We could join the rest of humanity in celebrating the creation of the world on New Year's Day.

New Years Day 1/1/15


When I was young the Catholic name for New Year’s Day was the “Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord.” With teachers having trouble explaining that to little girls, the Church switched to calling New years Day “The Octave Day of the Nativity.” But, then, the Church gave up on celebrating octaves.

That had them settling on calling it “The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.” Seeing that we have a Gospel in which Mary reflects on everything in her heart, naming the feast for her motherhood seems like a good idea. However, as Catholics we have always been proud of the deep roots of our liturgies, so we don’t like our feasts taking on new names.

We should notice that New years is celebrated by all nations and peoples. It might not hurt us to be in step with the rest of the world. Now, what all other people celebrate at New Years is the creation of the word. Why shouldn’t we too celebrate that?

But when those other people celebrate creation, they don’t commemorate the powers of heaven’s making everything out of empty space. Rather, they believe that there was always chaos there, and creation consisted in heaven bringing order out of the original chaos. That might sound foreign to us, but actually our Bible starts in the same way. The opening line of Genesis is  “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth the earth was a formless wasteland.” The original Hebrew for “formless wasteland” was tohu-bohu which sounds like clothes being flung around in a dryer.

An odd thing about the New Years celebration for all primitive peoples is that it consists in acting out their own creation myths. All those people believe that heaven showered the world with blessings on the day of creation. Their myths follow that up with the story of how the first people did something awful, which is their version of eating the forbidden fruit. That caused the gods to run away, wanting to have nothing more to do with sinful peoples.

Primitive peoples act out their creation myths to make the gods think they are back at the beginning when people were innocent. They try to trick the gods into coming back, to once again shower the world with blessings.

Our wild New Year’s Eve parties are a holdover from the legends that saw the world in chaos up to the moment the gods brought order to the world.

In his Gospel John identified the Son of God with the Mother Nature whom the Greeks reverenced as their god.


Wednesday, 12/31/14

Today we have the opening verses of the Gospel according to John. He wrote these words for the Greek-speaking people of his time. Now, in ancient times the Greeks believed in the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. But, in John’s time they were like people today who believe in Mother Nature, but in no God in heaven.

What we call Mother Nature, they called the “Logos,” which is simply Greek for the “Word.”

So, John began this Gospel for Greek speaking people, by agreeing with them in their believe in a God in Nature. The bookish word for being in nature is saying he is imminent in Nature. The bookish word for existing above Nature would be transcendent.

John immediately went further than the Greeks. He said their imminent Logos had a transcendent existence in which he was one with the creator or Father of nature. The Logos did not just exist side-by-side with the Father; in another place John described their relationship as an unending act of love.

Now, it is of the nature of true love that it must always be giving to others.

(Going way outside the Bible for an example of love’s need to expand, I think of my sister Peg and her husband Joe. They had thirteen kids, but they were always fitting in extra beds for families deserted by their dad, for my brother when he was having a rocky time, for my dad in his last year, and for visiting priests who at least paid for the roll-away they used when in town.)  

Of the Word John wrote, “What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the world.” In calling him the life we can look upon him as the only source for all physical and mental life. We are the light or the sparks struck off him. Even our moments of consciousness with which we identify ourselves are flashes of is life he shares with us. 

there is nothing in the hearts of old people like Simeon and Anna to keep them from seeing God.


Tuesday, 12/30/14

Yesterday, the fourth day of Christmas, our attention was drawn to the four-day-old Jesus. We mused over what might have been going on in his mind, and we mused over what might be going on in the minds of all infants before they learned any words for expressing their thoughts.

For an insight into their infant minds I recalled the words of Vatican II, paragraph 18 of the final document where it said, “The dignity of man rests above all in this that he is called to communion with God. The invitation to converse with God is addressed to him at the first moment of his being.”

That tells us that infants communicate with God in a non-verbal way.

