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Monday, December 24, 2007


Does this story contain any truth?

You alone can decide.

It now was very late. The shepherds had left. Their angel-fueled awe had been overwhelmed as they knelt in the quiet before the Christ child. Joseph and Mary were full of joy and welcome. Yet the keepers of the sheep, ever mindful of the needs of those they cared about sensed the weariness in the holy couple. They had humbly left with holy joy brightening the journey back to the hills above Bethlehem.
Now Joseph sought to make Mary and in the Infant Jesus as warm and comfortable as possible in the stable. Jesus was fed and wrapped in clean warm swaddling clothes as He rested in His mother’s young arms. But He would not rest.
His restless squirms and fussing cries troubled the Virgin Mother. Joseph sought, with his weary love, to comfort and help calm the restless hunger of the infant. But Jesus would not rest.
As the long chill night crept on the Infant stayed awake with longing cries and squirming silences. It was in a few moments of tired silence Mary and Joseph heard the steps. In the cold stony ground outside the stable the stealthy steps could not be hidden. Glancing at each other in worry Mary and Joseph said with their eyes that they both had heard the steps of the intruder. Clutching Jesus closer to her breast Mary covered Him with a blanket. Joseph arose and quietly crept to the stable entrance. It was then that the shadowy figure peaked into the darkened stable.
An anxious cry broke the nervous silence. Struggling within the cloths and blanket Jesus cried with lonely longing cries. And Mary and Joseph understood.
Brightening the small fire Joseph then went to the huddling figure hiding at the entrance. With gentle firmness the person was brought close to the restless Infant. Mary arose and brought Christ to the shaking soul. With a warm smile of she placed the restless Jesus in the dirty arms of the wanderer.
And it was as you received Christ He cried in contented joy. He was at rest. You were with Him.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Come to the Fire

The cyber-version of my homily for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

We are just days away from the shortest day of the year. The chill and dark of winter brings us to seek the warmth and light of hearth and home. We are created to be creatures of light and warmth. Especially on a cold winter evening our eyes look to light and our bodies seek warmth. Whether it be a campfire or fireplace, a simple candle or Christmas lights we hasten by sight and effort to that warmth and security.

Yet in the cold, and the darkness of the season we face the harsh reality of life. Like the land of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia frozen by the wicked queen life can be oppressed, seemingly frozen in the cruel sorrows of self, sin and sadness. Sadly the powers of the prince of darkness are not the stuff of myth and legend. Whenever we see murder of innocent life, wars of greed and pride or icy malls of materialism and selfishness we encounter the reality of the powers of darkness.

With the second Sunday of Advent the Holy Spirit beckons us to come out of our darkness and to leave our sin chilled lives to come to the Fire of God as we prepare for our coming King.

When we speak of the fire of we can think of many concepts. There would be those who would rejoice at the flaming chariots of God’s wrath that would consume the evil in the world. Many Jews in Jesus’s time were sure that was what the Messiah should and would do with the evil and decadent Romans. It perhaps should be noted that when Christ spoke of the fire and wrath of God he was speaking to the legalistic, religious Pharisees. Yes..the fire of God will burn and destroy the chaff of sin and selfishness. Yet it is in the season of Advent we can hear and heed the Spirit of God to come to the light and warmth of God’s fire and to be enflamed with the joy and peace of His mercy and love.

We come to the fire of with:

REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION ~ We are called to fuel the eternal mercy and love of God with our humble offering of repentance and true sorrow for our sins. Whether we bring kindlings of temptations left to God or immense timbers of repentance our confessions bring to Christ fuel that will be embraced by holy flames of His mercy, forgiveness and love. From the fiery embrace of His holy Passion we then will be empowered by the Spirit of God to follow in His Light.

LIGHT FOR THE JOURNEY ~ With hearts renewed we then can walk the path of faith through the dark and chill of the world. The Advent candles of His Word lead us to prepare for and welcome His coming into our lives and to bring Him to lives of others. In the light of His holiness we can start to see the beauty and hope in the places, things and people He brings us to meet.

COALS of HOPE and FAITH ~ It is as we come to the Fire of God He gives to us holy coals of hope and faith to be shared with those we would meet. In the cold winds of doubt and fear this world can bring the fickle flames of feeling and emotion may soon be extinguished. Leaving one in confusion and loneliness we may stumble and fall. But carrying in our hearts fervent coals of His hope and faith we can journey in the courage of His peace. Then as we meet others on this path we then can share and bring the fire of His love to warm and encouragement by words and actions of caring trust and respect.

