By Father Jim

March 25, 2018

Now we cross the threshold and enter into the life-giving days of Holy Week, we do this not separated as individuals but as a parish and faith community together.

Of the three great days of the triduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening — Holy Thursday has a special solemnity and evening peacefulness about it that makes it so spiritually rewarding.

The mass of Thursday night recalls the origins of the Eucharist and inspires us to serve and care gently for others as Jesus did when he washed the feet of the Twelve.

Since the celebration of Holy Week and Easter bring new life to the household of the church, it is a blessing that each year it takes place in a very real and broken world. It is right that we see signs of hope all the time. It is all right to smile—to celebrate not only springtime but the spring cleaning of our lives in the Spirit.

Welcoming new Catholics to join the assembly of our faith, those adults being baptized, receiving the Eucharist and Confirmation, always is a wonderful part of the breath of the spring season.

March 18, 2018

Lent is a time for the renewal of faith and a time to learn again the deeper truths of a good, blessed and educated life.

How do you know whether or not you’re educated? Here is a quick quiz from a Chicago professor to help you find out. A “yes” answer to every question indicates that you’re educated.

• Are you public-spirited?

• Are you a friend to the weak?

• Can you make friends and keep them?

• Can you look an honest person in the eye?

• Is there anything to love in a small child?

• Are you in a relationship with your Maker?

• Can you see beyond the stars in the night sky?

• Can you be optimistic amid life’s drudgeries?

No matter how educated you are, your education never is complete. Keep striving to be all that God made you.

“The knowledge of the wise will increase like a flood, and their counsel like a life-giving spring.” (Sirach 21:13)

And the otherwise …

One Easter Sunday morning as the minister was preaching the children’s sermon, he reached into his bag of props and pulled out an egg. He pointed at the egg and asked the children, “What’s in here?”

“I know” a little boy exclaimed. “Pantyhose!”

March 11, 2018

Fasting (going without food for some period of time) and abstinence (going without a certain food) have an important place in our customary Lenten practices.

Both also have done much good in bringing people closer to the poor and to Christ who feeds us with his very own presence.

Yet  in our contemporary experience of Lent, perhaps we can broaden our understanding of fasting from something solely concerned with food to a sacrifice of anything that harms others, the world or us.

Let’s fast from rudeness in the mall parking lot. Let’s fast from gossiping at work. Let’s fast from procrastination. Let’s fast from laziness. Let’s fast from quick temper. Let’s fast from self-righteousness.

Put another way, fasting of this sort allows us to take on the burden of loving more completely for 40 days, thereby developing new patterns and habits close to the heart of Jesus. A fast like this will make this year’s Lent a success and future Lents a springboard for being a better person and making a better world.

March 4, 2018

During Lent, we are asked to let go of habits that get in the way of our ability to love God, ourselves and others.

Through almsgiving, we come to see others as God sees them — as worthy of our love and sharing.

Here are several personal invitations to wake up your spiritual life and put more meaning in your daily living:

• Eat light: Cut back on the size of your meals today (and each Friday during Lent). Recognize your hunger as an expression of God-hunger. Give the money saved on food to charities that feed hungry people.

• Be a Simon the Cyrenean: Simon helped carry Jesus’ cross. Offer to help a neighbor, family member or co-worker with a tough chore. The help can be physical, emotional or spiritual.

• Worship with friends or family: Be attentive to the songs, prayers and readings. Discuss the sermon after the service.

• Avoid gossip: Avoid situations that tempt you to talk negatively about others. When talking about others, say nice things or nothing at all.

• Send a message: Write a letter to someone from whom you’re estranged, seeking to re-establish your friendship. If you need to, apologize and ask forgiveness. If appropriate, offer your own forgiveness.

• Share a meal: Make a meal and bring it to a shut-in neighbor or friend. Or invite someone to a meal at your home.

• Rise and pray: Get up a half-hour early today and spend the time in prayer. You can meditate, write in a journal, say memorized prayers or read the Bible.

• Be complimentary: Compliment someone on a job well done. Look around your life for an unsung hero and thank that person for his or her diligence, competence and dedication.

Feb. 25, 2018

When we consider, during Lent, those things that harm our faith, or stand in the way of becoming more like the Savior, we usually consider at first those very personal “sins” of ours.

