Saturday, January 20, 2018



Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Is 5:20)


In the story of Genesis in the Bible, the serpent is famous for presenting evil as good, with Adam and Eve falling for it.

Have you been paying attention to the subtle messages in recent advertising? It seems to be that more and more, bad is being presented as good, cute, acceptable or inevitable.

Take, for example, that ad where a young teacher is at wits end with a classroom of screaming, out-or-control and disrespectful children who have basically taken over a classroom. She gives up and goes on vacation to calm down. The implication is that it is the teacher's problem for not being able to handle it.

Have you noticed how many new car ads feature speeding and spinning cars being driven in totally reckless and dangerous situations?

Others are more subtle. Our cable company has many "cute" ads with various monsters as the "heroes" fighting the unfairness of Direct TV. One of the ads has one of the monster parents lamely defending his child who has put obscenities, which she had picked up at home, on her art project as "artistic expression."

Another has a mother with two boys in a garage where she is having the car worked on that shows the two boys totally out of her control in a public place as if their behavior is cute and she is powerless. It is laughed off.

In the race to promote the dignity of women, a cause whose time has certainly come, many think that if women are raised up, men have to be put down. So married men are more and more presented in married couple commercials as wimpish, stupid, clueless, of little consequence and the butt of constant jokes. It is sick version of, "If women win, men have to lose!".Whatever happen to win/win?

Euthanasia, is already getting its vocabulary together so that it can be promoted as a good thing, even a work of mercy - to assist people in their dying process and to ease their pain. Euthanasia makes it sound acceptable because, translated, the word itself means "good death." If you call it good long enough, many will quickly come to see it as not so bad. and slowly graduate to seeing it as a good. The big question then, of course, is who gets to decide?

"It wasn't my fault!" "If my parents hadn't been so defective, I would not have turned to crime!" "I couldn't help it. I was drunk!" "I'm only human!" "I didn't do anything that everyone else isn't doing!" "I don't know! It just happened!" These are regular lines from shows like Maury. From the very beginning, man has tended to project farther and farther from himself his responsibility for the evil that he does and the evil that goes on around him. In the story of creation, Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent for the first sin.

Comedian Flip Wilson has gone the way of all old comedians, but his character "Geraldine" lives on in the many guests of TV shows like Jerry Springer. "Geraldine" used to squeal, "The Devil made me do it!" If you listen to the stream of pathetic guests and hear about their outrageous behaviors, you will realize right away that they have one thing in common - somebody or something else is always responsible.

If they are caught sleeping with their daughter's boy friend, it was because they were drunk. If they are caught in adultery, it was because their spouse wasn't giving them the attention they deserve. If they are discovered committing incest with their sister, it was because "she came on to me."

Besides denying personal responsibility for the evil that we do, or that goes on around us, we project responsibility farther and farther from us by giving our sins new names. Adultery is often referred to "having an affair" or "playing around." Stealing is downgraded to "taking a few things from work" or "creative book keeping" or "taking what I deserve."

Even our government has done it. When the Nixon administration was confronted with "breaking and entering," the White House dismissed it as "misguided zeal." Murder and assassinations in Central America was once renamed by our State Department as "unlawful deprivation of life."

It was only a matter of time! On November 19, 2017, I saw my first ad from the DIGNITY funeral people of Louisville advertising a "celebration of her life" rock music dance party to celebrate the passing of a loved one who loved rock music, instead of a traditional funeral service that focuses on an "after life!" Is this the American version of an "Irish Wake?" One website called such a practice a "curious cultural blend of paganism and Christianity." Amen! That's pretty much sums it up!

This year's new "Christmas movie" is entitled The Man Who Invented Christmas. Here is what the advertisements says. "The film shows how Charles Dickens mixed real life, inspirations with vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale (here's the clincher), forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today." Really? Charles Dickens invented Christmas? Scrooge is the real hero of the season?

