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Monday, November 27, 2017

Compassion Above Judgment

I can't get over this sermon by the pope, Saint Leo the Great.  He begins by quoting the Lord:

Unless your justice exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

St. Leo asks, "How can justice exceed?"  He then offers this as an answer, "...compassion is more than judgment."

The saint then explains that since we are made in the image and likeness of God, and to work towards perfection to be more like God, then:

With strict vengeance removed and the cessation of all punishment, the guilty man was restored to innocence, and the end of wickedness became the beginning of virtue.

Isn't this starting all over?  Giving someone another chance?  Would not the man work hard to stay away from wickedness?  After all, he would know the consequences. 

This would be the wisdom of the drunk, the voice of experience, the hope of the Christian.

Proof of God

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Let me feel Your Presence, my God.
     When I take offense
     When I am wounded
     When I am sad
     When I am afraid
     When I am angry
     When I am uncomfortable
     When I am confused
     When I fell all alone.

How long will the world turn to evil?
     Why do people chase money
     Why do people chase power
     Why do people chase sex
     Why do people chase celebrities
     Why do people chase fame
     Why do people chase riches
     Why do people chase lies
     Why do people chase the worthless?

Many pray for better times.
     We pray for an end to violence
     We pray for an end to division
     We pray for an end to sickness
     We pray for an end to hate
     We pray for an end to jealousy
     We pray for an end to inequality
     We pray for an end to our waiting.

Friday, November 24, 2017

You are All in All

1 COR 15:20-26, 28

Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 
For since death came through man,
the resurrection of the dead came also through man.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the firstfruits;
then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end,
when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father,
when he has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power. 
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 
The last enemy to  be destroyed is death.
When everything is subjected to him,
then the Son himself will also be subjected
to the one who subjected everything to him,
so that God may be all in all.


The Catholic Study Bible says that Paul's first letter to the church of Corinth gives us the best picture of what it was like to be an early Christian. Here Paul is answering a question.  What will happen when I die?  A question for all times.  Paul reiterates what Jesus has done: born like us, lived like us, and even died.  However, He rose from the dead. Paul could throw them a question. What more proof do you want? 
     Paul continues on to describe the end of time.  Since God was the beginning, He will be there at the end.  Everything will be as it was meant to be. Everything will acknowledge God, and rightly so since God is All.


I can't get this song out of my head.  This reading is expressed in this song by Dennis Jernigan, "You Are My All in All."  

You are my all in all
Seeking You as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I'd be a fool
You are my all in all


Lord, I believe You are my All in All.  I believe everything the Creed says.  You proved that You love us.  How could I not adore You?


Lord, You are my All in All.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Temperament, Faith, Attitude and Why Poetry Matters

Why poetry matters: Richard Wilbur died last month. "He was, Dana Gioia said, the finest poet of his generation and the greatest American Christian poet since Eliot. Here's an example of why I liked him so much:"

St. John tells how at Cana's wedding feast
New York Times 
CreditNancy Palmieri/Associated Press

 The water pots poured wine in such amount

 That by his sober count

There were a hundred gallons at the least.

 It made no earthly sense unless to show

 How whatsoever love elects to bless

 Brims to a sweet excess

That can without depletion overflow.

 This is from John Garvey's article in the Pilot. Garvey admires the rhythm of Wilbur's poetry.  It's like music.  The words are beautiful and the meter and rhyme beg to be put to be put in a song.

Garvey likes the discipline of Wilbur's style.  It makes sense to him.  He compares Wilbur's poetry to an ordered universe.  In fact, he says when chaos reigns, the world dies.  This is why poetry and its beauty and reflection of the glory of God are necessary.

Who can argue that?  Not I.

But I was attracted to a different Wilbur quote:

I feel that the universe is full of glorious energy, that the energy tends to take pattern and shape, and that the ultimate character of things is comely and good. I am perfectly aware that I say this in the teeth of all sorts of contrary evidence, and that I must be basing it partly on temperament and partly on faith, but that is my attitude.

