Friday, December 28, 2012


Marriage and Celibacy according to Jesus:

4 He answered, 'Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female

5 and that he said: This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh?  [Quote from Genesis, chapter 2, verse 24]
6 They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide."

10 The disciples said to him, 'If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is advisable not to marry."
11 But he replied, 'It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted.
12 There are eunuchs born so from their mother's womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can." (The Gospel of Matthew)

There are two mysteries wrapped up in this passage of Matthew.  Each one of them refers to the same thought that is expressed by God the Creator in Genesis.  Each one of them is as ancient as human beings.  Humans have always found a way to relate to God in order to be complete in their being.  /For the most part humans follow the path that was outlined by God, they leave everything behind in order to devote themselves to an exclusive communitarian relationship between man and woman.  This is a basic human calling that God set forth for the greater good of his earthly creatures.  It is His plan that the male should not be afraid to collaborate with God Himself to make the world a better place.  It is His plan that the woman should stay by the man's side as a loving partner for the sake of the betterment of the world as well.  The role of the man was considered to be important for the health and protection of the woman.
In the early going, one man was often responsible for more than one woman.   As time went on, however, the relationship between humans and God became more defined and the cleaving of man to woman and vice versa became more exclusive.  There is a good example of the difficulties that polygamy presented to God fearing, righteous people in the very first chapter of the first book of Samuel.  Alkanah, the man, had more than one wife.  He had one whom he liked more then the other.  The difficulty was that the one whom he really loved was barren.  Her name was Hannah.  The lesser loved of the two, who disliked Hannah, was Penninah.  As far as love stories go, this one is quite touching.  Hannah turns out to be the mother of Samuel the great Patriarch who himself never married, but gave himself completely to God, right from the moment of his birth, through the vow of his mother.  It is therefore quite clear that when Jesus talks about those who are eunuchs by their own doing, do it for the Kingdom of Heaven, he had some examples to fall back on.
It is therefore important to our religious and spiritual life that we have people who are able to live the advice and the pronouncements of God and His Son Jesus for the sake of the Kingdom.
I dare say that Jesus came to us to clarify a lot of things that needed clarifying from the Old Testament.  One of them, of course has to do with the way humans live and how they relate to one another and to God Himself.  For the many, it is through the grace of Matrimony.  For "Those who can" it is through a complete dedication of self to the Kingdom.
It is clear in the Scripture that in both cases, "man" leaves his father and mother" to cleave to another person. In the case of Matrimony, he and his spouse cleave to one another.  In the case of the dedicated eunuch, man and woman, father and mother are left behind for the total dedication of self to the Kingdom.  In both cases, Jesus doesn't negotiate anything away.  He says simply, "'It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted. ... Let anyone accept this who can."
This is why it is clearly defined by the Catholic church that these two states of life are perpetual.  They cannot be negotiated away and substituted for by an alternative status.  Jesus says it clearly, that he/she who is divorced and who goes and lies with another commits adultery.  The same goes for the dedicated celibate.  We have the story of Samson that shows us the consequences of violating the vowed dedication that was made to God and forsaken in sin.  Closer to Jesus, we have the story of David, the great sinner as well as the great saint.
In the Gospels we have the great example of both kinds of dedication.  We have the stories of righteous married people and the example of John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and Jesus Himself who never married.
I am writing this because I get into many conversations about priestly celibacy.  Most of them carry the question:  "When will the Roman Catholic Church allowed married priests to minister openly as a matter of course rather than by exception?"  My answer is always the same, "Never."  It is not that there is anything immoral about a married man accepting Holy Orders.  It is the fact that the call to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic church carries with it the non-negotiable requirement of perpetual celibacy.  This is the sign on earth that there is a great reward that is worth living for in an extraordinary life style in a disciple's relationship with God.  The solid, non-negotiable call to a stable marriage and the living out of the grace of God to keep it that way is also a sign that there is a great reward awaiting those who do not seek to negotiate their way out of it.
There is also a great reward for those who, having tried and failed, remain focused on God in their new state.  They too are examples that the Kingdom of Heaven is worth dying for, even if the dying starts early and takes a while  to carry us to our eternal reward.
Then, finally, there are those who will dare to ask, "And, what about you?"
My answer is simple.  David had his sin. Peter had his sin.  They died dedicating their lives to God.
All I am doing is dying slowly, doing what I can to keep my focus on God.
So, after my slow martyrdom  I don't want anybody to feel bad at my funeral.  Keep your hankies dry.  Know that I died happy, even it is was on Mount Nebo rather than Jerusalem.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I want to focus on the four friends of this man.  Well, wait a minute, maybe they weren't friends but were well meaning "neighbors." The fact is that without them, the paralytic would not have been cured.  The lesson here is an important one for us.  I am not the first one to mention this publicly.  In fact, let me share a similar thought with you from a blogger somewhere else in the ethersphere.

 "In the midst of the crowd was a small group: a handful of men with a paralyzed friend.  These un-named companions, decided to bring their buddy (also un-named) to see Christ, hoping for a miracle.  Four of them were holding the paralyzed man on a stretcher, but could not break through the multitudes to get close to Jesus. So, these really nice friends climbed to the roof — with their  paralyzed buddy (outside stairways were common then).  The group made a hole in the roof (which was probably constructed out of wooden beams, thatching and mud) and carefully let their friend down into the house on his stretcher.  Jesus was astonished at this enormous display of faith, and so, with tender affection, told them that their sins were forgiven (which really annoyed some scribes and Pharisees who were present).  Jesus amazed the people even more by commanding the paralyzed man to rise and walk.  Instantly, the man who had to be carried by his friends stood up and began to walk with his feet while glorifying God with his lips!  These trusting men knew.  They knew that Jesus was blessed and caring. And, they knew that it was worth going to great lengths to be near Him."  [ by THERESA DOYLE-NELSON on JULY 29, 2010 on her blog]

