Blog

November 27, 2022

Hope Holders: Reflections on Mary

Hope holders: Reflections on Mary                       HOPE HOLDERS                   Do you wonder why these beliefs have taken root in your                                                                 Soul?                Roots which deepen, burrow into the secret places of mind and                                                               Heart? Year after year, prayer by prayer, tear by tear, doubt by doubt until                                                               Fixed? Do you wonder why you believe the impossible-god as infant born of a                                                             Virgin? Do you wonder at this girl child, at her trust in the incomprehensible                                                            Answer                 How can this be, she asked, how can this be, we ask? Why such Love For faded facsimiles […]
November 20, 2022

Feast of Christ the King of the Universe

Feast of Christ the King of the Universe Just a few moments of reflection about the state of the world in 1925 compels us to stop. And think very hard about the inspiration which led Pope Pius Xl to proclaim the Sunday ending the liturgical year in the Christian liturgy as the feast of Christ the King of the Universe. Imagine: Four years of the “war to end all wars,” A war that resulted in the deaths world-wide of 16 million people. Followed by a global plague of epic proportion, infecting one out of every three people and killing at least 50 […]
November 13, 2022

Combative Hope

It’s one of those wonderful oxymorons: combative hope. And makes no sense at all until you let it sink in. Slowly. And then the phrase hits home because combat is part and parcel of life. All life. You disagree? Consider the time energy and sheer grit it took to get to where you are, wherever that is. Weren’t there times that you wanted to just give in? Walk away from needy children? Or your suddenly unlovely spouse? Or the education that got you the job you have now? Weren’t they combat? And wasn’t the hemorrhaging from the wounds sometimes a […]
November 6, 2022

November’s the Month of the Dead-Why Should We Care?

November’s the month of the dead “I continue to think that we start from very different places on the question of death itself, what it is and what, if anything comes after it…I have trouble getting myself to the point where I believe that anything happens to the individual after death.  I can’t get beyond, once you are dead you are dead and that is the end of it.” November’s the month of the dead-why should we care? This was Jeff’s reply to my renewed emphatic urging that he just ask Jesus if he’s real….just speak the words. Over the […]
October 30, 2022

The Patron Saint of Politicians: Thomas More

The Patron Saint of Politicians: Thomas More In the year 2000, then Pope John Paul ll declared that many leaders of nations, states, and governments had asked him to proclaim Saint Thomas More the Patron of Statesmen and politicians. The Pope’s Apostolic Letter which details the proclamation, begins: The life and martyrdom of Saint Thomas More have been the source of a message which spans the centuries and which speaks to people everywhere of the inalienable dignity of the human conscience…Precisely because of the witness which he bore, even at the price of his life, to the primacy of truth […]
October 23, 2022

Newman Centers- Lighthouses of Grace

Newman Centers-Lighthouses of grace “My name is Matthew, and I am a senior at Cal Poly. Four years ago, when I arrived at the college, I found the ‘freedom’ of being away from home intoxicating…too much so, in fact.” Newman centers-lighthouses of grace. The good-looking Hispanic young man looked out at the parishioners at St. Patrick’s Church in Arroyo Grande California. And then he explained, “In my family, the church was a Sunday morning event without any impact on the rest of the week. We talked about ‘Church,’ never about Jesus. It was at the Newman Center where I first encountered […]
October 16, 2022

Be Safe and Be Holy

Be Safe and be holy My friend Meg’s salutation on the update of her life I requested since we last spoke keeps ringing in my head: “Be safe and be holy.” That phrase, “Be safe,” has become endemic since the arrival of the corona virus and, to me, connotes the obsessive cleaning, masking and endless governmental mandates of the last three years. Because I was mired in all the “c” stuff of her “be safe” phrase, her conjunction of safety with holiness didn’t make sense at first. Hence I replied to her FB message update this way: “The gap between […]
October 9, 2022

Hold Fast to Patience with A Silent Mind

“Hold fast to patience with a silent mind.” These words from St. Benedict’s fourth chapter on humility seem to burn through the muddled and distorted thoughts of a mind overwhelmed by the horrors of today’s politics, more accurately described by TV character Garrett Moore of Blue Blood’s wry comment to New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, than of statecraft: “The circus came to town and they never left.” But it is the contemporary climate of major universities that sears my heart and psyche even more deeply as I write on this cold morning…an apt metaphor for the wisdom eclipsed by […]
October 2, 2022

