The rains came to the hollows of Appalachia. The forecast was that rains at the higher elevations would be especially heavy resulting in rising floodwaters in all places and flashfloods in the steeper hollows and valleys of the county. The emergency warnings were for all residents to seek high grounds and keep away from streams and rivers.
When the neighbors saw Jonas, an older resident and a member of the local congregation, they encouraged him to leave his homestead and come with them to higher ground. Jonas thanked them for their offer but said, “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.” The neighbors drove on up the road. Continue reading
I am often asked what is a “terebinth” when it appears in a daily reading. It is a small tree – and there the opinions diverge. It is either a Palestinian type of oak or it is a small tree of the cashew family and once a source of turpentine. Its more formal name is pistacia palaestina. It has a Southern European cousin, P. terebinthus. But then again the word might be referring to Quercus calliprinos, the Palestinian oak. Continue reading
“The young man said to him, ‘All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Mt 19:20-21)
I would offer that the word “perfect” in the text from today’s gospel is not the best choice for translation for the underlying Greek word teleios – because of the way we understand the word in English. In Classic Greek and in Scripture the word can indeed mean perfect as, without fault, – but those uses are, by in large, references to sacrificial offerings indicated by religious worship. Outside of those cultic uses, the word means to be complete, whole, developed or adult – and generally points to a future time. One might say it looks forward to a time when maturation is complete. In other words, it has a future reference implied in the word itself. Continue reading
I never thought about becoming a pastor. As many of you know, I entered the Franciscans as a “delayed” vocation. That’s a nice way of saying I wasn’t in my 20’s any longer. But generally, “delayed” means someone in their 30’s. Fr. Tim Corcoran, the pastor at St. Mary’s in Lutz, a long-time parishioner at Sacred Heart, was already retired as a Federal judge when he entered the seminary. Does that make him, “double-delayed?” I fall in between, received into the Franciscans at the ripe old age of 48 – maybe “delayed plus”? Like Fr. Tim, I entered having discerned that my Time and Talent was meant to be given as a priest, serving the Church and the people of God. It was a decision about Stewardship, which in simple terms, is the act of putting God’s priorities before our own. Good Stewards do four things… Continue reading
Have you heard the phrase, “Don’t be a thermometer, be a thermostat”? A thermometer reads the temperature of the room and responds to it. A thermostat sets the temperature.
Are you setting the spiritual temperature of the room? Or do you find yourself constantly responding to how your kids are acting (and are you letting that determine the kind of parent you will be)? Are you basing the kind of spouse you are today on your husband or wife’s mood? Are you responsive to the virtue – or lack thereof – in your workplace, and letting that determine how you interact with the people around you? Continue reading
Today marks the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15th). The Assumption was defined as dogma only in the 1950. In our Catholic Church ‘dogma” is defined as a truth revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church declared as binding upon all Catholics. The term Dogma Catholicum was first used by Vincent of Lérins (450), referring to “what all, everywhere and always believed” – with the emphasis on katholica meaning universal. The term dogma derived from the Greek dogma (δόγμα) meaning literally “that which one thinks is true” and the verb dokein, “to seem good.” Continue reading
Back in the day – which in my stories increasingly means “last century” – we did not start school until after Labor Day. So, the August startup of schools always surprises me. Even if the start of school is not on your radar, it was kinda’ hard to miss the crowds of parents and kids out there in the stores last weekend. People walking around with lists of things to purchase, stores with sales on school supplies, iPads, and everything needed to succeed. And what could be better? The tax-free weekend that accompanies the return to school! Continue reading
One of the many times and places that parish priests are called upon includes the hospital. For the friars at Sacred Heart here in Tampa that includes Tampa General Hospital (TGH) a regional trauma center with multiple ICU specialties.Someone asked me how many times I have been called up to celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick (Annointing) or “Last Rites.” My answer was “too many;” I long ago lost count. Continue reading
“Summer is Here!” Come the end of May, I always think to myself, “OK…I am on the glide path to summer relaxation. There won’t be a lot going on in the parish. This will be awesome.” Every May I suffer from the same delusion. The truth is that there is a lot that goes on in the parish, especially as it pertains to planning for the coming “new year,” which begins in September. The summer is also when there is time to begin to flesh out ideas, programs, and initiatives for the fall. Continue reading
When I want to grab people’s attention in a discussion about one of the myriad topics of “church”, I am given to say, “You know…there is no such thing as the Roman Catholic Church.” That generally gets people’s attention. Continue reading