A few years ago, a new Christmas movie came out called BAD SANTA - a truly sick, foul and twisted take on a beloved symbol for children. Why am I not surprised to find out that a company by the name of TREETOPIA has an upside down Christmas tree for $169.99! Here it is in all its twisted glory!

Just when you think you have seen it all, there is a pseudo-icon of 
"Saint" Judas Iscariot - the one who betrayed Jesus! He is holding the rope he hanged himself with!

PET SMART promises to give 60,000,000 meals to "pets in need" if you buy some of their pet food. Meanwhile, 16,000,000 American children do not have enough food to eat!
Black is white! White is black! Up is down! Down is up! Bad is good! Good is bad! Fake news! Government lies! No wonder we are confused!

Thursday, January 18, 2018



There's never been a better time to be single

"Marriage is a healthy estate," British physician William Farr wrote in 1858, in one of the first studies to conclude that married people were better off than their single counterparts. "The single individual is more likely to be wrecked on his voyage than the lives joined in matrimony."
The ensuing decades have done little to dissuade social scientists of their certainty that single people were doing themselves a disservice. Until now. In 2017, it was that conviction that got wrecked.
    As a psychologist, I study single people -- their lives, their happiness, the stigma they face -- and I can say that 2017 was a banner year for the publication of massive studies challenging what we thought we knew about their supposedly inferior life voyages.
    New insights just kept coming: on sex and dating, on self-esteem, on what it means to be an adult. And they came just in time: In recent history, there have never been as many unmarried adults as there are right now.
    Here are a half dozen of the coolest discoveries about single people from the year 2017.

    Demographically, single people are more powerful than ever before.

    In 2017, the Census Bureau reported that a record number of adults in the U.S. were not married. More than 110 million residents were divorced or widowed or had always been single; that's more than 45 percent of all Americans aged 18 or older. And people who did marry were taking longer than ever to get there.
    The median age of first marriage rose to 29.5 for men; for women, it reached 27.4. (These trends are likely to continue: A report from the Pew Research Center a few years ago predicted that by the time today's young adults reach the age of 50, about one in four of them will have been single all their life.)
    Living alone is also becoming more popular. Last summer, the Canadian press was abuzz with the newsthat for the first time in the nation's history, more people were living in one-person households than in any other arrangement. In the U.S., the number of people living without a spouse or partner rose to 42 percent last year, up from 39 percent a decade ago.
    Individualistic practices like living alone aren't just Western phenomena -- they've gone global. In analyses of a half-century of data (1960-2011) from 78 nations around the world, psychology researcher Henri C. Santos and his colleagues found that the popularity of such practices grew significantly for 83 percent of the countries with relevant data. Individualistic beliefs, like valuing friends more than family, have also been on the rise, increasing significantly for 79 percent of the nations across the five decades.

    Marriage is no longer considered a key part of adulthood.

    A half-century ago, Americans who had not yet married wouldn't be considered real adults. That's no longer the case.
    According to a 2017 Census Bureau report, more than half of the participants in a nationally representative sample (55 percent) said that getting married was not an important criterion for becoming an adult. The same percentage also said that having a child was not an important milestone of adulthood.
    More important now is completing formal schooling and having full-time employment; 95 percent said that each of those criteria was at least somewhat important.

    High-schoolers aren't as into dating -- or sex.

    In a study published last fall, psychologists Jean M. Twenge and Heejung Park analyzed four decades' worth of data (1976-2016) on the sex and dating experiences of more than 8 million students in the ninth through twelfth grades. The percentage of teens who had ever been on a date was lowest in the most recent years of the study. And along the same lines, the percentage who had had sex was at an all-time low in recent years.

    Single people are having more sex than married people.

