Thursday, August 29, 2019



"As I look back and connect the dots, all I want to do is go back and hug my scared young self, who took a lot of steps out of impulse not knowing what will happen. So many nights of disappointment, so many others of being disillusioned where I would have just gone ahead and quit it all - I still do not know what kept me hanging in there." 
Arfi Lamba

Arfi Lamba is an Indian-born actor, producer, entertainer, philosopher, and humanist. His acting debut on screen came in 2008 with the film Slumdog Millionaire.


Tonini Church Supply Company 
966 Breckenridge Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40207

(502) 897-7100

I recommend to as many of you who have the nerve for it, to write down your own story. You don't have to publish it. Just do the work of self-reflection and self-observation for your own enlightenment. 

Notice the patterns in your decision making processes. That, in itself, will tell you a lot about yourself. You just might learn how and why your own decisions, for good or bad, have led you to that person that you have become.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


Donald R. McClarey
April 15, 2012

Father Thomas Byles

One hundred years ago Father Thomas Byles was journeying to New York City aboard the RMS Titanic to say the Mass at his brother William’s wedding.

Born on February 26, 1870, he was the eldest of seven children of a Congregationalist minister. While attending Oxford, from which he graduated in 1894, he converted to Catholicism. Ordained a priest in 1902, he was assigned to be the parish priest at Saint Helen’s in Ongar, Essex in 1905. The parish was poor and had few parishioners, but Father Byles was devoted to them and labored mightily for them until 1912 when he left to answer the call of his brother to celebrate his marriage.

Father Byles did not view his trip on the Titanic as a vacation from his priestly duties. He spent Saturday April 13, hearing confessions, and on Sunday April 14, he said two masses for the second and third class passengers.

When the Titanic struck the iceberg, Father Byles was walking on the upper deck reading his breviary. He immediately sprang into action. He assisted many third class passengers up to the boat deck and onto the life boats. He twice refused to go aboard life boats himself. As the ship was sinking he said the rosary and heard confessions. Near the end he gave absolution to more than a hundred passengers trapped on the stern of the ship after all the lifeboats had been launched.

Two other Catholic priests were also aboard the Titanic, both as second class passengers.

Father Juozas Montvila 

Father Juozas Montvila was a 27 year old priest from Lithuania fleeing Tsarist oppression. He had been ministering to Ukrainian Catholics and he had been forbidden to do so any longer by the Tsarist regime that was attempting to force Eastern Rite Catholics into the Russian Orthodox Church. Father Montvila planned to be a priest for the numerous Ukrainian Catholic immigrants in the United States.

Father Joseph Benedikt Peruschitz

Father Joseph Benedikt Peruschitz was a 41 year old Catholic priest from Germany. He was on his way to join the faculty at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Like Father Byles, Fathers Montvila and Peruschitz went among the passengers, praying with all, Catholic and non-Catholic, and granting absolution. Also like Father Byles they were offered seats in the lifeboats and declined them, realizing that the place for a priest was on board the Titanic with those who were about to die.

The bodies of the three priests were never recovered. The location of their souls however, I am certain, is in Heaven. God was well served by His three priests that dark night one hundred years ago.


              How Holy Obedience Saved a Priest's Life on Titanic
This Jesuit’s iconic photos comprise the most comprehensive collection of photographs that exist of the ill-fated ship 100 years later.

Father Frank Browne

It was the find of a lifetime: While cataloging the archives of a Dublin Jesuit residence, Father Eddie O’Donnell discovered an intriguing antique steamer truck in the cellar.

The treasures inside: 42,500 of Father Frank Browne’s captioned negatives — the most comprehensive collection of Titanic photographs that exist. (I would suggest listening to this Vatican Radio interview of Father O’Donnell discussing some of the more fascinating aspects of Father Browne’s life and how his photography serves as a resource for Titanic research.) Father Browne's Titanic Album: Centenary Edition is available through Messenger Publications.

Father Browne (1880-1960) was an Irish Jesuit priest and master photographer who had a truly exceptional experience of the Titanic during its maiden voyage in April 1912. While aboard the famed liner, Father Browne took many important photographs that have provided essential information about the ship and its fate.

According to the radio interview with Father O'Donnell, critics describe Father Browne as a "master photographer with an unerring eye and the Irish equivalent of Cartier-Bresson." Recognized for their artistic quality, his photographs have been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

When Father O'Donnell showed the negatives to the features editor of the London Sunday Times, the editor said they were "the photographic equivalent to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls."

Father Browne’s Jesuit training began in 1897 in the novitiate and at the Royal University of Ireland (where James Joyce was a classmate; he later referenced him as “Father Browne, the Jesuit” in Finnegans Wake). He then took courses in philosophy and theology from 1911 to 1916. An uncle gave him a ticket on the RMS Titanic as a gift, with passage from Southampton, England, to Cork, Ireland.

