They appointed presbyters in every town.

Tuesday, 5/1/18

In a missionary journey through south-central Asia Minor, Paul and Barnabas had several converts in Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Then, on their return journey, they chose a worthy man to be in authority in each place.

The Acts refers to those authorities as presbyters. Our Catholic translations leave it as presbyters, while other Christian Bible call them "Elders."

Surprisingly, our English word "priest" is a derivitive of "presbyter." So we are free to say that Paul and Barnabas put priests in charge in each place.

Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the Apostle to deal with future problems.

Monday, 4/30/18

At the Last Supper Jesus told the Apostles all that they needed to know then, but he was aware that the  new ages to come would present them with new problems that would be so different that he could not give them advanced notice.

To equip them for meeting with future difficulties, he promised the Holy Spirit who would lead them to all truths. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council time and time again asked for the Holy Spirit to lead them in dealing with matters in these modern times.

All things among themselves possess an order, and this order is the form that makes the universe like God.

Sunday, 4/29/18

In the year 1300 A.D. Dante, a year-five year-old citizen of Florence, Italy, began worrying about having fallen into sinful ways. Now, this Dante had two great loves in his life: one was for a girl named Beatrice, who had died just ten years earlier; the other was for the Roman poet Virgil, who had died seven-hundred years earlier.

In 1300 A.D. Dante launched on composing an epic poem based on the idea that Beatrice in heaven, looking for  a way for saving Dante from his sinfulness, called Virgil up from the abode of great  unbaptized scholars.

In Book One of Dante's epic, Virgil led Dante through the Inferno, bringing him to hate the sinful ways that lead men to unending torture. In Dante's Book Two, Virgil showed Dante the prolonged  punishments that kept sinners from entering Paradise.

Virgil, as an unbaptized sinner, was not allowed to accompany Dante into Paradise. So Dante, left to his own, began puzzling over two seeming contradictions in heaven. For one thing, everything in heaven was new; but for another thing, there was something pleasingly familiar but everything in heaven.

Dante approached Beatrice in heaven, asking her how, with everything in heaven being new, it could also be somewhat familiar. Beatrice  replied,  

 "All things among themselves possess an order, and this order is the form that makes the universe like God."

So, if you ask what God is like, you may answer that he is like the musical scale that always rings true. He is like the series of ninety atomic weights that distinguish our ninety separate elements.
He is like the orderly mathematical progress of color to color in our rainbow,

"All things among themselves possess an order; and this order is the form that make the universe like God."

Saturday, 4/28/18

In telling Philip, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father," and, "The Father and I are one." Jesus was speaking of the Blessed Trinity.

Now. we know the the Trinity is a Mystery, and that a mystery is a truth we cannot fully understand; but even so, we are bound to understand the Trinity as far as we can.  We gain by imagining the Father as being the Creator, the Son as the Savior, The Spirit as being the inspire, even though we know the three as one.

Dante helped us in our understanding of God by saying, "All things among themselves possess an order; and this order is the form that makes the universe like God." That is saying, "the eight  notes of the scale are God-like." It is like saying, "The fifteen basic elements are God-like, as are all the  orderly ways in which those elements combine to form the millions of molecules that make up our universe.

Jesus has prepared place for each of us after our lives.

Friday, 4/27/18

In telling the twelve Apostles that he was going to prepare a place for them,  Jesus was echoing what Moses did for the twelve tribes thirteen hundred years before.

Back then, before the tribes could enter the Promised Land, Moses sent surveyors across the Jordan to draw up twelve portions of equal value for farming and grazing. Then, Moes had the leaders of the tribes draw lots to fix the territories that would go to each of the tribes.

What Jesus promised the Apostles was only vaguely similar. As St. John wrote, "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, it has not entered into the heats of men the things God has planned for those who love him.