    Moving past the teens and on to people 18 and older, the same holds true: Adults are having less sex than they used to. Analyzing survey data collected from more than 26,000 people between 1989 and 2014, researchers found that the average person now has sex around nine fewer times per year than the average person in the early '90s.
    But not all groups followed the same sexual trajectory -- the drop was especially pronounced for the people who were married or divorced, compared to people who had always been single. In fact, according to one of several ways of looking at the data, singles are now having sex more often than married people are.
    And then there are people that aren't having sex at all. The idea that there are some people who just do not experience sexual attraction has a more prominent place in our cultural consciousness today, something for which the the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), founded in 2001, gets much of the credit.
    By 2017, there was enough research on asexuality, including large-scale studies, to justify a review article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Defying the early skepticism on the topic, authors Lori A. Brotto and Morag Yule concluded that asexuality is a unique sexual orientation, one that applies to up to 3 percent of adults, and not a sexual dysfunction or psychiatric disorder.

    A relationship doesn't mean higher self-esteem ...

    As teens shrug at the idea of dating and adults put off or skip marriage altogether, skeptics might wonder, aren't they all missing out on that boost of self-esteem that comes from "having someone"?
    Not really. In a landmark study on the link between romantic relationships and self-esteem, researchers Eva C. Luciano and Ulrich Orth studied more than 9,000 adults in Germany as they entered or ended romantic relationships or stayed single. Their conclusion: "Beginning a relationship improves self-esteem if and only if the relationship is well-functioning, stable, and holds at least for a certain period (in the present research ... one year or longer)."
    People who started new romantic relationships that failed to last a year ended up with lower self-esteem than the people who stayed single. There was nothing magical about marriage, either; people who married enjoyed no better self-esteem than those who stayed in romantic relationships without tying the knot.

    ... and marriage doesn't mean better health.

    Part of the mythology of marriage, long bolstered by the writings of social scientists, is that people who marry become healthier than they were when they were single. After all, the logic goes, married couples get all that loving support from each other, and they make sure their spouses are taking care of themselves. But three big methodologically sophisticated studies published in 2017 shook our faith in that idea.
    In one of the studies, researchers followed more than 79,000 U.S. women between the ages of 50 and 79 over a three-year period, tracking whether they got married (or started a serious relationship), stayed married, got divorced or separated, or stayed single. Author Randa Kutob and her colleagues also took repeated physical measurements of the women's waist size, body-mass index, and blood pressure, and asked them about their smoking, drinking, exercise, and eating habits.
    With just one exception, every significant finding favored the women who either stayed single instead of marrying, or who got divorced instead of staying married. For example, the women who married gained more weight and drank more than those who stayed single.
    The women who divorced ate healthier, exercised more, and had smaller waists than the women who stayed married. (The one exception was that the women who divorced were more likely to start smoking than the women who stayed married.)
    In the second study, a 16-year survey of more than 11,000 Swiss men and women, the people who married reported slightly worse overall health than they had when they were single, even taking into account changes in health that often occur with age. And in the third study, sociologist Dmitry Tumin surveyed more than 12,000 adults in the U.S. who got married for the first time to see if they described their general health as better after they married or better when they were single.
    He broke down the data several ways: He examined men's marriages separately from women's; he conducted separate analyses of the marriages of people born in different decades; he evaluated marriages that lasted for different lengths of time.
    In all the scenarios he looked at, with one exception, the people who got married never reported being healthier. The exception was for the oldest women (born between 1955 and 1964) whose marriages lasted at least ten years, who considered themselves slightly healthier.
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    It's a powerful blow -- one of many -- against the notion that marriage is the ideal way to live. For a long time, we've accepted the idea that unless they hurry up and marry, single adults will stay sexless and unhappy until they die (and sooner, at that).
    But it seems single people don't scare so easily anymore -- in unprecedented numbers, they are going ahead and living their single lives, which are often healthier and more fulfilling than those of their coupled counterparts. In 2017, finally, the weight of the scientific evidence from the most sophisticated studies was on their side.

