Thursday, November 22, 2018



“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” 
William Arthur Ward


Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Has Been a Productive Year for This Retiree


Archdiocese of Castries, Saint Lucia
Diocese of London, Ontario, Group One
Diocese of London, Ontario, Group Two
Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota
Diocese of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Byzantine Eparchy of Parma of the Ruthenians 
Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas


Diocese of Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Saint John Paul II, Louisville, Kentucky 


Trip Number Ten - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Four shipments of toys, school supplies and school snacks.
Several Catholic school scholarships
Kids computer camp
New van for orphanage. 


Weekly Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption
Holy Week Services - Little Sister's of the Poor Home for the Aged
Episcopal Church Home (weekly visits)
Nazareth Home (weekly visits) 
Evening Reflections at Epiphany and Saint Bernadette
Several funerals, prayer days and some counseling


Our Journey of Lent (in print)
Between Courage and Cowardice: Choosing to Do Hard Things for Your Own Good (in print)
I Had to Laugh (a book of humor almost ready to print)


Many, many blog posts for my blog, An Encouraging Word


Holy Family Church - December 24, 2018



New wood floor, remodeled bathroom and replaced all the windows and sliding glass doors

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the
angels in heaven, nor the Son, but  only the Father.

The message today is simple: you are goina to die! You may not want to think about it, but no doubt about it, someday somebody will be having a funeral for you and for me. Aware of this fact and being almost 75 years old, I recently had my tombstone installed at my home parish down in the country. 

Some of the great saints of the past are often pictured with a skull sitting on their writing desk – sometimes with a sign that said momento mori - remember death. It was placed there as a daily reminder of the fact that death is certain. Today, we try not only not to think about it, we are even trying to find ways around it. Some believe in reincarnation, believing that we never die but just keep coming back until we get it right. Some are trying cyonics, the practice of having their bodies frozen in hopes we will someday find a cure for death and they can come back and keep on living. Some imagine that cloning will provide a way we can recreate another one of us, just like the last one. The funeral industry is making a killing disguising death, offering us beautifully dressed corpses that look like they are merely sleeping, placing them in air-tight caskets with “life-time guarantees” whatever that means!. Still others are engaging in unhealthy practices, like unprotected sex, overeating or smoking, as if somehow death could never happen to them!  The fact is, there is no cure for, no escaping, death!

Then there is the “religious crowd,” those who comb the scriptures looking for clues about the end of the world so that they can get ready right before the curtain falls. Behind their search is the assumption that they can live any way they choose, repent at the last minute and get in under the wire. They did it in Jesus’ day. They do it today.

In his day, Jesus spoke of his Second Coming. Early Christians actually did look for a Second Coming in their lifetimes. The first book of the New Testament, First Thessalonians, talks about getting ready for that imminent Second Coming. They were so convinced that it was going to happen in their lifetime that many Christians basically gave up on this life to sit down and wait for it to happen. This prompted Paul to write a second letter to the Thessalonians, telling them to get up and get back to work because “no one knew” when it would come. The gospels of Mark and Matthew, written a little later, speak of the Second Coming, but warns people that “no one knows the day or the hour” and “if someone tells you that this or that will be the day, do not believe them.” 

Even today, especially at the turn of this century eighteen years ago, some people got all excited about reading “signs” indicating the end of the world. Again, it did not happen! Every few years, some fanatical religious leader will start a cult built on the assumption that that he or she had discovered “in the scriptures” signs that the world will soon end. All of them have been wrong.

There are three things worth pointing out here. (1) No one can predict the date through reading “signs” because no one knows. (2) When it does happen, it will not be a disaster but rather a glorious day for those who live faithful lives. “Eye has not seen. Ear has not heard. Nor has it even dawned on human beings the great things God has in store for those who love him.” Therefore, we wait, not in dread, but “in joyful hope.” (3) The only reason for trying to predict it, is live anyway you want and then try to “get ready” before the curtain drops. Foolish! If you live in readiness, you have nothing to be afraid of. The real message, then, is to “be ready,” not “get ready.”

I think about death more these days than I ever have. It has to do with the fact that I am heading toward 75 and the fact that the diocese sends out a “funeral planning form” every couple of years, asking us to update our plans so they will know what to do with us if we were to die unexpectedly. All this together, makes me look at something I may not want to look at: the fact that I will die sometime. It is not morbid, but a matter of practicality.

Here are a few things I have put into my “funeral planning form.” (1) I have stated that, if I were to die tomorrow, it would be OK because I have had an incredible life as a priest, a life richer and fuller than I ever imagined when I was growing up. I am not pushing to go just yet, but I think I can leave this world anytime a very thankful man. (2) I don’t want to waste a lot of money on such foolishness as an expensive casket, vault and monument and I don’t want my ashes thrown frivolously out of some airplane or used as a mantle decoration. I plan to be buried in one of my oldest Penny’s black suit from J. C Penny's in a simple wooden “monk’s casket” from Saint Meinrad Archabbey, made out of unfinished poplar wood, with a lid that is put on with screw drivers,  (By the way, I get a free one because I worked there for 14 years.)  I won’t be needing this body again, so let them take whatever organs that can be used and then let the rest of it rot in the ground! As a message to the people I leave behind, I want to be buried clutching the Lectionary that the Archbishop of Winnipeg, Canada,  gave me a few years back when I told him and his priests that preaching has been the center and joy of my life. I want a funeral with joyful Easter music. I want the preacher to talk about what God has done for me, not what I did for God. I want to be buried in the cemetery of the church, in the country, where I grew up. My small tombstone, already in place, has my full name, the date I was baptized, the day I was ordained and the date I went to God.  On top I have these words engraved – “simply amazed – forever grateful.” In short, I want people to get the message that I am not clinging to this life, but my eye is on the next one.

Planning your funeral may not be fun, but it is the best way to take stock of what you believe about life and death. It can be a statement of faith.

In the meantime, forget about predicting the end! Let’s all live well, as long as we can! Let us live with our bags packed, ready to go, should it happen today or years from now! Let us live in “joyful hope,” knowing in our hearts that we are truly “glory bound!”