An outline history of Christianity

Thursday, 4.26/18

In the first reading Paul, on being invited to speak of Christianity's roots in the Old Testament, gave a summary of fifteen centuries of ancient Jewish history, leading to the coming of Christ.
Could you carry on from there?
At the Last Supper Jesus told the Apostles he would lead them to all truth.
In 325 the Council of Nicea taught that Jesus is true God as well as being true man,
In 400 St. Augustine taught that we cannot save ourselves.
In 500 Clovis, king of the Franks, put the clergy on the social level of the nobility.
In 1563 the Council of Trent made Friday abstinence and Sunday Mass obligatory

Mark's first eight chapters show him to be the Savior. His next eight chapters show him saving us though his suffering,

Wednesday, 4/25/18

In their Gospels, written fifty years after the facts, Matthew and Luke wrote that a Cyrenian named Simon helped Jesus carry its cross. Mark, who was a witness to the Way of the Cross, told us that Simon was the father of Rufus and Alexander (whom his readers knew well.)

Matthew, Luke and John each told us his reason for writing  Gospel, like, Matthew wanted to show us that rather than abandoning the Law and the Prophets, Jesus came to fulfill them.

Critics had been saying that Jesus could not have been the Messiah because he suffered a sad death. Answering them, Mark composed his first eight chapters showing that Jesus, by his miracles and fulfilled prophesies demonstrated himself to be the Savior.

Mark concluded the first half of his thesis by quoting Peter as saying, "You are the Messiah." In the next verse, Mark launched into the second half of his thesis by "teaching them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly."

Instead of further instruction, what we need for doing good jobs is encouiragment.

Tuesday, 4/24/18

When persecutions against believers broke out in Jerusalem many believers fled a hundred miles north to Antioch; and it was from there that they came to be called Christians.

It happened then that a good number of non-Jews joined these Christians, and the Apostles saw that they should choose a kind to deal understandingly with the non-Jewish Christians.

The man they chose had been given the name of Joseph at his birth, but later had earned for himself  the alternate name of Barnabas, meaning the Son of Encouragement.

Up to five or more years ago we had a diocesan leader of our teachers; and all of our trackers were disappointed over the lady leaving that position.

When I asked our teachers why they were sorry to see that lady go, one after another of them gave the same answer, "We'll miss her because she was so encouraging."

The reason for it when we are having trouble with our jobs, usually is that it is all an uphill grind. What we need it not more instruction, we need encouragement to continue the good fight.

Jesus is the gate to the sheepfold.

Monday, 4/23/18

Today's Gospel follows on yesterday's. While yesterday's had us marking the progress into the hills of  each little shepherd band, with out attention on the special band of Jesus; today we turn to the gate's importance to the sheepfold.

While each of the town's shepherd boys might take his turn as watchman in the gate of the sheepfold, in today's Gospel Jesus asks us to see himself as the permanent gatekeeper.

He warns us against mirauders who steal his sheep. Since Jesus is the true shepherd of all mankind,
Jesus is asking us to deny the leadership of any would-be-leaders who lead us into sin, leading us away from God's way.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd.

Sunday, 4/22/18

Jesus, as our shepherd, was similar to any other shepherd boy in any village. Every family kept sheep for meat and wool. As well. every family had a shepherd boy who grew up with the family's little flock.

The boy would lead his family's sheep up into the hills for grass. Then, at evening he would lead them back to the village sheepfold. The village shepherd boys would take turns sitting in the gate while his companions went to eat with their families. There, his flock would sleep separately until morning.

At morning, each shepherd boy would in turn arrive at the gate to the sheepfold. There he would make a sound familiar only to his own flock; and they would rise up, while the other little flocks slept on. Jesus, like each shepherd, knows his own sheep intimately; and they know him.

Fine old people are the same the world over.

Saturday, 4/2/18

When St. Peter went to the sickbed of a lady named Talitha. the women all showed him  garments Talitha had made for each of them, Peter rewarded  itha, the women of the village, one after another showed Peter the beautiful garments Talitha had made for them. 

Eighty years ago I served in a village very much like a Bible village. The houses had no furniture; and walking was our only mode of transportation.