It’s fine to exercise that kind of inner inspection and taking an honest look at spots, even sins of the church, as a whole. Our collective prejudices, injustices and sometimes the hurdles of red tape or obsolete traditions shut people out of, rather than welcome them into, life within and among the people of God.

A man of great spiritual fame, Gandhi of India once named some social sins that any society or community should reflect upon. Even for a church such as ours it is good to think bigger, especially in the culture and nation in which we live.

Here are Gandhi’s social sins:

• Politics without principle.

• Wealth without work.

• Commerce without morality.

• Education without character.

• Science without humanity.

• Worship without sacrifice.

Lent is a time to ask, “Where do I stand before God?” Lent is a time to reflect on the eternal life to come, that everything passes away except the love, faith and good deeds we have accomplished.

Speaking of life and eternal life — a verse on a tombstone read as follows:

“Remember man as you pass by, as you are now so once was I,

As I am now some day you will be. Prepare yourself to follow me.”

Feb. 18, 2018

Most of us pick something to “do” or to “give up” during Lent, probably because this is how we were raised.

Maybe in the past we haven’t made a conscious connection between our Lenten practices and how they help us to relate better to God and our neighbor.

Why not try something this year to make the connection clearer, such as fasting from a particular activity or food, and then making use of that time or money to promote something worthwhile? For example, watching less television in order to spend more time in prayer and talking to family members. Or taking the money that would have normally been spent on desserts, and giving it to the poor or another cause.

Whatever we do, we should keep in mind Psalm 51, which tells us that a contrite heart is the best sacrifice we can make to God. This should be our ultimate goal, because unless our hearts change (or we are at least trying to change them with God’s help) then our Lenten observances won’t mean much.

Do we really think the Lord is impressed that we can go without candy for 40 days if our hearts remain closed to Him and to others?

Feb. 4, 2018

Guidelines for Sane Living

 1. Strike a balance between work and play — between seriousness and laughter. Go to church regularly and also to a ballgame.

2. Stick with the truth, even if it makes you look or feel bad. Falsehoods are like wandering ghosts.

3. Forgive your enemies as part of the price you pay for the privilege of being forgiven. Realize you are sometimes a pain in the neck yourself.

4. Walk. Get lots of air and sunshine, and occasionally get some rain or snow in your face and some dirt on your hands.

5. Talk through your troubles and mistakes with someone you trust — and your dreams too.

6. Don’t underestimate the ability of God to straighten out a situation even when you can’t and give God a little time.

7. Fall in love with life — children, older people, middle-agers, sports cars, the theater, music, books, hills, the sea, the Bible — with everything except money.

And the otherwise …

After Mass, the priest looked blue and despondent.

“What was your sermon subject that it took so much energy out of you?” his friend asked.

He replied, “I tried to tell them that it was the duty of the rich to help the poor.”

“And did you convince them?”

“Only half. I convinced the poor!”

Jan. 28, 2018

The Value of One Parishioner

Ten little parishioners standing in a line; one disliked the pastor, then there were nine.

Nine ambitious parishioners offered to work late; one forgot her promise and then there were eight.

Eight creative parishioners had ideas good as heaven; one lost her enthusiasm, then there were seven.

Seven loyal parishioners got into a fix. They quarreled over projects, then there were six.

Six parishioners remained with spirit and drive. One moved away, then there were five.

Five steadfast parishioners wished there were more. One became indifferent, then there were four.

Four cheerful parishioners who never disagree, ’til one complained of meetings, then there were three.

Three eager parishioners! What did they do? One got discouraged, then there were two.

Two lonely parishioners, our rhyme is nearly done. One joined a sports team, then there was one.

One faithful parishioner was feeling rather blue, met with a neighbor, and then there were two!

Someone has said that we are God’s gift to us, and that what we become is our gift to God. It is true that God gives you and me the lumber of our lives, and offers to help us build from it a chapel of love and praise.

And the otherwise …

A pastor asked a little boy if he said his prayers every night.

“Yes sir,” the boy replied.

“And do you always say them in the morning, too?” the pastor asked.

“No sir,” the boy replied. “I ain’t scared in the daytime.”

