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February 21, 2016
Not long after I joined the Franciscans, I went through a difficult time and needed to get some help. One of my Franciscan brothers, whom I hadn't known very well before, began to visit me regularly and prayed especially for me every day. One morning when he was sitting with me, I told him how much I appreciated his extraordinary kindness and compassion in all the ways he supported me in a time of great vulnerability. His response: "What I am doing, you experience as kindness and compassion, and I'm glad for that. But I think of it as my duty to you, my brother. On the day you made your solemn profession in the Order, you promised to be faithful to your vows. That same day, we your brothers promised to be faithful to you. This is what it means to be a brother. This is what we do." I hope that you, too, have had the experience of commitment and care that I received from my Franciscan brother.
February 14, 2016
On this First Sunday of Lent, we are invited to look to Jesus for directions in life. After forty days of fasting and prayer in the desert, Jesus was confronted by a number of strong temptations, similar to those we face on a daily basis. First, Jesus was tempted to change stones into bread, to be overly concerned with satisfying his desire for personal comfort. Second, he had to deny the temptation to use power for his own purposes. Third, Jesus was enticed to use his gifts to advance his personal reputation. In response to all of this, Jesus said, "You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test" (Dt 6:16 in Lk 4:12b). In other words, Jesus kept his life centered on God and God's plan/mission, and we are to do the same as Jesus' disciples. OUCH! Just the thought of an ember being touched to my lips makes me shudder. I know, I know. This is a vision that Isaiah is describing. He is not reporting it as a physical event. Nonetheless, this image of the six-winged seraph racing full-throttle at Isaiah and then scorching his lips feels "real" enough. I react to it internally in the same way as when I see something painful on TV. I can't help it. The squeamish, like me, could easily tune out at this point and miss the rest of the story. And it's a doozy.
February 7, 2016
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it, and said, "See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged." (Isaiah 6: 6-7) OUCH! Just the thought of an ember being touched to my lips makes me shudder. I know, I know. This is a vision that Isaiah is describing. He is not reporting it as a physical event. Nonetheless, this image of the six-winged seraph racing full-throttle at Isaiah and then scorching his lips feels "real" enough. I react to it internally in the same way as when I see something painful on TV. I can't help it. The squeamish, like me, could easily tune out at this point and miss the rest of the story. And it's a doozy.
January 31, 2016
Although we are now in Ordinary Time of the liturgical year, the readings we are given to hear on this Sunday are anything but ordinary! These readings are a fine example of "Biblical Foundations of Spirituality"- a course I teach at CTU. The dynamic in both Nehemiah and Luke is one of listening and responding; and Paul's letter reflects on the community of faith.
January 24, 2016
Although we are now in Ordinary Time of the liturgical year, the readings we are given to hear on this Sunday are anything but ordinary! These readings are a fine example of "Biblical Foundations of Spirituality"- a course I teach at CTU. The dynamic in both Nehemiah and Luke is one of listening and responding; and Paul's letter reflects on the community of faith.
January 17, 2016
Each of the three lectionary cycles begins the Sundays of Ordinary Time with passages from the gospel of John. They are taken from the beginning of what has often been referred to as "The Book of Signs," and serve as an introduction of Jesus to the world. John presents Jesus to the world in the Prologue as the eternal Word now made flesh. The Book of Signs presents him with the Christological titles that were known to the early Church: The Lamb of God (Jn 1.29 and 1.36), Son of God (1.34), Rabbi (1.38), the Messiah (1.41), the Anointed (1.41), the King of Israel (1.49), and the Son of Man (1.51). In the story of the Wedding at Cana, John introduces us to Jesus, the Sign-Worker in the first of the signs that Jesus will perform in the first twelve chapters of John's gospel. As with all the sign-stories, this first of Jesus' signs is filled with meanings beyond the recitation of the facts.
January 10, 2016

I am a friend of a family that I met soon after I was ordained a priest, more than thirty years ago. They are a lively, faith-filled family with four children and now a whole cadre of grandchildren. A couple of years ago, I visited one of their daughters and her husband at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where their seven-year-old son was in the intensive care unit, a few days away from death. Devin had been born with a rare neurological disorder. He managed fairly well during the first couple of years of his life, but when he was just three years old he suffered a severe stroke. The stroke left him completely incapacitated. His parents and extended family took amazing care of him in the years leading up to his death. Devin's young mother and father (the father is a Navy nurse) were simply remarkable in their fidelity and devotion to their son. His grandparents were also closely involved in his care. During the final days of his life, his parents never left his side in the intensive care unit. It was difficult to tell how much Devin could understand after his stroke. But his parents had their own ways of communicating with him, and he seemed to be tuned in to them. As I visited them in that ICU, it was clear to me that Devin must have realized that he was a beloved son.

January 3, 2016
The new "Star Wars" movie "The Force Awakens" has created quite a sensation. It has not only earned a record $1 billion in box office receipts, but references to the film seem to be appearing all over - car commercials, light saber apps for your smart phone and "droids" you can buy patterned after the robots featured in the film. This Star Wars mania has even led some churches in the US and Europe to offer "Star Wars" themed worship services at Christmas-complete with pastors dressed as Luke Sky-Walker and references to "the force" in their sermons.
December 27, 2015
A Return to Family Values. Today we seem deluged with reports of anger, abuse, and even murder at the hand of a family member. Spouses are not attentive to each other; parents neglect children; and children disregard adults. It is time to return to good-old fashioned family values. But what constitutes good old-fashioned family values? Is it the submission of wives, the domineering rule of parents, and the intimidation of children? Is there anything universally applicable regarding family values? Or do they differ from generation to generation, culture to culture? Just what are authentic family values?
December 20, 2015

Before the proliferation of Marian feasts in the Church's liturgical calendar, the Fourth Sunday of Advent provided the opportunity for the Christian faithful to reflect on Mary's unique role in the story of God's self-disclosure to the human family. It was through Mary, the mother of Jesus, that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became part of the human family, bringing to perfection God's self-disclosure in creation.

The love that binds together the Three Persons of the Trinity burst forth in the creation of the cosmos in all its wonder, beauty and diversity. Among all God's creatures only human beings are able discern in the cosmos not only the presence and power of the Creator but also God's love for what God has called into being. God has chosen to make explicit that love and God's desire to be loved by God's human creatures through the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth whose mother was Mary. It was through Mary's giving birth to Jesus that God disclosed the full dimensions of God's love for the human family.