Tuesday, August 20, 2019



Do you remember not having enough money for needed school supplies?
 I certainly do! 
It was a problem for me both in grade school and minor seminary! 
That has made me sensitive to the needs of the kids down in the island missions. 

My friend, Sister Carmen, presenting a delighted fellow teacher in Saint Mary's School with some of the school supplies we sent down last year. We try to help three of the schools. 

are just a few places with great deals this month! 

I plan to ship a few boxes down before the end of the month. 
I have quite a few things, but time is running out and the need is great! 
Let me know if you have a few things to add to the boxes! 
We will even take used ball point pens! 

Sunday, August 18, 2019


Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us persevere
in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-4

Many of you might remember the thriller film, The Sixth Sense, which tells the story of Cole Sear, a troubled, isolated boy, who is able to see and talk to the dead, and an equally troubled child psychologist (played by Bruce Willis), who tries to help him. The most famous lines from the film belong to the young boy. “I see dead people!”

In a way, that is exactly what the writer of our second reading is telling us when he says, “we are surrounded by a “cloud of witnesses.”  In fact, he is saying four things.

(  First, our second reading is telling us that living the Christian life is like running a race. It is not a stroll for the lazy and indifferent. It takes the serious discipline of an athlete. We need to train every day of our lives. We need to know where we are going, remain focused, and keep our eyes fixed on the finish line. G.K. Chesterton said it best when he wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting: it has been found difficult and left untried.” The biggest threat to Christianity are not those who persecute it, but those who claim the name and think it ought to be easy, but who are unwilling to walk the talk!

Second, our second reading is telling us that there are people “in the stands,” people who have run the race before us and who have already crossed the finish line, who are cheering us on! It challenges us to remember that we are surrounded by a large group of supportive onlookers as we live out our lives as Christians. This is precisely what we mean when we say in our Creed that we believe in the “communion of the saints.” By that, we mean that we believe that there is an ongoing and real connection between those who have practiced the faith before us and those of us who are trying to practice the same faith today – an unbroken connection between those living here and those living in eternity. I, for one, do not actually see dead people, but I do feel their presence, helping me along the way. I believe that I am not alone on my journey of faith, but I am part of a larger story, a great procession of people marching through history. I have you and I have that “great cloud of witnesses,” all those holy men and women from every time and place,” who have finished their race and have crossed the finished line, but now are watching us race toward that same finish line - and they are cheering us on! 
The writer of this Letter to the Hebrews mentions some great Old Testament saints, lining the race track, people like Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the parents of Moses, Gideon, Samson, Job, Rahab, Samson, David and Samuel.

Just think of the holy men and women who have been baptized in this Cathedral, who have prayed in this Cathedral, who were married in this Cathedral, who were buried buried from this Cathedral. Think of Bishop Flaget, whose bones are buried downstairs! He rode horseback from here as far north as Wisconsin and Michigan, all over Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee. Think of Mother Catherine Spalding, whose bronze statue graces our front sidewalk. She started and orphanage, a school and a hospital directly under where I am standing. This place reeks of their holiness! 

I can feel their presence, and not only theirs, but the little old ladies who had been keeping the lights on when I arrived here in 1983, before we were able to revitalize this congregation and restore these buildings. Yes, I still remember many of them and I can still feel their presence watching over us!
    I can feel the presence of my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, my sister, the nuns and priests who taught me and the hundreds of parishioners I have buried in all the parishes I have served.  I feel them cheering me on as I race toward the finish line!

(  Third, our second reading tells us to “persevere in running the race that lies before us.” Dropping out of the race is always an option, especially when one leaves home and enters college. One of the big questions I used to ask college students when I worked at Bellarmine University, is this one: “Will you abandon the religious upbringing of your childhood or will you choose it for myself of your own free will? Will you persevere in living your Catholic Christian  faith or will you simply drop out of the race because it is too hard, because it is too much trouble, because it demands too much, because it is too inconvenient or because others around you are dropping out as well. The writer of our second reading is right! Perseverance in running the race requires the personal discipline and self-control of an athlete! Sometimes it means running against the wind, swimming against the tide and taking the road less traveled. Let us, however, listen to the encouragement of those who have finished the race before us and are cheering us on from the sidelines, rather than those who have dropped out of the race for whatever reason!   

(  Fourth, our second reading tells us to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.” Distractions are a problem for all of us no matter how many laps we have completed. There are those who seek to draw our attention away from the race we are running. “Look here! Look over there! Look at me! Look at this! Pay attention to this! Pay attention to that! See this! See that!” If we are to persevere in running this race, we must keep our eyes fixed on the finish line, we must “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.” We must remain focused on what we are doing and why we are doing it, until we hear Jesus say to us at the finish line, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master!”