Thursday, November 7, 2019



Last June, I was invited to give a presentation at the annual Notre Dame Preaching Conference up at Notre Dame University. The title of my presentation was:
Claiming the Pulpit for Spiritual Leadership and Personal Sanctification

The Diocese of Nashville heard about it and asked me to repeat it at the Pastoral Center as a "study day" for the priests and deacons of the diocese. I am honored since one of my fellow Louisville priests, Father Mark Spalding, is now Bishop Mark Spalding, the bishop of Nashville. 

Bishop Mark Spalding

My seminary classmate, Gary Marvin, is going to drive me down to Nashville in his new car. We'll have lots to talk about. 
He is always so helpful - with my computer, my blog and my research. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019



They are located right here in Louisville, Kentucky.
They do excellent work with their team of volunteers saving tons of good usable medical supplies from being wasted. 

We Have Sent Two Containers to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Ten Tons

Play the video... Click on the arrow on bottom left...

Supplies Over Seas Support Video from Paper Crane Cinema Co. on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 3, 2019


He has gone to stay at a sinners house!
Luke 19:1-10

“You can’t judge a book by its cover!”  We have all heard this warning about disappointing contents coming in beautiful packaging. All of us, no doubt, have been fooled into buying a book with an attractive cover or rented a movie with a great-sounding trailer that turned out to be “garbage.”

In the religious world, “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is true as well! Many, no doubt, have been fooled by “religious types” with their great made-for-TV images, who were really nothing more than “wolves in sheep’s clothing!” 

In the spiritual world, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” is true as well in a very different sense. The story of Zacchaeus is a case in point. On the outside, he appears to be a rotten low-life sinner, but he turns out to be a humble, generous and religious man! “You can’t judge a book by its cover” in his case either!

Externally, Zacchaeus was a sawed-off, greedy, little crook in the eyes of his hometown folks. He was up to his eye-balls in an extortion racket under the auspices of the hated Roman government. He was one of those tax-collectors hired by the occupying Roman authorities to squeeze money out of his fellow Jews, especially the poorest of the poor, to line the pockets of the Roman Emperor, as well as his own. On the surface of things, he was one rotten little scumbag!

In the Old Testament we read, “People see externals, but God sees into the heart.” Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in a side-by-side comparison of Zacchaeus and those who judged him.

On one hand, some of the Pharisees were, from all appearances, holy, upstanding members of the community, “pillars of the church,” but underneath they were rotten to the core. Jesus called them “white washed tombs that looked real good on the outside, but inside were filled with stench and rot.”

On the other hand, Zacchaeus appeared to be a rotten, no-good, sinner in the eyes of all the people. Jesus, however, because he had the ability to see into hearts, did have the ability to judge a book by its cover. When he looked up into the tree and saw Zacchaeus, he saw a lot of goodness down deep inside this little man. “People see externals, but God sees into the heart.”

When I was growing up, many adults in my life never gave me a chance, never believed in me. I was small for my age, backward and scared. At home, I was told that I would "never amount to a hill of beans." The rector of the minor seminary called me a “hopeless case” and a "ball and chain around his leg." When kids hear that kind of feed-back enough, they tend to start believing it. Luckily, some of the monks at Saint Meinrad where I went to major seminary, got hold of me and did believe in me. They told me I that I did have potential and that they were going to help me develop it. They did not judge me from appearances or my background, but looked into my heart and soul and helped me believe in my own goodness. Because of them, I have always tried to do the same for others in my life as a priest. Because of that commitment, God has thrown hundreds of broken people onto my path to teach me to look below the surface of things before judging them.

I will never forget the day I was rushing to get vested for Mass here at the Cathedral. There were many street people hanging out around the Cathedral in those days, as there are today. They were forever asking for help of one kind or another, sometimes at the most inconvenient of times. That day, a poorly dressed, dirty-looking woman was trying to get my attention as I rushed to the sacristy to get dressed for Mass. I assumed that she wanted a handout so I mentally prepared my speech telling her to come back after Mass and that I would try to help her then. Before I could get my little judgmental speech out, she called out to me, “Father, where is the poor box? I want to give this money to the poor!” With that, she opened her hand to show me a few coins. She stopped me in my tracks and showed me that "no, you can’t judge a book by its cover!"

Before that, when we were trying to raise money to open a mission church down in McCreary County, we went to all the rich and powerful people we knew, but the most generous gift did not come from them. It came from two unlikely parishioners - an uneducated, dirt-poor couple from the mountains. They lived in a little rusted-out camping trailer. Because they looked so poor, we didn’t even ask them for a donation. One day, however, they came in with their TV and the deed to their few acres of rocky property to give to the parish. They too showed me that "no, you can’t judge a book by its cover!"  

Because of my personal experience with some of the monks of Saint Meinrad and the hundreds of situations like the two I have just mentioned, I have spent most of my priesthood reaching out to people whose magnificent goodness is hidden under some pretty awful appearances. Some of the meanest Catholics I have ever met have been those “pillar of the church” types, while some of the most devout Catholics have been those who have been rejected or hurt by the Church. Over the years, I have learned more than once that "no, you certainly can’t judge a book by its cover."

Since we can only see people’s outsides, while God can see into people’s hearts, Jesus warned us not to judge each other.  We never know for sure what’s going on inside people! It’s a sound spiritual practice, therefore, to give each other the benefit of the doubt! You just might "entertain angels unaware."