Thursday, May 13, 2021


A statue of St. Teresa of Avila stands in the sanctuary of the Serra Chapel at Mission San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., July 27, 2015. In a 2021 video message marking the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Teresa as a doctor of the church, Pope Francis said the Spanish saint is an example for all Christians on the importance and need of prayer.
(CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

While St. Teresa of Avila was outstanding in many ways, her union with Christ through prayer made her an “exceptional woman,” Pope Francis said.

In a video message April 15 marking the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Teresa of Avila as a doctor of the church, the pope said the Spanish saint’s “audacity, creativity and excellence as a reformer are the fruit of the interior presence of the Lord.”

“We are dealing with a person who was outstanding in many ways,” he said. “However, it should not be forgotten that her recognized relevance in these dimensions is nothing more than the consequence of what was important to her: her encounter with the Lord, her ‘determined determination,’ as she says, to persevere in union with him through prayer.”

The pope’s video message was played during a conference titled “Exceptional Woman,” held at the Catholic University of St. Teresa of Avila in Spain.

In his message, the pope said holiness is not a virtue reserved to “specialists of the divine” but is the “vocation of all believers.”

Saints, like St. Teresa, “stimulate and motivate us, but they are not for us to literally try to copy them,” he said. “Holiness cannot be copied because even that could lead us away from the unique and different path that the Lord has for each one of us.”

“What is important,” he said, “is that each believer discerns his or her own path, each one of us has his or her own path of holiness, of an encounter with the Lord.”

The path St. Teresa followed, which “made her an exceptional woman and a person of reference throughout the centuries,” was that of prayer, which is a path “open to all those who humbly open themselves to the action of the Spirit in their lives.”

However, he added, “such a path is not open to those who consider themselves pure and perfect, the Cathars of all centuries,” referring to the 12th century gnostic movement.

Instead, the path of prayer is open “to those who, aware of their sins, discover the beauty of the mercy of God, who welcomes all, redeems all and calls all to his friendship,” he said.

Pope Francis asked Christians to look to the example of St. Teresa of Avila and her union with God through prayer because it is “only his company that our heart desires and that gives us the fullness and joy for which we have been created.”

“Like the doctor of the church, we live in hard times, not easy times, that need God’s faithful friends, strong friends,” he said. “The great temptation is to give in to disillusionment, to resignation, to the fatal and unfounded premonition that everything will go wrong. That infertile pessimism, that pessimism of people incapable of giving life.”


Because Saint Theresa of Avila was "audacious, creative and determined" as a reformer, she is known in some places today as the "Patron Saint of the Women's Movement."  I am sure she wouldn't mind my passing on a cartoon and one of her quotes. 




Tuesday, May 11, 2021




One of my favorite ways to explain major societal change is an image that I discovered many years ago.  I think of it especially when I tend to watch too much news. Using that image, our country today might be thought  of as a gigantic egg. We woke up several years ago to realize that this egg was covered with fine cracks. Each month the cracks have seemed to get bigger and bigger. Some people have been hysterically running around with ropes and tape and ladders trying to glue it all back together in a vain attempt to keep it  "like it used to be!" 

I grew up on a farm and I have some experience with chickens and eggs. I know that one of the dumbest things you can do when an egg is hatching is to try to tape it back together. To do so is to suffocate the new life inside that is trying to get out and to insure the death of the young chicken struggling to be born. As Jesus said, "Those who try to preserve their lives will lose them, while those who lose their lives will preserve them." 

The best response to a cracking egg is to create an atmosphere where it can safely hatch! This image reminds me that our country is not falling apart, but giving birth. Our country is not dying, it is giving birth to something new. It is absorbing a new wave of immigrants. It is going to be "browner." Women are going to be more visible and in more leadership positions. We can choose to be "midwives" in the birthing process or we can resist this birthing process and suffocate the very life we love so much and try to preserve! 

There is no giving birth without pain. The birthing process can look and sound a lot like the dying process. Sometimes the screaming and yelling and struggling sound and appear very much the same. To some, what's happening in our country looks like a death. For others it looks like a birth. If you are a white male, the country may look like it is "falling apart" and your response might be  panic and anger.  You are tempted to stop the process and try to go back to the "good old days." If you are a person of color, an emerging woman or a discriminated against gay person, the country may look like it is finally "waking up to reality" and your response might be hope and relief.  

The question facing us is whether we want to encourage the process and go forward to "better days" for "more people" or  whether we want to resist the process in hopes of returning to the "good old days" for a "few people."  Either way, we are probably in for a lot more struggles and pain until this "egg"  fully hatches! Either way, we can't put this new "chick" back into the "egg."  As Bob Dylan put it, "He not busy being born is busy dying!"  