 I honed in "temperament," "faith," and "attitude."  These three attributes are what is necessary for poets and the admirers of poetry.  Temperament, faith, and attitude, but the greatest of these is attitude.  Temperament is inherited.  Faith is a gift.  But attitude is up to you.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


The reading at Mass today was 2Maccabees 6:18-31.  This is the story of the prominent scribe, Eleazar.  He refused to break the Hebrew dietary laws.  The punishment was death.  Everyone was on his case to just eat the stuff anyway, or pretend to eat it.  Eleazar was adamant.  Not only did he refuse to eat the forbidden food, he eagerly went to the torturer and his death.

I'm conflicted about Eleazar's decision.  I'm pretty sure I'd eat the stuff and then go to Confession.  That's was the sacrament is for. 

But Eleazar reasoned that breaking the holy sanctions went deeper than eating. He was setting a poor example. 

      At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young people
       would think the ninety-year Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion.  Should
      I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by
       me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age.  Even if, for the
      time being, avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether dead or alive,
       escape the hands of the Almighty.  Therefore, by manfully giving up my life

       now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young
       a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and
        holy laws.

In other words, Eleazar was worried about perception.  Is it anyone's business?  If he ate the food, then he told everyone that he was forced to eat it, wouldn't that excuse him? 

For the rest of his life, he could penance for breaking the law.  The rest of his life could be exemplary.  Also, he would understand, have more empathy, compassion, and mercy upon people, now that he failed himself.

I don't know what I would do.  Do you know what you would do? 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Wisdom of the Drunk

Oftentimes I dismiss what some people say because I know them to be drunks, or potheads, or just plain contrarians.  This morning's reading in Chapter, gave me pause to reconsider my actions. 

We are reading Timothy Radcliffe's I Call You Friends, and in the chapter, "To Praise, to Bless, To Preach: The Mission of the Dominican Family," Father Timothy explains it is exactly because someone struggles with alcoholism, drugs, emotional and mental issues, that they know whereof they speak.

Every one of us is a wounded preacher.  But the good news is that we are preachers
because we are wounded...  We have a word of hope and mercy because we have
needed them ourselves.
I, of all people, who volunteer in a prison, who profess to believe in redemption, should know better.  I have seen how men who have been wounded can help others who have been wounded.  Don't I who have three children, run to my sister who had six children for advice?  Direct experience is more valuable than any other kind.

So listen to those who have borne similar crosses like yours.  They have wisdom you just might need.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

An Act of Love

Years ago when life was innocent
setting the table was an act of love.
I would look out the window and see

a future of broken dishes,
the stale smell of malt and whiskey,
or feel the prick of a needle

No, my gaze didn’t see that far out
around curves and high hills,
inside potholes down hell holes.

Setting the table was an act of love.
Now looking out between iron bars
I yearn to perform that act of love.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Worthy Wife


Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 157

Reading 1PRV 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her,
has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil,
all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax
and works with loving hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward for her labors,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

This reading id organized by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, each verse begins with the next consecutive letter.  It's an acrostic pattern.
      The message is telling what the ideal wife is.  This woman is a good worker, loyal, a good mother, and contributor to society.  But her best virtue is her spiritual goodness because she fears the Lord.  The verses are often used in marriage ceremonies.
Lord, I need a wife like this.  Where can I find one?  Lord, all joking aside, what person, never mind female, has all these qualities?  These attributes seem as impossible to all females as having Barbie's attributes.  They are unreal.
        Even so, I try.  Hopefully I come as close as I can.
You are God and I, all too well, know I am not. You are perfect and I am not. You ask me to imitate You and to try to be perfect like you, and this ideal woman.  I will try with the help of Your grace.
Help me Lord, be a worthy wife.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Prayer Has a Life

Living things grow.  Prayer grows, therefore it is living; it has life.  Father Aniello Salicone is a missionary priest.  He has been visiting Massachusetts about once a year, for a while. 

The first time he came, he gave us this prayer:

  Thank you, Jesus, for loving me.

The second time he came, he added this phrase:

Thank you, Jesus, loving me and making me Your number one.

The third time he came, he put a reciprocal twist on the prayer:

 Thank you, Jesus, for loving me and making me Your number one. Help me to make You number One.

The fourth time he came, he added a long thought:

Thank you, Jesus, for loving me and making me Your number one.  Help me to make You number One and to love others as You love them.

This time, Father Aniello didn't add anything.  It's perfect the way it is.  What else could one add?

