Sunday, March 1, 2015


Bishop Choby's surgery went well. Good bones!

Our parishioner Teresa Pearson is now at Alive Hospice.

Students and Caroline safely in Nicaragua.

Keep praying!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I feel pulled -- but I'm in the right place

Yikes! My ability to fall just this side of outright lying has been severely tested the last few days. Some of you who know my plans well are probably wondering how I can be posting while on a mission trip to Nicaragua. Well, I'm not. I am in Nashville. I didn't miss the plane but had decided to stay behind mainly because of lingering bronchitis. But I wanted to tell the students in person and all together, which meant that I had to wait for that opportunity and face awkward questions in the mean time. Sorry if I mislead anyone.

In a way, I was sad to pull off from the airport at 3:30 a.m. this morning after dropping off the travelers. It is the first time that there has been a big UCat trip or event that I have not been in the thick of it. (My very first trip was at this time my first year, leaving with a group of students for the Awakening retreat at Texas A&M. That had hilarious moments, including arriving at the airport with a student who had no form of identification whatsoever! Of course, all eventually ended well.) But I was also relieved. First, because the trip could go on without me. Caroline was the main organizer of this trip in any case, and the students are in great hands with her. I have to say that on that first trip I was also generously assisted by Mike LaLonde. Those were the days!

It has turned out that, as a pastor, I need to be here so I am thankful for the bronchitis and the support. I would have felt terribly guilty getting on a plane to leave town if I hadn't already decided to back out of the trip. God is so good.

Why do I worry about things? God had it all lined up the way it needed to be.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Prayers, please

Here are a number of intercession to add to your list:

Bishop David Choby undergoing surgery tomorrow on a broken arm that he suffered in a fall on Wednesday.

Teresa Pearson diagnosed with advanced cancer and in Vanderbilt Hospital. Teresa is known to many at St. Mary's for selling the Contributor paper after Mass. She is our newest parishioner!

Gary Cordell, my assistant at UCat Kathleen's husband, recovering from surgery.

The readings at Mass this week have urged us to prayer with perseverance. Let's do it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

more care

We really need to care a whole lot more about people and so much less about practically everything else, especially money.

In these days of bad weather here in Nashville, the basic needs of people become more evident. And wonderfully, people step up and care. But what about all the time? I am seeing people being put into such stressful situations about all kinds of things because nobody cares. Or cares only about far less significant things like money.

And I am not just talking about the needs of the homeless, for example. But the needs of just about everybody for some TLC.

People are what matter. Part with some cash, part with some time, part with some stuff for people.

It is a complement to the priesthood that, in my experience, people generally think that priests care. And there is a certain sort of caring that priests are good at. If priests are to care, however, we need a lot more priests! We really do. Part of why we need more priests is so that we can care for each other as we care for the faithful.

Caring costs, and it is messy. Caring is not curing. Caring is being a human being.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I never thought that I would say this...

Could there be a down-side to duty? Well, maybe that is part of the problem I have with trust. My sister and I have been talking about this connection between trust and duty in our experience.  Of course, it is a misunderstood concept of duty (with some pride thrown in), but I do think that my having a high sense of duty has resulted in lack of trust.

I was brought up to value certain qualities very highly: duty, loyalty, honor. I was also brought up to be suspicious of other things: emotions, disruptions of routine. Last week was a good example: I had to get over a reticence to cancel things because of the weather. It literally took a knock on the head to set me straight!

Don't get me wrong. I still think that it is wise to be wary of emotional extremes and not to give in to trivial excuses. But I think that ignoring emotions has actually made me more emotional and in a less healthy way. I am delighted to be able finally to acknowledge emotion and then let it go play in the corner rather than to deny it and let it grow unmanageable. I need to get better at this.

I also still highly value duty. I respect it in others and want to cultivate it in myself. And yet everything does not depend on me. It depends on Him. I need to let my sense of duty, for which I am grateful, be at His service and not at mine. I am, of course, no more that a useless servant!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

more trust

From a certain point of view, I have had a no good, awful, terrible week. In reality, I have had a week that has disclosed in me a profound lack of trust in God and way too much pride in relying on myself. What a great way to start Lent!

It has not been a pretty week. The weather has been terrible. I have been getting sicker. I have gotten little work done. Odd things have popped up that needed to be taken care of. I have been miserable about it all -- mainly worrying. Yikes! Is that anyway for a Christian to live? 

God is still God. He loves the whole world and loves me. I have everything that I need and way more than that. I have great work to be doing and great people to do it with. And yet I am cranky and filled with self-pity! 

Repent! But not is some wildly dramatic (and prideful) way but simply and effectively. I need to do a continuous reality check with the fruits of the Holy Spirit as a guide. There is a lot that needs changing! Fortunately, I think that I still have some spiritual momentum from my retreat to carry me forward with a few simple, humble efforts on my part but mainly with trust in God for the heavy lifting.

I want to go so much deeper in trust that I have before. I am grateful for several humiliations this week and for friends who have kindly pointed out my pride to me. It has been really good. And so I will begin again. Pride is a habit, and I keep falling back into my prideful default position. Maybe Lent will be long enough for God to shift my default a bit from pride to trust in Him. I will try to get out of the way -- to be attentive to any backsliding on my part. Please help me with this, and call me out when you see I need it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ordinary Holiness

I am a bit embarrassed about blogging when I am getting so little else done. The "almost cold" that I mentioned during my retreat has lingered and in the last day or so intensified so that I am just plain sick now. Sorry if you are one of the many people waiting on me to get things done. I will as soon as I can.

Wednesday, I was entertaining for a few hours in the afternoon a priest visiting the Bishop, while he was doing other things . Even when you are sick and busy, you don't say no to the Bishop! We had an interesting conversation about how to be holy these days. It seems that extraordinary holiness is generally not allowed to flourish. It is hard to imagine saints like Teresa of Avila or Ignatius of Loyola, much less Philip Neri, getting much traction these days. How and where would they ever get off the ground? Instead, this priest suggested, we are called to more ordinary holiness. His observation made me think of a standard of holiness that I have long aspired to: the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. If I understand that idea of spiritual fruits, then these qualities and virtues are what a Christian ought to look like. Boy, do I have a long way to go!

Here they are: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity. I was joking with a couple of priests in the rectory last night that we could start a new religious order, but we would have to come up with a new name. Fruits of the Holy Spirit might give the wrong impression in a number of ways ;-)

I fail to demonstrate these fruits so regularly. How I would love to possess them all on a consistent basis! Then I think that I would be a fruitful Christian. Wouldn't these qualities attract, just the way a juicy apple does hanging on a tree? -- except for good!