The ship's itinerary was from Southampton to Cherbourg, France, to Queenstown, Ireland, then on to final port of call in New York City.

During his voyage to Ireland, the priest befriended an American couple who were so impressed with the young man that they offered to pay his remaining fare and expenses to New York. Father Browne declined their generous offer, explaining that his superior would not allow it.

Not quick to give up, they suggested he send a message to inquire if he could accept. So he telegraphed his superior and received five words in reply: “GET OFF THAT SHIP — PROVINCIAL.”

So he disembarked in Ireland, and the Titanic continued on to its tragic end.

In the years that followed the tragedy, he was known to jest that this is the only time when holy obedience has been known to have saved a man’s life.

In another peculiar twist of fate — or Providence — Father Browne’s Titanic portfolio was discovered in 1985, the same year that Robert Ballard discovered the Titanic wreckage on the seabed.

Sunday, August 25, 2019



                                 Lord, will only a few people be saved?
                                                        Luke 13:22

When priests and deacons preach, they do not get to pick the readings for the Sunday Masses. Passages are simply handed to us and that, I believe, is a good thing! Why? Well if we got to pick the readings ourselves, most of us, out of laziness, would avoid the hard ones, the one’s that take a lot of work to figure out and the ones which address difficult subjects. 

Today’s gospel is one of those readings that I did not want to deal with. It is not easy to understand. However, I have learned from years of experience that “taking difficult passages on” always seems to bring new insights.  Let me share what I have learned from reflecting on this gospel.
Jesus was making his way through some towns and villages on his way to Jerusalem, when someone along the way asked him this question: “Will only a few be saved?”  From the tone of the question, I am sure the questioner was implying, “Besides me and you, will only a few be saved?” 

As he often does, Jesus answers the questioner in a round-about way but he seems to be saying (1) everyone is invited to accept salvation (2) not everybody will accept the invitation (3) not everybody who says they accept, will be strong enough to follow through on the invitation and (4) when all is said and done, some people will be absolutely shocked by who will be saved and who won’t. 

Are you saved? If you died tonight, would you get into heaven? If so, why? If not, why not?  Is it up to God or is it up to you? Do you even know?

These are some of the questions I have wrestled with while writing this homily. I will try to summarize, in simple everyday English, what I think this gospel means for you and me, today, in our own time.

1. God wants everybody to be saved – everybody!  Regardless of how many religions like to claim that they are God’s favorites, the fact remains that God loves all of us. He willed that all of us should be saved.

2. God not only wants us to respond to his invitation to be in a love relationship with him, now and for all eternity, he has also bent over backwards to reach out to us and show us his love. Time and time again we have let God down, but God has never quit loving us, even when we crucified his only Son.  As the old Second Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation put it, “Time and time again we broke your covenant, but you did not abandon us. Instead you bound yourself even more closely to the human family by a bond that cannot be broken. When we were lost and could not find our way to you. You loved us more than ever. Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross.”

3. We don’t have to do anything to earn an invitation to salvation. These invitations are free for the taking. All we need to do is accept our free invitation and live as a child of God!

4. If we do accept his invitation to salvation, then what we do for God will not be done to earn his salvation, but be a grateful response to his free gift of salvation. 

5. The “narrow gate” that Jesus talks about is that moment when we “get it,” when we understand what is being offered to us and what we are being invited to! That “squeezing through” is that point in the spiritual life when we are strong enough to say “yes” rather than “no” to that invitation.

6. We don’t have all day. God is patient, but there does come a time when we need to “lay the egg or get off the nest,” we need to accept or reject God’s invitation.

7. Last of all, there are going to be some huge surprises when we get to heaven. The first will be last and the last will be first.” Some of those we would least expect will be there, while some of those we most expect may be missing. Some who appeared to have said “no” by their external behaviors may actually be the ones who said “yes” in their hearts; while some who appeared to have said “yes” by external behaviors, may actually be the ones who said “no” in their hearts. “People look at externals, but only God can see into people’s hearts.”
Will only a few people be saved? Well, that does not depend on God, at this point, as much as it depends on us! God wills that all of us be saved, that all of us have a love affair with him for all eternity. His Son has made it possible and invites us to accept this salvation, but he also leaves us free to turn it down. Will only a few people be saved? In a sense, that depends on us, doesn’t it?

As we leave this pulpit and approach the altar, let us remember that we did not come here to petition God to love us. We come here to give thanks because God already loves us.  Christ has done his part. He has made salvation available to us free of charge. Now all we need to do is accept it and say thanks and live in its light. If that acceptance and thanks and good living is sincere, our behaviors will change to be more aligned with God’s will. Let us pray today that the Holy Spirit will give us the ability to accept his gift, give thanks for his gift and change our behaviors to align with his gift!