Jan. 21, 2017

A much loved preacher of God’s word for more than 50 years once was asked what inspired him and gave him the key to insights into the ways of God.

The preacher responded that two precious images always were in his mind and heart as he tried to help others with his preaching and teaching over the years. These two images would help anyone who had lost hope or thought all was lost, or anyone who thought that God was not aware of their personal situation or life.

First, if all you see is gloom and dark clouds, an impossible situation or despair, think of this: Often when taking off on a plane flight you see clouds and rain and gloom above, then once in the air and elevated high above in the blue sky and crystal air, you realize the sun was shining up there all the while.

God reminds us the sun is there; we just need to be lifted up a bit to see it.

The second image is to see the whole world through the eye of an astronaut. If the entire planet and globe of the earth can be held within the eye, even just one eye, of the astronaut, then certainly each of our little lives can be held within the eye and mind and heart of the God who loves us.

Jan. 14, 2018

Some people make New Year’s resolutions. A few keep them, most forget them. Simply do your best to live justly, showing mercy and compassion, being kind and gentle, healing and forgiving.

  • Seek out a forgotten friend.
  • End a quarrel.
  • Dismiss suspicion, and replace it with trust.
  • Write a letter to someone far away.
  • Share some of your little treasures.
  • Give a soft answer.
  • Encourage our youth.
  • Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.
  • Keep a promise.
  • Find time for little ones.
  • Forgive an enemy.
  • Listen.
  • Apologize if you are wrong.
  • Be understanding.
  • Examine your demands on others.
  • Think first of another’s needs.
  • Be kind, be gentle.
  • Be deserving of confidence.
  • Show your gratitude.
  • Go to church.
  • Welcome a stranger.
  • Visit someone confined to home.
  • Gladden the heart of a child.
  • Take pleasure in the beauty of the earth.
  • Be a good steward of the creation around us.
  • Speak your love. Speak it again.

Jan. 7, 2018

What to thank God for in the new year

Just this once, O God, I’d like to come to you with no problems, but to simply say “thank you.”

• For forgiveness when I fail.

• For the sheer joy of sleep when I’m terribly tired.

• For the justice of Your laws, when men are cruel.

• For the growing remedies to good health, when I am ill.

• For the nurture of new knowledge, when I make a mistake.

• For the simplicity of orderliness, when I face confusion.

• For the joy of helping others, when I see people in need.

• For the assurance that You have made a place for each of us, when I feel inadequate among my peers.

• For the fun that refreshes, when everything gets too serious.

• For the renewal moments of silence, when I am dizzy being busy in a going world.

• For the confidence of friends, when loved ones do not understand.

• For the healing love of family, when my friends hurt me.

• For Your presence, when I am very lonely.

• And above all God, I thank you for the worthwhileness and fullness You have given to this world of yours.

Dec. 31, 2017

This is supposed to be a season of peace and even good will. Everyone is for peace, no one is against it.

But when people say they want peace when they try to sleep with a loud party going on next door, they really want quiet.

Some say they desire peace. When worried about paying bills, they really want prosperity. Waiting to hear the results of a biopsy, when people say they want some peace, they mean good health.

True peace is not the absence of what’s wrong – it’s the presence of what’s right.

The Prince of Peace is Y’SHUA/JESUS (Isaiah 9:6). In Jesus is lasting peace.

 True peace is not the absence of what’s wrong — it’s the presence of who is right – Y’SHUA. Recent violence and continuing cheapening of humanity in entertainment point to the urgent need for true peace rather than chaos and violence. How about eliminating violence in what you consume — on cable TV, movies at the cinema, your own language and attitudes. After all, the image of a sleeping child held in the embrace and peace of a loving mother with a bright star hovering overhead still is the centerpiece of the season.

Dec. 24, 2017

I wonder what God wants for Christmas.

Something that you can’t find in a store. Maybe peace on Earth, no more empty seats in church

might be what’s on His wish list.

I wonder what God wants for Christmas

What do you give someone Who gave His only Son. What if we believe in Him like He believes in us.

I wonder what God wants for Christmas.

What might put a smile on His face. The devil given up in the chase might be what’s on His wish list.

I wonder what God wants for Christmas

What kind of gift from you and me – more sister, more brother, more lovin’ one another.

