Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Image result for christmas bethlehem manger SQUARE
Bethlehem Manger Square Christmas Tree Lighting Festivities
We are getting ready to go celebrate early Christmas in Bethlehem, the place were Jesus Himself was born. (Nov. 29 though Dec. 9) The red rectangle on the right of the Christmas tree is the stage where choirs perform for the large gathering in the Square. This year, one of those choirs will be composed of singers from Southern California (Inland Empire area, mostly) led by Joemari and Ning Manahan.

The choir is but a part of the group that is being organized to visit the Holy Land for a few days of pilgrimage in other holy places in the Holy Land after the Christmas Tree lighting celebration.  There are many non singers who are joining the group many of them attracted by the $150.00 discount granted to those who make an early reservation.  
(Down payment of $350.00 made by May 31.)

The special nature of this pilgrimage is marked by the fact that the participation of a choir from this area is due to the fact that the mayor of Bethlehem herself invited people from this area to participate.  She came to know of us because we have been there several times.  She wants the people of Bethlehem to know that Christians from around the world care about them and respect their privilege of living in such a holy place.  This attitude is important for us and drives us to encourage people to accompany us to the Sacred Land of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

This, therefore is an invitation to you to join us. You can save $150 per person if you join by May 31, 2017.  There is a document with complete information awaiting your click on the picture of the olive tree in the right margin.  Or, you can just click here

By the way, for those of you who are not familiar with this blog, let me announce that once you have read this you are committed to not shed tears at my funeral.  If you want to know why I require that, join me in Bethlehem in December. ($2,699-$150.= $2,549)

Sunday, February 19, 2017


The question of the place of the Catholic priest in the sphere of politics came up on a social Q&A site called Quora.  I am a contributor on this site.  The question was 
"Does the Vatican permit Catholic priests in the Philippines to comment about politics, state affairs or government policies?"
Given the political environment in which we are presently living, I answered the question pretty much as appears below.  The changes that I make to accommodate the audience of this blog appear in red.
Politics are not out of bounds for Catholic priests. In many instances the priests are the bulwarks of political morality, not only in the Philippines but around the world. It is the conscientious duty of Catholic priests and other ministers and pastors to enlighten the faithful about the political situation in which we all live.  The Vatican (Holy See) is more of a good example of what priests are expected to do in the world of politics than it is of a direct manager.   
Priests are forbidden to run for and hold public office by the Catholic Church. That does not prohibit them from being honest, neutral brokers of actions taken for the public welfare in the public square. You only have to look to the Vatican itself for examples of that. In my lifetime alone we have the involvement of Pius XII during World War II; John XXIII about women's rights and Francis about the protection of the earth and then some.  Priests are not only permitted to follow that example, it is expected of them.  Bishops often lead the way.  In our day we have seen the assasination of Bishop Romero of El Salvador because he dared oppose the repressive government.  More recently we have Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio [now Pope Francis] at loggerheads with the president of Argentina.  He also was instrumental in the rapprochement of Cuba and the USA.
I have an example. Some 2+ years ago, I was present in a “town hall meeting” where the local bishop (USA) was having a lively give and take with the flock (+/- 300 in attendance.) One person challenged the bishop with the question, “When are you going to stop being involved in politics?” The bishop shot back: “Never. Get used to it.”
Being involved in politics is an integral part of the ministry of the Church.  So says I, bishop and either way the readers feel about it, it will be a good reason to not cry at my funeral.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


How come it took almost 80 years to understand that without Pentecost, etc, there is no Christmas?  Think about it.  How many rural children from small towns have been born in the history of humankind, in caves and in tents and in the humble house of the midwife and never had more of a reputation than that of the star who grew to be the king's valet?  
Isn't it true that we come to know the story of the valet only after he has developed a reputation of rendering topnotch service while living an exemplary, virtuous life for the benefit of one and all?
It is therefore because God, the Father of Jesus, made sure that there was someone to walk beside Jesus, to listen to Him, to see His life unfold, to laugh and to suffer with Him and finally to announce His Story to the world in Word and in Deed that we can truly know the story of His birth, Christmas.  
Today we stand before His crib so that tomorrow we can protect Him from the sword of Herod.  Today we stand before Him in full view of those who are too "busy" to pay Him heed. Today we stand with Him and the Angels, the Shepherds and the Magi, the Apostles and the Believers who know what the span of His earthly presence has wrought and who participate in it in fulsome willingness.