In my mind, it is not the fact that the four men are unnamed but that they actually did something to help the man. They had faith.  Their faith included the faith of the man, and the paralytic man participated in the faith of the four men.  Just as Jesus participated in the healing power of the creator, the paralytic was one with his supporters.
This is a lesson about the collaborative mission of God Himself.  Think of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the Prophets and Jesus Himself.  Yaweh does not operate in an isolated vacuum.  Jesus does not stand alone.  Our God is a collaborating, communitarian, productive mutual love God.  Our faith is a communitarian faith, not an absolute personal one. We have the obligation to support one another in Faith, Hope and Charity.  
This obligation does not just begin with Jesus.  It begins with the very early directives of Yaweh Himself.  Listen to these words:
9 "When you reap the harvest of your land, you will not reap to the very edges of the field, nor will you gather the gleanings of the harvest;
10 nor will you strip your vineyard bare, nor pick up the fallen grapes. You will leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am Yahweh your God.
11 "You will not steal, nor deal deceitfully or fraudulently with your fellow-citizen.
12 You will not swear by my name with intent to deceive and thus profane the name of your God. I am Yahweh.
13 You will not exploit or rob your fellow. You will not keep back the labourer's wage until next morning.
14 You will not curse the dumb or put an obstacle in the way of the blind, but will fear your God. I am Yahweh.
15 "You will not be unjust in administering justice. You will neither be partial to the poor nor overawed by the great, but will administer justice to your fellow-citizen justly.
16 You will not go about slandering your own family, nor will you put your neighbour's life in jeopardy. I am Yahweh.
17 You will not harbour hatred for your brother. You will reprove your fellow-countryman firmly and thus avoid burdening yourself with a sin.
18 You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudge against, the members of your race, but will love your neighbour as yourself. I am Yahweh.
Does this sound familiar?  We all remember the times when Jesus reached out to strangers and even told parables about how strangers were valuable to Him as well as the Chosen People.  Remember when the emissaries of John the Baptist asked Him if He was the One for whom they were waiting?  His answer was, "Go tell John that the lame walk, the blind see..."  The story of the supportive community of the paralytic mentioned in the story told above is really a very up-to-the-minute, detailed example of the meaning of the Magi and further on down the books of the New Testament, the gathering of the people to hear the sermon delivered by Peter on the morning following the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Acts, chapter 2)  God is the creator of us all, the Savior of us all and the Sanctifier of us all.

Brothers and sisters, this is our call.  This is what it means to be a disciple of the Servant King.  This is what I believe and this is what I strive to live.  I won't be 100% successful, but hey, do not let that be a reason for you to cry at my funeral.  Remember that Christ came to free us from death, and therefore from having to cry at funerals ... especially, mine!

Monday, December 3, 2012


Are you trying to say that waiting is not a waste of time?  Yes.  Watch.

1. "Time answers questions and removes uncertainty."
2. "Our willingness to wait reveals the level of value that we place on  
    what it is for which we wait."
3. "Good things come to those who wait."
The best thing that happens to those who wait is God Himself, per Isaiah: (64;4)

For since the beginning of the world
People have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,

Who acts for the one who waits for Him.

We are in the time of Advent.  Advent is a short form of the future participle of the Latin word meaning "to arrive."  The interesting thing about this word is that when we use it in its full-blown form, we don't have the same negative feeling about it as we experience when we consider it in its shortened form.  Yet, the meaning is the same and the final results for us are generally positive in either case.  Since "Advent" is a religious term more than a secular one, let's start there.

Advent puts our North American patience [or lack thereof ] to the test.  We dislike waiting.  Waiting for us is a negative.  It is a waste of time.  We dislike it so strongly that we even spend big money buying and using devices that make us forget that we are waiting.  We are so averse to waiting that we even use our I-phones and other electronic devices while waiting at the restaurant table for the order to come.  We do this in front of our companions, even if they do not have an I-phone.  Rather than to enrich ourselves with the thoughts and opinions of our friends and relatives, we have recourse to texting or gaming or managing our contacts list, or...
Of course, we do the same thing during Advent.  Rather than to spend a moment enriching ourselves with the spiritual treasures that the season holds, we hide behind our impatience and our impulsive nature in an effort to forget the pain of waiting for the 25th of December to come and go. 
It is difficult to imagine that a culture so intent upon productive action can be so absorbed in non-productive, mindless escapism as we are.  We have forgotten the fundamental truth that there is more value in people watching than there is in composing a series of "Whassup, Dude" texts while waiting for the bus to arrive or for another friend to come out from the doctor's office. 
It is nearly impossible to rise above this morass of mindless activity in the search for internal fulfillment of some kind.  It is quasi impossible to reach out to an invisible but loving God in order to feel His loving warmth in our lives.  Even Advent doesn't make it happen because it gets pre-empted by Wal-Mart, et al.  It gets pre-empted because it is a "wait" not a search.  We know that Christ is coming, and that is fine, but it's the wait that is killing us.

May I therefore suggest that we turn to the long form of the word to see if there is some help to be found there.  We are looking for spiritual fulfillment and the appreciation of God's never ending flow of grace into our lives.  What we might as well do therefore, is to embark on a spiritual "ADVENTURE."  The meaning is related to "Advent."  It means that things are going to happen.  In most conversations it means that "I am going to go out and make something happen."  I will make reality come to me and I will make reality know that I too am on the way. Remember, I said that this is a future participle.  (You grammar nerds know that we don't have that verb form in the English language.)  
What  am proposing therefore is that we submerse ourselves not in "Advent" but in "Adventure."  We know that God is reaching out to us, so why not answer His reach by "adventuring" back towards Him?  If we do that we will find ourselves on Christmas Eve so fast we will wonder where the time went.  Dare I venture to say that we might even save a dollar or two in the process?  
There are some interesting ways to activate our minds and souls around the waiting period.  There is always the possibility that we decide to have a family Bible Prayer every day, at a convenient time, from now until the end of Christmastide.  There is the building of an Advent wreath with the four candles to decorate the Bible Prayer space.  If you Catholics aren't too familiar with the Bible, use the Bible Readings that are used in church on Sunday.  Go to a solid, trustworthy website like or or
It is also fun, believe it, to reach out and help someone who needs it.  Not necessarily a room in your house, for instance, but something simple like driving an old person to the doctor, watering the neighbor's plants while she is out of town, helping a family to clean the house or the yard, or...?  Here's one, volunteer for the food bank nearest you.  At this time of the year, they need all the help that they can get.  When you're at the supermarket and you bump into the person with the manager's name tag, ask if the company has a policy of donating goods to church food banks.  The manager won't give the donation directly to you, but take the information and send the leader of the food bank to see the store manager in a day or two and it shall be done.  Where I go to church there is a warm blanket drive every December aimed at making Winter time a little easier on the homeless.  

The point is, the spiritual life in the company of Jesus is Adventure.  It is His coming to us and our going to him.  This December moment is a time of High Adventure.  Get used to it now, and let it grow on you so that your whole life will take place side by side with Our God and the Angels and Saints who surround Him, and us.

