Thursday, March 1, 2018


Saint Barnabas Campus
3042 Hikes Lane
Louisville, Kentucky

I have offered this Parish Mission in several areas of our diocese, in the Owensboro Diocese and in the Diocese of Venice (Florida), but I was asked to do it one more time here in Louisville.

It is my pleasure to invite you, if you have never attended this Parish Mission, to come out this Lent and pray with some fellow believers, sing your heart out with my gospel music group, REFLECTIONS, and listen to some challenging preaching.

A very special welcome to those Catholics who might have drifted away these past few years. Throughout my priesthood, I have made it my specialty to reach out to you and welcome you.

There will be no pressure, but Lent is a great time to "begin again."

(individual members may change depending on availability)






Come all three nights, if you can!
If not, come the ones you can!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


They begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;
and as many as touched it were healed. 
Mark 6:56

Father Louis Evely makes the case that the phenomenon known as a “healing miracle” is simply an abnormal acceleration of natural healing processes that are triggered by faith. A “miracle” he says, does not occur from the outside in, but from the inside out. Christ did not tell those he cured, “My power has cured you.” Instead, he said, “Your faith has cured you.” In the next chapter of this gospel, Mark reports that Jesus could work no miracle there because of people’s lack of faith.” Still later Mark says that people were begging to brought to the marketplaces so that they might touch the tassel of his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed. It was not a holy tassel that caused their cures in the gospel today, it was their faith that triggered their cure! Their faith triggered an acceleration of natural healing processes.
What about the miracles that have been recorded at places like Lourdes? Well, there have been miracles at every shrine of every religion, and most of these have been miracles of healing. Father Evely notes that the sole characteristic of a miraculous cure is the extraordinary acceleration of the natural healing process. That which cannot be healed by a natural process is not susceptible to a miraculous cure; an amputated leg or am, for example, has never been re-grown miraculously – not even a finger. So it seems that such acceleration of the natural processes of healing can be triggered by faith. It’s not the sacred stone, the holy relic, the water from a mysterious water source or even the tassel of a Jesus’ cloak that causes the healing, but the intensity of faith of those who believe that triggers their extraordinarily rapid healing processes.

Sunday, February 25, 2018


God did not spare his own son,
but handed him over for us all.

Romans 8:32

Every year, on April 8, hundreds of dog lovers gather in one of Tokyo's train stations to remember the loyalty and devotion of a university professor's pet dog, Hachiko.

This dog was only 18 months old when his master died of a stroke while at work. The next day, and for the next nine years, Hachiko went to the station and waited for his beloved master before walking home alone. Nothing and no one could discourage Hachiko from maintaining his nightly vigil. It was not until he followed his master in death nine years later that Hachiko failed to appear in his place at the railroad station. A bronze statue of this dog still stands at his waiting place outside the train station. Inspired by his faithfulness and loyalty, Hachiko was mounted and stuffed and is still on display at the Tokyo Museum of Art.
What we have today, in our first reading, is a story about fidelity and loyalty as well. This one is not about a dog, but about Abraham, who Christians, Muslims or Jews all call "our father in the faith!" Abraham is model of total trust and absolute fidelity to God.

When we read this story, most of us think about the poor boy, Isaac, all strapped on a woodpile with his father standing over him with a knife ready to kill him to please a sadistic God! If that is what we get out of this story, we have missed the point and failed to understand its message.

We have to remember that Abraham and Sara had been childless all their lives until one day when three strange guests appeared at their tent to tell them that they were going to be blessed with a child in their old age. One cannot describe how excited they would have been in that culture to have a son to carry on the family name.

As precious as this long-awaited son was to Abraham, as joy-filled as he had been since his birth, Abraham trusted God so much that he was willing to give Isaac up, if it came right down to it. Abraham had trusted God before and had been blessed, so he was willing to keep on trusting God even to the point of surrendering the one thing in this world that was most precious to him, his only son. Because of this, Abraham became an example to the world of radical fidelity to God, even when things appear not to make sense and even when a good outcome seems impossible.
When we get to Good Friday, we will see this story acted out again when Jesus' radical fidelity to God holds up even through a painful death on a cross! We often focus too much, I believe, on the pain that Jesus suffered, when the most important thing was his fidelity. It was his fidelity that pleased God. Jesus' suffering manifested his unequivocal fidelity to God.
Fidelity! We have a whole lot of names for it: keeping a promise, carry through, doing what you said you'd do, keep your word, putting your money where your mouth is, putting up and shutting up, being faithful, to name a few.