Today’s Gospel draws our attention to those at the other end of our life spans. Anna, the prophetess felt drawn to the Temple each day, and when Mary and Joseph brought in their baby it was only the two oldest persons in the temple, Simeon and Anna were able to recognize him.

This Gospel story alerts us to recognizing the spiritual worth of older people who are no longer led astray into thoughts of getting ahead of others. Being free from the need to find mates and business roles in life, their minds and hearts are set free to recognize what really counts.  

What thoughts had the four day old Jesus?


Monday, 12/29/14

It was on the fortieth day after his birth that Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the Temple, so for commenting on the event we will wait until that fortieth day, February 2.

So, going back to the Christmas timetable, today we would be looking on a Jesus who was just four days old. And the question arises: was that baby all wise? Did he fully comprehend the international politics of his time?

Perhaps I am wrong about this, but I feel that the infant Jesus didn’t know much more than any infant at four days would know. Luke’s Gospel leads me to that conclusion. When Luke later described the twelve-year old Jesus asking questions of the scholar in the Temple was Jesus just pretending not know the answers in advance.

Then, following that incident about the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple, Luke concluded the account by saying, “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and men.” 

Jesus could not have advanced in wisdom if there was no room there for an advancement. I feel that Jesus at four days knew no more than any child would know at four days.

That is not to say that there was nothing of value going on in is mind. I love quoting paragraph eighteen of the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World where it says, “The dignity of man consists above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being.”

The Church is there declaring that Jesus and every four-year-old is non-verbally communicating with God.

It reminds me of a Francis Thompson poem where, speaking to a little girl he met on a walk, he wrote something like this: “Though thou appearest untouched by solemn thought, your nature is not therefore less divine. Thou lay in Abram’s bosom all the year, God being with thee, though thou knowest not.”

Sunday, 12/28/14


A picture of Mary, Joseph and Jesus together in the stable turns our thoughts to family life. We call this day the Feast of the Holy Family, but on this day, going beyond Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we thank God for what wonderful things our families can be.

The First Reading from the Book of Sirach supplies us with a grand list of benefits that come to those who are good family persons. They atone for their sins, and are helped at avoiding sins. When they pray they are heard. They store up riches in heaven. They, in their turn, will be gladdened by others. They will live long lives.

Those rewards are particularly meant for young people. But what family life can old people have? Well, instead of grieving over being neglected, they must get out of their selves. They must restore family cheer to others who are alone.

Once when someone standing nearby told Jesus that members of his family were waiting to see him, Jesus told them that his family was very large. He said it included all men and women, old and young, who attempt to live according to God’s law.

Look around you. All the people you see are God’s children. He loves this one, that one, and that one too. He appreciates it no end when you become a brother or sister to any  lonely ones who are his children.

All of God's children are members of his family with us.


Sunday, 12/28/14


A picture of Mary, Joseph and Jesus together in the stable turns our thoughts to family life. We call this day the Feast of the Holy Family, but on this day, going beyond Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we thank God for what wonderful things our families can be.

The First Reading from the Book of Sirach supplies us with a grand list of benefits that come to those who are good family persons. They atone for their sins, and are helped at avoiding sins. When they pray they are heard. They store up riches in heaven. They, in their turn, will be gladdened by others. They will live long lives.

Those rewards are particularly meant for young people. But what family life can old people have? Well, instead of grieving over being neglected, they must get out of their selves. They must restore family cheer to others who are alone.

Once when someone standing nearby told Jesus that members of his family were waiting to see him, Jesus told them that his family was very large. He said it included all men and women, old and young, who attempt to live according to God’s law.

Look around you. All the people you see are God’s children. He loves this one, that one, and that one too. He appreciates it no end when you become a brother or sister to any  lonely ones who are his children.

John honored Peter's authority, while Peter recognized John's holiness.


Saturday, 1/27/14

Today, in honoring St. John, the Beloved Disciple, we should note the passages where he is contrasted with St. Peter.

First, at the Last Supper, when John was lying against Jesus, Peter instructed him to find out from Jesus who his betrayer would be.

