Friday, October 15, 2021



Please pray today for the success of our project down in my home parish of Saint Theresa of Avila in Rhodelia, Kentucky! I believe these words of Saint Theresa - "that God will help us accomplish what we have set out to do for His sake." For more information on "what we have set out to do," click on the links at the top of this page and read all about it. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021



For a century before the 1960s, and perhaps even longer than that, every bride and groom about to exchange their marriage vows in a Catholic wedding heard the following words:

Beloved of Christ. You are about to enter upon a union which is most sacred and most serious. It is most sacred, because it was established by God Himself. By it, He gave to man a share in the greatest work of creation, the work of the continuation of the human race. And in this way He sanctified human love and enabled man and woman to help each other live as children of God, by sharing a common life under His fatherly care.

Because God himself is thus its author marriage is of its very nature a holy institution, requiring of those who enter into it a complete and unreserved giving of self. But Christ our Lord added to the holiness of marriage an even deeper meaning and a higher beauty. He referred to the love of marriage to describe His own love for His Church, that is for the people of God whom He redeemed by His own blood. And so He gave to Christians a new vision of what married life ought to be, a life of self-sacrificing love like His own. It is for this reason that His apostle, St. Paul, clearly states that marriage is now and for all time to be considered a great mystery, intimately bound up with the supernatural union of Christ and the Church, which union is also to be its pattern. This union, then, is most serious, because it will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate, that it will profoundly influence your whole future. That future, with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its pains, its joys and its sorrows, is hidden from your eyes. You know that these elements are mingled in every life, and are to be expected in your own. And so not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.

Truly, then, these words are most serious. It is a beautiful tribute to your undoubted faith in each other, that recognizing their full import, you are, nevertheless, so willing and ready to pronounce them. And because these words involve such solemn obligations, it is most fitting that you rest the security of your wedded life upon the great principle of self-sacrifice. And so you begin your married life by the voluntary and complete surrender of your individual lives in the interest of that deeper and wider life which you are to have in common. Henceforth you will belong entirely to each other; you will be one in mind, one in heart, and one in affections. And whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this mutual life, always make them generously. Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete. God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, and the Son so loved us that He gave Himself for our salvation. “Greater love than this no man has, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end. May, then, this love with which you join your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on. And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God. Nor will God be wanting to your needs; He will pledge you the life-long support of His graces in the holy sacrament which you are now going to receive.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021



I found this photo on the the internet. It came up one day when I was looking for some images for my blog.  I didn't know if an actual "satanic exorcism" had been scheduled or "Satanic Exorcism" was just the name of a country music band booked for the picnic. When it comes to chicken, I have heard of "deep fried," "air fried," but never "deviled fried!" 

My first question was, "Do they recommend the "regular" or the "hot and crispy" fried chicken? Either way, for an inexpensive meal and scary entertainment, this sounded like more fun than BINGO any day!

My second question was,  "Are those people onto something there as far as new ways to raise funds for the parish or is this just another sad case of "animal cruelty" that needed to be reported to the Archbishop?

My third question was, "Why hadn't The Record covered this event?"

After I did some more research, I was relieved to find out that it was just an old 1942 photograph that had been "photo shopped" recently as a joke. It just goes to show you that you cannot trust a lot you see on the internet! However, I will probably think twice about going to a chicken dinner at a local parish, especially if they only charge .50 cents for "all you can eat!"  That in itself is a devilishly suspicious temptation!

Sunday, October 10, 2021


                                           Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.

Mark 10:17-27

When I was a new pastor here back in the 1980s and before Catholics stopped going to weekly confession in great numbers, we used to hear confessions at the Cathedral for at least an hour every day. Downtown churches are traditionally places where people go to Confession to be anonymous - be it parishioners coming downtown from around the city or conventioneers and vacationers staying in the downtown hotels from across the country.

Most of those confessions would put you to sleep, some would move you to tears and a few would curl the hair on your head! You never knew what might be coming at you when you took your chair inside those confessionals. As a penitent who was yelled at by a priest as a child, I am very patient with those who come to confession, especially those who have not been to confession for a very long time. I think his exact words when he yelled were “You did what?” I was convinced that everyone in the confession line heard him! Because of that experience, I try to be very patient with those who come to me for confession. I still remember one scared old lady telling me, as she was leaving the confessional, “I have never had anybody to talk that nice to me!” I was so touched that I recorded her words in one of my journals. When I read it today, I am reminded of the power of compassion in the confessional.