When I was ordained a priest, 48 years ago this May, I made a promise to remain faithful to my ministry till death, very much like many of you when you were married. From my own experience, let me share with you a few things I have learned about fidelity in my last 48 years. 
(1) Fidelity is not static, by dynamic. By that, I mean you don't just commit in some ceremony and "puuuf," fidelity is guaranteed. It is always a way of life, rather than a fact of life. Fidelity is something that must be freely and consciously chosen every morning you put your feet to the floor, whether you're a marriage partner or a priest. In a days time, life offers innumerable opportunities to be faithful or unfaithful. In fact, many of those around us today will actually encourage us and entice us to be unfaithful, rather than faithful. In other words, opportunities for infidelity, as well as some very convincing rhetoric will try to entice us to be unfaithful. Like love, fidelity can often be demandingly harsh, especially when we have to say "no" to things that look good, smell good, taste good and feel good - all for the sake of a higher good.

(2) Those who make commitments to fidelity must count the cost before they make it and be able to pay the price after they make it. In marriage, you must not only be able to remain faithful yourself, you have to marry someone else who has what it takes to remain faithful. One should never make a lifetime commitment without having what it takes to keep it. Before one takes such a serious leap as a life-time commitment, one must be able to take baby steps before big steps. Before one makes a lifetime commitment, it is a good idea to see if one can make small commitments and keep them. Nemo dat quod non habet. One cannot give what one does not have. If you never keep your word, never follow through on even small promises, always take the latest best offer no matter what you told someone else yesterday, never finish a project, never can be counted on to show up, then you are not ready to be a priest or a marriage partner. I used to tell the college students at Bellarmine, that it was a good place to practice their "fidelity ability." If they are constantly unfaithful there in friendships and other commitments, they probably won't be able to be faithful later in the relationship of marriage.

It is here that the Church gets a bum rap. Catholic marriages are deliberately hard to enter - and that's because Jesus told us those who enter them, enter them for life. Permanence of marriage is not something the Church came up with. This permanence is something the Church was instructed to uphold. Therefore, the Church makes a big deal in trying to find out whether the two people marrying can not only make a commitment for life, but even more so, be able to keep it over a lifetime! Seminary students are brought through an even more strenuous process to find out whether they should be ordained, but even more so, whether they can stay ordained.

I'm always amazed by the fact that people can stand before God and witnesses and pledge unconditional fidelity to each other until death and come back three years later and get upset that you won't witness a second and third unconditional pledge of fidelity until death - all the while raging against the Church for not going along with it. I have already made a pact with a good friend of mine that if, for some reason or other, I should quit the priesthood, he will not allow me to blame the Church for my inability to keep my pledge to be a priest until death! I may not be able to remain faithful to death, but if I can't, I promise not to blame anybody or anything but my own self and my own weakness.

(3) Fidelity is often presented as a horrible cross to bear with rewards only in the after life. Very little is said about the payoffs of fidelity. I believe that fidelity has pay-offs similar to regular exercise and a good diet. It's not easy, but it is ultimately good for you and for society. God knows we have seen the pain that uncommitted partners, infidelity, latest best offers, grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence thinking have inflicted on innocent marriage partners, families and especially children. Fidelity teaches you a lot about yourself. Fidelity teaches you to work through problems, rather than run from them. It helps you focus your energy in a more effective way. You learn to be reliable and know that you have others to rely on, in a world that is becoming more slippery by the day.

(4) One does not just make a promise of fidelity and hope for the best or merely tough it out. One must tend one's garden, pay attention on a daily basis and do all one can to protect one's commitment from compromise and contamination. I have learned one thing from hundreds and hundreds of failed marriages. They were not killed. They simply starved to death, day after day, from lack of care and feeding - by one or the other or both!

One of my heroes is Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit and a scientist. Because of his new ideas, he was silenced by Rome in 1926. He was urged by many to leave, not only the Jesuits, but also the Church. He decided rather to "go on to the end and with a smile if possible." Why? He said, "When I took my vows I committed myself. To break them would be an offense against honor." "One must work from within," he said. "Those who leave no longer have any influence. The ideas now considered revolutionary will be generally accepted...The day will come; there can be no possible doubt about it." 
Faithful God, help us develop the inner strength and courage we need to be faithful too!