Thursday, September 22, 2022



Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 5:3-12

I meet a lot of wonderful people, and without taking anything away from them, every once in a while I get to meet an outstanding living example of how some teaching or another of Jesus is seriously lived-out. Such a person was the woman from the Little Sisters of the Poor whose funeral I celebrated a week or two ago. I have been hearing confessions and helping out with Masses there for a few years. The deceased was a daily Mass attendee who greeted me every time I was there. Her name was Rosemary.

As I was considering what Scripture to preach on, it didn't take me long to land on the Gospel of Matthew's version of the Beatitudes, especially the line that says "Blessed are the pure of heart."

Rosemary, at least in my book, was “pure of heart.” What does “pure of heart” actually mean? When I was young, I used to think that being “pure of heart” meant being free from lustful thoughts, but that’s not what it means! A person who is “pure of heart” has the innocence of a little child. People describe them as uncomplicated, grateful, kind-hearted, accepting, non-judgmental, generous, thoughtful – and always connected to God through prayer.

Well, those words were words actually written to me by her niece about her “Aunt Rosie.” She said that Rosemary was “uncomplicated, grateful, kind-hearted, accepting, attentive, non-judgmental, generous, thoughtful – and always connected to God through prayer.” What she was describing are the qualities of those who are “pure of heart.”

I knew Rosemary was “pure of heart” after the first or second time I met her. She got in the habit of stopping by the sacristy door after Mass to say hello to me. She insisted on whoever was pushing her wheelchair to stop! She did not want to get something from me. She wanted to give me something. She would reach her fragile little hand out and pat my hand and say, “I love you! I am glad you are here!” That, my friends, is what it means to be “pure of heart:” “uncomplicated, grateful, kind-hearted, attentive, non-judgmental, accepting, generous and thoughtful.”

As far as knowing whether she was “always connected to God through prayer” all you had to do was look at all the religious hardware she wore around her neck. First of all, she had more religious medals and pins around her neck than Tonini’s Church Goods sells in a year! Religiously, I knew where she stood with God. Obviously, they were friends! She loved her religious medals like they were her children. She mothered them! They helped her feel the presence of God throughout the day – from morning to night! The metals were not just metal and plastic. They made real spiritual beings come alive for her. They made her feel like she was "surrounded by a cloud of witnesses." She loved to pray, alone and with others, as well as being prayed for!

Religiously, I knew where she stood with God. Obviously, they were friends! When I would give her communion, she was laser-focused on what I was handing her. When I said, “Body of Christ,” I did not get one of those wimpy out-of-the-book, one-word “Amens!” No, she declared in a firm voice, “Yes, we are! Thanks be to God!” Actually, that was quite insightful on her part. I would say “Body of Christ” as I held the host before her eyes. She would respond, “Yes, we are! Thanks be to God!” She was right. We can speak of the “body of Christ” present in the host, but we can also speak of the “body of Christ” present in the people of God gathered in his name.

Many times, I hear people talking about funeral “eulogies.” I don’t give “eulogies, I give “homilies.” What’s the difference? A “eulogy” is about all the wonderful things the dead person did for God. The problem with that is, sometimes people feel that if they can name enough good deeds, they can conclude that the deceased person deserved heaven because they had earned his or her way into heaven.

A homily, on the other hand, is the opposite. It is about the wonderful things God did for the dead person. If that is where the emphasis is placed, then all that is required are expressions of gratitude. A woman who is “pure in heart” is inspired to do the millions of small acts of kindness, not because she is trying to get God to love her, but because she already knows that she is loved by God and just wants to express her gratitude! That realization and that gratitude was at the heart of Rosemary’s life!

Religiously, I knew where she stood with God. Obviously, they were friends! Today, I can imagine Rosemary walking confidently (without her wheelchair) into heaven and Jesus sticking his hand out to pat her hand and saying, “I love you! I am glad you are here!” Two good friends finally meeting in person after all these years – that’s what we celebrate today!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022


Whether you have moved away, drifted away or were never there, join us at "old Saint Theresa" as we remember, give thanks and look forward to a renewed future for a very special old place. After a year and a half of determination, hard work and amazing generosity, we are going to celebrate the blessing of the new St. Theresa Family Life Center in the former St.Theresa/Cross Roads School building.   



Mass celebrated by Archbishop Shelton Fabre in Saint Theresa Church
Saturday, October 15, 2022 
Feast Day of our patron, Saint Theresa of Avila
4:30 pm

Blessing of the new Saint Theresa Family Life Center with Tours and Dinner to follow. 


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One of my very favorite old movies is "The Trip To Bountiful," starring Geraldine Page who plays the role of Carrie Watts and old woman who yearns to go back to her old hometown before she dies. She finds a way, after dodging many set-backs and obstacles, to go back to her crumbling old hometown of Bountiful, Texas. It is a interspersed with that beautiful old gospel song, "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling." Anyone who was ever raised in a small town or old neighborhood, with nostalgic memories, can identify with this moving story. 

