Tuesday, February 21, 2017


I'm off to the Religious Education Congress sponsored by the diocese of Los Angeles.  See you next week.

The Pope Teaches the Children

I hope the pope doesn't give up his day job.  See if you agree.

Pope’s Chat With Children, Other Groups at St. Mary Josephine of Heart of Jesus Parish on Outskirts of Rome
Below is a Zenit working translation of Pope Francis’ chat with children and other groups during his visit to a parish on the outskirts of the city of Rome, the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 19, the second of this type since the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, and the 13th visit of this nature. The parish of Saint Mary Josephine of the Heart of Jesus in Castelverde di Lunghezza, is six kilometers east of the circular highway around Rome:
Pope Francis: I’ll ask question and you all answer. How many “Gods” are there? [“One”]. But … I know three! [“The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”]. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: one and two and three. They are three. What do you answer to this? Who can answer? [Someone says: They are three”] Are there three Gods or one?  [Someone says: [There is only one divided in three parts”] — in three parts? No, God is one [“He is only one but who represents more things”]. It doesn’t work … How many “Gods are there? [“Three”]. Three “Gods” or one? [“One”]. But if there is one … I ask you this question: Is the Father God? [“Yes”] Is the Son God? [Yes … No …”]. So, He’s not God? [Yes, He is God”] Is the Holy Spirit God? [“Yes”]. They are three, but this is something that’s not easy to understand: they are three Persons, have you understood this? They are three Persons, but the three Persons make only one God. Agreed? [“Yes”]. Aren’t you convinced? So, what three things are they? Three [“Persons”] and one [“God”]. Three … [“Persons”] and one [“God”]. And is Our Lady God? [“No’] What is Our Lady? [“The Mother …”]. The Mother of God. Why is she the Mother of God? Because she is the one who brought Jesus to the world. Agreed? [“Yes”]. Yes. And Joseph truly helped Our Lady. Is the Father God? Yes. Is the Son God? Yes. Is the Holy Spirit God? Yes. Three Persons, agreed? How many Persons? [“Three”]. How many “Gods”? [“One”]. Is Our Lady God? [“No”]. Our Lady is …? The Mother of God.. This is clear. Never forget this.  All right.

Monday, February 20, 2017


My neighborhood once was a haven for families.  When my children were young gangs roamed our backyards and walked in and out of our kitchens.  Literally, there was a path in the hedges between the house next door and mine.  The voices of children echoed in the air.  Bus stops had lines of children queuing.  My children had a wonderful neighborhood to grow up in.  They and I have good memories.  That was then; this is now.

For a long time, I've wondered where the children went.  I see plenty of young people jogging.  I also see many couples, also singles, walking dogs.  The thought has occurred to me that people aren't having children nowadays, but rather they're pet owners.  Pets are satisfying the human need to love and nurture.

My thoughts were reinforced today by the article, "Fur Babies," in Breakpoint.  John Stonestreet articulates what I've long thought.  He calls it "pet parenthood," or "fur babies."  Young people today opt to care for pets because it's less an investment than a child.  With a pet, life is still focused on them.

Kind of selfish, heh?

I enjoy the thought that when I die, I still live on, in my children and grandchildren.

The Hidden Power of Holy Water

 Holy Water Font from Royal Tara Fine Bone China, Galway, Ireland.
I hope to come home with this when I visit Galway, next month.

The Hidden Power of Holy Water: Many people have forgotten about holy water.  I haven't.  I love to sprinkle it upon each bed in my home.  I have a small font of holy water on my kitchen window sill.  (No my cooking isn't that bad!)  I bless myself often during the day.  This reminds me of my baptism.  I am a child of God.  I need Him.  To quote this article in Aleteia:

In theological terms, holy water is a sacramental. It is a mixture of blessed salt and blessed water, and, although, by its use, sanctifying grace is not conferred, actual grace is obtained. 

Every church has a container of holy water.  Most people don't even notice it.  Every time I fill my bottle with holy water from St. Mary's container, I see people look at me quizzically.  One time a lady asked me after Mass, "What were you doing?"  I jokingly quipped, "Worshipping the radiator."  Don't worry; I laughingly explained that I was getting holy water out of the little tank.  This was an opportunity to evangelize to that segment of the population who need it the most--Catholics.  She learned more than she ever wanted to know about holy water.

She learned something that day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ibero-American Congress of Theology

Theologians gather at Boston College for Ibero-American Congress of Theology: CHESTNUT HILLs week long Ibero-American Conference of Theology: a public forum on the Theology of Liberation. 

