Saturday, February 29, 2020



This photo was sent to me by my friends from Germany, Inge and Birgit. They have been traveling in the north African country of Morocco. 

Goats in a tree are one thing, but I don't think I would be standing under that tree like the barely visible shepherd next to the tree trunk! 

Maybe he's looking out at the fields and wondering where his goats went? 

Thursday, February 27, 2020



“Translating a dream into reality takes great courage. Doubt is a constant enemy. When doubt reigns, there is a strong temptation to let go of part of the dream as a way of resolving inevitable tensions. Success depends on the ability to remain enthusiastic, focused and purposeful to the end.”

Father Ronald Knott
written for the congregation during the revitalization of the Cathedral in Louisville

Tuesday, February 25, 2020



St. Edmund Campion, SJ, ministered to Catholics in England at a time of Catholic persecution. Under the Tudor monarchs Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, the Catholic Church was displaced by the Church of England. The English monasteries were dissolved by 1541, and Catholic clergy and laity were persecuted and killed.

Edmund Campion could have been the brightest star in Elizabethan England. He impressed Elizabeth with his welcoming oration when she visited Oxford University in 1569. Under her promised patronage his path to power and prestige was assured. Campion first thought to follow that path, being ordained originally as an Anglican deacon. But his heart was rooted in the Catholic faith. In 1571 Campion traveled to Douai, France, to study in the Catholic seminary. Several years later he walked to Rome, where he was accepted by the Jesuits. The next years Campion taught in Vienna and Prague.

Campion could have stayed safely in Prague, but he heard the call to minister to Catholics in England. He could only do this traveling in disguise, celebrating the sacraments in secret, and avoiding the many spies who sought him out. But Campion did not keep his mission a secret. He wrote and circulated the Challenge to the Privy Council to debate him on all issues between Protestants and Catholics. His mission began in 1580 but soon ended with his arrest in 1581.

After his arrest, Campion was convicted of treason, suffered the dislocation of his bones on the rack, and still held his own in debates against his persecutors. Showing her esteem for his person, Elizabeth I met him, trying to draw him back into the Church of England. Campion remained steadfast in his Catholic faith. Finally, Campion was hanged, drawn, and quartered on December 1, 1581.

Edmund Campion, SJ, was declared a saint by Pope Paul VI in 1970. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020


Do you not know that you are the temple of God
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 
I Corinthians 3:16 

Maybe you are old enough to remember the TV series, The Incredible Hulk, or maybe you have seen the 2008 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character "The Hulk." The Incredible Hulk tells the story of how Dr. Bruce Banner accidently gets infected in an experiment, supposedly to make humans immune to gamma radiation. In actuality, it was a secret experiment to revive a World War II military bio-force project to build super-soldiers.   The experiment fails, transforming Banner into the monstrous Hulk. Every time he gets angry,  Banner turns green, bulks up quickly, breaking out of his shirts and into a monster muscleman, on a rampage to fight off all those who come after him.

Today Saint Paul reminds us of our own "hulkness." We are reminded of the incredible power of God within each one of us - a power that many of us do not even know about, a power that many of us are afraid to embrace. It is the power of God living and breathing within us as "temples of the Holy Spirit." 

The readings, especially after Easter, are sprinkled from beginning to end with the Greek word dunymis, from which we get our word dynamite. We translate dunymis as power. Over and over again, we read about cowardly disciples being turned into fearless ambassadors for Christ - preaching, healing and going up against worldly powers with nothing but their convictions - all under the power of the Spirit.

If you have been baptized and confirmed, you too are a "temple of the Holy Spirit," saturated with some of the power of God himself. God literally lives within you! Unlike the Incredible Hulk who was only powerful physically, you are filled with incredible power to become all that God has called you to be and with incredible power to help others be all that God has called them to be.

Many of us, who were baptized as children and confirmed as teenagers, either never understood the power we were given or have simply forgotten about it or have failed to use it. Instead of using the powerful force within us, we have, either by neglect or out of ignorance, become "feverish, selfish little clods of grievances and ailment complaining the world will not get together to make us happy." Instead of unleashing the power that is within us, for our good and the good of others, we look around to find someone to lean on, or be rescued by, because we feel them to be much more powerful than we are!

Others of us are like the stewards who were entrusted with talents by their master in the gospel. Out of fear, we buried our talents, too scared to use the power within us. We are the people who get to the end of our lives and realize that we have been cowards all along, blowing every opportunity given us to use the power we had - all because we were full of fear.

Marianne Williamson put it best when she said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It's not just in some of us. It's in everyone."   I call the habit of saying "no" to opportunities to grow and change “committing personal and spiritual suicide!”

Others of us squander this power because we are lazy. Once we realize that we have God-given power within us, we know that we are required to use it so, out of laziness, we bury it even from our own eyes. If we can convince ourselves that we do not have such power, we are off the hook. We don't have to do anything with it. We are the people who go through life blaming others for our unhappiness and lack of personal development.  

Brothers and sisters! The whole point of Paul’s words to us today is to remind us that, because of our baptisms and conformations, you and I are very powerful. The problem is not whether we actually have this power, but whether we have the courage and faith to tap into it and use it.

Sadly, our power is often hidden from our own eyes. Throughout my childhood, I was taught that I was not only powerless, but worthless. I was told regularly that I was a total screw-up who would never amount to anything. Even the rector of the minor seminary said that I was "a ball and chain around his leg for six years” in front of my classmates.  Even after I was ordained, a woman at my first Mass reception told me that "with all that schooling, you could have been something."  The fact they told me that was not the problem, but the fact that, for many years, I believed them! With the help of God, I finally got in touch with the power of God within me. For that eye=opening grace, I am eternally grateful. Looking back, I am amazed at what I have been able to do with this power, once I discovered that it was there within me all along and realized that God wanted me to invest this gift.

One of the tactics of spouse abusers is to get the abused spouse to believe that she is powerless. The only way out of that abusive situation is for the abused one to discover the power within them and to stand up to the one who hopes to keep it hidden from them by his demeaning words and actions. The trip to accepting and using our power can be arduous, but it is well worth the risk.   

Brothers and sisters, as a “temple of the Holy Spirit,” you are powerful, powerful beyond measure! You may not feel it. You may not have realized it yet. You may try to deny it to yourself and to others. You may run from it out of fear. However, the fact remains that you are indeed powerful and that you have been given a share of God's power for some benefit. You are an ambassador for Christ. You are part of his body in the world! Face your power! Accept your power! Use your power!  To deny it, waste it or run from it out of fear is one of the biggest sins you can commit as a baptized and confirmed Christian!