Thursday, February 4, 2021

Why Do We Drive on the Parkway, But Park on the Driveway?


Why do so many people in southern Indiana drive slowly in the left lane on I-64 and refuse to move over when you want to pass? 

We don't pronounce the "t" in words like "hasten" and "soften, so why are more and more people pronouncing the "t" in the word "often?"

Why do more and more people think they have the "smartest dog" and "cutest baby" in the whole wide world - ever? 

Why would anyone buy insurance from "LIBERTY" insurance company or hire "MORGAN AND MORGAN" law firm after having watched their endless and totally obnoxious TV commercials? 

Why does  FACEBOOK appeal so much to "people without a life" and why do they never have a mean thought, clueless opinion or private personal detail that is not shared?  

Why do people I haven't heard from for forty years begin their telephone call with the words "you have always been my favorite priest" right before they ask you to perform their great, great grand daughter's neighbor's (who hasn't been in a church since their First Communion 35 years ago) wedding or baby baptism? 

Why do I never hear from many of my distant relatives until they send an invitation to their graduations, their weddings or their baby showers? Why don't they just send a bill? 

Why are more and more adults holding a fork in their fists like a child while they eat? 

Why do more and more people treat the Kroger parking lot like a trash dump, throwing their food wrappers, uneaten food, used diapers, empty bottles and cans on the pavement beside their cars?

Why is it that when you ask a computer geek for some help, requiring several complicated steps, they always begin with the words, "Well, all you have to do is____, _______, ______,______,______,_______,_______,_______,______ and________."?   

Why is it that large businesses, who brag about their "A+ customer service," make you hit several numbers on your keypad for "this or that department" before they tell you that "you are a valued customer" and they "we will be with you shortly," before they finally tell you to "keep holding" because you are only number 5,867 in line?  

Tuesday, February 2, 2021


For Peace in Anxiety During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Loving God, we come to you full of anxiety about what may happen in the coming days and weeks. Shower us with the peace Jesus promised to his disciples, and make us into steady pillars for those around us. In this time of uncertainty and epidemic, wake us up to the reminder that we are not alone.

Even as we are asked to keep our distance from others, help us to find ways to reach out to those who need our support. We pray especially for those whose incomes and livelihoods are threatened. For the children who will miss meals due to school closures. For those already isolated, lonely and scared. Loving God, give them your peace, and through our hands ensure they have what they need.

Sustain, strengthen and protect all caregivers. Bless them as they offer compassionate care and show selfless courage in the face of risk. Remind us, each time we wash our hands, that in our baptism you call us to let go of our fears and live in joy, peace, and hope. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Sunday, January 31, 2021



He taught them as one having authority. 

Mark 1:21-28

One of the hardest, and most valuable, lessons I learned as a pastor was one I learned from my very first associate pastor at our CathedralHis name was Father Joe Vest. Actually, it ia bit embarrassing to talk about. When I arrived at the Cathedral in Louisville to be its pastor in 1983, I had already been pastor of three small rural churches – so small in fact that I could remember what I was supposed to do without even looking at a calendar or do much planning. I could wing it most of the time and get by quite well 


At my first few Cathedral staff meetings, I would enter the meeting with an empty yellow pad and Father Vest would enter with hand-outs. In short, I was disorganized and he was super-prepared. I was getting madder by the week until one day it hit me. I had power and he had authority. I was pastor in name and he was pastor in fact! I realized at that point that I had two choices. I could either kill him or get my act together and become pastor, not only in name, but also in fact. It became painfully obvious that the problem was not his strength, but my weakness.  


I was reminded of this situation when I read today’s gospel. Jesus was a teacher in fact, while the scribes were teachers only in name. The Scribes had the power and Jesus had the authority. When Jesus taught, people listened because he was believable. What he said rang true with them. When the scribes taught, people did not listen because what they said seemed so cold and impersonal and abstract. It did not ring true. It merely sounded scripted.  


This whole contrast between Jesus and the scribes reminds me of our wonderful Pope, Francis.  When he teaches, his words have “authority.”  What makes Pope Francis so popular with ordinary people (even non-Catholics), and so threatening to those overly invested in the status quo, is that people find what he says rings true! Like Jesus, who moved among the common folk rather hiding behind titles, positions, robes and rules like the scribes, Pope Francis asks all of us to become who we say we are, he calls us to leave our comfort zones and get out among the people on the margins of society. He asks us to leave our self-righteous certainty and radically embrace a trust in God. If we don’t, he says we become “abstract ideologists,” “fundamentalists,” “little monsters that gives him goose-bumps.” “rigorists locked up in small things,” “bureaucrats and government officials” and “people who connect the proclamation of the gospel with inquisitional blows of condemnation.” Pope Francis is calling us to be authentic priests, deacons, sisters and faithful lay people – not some caricature of those high callings.  


He taught them as one having authority. 


I am worried about Pope Francis. If I remember correctly the scribes were part of aestablishment coalition, who had a lot to lose, who were committed to having Jesus killed to protect the religious traditions of the old-time religion.  The scribes were religious leaders in name. Jesus was a religious leader in fact. Let us never forget that prophets are not killed because they lie. They are killed because they tell the truth.   I fear that if he is “done in,” it will be an “inside job” by people who want to protect the institution from any real serious change.  


The Catechism of the Catholic Church says there are two sacraments directed at the salvation of others: holy orders and marriage. In other words, there are two kinds of “spiritual leaders” in the Church: bishops, priests and deacons, as well as married couples. Yes, married couples are “spiritual leaders” too! Priests, like me, are “spiritual leaders” of the people entrusted to them by the bishop. Married couples are “spiritual leaders” of their spouses and their children. Just as I am responsible to lead you spiritually when I preach and preside at Mass, as married partners you are responsible to lead your spouse and your children spiritually.   


Neither you, nor I, can give what we do not have!  If I do not practice what I preach, I cannot hope to inspire you to grow spiritually. You can, no doubt, tell if I am a phony and a fraud or practice what I preach! Just so, as marriage partners, you are not able to inspire your spouse or your children if you are not a credible examples of what you expect of them!   


Just being a “priest” or “spouse” or “parent” as a noun is not enough! We have to be able to “priest,” “spouse” and “parent” as a verb!  Not every ordained priest is effective at priesting! Not every married person is effective at spousing. Not every parent is effective at parenting.  The mere title of priest, spouse or parent is not enough. We must be convincing voices that ring true. We must be effective at what we do. We must walk the talk or we will end up being people nobody listens to!  We must become who we say we are, not only in name, but in fact!