The chill and darkness of this world is especially evident in the winter season. Yet as we come to the fire of God we can know the healing warmth of His embrace of mercy as we live our repentance and follow in the light of His Passion. It is in the fire of God we see and experience the beauty of our coming King and the power of His love.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Communion of Saints & The Mount of Transfiguration

The Feast of All Saints is a good time to reflect upon the gift of grace we find in the Communion of the Saints.

"...Exactly as Christian communion among fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God" {CCC 957}

The Biblical account of the Mount of Transfiguration has many profound lessons of grace. One, perhaps overlooked, is that it is a lesson in prayer and a lesson of the communion of the saints, provided by Christ.

Christ upon the mountain top,
took along disciples three.
Christ upon the mountain top,
with Moses and Elijah,
they did see.
If Christ our Lord,
with saints did call,
and to His Father's will
give all,
What better way of prayer
for us?
What better way to loose our cares
with trust?
Than with the saints
whose love and faith
will help us,
to grow
in grace.

Mark 9:1-4: (RSV)
And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them,
and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
And there appeared to them Eli'jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Senses of Faith

Here is the cyber-version of my homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.”
— Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979 These words of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta have shocked the world. Some would say she was a fraud or hypocrite. Others are just shocked or surprised that a woman so loving and caring could feel such uncertainty of her faith.
And we too struggle with faith. We want to feel God’s Presence in our prayers, Bible reading, at Mass. It would seem with all the competition from the world for our feelings God would pay a little more attention to our prayers..our coming into His Presence. We often come to God expecting His appreciation of the privilege of our attendance. We are very unlike the servant Christ speaks of in the Gospel who comes to serve Christ..not to be waited upon by Him. So..when God neglects to acknowledge as we feel we may deserve we sulk and doubt.
The prophet Habbakuk was not feeling God’s help as he expected. The rebellious Hebrews were soon to be chastised and overcome by the evil idolatrous Chaldeans. How could God allow sinners to prosper and chastise His people???? What was God thinking?
Paul in writing to the young priest, Timothy was confronting his fears and doubts and telling him to stir up that live his faith and testimony in the world that was so challenging.
It is in the refrain from our Psalm that we hear the paradoxical call of God that IF we hear His voice, NOT to harden our hearts. It is no accident that this Psalm is the main invitatory Psalm of our Church prayed everyday by the faithful clergy.
But it is in the Gospel we see most clearly God’s design of eternal love. His love that sows seeds of trust and challenges us to be servants growing strong in faith. The reason God does not always cater to our temporal feelings and senses is simply LOVE..eternal love. Hence He seeks to cause us to grow strong in the senses of faith. At our baptism, every time we come and hear God’s Word seeds of faith are planted and nourished that the true Senses of Faith may become strong.

EARS of FAITH ~ Listening to His Word, His Holy Spirit leading into the Truth that frees from fear and the lies of doubt. How much of you daily life, your family life is directed by faith or, perhaps very deceptively dictated by fear or doubt. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a disciplined mind. If hear His voice.....calling to look beyond our understanding, abilities, the waves or HIm

EYES of FAITH ~ What is your focus? The church..its problems..personal sorrows, fears..what is your focus? It is in the light of faith we see the truth. (Looking at life, etc. with critical thinking..critical mind). Faith in what we see..feel..or in the vision God will provide. Are we willing to WAIT, in faith, for the vision to be fulfilled?

WORDS of FAITH ~ We confess with our mouth what is in our hearts. Do we proclaim our fear, doubt, resentments? Or do we nourish faith (others and ours as well) by sharing our testimony..our faith story?

STEPS of FAITH ~ It is as we hear God in His Word, in prayer that we must decide if we are to follow. it is when we see Him, Present in the poor, the outcast, or lonely we must decide to see beyond our self, comfort, pleasure or pride. Perhaps He is calling to look past somebody’s sin to the mercy and forgiveness He seeks us to share. True, living faith is something that will cause us to step out in love, away from fear toward His Kingdom, toward Him.

Jesus challenges us that we don’t need a lot of faith.. We simply need to exercise and nourish the faith He gives. It is as we follow Him He heals, strengthens and enables us to see, hear and follow Him into His Presence and peace that surpasses all understanding.