After my Mass on every Saturday morning I was free to eat a big breakfast. So, one Saturday I was disappointed when, before i could eat, I was told I should walk five miles up our valley to where an old would-be convert was waiting for the Sacraments.

I found the old man in the middle of an eight-by-eight room with a dozen ladies squatting around him.  With the ladies dropping in. I went through all the prayers and 
Sacraments. Then I sat back, waiting for the man to die.

Suddenly he leaned forward, asking, "Has the priest had his breakfast? 

As the people took turns asking, I acted as though I just wanted to remain praying. But the old man insisted, and the women joined in asking; so I got up, and started for home.

Afterwards I heard that the old man died as soon as I left his village. He had been more concerned about me than about himself.

Friday, 4/20/18

Today's readings explain themselves, and I have nothing to say further. So, please excuse me for telling about an incident from thirty-five years ago , one that touched on this first reading.

Thirty-five years ago, to celebrate my twenty-five years in the priesthood, I had an evening's Mass in my home parish in St. Louis. It was a quiet affair, with just my sisters and their children attending, but with sixteen of their teen-aged sons as part of that number.

The pastor in that home parish of mine was a very friendly Monsignor Lloyd. His one fault was that  once he started speaking, he couldn't find a way to stop. Well. the monsignor looked in at my family, and although he had said he would not speak, the presence of my sixteen teen aged nephews moved him to say a few words about the Church's need for fine young priests.

He told the boys that their vacation to the priesthood would come quietly. It would not be like when  St. Paul was knocked off his horse.

He said that several times, without finding a way to stop. So, on the fourth time he got to speaking about St. Paul being knocked from his horse, I broke in. Without meaning to interrupt, I said, "There was no horse."

That gave the monsignor a way to wind ups his remarks.

At every Mass Jesus asks us to be one with him, in offering the Father all our obedience and love.

Thursday, 4/19/18

St. John, in Chapter Six of his Gospel, developed two ways in which Jesus is the Bread of Life.

First, John quoted Jesus as saying He himself was the Bread of Life come down from heaven.

Secondly, John quoted Jesus as saying the bread that he would give us is his life which he gives to us.

Let me transfer to another matter, namely to the question as to how the Mass can be a sacrifice. Now, the only sacrifices known to the ancient world were ones in which the victim was brought to death. And so, Christians debated on ways that the death of Jesus was part of the Mass.

However, St. Augustine, put aside the element of death in our Masses. He said that the sacrifice of the Mass consists in Jesus and his followers giving God their complete love and obedience. To grasp this point we must see how the Last Supper followed the customary formula for such ritual dinners.

That ritual divided the table bless into three parts. In the first, the diners recalled all of God's favors to them. In the second part they reminded theirselves that they were living in God's presence. The third part had the host and the diners making themselves into one pleasing gift to God in return for his may favors to them. The Greek word for Pleasing Favors was Eucharist.

Both St. Paul and St. Luke in their account of the Consecration at the Last Supper tell us that it was at that their part of the table blessing, at the Eucharist, that Jesus said, "This is my body which is for you." He is there asking you and I to become part of his one Eucharist that he offers to the Father as an act of obedience and life.

Saul imprisoned all the Christians he could find.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The state of Florida has over 20,000 imprisoned. At a facility near Ocala, we have thousands of imprisoned women. Fr. Bob McDermott of our Diocese is an authority on prison life. Fr. Bob began his official life as a lawyer in Atlanta; but over the last 39 years, he has been giving consolation to our prisoners.

Bob says an average person makes 200 decisions daily, while a prisoner at best may make 24. In Florida's prison system, only those prisoners with less than five years to go are permitted to use their time in learning trades. So Bob with concern for those who have more than five years to serve encourages them to partake more fully in religion.

One of our corporal works of mercy falls on us to visit prisoners. To be real Christians we have to pay them visits, write them letters. In Florida released prisoners are not allowed to vote and find it difficult to locate work. Our help and concern must go out to these men and women.