Yea. I wonder, I wonder what God wants.

By now we ought to know what God wants for Christmas.

Dec. 17, 2017

Hope is a big word and a driving force during the days before Christmas.

Hope for a good Christmas, for peace among families and nations. Hope for postcard-perfect scenes of snow, but not blizzards to deal with.

Jesus is the Lord of Hope. The Lord wasn’t a pessimist or an optimist — optimists arrange reality saying things will get better while pessimists say things probably will get worse.

Jesus speaks about hope that is not based on chances things will maybe get better or worse. His hope is built upon the promise that, whatever happens, God will stay with us at all times, in all places.

Maybe that’s why God was born into a specific place at a definite moment and time. Our God is not removed from us, but with us. Emmanuel means just that — “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

So no matter if your Christmas this time around ends being mostly joyful or if it is a bit on the blue Christmas side, what matters is that God remains near us and among us.

Listen for that angel’s voice filling the winter sky saying, “do not fear,” with hope in your heart prepare for Christmas and greet others saying “Merry Christmas” and call each decorated tree by its real name — a Christmas tree. Leave the word “holiday” for a long weekend camping trip at the beach. 

And the otherwise …

Bulletin blooper: “Sarah remains in the hospital and needs donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of pastor’s sermons.”

Dec. 10, 2017

Advent is a time of longing for Christ our Savior, a time in which we wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus.

We look forward to the celebration of Christmas, the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, but we also look forward to the promise and hope of heaven, which we want God to teach us to love.

The longing for Christ causes us to want things to change for the better. We want God to find us blameless on the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ. With Isaiah’s words in mind: “Would that you might meet us doing right, we ask God to increase our strength of will for doing good.”

 Advent, then, is an expression of our faith in the possibility of a better world. We don’t have to be at each other’s throats. We can “do right” in the areas of race relations, family obligations and personal responsibilities.

We can “do good” to the poor, the elderly, the homeless, and to all our brothers and sisters at home and abroad. We can become blameless, beacons of social justice, examples of faith and love, peacemakers.

Maybe then God lets us do what we want to do, including wandering from him, until we at least want to want him. Maybe we will find him when we can cry with the Psalmist, “Lord, make me turn to you!”

Dec. 3, 2017

Besides the spiritual preparations that we do as Christian men and women, we also join many others in our culture’s preparations for Christmas.

We hang up lights inside and outside our homes, we wear red and green, we decorate with evergreens.

Take for instance our hanging of lights. Yes, they look nice, but why hang them now in the early winter? Could it be that during this darkest time of the year those of us who live in the northern hemisphere must find a replacement for the light that we are missing? Perhaps it is a sign that even in darkness our light will shine out.

Whatever the reason, we feel reassured and gladdened seeing the light shine. It is a sign of hope in the darkness. These are signs of hope for us.

Hope is something everyone needs to live. The hope for the coming spring makes the winter more bearable.

Nov. 26, 2017

Next Sunday, we begin the Season of Advent.

As Advent overwhelms us, there begins preparation for Christmas and all those things associated with the holidays. The facts and figures about these holidays are fascinating: shoppers will spend $450 billion, the postal service will print 3,746 billion stamps and handle 99.5 million packages. Nearly 1.2 million letters will be sent to Santa (mine included), 43 million Christmas trees will be purchased and so on.

But what about Advent itself — four weeks for God’s people to sort out and be clear about what we are waiting for, ultimately, and who are we waiting for.

Advent is kind of a confession, if we wait for Emmanuel, then we are not yet fully with God. If we are waiting for Jesus, it admits we still need a savior. If the mighty are too exalted, then it confesses the hungry and needy still stand unheard at the door.

In this beautiful and wondrous season of Advent, our admission is that we need to be made over anew through the good tidings of God’s word to us.

Nov. 12, 2017

How not to grow old

Youth is not entirely a time of life — it is a state of mind.

It is not wholly a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips and supple knees. It is a temper of the will, a quality of imagination. It means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of appetite for adventure over loss of ease.

Nobody grows old by living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair — these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the spirit back to dust. 

Whatever your years, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what is next, and the joy of the game of life.

You are as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber, so long as it receives messages of beauty, cheer and courage, so long are you young. 

When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then and only then have you grown old.