If I die after you've made this spiritual effort, you will be required to refrain from crying at my funeral.

God bless you all with peace and joy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


32 But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.
33 'Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come.
34 It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from his home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own work to do; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake.

35 So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow or dawn;
36 if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep.
37 And what I am saying to you I say to all: Stay awake! [Mark 13]

Why is it that we have moments in our lives when we just know that God is talking to us?  Why is it that in our lives memories are so important?  Why is it that the memories that we have of funerals and weddings and baptisms are the ones that stop us short and make us take time to assess our relationship with the God who loves us so much?  
Well, for one thing they are the three times in life when people really get together and celebrate life in the name of the One who gives it.  These are the times when we all know why we are together.  It's not because we justr got elected to the city school board, or because we received the big promotion at work or even because we won the big $2,000 bingo prize.  No, it is because these are moments when Faith in and Love for God are at the core of the event.  Yes, even at funerals.
It is a memory that came to me yesterday when I first read the Gospel lesson for today.  It is the Gospel quote above from Saint Mark.  [The emphases are mine.]  
The title for this reflection is from the "Ave Maria."  We beg Mary that she intercede for us before her Son so that we can experience a good death.  There was a time when the spirituality of "Good Death" was very strong.  We lived in the anticipation of the day when God would come calling.  We prayed that we would be awake.  To be found awake was considered to be a great gift, the great grace that God would grant to those who believed and lived accordingly.  We prayed for the grace to be counted among the "five wise virgins" about whom the evangelist Matthew wrote so eloquently.  
This was an especially predominant prayer during the month of November, the month dedicated to the memories of our dearly departed. It is at this moment, during this season that we offer a large part of our spiritual life to God in favor of the souls who have gone before us.  It is an opportunity for us to remember our connection to God through the brothers and sisters who enriched our lives while they were on earth.  The fact that they have moved on and changed their form of life does not take them away from us.  They give us the hope for a happy death of our own.  
The memory of these souls pushes us to remember that some of them may still be in need of our intercession on their behalf.  This is our chance to make restitution for our errors and malfeasances by praying for their cleansing before their glorious entry into the full and unveiled vision of God Himself.  When we remember these truths of our faith, we know that the memory comes from God Himself and that by it He makes us better.  Through these memories He urges us to come closer to Him.  Through these memories He shows us what actions He expects of us in our lives here below.  Yes, these are moments of great opportunity given to us as we strive for holiness in preparation for His coming.  These are the Cockcrow of God Himself awakening us and stimulating us to higher levels of virtue.  

These are the thoughts that the memories of my yesteryears brought me.  I leave you with them as I remind you that there is no crying allowed at my funeral.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Sister Claire-Odette Rasoanatoandro, SNDS
See that box?  See how small it is?  There's a missionary in there whose heart could not fit inside.  We are pretty sure that it is safely in the hands of our Holy Mother Mary and Her loving Son.  This lady was one of 11 children who are still in her home country of Madagascar.  Not too long before Sister Claire Odette died, her mother died leaving all the children motherless in a small village of Madagascar.  This is a picture of a person who has litterally left everything on the field.  This is a person who followed the words of God Himself when He said, "... for this reason a man (woman too) leaves his mother and father and clings to the [one he/she loves]..." (Genesis)  Missionaries are that way.  They love God so much that leaving everything behind for His sake is their joy.  Jesus is their Husband.  The Church is their house.
We who haven't done that can do nothing but look on in awe at the tight bond that the marriage of a person with Jesus becomes with age.  We think that it takes a lot just at the start.  It is also clear that it takes a lot more to see it through to the end.  Some do, some don't.  Even those who don't are changed for life by the experience.  I know.
If you want to know more about this funeral and about the spirituality that reigned over it, click here

I started this reflection by making a comment about the box.  I want to make you aware of my dedication to simplicity in matters of rites of passage.  The very first article that I posted on this blog was based on the futility of extravagant wedding parties.  Over the years I have had the opportunity to tell people that matrimony is just as valid when you put out $100 as it is when you put out $50,000.  I could have said the same thing about funerals.  You're just as dead in a $100 pine box as you are in a $10,000 mansion of a box.  The grave is still going to be 6x4x6. So, put it on paper.  Tell your family that a pine box is good enough.
When EFR Dion died, we didn't go wild with the funeral expenses.  My dead father didn't seem to mind at all.  We didn't care that there were some who made snide remarks about the cheap looking casket.  We knew that in a couple of days we'd never see that particular item again anyway.  I couldn't figure out what their problem was.  It wasn't their box.
I personally am still flipping the proverbial coin about whether or not to have a traditional wake or a burial at sea or a cheap $100 cremation.  I am torn because I know the spiritual value of a wake.  I know that one or two people are going to come to pray for my sorry soul.  I know that more than that will come to be nice to my wife and children.  We're all familiar with that.  People who haven't seen one another in 35 years like traditional wakes.  They get to check out how much older everyone else looks than they do.  Who knows, two people who thought they really hated one another come together, shake hands and wonder why they've stayed so stupid for so long and walk away from the whole thing in peace.  I've seen that happen.  It's easy to do when you look at the dead guy and realize that you could be next.  Then, of course, I know that there will be some who will come to check to see if it is really me, finally.  You know, I don't want to disappoint them.  So a wake is nice.
The other thing is, I wonder if it is true that my soul will be able to check out those who come and those who don't.  I wonder about that because it could be fun to see how they act.  I could check out if they are crying or not.  If they are, I could nudge them and tell them that I told them not to do that.  That would be cool.  I often wonder about that.
If my soul could check that out, I would sure look around to see who is really praying the rosary and who is not.  I could see if my son is really using the rosary that used to belong to EFR Dion some 85 or 100 years ago.  I don't know what I could so about it, but it would be fun, one way or the other.
The BOX?  Oh, yeah, the box.  That's all I want, is a simple box.  I'm only 5'4", so get it measured and save on materials.  It could even be plastic for all I care.  Maybe by the time I die, wood will really be expensive.  So, hey, cheap, make it cheap.  I mean, for what's in it, you don't have to impoverish yourselves.  Like chairs.  For what goes in them, why are they so expensive?  So, whatever you do, don't be felony crazy and go out and spend 30 - 40 thou on a stupid funeral.
I think I've about talked myself into a traditional wake.  Hmmm, that also make me think about something that is absolutely essential to a traditional wake...cigars...expensive cigars...Cubans, gotta have Cubans. Look, if they're too expensive, maybe you could just put me out on a slab and after the wake, just put me in the oven.  That way you could save a pile of scratch because you wouldn't have to have a grave or anything like that.  Just a $25 plastic lined cardboard box.  Then you could have the Cuban cigars that every traditional wake has to have.  Pheew!  I'm glad I didn't forget that.
Hey, just wait one single minute, I got a better idea.  Let's buy the cigars now so I can have one before I die.  That way you'll know that you won't have to cry at my funeral.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Yesterday was a day full of spiritual drama.  On the one hand, good news came telling of the return to stronger health for Father Pat.  On the other, the story of Sister Claire Odette leaving her Earthly abode for the other side.  Father Pat is several years older than Sister Claire.  He is the one who is on the road back to health from a long distance down into the pit.
Furthermore, on the same day I received an email from a family that has a long list of human deficiencies that cause them to exercise a high degree of holy patience along the road of life.  They need our prayers.  The mother and father are no longer young (70 +), the daughter is 40 +  and has been in poor health all her life.  The mother is in the "spare parts" season of her life.  Things like artificial knees, artificial eye lenses to correct cataracts and who knows what else. 

