Friday, July 21, 2017


H.R. (Bob) Haldeman
4th White House Chief of Staff
January 1969 through April 30, 1973
President:  Richard Nixon
"In looking back on it, there were all kinds of red flags. And had I been wiser, I certainly would have crept out when my instincts told me that this was a moral dilemma in which I was finding myself.  I went and lied; and I'm paying the price for that lack of will power... in effect, I abdicated my moral judgments and turned them over to somebody else. If I had any advice for my kids, it would be Never, ever, defer your moral judgments to anybody—your parents, your wife, anybody.  That's something that's very personal. And it's what a man has to hang on to.”  (H.R. Haldeman, Chief of Staff in the Richard Nixon White House, after 1.5 years in prison)
I add, that's what a man (woman) has that keeps a person close to God.  
No one should wait to be captive behind bars to learn to live by this advice.

As I try my best to grow up in relationhip to growing older, I find myself shaking my head and wondering why there are so many human beings who place themselves in situations that are clearly feeding gounds filled with gaping crocodiles.  It is beyond me that there are people who actually crave the public exposure that comes with being part of well known and blatantly immoral environments.  It is beyond me that there are great numbers of people who prefer to dedicate themselves to the interests of splinter groups rather than to the core, universal welfare of the global community.  

It is beyond me to reason why it is that some humans find it so hard to live by universal ethical and moral standards and so easy to pledge fidelity and grand allegiance to a smaller, weaker entity.  In practical terms, I ask myself 
- What is so hard about saying "no" to your boss? (Yes, I did that, more than once)
- What is so hard about compromise in favor of a commonly accepted value?
- What is so hard about joining forces around the lasting central treasure of evident good rather than to struggle alone to maintain personal, time delimited "recognition?"

Every day we all live in a world where these questions swirl all around and above us.  Every day we face the challenge of defining our personal treasure of what Haldeman calls the treasure of our "moral judgments."  Catholics call what he is defining as "conscience."  Catholics believe that it is immoral to "defer our moral judgment" to anyone else.  We are morally bound to act in line with our personal conscience.  
Yes, that brings us to act outside the dictates of civil law every now and then.  
Yes, that brings us to challenge our employer now and then
Yes, it can even bring us to challenge our parents and/or children now and then
and yes, it can bring us to refuse to take employment (or leave employment) in a publicly flashy entity because we are very sure that our conscience and the greater good will be challenged to the point of violation for the benefit of a personal desire dependent on unethical and/or immoral directives.

I have not written these words in a vacuum.  I have never had the opportunity to work in and for the civil government but I have had to confront "power" in my career; I have had the opportunity to enforce morally demanding civil laws, often in contradiction to the desires of company senior/executive management; I have had the opportunity to ensure that employees were treated fairly by company management...and yes, I suffered the consequences of my actions...and I'm still alive to talk about it.

Plus, on two separate occasions, years apart, there was recognition and conversion and I can still talk about that too.  

My reasons for writing this are rooted in behavior that surrounds us every day.  Good and bad and indifferent.  I want to signal that life requires courage.  In Gospel terms, "Pick up your cross every day and follow me."  We can be ethically and morally courageous but not without God's support.  So, go for it.  Say you heard it here if you want, but be sure that whatever you, and your friends, get from here holds you to the promise that you'll not cry at my funeral.

Friday, July 7, 2017


A classic scene, teeming with a rich abundance of gossip topics.  The onlookers in the shade of the sycamore trees are floating around in the body language of the haughty finger pointers while those under the tax collector's (Matthew) roof are busy having a spirited back and forth with the "teacher" who had just recruited the despicable tax collector.  He compounded the affrontery when He joined this sinful coterie and was comfortable in their presence.

Here's how the Gospel describes the event of the day:

"As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him.  

While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples.  The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,  "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"  

He heard this and said,  "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,  I desire mercy, not sacrifice.  
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."  (Matt. 13; 6-9)

When you finish smiling and shaking your head and "tsk, tsk-ing" at the Pharisees, continue sitting quietly where you are and review who your guests were over the last month or so.

Do you sit comfortably at the same table with a cheating auto mechanic?  A loose pharmacist?  A divorced and remarried Catholic who is gaming the Church because of a rebellious conscience?  Do you have the neighborhood same-sex "married" couple over for cocktails now and then?  Maybe you've decided not to have your unmarried child and grandchildren come to your house any more because of their sin.  Do you patronize corporations who are blatantly immoral in their behavior regarding employees?  Are you one of those who willingly accept pirated software from your relative who has the good fortune to work for Google?  Are you one of those who refuses to consort with Christians who have Muslim friends?  
Are you one of those who seek out only the WELL because the SICK are repugnant?  And, Jesus might ask:  How do you decide who is WELL and who is SiCK?