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Sunday, September 18, 2022



You cannot be a slave to two masters at the same time.
Luke 16

Let me be perfectly clear, right up front. I’m not against money and neither is God. In fact, the responsible use of money is an important part of the spiritual life. I taught the importance of responsible personal financial planning to would-be-priests at St. Meinrad Seminary before I retired. 

I insisted that they develop a savings plan for retirement to be implemented immediately with their first salary check. I even gave each of them $100.00 from the stipends I received from leading priest retreats all over the country to open their own Individual Retirement Account. I asked them to take the salary and benefits they will receive as a priest and create a budget showing how to lower expenses, how much they will give to charity, how much they will need to pay off loans and how much they want to save each month. The amount, I told them, is not as important as the consistency and discipline of personal financial management. Anything else, these days, I believe is irresponsible! I started saving in 1970, by opening a Christmas Club account, even when a priest’s salary was $90 a month! At that, I was able to save $5.00 a week! When Christmas came I never spent it, but kept saving it toward long-term goal of having my own place in 45 years when I retired.  

Even Jesus had a designated treasurer for his band of disciples. Sadly, he is an example of what Jesus teaches us today not to do. It wasn’t the money Judas held that was bad, it was his attitude toward it. The money he was entrusted with got more of his attention than it deserved and his obsession with it finally took him down!

As I said, I am not against money and neither was Jesus. So, all you investment professionals can sit back and relax because you’re not in for a verbal beating. Besides, I expect there are a few collection baskets around here somewhere, all greased up and ready to go, so I am not about to bite the hands that feed this place!

Even the old expression “Money is the root of all evil,” is a mistranslation of the original Greek in I Timothy 6:10. The actual translation is not "money is the root of all evil,” but “an obsession with money is the root of all evil.” What God is against is the misuse of money, the obsessive accumulation of money for its own sake, the dishonest acquisition of money and the selfish use of money.

One famous Hollywood comedian once said, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” Personally, I have been happy with money, and I have been happy without it. It is certainly not the passion of my life or I would certainly have gone into something besides priesthood. Even at that, I know for a fact that poor people can be greedy. It’s not how much money you have, but your attitude toward it! With all this said, my job is to deal with this Scripture and see what it has to teach us today, whether we are rich or poor!

To teach us how to be clever and imaginative about discipleship, Jesus tells a strange parable about a rich man’s deviously clever steward. This steward, the one in charge of managing the rich man’s property, was reported for squandering his master’s money. Finding out about it, the master calls his steward in to fire him. Knowing he was about to be fired, the steward does something quite clever to ingratiate himself with those who owed money to his master. He slashed their bills, one by 50% and another by 20%. By doing this, he made friends with them, hoping they would take him in, once he lost his job. When the parable ends, even his master commended his devious steward for his slickness.

Jesus tells his listeners, “Would that you would be as clever about living and promoting the faith as this crooked servant was in taking care of his business!” Jesus is not teaching us to imitate the dishonesty of this steward, but to imitate his dedication and cleverness in living our faith. He puts it this way. “The worldly are much more clever than the other worldly in dealing with their own kind.”

No, God is not against money, but the obsession with accumulating money, money dishonestly acquired and the selfish use of money. What Jesus says is this: “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will given to you besides.” “You cannot serve two masters. You will either love one and ignore the other or be devoted to one and ignore the other.” So Jesus teaches us to be obsessed with the kingdom of God first and then we will have what we need. Be obsessed with making money and you will very likely have little else. If you are obsessed with money or you are susceptible to getting it in a crooked way or use it, not for the common good, but for your own good, you are treading on dangerous water!

Over the years, I have been exposed to several people that the world would call rich. Yes, a few tend to be flashy, wasteful and selfish, but most seem to know money’s limits, to live more modestly than they would have to, to be more willing to share their money and more willing to take responsibility for using their money for the good of the whole community. They seem to understand the words of Jesus when he said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” They know that with wealth comes responsibility. They are the ones who give generously of their time, talent and their treasure to the various charities around our community.  I had the opportunity of serving on the J. Graham Board Foundation Board for two terms. We gave away millions of dollars. I learned from that experience how hard it is to give away money wisely, where it can really life people up, not just make them more dependent. 

We are challenged today to heed the wisdom of Jesus. “Knowing how to live” is always more important than “making a living.” When “making money” is at the heart of your life, you are on a slippery slope. We all have to “make a living,” but knowing how to “have a life” is always more important, no matter how much or how little we “make.” If your highest priority is your relationship with family, friends and the world at large, I believe the resources you need will always be there for you. In fact, I have discovered personally that the more generous I am, the more I have to be generous with! Being generous has never left me poorer!