These are the physical challenges that we face.  We don't always put the emotional and psychological sufferings that we endure in the life threatening category.  We know that it is possible to live for a long time with neurological and mental abnormalities.  We also know that it is possible to live a long time with "mechanical" problems like arthritis, rheumatism, Muscular Dystrophy and other such "discomforts." 

Every year at about this time I find myself reflecting on the mystery of life.  I have done this for a long time.  I was still quite young when I came face to face with the death of a beloved person.  I have written many pages of meditative thoughts about the relationship that we have with the mystery of life and death.  It most often encroaches on my life during the month of November when the Catholic Church celebrates the mystery of life in stark terms.  It starts off with All Saints Day, moves to All Souls Day and moves through the month celebrating those who have gone before us.  We honor them and we pray that they rest in peace.  We also can't forget that we someday are going to be among them.  We know that life doesn't end at terrestrial death.  It just changes form.  The Bible reminds us that it participates in the mystery of the grain of wheat that cannot fructify as long as it does not first die in the ground.  "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." [John 12;24]  We live with that.  We are reminded of it yearly.  We know that the mystery of life includes the mystery of death. 
We respect our earthly life because we believe that an earthly life well lived prepares us for a glorified life in the presence of Almighty God.  We respect life because we believe that it is a gift that only partially belongs to us.  It belongs to God too and He expects it to fructify so that it can become a part of His Eternal Community.  The more deeply we respect life, the happier we are.  The more intensely we live life, the more we come to resemble the Creator who gifts us with it.  The more righteously we live life, the more deeply we come to appreciate the divine mystery that our life mirrors while we are here on earth. 

This is the Catechism of the month of November.  This is the Catechism of Discipleship.  This is the confrontation that Jesus Himself presented us when He said,
"24 ... 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
26 What, then, will anyone gain by winning the whole world and forfeiting his life? Or what can anyone offer in exchange for his life?
27 'For the Son of man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will reward each one according to his behavior.'" [Matthew 16, 24 - 27]

November is the 12th month of the Calendar that the Catholic Church follows in its prayer life.  December is the first month.  Every year before we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we celebrate the mystery of our personal 12th month.  We celebrate the end of life as we know it as we stand before the light of the New Dawn.  We stand in awe at the promise of the new life about which we know only through the eyes and the mind and the heart of Faith.  This is what we do every single year.  Every year we Catholics have the privilege of practicing dying and peeking into the mystery of the transition from this life to the one that Jesus promised to those who would not prize the life that they have more than they would come to prize Him.

Get ready.  On the very last Sunday of the Catholic Year, we will hear the story of Christ the King.  On the very first Sunday of the Catholic Year we will hear the story of the end of the world.  Everything that you have read before getting here explains why Catholics do this.  It is the Catechism of life and death.  Earthly life ends and is transformed so that pure spiritual life can begin.   It is the Catechism of the reality of Discipleship.  We are all invited.  Every single year the invitation is made.  Over and Over again, we get invited.  Why do so many choose not to RSVP?

If we really believe this, why do we cry at funerals?



Since this is election time, and since many things come across my email screen I have been given a lot of fodder for my grist mill.  I chose this one because it fits nicely into my philosophy and my Theology (Spirituality).

The saying is one of those juxtapositions of ideas that clash and at first sight seem to make a valid point.  The thing about them is that at second blush, it becomes clear that the two ideas cancel one another out because they are mutually exclusive.  In this case, the humor seems to be quite catchy, but when the reader gets past the humor, the fallout seems to indicate that the sense of it is, that taxes are bad.  That is the part with which I disagree.  It is also not a correct attitude to harbor.  Taxes are not bad.  In practice there are several reasons why we develop resentment about having to pay them, but in concept, taxes are not a bad thing.

If taxes were so bad, it would be normal that the Bible would have something to say about the evil of charging taxes and/or the evil of paying them.  It happens that the Bible does not condemn taxes themselves, the governments who impose them nor those who pay them.  The Bible does not even have anything against honest tax collectors.  It is also clear that those who were paying them in the old days had the same acrimony about having to pay them that we do.  Interestingly enough, every time that the subject comes up in the Bible, God comes down on the good side of taxes.  It is therefore clear that in order to be a righteous person, it is morally obligatory to pay taxes.

My father gave me this lesson when I was fourteen years old.  I got my first "official" paycheck in life in July of 1951.  I got it for working on a tobacco farm in Connecticut.  I think it was for something like $18.00.  It also had deductions for Social Security and Income Tax.  That didn't make me too happy.  My father stepped in and explained the facts of life to me.  You know, the "birds and the bees" stuff about "life in the real world."  I remember that he had a very positive attitude about taxes.  I also remember that he was a staunch Republican.  A staunch Catholic Republican who practiced the rythm system.  There are about as many jokes about that reality as there are about taxes.  Actually, my mother and father were lucky, they only had five children.  See, it worked.