Nov. 12, 2017

How not to grow old

Youth is not entirely a time of life. It is a state of mind.

It is not wholly a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips and supple knees. It is a temper of the will, a quality of imagination. It means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of appetite for adventure over loss of ease.

Nobody grows old by living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years might wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul.

Worry, doubt, self distrust, fear and despair — these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the spirit back to dust.

Whatever your years, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what is next, and the joy of the game of life. You are as young as your self confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber, so long as it receives messages of beauty, cheer and courage, so long are you young.

When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then and only then have you grown old.

Nov. 5, 2017

Because November is the month of All Souls, it may be of some value to consider the current trends in dealing with the commending, honoring and praying for those beloved among us who pass away.

In some cases, certainly not all, the trend to delete the Catholic funeral Mass, calling hours at a funeral home and the increasing preference for cremation seem to foster the approach of “making it all easier for everybody.”

It especially makes things easier for members of the family of the late practicing Catholic, who are not into the practice of a faith.

While childbirth is messy and baptism is wet, there is an odd desire to disconnect with the body of the deceased at their passing. We seldom even use the words died or dead anymore — folks just “pass” and we celebrate their life.

Someone has said the way we carry out our responsibilities to the bodies of the dead is a clue as to how we treat the bodies of the living.

Although cremation is allowed and has been for several years in the Catholic church, many of the clergy will admit that cremation following the body present at the funeral Mass, is much preferred. We believe the corporal body, baptized and anointed, has been a temple, a dwelling place for God’s Spirit — a small box or porcelain jar at the actual funeral Mass could convey a weak symbol.

Having the evidence of death present for several hours at a funeral home visitation, placed before the altar in church for the service, finally the journey coming to the place of burial causes us to face death in the face — in order to proclaim again the power of God over death’s sentence.

Maybe our attempts to make things easier for everybody at the time of the “passing” of a loved one is a symptom of our culture’s intense wish to avoid even thinking about death for the faithful Christian, death is but the journey —the moment that brings us to life that is eternal.

What the Vatican says

The Vatican has issued a document on christian burial and cremations stating: “The reservation of the ashes of the departed in sacred places ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect, which in eventuality is possible, most especially once the immediately subsequent generation has, too, passed away. Also, it prevents any unfitting or superstitious practices. For the reasons given above, the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted. The ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation.

Oct. 29, 2017

God of the seasons, there is a time for everything: there is a time for dying and a time for rising. We need courage to enter into the transformation process.

God of Autumn, the trees are saying goodbye to their green, letting go of what has been. We, too, have our moments of surrender, with all their insecurity and risk. Help us to let go when we need to do so.

God of fallen leaves lying in colored patterns on the ground, our lives have their own patterns. As we see the patterns of our growth, may we learn from them.

God of misty days and harvest moon nights, there is always the dimension of mystery and wonder in our lives. We always need to recognize your power-filled presence. May we gain strength from this.

God of harvest wagons and fields of ripened grain, may gifts of growth lie within the season of our surrender. We must wait for the harvest in faith and hope. Grant us patience when we do not see the blessings.

God of geese going south for another season, your wisdom enables us to know what needs to be left behind and what needs to be carried into the future. We yearn for insight and vision.

God of flowers touched with frost and windows wearing white designs, may your love keep our hearts from growing cold in the empty seasons.

Oct. 22, 2017

“What’s Good for the Geese”……

It’s autumn. The air is cool, leaves are falling from trees and high overhead geese are honking.

Looking up, you’ll see that they’re flying south in the famous “V” formation.

But why do they fly in that pattern?

Scientists believe that they do it to help each other. When one bird flies at the tip of the “V,” it cuts air resistance to those flying behind it. It’s harder work for the leader to fly in this position but easier for its followers. Of course, it would be difficult for one goose to be the leader over a migration that might be many hundreds of miles long.

Geese take turns, however, so that no one is pushed too hard.

Every congregation has its leaders — hard-working men and women who organize activities such as church school or a Thanksgiving food drive. But because what they do is time consuming, it’s unfair to sit back while the same people work so hard year after year.

Why not take the lead yourself in some major church project this year? After all, what’s good for the geese (in this case) should be good for the Christians.