They are contrasted again in today’s Gospel as they ran together to the tomb of Jesus. John ran faster than Peter, but then he waited to let Peter go in first.

Next we see them together when they breakfasted with Jesus by the Lake of Tiberius. Jesus took Peter aside to give him charge over his sheep. Then, when Peter asked what John’s role would be, Jesus answered, “What if I wish him to remain until I come?”

A dozen years ago Father Raymond Brown, whom all Christians recognize as our most knowledgeable scholar on John’s Gospel, gave a lecture on these passages to a packed auditorium in south Florida. He told us that the opposition between Peter and John in these passages reflected the opposition between followers of Peter and John at the end of the first century.

I raised my hand, and then said, “Father, I don’t think the contrast between Peter and John in these passages reflect any opposition between them or their followers. Rather, I think in each of those instances John recognized Peter’s authority, while Peter recognized John’s deep relationship with Jesus.

The lesson for us there is that we must have respect for the authority of Church leaders, while they must have respect for good peoples' possibly closer relationship with the Lord.”

Father Brown, neatly brushing me aside, said, “Well, Father, if you wish to take that pacific view you are welcome to it.”

The men who put St. Stephen to death thought they were doing a good thing.


On the Feast of St. Stephen I like saying a word for the men who stoned him. Sure, they did a terrible thing, but their religious convictions made them feel they were right.

St. Luke, in his “Act of the Apostles” identified Stephen’s killers as “members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen.” He went on to say they were Cyprians, Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia.

Here is how they came to be together, far from their homes. Rome had a way of  preventing rebellion from the Jews scattered around its Mediterranean’s ports. She rounded up five young Jews from each place, confining them as hostage in Rome for five years, so that the threat of executing those boys kept the people at home from rebelling.

The boys chosen as hostages often were not very religious to begin with, but after being confined for their beliefs, they began taking those beliefs seriously, with many of them becoming so religious that when their five years were up, instead of returning to their home ports, they settled in Jerusalem to take part in the temple worship. There they formed their own “Synagogue of the Roman Freedmen.”

They had come to believe that being religious meant observing kosher, so they were angered by Stephen’s telling people that observing kosher wasn’t important.

One thing that inclines us to be understanding of their motives is that there was a young man watching over the coats they took off to throw better. That young man who was encouraging them was Saul, the future St. Paul.

The case of Saul and those young men should warn us against hating people for views they cling to in all honesty.

Let's put the Mass back in Christ-mass.


December 25.14

Back before there was any Santa Claus. Even back before the birth of Santa’s prototype of St. Nicolas, people celebrated the birthday of Jesus with a special Mass. The Mass was so central to the celebration that it was called Christ’s-Mass-Day, later shortened to Christmas Day.

I have been offering Mass almost every day for sixty-two years, so let me say something about the Mass part of my Christmas. First of all, I see it rooted in the Last Supper.

As the host at the Last Supper, Jesus offered up the blessing on behalf of everyone at table with him. In using his own words that night, he asked everyone to join him in their  ritual three-part table blessing. 

For the fist part of the table blessing , he asked the diners to join him in thanking God for the many favors they had received from God. 

Next, he asked them to join him in a lively awareness that God was right there with them, and they were right there with God.

Then, came the most important part of the table blessing. Jesus sacrificed him self  as a  pleasing gift to the Father. At the same time, he asked all present to sacrifice their selfs as part of the same pleasing gift.

 Of course, we all know that their Greek word for the Pleasing Gift was the Eucharist. We put the Mass back in Christmas by offering up our hearts as part of Christ’s Pleasing Gift of himself, as pat of his Eucharist That would make this a real Christmas.




Wednesday, 12/24/14

The first reading tells how King David, after establishing his throne, and building his palace, set his mind on building a fitting temple for the Lord. The Prophet Nathan, on being told of the king’s intent, told him that God would be pleased with any temple David would build.

However, that night God let Nathan know that he did not want or need David to build him a temple. (He was reserving that task for David’s son, Solomon.)

But God, not wanting David to feel pushed aside, made a great promises to him. He said the following.

“Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me, your throne shall stand firm forever.”

Over the following centuries the people of Jerusalem came to feel that no matter how badly they behaved, God would always keep his promise to keep their temple from falling. In Jeremiah’s time, three centuries later, the people had given up praying in the temple. They had come to see their temple as a good luck charm. In passing it, they always knocked on the wall, repeating the words, “The temple of the Lord.  The temple of the Lord. The temple of the Lord!”

Toward the end of Jeremiah’s time, the Babylonian army invaded Jerusalem, reducing the temple to gravel. The people then complained against God, saying he had failed in the promise he made when he said, “Your house and your kingdom would endure forever.”

Why bring this matter up now? Well, this is the night when God would come through on his promise. Tonight he is sending us a child king whose house and kingdom will endure forever.”  

We must get ready for Christmas by shrinking our egos down to where we can snuggle up close to the manger.


Tuesday, 12/23/14

Everywhere we hear people asking, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

We hear such answers as: “Almost, I still need to thaw out that turkey,” or, “No, I still need to fight the crowds for last minute shopping,” or, “We have the car gassed up. We are driving to Alabama for Christmas.”

In these closing days of Advent, the Church puts the example of John the Baptist before us. His whole life was summed up in the expression, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”

By all his preaching, but much more by his life, he prepared for the coming of the Lord.

The Bible repeatedly compared John to Elijah. Both dressed in animal skins. Elijah lived off what the birds brought him, while John lived on locusts and wild honey.

John was happy when his disciples complained of the growing popularity of Jesus. He said, “He must increase, while I must decrease.”

We must get ready for Christmas by shrinking our egos down to where we can snuggle up close to the manger.

We rejoice with women gladdened at expecting their firstborn.


Monday. 12/22/14

The readings today feature women who were overjoyed at knowing they were to have their firstborn.

The first reading features a woman from the first years after the Israelites had settled into the Promised Land. At a place called Shiloh in the woodlands of Ephraim the tribes had built a wooden sanctuary for housing the Arc of the Covenant, and they had entrusted it to the priestly family of a man named Eli.

A man from Ramathaim named Elkanah used to come to Shiloh each year to offer a sacrifice before the Lord, and he would divide the sacrifice between his two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Now, Peninnah had given him sons, and she scorned Hannah who had remained childless.

One day Hannah had come alone into the sanctuary to plead with the Lord for a son; and the old priest Eli, seeing her lips moving silently accused her of being drunk. When she told him the truth, Eli promised her that by the following year she would have a son. When that son, little Samuel came, Hannah gave him to the Lord at Shiloh, and every year she visited him with a new little robe she had knitted for him.     

Mary’s Magnificat of joy at bearing Jesus echoed the hymn Hannah offered up at Shiloh.

In my family, Joan, the first of my four sisters to be married, had to see her sisters all give birth while she remained childless. My happiest memory from those years came one evening after Joan had been married for seven years. Wearing winter red and blues, she stepped into our living room, clapping her hands, and calling out, “We’re going to have a baby, we’re going to have a baby!”

This scene of Gabriel appearing to Marry is the most often revisited scene in human history.


Sunday, 12/22/14

Since this is the same Gospel as the one we had yesterday, I am going to cheat, posting the same homily summary.


In the history of the world no scene has received the attention given to the story of Gabriel appearing to Mary. Any of us saying our daily rosary will recite the Hail Mary a hundred and fifty times a day; and this is going on with others all around the world. Our ancestors have been praying their Hail Marys back through a thousand years.

Mary spoke just twice, saying, “How can this be, when I know not man,” and “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to our word.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t analyze those words or meditate on them. Her  words are holy, beyond our touch. The closest thing to this scene in the whole of the Bible is the story of the burning bush that Moses went up to examine closely.

Confronted with the scene of Gabriel and Mary we feel we are being warned, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 

The scene of Gabriel appearing before Marry is as awesome as the scene of the burning bush.