Meanwhile, back to taxes.  Let me start with the attitude that  the Bible has about them.  I like the teaching of John the Baptist to the Publicans:  "...And he said unto them, exact no more than that which is appointed you. (Luke 3;13)  This, of course was before the invention of the withholding tax and the IRS.  This was also during the time of the Roman occupation of Palestine.  People were paying the half shekel tax according to the Law of Moses: "A bekah for every man, [that is], half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty [men]. (Exodus 38;26)
Of course, they were also paying the Roman Emperor for his comfort and for him to maintaing the occupying force in Palestine.  Sweet deal, right?
Yet we we all know what Jesus had to say about that arrangement.

This does not recount the oldest tax law about which we know.  The Egyptians paid taxes.  We do get a glimpse into the Egyptian tax law when we hear the story of Joseph and the reform that he instituted in the Egyptian tax law.  " And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, [that] Pharaoh should have the fifth [part]; except the land of the priests only, [which] became not Pharaoh's. (Genesis 47;26)  Joseph exempted the priests, somewhat like we do these days.  We don't know much about China in the pre-history times, but it is safe to think that they had taxes too.  Where else would they have found the resources to build beautiful bridges, nice roads, maintain an efficient courier system, build temples and the like?

To the old saw that says that death and taxes are the two surest things to befall humans in life, I add that they are also "what makes the world go round."  Without taxes the human community would have nothing to sustain the social nature of life which is natural to us.  We are gregarious animals.  We need common assets to survive and to thrive.  Like other life forms, we look to the alpha types of our kind to help us thrive.  We know, by our very nature, that there are some things that we cannot dominate by standing alone.  Taxes are part of an economic system that allows us to maintain independent freedom from constant presence in the flock, while being assured that there is an element of singularity that binds us together.  Taxes are a tangible link to one another because they set up an economic relationship of indebtedness between all the individuals in the community.
Yes, taxes are an external sign of an internal need to be united.  Taxes are an extension of the spiritual element in all of us.  Taxes are what make community life take on a quality of security and peace.  There are many communities of humans who maintain their stability by putting all that they own and earn into common ownership.  These communities are generally religious in nature and are composed of a group that maintains a very highly focused spiritual unity of purpose.  They are living proof that civil societies cannot generally achieve this high level of communitarian focus because the individuals who belong to such highly specialized communities do so voluntarily and constantly strive to channel much of their drive for self-determination into the defined purpose of the religious group.  The success of such communities provides us with living proof that Spiritual Communism works, but Civil, Secular Communism does not.

It is therefore my conviction that taxes are not evil.  What bedevils most citizens of any given country is the misuse of the tribute that is collected.  That misuse of the trust funds that taxes are is what causes civil wars to break out.  That misuse is a violation of the human bond of trust and security that taxes are meant to construct.   That misuse, sad to say, is perhaps the true "oldest profession" known to humans.  That doesn't make taxes evil.  It makes those who govern fall into evil ways.  Sadly, even God has not found a way to cure the propensity that His people have of taking advantage of one another, rather than providing one another with the peace and security that taxes are supposed to help create.

That, my brothers and sisters is a topic for brighter humans than I to confront.  The fact that I have come to that realization should keep you from crying at my funeral.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


This article has been edited since the original was published.  The author had some maladroit grammar that he has corrected to make the piece convey its message more clearly.
Before you vote, click on this link and read the whole thing.  Then, never forget it.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki from Springfield, Illinois:

“There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform, but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils. My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues. I would be abdicating this duty if I remained silent out of fear of sounding ‘political’ and didn’t say anything about the morality of these issues. People of faith object to these platform positions that promote serious sins.”

“So what about the Republicans? I have read the Republican Party Platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin,” Paprocki added. “One might argue for different methods in the platform to address the needs of the poor, to feed the hungry and to solve the challenges of immigration, but these are prudential judgments about the most effective means of achieving morally desirable ends, not intrinsic evils.”

[Isn't abortion in the case of incest, rape and to preserve the life of the mother intrinsically evil?]  That's a paraphrase from Romney and Ryan, by the way. (Paul Dion)

“Again, I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against, but I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”
Paul Dion responds:

Stercus Taurorum, bishop.  Treating people badly was treated by Jesus as evil.  The law of God, from the first pages of the Bible to the last Amen, makes treating the widows, the orphans, the sick, etc. the duty of those who have in abundance.  Remember the law that says that you shall not harvest your field to the very edge so that there will be something left for the needy? To not do so is a prudential judgement, and it is a necessity for salvation because to not do it, is evil.  And, lest we forget, to decide or not to decide to have an abortion is also a prudential exercise of God given freedom.   Prudential judgment, eh?  Sounds like politics to me.  Losing politics and bad Theology at that.


Better said, but the same response comes to us from the National Catholic Reporter, written by the editor: 
"Catholics who bring with them a conservative political agenda -- and who have garnered the support of not a few bishops and other Catholic opinion leaders -- generally select these as nonnegotiable issues: abortion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, gay marriage, and euthanasia. While this makes a tidy list, convenient for pamphlets stuck under car windshield wipers in church parking lots, we will dispute that they are "nonnegotiables," because they are in fact cherry-picked from long lists of actions that are intrinsically evil by church teaching.
Let's borrow a list from Pope John Paul II. Quoting Gaudium et Spes, he says that intrinsically evil acts are "any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat laborers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace … and they are a negation of the honor due to the Creator" (Veritatis Splendor, 80).
We might even add climate change to the list. After all, if the right to life is the most basic human right, then human-caused global warming threatening the entire life of the planet must be the ultimate evil.
"Wait, wait," the perpetrators of the intrinsically-evil canard will protest. "These are evil, but they can't be treated as all the same. For some of these we must exercise prudential judgment." Therein lies the deception, because dealing with any evil -- and especially determining the best solutions in a plural democracy -- will always require prudential judgment. Further complicating matters is that we must make these judgments within the context of specific electoral and legislative processes.
Just as we can and must exercise prudential judgment to determine what electoral and legislative alternatives before us today will best combat the evil of human-caused climate change, we can and must exercise the same judgment on how any moral issue can be translated into civil law and electoral politics."  []


I am reminding you all:  The divine gift of freedom requires the exercise of prudential judgment.  To be righteous we must always prudentially choose the right thing to do.  The glory that we have as human beings is the gift of God's grace that helps us to always choose the good instead of the bad.  It is true that their are some realities in life that are intrinsically evil.  They aren't "intrinsically evil" because we choose them.  They are "intrinsically evil" in and of themselves.  To say that there is a difference between "instrinsically evil acts" and those acts which are the result of "prudential judgement" is not correct.  All human acts are the result of a judgment.  What is incorrect is the result of the free choice to do something that is evil.  What is correct is to choose to do something that is good.  God created us with the freedom to choose first, foremost and always that which is good.  He gives us with the grace to always make the right choice.  It is our moral responsibility to make our choice in favor of intrinsic good, always.  We make it not simply to avoid evil, but to always celebrate good.