And the otherwise …

A well-known priest arrived in town ready to make a masterful speech at a church observing its anniversary. On Friday a young reporter interviewed him. The priest told the young man many of his finest and most humorous stories.

“But don’t print these” he admonished. “I plan to use them in my sermon Sunday.”

The reporter agreed and in the Saturday afternoon paper his write-up of the interview concluded: “The priest told a number of good stories which cannot be repeated.”

Oct. 15, 2017

October serves as a colorful and refreshing seasonal way-station between the extremes of summer past and winter to come.

Dazzling foliage abounds, flies and mosquitoes all but disappear, and there’s a crisp bite in the air that cries out for sweaters and jackets.

Yes, the days grow shorter, yet we experience, in the words of writer Maxine Kumin the “briefest and most beautiful moment of status — every day is more precious than the preceding. Dusk comes earlier in sharper air. The horses’ coats thicken, blurring their summer sleek outlines. Everything proclaims: We are reluctant. We are ready.”

That seems the story of our lives: reluctant and ready. Let us count our blessings today, knowing full well that dusk comes early.

Oct. 8, 2017

The comedy writer Woody Allen once said, “I’m plagued by doubts, especially about God. If only God would give me some clear sign, like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.”

Even though many people have doubts and refuse to practice a faith, many still do remain faithful and have a sincere respect for church and the church’s priests.

One of the most helpful influences in persuading someone to return to the weekend Mass and our traditions is the encouragement of another person, relative, friend, schoolmate or a priest.

There is a renewal in America of those looking for some deeper meaning — the spiritual dimension of life. One person said, “I always loved the sense of peace I felt when I went into the church. I wish I had handed onto my children a more intense hunger for it all. To practice faith gives structure and ritual to our beliefs and a way to think about the great and really important issues of life.”

Another person comments, “Going to church did not solve life’s problems, but it gave me a sense of living in a larger context … being a part of something greater than what I could see through the tunnel vision of my little personal existence.”

A priest’s greatest joy is to help someone come home to the church.

Oct. 1, 2017

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them: work, family, health, friends and spirit, and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You soon will understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it would bounce back, but the other irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They never will be the same.

You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. How?

• Don’t undermine your worth by comparing yourself to others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.

• Don’t set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.

• Don’t take for granted things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would life, for without them life is meaningless.

• Don’t let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life.

• Don’t give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.

• Don’t be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together.

• Don’t be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

• Don’t shut love out of your life by saying it is impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give it; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly, and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.

• Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you are going.

• Don’t forget that a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

• Don’t be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.

• Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.

Sept. 24, 2017

After the baptism of his baby brother, little Jason was crying all the way home. His Dad asked him what was wrong.

The boy replied, “That preacher said he hoped all the children would be brought up in a Christian home, but I’m sad because I want to stay with you guys!”

A joke, yes, but some truth to it.

What makes a home a Christian place, a Catholic home?

Many things can foster and fashion young people during their formative years, in the ways of our faith and treasuring the heritage and customs and convictions we hold true. During the summertime, a time-honored and fun thing to do, as a family — or blending a couple of families — is to make a day trip and visit to one of the wonderful shrines in our state. Bring the lunch, connect to some other sight-seeing destination nearby, a camping experience.

Perhaps the fascinating shrine at Auriesville to the missionary martyrs; or in Fonda honoring the Lily of the Mohawks, St. Kateri the young Indian girl; or tied with Niagara Falls, the shrine to the Mother of God located nearby.

Being committed to Mass on the weekend, including prayer and saints and holy seasons in the pattern of home life, as well as a summer day to enjoy and learn at a delightful shrine, all help fashion a faith to be proud of. 

And the otherwise …

A little girl sitting in church with her father suddenly felt ill.

“Daddy,” she whispered, ‘I have to vomit!”

Her father told her to hurry to the restroom.

In less than two minutes the child was back.

“I didn’t have to go too far, “ she exclaimed. “There’s a little box by the door that says, ‘for the sick.’”

Sept. 17, 2017

With God, losers are winners

Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 and could not read until age 7.

His teacher called him “mentally slow and adrift in foolish dreams.”

Rodin’s father described his son as an “idiot.” His uncle called the sculptor uneducable and Rodin failed three times to gain admittance to art school.