To you all, from Paul, Belle, Jo-El, Marc, blessings of peace and joy for continued life, constant in the presence of the Loving and Merciful Savior.

Monday, December 19, 2016


Two days ago I got this email from a friend who sends me a lot of material that is meant to remind me that I am older then he.

Yesterday my daughter e-mailed me again, asking why I didn't do something useful with my time. 
“Like sitting around the pool and drinking wine is not a good thing?” I asked.

Talking about my "doing-something-useful" seems to be her favorite topic of conversation. 
She was "only thinking of me", she said and suggested that I go down to the Senior Center and hang out with the guys.

I did this and when I got home last night, I decided to play a prank on her.

I e-mailed her and told her that I had joined a Parachute Club.

She replied, "Are you nuts? You are 78 years old and now you're going to start jumping out of airplanes?

I told her that I even got a Membership Card and e-mailed a copy to her.

She immediately telephoned me and yelled, "Good grief, Mom, where are your glasses?!

This is a Membership to a Prostitute Club, not a Parachute Club.

"Oh man, I'm in trouble again,” I said, “I really don't know what to do. I signed up for five jumps a week!!

The line went quiet and her friend picked up the phone and said that my daughter had fainted.

Life as a Senior Citizen is not getting any easier, but sometimes it can be fun.

I didn't really think that this was particularly funny, but it did make me think about life in our house.  I mean, real life.  So, as we used to say 70 years ago, I put pen to paper and described my daily life to my younger antagonist this way:

I don't know about you, but I spend about 10% of every day looking for my glasses.  Then I spend another 10% looking for my coffee cup.  I move from there to spending another 10% scouring the house looking for my wallet. I finally find it before I start spending the next 10% over-turning everything that is not tied down or glued in a search for my car keys.  All of the above happens before or after [I can't remember which] I have begun working at my computer for the day.  At that moment I start spending 10% of the day looking for the electronic files that I carried over from yesterday.  Finally, I have just spent 10% of my day scouring my memory for the completed items that I can remember are the fruit of my daily travails.  This is the detailed description of a typical day in the life of Puttss Dion.  I can't remember on what day I did this but the fact that I can see it in front of me means that I have found my glasses and have remembered to do it.  I didn't have to remember who sent it to me because his name is right up there at the top of the paragraph.  (Deleted to protect his anonymity)
I think I have accounted for about 70% of every day {I can't remember exactly how much}.  The reason I can't remember what I do the other 30% of the time must be because I am sleeping on the couch then.  It's easier to find than my bed!
After reading this, you'll know that crying at my funeral would surely be a giant waste of time... I will have forgotten who you are.  
You heard it here first, remember that!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


It was about 6:00 AM in Jerusalem proper,
not far from the West Bank, maybe 2 miles north of Bethlehem.  We had just awakened from a short night's sleep after 14 hour flight from Los Angeles. We had the first day of  our Christmas Pilgrimage ahead of us. A few moments after shaking the sand from our eyes, we turned on the television out of curiosity.  As the CNN "Word News Headlines" flared into view we were shaken by the announcement that a mass killing had taken place in San Bernardino, California.  We prepared for our day with one ear on the news and one eye on preparing ourselves for a day out of the room, starting with breakfast.
This event served as  the focus for our intercessory prayers for the next nine days.  Most of us lived within 30 minutes of auto travel from the location of this human tragedy.

One year later, we are headed back to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the myriad other holy places located in that part of the world. Once again we will spend the early evening in the Nativity Square in Bethlehem to celebrate the lighting if the Christmas Tree on the first Saturday of December.  Once again we will be there with our heart full of prayer provoked and energized by the memory of San Bernardino.

We are now on the way to Bethlehem.  The major celebration of lights is coming into focus. The thirty foot pine tree at the head of the Nativity Square will be set ablaze with hundreds of multicolored lights. The square itself will be vibrating with multicolored people focused on the mystery of Christmas.  Hundreds of cell phones turned into YouTube cameras will be the source of worldwide "shares" flying through the satellites to friends and families.
The crowd will be cheering and happy.  In the heart of what is Judea, turned Israel, to West Bank, people will be joined in unity of interest if only for a short while.  There will be 40 of us standing together, a small cell of Catholic Christians shivering from the cool of the evening as well as from the emotion of being in Jesus' home town.
We assure you of our prayers.  We ask for yous.  We also remind you that the anniversary of the Mass Murder is on December 2.  the survivors are still deeply traumatized. Please pray for them and pray for those who are helping them to recover.

God bless you all.