Saturday, April 11, 2020




Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Letter to the Hebrews 13:2

Watch this beautiful YouTube video sent to me by my classmate, Father Charlie Dittmeier, who is working as a missionary with the deaf in Cambodia. 


1. I have been amazed at how many people locally have contacted me saying, "If you need anything, please let me know. I would be glad to go get it for you!" I have also gotten messages of support from friends in Ireland, Canada, Germany, Tanzania, Belgium, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Cambodia, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as from all over the United States.  

2. My youngest brother, Mark, came up to Louisville recently to bring me an "emergency box" that he had put together in case I had to "run to the hospital or anoint someone." It had a red cross on top and held a few masks, rubber gloves and hand wipes. He also brought a selection of food. When I went out to get it from his truck, I noticed he had three large coolers in the back. They were filled with items he had picked up in stores for neighbors, family members and shut-ins. My aunt Margaret, one of the recipients said to me, "That's his mother coming out!" She would be so proud! 

3. We have needs in this country, but many people living in the Caribbean missions where I volunteer have even more pressing needs - always have had and will probably always have! Whatever bad happens here, happens down there in spades! 
I have been so inspired by a few people who have joined me in making donations to help Bishop County out with clergy salaries ($215 a month each in US dollars) during this difficult time. It says to me that they see the church as much bigger than their parish, their diocese or their country! The very word "catholic" means "universal." It's us! They "get it!" 

4. Watching all the medical professionals working among the sick and dying is so inspirational. They are risking their own lives to help others live! If they cannot help them live, they are helping them die with dignity and in as much comfort and peace as possible. They sometime even become links to family members who cannot be there to say "goodbye." A "priest" is a bridge between God and his people. In a certain sense, it seems that we have no shortage of "priests" these days - people who are willing to help "bridge the gap" between people.  This time it is primarily the laity! 


(I led their priest retreat two years ago.)  

+Robert Rivas O.P. 

Archbishop of Castries, Saint Lucia
March 29,2020

COVID-19 is a devastating pandemic
distancing us from each other
and yet Social Distancing
has helped to bring us closer to one another.
The times have changed rapidly
and so has the global mentality.
Day by day we are learning to live as sisters and brothers
in the company of the afflicted and the suffering.

The pandemic has taken its toll
causing lockdowns and quarantine;
with nations lamenting
and people made to stay at home. 
This is very hard for a civilization that does not know, 
what home is like.
We have found ourselves as strangers
in a strange place.
This is difficult to comprehend
when the greatest good of all:
the FAMILY, is at stake.
Staying home is creating new consciousness,
new values and relationships.

Don’t be downcast.
Be not afraid.
This is a moment of grace:
A time to avoid the rat-race.
Our impulse is to GO:
to go out, to leave home and hang out.
A ‘little’ virus has slowed us down:
caused us to ease up on going out,
shopping and buying things;
accumulating more and more.
We need to take time to find ourselves
in the jungle we have created,
where competition made us enemies
and suspicious of each other;
greedy and wanting to be on top
and ahead of the other.
This lust for power made us unreal!
Indeed, staying home is very revealing.

The horizons are changing.
Peoples and nations are communicating.
Peace is better than war.
Being one’s sister’s and brother’s keeper
is better than ignoring each other.
Compassion and kindness are more wholesome
than living selfishly.
The crying earth and the crying poor
are observing humanity in its resurrecting!
The tomb of despair and egoism
has cracked wide-open
Humanity is healing, craving and caring.
Holy Church herself is waking,
walking tenderly by faith
in the hope of new beginnings.
What a great time for humility and restructuring.
In weakness and vulnerability is strength.
In every crisis there is opportunity and a new Advent.

The greatest change must come from within.
A lesson to learn from Covid-19.
Now is the time to make the world a better place
through walking by faith
and greater caring and sharing.
Covid-19 has had its sway.
The next move is ours.
Let’s choose the best way.
In a dramatically short space of time
the old world has passed away.
Through our suffering and struggle
we are winning the battle,
in the dawning of a new day.

Friday, April 10, 2020




This year, words seem to be too much! Maybe some silent reflections would be better. 

Let's just take some time to remember the first Good Friday and some of the Good Fridays that we have celebrated publicly in the past! 

Maybe this year's absence will make us appreciate this year's Good Friday even more! 

Let's read the Passion story once more and spend some time reflecting on it. What characters in the story do you personally most identify with this time? Did something new stand out for you this year? 