Jesus himself is the bread

Tuesday, 4//17/18

It had been a tradition among the Jews that when the Savior came he would make actual manna come down from heaven.

Jesus said that rather than his giving bread he himself was bread.

Th Synagogue of the Roman Freedmen.

Monday, 4/16/18

Our first reading today honors St. Stephen, the first person to be put to death for his belief in Jesus. Let us look briefly at the men who stoned him to death. They are called members of the Synagogue of the Roman Freedmen.

Through the centuries the Roman senate had a way of keeping the scattered Jews in line. Every year Rome would take Jewish hostages from every Mediterranean port keeping them in Rome for five years.

While those young men may not have been very religious as boys, their detention for their faith would begin them longing to live the full religious life of the temple. So, when their five years as hostages were complete, they would settle in Jerusalem, leading ultra conservative Jewish lives.

They turned against Stephen when they saw him eating with Gentiles.

We must avoid imitating those men who turned against good men like Stephen.

"O Lord, you put gladness into my heart."

Sunday, 4/15/18

At a holiday gathering of priests and seminarians I asked a priest about a very serious seminarian across the room. My priest friend said it was funny that I should ask, because the boy had been anxious to meet me.

With that,  my priest  called the boy over; and as if by magic, the boy's seriousness gave way to a gladness that compelled me to say, "Young man, that smile does wondrous things for you."

I tell that story because it brings out the value of gladness in our lives. In the Alleluia verse we say, "O Lord, you put gladness into our hearts."

Our Lord's repeated greeting of "Peace be with you" is a  bestowal of  gladness.

St. John, in his reading begs us avoid sin, so that we might be filled with God's gladness.

Jesus asked his disciples to look upon the wounds in is side and in his feet. Let us join them in gazing at the crucified Jesus. By his self sacrifice he has won us lasting gladness.

Jesus came walking to them over the water,

Saturday, 4/14/18

The Apostles, on their return to Capernaum, fought against such winds and waves that they thought they were to perish. So, when Jesus came to them, actually walking on the water, they saw him as conquering death.

When death is coming on us, we should see it as a stormy sea over which Jesus can come walking to us.

"The Jewish Feast of Passover was near."

Friday, 4/13/18

Although we think of the Passover only as pertaining to the meal the Israelites ate the night before they left Egypt, the word properly refers to three stages of their flight. First was their escape from Egypt; second was their forty-year passage through the desert; and thirdly was their passage into the Holy Land.

Now, John wrote his Gospel to show us how Jesus does for his followers what the Father did for his. He leads us out of our living in sin. He supplies us with food in our passage through our desert years. He opens our way to our Promisd Land.

Now, John cleverly marked our passage into the next stage of of our passover by dropping the phrase, "The Jewish Feat of Passover was near." He does this in Chapter Two, verse 13; in Chapter Six, verse 14; and in Chapter Eleven, verse 54.

"God does not ration his gift of the Spirit.

Thursday, 4/12/18

In our Catholic grade schools we learned that there are three Persons in one God. Further, we learn
that this Trinity is a mystery we cannot fully understand.

However, although we cannot fully understand the Trinity, our life's main concern must  be one of our striving to understand the Trinity as far as our feeble minds can go. It is God's Spirit who for us opens a further and further understanding of his Being. And, as Jesus says in today's reading, "God does not ration his gift of the Spirit." In other words, God does not limit the amount about him that we can learn.

That said, let me say what I can about the Trinity.

First, and most important of all, we believe only in one God. Our distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit arise out of our  understanding of the three great things he does for us. So, God, as the creator of the universe is the Father; God becoming man to save us is the Son; God communicating with our souls and enriching them, is the Spirit.

Where Jesus In today's Gospel says, "God does not ration his gift of the Spirit" he is telling us we can plunge ever and deeper into our understanding of God and of our pasting of his nature.    

St. Stanislaus, patron saint of Krakow, Poland.