Beethoven’s teacher called him “hopeless” as a composer.

Winston Churchill, who became prime minister of England at 62, failed sixth grade. After a lifetime of defeats and setbacks, he began to achieve some success only as a senior citizen.

Rudyard Kipling’s work was rejected by the San Francisco Examiner newspaper with the comment, “You just don’t know how to use the English language.”

When George Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess” was first performed, a reviewer called it “sure-fire rubbish.”

Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book was rejected by 27 publishers.

This list of so-called “losers” who surprised their detractors with their stunning successes could go on and on. Suffice it to say, no human being can be cast aside or overlooked as valueless.

God, who created each individual also has endowed each of us with unique purpose and grace.

Feb. 10, 2017

For most of us, things such as a the death of a loved one, the loss of our job or a significant relationship, accidents and serious illness constitute “bad things.”

But other things — such as a loved one’s constant struggle with addiction, a child’s flunking out of college or the failing health of an aging parent — can be equally worrisome, burdensome and challenging.

Bad things happen. To be in a mature and responsible relationship with ourselves, others, the world and God, we have to face this fact. And when they do happen and we begin to wonder if God really has any interest in us, we may fear we are losing our faith.

But our struggle to remain faithful at these times does not mean our faith is weak or that we are cowardly. Rather, the struggle itself shows we are drawing on faith to help us through these bad times.

Faith is a relationship, and when we feel strong enough to turn to God whatever the circumstances, we are acknowledging the important role that relationship plays in our lives. The fear and anguish we express to God is the voice of our soul naming God as present in the details of our lives.

And while we would not long for bad things to happen, we can find within them a profound opportunity perhaps not available in any other experience. When bad things happen, and we begin to feel vulnerable, we have the opportunity to let go, and to let God be and do what God is and does: Love!

And the otherwise …

A children’s Sunday school teacher encouraged her 5-year-olds to create an art masterpiece that related to the Bible. As she wandered around the room looking at the pictures, she came to little Alice.

“Alice what are you drawing?”

“I’m drawing God.”

“But no one knows what God looks like, Alice.”

Without missing a beat, Alice replied, “They will when I’m finished.”

Sept. 3, 2017

Prayer for Labor Day

O God, creator of the world, of sun and moon and stars,

You choose to fashion us, your own, your handiwork of love.

Indeed, we are your hands’ own work and yet into our hands

You give the care of every living thing.

In more ways than we can count, our work builds up

or tears apart what came as gift from you.

Keep us faithful in preserving all you’ve given, lest we harm the smallest part of all you’ve made.

Give us good and honest work to do and rest at each day’s end.

Let a fair and good day’s wage be paid for a good day’s work well done.

Give us work that nurtures and sustains the ones who serve and those they serve.

Let those who labor, work in peace, in freedom, without fear.

Give those in need, a job to do, and to the tired well earned rest.

Let all work and toil, O God, give glory to your name.


Aug. 27, 2017

Being a Christian means more than just being a “nice” person. Anyone can do this by simply smiling and saying “please” and “thank you.”

Being a Christian also means more than following the Ten Commandments. Jewish people follow the Ten Commandments and they aren’t Christians. So what is unique about being a Christian?

Fundamentally, it means believing in and following Jesus. But even this is too generic. I think the last couple of lines of The Beatitudes get to the heart of the matter. We hear that we are blessed if we are insulted and persecuted for the sake of righteousness. He goes on to say that we are blessed if we are insulted and persecuted because of Him.

This is uniquely Christian. Certainly, people have been persecuted because of their religion throughout history. Millions of Jews died during World War II simply for being Jewish. But Christians are persecuted because other people disagree with the message of Jesus. No one wants to be persecuted, but Jesus is warning us that it’s part of following Him.

Many Christians in our society today don’t want to offend anyone. How else can we explain a predominantly Christian society that allows abortion on demand?

What our nation needs now are Christians interested in more than just being nice. We need Christians who are not afraid to speak Christ’s message about the dignity of every human life, even if insults and persecution are the results.

Aug. 20, 2017

The following is taken from “A Simple Path” meditations by Mother Teresa

Take time to think, Take time to pray, Take time to laugh.

It is the source of power.

