Saturday, May 7, 2022



I Am Not That Good At It Yet, But I Am Working On It

One of the surprising things about retirement is how "busy" I am. However, it's a different kind of "busy." I am free to do more of the things I like to do and less of the things I never liked to do! 

When I was in "active ministry" or "full time ministry," I felt obligated to go to every scheduled priest meeting, to perform every Sacrament on demand and to answer immediately every phone call and text message request that came in! 

Don't get me wrong, I believe that I am still very much in "active ministry" or "full-time ministry," but I feel much freer at 78 to set my own pace and make my own decisions whether it be a "yes" or a "no."


Thursday, May 5, 2022


You Finally Have Time to Turn in Your "Funeral Plans" To the Chancery Office
Before Some "Liturgy Committee" Jumps In To Plan It For You


Sunday, May 1, 2022


Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
John 21:10-11

Every time I read a passage about Saint Peter– and I have read and preached on them many, many times since I was pastor of Saint Peter Mission Church in Monticello – I chuckle to myself. Good old Saint Peter has to be one of the biggest “people pleasers” in all of Scripture. He is always kissing up to Jesus and then proceeding to fall on his face. You have to love this bumbling old fisherman, who had an almost insatiable desire to please Jesus whom he obviously loved so very much.

Peter would have made a great clown for kids. I am sure kids back then loved him because you can’t help laughing at his antics, and nowhere are those antics more obvious than in the gospel stories about him.

First, his name was originally “Simon.” It was Jesus who gave him the nickname “Peter,” meaning “Rock.” I am sure the other apostles might have thought that “Mr. Magoo,” “Marshmallow Man” or "Rocky, the Loveable Clown" would have been more like it! He was always rushing into delicate situations, bragging and making a scene and then falling on his face at the end.

He and the other apostles, in one gospel, are out on a lake in a storm. They are struggling at the oars against the huge waves trying to get to shore, when all of a sudden, they look up and see Jesus walking on the water toward them. Peter, as always, sticks his foot in his mouth. “Lord, if it is really you, let me walk on the water toward you!” Jesus invites him to get out of the boat and walk toward him. Peter, out of the boat, out into deep water and high winds, begins to sink. “Lord, help me! I’m going to drown!” Jesus reached out and rescued him at the last minute.

Then there was the day when Jesus was teaching people along the shore standing in one of Peter’s boats. When Jesus finished teaching, he told Peter to put out into deep water and lower his nets for a catch. Peter had quit for the day and was washing his nets in preparation for putting them away. A little irritated that a professional carpenter would tell him, a professional fisherman, how to fish, Peter speaks up. “Lord, we have worked hard all night and caught nothing. We are just now putting the nets away, but if you insist, we will do what you say.” Peter started out by “humoring” Jesus and ended up with having to eat his words. When Peter raised the nets, they held so many fish that they were tearing the nets – enough fish to fill two boats.

Another time, Jesus had just told his disciples that they must forgive one another.  When Jesus finished speaking, imagining that another chance to impress Jesus had presented itself, good old Saint Peter springs into action. Peter knows well that the rabbis had always taught that people needed to forgive three times. Peter gets out his little mental adding machine and multiplies three by two and adds one for good measure. Then he asks his question while answering it at the same time. “How many times must we forgive? Seven times?” He obviously expected Jesus to say, “Wow, Peter, how generous of you! You are better than the best! Seven times is way beyond the call of duty! It is much more than is required!” You can almost see his big eager grin slowly melt away when Jesus told him to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven times - that is, forgiving without counting the times. 

At the transfiguration, after having been through a powerful religious experience, Peter does not know how to handle it except to open his big mouth and make the outrageous suggestion that it be made permanent. “Wow, Jesus, this is so cool! Let’s set up tents and just stay up here forever!” Jesus is forced to explain to Peter the whole purpose of their peak experience was simply to strengthen them for the tough days ahead. 

At the Last Supper when Jesus approached Peter to wash his feet, overcome with humility, Peter began to protest that he would never allow such a thing! When Jesus explained to him that if he would not allow it, then he could never be a part of him, Peter threw it in reverse! “Well, if that is true, then wash my hands and head as well! Wash me all over – top to bottom!” With Peter, it was always an “all or nothing” proposition.

When Jesus predicts that he will be betrayed by one of his disciples, Peter jumps into the discussion to brag. “Even if everyone else abandons you, I will never abandon you!” Not too much later, after Jesus is arrested and the heat is on, Peter denies Jesus - not once, not twice, but three times! “Jesus who? Woman, I don’t know who you are talking about!”

Today we have the story of Peter out fishing again after the resurrection. It is so typical of Peter. First, it tells us that Peter was stripped to the waist so that he could haul the wet nets back into his fishing boat. When he recognizes Jesus on the shore, he gets so flustered that it says he puts his clothes on and jumps into the water to swim toward Jesus standing on the shore. You can just imagine Peter dragging himself out of the water with soggy clothes, dripping wet, and gushing with enthusiasm.

Second, it tells us that when Jesus asked Peter for some of the fish to put on the grill he had just fired up on the beach, Peter runs back to the boat and drags the net to Jesus, dumping 153 large fish at his feet. You can almost hear him say breathlessly, “There! How’s that? Is that enough? If not, I’ll be happy to go get some more!” Jesus, knee-deep in fish, probably shook his head in laughter at Peter’s impulsive need to please. Jesus, no doubt, saw the big heart inside his clumsy klutz of an apostle, Peter!

Peter should give us all hope. He always teaches us a lot about our relationship to God. Reading about him, I have come to believe that God is more interested in our goodhearted attempts to do the right thing than our many mistakes, that God wants a relationship with us, not matter how rocky it might be!

I believe this is precisely why so many people resonate with the famous prayer of Thomas Merton. 

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not
see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where
it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe the desire to please you
does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all
I am doing. I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right
road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I
trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the
shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

My friends! God wants a relationship with us, not after we settle down, not after we are able to get it all right, but now, just as we are, no matter what!