Thursday, February 22, 2024



I  grew up hearing many versions of "life is something that happens to you and all you can do is to make the most of it." I rejected that so called "wisdom" a long time ago when I realized that it was a perfect set-up for becoming a victim and for blaming others and the circumstances around you for the life you experience and don't like.  Until I become totally powerless because of old age or disease, I plan to do all in my power to build the life I want. Today, I want to share some of the wisdom I have picked up from others, much smarter than I am, who have inspired me in the hopes it may inspire you as well.  

Tuesday, February 20, 2024


All during December of last year, when I was heavily involved in cleaning out the surplus that had built up in my condo since I moved in back in 2005, I came across this copy of a framed poster that now hangs in the Campus Ministry Office of Bellarmine University here in Louisville. 

When I retired from there in 2016, I was the longest serving priest campus minister in it's history. I served most of those years with Ms. Melanie Prejean Sullivan. Our ministry was inter-faith because the student body was inter-faith. 

This poster was hung in my honor in the newly dedicated Campus Ministry Ministry Office August 10, 2016.  As I look back almost eight years later, finding it stored away in a closet, I was reminded once again what an honor it was to preach there most Sunday nights, preach most Baccalaureate Masses and pray at most graduations and many special services throughout those many years. To have some of my words memorialized in the Campus Ministry Office like that was certainly icing on the cake! I am so grateful for that experience.    

Sunday, February 18, 2024



The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert where he remained for forty days being tempted by Satan. Afterwards, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news from God, saying “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in his good news!”

Mark 1:12-15 

We are reading from the gospel of Mark this year – the earliest and shortest of all four gospels. It is characteristic of Mark to get right to the point and not waste words on details. We see that in today’s gospel. He does not tell us what the temptations were that Jesus faced over his forty-day retreat in the desert. We have to read the Gospels of Matthew and Luke for those! The same Spirit that had just descended on Jesus so dramatically at his Baptism, we are now told drove Jesus out into the wilderness for a time of testing.

I’ll get into the temptations that Jesus faced shortly, but first I want to talk a little about why a time of testing was so important for Jesus - and for all of us for that matter! If you think about it, temptations are not sent to us to make us fall, but to strengthen our minds, hearts and souls! They are sent not for our ruin, but for our good. They are meant to be tests from which we emerge stronger than we were before!

Take the case of a young football player who has been doing well in a second level league and showing real signs of promise. What will the coach do? He will certainly not send him down to a third level league where he will sail through games and never break a sweat.  No, he will send him out to play for a first level team where he will be tested as never before and have a chance to prove himself. That is what temptations are meant to do – to toughen us up so we can emerge stronger for the fight. As an added touch, Mark says Jesus was surrounded both by wild beasts and angels during his time of testing. This is a way to say that his temptation battle was fierce, but he had God’s help as a defense!

Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the desert to sort things out, to separate the wheat from the chaff and to “discern” what direction God had for his upcoming ministry as well as to strengthen his resolve to follow God’s will going forward. The word “discern” means to “cut apart.” Considering his options, Jesus had to “cut apart” what was God’s will and what wasn’t!

So, what were his options going into ministry? Mark doesn’t tell us, but when we go to Matthew and Luke, we know that his adversary presented three attractive options: magic solutions, dramatic stunts and alignment with political power. Jesus rejected them all and came out of his discernment saying the solution is metanoia – an internal change of the way we see and the way we look at things! Too bad the translation uses the word “repent.” It really means a “radical change of perspective.”

For the “magic solution,” Satan suggested that Jesus could turn rocks into bread. That would have attracted a ton of followers because that part of the world was full of rocks and drastic shortages of bread! As tempting as that was, Jesus rejected it. He knew that we didn’t need “rocks turned into bread magically.” He knew there was enough bread in the world already. What was needed was a radical change in the way we share the bread we already have!

For the “dramatic stunts solution,” Satan suggested that Jesus might jump from a tall building and be rescued by angels before he hit the ground. That certainly would have attracted a ton of followers because people have always liked to see something out-of-the-ordinary, things strange and exotic. As tempting as that sounded, Jesus rejected it. He knew that with the right eye sight, they could already see that wonders were happening all around them every day!

For the “alignment with political power solution,” Satan suggested that Jesus either try to become a king or align himself to political power to accomplish his mission by making people be good! As tempting as that sounded, Jesus rejected it. He knew that people  had to be inspired to do the right thing, not forced to do the right thing – conversion,  not coercion, was Jesus’ suggested solution!  

Sadly, all three of these temptations are alive and well today in our churches and among spiritual seekers of many stripes. We want “the magic,” “the miracles” and “the mighty” to fix things for us, rather than using the power we already have within ourselves by changing the how we see and what we choose!   

The temptation that saddens me most is the third temptation – the temptation to “align oneself to political power” as a way to fix us rather than inspire people to go through personal conversions.  No where is this more obvious to me is the spiritual leadership failure of some of our American bishops. Unable to influence people to choose truth and goodness, they have aligned themselves with political power to make people be good whether they want to or not by enacting more laws enforcing conservative Catholic and right-wing Christian moral teachings. I might agree with most of their moral stands but I totally reject their methods for gaining acceptance of those stands. Jesus rejected potestas (the power of force) and promoted auctoritas (the power of persuasion). In the process, sadly, many of our church leaders are now losing what little moral authority they once had for short-term gains. It's frustrating to watch! 

Temptations have two things in common. They will either make you a stronger person if resisted or they will be your downfall if given into! Every temptation requires “discernment,” the ability to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, the ability to separate what is truly good from what simply looks good at the moment! It is impossible to escape the assault of temptation, but we have to be very careful about falling for offers that only look good! Two old sayings come to mind! “All that glitters is not gold!” “There is always free cheese in a mousetrap!"