Thank you, Jesus, for loving me and making me Your number one.  Help me to make You number One and to love others as You love them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Image from Twaites Facebook Page: 

When I was a child, I was very conscious of being poor.  We barely made it “pay check to pay check.”  Often times we didn’t.  One blatant sign of our situation was the fact that we couldn’t pay our grocery bill.  In those days, there weren’t supermarkets.  But I was a child, and wouldn’t have known about supermarkets.  We didn’t have a car and wouldn’t have driven to a store.  Our grocery store was Twaites Market.  The family did all our shopping there.

Oftentimes during the week, I was sent to Twaites to buy something or other.  Since we didn’t have the money, I had to tell Mr. Twaite to put it on our bill.  “Charge it.”  And when my mother got paid, she would pay up the bill.  I found this humiliating.  “Charge it,” was a public, verbal affirmation that we were poor and couldn’t afford to pay for the milk I was buying.  I hated it but it was our way of life.

One day when I was playing with a new schoolmate, my mother asked me to go to Twaites to buy hamburg for supper.  I was stuck.  I couldn’t start whining and arguing with my mother about why I didn’t want to go to the store with my friend with me.  My friend would instantly pick up that we didn’t have the money to pay for the hamburg.  There was no way to save face.  I went.

At the cash register, as predicted, my friend instantaneously picked up on my verbal admittance to not having any money.  She heard me mumble, “charge it.” 

With red face and embarrassed eyes I took my package of hamburg from Mr. Twaite and avoided looking at my friend.  Once outside, I winced as she practically shouted, “Charge it!  Charge it!” 

“You are like a movie star in Macy’s, going through the store pointing out furs and jewelry and just saying, ‘Charge it, charge it!’”  She was quite impressed.

Child as I was, I knew enough to keep my mouth shut.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Can You Walk the Walk?


Wisdom, Chapter 1: 1-7

1Love righteousness, you who judge the earth;
think of the LORD in goodness,
and seek him in integrity of heart;
2Because he is found by those who do not test him,
and manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him.
3For perverse counsels separate people from God,
and his power, put to the proof, rebukes the foolhardy;
4* Because into a soul that plots evil wisdom does not enter,
nor does she dwell in a body under debt of sin.
5For the holy spirit of discipline flees deceit
and withdraws from senseless counsels
and is rebuked when unrighteousness occurs.
6For wisdom is a kindly spirit,
yet she does not acquit blasphemous lips;
Because God is the witness of the inmost self
and the sure observer of the heart
and the listener to the tongue.
7For the spirit of the LORD fills the world,
is all-embracing, and knows whatever is said.
The author of the Book of Wisdom is unknown.  Whoever he was, he was a learned man.  He wrote in Greek in Hebrew style.  At times it seems that Solomon is speaking, or another wise king.  The themes of Christ's coming and death are expressed.  Here in verses 1-7, the reader learns that the means to reach God is to strive for righteousness.
"Put your money where your mouth is." This is a common expression used to tell someone to act and not just talk.  Also, "You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?"  Again, the saying means to behave according to what you are verbally expressing.  Seek justice with integrity of heart.  Do not be deceitful or foolhardy or worse, cause injustice.  You may get away with underhanded shenanigans on earth, but God knows your heart. 
Father, You Who are the font of Wisdom, aid us  in our understanding and learning of Your Ways.  Guide us to do Your Will and not take the easy way out or be tempted to cheat.  We desire to be faithful because we desire to live eternally with You, my Lord and God.
Holy Spirit embrace us.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Olly Olly Oxen Free, Calling Wisdom


November 12, 2017

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 154

Reading 1WIS 6:12-16

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
and found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire;
Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed,
for he shall find her sitting by his gate.
For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence,
and whoever for her sake keeps vigil
shall quickly be free from care;
because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her,
and graciously appears to them in the ways,
and meets them with all solicitude.