{For added reflection upon the senses of faith:}

St. Francis of Assisi, not long before his death, almost blind from eye disease, in pain and suffering from the stigmata, his worldly senses overwhelmed by life..heard and proclaimed, with senses of faith, one of his greatest prayers..the Canticle of the Sun:

Canticle of Brother Sun
St. Francis of Assisi, 1225
Most high, all-powerful, all good, Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor
And all blessing.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy
To pronounce your name.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,
And first my lord Brother Sun,
Who brings the day; and light you give to us through him.
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;
In the heavens you have made them, bright
And precious and fair.

All praise be yours, My Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all the weather's moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
So useful, lowly, precious and pure.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night. 
How beautiful is he, how gay! Full of power and strength.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,
Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
Various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon 
For love of you; through those who endure
Sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,
From whose embrace no mortal can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin! 
Happy those She finds doing your will!
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,
And serve him with great humility.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Forgiven by the Father

Eager, stubborn the boy had left,
off to live his life he set.
From the father’s wealth he bore,
From the father’s heart he tore,
Love and hopes with tears he gave,
the son his share of what he’d saved.

The son the road quickly trod.
And spread his given wealth abroad.
Seeking pleasure and sensual gain,
Soon he found but loss and pain.

Money gone and hunger found,
In lonely places the boy did scrounge.
For wasted food with swine he fought,
as solace for his hunger sought.

The empty pangs of stomach hid,
not the pains of his heart, but bid.
Longing for the meals of home,
Even a servants place his heart did own.

Struggling in his sorrow.
Aching in his loss,
His father’s gate in humble tears,
he arose and sought.

For his son his thoughts did trend.
As his pain, his heart did rend.
Looking, watching the homeward path
His wearied hopes could not slack.

Then one day, his eyes with tears did fill.
With joy and love did they spill.
For up the road in rags so humbled,
the son he sought did weakly stumble.

Running fast his child to embrace
the father ran the eager race.
In broken sorrow his child had trod.
In love and joy the father called,
My son!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

"Will you trust Me?"

For the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 9 September 2007 ~


“Will you trust me?”
Was the gentle query,
that was heard,
when one day,
upon Christ,
my Love,
I awaited.
No audible words.
No rush of angels wings,
upon the wind,
was felt,
or heard.

It was in the woods,
our time together,
in the early evening.
I had shared my prayers,
in my end of the work day
weary, dusty, praise.
Hungering for Him,
His Word,
His Presence,
His Love.
Yet, feeling, knowing
my failures,
my weakness,
my fears.
I felt so deeply,
the silence.
I heard so clearly,

Weary tears
of hopeless love
spilled from within
my soul of longing.
Past the time
I should return
to my quarters,
yet unfelt,
a gently strong hand
Kept me
in the darkening wood
of longing.
Then, in the shadow,
of His Wood,
my heart heard
the whisper,
“Will you trust Me?”
“Will you follow Me”?

Yet with the eternal clarity
And hope
of Love,
Yes, I said.
I will trust You.
I will follow You.

Then remembering
my true self
I cried.
But Lord,
I do not understand.
How can I?
You know….

Then again,
His eyes upon me,
I heard.
“Will you trust me?”
“I do understand,
I know you,
I created you.
Follow Me”.

Then I saw the wood.
Red with His blood.
And I followed Him.

Sweetheart of Jesus,
Be my Love.

And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. Mk. 8:34 RSV

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

God & Bailey

Today's blog entry is going to be different than most. I want to introduce you to Bailey. He is my 6 year of Golden Retriever. From his earliest puppy days he has been my helper and co-worker.
While working with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) he was known as Bailey the Fire Dog. He has worked in fire safety education. As Fire Chaplain Dog he has assisted in many Critical Incident Stress Debriefings besides just comforting victims of the sorrows of life.
He has also come to be known as the Deacon Dog. He lives a simple yet powerful four-footed furry lesson in the grace of simply trusting, loving and joyfully serving whomever he meets.
Bailey is an excellent reminder of the message of God's Word to join with all creation in living in praise to God.


[1] Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights!
[2] Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his host!
[3] Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
[4] Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
[5] Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
[6] And he established them for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds which cannot be passed.
[7] Praise the LORD from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
[8] fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
[9] Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
[10] Beasts and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
[11] Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
[12] Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
[13] Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
[14] He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tenacious Prayer

"...because of his importunity (tenacity) he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. ~ Luke 11:8b-10