Gospel of John 18:1-19:42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley
to where there was a garden,
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place,
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards
from the chief priests and the Pharisees
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,
went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
He said to them, “I AM.”
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, “I AM, “
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
“Whom are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
Jesus answered,
“I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
This was to fulfill what he had said,
“I have not lost any of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it,
struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave’s name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
“Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest,
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest,

went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter,
“You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
“I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather,
and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said.”
When he had said this,
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said,
“Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him,
“If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong;
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
“You are not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said,
“I am not.”
One of the slaves of the high priest,
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said,
“Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium,
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said,
“What charge do you bring against this man?”
They answered and said to him,
“If he were not a criminal,
we would not have handed him over to you.”
At this, Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.”
The Jews answered him,
“We do not have the right to execute anyone, “

in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium
and summoned Jesus and said to him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered,
“Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered,
“I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered,
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him,
“Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered,
“You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
“I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
They cried out again,
“Not this one but Barabbas!”
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head,
and clothed him in a purple cloak,
and they came to him and said,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
“Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
“Crucify him, crucify him!”

Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered,
“We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
“Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
“Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you
and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him,
“You would have no power over me
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge’s bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!”
They cried out,
“Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
“Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,

“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’
but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
Pilate answered,
“What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
“Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, “
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea,
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night,
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day;
for the tomb was close by.

Archbishop Jason Gordon
Archbishop Of Port of Spain
the island country of
Trinidad and Tobago
next door to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Thursday, April 9, 2020



Words seem out of place this year! No public Eucharists, no foot washings, not even on Holy Thursday!

Let's just study this picture and imagine ourselves being there, with Jesus and the apostles, seated around the table! 

Let's read the gospel story of today again, paying attention to the details, letting it speak to us anew. Try to feel what the apostles might have been feeling. How do you react to the central characters? Judas? Jesus? Peter? Which behavior most challenges you? What was "new" about this story to you this year?

Did you find yourself disappointed that the text does not mention the bread and the wine? Why do you think the Church chooses the "foot washing" text as the central theme on Holy Thursday? 

Gospel  of John 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2020


Hey, folks, it looks like we are going to be "at home" for a quite while yet! We can fight it, we can merely endure it or we can really "get into it!" I am suggesting that we all really get into making our houses even more comfortable homes. It can be either a "family effort" or a "single effort," but let's make our time at home life-giving rather than life-draining. We can do it with just a bit of focused effort. 


1. Give the whole house a good cleaning. Make it a total family project. Divide up the tasks. Work as a team. Get rid of junk and trash. Put stuff away. Make your living spaces look neat and orderly. Make them smell good and enjoyable to be in.

2. Plan "sit down meals" (even if you live alone). Take turns cooking something really special for the family. Set the table. Work on the "presentation" aspects of the food like you are eating in a fine restaurant. Get out the napkins. Pour the wine. Let everybody sit down together. Have someone "bless the food" and ask everyone to add a prayer listing "those suffering from this pandemic." 
3. Turn off the TV and get out the board games. Play cards. Turn up the music. Read a book - or two! Have everybody read something or watch a serious movie together and then have members engage in a family discussion about them. Have family members make entries in a new "family diary" about what everybody is thinking to be read long after this is over. 

4. Use this time to exercise. You will feel much better if you do. Long walks by yourself are permissible. Personally, I have been on my treadmill daily since this pandemic started. I also have been very careful about what I eat. It's hard to be "locked down," so it is a good idea to do things that help you feel good physically. If you feel good physically, your mental state will be much better too. 
(Actual "selfie") 
See how much good it has done me already? It's miraculous!

5. Make your bedroom a haven for rest. Change the sheets on your bed. Break out the new sheets if you have them. Make up your bed every day. Turn it down neatly each night before bedtime. Dim the lights, put on some soft music and read something relaxing (maybe even something from a favorite prayer book). 

Google searches for “prayer” have surged worldwide in step with the increasing cases of COVID-19, according to a European researcher. (CNS)

6. With a projection of 250,000 possible deaths in our country, it may be time for the family to sit down and discuss "end of life issues" in case they are needed. With so many deaths, what if it happens in your family? What does each person want, and not want, if they end up in critical condition? It might be the most serious and useful discussion you have ever had as a family. It needs to be done in a sober, relaxed and prayerful setting. Putting it off because it is uncomfortable could be a huge mistake.  Don't put it off. Do it now - just in case! You might be glad you did! 