Saturday, 12/20/14

In the history of the world no scene has received the attention given to the story of Gabriel appearing to Mary. Any of us saying our daily rosary will recite the Hail Mary a hundred and fifty times a day; and this is going on with others all around the world. Our ancestors have been praying their Hail Marys back through a thousand years.

Mary spoke just twice, saying, “How can this be, when I know not man,” and “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to our word.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t analyze those words or meditate on them. Her  words are holy, beyond our touch. The closest thing to this scene in the whole of the Bible is the story of the burning bush that Moses went up to examine closely.

Confronted with the scene of Gabriel and Mary we feel we are being warned, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 

Each of us was specially planned by God to be unique.


Friday, 12/19/14

The Bible has many stories of aged women to whom God gave a child after it was physically impossible for her to bear one. Today we have the story of Samson’s aged mother, as well there was Jacob’s mother Sarah, and Samuel’s mother Hannah. Through those stories the Bible is telling us that none of us owes existence to just natural intercourse. God has fashioned each of us.

There is a story I tell over and over about how each of us is special. Please put up with me telling my story again.

Twenty-five years ago a sixth grade girl raised her hand, asking, “If we are all made in God’s image, how come some people are left handed?

Within her question there was a deeper question in hiding. Namely, “If we are all so different from one another, how can we all be created in God’s image?”

That question kept coming back to me, then one night a possible answer popped into my head. It occurred to me that God in his greatness could be like a diamond with millions of facets; and each of us is created with a potential of mirroring a different one of those facets.

At birth we are not recognizable as miroring God. We are like rough un–cut stones that must be polished over and over before each can be like God in a unique way.

The Second Vatican Council had a special document on Christian education. In essence it said that the purpose of Christian education is that of helping each individual in developing his or her unique personality. 

Joseph was a man in a bind


Thursdaty12/18/14

Our Gospel describes Joseph as a righteous man, but I am saddened at their abandoning the way our Bible for centuries had referred to Joseph as “a just man.”

My mother had her way of referring to people who hit you in the face with their spirituality.  She would avoid any woman who jangled a rosary in her face. She’d refer to such a lady as a “holier-than-thou.” She might also have referred to her as “that righteous dame.”  

In calling Joseph a just man we add no tinge of pretentiousness. It has us seeing him for what he was, a good man wrestling with a terrible problem.

Being a just man in terms of the Law of Moses, Joseph could not take that child Mary was carrying as his own. But being a just man in God’s eyes, he could not make a move that would hurt that wonderful woman Mary.

You think you have problems? They are nothing compared to the perplexity that had Joseph in its grasp.

Thank God for the angel who set him straight on the situation, telling him that, “it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.”

Matthew's Gospel began by asserting that no one was more fully Jewish than Jesus.




Wednesday, 12/ 17/14

In pu Gospel Matthew gave us a list of the ancestors of Joseph and Mary, and it differs greatly from the list that St. Luke gives us.

Matthew did not mean for it to be taken as an accurate account. He did not try to make the figures fit. He wrote that there were just fourteen generations for the eight hundred years tine span between Jacob and David; the just fourteen generations in the time span between David and the captivity; and fourteen generations for the six hundred year time span between the captivity and Joseph.

For understanding Matthew’s account we need to know what moved him to write it. Let me explain. After the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. the surviving Pharisees began reshaping Judaism. They began to say that since the religion no longer had its temple the essential core of being Jewish had to be observing Kosher.

With that, they turned against Christians who neglected Kosher to eat with pagans. Further, they were saying the Jesus who the Christians worshipped, was not a true Jew, since he mixed with pagans.

On two levels, this genealogy with which Matthew he opened his Gospel rejected the   accusations of  the Pharisees on two levels. First it established Jesus as the direct descended of the founders of Judaism. Secondly, by bringing Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, four pagan ladies, into the ancestry of Solomon, Matthew pointed out that mixing with foreigners is not all bad.

We need time with God to keep the world's filth from becoming part of us.