The readings for this 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time call to each of us to....PRAY. The message is clear. Christ calls, desires..expects His followers to be tenacious in prayer. As Christians we speak often of prayer. We read about prayer..gather for prayer. Yet we oft fail to know the power of prayer because we are not tenacious in our faith. Christ provides all we need to be the tenacious, victorious warriors of prayer He calls for and commands.
His Word will nourish our faith (Romans 10:17) and guide us into His will (Ps 119:105) so that we may pray with confidence (I John 5:14). Guided by His Word we then can know the Holy Spirit's strength to persevere in tenacious faith and love. This tenacious prayer will bring us into the very Presence of God. Fighting past the doubts, fear and distractions of the enemy we can come to the Cross and receiving His Holy Body and Blood we can be nourished by Christ Himself. In His Eucharistic Presence we can know the power and love of His wounds of holy love. If there is a 'secret' of tenacious prayer it is to pray until one is in the Presence of Christ.
For it is in Him we will find the strength, wisdom, guidance, healing, provision...whatever our need or desire it will be found in His way, His time, His Him.
So..let us each ASK... for those needs and desires that which God brings into our lives,
and, SEEK, His will, provision, strength to tenaciously
KNOCK..not just at the doors of life before us but to also, in courageous, loving faith knock down the
very fears, doubts or obstacles that would hinder the love of Christ from being known.

St. Francis of Assisi..prayed with tenacious love and faith. He would not allow failing health, eyesight, discord among his brothers form detering him from prayer. It was in his tenacious faith He experienced the fullest sign of gods' love as he shared the very wounds of Christ.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Helping the Wounded

This Sunday the Gospel shares the account of the Good Samaritan. The story tells of a man, wounded by robbers, left by the roadside. A priest, a Levite pass him by. A Samaritan, symbolic of those perceived to be of lesser value, stops, cares for the man living the love that Christ calls us all to live.
Today there are more people than ever on the roads of life who are wounded. Sometimes physically, even more often in soul and spirit. Yet the failed practice of the priest and Levite is many times the norm..even among Christians. In our times we often will hide behind the excuse that it is the job of the professional, or the idea that "I am not trained". So it is left for the firefighters, paramedic, doctors or other "expert". Even within the Church it is common to leave it to the priest, deacon, or "professional" to help another.
But it is not about expertise. It is about love for our fellow man or woman. As a firefighter I could not have responded to the many sick and injured that I helped care for IF first a loving soul had not first cared enough to stop and help as best they could.
We all are called to care for the many wounded with our prayers, our helping hands and hearts, with His love.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Man Who Followed Christ ~ Fr. Junipero Serra

The readings from the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time speak of the call to follow God's call in our life. The Scriptures have many examples of men and women who did, and did not, follow God in the journey of their life.
This weekend we also have a Saint who gives a faithful and powerful example of what it means to follow Christ. Bl. Junipero Serra (1713-1784) was a Franciscan missionary priest to California. He is credited for founding the California Missions, some of which are still active Parishes to this day. Contemporary secular bias often seeks to blame Fr. Serra and the Church for the oppression and loss of culture and life among the native American Californian tribes. More accurate history would indicate that while seeking to share the Gospel of Christ with the native Californians the Church was often the strongest defender of these people from the military, greed, and corruption of the secular colonial forces.
This also helps us to understand Fr. Serra as a dynamic example of a man sharing, living and defending the Kingdom of Christ in a world that was often hostile to the truth of God's love. As he simply sought to follow Christ in faithful obediience Fr. Serra was lead to new frontiers of mercy and grace for the Kingdom of God.
Bl. Serra pray for us! Pray for the Church here in California.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In Memory of the Nine Charleston Firefighters

On Monday, June 18, 2007 the Charleston S.C. Fire Department responded to a structure fire in a furniture store. In the line of duty nine firefighters died fighting this fire.

Final Call

Dedicated to the Charleston Nine and all the other Firefighters who died in the line of duty.

The tones have sounded.
A fire calls.
Riding their rig,
To the smokey pall.

Sirens scream.
Red lights flash
On to the fire
Flames warnings cast.

Arriving on scene,
To their task each one goes.
One to the pump,
Others to hose.

The officer assesses.
Another alarm is raised.
Heavy smoke showing.
Rescues to be made.

Inside for the rescue,
Interior attack.
Inside for the crew.
They will not hold back.

Inside the building,
On hands and knees,
Heat, smoke and noise,
No one can see.

Adrenalin pumping,
Their hearts flowing strong.
Fears are controlled.
They’re pressing along.

Knocking down flame,
Searching each room,
They seek anyone trapped,
In the fiery gloom.

Then in the battle.
Their comes a brief moment.
Followed in instant
The fire has vented.

Air rushes in,
Flames explode.
With deafening roar
The crew is no more.

