Wednesday, March 28, 2012


In RCIA last night, the last session before Easter, we were discussing Holy Week. On the Monday of Holy Week, the Gospel has Jesus in Bethany at the home of His friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. He has come to a place of personal love for Him in the days before His Passion. I have always thought that we who love Jesus should make our hearts into a place like Bethany for Him during Holy Week.

I am happy that we at Vanderbilt Catholic have the opportunity of standing up for Him just at this time of the year. We have made a difficult decision to lose our student organization status rather than to betray Him. In the big picture, it is a very small thing. But perhaps even this small thing shows a big love.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Best Students. Ever.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. In the course of an ordinary Sunday, they planned a way to surprise me with a celebration during our Sunday supper. It was kind and thoughtful -- just right! I appreciated it very much.

The more time I spend with them, the better I become!

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Recompense of Holiness

What a wonderful idea! To repay a wrong or an injustice with holiness! Guess what? It's from the first reading yesterday from the Book of Wisdom.

That is where I am trying to get with the mess at Vanderbilt. To be an example of holiness. As we plan how to move forward, I think that this attitude will help us to move forward faithfully. We need to be putting all of our energies into setting out into the deep, not nursing old wounds.

Friday, March 23, 2012

"I have loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore I die in exile"

I am learning to be more sympathetic to those who suffer from abuse of power. I was just reading about the anniversary of Archbishop Romero's death in El Salvador. It was not enough for those who opposed Archbishop Romeo to kill him; they also had to lie about him even after he was dead. And the lies were largely believed in the world because of the power of those who kept insisting on the lies. That, I believe, must be a bitter part of persecution for the Salvadoreans -- for anyone.

In our own very little way here at Vanderbilt, the hardest thing to accept is the lie that all student groups are being treated the same by the administration. That is simply a lie. Vanderbilt is free to discriminate all it wants among student organizations, and that it what it is doing. We have accepted that reality. We have told the truth.

Oh, the source of the quotation in the title? Pope St. Gregory VII!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Everyone is holding firm

These are hard days. But there is so much love and support. The student leadership is so awesome. We spent over three hours together Friday evening talking about all the issues around student organization registration. They are THE best. Ever. I have already talked about Bishop Choby. FOCUS is also completely supportive. This is all such a blessing.

Please pray about communication to the students at large, as well as to parents, alumni, and benefactors. But, you know, it is pretty simple after all.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I love my bishop!

And I love being a Catholic! It is the only thing that has made this week endurable. The Vanderbilt administration has finally issued its "non-discrimination" policy, along with official commentary. We have been waiting for this all year, and we have been trying to influence this all year. The waiting is over, and the influence has been nil. Before Thanksgiving I met with the Provost of the University, who asked if we could comply with the policy. Of course, we had to see what it actually said; but I told him that we would bend as far as we could. I asked how far would the administration bend to make a place for religious groups, as they have for so many other categories of organizations. We immediately sent in a draft constitution -- we still have heard nothing official as to whether it would have been acceptable. The point is now moot, as the administration has more carefully targeted the integrity of religious groups in the published version of the policy and commentary. I do not think that the administration was ever acting in good faith about this issue. There never was any intent to accommodate religious groups with conscientious objections to the policy. We were left with the choice of saying that religious belief and practice are of no importance for leadership or of not being registered. The choice is clear. But difficult.

That is where being Catholic comes in as such a blessing. You see, I have a bishop to whom I have made a vow of obedience. I went to him with this problem. He actually took the time to read all of the policy and commentary and to talk with me at length about it. He is totally supportive of our decision. So often we love to complain about the hierarchy of the Church, but it is there for a reason. This is one example for it. I am standing apart from all the other chaplains at Vanderbilt, not to mention all of the administration; but I am supported by our Church! So here we go!

Please pray! And God bless Bishop Choby!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Prayers, please

Please go here to see what I a wrestling with pastorally and professionally.

I may reflect on it here more personally. But not now.

Please pray!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

East Tennessee!

A little break is a great thing, and some good priestly fraternity is even better!

I am sitting in a Krystal just having finished breakfast and about to get on the road back to Nashville.

I had a great afternoon with Fr. David Carter yesterday. We went to McKay's bookstore where I demonstrated my system for stocking the Vandy Catholic book barrow, including my $2 price point! We visited St. John Neumann parish that I had not seen in its completed state. We also visited the campus of the University of Tennessee, of interest to me in my assignment as a college chaplain. We went to Immaculate Conception parish, the oldest in Knoxville. We ended up at Holy Ghost, the one true church of Knoxville, to meet up with Fr. John Orr. We celebrated vespers there. When Fr. Orr had completed Stations of the Cross in Spanish, we headed out for Vol Awakening V to hear confessions. We had plenty of time to stop in Strawberry Plains for supper at Cracker Barrel. We caused somewhat of a sensation there!

We arrived at Awakening in our cassocks and cleansed quite a number of young souls. Finally back to Knoxville and bed a little after midnight! A good day!

Oh! I almost forgot the Sun Sphere! We went up in the Sun Sphere from the 1982 Knoxville World's Fair :-)

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Greatest Football Team. Ever.

Yea! Sewanee's Right!

The University of the South, that is!


I was reading Pope Benedict's message from the Wednesday audience. It was about the importance of silence. It got me to reflecting on my own experiences of silence. The two most powerful of these were about ten years apart on retreats I took at Norcia in 2001 and at Marbury in 2011-12 (over New Years!).

Both of these times of silence seemed to be rather extravagant uses of time during which nothing happened. But actually so much happened. I heard God. I heard God say to be at peace and to trust. I heard God say that that He loved me through the veil of my own failures. God changed me on both occasions. I am learning to wait to hear Him, even back in the active world.

Both of these times of silence were in the context of the greater silence of the monastic communities with whom I was staying. That life of charity and order! They have indeed chosen the better part. I thank them for sharing it!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I can tell that I need spring break because my posts are getting cranky! Well, here is one more.

There was an article I saw back about the time of the March for Life. I can't recall where I saw it, but it was noticed and commented on pretty widely. The article pointed out that although young people are increasingly pro-life, they are not pro-marriage.

I am afraid that I have a cranky understanding of why this is so. I think that this remarkable set of conclusions is actually consistent, if one understands the moral criterion upon which they are based. That moral criterion is niceness. Abortion is not nice. Telling people that they cannot marry is not nice. There's the consistent ethic.

We have not trained the young, any more than we have trained people my age, to think about moral principles. This generation is just nicer than mine. But no deeper.

UCat Dominicans -- not the one in the middle!

Newly named Br. Cyprian and newly professed Br. Pachomius, O.P. at St. Gertrude's, Cincinnati, Ohio, August 15, 2017

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