Friday, November 29, 2019

a walk in the woods

This is a picture from an early Thanksgiving morning walk in the woods. What a vision of possibility!

Another picture from the same walk.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

memento mori

This is the time of year when we see lots of skulls and skeletons among all the other scary things of Halloween. I hate to see such things exalted in a frivolous way. If they have any use at all, it is as a memento mori, that is as a reminder of death. Without remembering death, we cannot value resurrection.

On Monday I preached at the funeral for a young man. The circumstances of his death remind us of the need for salvation that we all have. Based on the readings, I preached on resurrection: I am the resurrection and the life. Resurrection means that not only are our souls immortal but that our bodies are as well. The immortality of the body, however, awaits the return of the Lord. He who is the resurrection must return to bring resurrection into effect.

Standing in the cemetery as the grave was filled (a pious and sobering reality), there was time to reflect in silence. I was remembering death. It was devastating. But as a believer in the resurrection, that is in Jesus Christ, I saw its dawn coming at the end of the seeming triumph of death. Too often I fear that even we Christians rush resurrection, but the grave must be filled. We have to go to the bitter end of death before we are ready for resurrection.

It puts things in perspective.

Sunday, September 29, 2019


I admit that one of my perennial struggles is staying focused. When I went to the Josephinum about three years ago now, one thing I resolved to do was to stay focused on my job at the seminary and not to get involved in anything else. Over the years in university work, I had become too involved in too many things in Nashville. It was a good decision, for me and for my role in the seminary. It was good that I was there at the seminary so much of the time. There was a pastor in Columbus who was used to having weekend help in his parish from the Josephinum priest faculty, and he would hardly take no for an answer. I did help out in parishes occasionally, but not as a regular commitment. After I had been in Columbus for more than a year, I did agree to the radio program I still collaborate on, but it was a clearly defined commitment that really could not grow. It turned out to be a good decision.

Now that I am back in the diocese, I find myself pulled back into many things. I am going to have to manage this better. Already, I have resolved only to celebrate marriages at St. Rose. I had a few weddings on the books from my university chaplain days when I got here, but I am not taking any more. There are also apostolates that I have been a part of that I am going to have to limit and/or pull back from. St. Rose is just too big and complicated, at least for now, for me to split my attention too much. Right now, I am very behind on ordinary things like emails, phone calls, and appointments. That is not right.

I am just returning from a visit to the Josephinum, my first since I left, to preside and preach at the Alumni Day Mass. I am glad that I did it, but I can't be doing that sort of thing much either. As soon as I got back, I had an obligation to one of the apostolates I was referring to above. The combination was too much, both for me and for my responsibilities in the parish. OK -- I am back in the parish for a full Sunday schedule plus a newcomers meet and greet for lunch and the San Miguel procession and festival for the Guatemalan community. See what I mean? Here goes!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

the bread of life

During this part of the Easter season, the Gospel at daily Mass is from John 6, the Bread of Life Discourse, and the first readings continue from the Acts of the Apostles. I see a common theme of dependence. I must rely on Jesus the way I rely on food: of necessity and without question. The early Christians did exactly this. Illusions of self-reliance are no more than illusions. And, speaking for myself, these illusions are the root of so much of my sinfulness. You see, the problem is always pride.

I am glad that right now I feel really stretched. I have more to do than I am able to do. Without negating the need to be more productive, what I really need is to be more dependent on Jesus for everything, especially the interior things like resilience, patience, and kindness.

Just who do I think that I am?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

pastor of a big parish

I used to joke that the best thing about a small parish is that everything is personal and that the worst thing about a small parish is that everything is personal. It is certainly a shift to being a pastor of a big parish where very little is personal and probably shouldn't be. I think that it is an invitation to become more personal with Jesus Christ. That is the experience I have found here at St. Rose. I find that I am connected to many, many people by being connected to Jesus. Back in the day, it was the practice in this diocese for a new priest to have a good bit of experience in a big parish or parishes and then to be pastor in a smaller one (or ones). A new priest needs to learn detachment. I think that this is one of the most important lessons for a priest to learn. (I don't think that I had learned it sufficiently before I was made a pastor.) On the other hand, a priest, new or otherwise, never needs to be bureaucratic, and that is what some big parishes and their pastors are like. New priests can then take these bureaucratic ways into small parishes where the result is alienation. That is why a personal relationship with Jesus is so important for balance. With each new assignment, the one thing that I have definitely grown in is healthy detachment. It has taken a long time to get where I am! Healthy detachment balanced with generous pastoral engagement should be goals of formation and mentorship for seminarians and young priests.

a walk in the woods

This is a picture from an early Thanksgiving morning walk in the woods. What a vision of possibility! Another picture from the sam...

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