Our entire life, personal, public and yes, political, must be ordained toward intrinsic good.  That is our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Reef Lection
It is said that plagiarism is the highest form of flattery.  Well, this is not really plagiarism, it is "copiarism."  This is the most dynamic way I have of saying "Amen" to the ideas found below.   
My brother's name is in the title.  Under the Pseudonym "Reef Lection" he puts out a short daily meditation.  He sends it only to a limited number of close friends and relatives and one enemy.  
For now, enjoy this special treat.  It's a keeper.
Paul Dion, enemy # 1  [(;-(-[

Book of Numbers 11: 25-29
Mark 9: 38-48

Two of the three Scripture passages chosen for today's Liturgy are remarkably similar.  In the Book of Numbers a ceremony takes place where Moses gathers a number of people.  At one point "...the Lord bestowed the "spirit"(taken from Moses) on seventy elders."  There are two other elders who were a part of the encampment who did not go to the gathering, but upon whom the "Spirit" was also bestowed, and went about the camp prophesying.  This did not set well with Joshua who had been Moses' aide since he was a lad.  He went to Moses and complained about these two guys.  They weren't doing anything wrong.  Just the opposite in fact.  Moses told Josh to cool his jets.  Hey, good is good, right?  In fact Moses says he wished the Lord would bestow the spirit on all of them.  Centuries later, undoubtedly by design, Jesus runs into the same thing.  Young John comes to Jesus to let Him know that there were some people who were chasing out demons in His name.  They were obviously people they didn't know and were not following Jesus day to day. Jesus says, "So what?  They are doing good aren't they, and they are invoking my Name to do it.  Isn't that just dandy?"  What Jesus actually said was, "There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.  For anyone who is not against us is for us."  You really have to read these passages carefully and slowly to get the flavor of what Joshua says to Moses and what John says to Jesus.  There is definitely some jealousy there.  "These guys are stealing our thunder!"  I can truly relate to that.  For forty five years I worked in broadcasting, 25 in radio and 20 in television.  During those forty five years I made darn sure I got credit for whatever went out over the air with my voice on it.  In fact, I was fired from my last job in radio because my employer refused to pay me my "talent" fee.  We're talking $25.00.  During the 20 years I worked in television, I had to be very diligent on a daily basis to be sure they spelled my name correctly at the end of a broadcast when the "credit roll" comes up, and to be sure I was advised whenever a commercial with my voice on it was dubbed and sent to another TV station.  I got a one time "talent" fee for that.  Now we're talking even smaller potatoes, $6.50 per dub.  Over my 20 year tenure, I probably averaged $200.00 a year in "talent" fees.  Woohoo!  I was like a dog marking my territory and, God forbid, someone else should get credit for what I did, or, even worse, that I got no credit at all.  And for what?  Who even pays attention to the "credit roll" anyway?  Besides, most of the time it scrolls up so fast no one can read them anyway.  Pride!  Jealousy!  He's prophesying and we're not sure he should be!  He's healing and doing good in the name of MY Jesus.  How dare him/her!  What does it really matter.  Fortunately, that part of my life is behind me...way behind me, but I still have to ask myself if that kind of thinking still exists within me.  For example, How do I feel when I hear that you send these reflections out to other people that you know, and how do I know that you're not taking credit for them instead of me?  You know what?  I think that is just fabulous!  I truly hope you do that.  It does not matter whether I get the credit or you get the credit, because the one who should really get the credit in the Holy Spirit, for She is the author of most of these Reef Lections.  It doesn't matter whether it comes from me or from you or your neighbor.  What matters is that it comes in the name of Jesus.  Who cares where it came from?  When it touches your heart and brings you closer to Jesus, or to the Father or to the Holy Spirit, it is good!  And that is the essence of the message in the two Scripture passages for Sunday.  Whether from a bishop, a priest or minister, or deacon or a nobody, when it is done in the Name of Jesus, it is good, really good and worthy of His praise and glory!  Our job is to spread the Word anyway we can.  Alleluia!!! 

Monday, August 6, 2012


'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. (Mark 10; 11)
[Same teaching in Matthew and Luke]

 9 Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife -- I am not speaking of an illicit marriage -- and marries another, is guilty of adultery.'  10 The disciples said to him, 'If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is advisable not to marry.'  11 But he replied, 'It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted.  12 There are eunuchs born so from their mother's womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.'   (Matt. 19; 9 - 12)
21 Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him, and he said, 'You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'  22 But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.  (Mark 10; 21-22)
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person.  57 As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me.  58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.
59 This is what he taught at Capernaum in the synagogue.  60 After hearing it, many of his followers said, 'This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?'   61 Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, 'Does this disturb you?  62 What if you should see the Son of man ascend to where he was before?   63 'It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
64 'But there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the outset who did not believe and who was to betray him.   65 He went on, 'This is why I told you that no one could come to me except by the gift of the Father.'   66 After this, many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more.  (John 6; 56-66)
This is a long introduction to prepare you to reflect on my position about what seems to be the prevailing opinion about the Mercy of Jesus.  This is not just among Catholics, but among Christians as a group.  It is not just in the pews, but occupies the pulpit as well.   I permit myself to use a sports analogy, "On any given Sunday..." you can talk to a Christian and hear that God is so kind and merciful that we can all rest assured that He will see to our Eternal reward when the time comes.  In the Catholic world that translates very often in this way, "God and His Son, Jesus, are all loving and they love us so much that they forgive us all our weaknesses.  When we go to Mass and we tell God that we are sorry for our sins and ask for His forgiveness, He forgives us.  Besides, there we are at Mass, so it is evident that we love Him too.  We make a resolution to go to confession when we have the opportunity.  God forgives us and He certainly doesn't want to exclude us from Communion.  So it is OK to receive Communion.  Oh, and yes, we will get around to that confession, don't worry.