The tones have beckoned.
Angels appear.
Escorting the fallen,
Beyond all tears.

May the souls of the faithful in duty rest in peace.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ

Here is the cyber version of my homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi:

Corpus Christi – The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ celebrates and teaches the awesome gift that is Christ, God with us. It shares and proclaims the mysterious and dynamic union of Heaven and earth, Spirit and flesh. It asserts the essential oneness of true holiness and true love, in, through, and with Jesus Christ.
But we find it so hard to understand. With the frustrating limits of our human understanding we try to fit the infinite mystery and gift that is God, come in the flesh, into the precise, tight, controlling, and little, boxes of our minds and hearts. Yet, once again, Christ in His great mercy and patience, His Love, shares His Word that can lead us out of those little boxes into His arms. His truth, His love.
We recognize the struggle with mystery in the Old Testament reading and Psalm that speak of the great High (and mysterious) Priest, Melchizedek. Long have minds and hearts tried to understand who this is. In the epistle we hear the familiar and comfortable words of Christ giving us His Body, His Blood. In our familiarity we lose sight of the fact that this was a shocking and scandalous concept for the minds and hearts of the early people of God. This leads to the Gospel. It is in the account of the feeding of the multitudes that Christ challenges and calls His followers, then and now, to look, trust, give, and receive beyond what they may understand…. to trust Him, receive and share Him, in faithful love.
The Sacred Body and Blood of Christ can bring us beyond ourselves, our limitations. It is with Christ literally feeding us and dwelling within us we can grow into the fullness of life He has designed.
It is especially in our relationships that this freedom is to be lived. The Body and Blood of Christ, conquering sin and death enables us to have those relationships of faith with the saints, with our loved ones gone home to Christ...that brings alive our own Heavenly hope. Yet His Presence brings us more than just the hope of the Heaven, of the holy. It is the living gift and call to unite and share Heaven and earth, spirit and flesh.
This is where we often start to struggle.
There are those who would want to confine the HOLY body and Blood of Christ to the HOLY. The rich and appropriate reverence and awe that can be found in His Eucharistic Presence is focused upon as the right..holy..way it is to be. Yet Christ longs to be so much more than that alone.
Then there are those who would confine their understanding and faith to a concept of His Body and Blood to the people of God…in each other. our words. our actions. It is often focused upon as sharing the LOVE that is understood to be God. Yet, again Jesus longs to be so much more.
God never intended to be divided, especially in His Body, His Blood.
This weekend, after the 10:30 Sunday Mass you will be invited to share in a Eucharistic Procession in honor of Christ Jesus. We will take the Blessed Sacrament, carried in a beautiful Monstrance down the middle aisle and out the front doors of the Church. With Christ we will walk out the middle gate, down the sidewalk and back into the Church grounds to the statue of Mary where we will share a song of thanksgiving to Our Blessed Mother for the faith and courage to be the first and truest of living monstrances. This procession, this unique carrying of the Presence of His Body and Blood further illustrates the promise and reality of Corpus Christi, the Great High Priest and Servant of redeeming Love.
In His Body and Blood true holiness, true love are united and carried forth. Jesus, God with us, The Great High Priest, The Servant of God must not be confined to our limited concepts of holiness OR of love. He is and must be…both.
As we each receive Christ’s Body, as we together share the cup of His Blood we are filled and brought into a union of spirit and flesh, the Holy, and Love. So it is that as we, His living and beautiful Monstrances are to go forth. We are to share the beauty of HIS holiness. It is as we speak, as we act we are to proclaim HIS love that would vanquish our fears, heal our lives and quench the ache of the lonely. In living the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ in our lives we will follow Him to new realms of holiness. We will also be called to relationships that may well challenge our understanding of love that will call us to the fullness of Holy Love in His Body and Blood given for us.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Resurrection Realities & Mental Health Needs

Here is the cyber-version of my homily for the Third Sunday of Easter:

The Presence and message of Christ in God’s Word today bring together the sorrow of His Passion and the hope and joy of His resurrection. The sorrow-filled denial of Simon Peter is confronted and redeemed by a merciful Christ on the shore of Galilee. In that restoration St. Peter receives the commands from Christ that affirm his calling and commission as leader of the Church. In the Gospel story itself, and with St Peter’s apostolic succession that blesses our church, we are brought to look at another series of events of recent days and weeks. These tragic events have brought to our attention a subject that most would rather not face, the challenges of mental health in our society. Today’s message, while more specific than most that I share is, I believe, very relevant to far more people than we may want to realize. It brings us to seek to reconcile resurrection realities and mental health needs.