Leaning Into Crazy: Dealing With Impossible People

Leaning into crazy: dealing with impossible people “Man, go ahead, beat me up! Shoot me! You’d be doing me a favor, please come over and hit me.” Imagine saying that to this irate driver who looks like he wants to shoot you? A response like this one not only calmed the raging driver down but totally turned him around. Dr. Mark Goulston explains. If a dog has sunk his teeth into your hand, the key to getting him to release your hand is to push it even further into his mouth. When you do that, he’ll instantly let go. Why? […]
September 18, 2022

The Problem With the Catholic Church is the Crucifix

The problem with the Catholic Church “So why did you become Catholic?” After listening to my abbreviated conversion story, Bob explained that he’d born a Catholic but was now an evangelical Christian. Apparently feeling the need to defend his decision to leave Catholicism to a new convert, Bob declared that the crucifix is depressing and too focused on pain and suffering. After thinking another moment or two, Bob looked at at me and said, “The problem with the Catholic Church is the crucifix.” I thought of that long ago conversation last Thursday, September 14th, the feast of the Triumph of […]
September 11, 2022

The Battleground of Conscience

The battleground of conscience That phrase seems oxymoronic—contradictory—the battleground of conscience, I know. But once I began rereading Fr. Jacques Phillipe’s Searching for and Maintaining Peace, there’s no better metaphor. But first, some brief background. The first chapter of this Fr. Phillippe’s book says it all: “Without Me you can do nothing….(John 15:5) He didn’t say, you can’t do much without Me but you can do nothing.” Searching for and Maintaining Peace There are times that my sins, flaws, weaknesses, frailities, pick one or all, once confessed, I move on. There are others when those same sins, flaws, weaknesses can […]
August 28, 2022

The Rule of Benedict: My School

The Rule of Benedict: My School The Prologue of the Rule of Benedict contains some of the most lryical, lush and arresting prose ever written. These words from the 5th century summon, urge and admonish with utmost delicacy. The school of Benedict: my school. 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 […]
August 28, 2022

How Many Will Be Saved? We May Hope Everyone

How many will be saved? The question, “How many will be saved?” isn’t answered. Except through the admonition we’ve heard numerous times from Our Lord, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” His implication clear. Many rush through the wide and inviting gate to where, exactly? Here is the complete reading. Jesus passed through towns and villages,teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.Someone asked him,“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”He answered them,“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,for many, I tell you, will attempt to enterbut will not be strong enough.After the master of the […]
August 21, 2022

We Should Kneel Down in Gratitude!

We should kneel down in gratitude! We should kneel down in gratitude! McCoullough’s comment, “We should kneel down in gratitude!” applies, of course, to more than the personage of George Washington. Still, after watching and listening to McCoullough talk about our first president, I read 1776 a second time. It’s an astounding read. The book reads like a novel as it reveals the immensity and impossibliity of the task looming in front of George Washington. In less than 300 pages, McCoullough relates the extraordinary events of the first year of the American Revolution: 1776. And does so in his classic […]
August 14, 2022

The Distinctly Separate Natures of Women and Men

The distinctly separate natures of women and men “Wait—Are you saying that there’s no difference between men and women? “That the sole difference between the sexes is anatomic and biologic?” The air was suddenly charged. And the easy energy between us gone. Startled and confused, I said, “Well, yes, of course…” But my words faded as I tried to process what was happening, And why the warmth between us had chilled. My obliteration of the distinctly separate natures of women and men had been learned years before. The belief had served me well, I thought. Late that same night, I […]
August 7, 2022

It is Good for Us to Be Here: The Understatement of All Time

It is good for us to be here…the understatement of all time. Peter’s words, “It is good for us to be here…” evokes a smile at the massiveness of the understatement. But after reflecting on what it must have felt like to those three Apostles: Jesus tells them to come up to the mountain with Him, the smile fades into…awe, wonder and ineffable gratitude. Had He extended such an invitation before? Come up to the peak of Mount Tabor and pray with me. Usually we read that Jesus went up to the mountains and prayed. Alone. Perhaps on this day […]
July 31, 2022

