The spectrum

Given our location in downtown Tampa, we encounter a range of people — individuals and families, poor and needy — that present their needs and hopes. Our parishioners experience one aspect of those petitions every Sunday as folks gather at or near our church: people asking for money, people selling palm crosses, folks asking for assistance of all kinds. A smaller group of parishioners who make up the Hands of Hope Ministry, see another view as each Saturday they prepare, meet, greet, and feed about 150-200 people. The crowds are always larger at the end of the month when money is a little tighter. The parish staff sees another aspect of the needs from people who daily and constantly come to the office, call, or are referred to us by another charitable entity. Some of these people we can assist, some we cannot because of the request, some we help discern what agency is better equipped to assist them and their need. Continue reading

Young Families at Mass

It was a Holy Day of Obligation and my husband was at work, so there was no one to help me at Mass with our three kids, then ages 4, 2, and newborn. I didn’t just “have” to be at Mass; I wanted to be there. I wanted my children to know that we go to Mass because we love Jesus, because we want to be with Him, and that their mommy has been taking them to see Jesus since they were little. Continue reading

A view from the kitchen window

As part of formation for solemn vows as a Franciscan friar, you spend a whole year living outside the world of formation and studies. You live with a friar community involved in full-time ministry. I was assigned to a large parish in Raleigh, N.C. It is a large parish with almost 5,000 households and lots of ministries, meetings, activities, and all manner of things that occurred day and night.

One weekday evening after finishing a meal and cleaning up in the kitchen, I happened to look out the window into the parish parking lot. The friary was located in one corner of the 40-acre campus and afforded a view of the whole upper parking lot… (pausing here to recall being in a parish with unlimited parking…sigh!…) Anyway…the entire lot was filled, and lights were on over in the parish offices, meeting rooms, and gathering spaces. Looking over my shoulder I asked my brother friars if any of them had meetings this night. We were all there and not a one of us had a meeting to attend. While we were generally aware of what was going on in the parish, on this particular evening, we could only guess what exactly was unfolding in those gatherings. Continue reading

Looking Ahead

This time of year, one often spends some time at the boundary of the past and the present. We look to the past and from that view we make New Year’s resolutions. We might look to the past and see what needs to be done as we move ahead in time. “Time” magazine helps us look to the past in its annual accounting of famous people who have passed away in the year. And sometimes in the same swath of days, we refresh our newly minted calendars with dates of celebration for all the events of the living. Continue reading

What are you seeking?

This weekend we celebrate the visit of the magi to the child Jesus. It is often referred to and celebrated as “Three Kings Day” especially in Latino and Mediterranean cultures. Its official name is Epiphany, from the Greek epiphania, meaning that which is revealed, unveiled. The meaning in Greek is reflected in our English language definition: (1): a usually sudden manifestation of the essential nature or meaning of something (2): an intuitive grasp of reality through something usually simple and striking (3): an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure. There is a certain excitement and energy that accompanies the moment of epiphany. Continue reading

Words, habits and resolutions

How many of you, in a fit of anger, in the moment you dropped some heavy thing on your foot, mistook your thumb for a nail, watched a souffle collapse, or any one of a number of things that exasperated, exhausted, miffed, frustrated, irritated, annoyed, incensed or _______ (please fill in your descriptive state of mind) you – have taken the Lord’s name in vain? I suspect that the percentage is quite high. Perhaps approaching 99%? Continue reading

Resolutions and habits

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 2020 is a time to consider changing the way resolutions are considered, made, and hopefully, kept. Continue reading

Hark the Herald…

Stores, 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 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

The habit of Patience

So far this Advent, every pastor’s column has explored one of the many gifts that await us under the tree, that is, the cross of Christ. And there are some awesome gifts – to name the ones mentioned in previous weeks – forgiveness and mercy. Now we have arrived at the Third Week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday! The name comes from wording in Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!  It is another week, and another gift awaits. Like any kid in the days leading up to Christmas you have begun to peer under the tree, assessing the shapes, sizes and weight of gifts – and guessing what could possibly be under wraps. You have to wonder what other awesome gift is waiting right there under the tree, the cross of Christ. Let’s open up another gift!  But wait…it’s not Christmas yet.  What’s the rush? Christmas is only over a week away. Of course, when I was 7 years old, “only a week” seemed liked a lifetime. Now that I am 67, “only a week” is but the blink of an eye. I am much more patient about most things…. Not all things, most things. So, what’s the rush? Maybe we should practice a little patience? Continue reading