The immense tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech this week is increasingly being recognized as a mental health tragedy. Nothing can minimize the wrong that was done and the suffering that resulted by the actions of this man. Yet the very victims of this wrong cry out for answers, why, what could have been done to prevent this from happening. Also we realize that the victims include the families of those who have died, the family of the gunman and in a real sense the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho (joh sung-wee) himself.

Even in our own county the tragic needs and problems of the mentally ill have been very evident. Both those suffering from mental illness and family members have died violent deaths in recent weeks as a testimony to the inadequate response and care of those suffering from mental health issues.

And I share from my own experiences, as a father of a much-loved son who has serious mental health needs. While his life is not what he, or his mother and I would have ever asked for, it has, however, taught us so much of God’s mercy, love and hope. In his intense struggles my son has shown a courage and tenacity to live of which I am very proud.

What then, if any, is the connection between today’s resurrection promises and realities and the mental health needs we face?

First let’s hear the words of a recent successor of St. Peter himself, on this subject. John Paul II said in 1997: "Whoever suffers from mental illness 'always' bears God's image and likeness in himself, as does every human being. In addition, he 'always' has the inalienable right not only to be considered as an image of God and therefore as a person, but also to be treated as such. "It is everyone's duty to make an active response; our actions must show that mental illness does not create insurmountable distances, nor prevent relations of true Christian charity with those who are its victims. Indeed it should inspire a particularly attentive attitude...”
The words of St. Peter’s successor bring us to be “fed and tended” as Christ commanded so long ago. Also in those words we start to learn and live the answers of the resurrected Christ to the needs of the mentally needy, God’s precious sheep.

Mental Health needs: Our Psalm expresses well the anguish of one in anguish of soul and mind. Psychology, the “study of the soul” is a study and response to one of the most major parts of our soul, the mind. In the Psalm King David expresses this anguish that is felt when the soul, specifically the mind is traumatized or wounded by life. In looking to those realities we can understand that mental illness is not a trauma but a sickness of the soul and mind that brings the same and at times more intense anguish, despair and fear. (Some mental illness may result from mental trauma, however). While it is a soul sickness it entangles and infects soul, body and spirit. The needs of the mentally afflicted cannot be consigned to just the mental health professional. It is a need that requires the care of mind, body and spirit. Yet that care is lacking.
Mental illness is still suffering with a stigma that builds walls of fear instead of bridges of relief. Many other causes are politically correct and popular. But funding and support for mental health is chronically cut, under-supported and left to glean non-existant budget leftovers. Families and those suffering are often feared, shunned or left to experience the reality of the criminalization of mental illness. When those with mental health needs repeatedly experience the failure of care that is often so prevalent, tragedy may result. This brings us to ask: What should be done? What can or should I do?

The Mental Health response: As the late John Paul II instructed: “It is EVERYONE’S duty to make an active response”. This response calls us to::
Share Knowledge: Education and sharing of information and resources for mind, body and spirit is essential. No one place or person has the entire answer, except God. And it is Christ who calls us to share and act on His behalf. Learn about mental illness. We probably have here today those who experience mental illness as well as their loved ones. Learn that they and their loved ones are…people, created in God’s image. And learn how to help them.
Share Acceptance: The delusional world of the mentally ill is real to them. That reality needs to be accepted and respected. It does not mean that we have to agree or support false delusions. It means that in accepting their reality we can then perhaps accompany them to better, true realities.
Share Hope: Despair and loneliness is one of the most common conditions experienced by the mentally afflicted and often their loved ones. That despair can lead to fear and anger resulting in tragedy. Calm, real hope, rooted in God’s love may well enable someone to receive the scope of care they need and deserve. That care can result in improvement and stability.
Share Love: God’s love will conquer fear, stigma and ignorance. Christ’s love nurtures, it encourages and fosters acceptance that leads to healing. Love does not always need to understand the struggles of mental illness. It simply shares in real compassion, the shared passion of Christ where resurrection realities are found.

Some may ask: Where was God that day in Virginia Tech? God may ask: "Where were we when the cries for help came? Where are we when cries come yet again from those in anguish, rejected and tormented by the realities of mental afflictions, sorrow or hopelessness?
May we each, instead of building stigma and fear, reach out and, share in the healing stigmata and love found in the wounds of Christ where the hope and healing of His resurrection is made real.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dolorosa, Way of suffering or rose path? My new blog

You are invited to visit my new blog, Dolorosa. It will be covering Mental Health issues, especially within the context of faith and spirituality. Your comments, contributions are welcome. It can be found at: or you can use the link below.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


The Passover meal sat before them,
But silence filled the room.
Their embarrassed glances shared
Their awkward sense of gloom.

