bishop Barron in last week’s splendid homily on the Transfiguration of Christ, “Awaiting Resurrection.” It’s curious, isn’t it that the Church places the Transfiguration of Christ immediately after the temptations of Christ? But this year, I’m extraordinarily grateful because it really does feel as if I am “slogging through Lent.” And need reminders of […]
March 13, 2022

Best Way to Disempower Evil: Look at it, See It

Best way to disempower evil: Look at it Bishop Robert Barron’s sermon for the first Sunday of Lent- Three Levels of Temptation– is on St. Luke’s account of the temptations of Christ in the desert. Within the first few minutes of his homily, he says, “The best way to disempower evil: to look at it, to see it.” The declaration is a simple one. We could even say it’s self-evident. And yet, the baldness of those six words sears, pierces, plunges. Hence impelling this piece because the corollary is also evident: we empower evil by refusing to look at it. […]
March 6, 2022

Sacrifice: Brought to the Citizens of the World in Real Time

Sacrifice: Brought to the Citizens of the World in Real Time For the ten days, President Vlodomyr Zalensky has acted as David to the Goliath Russian President Putin. But this is not theatre. No, this is sacrifice: brought to the citizens of the world in real time. I must confess that prior to this week, I considered the seemingly endless conflict in the Ukraine just another of the tribal skirmishes we see all over the world: Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, Chinese Christians, and here as well, if we bother to reduce the arguments to the fundamentals. And President Zalensky? I […]
February 27, 2022

No Man Can Tame the Tongue

No man can tame the tongue I should probably title this one “Part Two” because it’s inadvertently a continuation of the article that posted last Sunday on the epistle of James. The daily reading for Saturday February 19th’s Christian liturgy was again, St. James. The phrase, “No man can tame the tongue” shouted at me. And impelled this second article on the gospel book Fr. Alphonse calls the most readable and practical of all the books in the New Testament. …In the same way the tongue is a small memberand yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can […]
February 20, 2022

The Business of Sin

The business of sin Until I listened to Fr. Alphonse’s homily at daily mass, I’d never thought of sin as a business. But the moment I heard his phrase, “the business of sin,” I knew the truth of the statement. As did the three others I commented to following the mass. His remarks followed the reading from St. James for the Christian liturgy of Tuesday, February 15th: Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation,for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him.No one experiencing temptation should say,“I am being […]
February 13, 2022

Sin Doesn’t Come First-We Get it Backwards!

Sin doesn’t come first- we get it backwards! This past Sunday’s Gospel was St. Luke’s account of Simon’s-he who would become Peter- first encounter with Christ. St. Luke provides many details. So many in fact, that it’s easy to place ourselves there. And because of that, to write about witnessing Peter’s catch. But there’s even more here! With his customary precision and clarity, Bishop Baron makes plain what I’d missed before: sin doesn’t come first-we get it backwards. Axiomatic to the spiritual life- to each of our spiritual lives- is “Invasion of Grace.” A wholly splendid phrase to decsribe that […]
February 6, 2022

Leave Room for the Wrath: Hold Fast to Patience

Leave room for the wrath Bless those who persecute [you], bless and do notcurse them. If possible, on your part, live at peace withall. Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room forthe wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I willrepay, says the Lord.” Rather, “if your enemy is hungry,feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon hishead.” Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evilwith good. The words are St. Paul’s from his Letter to the Roman Christian church. One that he […]
January 30, 2022

Depression and The New Science of Spirituality

Depression and the new science of sprituality “I don’t believe depression exists- instead, it’s a loss of energy. If you’re depressed but hear a fire alarm, just like anyone else, your sympathetic system will kick in. You’ll find plenty of energy to run.” After twenty-five years of counseling ex-combat vets John had plenty of experience with PTSD and its oft associated partner, depression. Because of both personal and professional experiences, his observation rang radically true for me. Not long afterward, John introduced me to his clinical supervisor, Dr. Weiner, a staff psychologist at Clark University in Worcester Massachusetts. John had […]
January 23, 2022

Do We See What is There or What We expect to See?

Do we see what is there or what we expect to see? All too frequently, our ‘vision’ is clouded-even blinded by our biases, predudices and preconceptions of what is before us. In other words, we see what we expect to see. That fact is one of the primary causes of human error- whether medical error and negligence, pilot error or wrongful conviction. True because we unconsciously form causal connections based upon single events. And our senses dull as we view the familiar and ordinary. At times, so completely that we are blinded to the extraordinary. Our perception of the world […]
January 16, 2022

You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore to decide to be happy

You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore to decide to be happy Her name was Jane Marczewski (Nightbirde.) And she became known when she appeared on America’s Got Talent to sing her song, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok”. After performing a song which left the judges weepy and speechless, Cowell finally asked the thirty-year-old Jane how she could do this: make a song out of a disease which was killing her? Her reply? “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore to decide to be happy.” Cowell, understandably, was dumbstruck. And then reacted by giving Jane the “Golden […]
January 9, 2022

Thinking, yet again, about the Rule of Benedict

Thinking, yet again, about the Rule of Benedict. The Prologue of the Rule of Benedict is some of the most lryical, lush and arresting prose ever written. These words from the 5th century summon, urge and admonish with utmost delicacy. L I S T E N carefully, my child,to your master’s precepts,and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).Receive willingly and carry out effectivelyyour loving father’s advice,that by the labor of obedienceyou may return to Himfrom whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience. To you, therefore, my words are now addressed,whoever you may be,who are renouncing your […]
January 2, 2022

Football as Metaphor: American Underdog

Football as metaphor: American Underdog Before I get to my subject of football as metaphor: American Underdog, some background about football and me may be useful- especially if football isn’t comprehensible to you. So, if you’ll permit a rollback in time, the following is excerpted from an article called 9 Lessons Tom Brady has taught me: “It was late September 30, 2001, and my new husband insisted I watch the Playoffs between his beloved Patriots and Oakland. We were living in Connecticut, cold, snowy Connecticut. I’d decided to leave my career in academic medicine where I’d built a national reputation […]
September 20, 2020

It’s Just a Little Incense: Saints Cornelius and Cyprian

It’s just a little incense-Saints Cornelius and Cyprian In the Christian liturgy, Wednesday, September 16 was celebrated as the feast of two early martyrs: Saints Cornelius and Cyprian. Men persecuted by the Roman Empire for their Christian faith…fourth century Rome and therefore irrelevant to us seventeen hundred centuries later. But that is because I never bothered to learn anything about these two men. Father Mitch Pacwa celebrated the daily televised mass on EWTN and delivered a riveting homily on these two saints. The polyglot Father Pacwa (he fluently speaks thirteen languages) is a bit of an oxymoron in that he […]