Wednesday, February 14, 2018

                                         Repent and Believe the Gospel

On Ash Wednesday, when the ashes are put on our foreheads, the minister of the ashes can say: “Repent and believe the Gospel”.  These words are part of Jesus’ mission statement in the Gospel of Mark. (Mk 1:15)     

The Greek word ‘metanoia’ is translated ‘repent’.  It means that we are called to face our sinfulness and to change our minds and our hearts.    And the Greek word ‘evangelion’ is translated ‘Gospel’. And it means ‘good news’.  And, for my part, the best ‘good news’ is that God continually gives us second chances.

I’ve received ashes on my forehead since I was a baby.  And I’m 70 years old now.  That means that God has given me 70 Lents to get things right.  And I try.  But I always fail.  So next year, if I’m still alive, I trust that He will give me my 71st chance to get it right. Maybe the 71st chance will be the charmer…but I doubt it!  

How many times have you received ashes on your forehead? 

Blessed are we to have a God who is so loving and forgiving!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

                                       What’s Your Favorite Name?

In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Cephas, which is translated Peter and means ‘the rock’.  Although Peter wasn’t immediately a ‘rock’, he became a rock over time. And I bet ‘rock’ became his favorite name. 

Peter had other names too. For example, He was called ‘son-in-law’ by his mother-in-law, whom Jesus healed. And since Peter brought Jesus to her home, maybe he was her ‘favorite son-in-law’!   He was also called Apostle and Disciple.

By what names are you known?

Besides being called ‘Ron’, I’m also called Father. That name was awkward for me in the beginning.  But I’ve grown into it and now I’m comfortable being ‘Father’. Are there some names you’ve grown into? 

Ok. There’s one other name I guess I should mention. Some friends call me ‘Old Fart’… but don’t tell anybody! And, yes, I’ve become that too.J

In the end, I think my favorite name is: ‘----- -- ---.’ Can you guess what that is?  If you’re right, you could win a prize.  What’s your favorite name? 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

                            National Migration Week – Jan. 7-13, 2018

For nearly 50 years the US Catholic Church has celebrated National Migration Week.  This year’s theme is: “Many Journeys, One Family”. It reminds us that each family has a migration story.  And it calls us to live in solidarity with one another.

Take a few minutes and remember your family’s migration story. 

Immigrants look for safety or better lives for their families.  They face challenges, rejections, and warm welcomes too.    

Are there immigrants in your neighborhood?  Have you met them?

Last fall our Bishops urged Congress ‘to find a durable and permanent solution on behalf of DACA youth’.  Read about it online: USCCB statement on DACA.

In the past our Bishops offered these 4 principles to guide immigration policies:
1.      People have a right to find opportunities in their homelands…
2.      People have a right to migrate to sustain their lives…
3.      A country has the right to regulate its borders and control immigration…
4.      A country should regulate its borders with justice and mercy.

A longstanding Catholic moral teaching calls us to work for the common good of everyone. How hard is it for you/me to fully embrace that teaching?   

Thursday, January 4, 2018


                                        Points to Ponder as We Start a New Year

What were the 2 or 3 biggest blessings you received last year?

Last year, what brought you the most joy? 

What was the biggest mistake you made over the past year?

 On an average day last year, how much time did you take to pray?

What spiritual resolution will you set for yourself this coming year?

Name a particular sin that you want to face and stop in the New Year.

In this first week of the the New Year, name one thing that you’d like to do to make you life a little holier.

Celebrate the New Year by naming 3 things that God has always loved about you.

(Sorry I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the '8.' below this line.  Lord, have mercy on my computer in 2018!)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

                                                    Are You a Holy Person?

Imagine a church full of people on Sunday morning.  If I asked the congregation to raise their hands if they see themselves as holy people, what do you think would happen?   What percentage of people would raise their hands? 

I’m probably going to test this out. If I do, I’ll let you know what happens.

My guess is that maybe 25% of the congregation would raise their hands.  I think most people wouldn’t, because I think we have a distorted sense of what it means to be holy.  Holiness is not perfection. It is a basic path or orientation to Jesus Christ in life.  And a holy person who falls, knows how to get up and continue on the Way.

St. Paul addressed many of his letters with words like these : “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the holy ones who are in Ephesus, faithful to Christ Jesus…” (Eph.1:1). Who are the ‘holy ones’? People who were part of the Christian Community, engaged in the daily struggle to live faithfully. 

In this light, are you a holy person?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

                                            Serving the Poor – Dilemmas

Last weekend we heard the parable of the final judgment.  It is based on our care for the hungry, the stranger, the imprisoned, etc.  Jesus concludes: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least ones, you did for me.” (Mt. 25:40)

Dilemma 1. Did you notice the following wording? “When the Son of Man comes in His glory…all the nations will be assembled before Him.  And He will separate them, one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats…” Does that mean we will be judged as a nation?  That makes me a little nervous.  How about you? 

Dilemma 2. I get the part about caring for the poor and the marginalized.  But Jesus doesn’t distinguish…like I tend to do…between the ‘deserving poor’ and the ‘undeserving poor’. The poor are simply the poor.  What do you think about that?    

Think of St. Teresa of Calcutta. Her helpers brought dying people to her centers every day.  They were bathed, given clean clothing, food and shelter until they died. No questions. She simply understood that all of them deserved to be cared for.       

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


A couple weeks ago the Gospel highlighted the roots of the conflict between Jesus and some of the Scribes and Pharisees. (Mt. 23:1-12)  Jesus looked into their hearts and saw that they were not people of integrity.  They neglected to do the very things that they told other people to do. For Jesus, hypocricy is the ‘worst sin’.

Jesus encourages His disciples and us to avoid falling into that same trap.

But it’s easy to be pretentious and to wear ‘holy’ masks.  I can profess to be committed to loving others in one breath, and then criticize people behind their backs with the next breath. (I do this all the time with politicians!) Or I can tell children not to lie, but then fabricate a story to explain away something I actually forgot to do.      

When was the last time you told someone to do something that you don’t always do?   

Being a person of integrity means owning up to our duplicity and committing ourselves to make our actions match our words. I have some work to on this. What about you?