Tuesday, 12/16/14

The first reading comes from 600 B.C. when Jerusalem had given itself over to wickedness. Zephaniah described it as, rebellious, polluted, and tyrannical.

That put me in mind of a discussion I had on the bus yesterday. A father of five, a worker for W.W. Gay Sheet Metal Company, had moved his parcel, making room for me next to him.

When the bus stopped to pick up passengers at F,S.C.J I saw that a ruffian had joined us. The ruffian and I had been together other mornings, with both of waiting for a bus. Those mornings I had been amazed at the string of mean, filthy things he kept coming up with. I wouldn’t want to quote him word for word. We have all heard our fill of the dirty things ruffians come up with.

With the guy taking his stand up front, and with him glaring around at us with dislike, I noticed that the sheet metal worker sitting next to me was shaking his head. He seemed to have had his own experiences with the foul speaking guy.

The sheet metal worker whispered to me,  “He must never go to church.”

I said, “Yeah. Do you go?”

“I haven’t been,” he said, “But I’m going to start up again.”

I was impressed with that little interchange. It was obvious to that metal worker, that we need to give God a chance to tell us that we are all his children, made in his image. Otherwise the filth of the world will fill us up completely.

The star of David was foretold in 1250 B.C.


Monday, 12/15/14

The first reading comes from the conclusion of a somewhat funny story in the Book of Numbers, which was the third book in the Bible. Sixty thousand Israelites had come out of Egypt, and had wandered about in the Sinai desert for forty years. They finally made their move toward the Promised Land. Moving north, they conquered the Amorites under King Sihon, going on then to vanquish the Canaanites under King Arad.

King Balak of Moab, knowing he lacked the forces to stop the Israelites, sent for Balaam, a holy man on the Euphrates. He offered him a big stipend for coming over to put a curse on the Israelites.

Balaam consulted the Lord, and being told by God not to block the Israelites, he turned down the stipend. However, when Balak sent to him again, the Lord told Balaam to go, but to follow instructions. So, mounting his she ass, Balaam began his journey toward Moab.

At one place the ass dug in, refusing to go forward. With much beating Balaam was  able to get the ass to move. But, at a narrow place she halted again, and it took a great beating to get her moving again.

When the ass stopped a third time between narrow walls where she bruised Balaam’s leg, he had again taken to beating her severely when an angel with a sword appeared, and the ass opened her mouth to say, she had to stop for the angel.

Today’s reading came after Balaam had uttered three divine oracles. In his fourth and fifth oracles Balaam spoke with amazing clarity.

The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor,
the utterance of the man whose eye is true,
The utterance of one who hears what God says,
and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
enraptured, and with eyes unveiled.
I see him, though not now;
I behold him, though not near:
A star shall advance from Jacob,
and a staff shall rise from Israel.”

We cannot repay evll with evil.


Sunday, 12/14/14

Our readings today each featured an unselfish man.In the first reading Isaiah thanked God for appointing him to bring glad tidings to the poor. In the second reading Paul rejoiced at being sent to be a mentor to the people of Thessalonica. In the Gospel John declared himself to be the forerunner of one whose sandals he was not worthy to unlatch.

When I mentioned the unselfishness of Isaiah, Paul, and John to a friend he told me that the third step in the AA Program speaks of such people as being, “Released from, the bondage of self love.”  

As Christians, and even as sincere humans, we need to treat others fairly. This need was brought into question this week with the Senate’s release of a C.I.A. report that they had unjustly retained or tortured individuals.

The U.S. had always condemned secret imprisonment and torture, but with the sudden deaths of almost 3000 innocent office workers and 1400 rescue workers in the 9/11 attack, and with a strong minority of the Muslim world applauding the slaughter, we were made to see that  we were in a game with different rules.

The president signed the secret guidelines called “Memorandum of Notification” or MON, which carefully outlined the body of evidence against any subject that would authorize the C.I.A. to secretly detain him or her.

America, who had given real kindness to to her fallen enemies Germany and Japan, now had to live with the  embarrassing report from the Senate this week. It gives adequate accounts of at least 26 individuals who were imprisoned or tortured even though their suspected irregularities fell far short of the MON guidelines.