I was introduced to Liberation Theology in a round about way.  In 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake.  Somewhere in my readings about Haiti, I came across Dr. Paul Farmer in the book, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.

From then on, Dr. Farmer kept popping up.  First, because he's local (Boston) and then because of his humanitarian exploits.  Lastly, he lives in Rwanda.  Ever since Immaculee, I've been paying attention to Rwanda.  

One of the last books I read, In the Company of the Poor: conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, plunged me into understanding Liberation Theology.  So when I saw that Boston College was hosting a public forum on Liberation Theology, I signed up.

Ibero-American Theology is a theology that puts a preferential option on the lives of the poor in Central and South America.  This is known as Liberation Theology because the faith of Ibero-Americans struggles in poverty but always hopes their faith will save them.

I was not disappointed in the forum, even though Father Gutierrez was ill and couldn't attend.  The other speakers,  Father Juan Carlos Scannone of Argentina, Olga Consuelo Velez Caro of Colombia, and Father Roberto Tomicha of Bolivia related stories of their beginnings, their involvement, and their struggles.

Their commitment to the people inspired me, also.  May their work continue to touch the lives of their people.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Penal Cross

This image is from Google Images
if it is subject to copyright please
tell me and I will delete it.
I'm sinning as I post this.  I'm coveting penal crosses.  My friend, Marie was showing me her pictures from Belfast, Ireland.  I happened to say that the only souvenir I want is St. Brigid's cross.  She told me that she brought home a penal cross.

"What's that?"

Marie explained that it was a cross made out of wood because that's the only material prisoners had.

My ears perked up at the noun "prisoners." Prisoners made a cross?  You better believe, that once I got home, I googled "Penal Cross."

Marie was wrong.  They are called penal crosses because of the Penal Laws enacted in 1695.  These laws oppressed all religions except the Anglican Church, or as it was known in Ireland--Church of Ireland.

Well, you know what happens when religion is oppressed.

It flourishes all the more.

Catholics just went underground.  They surreptitiously worshiped.  Priests celebrated Masses in safe homes and people hid their devotional objects.  The penal cross was a cross carved out of wood with short arms to allow it to be quickly hid up a sleeve.

Being a Catholic cross, the corpus is carved on top.  Also are symbols, letters, and words depicting the crucifixion.

I still want one.  It represents the history of an era.  I'm humbled by the piety of the Irish people in the seventeenth century.  Imagine practicing your religion when it's forbidden. Would I have the courage to be so devoted?  I shiver at that thought.

Lord, don't ever stop holding my hand!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Super Bowl Lessons for TOPS

As I posted on February 12th, Do Your Job, I'm presenting a program in TOPS on the subject of the lessons learned from Super Bowl LI

5   Lessons I want you to learn for the Super Bowl

First: Always be mindful.  Don’t relax and forget.
The Atlanta Falcons learned this one the hard way — but we can’t forget what we’re trying to do.
The Falcons  were ahead.  At no time did the Patriots lead.  I repeat. The Patriots never were in the lead; they were always losing.  Keep making the right choices.
Second: Never give up.
Everyone fails.  It’s part of being human.  Copy what Tom Brady did. 
First, he got a touchdown with no extra point.  That’s our equivalent of staying the same weight at “weigh in.”  So we didn’t lose.  We’re still OK.
Next the Patriots got a touchdown with a two-point conversion.  That our equivalent of losing a pound.
The following week we lose another pound like another touchdown with another two-pound conversion.
And finally, we’re excited.  We’re on a roll and continue with half a pound to a pound loss the next week.  We’re winning!
Third, don’t blame.
For the first 2 and a half quarters of the game, the Patriots were losing. People who were supposed to catch balls dropped them. People who were supposed to stop the offense let them by. And Tom Brady threw a couple of duds.  It would have been easy to start the blame game. But they didn’t. They patted each other on the back and said, “It’s all right. Move on.”
It shouldn’t matter that it was your birthday, you’re on vacation, etc., you know that.  You have the same birthday, every year!  Vacations are planned ahead.  Plan your days and meals to reflect eating healthy.  No excuses!
Fourth, do it for your mom.
Many thought Tom Brady wanted to win to show up Roger Goodell.  That was sweet.  But the real reason was that he wanted to win for his mother.  His mother is fighting cancer and hadn’t been to any of Tom’s games at all, this year.  This one was for his mother.
If we aren’t trying to lose weight and get healthy for ourselves, then we need to think of our loved ones.  We want to be around for them, so keep making good choices for them.
Fifth, keep your eye on the goal.

You have a weight goal.  Keep at it.  It’s not a race.  Speed doesn’t win.  Perseverance does.  Persevere.