Jesus was never so wishy-washy as that.  I have presented the three pericopes above to you to show you that Jesus is one tough customer.  Jesus never said, "Oh, that's really hard.  Here, let me explain it to you.  What I really wanted to say was..."
NIX.  When people walk away from Jesus, He lets them go.  He doesn't run after anybody.  There are many examples in the Gospel and even in the Old Testament.  God helps His chosen ones, He is always there.  His love always trumps the Law.  The trump, however, as we all know, is only worth one trick per hand.  Plus, and it's a big plus, you can only play it if you are straight with the law.   It is very clear that if we don't play the hands that He gives us as He intends them to be played, the Trump can have reached its limit.  
Start with Adam and Eve.  Consider Noah's son Ham.  See what happened at Babel.  Samson sure is a tragic figure.  King Saul sure got his.  David too.  God showed mercy, and he sure let them feel the iron fist that he carries in his velvet glove.
Have you read the prophets lately?  See what He did to Jonah.  Listen to the instructions that He gives Isaiah.  Hosheah had a tough row to hoe.  Elijah had to run for his life.  Jeremiah had to escape to Egypt.  You do realize that only one of the twelve apostles escaped a violent death, do you not?
Naturally, the love trump card only gets put on the table when it will fulfill the practice of the law.  It is meant to make the practice of the Law convert itself into a life of love.  There are many who are called to  make this conversion.  They feel comfortable holding the railing that leads them up the stairs.  As we see quite often in the Bible, when God calls for a life of love, abnegation and zeal,  the slave to the Law backs off and enjoys the comfort of the mechanical life of obedience rather than to risk the inspirationally creative life of love.  We see that every day.  So many are surrounded by the walls of the 10 commandments and never go further than following them.  St. Paul says somewhere, If that kind of behavior would be enough, Jesus Christ would not have had to die.  But the 10 commandments in and of themselves are not strong enough to save us.  We have to live a life of loving service, just as Jesus did if we are to make it through the Pearly Gates.  We have to go beyond the Law.  We, like Jesus, have to fulill the Law by injecting it with spiritual love.  That's the road to heaven.
Jesus even told one young man who had obeyed the commandments all his life from a very young age, ..."That is not enough.  What you have to do now is to go, sell all that you have, give the proceeds to the poor and come and follow me."  The guy walked away and never came back.  Did Jesus call him back?  No way.  He told his disciples, "It is harder for a rich man to go to heaven than for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle."  Jesus doesn't play games.  he doesn't negotiate.  He loves, He pities, He gives mercy, He forgives, He heals, He feeds his fellow man, He defends the poor and He preaches love for His Father in heaven.  Negotiate he does not do.  He does not expect us to do so.  Remember this when you go to my funeral.  It will keep you from crying.


No, it is not Christmas.  Not even close.  It is right in the middle of Summer.  I am right in the middle of the first absolute period of perfect downtime that I can remember ever having in my adult life.  I am enjoying the physical downtime, but the mental wheels have never stopped.  Here I am visiting someone who lives some 500 miles from us and she doesn't remember the WEP Code of her wireless email broadcaster.  So, I am writing this in Word and getting it ready for the oven.  When I get back to my working cave, I will unleash it on all you unsuspecting denizens of Dion’s sandbox.  I have decided that this is going to be one of those semi-religious, totally moral offerings.  I am sharing time with an intimate friend who is a very special person indeed.  She is admirable.  She is a person who is a pillar of righteousness on the model of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to say nothing about Jesus Himself. 

Like the couple in the representation on the upper right quadrant of the page, she had to make a choice once that was similar to the one that Joseph and Mary had to make.  You can read all about them in the Good Book, Matthew 1; 18 – 25.  Can you imagine what it was like to get pregnant out of wedlock in a society where you could get stoned to death?  Can you imagine what would have happened to Joseph had he been found out as the protector of such a woman?  Read the paragraph and imagine what Mary and Joseph had to go through in trying to make up their minds about how to thread that needle and still stay alive.  They did it.  They made the choice for Life.  Not just the Life in the womb, but theirs as well.  Now, that was a Choice.  Our beloved friend did not have to dig that far down into herself to make the choice for life that she did, but given the social environment in which she made the choice, it was not easy. It never is.  Not for anybody.
She made the choice for life at the sacrifice of her own. Under her singular circumstances, she knew that she would have to take herself and the child through life alone.   No, she was not in the imminent danger of being stoned.  As far as we can tell, she was not in danger of dying.  Neither was the new being in her womb.  She chose life when she could have just as easily chosen death.  Yes, it could have been easy.  In some ways, that is.  In some ways it could have been easier than nurturing life.  But in the mind, heart and soul of the righteous person who was confronted with the choice, life was the only acceptable path.  Yes, even to the detriment of her very own reputation.  She did it.  Like Joseph, she let the other party completely off the hook.  Like Joseph, she saved three lives and now all three can celebrate the wonder of life in some kind of comfort. 
The child is no longer a child.  A loving daughter, yes, who is now an accomplished adult.  Not just an adult, but one who has a family of her own and even in these lean times, can claim a modicum of comfort and security that allows for the safe and warm upbringing of her own child.  Her own mother humbly celebrates her choice for life in a modest level of comfort that she can maintain through the loving support of her immediate family and her own professional accomplishments. 
Yes, the choice of life before and after conception is the choice for life and gusto in this world.  The choice in favor of life is not made on the spur of the moment.  The choice in favor of life is made on the way to adulthood.  The choice in favor of life is an eternal vow that develops in the very mind, heart and soul of the maturing human.  The choice in favor of life is a non-negotiable position in favor of the entire human community, not solely in favor of an individual.  The choice in favor of life is the most generous choice that any human can make for the sake of the larger human community.  The world is enriched by EVERY new life that is created.  Yes, I say that without reservations. 

Furthermore, and in conclusion I say without reservations that every choice for death causes the impoverishment of the human community, be it through abortion, adult homicide, war, civil punishment, suicide or whatever other category I have overlooked.  I am celebrating the courage and the love of my dear friend, her wonderful child and the other lives that have been touched and influenced by these deeply righteous, richly human people.  We should all be this powerful in our expression of the gift of human freedom.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


GENESIS 4; 10 - 15
10 'What have you done?' Yahweh asked. 'Listen! Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground.
11 Now be cursed and banned from the ground that has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood at your hands.
12 When you till the ground it will no longer yield up its strength to you. A restless wanderer you will be on earth.'
13 Cain then said to Yahweh, 'My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14 Look, today you drive me from the surface of the earth. I must hide from you, and be a restless wanderer on earth. Why, whoever comes across me will kill me!'
15 'Very well, then,' Yahweh replied, 'whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.' So Yahweh put a mark on Cain, so that no one coming across him would kill him.