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018



    (look at the map to find the various island parishes) 

    Immaculate Conception Parish

    Immaculate Conception Church

    Annunciation Parish

    Annunciation Church

    Filipino Father Edmundo is the pastor of Annunciation Parish

    The Canouan party committee. 

    Saint Joseph Parish 

    The St. Joseph party had to be postponed till later in January.

    Saint Michael Parish 


    All the parishes of the Diocese of Kingstown held a Christmas Festival - all were invited. 

    Saint Benedict Home for Children
    Bread of Life Home for Children 
    will be featured in a future blog post when photos are available.

    I am still thanking God that the toys were finally found and have made it to the islands. 

    Sunday, January 14, 2018




                                    Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!
                                                                I Samuel 3

    What Father Michael does these days in his other job of Vocation Director, a job I also held several years ago, is described in our first reading. In short, we try to encourage young people listen for God’s voice and respond to it with enthusiasm.

    In that job of Vocation Director, Father Michael and I, represent the old priest Eli in our first reading. Samuel represents all the young people that we  speak to and listen to throughout the year. Eli (whose name, by the way, means “uncertain”) is an old temple priest who lived during a religiously bleak time in Israel – in many ways like today’s Church. Many of the temple priests were corrupt and there seemed to be a shortage of good priests willing to speak convincingly for the Lord.  Old Eli, however, carries on his priestly duties in spite of the bad times. He is assisted by a young man named Samuel. Samuel, like many young people of his day, was not familiar with the Lord. It was, however, precisely during such a terrible state of affairs that God calls this young man, Samuel, to be his spokesman.

    This wonderful story is, in some ways, a funny story. The old priest Eli and the young Samuel are asleep in the Temple. Young Samuel keeps waking up thinking he hears someone calling his name. He presumes it is the old priest Eli, so he gets out of bed and goes into the other room and says, “You called?” He does this twice and twice Eli tells him “No! I wasn’t calling you!, Go back to sleep!” When the young Samuel hears the voice a third time and goes to awaken the old priest, Eli realizes that it must be the Lord who was calling him.  Old Eli then tells young Samuel, “If you hear the voice again, tell the voice “Speak, your servant is listening.”  This time Samuel answers the call just as Eli had instructed him. He says to God, “Speak, for your servant is listening!”  God then takes Samuel and gradually turns him into a great prophet, a powerful and effective spokesman. As a preacher, I love the closing line. It says that God "did  not permit any word of Samuel's to be without effect.” Any serious preacher would love to know that all his words hit the target and had lasting effects! 

    Just as the old priest Eli did for the the young man Samuel, our jobs are not to talk anyone into anything, but to help them listen for what God is calling them to do. Our job is to encourage people to listen, and when they hear God’s call, to be ready to answer, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 

    Let me be perfectly clear here! You will not be doing us a favor if you listen for God’s call. You will be doing yourself a favor. Your very happiness depends on hearing your call, discerning your vocation, and finding your purpose in life.  Getting your call right, is one of the most essential tasks in life. If you get it right, it will bring you unimaginable happiness and peace of mind. If you get it wrong, you will go through life always feeling that something is just not quite right! You will be unhappy without knowing why. You will be driven to look for love in all the wrong places and you will find yourself settling for second best.  As Thomas Merton says, “The biggest human temptation is to settle – to settle for too little!” Buddha put it this way, “Our goal in life is to find out what our goal in life is and to give ourselves to that goal wholeheartedly.” Dale Carnegie put it this way, “Throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, and you will find happiness that you thought could never be yours.” 

    Let me say a few things about what I have learned about “calls.” First of all, all of us received our primary “call” at our baptisms. God adopted us as his children and called us to grow into his likeness as his disciples.  Like Samuel, the first call we all need to “wake up” to is to become like Christ!

    Within that call, we have a second call, a call to carry on some part of Christ’s work in the world. The hard part, like Samuel, is to discern what part of God work we are called to carry on! Am I being called to teaching, healing, feeding, reconciling or what?