I guess I could go on, but I won't because you, dear reader know whom it is that you accept into your life and whom it is that you exclude from your life.  I am writing this, and I know that I am one of us all...But Jesus is the one who reminds us today that we have to rise above this kind of behavior, just as He did.

Yes, don't exclude people from your life; don't kill your enemy, pray for him(her).  Remember, Jesus did not send us out to cull the wheat from the chaff; He did not commission us to sort His children out.  He sent us to love them and  baptize them.  

Remember, you heard it here from the one who forbids you to cry at his funeral.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


It has been more than a month now since I and the small family that we are were granted the time and ressources to visit the land of my birth for what could be one last time.  It turned out to be more than what I thought it would be and less than what I had dreamt.  
Ever since I have been back home in San Diego I have been living in the shadows of the experience as connected with the experience of the great Patriarch, Moses.  Specifically, I cannot shake the recurring picture of Moses standing by the right hand of God for the last time, looking out over the gorgeous expanse of the Promised Land.  I keep visiting the vision day after day, each time with a deeper appreciation for the way that God was letting Moses know that this vision was the key to his passing through the Pearly Gates for having done God's bidding for so many years and through so many harrowing moments.  There is a great measure of merciful justice in the picture that we see when we visit and bask in the simple language of Exodus:                                                                                               
Related image
The VIEW, North over the Land of Milk and Honey

1  Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the peak of Pisgah which faces Jericho, and the LORD showed him all the land 2 Gilead, and as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3 the Negeb, the plain (the valley of Jericho, the City of Palms), and as far as Zoar. The LORD then said to him, "This is the land about which I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross over."  So there, in the land of Moab, Moses, the servant of the LORD, died as the LORDhad said; and he was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; to this day no one knows the place of his burial. Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated. (Emphasis mine) The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days, till they had completed the period of grief and mourning for Moses. Now Joshua, son of Nun, was filled with the spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands upon him; and so the Israelites gave him their obedience, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
10  Since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and wonders the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh and all his servants and against all his land,         12 and all the great might and the awesome power that Moses displayed in the sight of all Israel.  (Deuteronomy, chapter 34)
The story says that Moses himself brought himself there and that while He was there, he and God had their final recorded encounter.  When God announced that Moses would not cross over, I just know that Moses did not let that bother him.  He had it in hs sight, in his mind and in the depths of his being.  He knew that he was seeing more than any single other leader of God's people would ever see of this gorgeous land.  Moses knew right then and there that he had delivered what God had ordered and he would take the memory of it all with him as he was seeing it in the very presence of the One who had saved him from Pharaoh and the current of the Nile.  Here they were together, celebrating their victory together before the servant would reach the maximum of the divinely decreed human life span (120 years) and the Father Creator would go on preparing the way for His Son's mandate.

I have deciphered the eulogy found at the foot of the monument
"To this lad in rime, who e're thou art draw near.
Here lies the Friend most loved, the Son most dear
Who never knew joy but Friendship might divide
Or gave his Father Grief but when he died."
Believe it or not, I am sure that there is a connection between Moses and the tombstone just above.  It is a headstone that can be found in one of the many historically important graveyards of the city of Boston, Massachusetts.  I tried to make the contrast clearer, but was not very successful. This is the grave of John Hurd, Jr. Officer in the Massachusetts Regiment in the Continental Army.  He gave his life in 1784 for what was yet to become the United States of America.  He was all of 24 years old. 
This young man is one of the hundreds, if not thousands of young people who died for what we have today.  While I was standing there I was thinking of Moses.  God actually rewarded Moses by showing him that the goal had been reached.  John Hurd was never able to bask in the sight of the goal for which he fought.  

I went back to Massachusetts on the occasion of my 80th birthday.  I was there with my beloved spouse, the one whom you know as the "Voice from the Kitchen." (Isabel by name)   We had our two loving sons with us, Marc and Jo-El.  We spent a good part of two days with near family and two days in Boston.  Yes, I felt like Moses.  Now all I need are 40 more years to fill out the divine quota.  Especially the part that says that Moses was still spry at his age.  (Verse 7) 

One way or the other, I announce and decree once again, in the names of John Hurd, Moses and our loving Father Creator, there is to be No Crying at my Funeral.