Becoming Holy Families

When I began thinking about what I might preach on this, Holy Family Sunday, I began to think about the way the family appears on television – now and way back in the early days of television, the 1950s and 1960s. If you ask people who are 60 years old or older, what might be one of their favorite family shows, the answers might include “Father Knows Best.” Weekly we could tune in to see mom Margaret as the voice of reason or dad Jim as the thoughtful father offering sage advice whenever the kids Betty and Bud had a problem. They were held up for us as the perfect family. Of course, the family on “Leave it to Beaver” was pretty amazing – they also had mom, dad and two children – Wally and Theodore (whose nickname was “Beaver”). It was one of the first primetime sitcom series written from a child’s point of view. It was a glimpse of middle-class American boyhood. In a typical episode, Beaver gets into some sort of boyish scrape, then faces his parents for reprimand and correction. But in this series, neither parent was omniscient; the series often showed the parents debating their approach to child rearing, and some episodes were built around parental gaffes. Still, it was family. Continue reading

Making Changes?

Unless 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 2019 is a time to consider changing the way resolutions are considered, made, and hopefully, kept. Continue reading

A blessing for others

“For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord” (Luke 1:44-45)

There are certain persons in our lives who, when we see them, hear their voice, or just remember them, it can just bring a smile to our face, turn a rotten day into something special, or just make all thing joyous. They are the ones who can make us laugh when there is nothing to laugh about. They are the ones for and with whom bear hugs of greetings are just the thing. They are the ones we haven’t seen in years and yet it just seems like yesterday when we meet again. They are the one with whom we have common history, joys and sorrows, with whom we have weathered many a storm; the ones we trust absolutely.  Who are those persons for you?  Take a moment and bring their faces to your thoughts.  I’ll wait…. Continue reading

Embracing Hospitality

The 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?), 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

Choosing Joy

I love the way the first reading from Zephaniah speaks about God: “He will rejoice over you with gladness…he will sing joyfully because of you.” (Zep 3:17-18).  Because of you. Because of me. This divine joy is the very nature of God – creative; like an overflowing fountain – a fountain fullness. A joy that wants to be shared in wider and wider circles. A joy that asks us to join in the OT reading and the Psalm too – both telling us to shout for joy. The words of the second reading are the hallmark of Guadette Sunday: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again: rejoice.From God to us, it is a call for a universal chorus of joy. Continue reading

Gaudete Sunday

Last weekend the National Catholic Youth Ministry Conference was held in Tampa. There were more than 2,500 Catholic visitors to our fair city. They were quite happy to be here, energized by the conference and no doubt happy to return home to share the Good News with their parishes. As the major, early season snow storm swept across the southern states, many were quite happy that the airplane finally got off the ground. Not all travelers were so lucky. There were lots of delays and cancellations. I hope they found happiness in a phone call, a familiar voice, or maybe a moment of quiet after the conference. Continue reading


Our Lady of Guadalupe.Today it is common to find villages, towns, cities, and even districts in Mexico, Central and South America named “Guadalupe.”  But in the year 1531 there was no such place in Mexico. So, I have always wondered why the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to as “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

Guadalupe is the name of an area, a city, a river, and a Marian shrine in Spain. The word itself comes from a mixture of  Arabic and Latin roots. Remember that Spain was occupied in part and whole by an Islamic regime from 720 CE until 1492 CE, hence many words have Arabic origin. The Arabic wadi (seasonal river bed) became the Spanish “quadi” having the same meaning. “Quadi” seems to have been combined with the Latin lupus (wolf) to come up with Guadalupe. Continue reading

The Way to High Places

A couple of years ago I went hiking the high places of Summit County, Colorado. Tramping and hiking the old-fashioned way – with USGS topo map and compass.  On one of the days we headed out for Eccles Pass at the summit of the Meadow Creek trail, about 13,500 feet.  Once we got above 11,000 feet the trail and the markers were mostly covered in an early October snow.  Easy to lose your way.

It was at that point we ran into some other folks.  While we were headed to the Pass, they were looking for Lilly Pad Lake.  We had been there the day before and knew that it was about 2,500 feet lower in elevation and about 4 miles or so East.  They were hiking the new-fangled way with a hand-held GPS device.  And they showed us the dots on the screen and assured us the lake was nearby. Continue reading

Everyday thin places

The Gospel of this second Sunday in Advent points to John the Baptist as, “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths…’ ”

Advent is a time when we commemorate the adventus of Jesus — his coming, arrival, or birth into the days and nights of our world. At Advent Christians look forward in expectation of Christ’s future coming, to that time when God will culminate what he has now only inaugurated, when he will finish what he has started, and will fulfill what he has promised. Continue reading