Struggles of a pre-blog writer

An unusual thing happened in the friary in which I live. There was a waiting line at the coffee machine and as we are wont to do when together, our house naturally moves into storytelling. One of the brothers is working on his doctorate and is in the midst of writing the chapters of his dissertation. So there is often inquiry of him on how the process is going. Not surprisingly, as we waited for the coffee machine to finish its start-up, there began storytelling about writing. Others in the house have doctorates and have taught at the university and graduate school level and so have lots of stories about preparing their own dissertations as well as serving as a reader on other’s submissions. Now if you are having a hard time imagining how such a narrative could be engaging, funny and a cliff-hanger… well, it depends on who is telling the story… or, you had to be there. I will leave them to start their own blog. But here is a tale of when and where my writing career started and almost ended. Continue reading

Comes the Spirit

Today’s first reading is from one of my favorite books: The Book of Jonah. The book is only four chapters long and we are in Chapter 3. The whole Jonah and the “whale” has already happened, Jonah has traveled to Nineveh as a very reluctant prophet. Frankly Jonah hopes that God calls down a rain of fire, death, doom and destruction upon the king, the people, and all the animals. His entire call to conversion is five words in Hebrew. We get a few  more in English, but not many: “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” Jonah does not say who will destroy them or why or in any way amplify the bottom line.

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” (Jonah 3:10) Great! The Ninevites repented, God relented, and Jonah’s prophetic mission is complete. But poor Jonah, it’s not the result he wanted. Chapter 4 is a long description of Jonah pouting about this turn of events.

But such are the turn of events when the Holy Spirit comes in ways you’d never expect.

It happens all the time to every homilist if we are honest. Sometimes I sit and wonder from whence came the idea for a particular homily. But mostly I am surprised after the homily.

A person comes up to say, “Thank you, Father, your homily really touched me. It was just what I needed to hear.”  Often I will ask them what moved their hearts. The reply is often not the point of the homily, but there was one word, one phrase upon which the Holy Spirit descended and turned into a seed which will bear great fruit in the life of the listener.

But such are the turn of events when the Holy Spirit comes in ways you’d never expect.

Enthusiastic or reluctant, gifted or timid, … whatever… speak into the waiting world. The Spirit can take over from that point.

Do you know your monsters?

To be clear, I am not a fan of horror movies. If the eyes are the windows of the soul, then why let the monsters in…. right? My limit is somewhere around the GEICO commercial-spoof of horror movies. But as a public service, seeing that Halloween approaches and various networks will show horror movies non-stop, I thought it would be good to offer you the 15 strangest, most elusive beasts in the dictionary. Enjoy. In the meantime, I will pray none of us encounter a chupacabra or wyvern.

The Way and the Promise

This coming Sunday is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time in Cycle B of the Lectionary. It is a familiar story: “As [Jesus] was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).

The beginning of the Gospel according to Mark begins with John the Baptist citing Isaiah speaking of the messenger: “he will prepare your way…Prepare the way of the Lord.” (Mark 1:2-3) In both verses the underlying word for “way” is hodos. There are other places in Mark when hodos is used and is translated as ‘way” – e.g., “the way of God in accordance with the truth,” and describing Jesus and the apostles “on the way” in 8:27 and 10:32. So it is odd that in 10:17, the same word hodos is translated as journey in the New American Bible (NAB). Continue reading