Odd that these verses sound like Wisdom is easy, e.i., "readily perceived," "hastens to make herself known," quickly be free," yet the opposite is true.  The overall theme is to seek, have patience and don't give up looking.  One has to keep vigil. 
 Some scholars say the author of the Book of Wisdom is King Solomon, and in these verses he is addressing his judges and princes.  After the author tells them (us) to seek wisdom, he describes wisdom in metaphorical poetry.  Wisdom is "she."  Wisdom is perfection; she graciously appears.  Wisdom is so beautiful and worthwhile, that she is worth the wait.
Conversations with others, my reading, and contemplation, I pray bring me wisdom.  And wisdom is knowledge of God.  I pray my humble words bring others to Your Wisdom, Lord.  To gain wisdom, I must always be alert to learn. Wisdom takes time, sacrifice, and active participation.  
Lord, Your verses say that Wisdom will always be at the gate.  I want to be worthy to receive her.  I humbly ask for the grace to be worthy of Wisdom through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior and Redeemer.
"Olly olly oxen free,"
Wisdom come to me .

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Are You Elijah?

Same height, same physique,
same wild hair and beard,
same rope belt, same diet,
crying out the same song.

Are you Elijah?

No, Elijah didn't leap in his mother's womb.
Elijah kept his head and rode to heaven.
John carried Elijah's spirit and voice
but he was not Elijah.

John is not Elijah.

John points to another of prophetic call.
Is this the holy one?  Is this Elijah?
No, this One is the Messiah.
This is Jesus the Christ.

The Messiah has come.

Unless you are looking for that great
and terrible day when Jesus returns.
Then fire will come down from
heaven and consume men.

                                       Malachi 3:23

Monday, November 6, 2017

Love Finds You

In her new novel, Love and Other Hazards by Claudia Riess, parenting and love take on a new view. Glenda Fieldstone, impregnated by artificial insemination raises her daughter, Astrid, as a modern free spirit.  Astrid is a precocious child who understands more about sex at six than I did when I was sixteen.  But otherwise, she is just a child.
Astrid has a classmate named Meredith.  Meredith’s father is divorced.  But don’t match up the parents, yet.  There are girlfriends and lovers who add to the story.
Glenda is having an affair with her boss.  She doesn’t want to marry so this is the perfect arrangement because he is happily married.  The two of them are just in this arrangement for the good sex.  They understand and fulfill each other’s needs.

Actually, Glenda has sex with just about everybody in the story.  You would think this book is just pornography.  But the sex isn’t gratuitous.  It is actually necessary for the development of Glenda’s character.  The reader would not be able to understand Glenda as who she was, were it not for her sexual liaisons. 

Her step-father was an alcoholic and he and Glenda are estranged.  In fact, the closest person to Glenda is her cousin, who acts as Glenda’s family.  That’s it until Glenda befriends Meredith’s Dad, Eugene.  They’re just friends.  Their work throws them together; then their kids’ activities; and eventually, friendship results.

The reader will like Eugene.  The author gave him a sense of humor.  His thoughts and side comments will make you laugh. His character is very well drawn.  Glenda’s is too.  Claudia Riess descriptions are sharp.  Her diction is clear.  I enjoyed her writing and the story.

Even though I was given the book to review, I was not obligated to write a good review.  The novel itself obligated me to label it “good.”
 Claudia Riess's Web Site:

Claudia Riess's Facebook:
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Claudia Riess's Goodreads:

Love and Other Hazards's Goodreads:
Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Love and Other Hazards's blog tour site:

Claudia Riess's Bio: 
Claudia Riess is a Vassar graduate who has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker magazine and Holt, Rinehart and Winston books and has edited several art history monographs. Her first novel, “Reclining Nude,” was published by Stein and Day. Oliver Sacks, author of “Awakenings,” had said her first book was “exquisite—and delicate… a most courageous book, full of daring—a daring only possible to a passionate and pure heart.”

The author divides her time between the Hamptons and Manhattan with her husband, Bob.

Love and Other Hazards Book Summary:
Glenda Fieldston is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her seven-year-old daughter, Astrid, when Eugene Lerman comes walking by with his eight-year-old daughter, Meredith, a schoolmate of Astrid’s. The families spot each other, Glenda and Eugene engage in long-range cursory assessments, and then they go their separate ways.

But not for long. Glenda and Eugene cross paths professionally soon after, and circumstances at work bring them into close association. So begins a friendship fraught with complications. Glenda’s independence is self-imposed and fierce. Eugene’s was foisted on him by a wife who left him. Although Glenda’s and Eugene’s personal demons are incompatible, their longings are, confoundedly, in harmony. Their cautious friendship is further inhibited by past and present relationships, and it remains to be seen if they can break out of their set ways to make a break for uncharted love.

