Resolutions for a new year

CalvinUnless you happen to be like my muse, Calvin, in the comic strip, I suspect you are about to make some New Year’s resolutions. How did you do on last year’s resolutions? About the same as the rest of us? One ad hominem wisdom saying defines “insanity” this way: to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Perhaps 2017 is a time to consider changing the way resolutions are considered, made, and hopefully, kept. Continue reading

New Way of the World

c-brown-christmas-treeI wasn’t too sure what to expect for my first Christmas in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Certainly, the slum in which I lived was devoid of any of the commercial excess.  There were no malls, no black Friday, none of the things mark our Advent season.  Occasionally, you could hear Christmas carols, traditional and tribal, float out of one of the wood sheds/tin roofed stores.  But most the familiar signs and markers that Christmas was coming were missing. Continue reading

Celebrating Christmas


If your parish is like mine, Christmas Mass can be a bit crowded with most of the Masses standing-room-only and the parking situation about the same. So this Christmas, if you’re frustrated by crowded Masses, or packed parking lots, take a moment and pray for Catholics who long for the Eucharist. Our brothers and sisters for whom public celebration of our Holy Day makes them targets of additional persecution. May our Christmas prayers and wishes be with them.

Welcoming at Christmas

the-hospitality-of-abThe days of Christmas are quickly approaching, your shopping isn’t finished (…. maybe not started!), the end-of-year activities at work are reaching deadlines, the tree is not up, the kids have a school Christmas play tomorrow night (… “Mom, is my costume ready?”…what costume?), the toy drive at the church is ready to wrap and deliver packages (I think we signed up to help as a family? …. maybe?), and…and… oh my gosh, the in-laws are coming to stay with us this Christmas. Even amidst the momentary panic of “how will all this get done,” there is an ever-present awareness that we want to be hospitable, warm, and welcoming – not only to the in-laws but to all who come to our door during the holidays. Continue reading

Not too often

This is a post that is likely only of interest to Tampa, FL folks. It is a picture from International Mall…

StarbucksNow maybe you are thinking… “What so special about a picture of a single person in line at Starbucks?”  If you look around you can see the mall decorated for Christmas.  On a normal day the line at this Starbucks is “ginormous” stretching part way to St. Petersburg, in part, responsible for the backup on the Frankland bridge. But this is in the middle of the Christmas shopping season. It normally takes longer to get a cup of coffee here than to exit the parking lot at the Dale Mabry Target/Whole Foods/Home Depot complex.

I only wish I drank coffee…. I would have gotten in line.

It is a bit of a random post, but it is not too often you get to see history in the making.

Angelic moments

josephangel“…Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18) And of course, we know the rest of the story… the angel comes and tells Joseph what is expected of him – to take Mary and the child into his home – to be husband and father. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him” (Matthew 1:24). Great! Problem solved and now we can turn the page to Matthew 2 because in that chapter Jesus is born, the magi visit and we are all set for Christmas. Continue reading

Do angels sing?

hark-the-herald-angels-singStores, offices, and all kinds of places are filled with the sound of familiar and heartening Christmas carols. Some local radio stations are all Christmas music all the time with classic and modern renditions of the secular and religious carols and songs – sometimes as recorded by singing chipmunks.  It becomes part of the ambiance of our Advent season; part of what readies us for the celebration of Christmas.  Continue reading

Emmanuel” God’s plan

TheAnnunciationGod’s Plan. Joseph’s plans are interrupted in vv.20–23 by the appearance of a messenger from God in a dream — a device familiar from the Old Testament account of the birth of Samson (Judges 13). The first words uttered are “do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” The angel gives an explanation for Mary’s pregnancy, announcing the divine plan is already in motion. The angel also informs Joseph of his part in the divine plan: “you are to name him Jesus.” As explained above, this simple directive makes clear to Joseph that he is to claim Jesus as his own. As the legal son of Joseph, Jesus will be a “Son of David” (v. 20). Continue reading