Wednesday, 4/11/18

Stanislaus. bishop of Krakow in Poland was put to death on this April, 11, in 1079.

It has been a common thing for every country in Europe to venerate a patron saint who triumphed over secular powers by the exercise of miraculous powers. Even though we don't accept their miracles as genuine we see their people's veneration of them as stemming from the saint's true holiness.

The story with Stanislas had him purchasing a sight for a church from a man named Piatr. The king od Poland had Piatr killed, after claiming that the sale had no taken place. The saint's miracle had Bishop Stanislaus calling Piatr from his grave to testify before the king and all of Poland that the legal purchase had taken place.

My own Nicodemus,

Tuesday, 4/10/18

St. John presented Nicodemus to us as anexample of those who accept Jesus as saintly, but without accepting him as the Son of God.

Leaving that lesson aside, I would like to say something about a man named Nicodemus whom I hired sixty years ago in Korea. Two dozen of us foreign priests were made pastors of Korean parishes when the Korean clergy had been killed off. We could administer the Sacraments, but our use of the Korean language was so incomplete, that we needed a very competent secretary. Each if us referred to our number-two man as our Poksa. On the recommendation of a priest who had known Nicodemus as a boy, I hired him to be my Poksa.

Nicodemus was efficient in answering parish mail, and at representing our parish in public affairs, but I ran into a stumbling block with Nicodemus. He felt that his high position as Poksa, excused him from pitching in when we had manual labor to take care of. He didn't run errands.

From the short comings of Nicodemus I have learned that to serve as a good priest, I will have to let my hands get dirty,

Two irregularities about the Feast of the Annunciation

Monday, April 9, 2018

The first irregularity is that while this feast is usually celebrated on March 25th, this year Holy Week and Easter Week push it back to April 9th.

The second irregularity is that whereas we often see the role of Mary in the Annunciation, this year we return to the role of the infant coming into her womb. We see this in the quotation in the Letter to the Hebrews where the infant says "Sacrifices and holocausts thou will not, behold I come to do your will."

No doubting Thomas


In the gospel, Thomas refused to believe the other apostles. As another Thomas, I have been often asked if I was a doubting Thomas.

I might be wrong in this, but I feel that modern science has made us believers in God's work behind our universe.

We see that all physical and chemical transitions follow the same plan. Anytime in this vast universe one part of oxygen joins two parts of hydrogen, water results. The human gene. A newborn baby. This reminds us of what Dante wrote in the 1300's.

He wrote, "All things among themselves possess an order and this order is the form of that makes our universe like God."

Jesus raised himself from the tomb

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Today we have a gospel from St Mark who gives us the most straightforward of the four gospels.

For instance he tells us the blind man of Jericho was the father of Rufus and Alexander. All of the gospels and epistles speak about the resurrection. And one thing about Mark’s account that I just noticed today is he lets us picture the moment when Jesus rose up out of the tomb, not that he was raised, but he raised himself.

Christians must act together

Friday, April 6, 2018

Today’s gospel gives us a good look at our earliest Christians: Peter, Philip, James John, Tom, and Nathaniel.

As the first Christians they show us the way Christians should behave. The first thing we see is they keep busy. The second one is they feel like they should work out things together.

Together they dramatize what Jesus said, “in this will all men know you are my disciples that you have love for one another.”

Jesus asked his disciples to touch his wounded hands and feet.

Thursday, 4/5/18

Jesus told his disciples to touch his hands and feet, to see that it was truly him.

Is your imagination good enough that you could picture his wounded hands and feet?

Would you be willing to touch his wounds?

What  would you like to say to this Jesus so wounded for you?

Why did the two disciples only recognize Jesus In the breaking of the bread?

Wednesday, 4/4/18

Although the Risen Jesus on some eight occasions appeared to his disciples and to the woman, none of them recognized the Lord who had become the center of their  lives.

The two disciples fleeing to Emmaus spent the whole day conversing with Jesus without their catching on. The interesting difference with them was that they recognized him in his breaking of the bread.