Tonight I lay there full of thoughts and feelings that were not really from me but from Above.  They were sprouts from an endeavor that consumed a lot of my time today.  It would not go away because it is related to my Vocation.  It is a Vocation that just will not go away.  It has been with me since about age 5 or 6.  It has taken some strange twists and turns.  Through all the tergiversations it always settles back where it started and points to where it is going.  The direction is always the same, but it's the road that changes.  
Tonight, I think that God has shined the light on the situation.  The beam of that Divine Light stopped and pointed straight at the Mark of Cain.  The Mark of contradiction.  The Mark that indicates that God still loves you and still is punishing you every day of your life.  The Mark turns out to be a burden and a relief at the same time.

When I left the Altar, it was then the moment when a lot of spiritual blood fell to the ground rather than be borne up into the Realm of the Eternal King.  It was at that moment that I had swapped out the perfect first born for the simple fruits of the earth.  It was then that I cut the throat of the person that I was to become a restless wanderer.  The blood of that person cried out to God then and does so every day since then.  Every day since then the Mark of Cain signals that here is someone who is accompanied by God at every step of the way.  It is also the sigh that because God is there by his side, let it be a warning to you to be careful.  This is a person who has blood on his hands and it is not the blood that fell from the Cross.  It is the blood that he spilled from his very own throat.

Cain never did leave the earth.  The earth however never gave him any more power over it.  I never left the Church and She never left me.  She "reduced" me to the state of laity, but She could not remove the Mark of Cain that God put on me.  She took away the power of the Altar but she could not take away the power of prayer, faith, hope and love.  What a contradiction!  What a blessed contradiction!  Who can figure out what God does?  Who can figure out why God does anything that He does?  He tells Cain that his brother's blood cried out to Him from the ground that drank it.  He then refuses to reclaim Cain's life from him in revenge.  He takes away his primary talent of livelihood, but doesn't take away his freedom to go and learn something else.  The Mark of Cain is from God and because it is from God, it never goes away.  It is always there to remind those who carry it that they have found favor with God through the back door, so to speak.  God keeps us around because He still has something for us to do.  

So Cain couldn't farm any more.  With God protecting Him, Cain surely went out and learned some other "trade."  Who knows?  Maybe he was the first blacksmith; or maybe the first jeweler; or the first lumberjack; maybe a carpenter or a tailor of grass skirts.  Who knows?  whatever it was, it was pleasing and helpful to the rest of the people around and they therefore were glad that they didn't kill him because of that Mark.  It's like me.  I carry that Mark too.  No denying it, it is a mark of opprobrium.  Believe me, there are times when it ain't pretty.  But I know one thing, as long as they get to see that Mark, they know that God is on my side.  Hey wait!  I know that God is on my side.  He may not be too happy about it, but He's stuck with me.  As we say in French, "He finds a way to make arrows with whatever wood he can lay His hands on."  So, it's an interesting position to be in.  

I have known for a long time that God has something for me to do.  I know that I don't always do it the way He would.  Sometimes I get the very definite proof that He sneaks around behind me and chages it more to His liking when I'm done.  I have learned not to get into a snit about it.  I just tell Him, "Thanks, Pop.  You're right, it does look better that way."  
sometimes I say, "Why don't you erase that stupid ol' Mark?"  He just frowns and let's me figure out a way to make it work.  Actually, He and I get along pretty good now.  It's gotten so He even helps me to find ways to make it work for me.  Not always, though.  After all, He has to remember that He's got me on parole, right?  

The one big thing that I have to give Him is this.  His Bride, Holy Mother the Church gave me this two page document in very formal Ecclesiastical Latin that has about 15 "Thou shalt not's" in it.  I don't remember them all, but I do know this:  thanks to Cain's Mark, there are only about three that anyone, including me, even care about.  All the others are just there in case I step out of line and try to cover the Mark with my wind-breaker.  Whenever I hear people say nasty things about Mother Church, I get buzzed.  I know that she has her birth marks, but I also know that she respects that Big One that I carry around, so I defend her as much as I can.  She too knows that I am on parole for life, so she cuts me some slack and I appreciate it.  Sometimes I have to ask myself if her operatives cut me the slack because not too many of them can read and understand Latin any more :-)  No matter to me, slack is slack, in English and in Latin.  I'll take it.  It makes me appreciate the Mark all the more.

ow that you know my true attitude about this whole thing, you also know that there is absolutely no need to cry at my funeral.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Hello.  Blessings to you all.  Believe it or not what you are seeing here is the Holy Rosary.  It is a photo album outline of the life of Our Lord and Savior Jesus-Christ.
It is a Graphic resume of the gospels.  It puts life, death and resurrection before our very eyes.  It is the reminder of the 150 Psalms that form the core of the official daily prayer of the Church.  The Rosary is the spiritual spine of the Church.  The Rosary is the poor person's Bible.  The Rosary is also the refuge of the sinner.  The Rosary is perhaps the only truly universal prayer that links Catholics to Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Church.  The Rosary is Prayer, Bible and Catechism.

The Rosary is not a mantra.  You all know that Jesus forbade us to pray like the pagans, multiplying words because the multiplication of the words would have an effect on the divinity. (Mt. 6; 7 - 8) The Rosary is a meditation on the life of Christ as following His miraculous conception and birth through Mary.  The Rosary is an experience in the respect of life.  It is also a reminder that we are going to need divine help to be born well, to live well and to die well.  
There used to be a wide spread devotion to the "Good Death."  It came from the last petition in the Hail Mary," ...pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death."  This devotion has fallen into desuetude over time, but every time we pray the Rosary at a wake, we pray for ourselves as much as we pray for the soul of the deceased.
When we pray the Rosary, we are following the directions of Jesus: "Do this is memory of me."  Whenever we do something in memory of anybody, the action brings that person into our presence.  In the case of the Rosary, the person brought into our presence is Jesus Himself.  How could it be otherwise as we are reflecting on the mysteries of His life to begin with.  Over and above that, what are we to do about the faith that we put into His saying that, "where two or more of you will be gathered in my name, I will be there among you.   (Mt. 18; 20)  In the case if the Rosary, it is Mary who is presenting Him to us.  She does this well.  Just ask the host from the wedding at Cana.  It is therefore comforting to know that Jesus, Mary and Joseph are dynamically present during the praying of the Rosary at a Catholic wake.
That's why I want a wake.  No one will cry at my wake.  If they don't cry at the wake they won't have any reason to cry at my funeral.