They all had been so busy,
To Jerusalem they’d come.
They thought that all was handled,
The feast was now begun.

But faithful to their customs,
They could not overlook,
The washing of their feet,
the task they had forgot.

The task it must be done.
But it was not for them.
To cleanse the feet of others,
They would not dare to bend.

Then in their discomfort,
The Master did arise.
In quiet, simple movements,
His robes He laid aside.

Before them each He knelt.
Their calloused feet were washed.
Knowing of their journeys,
The soil of souls was brought.

Protest, oh yes they did.
For they were each ashamed.
Yet smiling and forgiving,
He called them each by name.

Even at the feet of Judas,
Who soon the Lord would leave,
He washed his feet as well,
His soul, in love to seek.

Then when the task was ended,
At table again He sat.
He called to His disciples,
To live His love in acts.

The bread then Christ did break.
His Body to us give.
To heal and make us whole
His Kingdom for to live.

The cup as well was given.
His Blood in mercy freed.
Making one the many
For the world to see.

So from that hour to this,
His priests, His servants share,
the Eucharistic Presence
of Christ our Lord in prayer.

Tonight to us He comes,
Our journeys for to cleanse.
Tonight for us He comes
He calls us each to Him.

His Body to receive,
His Blood to make us one.
The Cross His path follow,
And to His resurrection come.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Interrupted by God

Cyber-Version Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent

The disciples had faithfully followed Christ. God had brought them through much and now they found themselves at the most literal of mountain top experiences.
Now, as frequently occurs with the followers of Christ of every generation, they were led beyond their own ability and they were struggling. Peter in a classic “speak first, think later” approach to the challenges of life was telling Jesus what should be done. And as the Gospel shares: “While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice”. God interrupted Peter.
Those few words can help us to better realize the workings of God in our lives, how we respond and how God reaches out to us. As all our readings today affirm it is the longing of God to bring us to know and receive the riches of the promises of Christ. As we allow our Lord to lead us we can grow in the grace of being citizens of Heaven.
The problem of our human chatter and clatter is something with which we all contend in both empty words and actions. Some, like Peter, will when facing a situation of stress or fear will start talking. As God’s Word says we may chatter away yet “know not what we are saying”. These thoughtless words can however bring sad consequences. “Least said, soonest mended” is wise counsel that could have prevented many a misunderstanding, wounded relationship or sinful gossip.
Our human chatter can also be expressed in our busyness. Where we mindlessly are “on the go” from one task and event to another yet not really aware of what we are doing. It also can be seen when we are just busy fixing, fussing and changing stuff around because, frankly we haven’t got a clue what God is doing or what God may want.
It is pretty much about thinking…we got it under all under control...we really do know what’s going on….or so we think.
It may well be in the chatter and clatter of our words and actions that we suddenly find ourselves in the Clouds of God. Our Lord, in His mercy, and perhaps in His humor, allows times to come in life when we find we are in the “clouds of unknowing”. These clouds will obscure our natural perception and understanding. They may well occur unexpectedly and quickly. They may well be one of God’s interruptions. A turn of relationship, sickness or injury, blessing or trial can bring us to a place of realizing…things aren’t going as I had planned…I may not be in as full control as I thought. These clouds can appear frightening, to the natural instincts. But it as God intervenes, to refocus our empty hearts, we are brought to a place to hear His Word.
It would have been priceless to see the faces of the disciples and especially of Peter, when the Father spoke. Imagine what it felt like. Rattling on in his futile wisdom Peter is literally shut-up by the voice of God. So it should be for us. When we are rattling on in our empty wisdom and useless clatter we can seek and pray for the Word of God to interrupt. It is in the uncertain clouds of unplanned problems that we can let the wisdom of Heaven, the Word of God to penetrate our being and lead us to Christ. The message of the Father was short but very clear: “THIS IS MY CHOSEN SON, LISTEN TO HIM”.
This season of Lent may we realize God’s interruptions can brings us back to the way of the Cross, to Christ and His Word.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Discovering God's Love

Here is the cyberversion of my homily for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time:

