Thursday, December 16, 2021



If you're overly pious and can't take a joke, close this blog page at once! 
It was assembled by a certain retiree with a twisted sense of humor!
Don't judge him! He's just trying to cope with the holidays! 




Sunday, December 12, 2021


Have no anxiety at all. Let the peace that God
gives, guard your hearts and minds.
Philippians 4

St. Paul has got to be kidding! No anxiety at all? With our Church at war with itself where even Pope Francis is being attacked by some Bishops and other self-claiming "true" Catholics, with an ever present vocation crisis, with religious communities either merging or going out of existence and with whole parishes either dwindling, merging or closing altogether, how can we not be anxious?

With our country at war with itself where congressmen and congresswomen are ripping one another to shreds publicly and threatening one another's lives out in the open, where voting restrictions on minority groups continues to tighten, where mobs of looters are invading stores, where the internet is filled with hate and lies and the validity of our elections are challenged, how can we not be anxious?

With dictators seizing power in more and more countries, with COVID variants continuing to spread and with global warming causing more and more natural disasters, how can we not be anxious?

How can Saint Paul’s words about not being anxious possibly fit those of us living in today’s Church and today's world? How can we possibly remain anxiety-free in the middle of all these situations?

“Anxiety” is a state of intense, often disabling apprehension, uncertainty, and fear caused by the anticipation of something threatening. The key word is anticipation. Anxiety is often not so much about what is happening or even what has happened, but about what might happen.

Have no anxiety at all. Let the peace that God
gives, guard your hearts and mind.

My dear mother comes to mind when I think of anxiety. It seems that she always had a thin stream of anxiety trickling through her veins. Even though she has been dead for forty-five years now, I can still see her in my mind’s eye picking at her lower lip, a nervous habit that always accompanied intense moments of anxiety. I can still remember one time when we laughed at her for being so anxious. She snapped back, “Well, somebody around here needs to worry!” Looking back, she had a lot to be anxious about: seven kids, a demanding husband and breast cancer, to name only a few!

When I was about to be ordained, anxiety was very much on my mind. I spoke about this a couple of weeks ago. The church was undergoing a great upheaval and priests were beginning to leave in significant numbers. I asked myself many times, in that year leading up to ordination, “How am I going to keep my cool in a fast-changing church and in a world coming unglued? How will I be able to stay focused when one problem after another is going to be hurled into my face from both inside and outside the church? How will I be able to calm others when I seem to be torn up all the time myself?”

I have spent my life as a priest searching for an inmost calm that no storm can shake. When I discovered and admitted to myself that I cannot control what happens "out there," I knew I must find a way to control my reactions to what happens out there. As one spiritual teacher said, “It is easier to put on slippers than it is to carpet the world.” I knew I was going to need, and certainly wanted to have, the peace that only a close relationship with Jesus could give me, that peace that Saint Paul invites us to embrace in our second reading today.

Have no anxiety at all. Let the peace that God
gives, guard your hearts and minds.

I spent most of my young adult life looking for an inmost calm that no storm could shake, an inner peace that would remain rock solid no matter what! I am, happy to say that I have found it. Sometimes I panic and sometimes I forget, but I always come back to it sooner or later. Once I discovered that a peaceful center is available to me, I know I can always come back to it.

How can one have that peace? A close relationship with Jesus brings that peace. If you truly believe that you are loved without condition, that God is on your side and holds no grudges, that in the end things are going to turn out OK because God has promised us so, then a great peace will come over you. You will know that no matter how bad things get sometimes, no matter how much you have to handle, no matter how great your losses, you will know in your heart of hearts that you are in good hands because you are in God’s hands. When you know these things to be true, a great peace begins to stand guard over your heart and mind! That is what St. Paul is talking about today when he tells us to “let the peace that God gives guard you hearts and minds.”

Once I began to live in the knowledge that, in spite of it all, things will ultimately be OK, I began to realize that many of my life’s greatest blessings have come out of what long ago seemed like an unbearable disaster. Looking back at the times in my life when God seemed absent, at the times when I was overwhelmed with anxiety, worry and panic, in hindsight I can see that the hand of God was actually bringing me to where I needed to go and teaching me what I needed to learn. Most of the things I have worried about never happened! Statistics even tell us that fully 90% of the things we worry about never happen! Most of my imagined tragedies have actually contained great blessings! It has happened too many times to dismiss as a fluke.

I went through one of those anxious periods again as I was going into retirement. The plans I had worked on for three years fell apart in three days. It may not be connected, but I ended up in the hospital a couple of days later with a blood clot in my left leg. I was grieving the loss of some of the things I expected to happen. If things had worked out the way I planned, I would have gotten on an airplane for France, not knowing about the clot, and died on that plane either on the way over or on the way back! I have recovered from the clot, but as it turned out God spared me from what I thought I wanted and offered me something even better.

For me, this seems to be the way it always happens - a big breakdown before a big break through! I look back now and I am happy that my original plans did not work out because something much better happened - my missionary work in the island country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines! When COVID hit and their volcano erupted, I was forced to end that work. Now I look back and I am OK with the fact that it no longer worked out because something else came along - the remodeling of my now closed-for-twenty-eight-years, Saint Theresa School, into a new Saint Theresa Family Life Center down in my home parish in Meade County. 

Peace, however, is not a time when there are no problems. Peace is a calm state of mind in the midst of problems and in spite of problems. Peace is a trusting state of mind that comes from a close relationship with Jesus whose name is Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.”

Brothers and sisters, we cannot control most of what is going to happen, so let us finish each day and be done with it. Let us do our best and then let go of it. Let us not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Our fretting anxiety has no power to affect tomorrow, but it can certainly ruin today. Let us thank God for how far we have come and trust God with how far we can go. This peace of mind is Jesus’ last gift to us.

Let me end with one of my very favorite prayers by St. Francis DeSales. “Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

Friends, we will never be problem free, but we can be free of anxiety and needless worry!