Saturday, April 30, 2016

Who Knew!

On this morning's walk I heard a rustling of something like leaves.  After looking around a bit, I saw a crow chasing some little critter (a chipmunk? a mouse?) down through a tree (not this loving blossoming apple.)  Finally the critter got to the ground and raced away.  I had not known that crows would pursue live meat.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Growing in Christ

Instead of worrying about rules we do better to focus on Christ growing within us, sharing with us his life and goodness.  "If you have really died with Christ to the principles of this world, why do you still let rules dictate to you as if you were still living in this world?  'Do not pick up this.  Do not eat that.  Do not touch the other.'" (Colossians 2:20-21)  We have a  new life with the Risen Christ within us.  Any goodness we have comes from him. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Precious Bequest

View Tuesday from Town Hill overlook on old Route 40.
Peace is Jesus' farewell gift to his disciples and to us.  It involves contentment and a deep sense of well being that flows from God's powerful, caring presence within us.  It is what I often experience when I stand and gaze at a view like this.  In Hebrew "Shalom."  In Costa Rica "Pura Vida." In Hawaii "Aloha."  We say "God be with you" (Goodbye.)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Holy Laughing

Time spent laughing is  time spent with the gods.  
--Japanese Proverb

Saturday, April 23, 2016


"The soul should always stand ajar,
  ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
      -- Emily Dickinson

Friday, April 22, 2016


In his Letter to the Colossians St. Paul says, "In him (Christ,) in bodily form lives divinity in all its fullness." (2:9)  In the Risen Christ divinity and humanity and the entire cosmos are united.  We share in this "fullness."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Earlier than usual nature is becoming new.  I was surprised and pleased to see these violets in among the dandelions yesterday morning.  They are hugging the ground.  They know there could still be some frost coming.  But they couldn't wait.
"Behold, I make all things new," says God near the end of the Bible (Revelation 21:1-5.)  "No more death or mourning, wailing or pain."  God makes God's home with the human race.  This newness spreads from the Resurrection of Christ back to the beginning and forward to the end.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A New Commandment

"Just as I have loved you,
 you also should love one another.
 By this everyone will know
 that you are my disciples.

At the Last Supper Jesus tells his disciples that he won't be with them much longer (13:33-35) so this new commandment takes on the power of his last wish for his followers.  It seems impossible until we remember that Jesus is living in us and sharing with us his undeserved way of loving.  It will be the brand by which all mankind will recognize his followers.

Friday, April 15, 2016


This morning the loon came in closer to the shore than he usually comes.  Click on the picture to get a better look at this magnificent creature.
Those Catholics who don't like Pope Francis' recent document on the family are much more outspoken than those who disagreed with statements by the two previous popes.  Catholics were afraid to disagree with them too openly.  Not being afraid to disagree with Francis says a lot about the kind of pastoral leadership he is offering the Church.
In John 10:27 Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice.  I know them and they follow me."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Shepherd's Care

It was so still last evening that I went down by the Lake and sat and waited for the sunset.
Today I read chapter 8 of Pope Francis' document on the family.  He encourages pastors not to dismiss people for not living according to the law but to graciously help all those who approach them with a sincere heart.  Here are three quotes that I found striking:
"It can no longer simply be said that all those in any "irregular" situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace."
"I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves."
"Mercy is the very foundation of the Church's life....nothing in our preaching and in our witness to the world can be lacking in mercy."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


In The Joy of Love, the document that Pope Francis released on Friday, he encourages pastors to help people not simply to follow rules, but to practice "discernment."  The rules don't cover every situation.  They cannot take the place of our consciences.  Most of us need help to prayerfully determine the most responsible moral action in our situation.  After we have formed  our consciences, some may still need help to follow their inner conviction. It takes courage to rely on our own consciences.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Primacy of Conscience!

"Conscience is  the ultimate norm of morality."  This sentence is from a catechism published in the 1890's and still being used in a Catholic High School in the 1940's.  The primacy of conscience is the traditional teaching of our 2,000 year old Catholic Church.  We were reminded of it in the seminary in the early 1960's.  The Second Vatican Council reinforced the teaching several times.  In the document on religious freedom the Council said, "In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience faithfully in order that he may come to God for whom he was created." 
In the late 20th and early 21st century this teaching was so muted that when I would talk about it, some people thought I was saying something contrary to Catholic teaching.  When Pope Francis emphasized the importance of conscience in the document he released on Friday it was news.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

9th Anniversary

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
who shepherds the people and sets them free.

I started this blog on April 9, 2007.  I thank God that I have lived this long.  I thank God especially that I have lived long enough to experience the papacy of Francis.  He is a man after my own heart.  Like Jesus, he knows that people are more important than laws.  I feel that much of my 54 year old priesthood has been affirmed by The Joy of Love that he released on Friday.  He encourages pastors not to apply moral laws as if they were "stones to throw at people's lives."  His is a pastoral and merciful Church.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Breakfast with Jesus

This picture was taken on the Sea of Tiberias from the boat that Peter and the other disciples were in when they were fishing, after the Resurrection (John 21:1-14.)  If you look closely you can see Jesus on the shore gathering wood to build a fire to cook fish for breakfast!  (Clicking on the picture enlarges it.)
I did take this picture from a boat that was modeled after the kind that Peter would have used for his fishing business.  I swam in the Sea two mornings.  From the shore the water gets deep quickly so St. Peter would have had to swim the hundred yards to shore (the length of a football field.)  It does seem counterintuitive for him to put something on to jump into the water. 
Just taking this story at surface value, it has always seemed to me to express such a warm, intimate human relationship between Jesus and his disciples.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

Shepherd Leader

Before the Risen Christ singles out Peter to shepherd his sheep (John 21:15-17) he asks three times if Peter loves him.  Leadership among Christ's followers is based on love. It is to be, not juridical, but pastoral.  The Latin word for "shepherd" is "pastor."  I couldn't help but think of Pope Francis' telling us we must smell like the sheep.  His is a good example of the kind of leadership that Jesus assigns to Peter.
Notice, too, that while Jesus trusts Peter to care for the sheep, Jesus doesn't give him the sheep. He says, "Shepherd my sheep."
(Saturday's glowing forsythia was surrounded by five inches of snow yesterday morning!)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

With the Breath of Christ

Jesus breathes his Spirit into us to form us into a community animated by his love and concern for every human being.  We live with the Breath of Jesus.
(Last year a late frost kept this forsythia from blooming.  This year it looks like it's going to take over the back yard.)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Made Holy to be Sent

The Father's sending of the Son serves both as the model and the foundation for the Son's sending of the disciples.  Whoever sees his followers is seeing Jesus who sent them.  The Holy Spirit makes us holy so that we can be Jesus in our world, not simply as individuals but as the Community of Believers.  This Easter gift of the Spirit creates a deeper personal relationship between Jesus and his followers than could ever have existed before his resurrection.