    Before Jesus left this earth, he commissioned his followers to carry on his work. So that we might be equipped for this work, he sent the Holy Spirit to make us powerful enough to do what he has given us to do. He even stated that with the power of the Holy Spirit we could do what he did and even more.

    There are, then, a variety of specific calls within the general call to carry on Christ’s work of teaching, healing, feeding and reconciling. The possibilities are endless. Some are called to marriage and parenthood. Others are called to be teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, politicians, artists, counselors and administrators. Still other are called to ordained ministry, the religious life or full-time church ministry as lay persons.

    There will be opportunities in the weeks ahead to talk about marriage, parenthood and the other calls, but let me today say a few words about the calls to priesthood, religious life and full-time lay ministry. Don’t turn me off just because you feel it is not your call. The work of promoting religious vocations is just as much your responsibility as it is mine and Father Michael's  Even if it is not your call, you have a responsibility to encourage others in these calls and tell them that you see it, if you see it being manifested in them. Just as Eli had to tell Samuel to “listen,” we are called to encourage each other to “listen” for God’s call.  We all need to do this a little more these days, especially at a time when many people do not appear to be “familiar with the Lord.”  After all, someday you will need to be married, have your babies baptized and confirmed, have your confessions heard, attend Mass, be anointed when you are sick and dying, have a funeral or be ministered to by religious and lay ministers in countless ways. I am happy to say that this diocese has produced several bishops, many priests and religious and a plethora of fine lay ministers in the last few years because they were encouraged by someone to listen for God’s call!  

    What are the signs of a possible vocation to priesthood, religious life, permanent diaconate or full-time lay ministry?  Assuming the person is a healthy, well-rounded person of faith and practice, he or she should have a fundamental openness to people. We don’t need priests, religious, permanent deacons or lay ministers who are unbalanced religious fanatics or who cannot relate to people of both sexes. Sadly, all those positions have been filled! He or she should have a disposition to compassion and justice, with a desire to be of service. Most of all, he or she should have a capacity for healthy introspection and contemplation. If he or she cannot be quiet sometimes and listen, we don’t need them!

    Secondly, a priest, religious, permanent deacon or full time lay minister should carry at least the potential for a lively and creative intellectual life. This is especially needed for the ministries of preaching, counseling, spiritual direction and pastoral leadership. The members of our church deserve the best and brightest to minister to them.  Along with these qualities is the aptitude for community, as well as the capacity for sustained commitment and delayed gratification. They have to be able to “go the distance.”

    Third, a priest, religious, permanent deacon or full-time lay minister must have a capacity for rising above self-interest in the service of the gospel, the ability to surrender his or her life to something bigger than himself or herself.

    Some religious priests, sisters and brothers live “apart” in monasteries and convents. Others of us, along with permanent deacons and full-time lay ministers, live “in the world.” Both those who live “in the world” and those “set apart” are equal members in the household of God.  One is not “better” or “higher” than the other. They simply serve in different ways. Diocesan priests, like myself, are called to live “in the world.” I get a pension, draw Social Security, paid taxes my whole adult life, own a home, buy my own car, do my own laundry, shop at the grocery, cook my own food and I saved for retirement for 45 years. Diocesan priests like me live “in the world” so as to serve those who live “in the world.”   

    Today is a day to appreciate and pray for priests, sisters, brothers and full-time lay ministers. Today is a day to call forth from the community of believers new people like Samuel to carry on these ministries into the future.  If you, or anyone you know, would like to know more details, call Father Michael. Like the old Eli, I once told Father Michael, like Samuel,when he was still a student at Bellarmine where I was chaplain, "Michael, someday you will take my place!" Guess what? All these years later, he has two of my old jobs: Vocation Director and pastor of the Cathedral!

    I retired about three years ago. Now I leave you with a serious question! Who here is God calling to take my place – here in the pulpit and there at the altar? It could be you or that person sitting down from you, in front of you or behind you!