Are we meant to see how Jesus was different then? What do you thunk? Can you picture the scene?

Might it be that through the many many meals with his followers, Jesus had exhibited his own way of concluding the meal by taking up a loaf and by lovingly giving a share to each one at table with him.

At the conclusion of the Last Supper Jesus had said to his disciples, "Do this in memory of me."

A Korean Mary Magdalene

Tuesday, 4/3/18

Please put up with me repeating this story about a girl whose both name was Soun-Pokey, or "Pure Joy." Wen I arrived in her town in 1954 she and the other teen-aged girls had no chance of attending school, so they found mental exercise by coming up to church, and learning our catechism.

Soon-Pokey learned the whole thing, but we couldn't baptise her, since her father planned on selling her to an Army Officer who already had a wife.

Four years later, in 1958, Soun Pokey came up, asking me to go see her brother who was dying of tuberculosis. To keep him from infecting others, his folks had a little lean-to for him outside the house's back wall. On that wall the family had hung up a sheet with flowers and joyous things like "Home Sweet Home."

It was the kind of time a girl would bring in her trousseau, so I asked the boy, "Are you married?"

He answered, "I was married, but I sent her way, because I must die."  He was shivering, so I gave him a leather jacket I had from my brother Frank.

He became enthused about the catechism, and when it came to baptizing him, he asked to be called him Frank. One day when I went to see him he was gone. His father had dug a hole for him in a neighbor's field. Anyway, thatr father soon sold Soon Pokey to an officer, and I forgot about her. Then, five years late,r some Catholics asked me to visit a girl from their village who was dying

I followed them to where "Frank" had died. The "Home Sweet Home" sheet that still pinned to the back wall of the house; but Soun-Pokey, whom they had left naked, reached up, and with the last of her strength, she tore it down to cover herself.

Having forgotten nothing of the catechism, she was ready for Baptism, so she asked me to bring the Blessed Sacrament and a Bible  from church. She asked me to read today's Gospel story, then she had me baptize her Mary Magdalene. After i baptized her, and had given her Communion, she asked me to leave.

On coming out from Mass in the morning, I saw the men standing and laughing. "Father, that girl you baptized yesterday, died."  

Then, they went on to tell me why they were laughing. Our Mary Magdalene had convinced her father that if he did not give her a proper Catholic funeral she would come back to haunt him after three days.

She scared him into it, so when all the village girls singing at the Mass. Mary Magdalene had her proper funeral.

On Easter we also celebrate our own resurrections.

Monday, 4/2/18

Easter is a double feast. Firstly, we celebrate Our Lord's resurrection from the dead; but, secondly we celebrate our own hopes for rising from the dead.

As our own resurrection, let me tell a story about a strong assertion  of our belief in life after death.

In 1966 I returned to the States after spending twelve years in a Korean town where we had no electricity. On my return I was bothered by all,the changes in America, and I was particularly bothered by elements of our church that had gone too modern.

I was home a few days when I heard about the next day's funeral Mass of a boy we knew what who was  killed in Viet Nam. The funeral Mass was to be sung in the  huge St. Louis cathedral, and my folks suggested I take part.

Expecting there to be two or three priests there, I was surprised at meeting more the twenty priest
in the priests sacristy. . We vested for Mass, then we went in procession outside around the West
side of the Cathedral/

In my  thoughts, as we walked, I ran over the chants for real Catholic funerals. To myself I chanted  the  "Requiem eternal dona eis requiem."

It was so much more proper than any of the new church hymns.

As I followed the other priests into the cathedral, all my preferences flew away. A red haired boy in black stood on the clear marble of the sanctuary.

To his own guitar accompaniment he was singing, "I am the resurrection and the life,
He whom believes in me will never die."

"Sully." one of my old classmates  whispered to me, "That's Ray Repp. He and Jerry wrote this hymn together before Jerry was sent off to Viet Nam. Now he is singing it for him."