Sunday, April 5, 2020


‘When the  great crowd that  had  come to the feast heard 
that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches 
and went out to meet him, throwing their coats on the road.’ 

I am convinced that most people do not understand what Palm Sunday is about and I am not absolutely confident that I can explain it as well as it needs to be explained. Ill try anyway! 

To understand it, I think we need to go all the way back to the beginning. Remember, Herod was so paranoid about the baby Jesus being a “newborn king” that he had all the young boys in Bethlehem slaughtered – just in case. Jesus, Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt for a few years.  

 Even when Jesus came out of obscurity to begin his ministry, we read at the beginning of Lent about Jesus being tempted by the devil in the desert as he discerned what direction his ministry should take – what God’s plan was for him. 

One of the temptations Jesus was offered by the devil was to take the political power road – to become a king. We know that, even though Jesus concluded that this was not God’s path for him, people were always trying to make him a king. Even some of his apostles thought that that option was always on the table. Remember the story where James and John tried an end run around the other twelve by asking for the two best jobs in this new kingdom they thought he was going to set up in the near future. 

We will read tonight that Judas was so disappointed with Jesus over this very issue that he tried to force Jesus hand to “get on with it,” only to see it backfire. When it didn’t work, he ends up committing suicide. 

All this “king talk” among the people, all the dreams about power inside his inner circle and a rising tide of paranoia among the Roman occupiers was about to explode when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. 

When Jesus and his band arrived in Jerusalem, the streets were clogged with religious pilgrims from everywhere. The air was full of tension. Jesus’ own popularity had reached a fever pitch, the religious leaders’ jealousy had reached the boiling point and the government’s worry had become paranoid.  Everybody in authority, as well as Jesus, seemed to know that this trip smacked of a show down.  Jerusalem was indeed tense when Jesus arrived for the Passover - something big was about to happen.  

It was in this tense situation that Jesus came riding into the city, not quietly, but with total fanfare. Everybody noticed. This triumphant entry into Jerusalem was not some harmless little passion play. It was a deliberate move with dark possibilities.  Everybody knew that the very presence of Jesus in Jerusalem at Passover could set off a riot. 

‘When the  great crowd that  had  come to the feast heard 
that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches 
and went out to meet him, throwing their coats on the road.’ 

Palm waving and the throwing of coats on the road were not just a nice gesture of welcome, spontaneously invented for this particular occasion. These gestures had major political overtones. In the past, when kings arrived to ascend their thrones, people threw coats on the road. Palm waving was a symbol of Jewish nationalism, synonymous with waving a rebel flag. Many in the crowds wanted a Jewish Messiah-King who would overthrow the hated Roman occupation and they thought Jesus could fit the bill. Even though Jesus had fought off several efforts of this kind, the crowds knew what kind of Messiah they wanted. They wanted a powerful revolutionary. 

In response to the people’s misguided reception of him as a political, David-like, Messiah, Jesus deliberately came into the city on the back of a jackass, a pack animal.  It was a powerful counter statement that simply went over the heads of the crowds. While they waved palms and chanted nationalistic slogans, by this action Jesus said, “No! I’m not the kind of king you imagine! My power is a spiritual power, not a political power!” 

This “temptation,” the temptation to become a powerful political leader, had been proposed by Satan at the beginning of his ministry.  The gospel tells us that Satan left him to wait for another occasion. It had been proposed to him, on various occasions, throughout his teaching days. Here it was again!   Satan, in various guises, never gave up, even at the end. Jesus, consistent in his refusal, remained faithful to his call as a humble, peaceful, spiritual messiah to the end. 

Throughout history, the church has sadly from time to time given into the temptation to choose political power as a means to its goals, always with disastrous results. Again, in our own time, not convinced of the real effectiveness of spiritual power, some Christian communities have fallen for the temptation to take the short cut to achieve its mission by courting political power.  What is their rational? It seems that they believe that if people won’tchooseto be good, they need to bemadeto be good! Palm Sunday has a lot to teach the church, even today!  My friends, our power is not a political power. It’s even more powerful than political power. It’s a spiritual power! Pope John Paul II had no armies, but he helped bring down communism just by his preaching and presence. That’s spiritual power!  Pope Francis has no real political power, except in a one-square mile of ground inside the walls of the Vatican, but he has tremendous spiritual power. That is the real source ofourpower as well – the power that comes from authentic Christian living.