It is the greatest power on Earth.

It is the music of the soul.

Take time to play, take time to love and be loved, take time to give.

It is the secret of perpetual youth.

It is God’s given privilege.

It is too short a day to be selfish.

Take time to read, take time to be friendly, take time to work.

It is the fountain of wisdom.

It is the road to happiness.

It is the price of success.

Take time to do charity — it is the key to heaven.

Aug. 13, 2017

A bride of a few months listened to two members of her husband’s family deciding who were the happiest couple they knew.

The decision for first place went to a cousin and his wife. A little surprised at first, she studied the situation.

She found that the happiest couple in the world had the lowest income of any of the brothers and sisters in the family. She found that they lived in the smallest house, they knew the fewest big-name people and their professional work drew the least recognition.

But she also discovered that they had jobs were their choice of any in the world, they liked their community, they lived in the part of the United States they loved most, their home was the center of informal friendly groups, they had more interests than a dozen people could conquer in a lifetime and they instigated many community and church activities.

The young bride came to the decision that this couple was happy not because of the money they did not have, and not because of the money they did have, but because the interests around which their lives centered were interests that money had no power to make or break.

Their greatest happiness was found outside the realm of things.

And the otherwise …

Every gift, though small, is in reality great if given with affection.

Aug. 6, 2017

“No cover charge, no minimum and everybody is welcomed” is how Bruce Renfroe, an elevator operator in New York City describes the elevator that he has transformed into a mini jazz club.

He permanently injured his knee and was put on elevator duty where he sits just inside the doors. His love for jazz inspired him to share it with his elevator passengers each day. His 30-second ride is known as an oasis in a rushed and confusing world of commuters in the Big Apple.

Inside his elevator you are greeted with black and white photos of jazz artists, hanging plants and the smooth and soothing sound of good music. His gift of something he personally loves helps to mellow out so many busy people.  

How do you share with other something of yourself? Something you know will enrich another person’s life — at home, at work, in school.

St. Paul writing to his converts in the Greek port city of Corinth said: “God loves a cheerful giver.”

This doesn’t mean just money or material resources, it includes our own delights and what fascinates or captivates us, our hearts, our senses, our soul.

And the otherwise …

Some go to church to take a walk;

Some go there to laugh and talk;

Some go there to meet a friend;

Some go there their time to spend;

Some go there to meet a lover;

Some go there a fault to cover;

Some go there for speculation;

Some go there for observation;

Some go there to doze and nod;

The wise go there to worship God.

July 30, 2017

A comedian recently quipped that today’s information technologies have effectively rendered a number of things obsolete, most notably phone books and human courtesy.

That’s also true for human rest.

Today’s information technologies — the internet, email, Facebook, mobile phones, pocket computers, and the like — have made us the most informed, efficient and communicative people ever. We now have the capability all day, every day, of accessing world news, whole libraries of information and detailed accounts of what our families and friends are doing at any moment. That’s the positive side of the equation.

Less wonderful is what this is doing to our lives, how it is changing our expectations, and robbing us of the simple capacity to stop, shut off the machines, and rest.

As we get wrapped up in mobile phones, texting, email, Facebook and the internet, we are beginning to live with the expectation that we must be attentive all the time to everything that’s happening in the world and within the lives of our families and friends. The spoken and unspoken expectation is that we, and others, be available always.

We used to send notes and letters and expect a reply within days, weeks or months. Now the expectation for a reply is minutes or hours, and we feel impatient when this expectation is not met and guilty inside when we can’t meet it.

And so daily, we become more enslaved and compulsive in our use of this technology. For many of us it is not impossible to take off a day, let alone several weeks, and be on a genuine holiday or vacation. Rather, the pressure is on us to constantly check for texts, emails, phone messages and the like; and the expectation from our families, friends and colleagues is precisely that we are checking these regularly.

But the rhythm of time as God designed it is meant to give us, regularly, weekly, some time off the wheel, some “Sabbath-time” when ordinary life, ordinary pressures, ordinary work and ordinary expectations are bracketed and we give ourselves permission to stop, to shut things down and to rest.

Sabbath is time off the wheel, time to take our hand from the plough and let God and the Earth take care of things, while we drink, if only for a few moments, from the fountain of rest and delight.