Forming our conscience

Last week I wrote about Catholic men’s movements in the United States during the last 10-plus years. “Men also need support from other men and mentors. Catholic conferences, retreats, seminars, and parish groups provide a supportive and prayerful context for the emotional and spiritual support men need, but usually won’t ask for on a personal level. And so, groups of ordinary men of all ages, from every social and ethnic group, who simply want more out of their Catholic faith, are coming together to make it happen.” I then went on to note that our own parish has several groups that support the spiritual life of men: Men’s Prayer Group and the Knights of Columbus. Continue reading

St Catherine to the Church

Writing in 1380 to Pope Urban VI, St. Catherine of Siena said: “You cannot with a single stroke wipe out all of the sins people in general are committing within the Christian religion, especially within the clerical order, over whom you should be even more watchful. But you certainly can and are obligated to do it, and if you don’t, you would have it on your conscience. At least do what you can. You must cleanse the Church’s womb — that is, see to it that those who surround you closely are wiped clean of filth, and put people there who are attentive to God’s honor and your welfare and the good of holy Church. …”  And she warns: “Do you know what will happen to you if you don’t set things right by doing what you can? God wants you to reform his bride completely; he doesn’t want her to be leprous any longer. If your holiness does not do all you can about this — because God has appointed you and given you such dignity for no other purposes — God will do it himself by using all sorts of troubles.”

This is a letter all Church leaders need to receive and take to heart.

Thanks to parishioner that brought these quotes to my attention


Survival and fellowship

Every year there are many apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, dystopian movies that make the big screen — and a whole lot more that make Netflix, Amazon Prime, and all the other outlets for cinematic entertainment. These are just a few I thought of over the last several years: “The Hunger Games,” “The Matrix,” “Serenity,” “Blade Runner,” “The Book of Eli,” “Children of Men,” “Divergent,” “Maze Runner,” “The Postman,” “Terminator” — and you will note several of these were series of multiple movies. Continue reading

What we thought we knew

Cue the music marking the entry of Indiana Jones on horseback (replete with leather jacket, hat tilted at a rakish angle, whip at the ready) accompanied by skilled Bedouin horsemen all at a mad-dash gallop – and all we need is an amazing backdrop. The Nabatean world historical site at Petra, Jordan was happy to supply the setting for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Part of my summer pilgrimage was a two-day excursion into Jordan visiting the place of Jesus’ baptism, Mt. Nebo, where Moses overlooked the Jordan River into the Promised Land; and Petra. Petra is an amazing place for which my photographs do not do justice. But other than “how I spent my summer vacation,” why would I bring it up in this column? Continue reading

Knowing Jesus

Last weekend was the first since my return from a pilgrimage to Israel. In addition to the “welcome back” greetings, there were lots of questions in the category of “what was it like?” That encompasses questions of weather, geography, culture, cuisine, accommodations, crowds, places, history, and a myriad of other inquiries. Perhaps the inquiry that was most common was something akin to, “What did you find most surprising?” And there are several responses to that question. But let me share one with you. Continue reading


In medieval Europe, a bell rang every evening at a fixed hour, and townspeople were required by law to cover or extinguish their hearth fires. It was the “cover fire” bell, or, as it was referred to in Anglo-French, coverfeu (from the French verb meaning “to cover,” and the word for “fire”). By the time the English version, curfew, appeared, the authorities no longer regulated hearth fires, but an evening bell continued to be rung for various purposes—whether to signal the close of day, an evening burial, or enforcement of some other evening regulation. This “bell ringing at evening” became the first English sense of curfew. Not infrequently, the regulation signaled by the curfew involved regulating people’s movement in the streets, and this led to the modern senses of the word.

From the good people at Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Day”


A Pastor’s Holiday

July is the traditional time for vacations, holidays, and trips as families and households visit relatives, relax, and take in different parts of our great nation. Normally I am around the whole summer, preferring to take time off in the autumn when temperatures are more moderate, but this year I had an opportunity to travel to the Holy Land with friends. I had never been and so it seemed an opportune moment that might never come around again. And so, on July 6th off I went, landing in Tel Aviv some 26 hours later. Continue reading

Inviting and Beautiful?

If you have been following the last several pastor’s columns, you might have thought “this seems to be a series!”  And you would not be wrong. The series is not headed where I first thought, but such is the nature of creative writing. Two weeks ago, I wrote about “change.” There is perhaps nothing more intrinsic to Christian life than change. In spiritual circles we use the term metanoia, a Greek work taken directly into English: a transformative change of heart; especially a spiritual conversion (Merriam-Webster). If you think about the full Sermon on the Mount, there is a basic theme of change evident when Jesus says, “You have heard it said, but I say to you…” This is repeated several times as He explains that what you thought you knew about the 10 Commandments and the Law, is not what God intended. And then Jesus explains how God intended it to be. In that moment, Jesus offers a moment of metanoia, of change. Change can be challenging. But the Christian life is meant to be one of change, ever drawing closer to God in holiness, in wholeness, in teleois. Continue reading