The only penitents, that I would have to bite my lip over, were not those who returned week after week having done the same old things, but the ones who confessed this way, “Bless me, Father, I don’t know what to tell you. I didn’t take the name of the Lord in vain. I didn’t gossip. I didn’t miss Sunday mass. I didn’t commit adultery. My parents are dead, so I didn’t disobey or disrespect them.” I didn’t do this! I didn’t do that!” Frankly, it bordered on bragging! I would never actually do it, but I have always secretly wanted to say, “Well, goody for you! This is a confessional, a place to confess your sins, not a bragging booth about your presumed sanctity! Now go out and do something before you come back in here!” I emphasize that I have never actually said it! It's just that I really wanted to!

Thinking back, what was so curious about those “I-didn’t-do-anything-wrong confessions” was the person’s obvious belief that sin is only about doing bad things. People who look at sin that way, reduce their discipleship to simply avoiding bad things. For one who is a serious disciple, avoiding bad things is where you start, not where you should end up! disciples.

When we focus our discipleship simply on avoiding doing bad things, we ask way too little of ourselves and we do way too little for God. Christianity is not just about avoiding evil, its even more so about doing good - about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. When we focus just on avoiding evil, we are like the rich young man in the gospel that was just read. He was a good kid, who was able to say to Jesus, “I have observed all these commandments since my youth. I never did this! I never did that! I never did such and such!” But neither had he done anything great, anything heroic or anything wholeheartedly for God with the blessings he was given in life! Remember the words of Jesus, “To whom much is given, much will be required?” They were spoken to people like him, and people like us, who have been given much in this life.

Jesus did not get irritated at this young man’s proud confidence in his ability not to break the commandments. In fact, it says that Jesus “looked at him with love.” Jesus was obviously pleased with his basic goodness, but after his affirming smile, Jesus hit this young man right between the eyes with a challenge. “Yes, you have avoided evil and that is good, but now do something great, do something positive, do something heroic. You are rich and satisfied, yes, but I believe that you are now ready for greatness. Let go of the trust you have in your financial security and transfer that trust to me. Use the “much” that you have been given to help others! Keep you basic goodness, but now do something great for God! "Go big or go home," as we say today. 

Let me be clear! For this young man, it was not about having or not having money, it was about what he was giving his heart to! He kept God’s commandments, yes, but his heart was with his money! It says that the young man’s “face fell” and he “went away sad” because he couldn’t “let go” of all his things. He could avoid bad things, but he couldn’t do the great things, the heroic things! He couldn’t make the leap from spiritual mediocrity to spiritual greatness. God did not say, “Love me with part of your heart, part of your soul and part of your mind,” but “love me with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole mind.”

Brothers and sisters, the “Confiteor” is part of an ancient penitential rite in the Mass. Most of us grew up on it. The “Confiteor” is still one of the options for the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass. You use it here quite often! It is regaining popularity, especially among the young. I like it because, in it, we confess “what we have done ” and “what we have failed to do.” It clearly reminds us that there are two ways to sin: doing bad things, as well as failing to do good things.

Today, through the story of the rich young man in the gospel we just read, Jesus is asking us to look at sin in a new way. Instead of looking at sin in the old way of “doing bad things,” we need to look at sin also as a “failure to do good things, ” especially when we obviously have the opportunity to do so! We should not just regret the bad things we have said to each other. We should also regret what we didn’t say when we had the chance. Sometimes, withholding an encouraging word from people who could use it is worse than cursing them!

I very much believe in this kind of spirituality. The whole purpose of my fifteen year weekly column in our diocesan paper, The Record, entitled An Encouraging Word was to train myself to look around for ordinary people I could affirm and honor right here in our city and in our diocese - people who needed celebrating or situations that were in need of some tender loving care and assistance. Even when I stopped my weekly column in The Record, I started a blog by the same name - An Encouraging Word. I try to look for goodness to affirm, not evil to condemn! Maybe our biggest sins are not those things we do to hurt each other, but those hundreds of small things we fail to do to encourage and build each other up. Just as "every snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty," hundreds of "what I have failed to dos" is what makes the world a mean place for so many people. When it comes to discipleship, its always a matter of "Go big or go home!"