Most everyone here has been to a wedding. And in even many non-Christian ceremonies there is either read, or perhaps sung, a significant portion of the text from the Epistle for today’s Mass. In I Corinthians 13, popularly called the “Love Chapter”, we have the familiar recitation of this famous theme of love. But…do we get it? As often as we may have heard it the reality of the message seems to be sadly lacking in many marriages, homes, and hearts. This leads us to ask, why… where is this love of which poets write and the human soul longs? Does this love exist? Is it for real? Does God love us and truly want us to be fulfilled in life …in love?
The discovery of the answers to these questions can be found in the Light of the truth of God’s Word. As we humbly allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts we can grow in the discovery of God’s plan and provision for fulfillment in true and eternal love.
To be Purged by God is the first and sometimes repeated step of the discovery of God’s Love. It is no accident that St. Paul shared the Holy Spirit’s long litany of what love is NOT. It is NOT selfish, proud, jealous or unforgiving, it does not rejoice in, or tolerate evil. It is dangerously possible that our faith, our impressive intellect, our sacrificial deeds or our impressive words can be empty, hollow of…Love. It is essential that we allow the Spirit of God to empty us of SELF and sin. We needs be purged of the lies of satan’s lies of hate if we are to know and experience the fullness of Love. This cleansing is ours as we allow the Spirit of Christ to lead us to the freedom of repentance and conversion to the truth of Christ, the truth of His love.
The Gospel today shares with us the sad account of Christ being rejected by his neighbors in the early days of His ministry. They heard Him. They saw Him. But they would not allow their relationship grow with Him beyond the futile limitations of their senses, their understanding. Hence they experienced the crippling of their faith that prevented them from seeing and discovering whom Jesus truly is. In rejecting Jesus they rejected Love. We cannot confine God or God’s Love to our limited concepts of how, who, where or when God’s love may prevail.
The Purposes by God for a life of fulfillment is shared in our first reading about the life of Jeremiah the prophet. Although the prophet’s life would include intense and painful events it would also bring profound fulfillment in Jeremiah’s life. A fulfillment that would cause the prophet to share about God’s plan for humanity: “I know the thoughts I think for you…thoughts of good and not of evil”. If we are to experience the reality and truth of this fulfillment we must seek to hear, to listen to the Word of God, the Word of Love. Now…. lest there be those who are squirming with thoughts of “sloppy agape”…. or the tragic lie that anything goes and that it doesn’t really matter what one believes or does, it needs to be clearly understood: The purpose of God is Love, a Love that would free us from the tyranny of sin and Satan and self. This may well mean that God’s Love will bring us to feel His chastisement and discipline in our life. Love will bring us out of the wilderness of sin and self to the provision of God, the place of fulfillment in Love.
The Place of fulfillment…where is it? Is it in the wedding ceremony? Is it in the experience and expression of the physical senses? Again the Truth of God’s Word helps us discover the answers. Jesus proclaimed in the Gospel…”Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” …The truth of Love, God’s Love is fulfilled today in our hearing. Whenever we can hear and receive in hearts of humble faith the TRUTH of the Scriptures we grow in fulfillment of Love. And, as always, it is vitally necessary to receive this treasure of the Living Word of God in God’s context. The promise and power of God’s love is NOT some romantic song experienced at a wedding. The Love Chapter is about marriage, yes, but even more accurately it is within the Body Of Christ that this discovery of fulfillment begins. It is between the chapters of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that this Love is revealed. It is to a struggling community of the Faithful that was being lead to confront real problems of sin and false teaching, a church that was striving to live forth the Kingdom of Christ in a hostile world of religious and secular persecution that God’s Love is discovered. And as Paul would later write to these Christians it is most powerfully in Christ’s Body we find Love.
We heard last week of some of the diverse attributes of our separated brothers and sisters in Christ. The love of Scriptures, music that beautifully proclaims God’s glory are all expressions of our discovery of God’s Love. But it is in listening to God’s Word, worshipping Him in song that the Holy Spirit would lead us to the Cross the place of Love, to Jesus. It is in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, His Sacred Body, His Holy Blood we discover and grow in this Holy and living Sacrifice of God’s Love. Here in our humble Catholic faith we can discover and know dimensions of fulfillment in Love that defy words and imagination.
The fulfillment of Love was there to be discovered in our Gospel account. Sadly the people in rejecting Christ through their lack of faith and empty knowledge rejected the fulfillment they longed for, the fulfillment of Love.
Today may we, in hearing His Word, beholding and receiving His Sacred Body and Blood grow forth in the discovery of the fulfillment of Love in our hearts, our homes, our church. Together let’s discover and share Christ who is Love.