The Law of the Gift-And They Had As Much As They Wanted

Bishop Barron speaking about Elijah and the widow The law of the gift “Your being increases in the measure that you give it away.” Bishop Barron on Elijah and the widow. Bishop Barron’s sermon on the prophet Elijah is—as always—packed with wisdom, practical wisdom. He begins his homily by declaring this as one of his very favorite readings in the Old Testament. It’s easy to see why as we review the readings from the Book of Kings. In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.As he arrived at the entrance of the city,a widow was gathering sticks there; he […]
July 24, 2022

Nothing’s Worse Than Getting Used to the Magnificent

Nothing’s worse than getting used to the magnificent. Years ago while living in the first house I’d ever bought by myself, I had a Ziggy calendar. And this was one of the cartoons for the month. Only in that version, Ziggy was shouting, “YEAH GOD!” I loved that cartoon. On many a morning while driving into the glory of a new sunrise to my job at Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, I’d shout, “Yeah God!!” And pretend not to see the horrified stares of other drivers undoubtedly wondering if there was a crazy person beside them. I was […]
July 17, 2022

The Movie Freedom: The Heroic Story of Slavery in America and England

The movie Freedom: the heroic story of slavery in America and England. Once again, the article I’d written for today sits in draft form waiting completion. A good thing since I’ve still got a couple of books and articles to finish before finishing the piece. So why did my watching the movie Freedom eclipse what I was working on? After watching Cuba Gooding Jr’s excellent perfomance in his 2014 movie Freedom, I felt impelled to tell you about it. John and I discovered this film only because we subscribe to Pureflix, an alternative to Netflix. I learned about Pureflix from […]
July 10, 2022

Prayer: Discipline, Practice or Conversation?

Prayer: Discipline, Practice or Conversation? Prayer is all those things: discipline, practice and conversation—and more. It’s discipline because prayer requires some type of regularity. Eventually habit kicks in and the consequent sense of unease when left undone. For me, even the habit is insufficient but more on that later. Of course, practice applies as verb and noun: the more we practice prayer, the more proficient-prayer begins to feel right. And prayer as noun is a practice in the same sense that medicine and writing are practices—doctors, the good ones, are always learning. As are writers. And yes, prayer is a […]
August 8, 2014

Immigration-Some Apolitical Thoughts

A friend on the east coast recently asked for my perspective on immigration since I live  in the west and I had to think about how to reply. I consider myself apolitical and have trouble with the labels of Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative and immigration seems to be a decidedly political issue.  But after spending the week driving through the central California corridor of Monterrey, Salinas, Santa Cruz in this ‘bread basket’ of the world, I realized I do have an opinion: My thoughts about immigration are simple, practical and apolitical. This is business. This is money. This […]
September 28, 2014

The Divine Symphony

The phrase ‘divine symphony’ was coined by a naturalist, whose name I cannot recall, who studies the effects of clearing the forest in order to diminish the danger of fires. This unnamed researcher audio-taped the sounds before the clearing and after. The effects were both stunning and upsetting: what was a cacophony of sound prior to the removal of every other tree became nearly silence following the actions of the Forest Service. His point? So much of the time, what seems reasonable and ‘natural’ to us can have inimical effects upon the very world we here trying to protect; hence […]
November 21, 2014

Leadership: Wisdom of Edwin Friedman

About ten years ago, I took the advice of an Episcopalian priest and read Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix; I was so intrigued by the content of this book that I bought several copies and sent them to friends. Recently, I have re-read the book and once again been astounded anew by the rare insight of this man, so very relevant to these troubled, turbulent times. Family therapist and ordained Rabbi Edwin Friedman died suddenly in 1996 prior to the completion of this book; it was his family and friends whom […]
November 28, 2014

The Affluent and Homeless On Thanksgiving Day

This is the land of beautiful people, perfect  weather and stunning coastlines but in the marginal areas along the back, rarely traveled dirt paths to the stunning dunes of Oceano beach are the homeless: Skinny, filthy and hollering loudly at the rising sun, the guy was either stoned or psychotic, or both. And I sped up my pace, not at all sure what the guy was capable of in the cool dawn of this Thanksgiving morning; quietly, I urged the dog to move more quickly. On the corners of the gleaming grocery stores, offering everything from kale shakes to premium […]