A mother, father and twelve new hatchling geese right off my deck. I am so glad someone didn't try to tape those eggs shut! 
April 23, 2021

Sunday, May 9, 2021



If you were to die today and you stood before the gates of heaven and you were asked this one simple question test to see whether you got in or not, could you answer that one simple question? Here is that question. “Who does God love?” 

Well, if you are not sure, I am going to give you the correct answer - the answer found in today’s readings. It is so simple, yet unbelievably astounding! Who does God love? He loves everybody – everybody - no ands, ifs or buts about it! 


 Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. While Peter

was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were

 listening to the word. The Jewish converts who had accompanied

Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles too.

Acts of the Apostles 10


One of the parables that most brings this point home to me is the parable of the vineyard workers. The parable of the “Vineyard Workers” is enough to make wine growers all over the world cringe! This parable is not an instruction on to operate a profitable vineyard. If you followed this example, you would be broke in no time! No, it’s a story about how God treats us, a story about God’s unbelievable generosity! For Jesus, the whole purpose of this parable is to shock in order to teach! This parable is insane, according to human thinking, but that’s the whole point of the parable. That’s its genius! It tells of God’s unexpected insane love for us, no matter what we have done or what we have failed to do! That’s why it is called “the gospel,” “the good news!”

Those who had “worked all day in the sun” were the religious authorities. Those “hour before quitting time” workers were the “tax collectors and sinners,” those who felt unworthy in God’s eyes, the simple people who followed Jesus!  You can imagine how both groups reacted when they heard the punch line, “Give them all a full days pay!”  “Give them all a full days pay!”

This message is very close to the message of another parable, the one we call the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In that story, the father loves both his sons, the one who stayed home and followed all the rules, as well as the one who strayed away and got down with the pigs! The message is simple: God loves all his children, not matter what they have done or failed to do!

The tax collectors, sinners and rejects were delirious with joy when they heard that message! The Scribes and Pharisees, who taught that God’s love depended on people’s behaviors, were outraged. In the words of Jesus, they were “envious because I am generous.”  They made the mistake of believing that there is not enough God-love to go around!

One of the worst things to happen to the church was when it started to “conditionalize” this “good news” and started teaching people that God will love you if you do this and God won’t love you if you do that!”  It is not uncommon to hear some religious people tone down the “good news” because it is “too dangerous.” I was often criticized at the Cathedral by them when I welcomed home hundreds of fallen away Catholics by preaching this message. Their worst nightmare is that if people really believed the message of the parables and the church really taught it, all hell would break loose! People would start doing any damned thing they wanted! That’s the same thing that worried the Scribes and Pharisees. In reality, the opposite was true in Jesus’ day and the opposite is true in ours! People’s lives are transformed by that message! They are converted by this message! This message inspires them to love others the same way they have been loved by God.

What do you believe? Are you one of those people who still believes that God’s pays us with love depending how many hours we have loved him? Are you one of those people who still believes that God turns his love on and off depending what we do or fail to do?  If you are, really listen to the message of the parables. If it sounds too good to be true, then you have gotten the message! God’s incredible unconditional love does sound too good to be true, but the fact of the matter is, it is true! “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” He died for us before we ever thought about shaping up. He didn’t die for us as a reward for our shaping up! While we were still sinners, he died for us!

So, what are we going to do about it? In the Gospel today, Jesus does not command that we love him back. He doesn’t say, love me and then I’ll love you back! All he asks is for us to love one each other “as he loves us.”


This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

John 10


How does he love us? He loves us without condition, no ands, ifs or buts about it! He commands us to love each other the same way, without condition, no ands, if or buts about it – even our enemies, even those who will not love us back! God would not demand that we do something he wouldn’t do! He loves us even when we treat him like an enemy, whether we ever love him back or not! We can reject God’s love for us, we can turn our heads and refuse his love, but we can’t stop him from loving us no matter what we do! Hell is not full of people that God has punished for not loving him! It is full of people who condemned themselves by refusing to accept God’s unconditional love for them! It was they who did themselves in!


This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

John 10



The biggest sin we can commit is not our failure to love God back. The biggest sin we can commit is our failure to love each other. Our biggest sin is our failure to forgive each other. Our biggest sin is holding grudges against each other. Our biggest sin is mistreating each other, ignoring each other and demeaning each other! If God can forgive his enemies and love them anyway, why can’t we forgive our enemies and love them anyway? And that, my friends, would probably be a whole lot easier without FACEBOOK, the home of mean, nasty and vicious comments!  

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

John 10