You can read newspaper stories on some of the 26 mistakenly detained people. A Mr. Bashmilah with a business in Indonesia was traveling with his wife, carrying funds he had raised for an operation for his mother when he was detained by our Jordanian allies. They hung him upside down, beating him for three weeks. Back then he focused his attention on a fly at the bottom of his wall, praying for the fly to find a way out. Three times during 19 months of solitary confinement he failed in suicide attempts. Then, eight years ago, with no evidence against him, he was released without an apology. With his case coming out as part of the Senate report, he is wondering if he would now receive that apology.

The Senate report speaks of an Algerian, Laid Saidi, who was detained in place a suspect with a similar name. After being treated to freezing baths, he was made to stand without sleeping for 66 hours, listening to very loud music. He was released when our people realized they were mistaken about him.

We would hope the U.S. would not abandon the principle that states, “Two wrongs do not make a right.” The ungodly behavior of our 9/11 attackers does not justify our being ungodly.

Christ's sacrifice which culminates on the cross has an important first step at the Last Supper.


Saturday, 12/13/14

At the chapel where I say my daily Mass the other priests that use that chapel often leave a small crucifix in front of their place at the center of the altar. It is a reminder for them that the sacrifice of the Mass is really the re-enactment of the death Jesus died for us.

As fine a thought as that is, I don’t put a figure of Christ on the cross before me. Although Jesus completed his sacrifice on the cross, we should not forget that he began it at the Last Supper.

At the Last Supper Jesus followed the traditional table blessing for the feast, It began with his asking all present to call to mind the favors they have received from God. Next, it had him asking the diners to join him in calling down God’s presence.

As the third, culminating  part of that blessing, Jesus asked the diners to join him in becoming one pleasing gift to God.

The priest and all who are present at Mass have an essential role to play there. They must join Jesus in one act of submission to God’s will in all things. It is at that point in the table blessing that Jesus gives himself to us in communion. He wants us to be physically one with him as part of the pleasing gift. The Greek name for the pleasing gift is the Eucharist. 

So, although it is good for us at Mass to realize that Christ’s sacrifice will end on the cross, we shouldn’t neglect to take part in the pleasing gift with which that sacrifice began.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of the Americas



Friday, 12/13/14
Every year we hear her story. On December 9, 1531 Juan Diego, a simple Nahunta Indian, was hastening into town for medicine and a priest for his sick uncle. On  a slope known as Tepeyac Hill he was confronted by the vision of a light filled fifteen year old young lady. Speaking to him in Nahunta, she asked that a church in her honor be built on that site.

Juan Diego got in to see the Spanish bishop, and speaking through an interpreter he conveyed the lady’s message. The bishop, perhaps to get rid of him, told him to go back and ask for a sign. When Juan again met with the lady, she told him to gather roses from the top of Tepeyac Hill. The season for roses was past, but turning, Juan saw a bush blooming gloriously, so he gathered its buds in his tilma, then hurried back to show them to the bishop.

When he unrolled his tilma the bishop and those with him saw on it the colorful image of a lady standing above a new moon, crushing a serpent under her feet. (The painting on the pancho-like garment of rough burlap does not seem to be a trick.)

Perhaps you know the story better than I do. I had always wondered what the name Guadalupe meant. One explanation I have heard is that in Nahunta it would mean “The lady who crushes the snake.” That would refer back to Chapter Three of Genesis where we read that God would put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and she would crush the serpent's head.

Although Pope John XXIII called Our Lady of Guadalupe the Mother of the Americas, and Pope John Paul II named her the patron saint of North and South America, we seldom hear of devotion to her outside of Mexican circles. Our gringo snobbery could even be sinful in God’s eyes. There was a bit of that two years ago when Jenny Rivera, a great Mexcan-American singer with fifteen million albums died in a plane crash. There was great mourning up and down the border, but outside of the Southwest people just asked, “Jenny who”?