Finding the wilderness

The Gospel of this 2nd 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

The Immaculate Conception: celebration and theology

The Immaculate Conception – Francis of Assisi, Bonaventure, Anthony of Padua, and John Duns Scotus

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what “immaculate” means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings. Continue reading

Thinnest of places

Did you know that a “new year” begins with Advent? We begin a new liturgical year, a year when most of the gospels will be from the Gospel of Luke (referred to as “Year C”). While the years and readings change, there are constants with the arrival of Advent.

Advent is a time when we commemorate the adventus of Jesus — his coming, arrival, or birth into the days and nights of our world. Christians live in normal time just like everyone else — our normal chronos as time ticks off the days, weeks, months, and years. The early Christian thinkers held that God lives in kairos, a “time” when past, present, and future are but a single moment. The awesome moments of salvation history are when chronos and kairos meet. Continue reading

King of Kings

If you are reading this you have successfully navigated Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and holiday travel. You’re doing great! And I know you will do great navigating Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and all that comes with the holiday season. Here in the betwixt and between we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. What should this solemnity mean in your life?

After all, the word “king” conjures up many things in the American mind. I suspect if I asked most people, “Who is the King?” the answer might well come back “Elvis.” There is just part of us that lives in a pop-culture world. But then the idea of king is rich in the heritage of our literature, movies and imagination: Richard the Lionhearted, Henry V giving the “band of brothers” soliloquy on the fields of Agincourt, Louis King of France, the original namesake of our parish, and all the modern royal family of England. Still, we fought a Revolutionary War to no longer bow before English monarchs. I always wonder if that is, in some part, what contributed to the origin of “Who died and made you king?” Yet we remain fascinated by kings and queens. Continue reading


I am grateful for a day in which we, as a people, pause to give thanks. And who do we have to thank for this holiday? Your answer is likely “The Pilgrims.” You would not be wrong, but then not completely correct, either. Certainly, Thanksgiving and the religious response of giving thanks to God is as old as time. When one considers enduring cultures, one always finds men and women working out their relationship to God. There is almost always a fourfold purpose to our acts of worship: adoration, petition, atonement, thanksgiving. Such worship is part and parcel of life. And yet, there is still a very human need to specially celebrate and offer thanksgiving on key occasions and anniversaries. Since medieval times, we have very detailed records of celebrations marking the end of an epidemic, liberation from sure and certain doom, the signing of a peace treaty, and more. Continue reading

Veterans Day 2018

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
– John F. Kennedy

A few years ago I received an email from one of my brother friars. I thought would post its content again. The email raised the question – in the light of all the commercial sales and advertisements: Is Veterans Day really a holiday or is it a holy day? Continue reading

Thank you for your service

When the 1960s came around, the “Greatest Generation” – those men and women who served during World War II were still largely and stoically silent about their wartime experiences – but the television networks began television shows about the war. Series such as “Combat,” “12 O’Clock High,” and “Men at War” became staples of primetime viewing. Knowing things about WWII became part and parcel of determining one’s status within the pack (and here I am referring to Cub Scouts). Sure, you might be able to identify the German Messerschmitt 109 fighter aircraft from a flash card, but the real test was could you identify the difference between 109-C and the 109-G series (except the 109-G6 which was soooo… obvious). Clearly such things were critical to national defense among the Cub Scouts. Or so it seemed at the time. Continue reading

The Gubbio Statue

What is the old expression? “Good things come to those who wait.” A little more than 18 months ago there was a chance discussion with one of our parishioners, Francesca Bacci, an art history professor at the University of Tampa. She wanted to be more active in the parish and wondered what opportunities there might be. Given her expertise in medieval art, specifically Italian and in the era of St. Francis, I thought there could be some great opportunities for presentations on the art of Giotto and the art that adorns the basilica of St Francis in Assisi. Continue reading

What kind of leader?

What kind of leaders do we want? Certainly, a good question here with the mid-term elections upon us. It is always a good question for the Church. I have lived during the pontificates of seven popes and in my lifetime, we have certainly had a wide variety of types and styles of leaders. In our history, we have had 266 popes. We have had some spectacularly amazing leaders, saints in the making, and we have had some spectacularly horrific leaders, who would have been quite at home in Game of Thrones (so I hear, I actually haven’t seen it…).  All took up the Keys of Peter, with the same job description given Peter: Feed my sheep; tend my lambs. The Pope is the most visible of leaders in the Church, but not the only ones with that same job description. The simple mandate, “feed my sheep; tend my lambs” applies to priests, pastors, parents, principals, police, and anyone who would lead – anyone who would answer the call to minister in the Holy Name of Jesus. Continue reading