Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Tone

I once asked a priest about some issue.  He said, "This is the rule.  Keep the rule."  "What if I cannot always do that rule?"  I asked.  "You burn," he answered.  Some time later, I met another priest and asked him about the same issue.  "This is the rule.  Do the best you can." It was at the same rule.  "Say what?"  I asked.  "What if I cannot live up to the rule, do I burn."  "No," he said.  "Jesus loves you if you just do the best you can.  He came for the imperfect."  I liked that.  I am the imperfect.  That is, I am human.  Same rule but two different attitudes.  It is called, "The Tone."  Jesus did not come to change rules.  He changed the tone.  I don't mind being judged by a God of Love.  Unless Maureen gets God's ear.  Of course she would have to be in heaven.  Then she is supposed to be loving, right?  One can only hope.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


My friend Farquar told me that drink allowed him to be like other people, that is, normal.  He thought everyone else normal and he was weird.  He had feelings that made him feel uncomfortable.  He thought no one else had his feelings.  Farquar sometimes felt lonely, uncomfortable in his own skin, unloveable and confused.  Drink was his solution to these feelings.  The uncomfortable feelings went away.  By the time Farquar came to me he had passed normal and become a drunk.  I told him that his feelings were normal.  It is part of the human condition to have all kinds of feelings.  The solution was to feel first.  Farquar was surprised that normal was so difficult.  But he was relieved to know that he was not crazy.  He gave up drink as the solution.  The escape from normal is worse than normal. At least Farquar has learned it to be so.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Catechisms have always given us "an" answer.  We thought that such an answer was universal, in every and all circumstances.  Now we find out in our global church that this is not so.  What is an answer in Western European/ USA culture is not so in a tribal society in Kenya, that has many Catholics.  Since our newspapers are too lazy, broke, or uninterested to research all this, we in the West don't know about differences in Catholic Culture.  The tribal culture has the Gospel, but they did not buy into our culture or ways of doing things, such as in the marriage process.  Lots to learn.  The African bishops are bemused by our Western culture wars.  They are our wars, not theirs.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Some Catholics are upset with the recent working document out of the bishops' synod on Family issues.  I suspect that some of this confusion comes from always being given simple answers based upon Western European culture.  But now the bishops are listening to one another and this includes bishops from so called Third World countries that have very different ways of doing things.  In the USA parents tell their children not to live together before they get married and to get an approved church wedding.  Now they hear that is not how it works in other parts of the world.  Simple answers don't work in a universal church.  In some other cultures people might be in a union that is not blessed by a church or any other legal group for cultural, economic or social reasons, none of which have to do with our idea of "immoral living together."  "What am I going to tell my child!" laments a western parent.  Well, tell them to study culture, history, sociology, outside of their own narrow world.  None of this takes place in the so called STEM school system that is all about getting a job someday, which is not a bad goal, or a bad education.  It simply is no longer enough if you want to function in the Global Catholic church.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I let my hair grow because I am tired of being cold in unheated rooms/monastery/office/church.  Someone said that now I look like Pierce Brosnan.  Lots of people have seen me with my longer hair, but this one person, an oasis of kindness gave me a compliment.  I think that the actor is handsome, so if I look like him then maybe I am handsome too?  I get compliments about preaching, being funny, nice and sometimes insightful in teaching.  But nothing beats handsome.  OK.  I am vain, or delusional.  But if I like such a compliment, maybe I can make someone else's day who I feel is quite lovely, handsome, beautiful but never say anything of the sort.  If there is something attractive about a person, tell them.  I am tired of being a good, but ugly preacher!  Bring on the handsome.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


My friend Charlotte passed away recently.  She was 90.  She had a good run.  Along with her husband, George, who died a few years ago, Charlotte was a seeker of God.  She was curious to learn more and pray more deeply.  Age did not diminish this attitude.  She was very encouraging to me in my own reading and teaching of mystics.  I loved her acceptance even when I was shallow and pompous.  I did not know that I was shallow and pompous.  I thought I was brilliant, until some time later when God would shine the Light into my soul and reveal how little I knew and how shallow I was.  If my friend Charlotte had told me I was an idiot, when I was an idiot, my deflated ego would have stopped the seeking for God.  We need friends who will encourage us through the rough patches when we do not know how little we know.  Charlotte was very wise.  People of spiritual depth are like that.  They know when silence is best.  If I am lucky, I will be like my friend Charlotte some day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Positive Aspects

My Church is beginning to say something positive about the world in which we live often termed "secular" by those who are always for a dualistic world.  It seems that cohabitation and unions have some positive aspects.  We say that the Gospel is Good News.  Now for the many who were previously  looked down upon, the message of Jesus might make a break through.  "All are welcome" is starting to have more "All" and less "Few."