Price/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Family Life, Romance
River Grove
May 10, 2017

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

The New Evangelization and the Nones

The New Evangelization and the Nones:  Click on this link and you will read an article by Father Roger Landry.  He attended the Erasmus Lecture, hosted by First Things Magazine.  Father Landry's article relates the speaker's Talk.  The speaker is Bishop Robert Barron and his topic was "The New Evangelization and the Nones."  Please click and read the link.

I wonder if Father Landry has the inclination to talk too long and is looking to justify this propensity.  I'm speculating because Father Landry writes that we dumb down the faith.  He criticizes vapid textbooks and catechetical methods, and also the content of our priests' homilies.

.. the mistaken assumption that people cannot handle more than 8-12 minutes of back-patting encouragement, even though evangelical Protestants -- who go to the same schools and live in the same culture -- are somehow capable of listening to their ministers for 45 minutes. 

 My experience tells me differently.  My evangelical Protestant friends are capable of listening for 45 minutes but do not comprehend or grasp everything for 45 minutes.  Just about everybody is able to listen for 45 minutes.  Don't we all go to school and listen to teachers for 45-50 minutes?  But what do we get out of it?  Do we all get A+?

Any class in customer service will tell you that the customer is bored in long presentations.  Brief is  best.  Anybody in Toastmasters will tell you that for the average audience, two-three minutes is all people can handle. Naturally, it depends on the audience.  But a church congregation is aimed for the average person.  Brief is best.

Ironically, I doubt that Bishop Barron himself would recommend giving a long homily.  Word on Fire Ministries, founded by Bishop Barron perfects the short video.     That would be hypocritical of him.

How much do you want to bet Father Landry's homilies are on the long side?

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Cosmic Tree

You learn something new every day.  Yesterday, in the Catholic religion, was the Commemoration of All Souls--where we honor our deceased loved ones. I would have gone to the cemetery but since I live far away from my family's graves, I did my best to remember them.  I went to Mass at St. Joseph's.  This church has a statue of St. Joseph in front of it.

After Mass, after my prayers of thanksgiving, I looked out the open doors as I walked down the aisle.  I was startled to see an all white figure at the entrance.  I knew it was the statue, but it looked ghostly.  I thought it would make a cool blog post on All Souls Day.  I was using my iPhone as a camera.  So this is a digital photo.  This is what a digital camera did with the light.

This tree, which looks like a cypress tree is even cooler than my ghost picture, on All Souls Day. The Cypress Tree is a widespread theme in literature, mythologies, and cultures, as a symbol of the deceased living eternally.

It is called the Tree of Life in the Turkish Ottoman Empire.  Trees were carved on walls, cemeteries, etc., to represent the human souls living on.  It's in Greek mythology, Islam, even Scandinavian legends.  Read for yourself the interesting connections at "Notes on The tree of Life."

A cypress tree on All Souls Day!  My friend Jordi told me the significance of the cypress tree.  Hat tip to Jordi Perez!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A New Moral

Yesterday morning, as I was driving my granddaughter to school, we listened to Aesop's Fables.  We arrived just as the narrator was reading the fable of Androcles and the Lion.  I parked the car but didn't get out of the car because I wanted to hear how the fable ended.

My granddaughter said, "C'mon Grandma, let's go?" 

"Don't you want to hear how it ends?"

"I know how it ends."

"Does the lion kill Androcles?"


"Well, what's the moral?"

"The moral is that sometimes you have to do what you have to do."


After kissing my granddaughter goodbye, I went to the car and listened to the end of the fable.  Because Androcles once helped the lion by taking a torn out of his paw, the lion recognized Androcles in Circus Maximus and didn't kill him.  In fact, he kissed him and purred!  The crowd was amazed, and the emperor freed both the lion and Androcles in recognition of Androcles kindness and friendship.

You have to do what you have to do.  Where did she get that from?

A Good Mystery

  Chances Richard Russo is about three friends vacationing on Martha's Vineyard.  Lincoln, Teddy, and Mickey met in college. Fo...