Wednesday, September 20, 2017


At least 500 people came together to celebrate the life of JoseMari Manahan at the church dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria in Riverside, California.  The faithful in attenance were there to support the family, true.  They were also there because a missionary has gone home and we all wanted to live a moment of spiritual connection with this zealous being who was a brother to so many of God's chosen ones.
My spouse and I knew JoseMari for but a short time.  From the first moment we knew that we were in the presence of an apostle.  So happy, so serene and at the same time, so focused and driven.  As the saying goes in California, "it was a magical moment."  
One element that caught my attention was that the passing from this life to the other was respected by the fact a full sized coffin was the final housing for God's creation.   This was fitting because the little I knew of the deceased touched me deeply and this was a great spiritual finishing touch.  It gives me pause when I see the remains being respected all the way to the grave in such a complete and continuing exercise of spirituality.  It is my wish that the same will be accorded to me.  I want to give everyone a chance to get a last burst of the relationship that developed over a lifetime.  Good, bad or indifferent, y'all come and spend one more moment with me and Our Father Creator.  Just remember that there is no crying allowed at my funeral.

Now we are going to ask Joe to accompany us and the choir to Bethlehem and Jerusalem and other places of God's Own Land.  That will be a great, great experience.  I, for one, can't wait.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


The big Greek word in the title is one that has captivated me for a long time.  I have often spent extended periods of time on long road trips turning over various trial understandings of the reality behind this word.  I have also spent time wondering what others think about the word and the concepts that it evokes.  The simplest, general expression of its meaning can be written, as above, "end times."
Actually, that is not quite enough because after all, the word 'Eschatology" is a Theological term, not a purely secular term.  The end times that it drives the mind and heart to are the times when human life ends and all that is left is spiritual, disembodied life the likes of which will last for all eternity, or in other words, beyond time.  Our Catholic understanding of this all encompassing milestone can be boiled down to some simple terms:
Human life ends - spiritual life begins.  God takes over and decides whether the spiritual life will be one of everlasting joy or one of everlasting misery.
That's it.
The challenge for us is to trust that God and we can stay joined on the same page consistently enough so that when the end comes upon us, we will be ready and His judgment of us will fall on the happy side.  Thinking about this, and talking to God about it a lot in our lives is an important habit to have.  By talking to Him often and discussing the possibilities that our present, time measured behaviors present to us and to Him can help to deepen our trust (faith) in Him and get us ready, and keep us brave enough to stay ready until the unknown moment comes upon us.

Lately, in fact now, I am experiencing a life event that is new to me.  In 8 decades I have not yet had this experience.  It is a challenge for me, not to take away the towering challenge that it has to be for others.  On August 31, 2017, ten days ago, a new friend, a strong collaborator and a builder of success for a common project that is but one-half complete was called to judgment by our Father Creator, but not in a manner that I have ever experienced.  My newly found friend was killed in what is euphemistically called an "accident" but which legally will be defined as "manslaughter."  Yes, while sitting at a traffic signal, waiting for a light change, a drunken driver in a large vehicle travelling at close to100 MPH struck the smaller vehicle in which JoeMari was sitting.  The result was the termination of Joe's earthly life.

My life has been full of death, timely and untimely, to put it in human terms.  Eschatologically, every death is timely because it is a part of God's time.  But boy, I tell you, this one is strumming my heart strings pretty close to the "untimely" bracket.  Why?  Joe and his dear wife were preparing a choir presentation to be delivered on stage in the main public square of Bethlehem, yes, that Bethehem on the occasion of the solemn lighting of the Christmas Tree on December 2, 2017.  Don't worry, we will be there.  We have to be there so that we can see what it is that our dear Father Creator has in mind for us amid all this trauma, drama!  I'm staying ready for this one.  I gotta see the power of God at work in this one.  I know how it works, I've been there, a lot.

Here today, gone tomorrow:

Cecile. aunt.
Joseph, grandfather
Eugene, father
Melina, mother
Elna, cousin
Alcide, uncle
Donald, uncle
Harley, uncle
Tom, cousin
George, cousin
Victor, cousin

No, I didn't make this up.  Not a one by violence.  Not even the four who served in Europe and one in the pacific during WWII.  Only 8 first degree relatives slid quietly into death.  Joe's death is a new one on me.

My deep relationship with the concept of eschatology is keeping my mind whirring since this event occurred.  I have been a week and a half now wondering if eschatology can be a dynamic reality.  Is it time going toward the goal or it is the goal itself?  I know that through my life this concept has been a strong force that tends to keep me on the straight and narrow.  It has served as a sign-board of the final reality in waiting.  It has sometimes seemed to be close enough to be touched and at other times far and barely visible over the horizon.  I have personally faced death a couple of times (a .45 cal is a big, black hole, believe me) but I never feared it, and still don't.  This violent episode has driven me to a different side of myself that has me wondering about the things I have escaped.  Hmmm, like driving while plastered; like even talking my way out of the "ticket" one time when I got stopped at 2:30 AM (Springfield, MA it was...good Italian Catholic cop).  I wonder about this and other events in my life and I thank God for the energy and the Grace that He gives me to think about these things.
I have been thanking Him a lot this past week because had I been the one to cause another person's death, I am quite sure that I would have died to myself at the same time.

So, that's me. Now that you know all that, don't forget that because I didn't die to myself yet, when they finally do put me into a box, it is absolutely forbidden to cry at my funeral.

Monday, September 4, 2017


LUKE 12;20 "This night your soul is required of you:
Hi, Joe.  How are you, Bro?
I'm fine.  You?
I'm fine too.  Thinkin' 'bout you and Ning.
Yeah.  I just noticed that you haven't reserved your seats yet.
He, he, you're almost right.  We just did that, so we're OK.
Sweeeet!! Glad to hear it.
(3:30 pm, August 31, 2017 - Phone call talk, Joe and Paul)

I started this blog about 7 years ago.  Along the way, as is very clear from the title, I have meditated and reflected on the mystery of life and death...not just mine, but others too.  I have assigned different titles to some of the various stories that I have decided to share with you.

With none of the above did I have the blessing of a high happiness exchange of love as I did with Brother JoseMari on August 31, 2017.  There, he and I were joking about the dedication and the greatness of the Bethlehem project mixed together with the sudden surprising realization that the leaders (JoeMari and Ning) had not yet set aside their tickets, never once did we think that the guy to whom I was talking was going to be the first one to cross the finish line.  If any one of you is expecting "fair" from God, forget it.  Remember, He is the inventor of the "Last shall be first" rule.

There is also a very deeply spiritual moment in all of this that I want to put before you.  The Gospel readings of the last three days of the week were from the 25th chapter of Matthew.  This is the one about the final judgement.  The three stories are about the end of earthly time and the beginning of heavenly eternity.  We are all familiar with the story of the 10 maidens and the story of the talents and then the climax with the description of the final judgement with the sheep and the goats.

The first two stories in the chapter warn us to stay ready.  Not only to stay ready but to prepare ourselves about how to be ready.  We know that God is merciful and just.  We know that He gives us everything we need, including the virtue that it takes to hold His hand as we walk to heaven.  But just as the 5 dumb maidens couldn't get extra oil and the guy with only one talent couldn't get the smarts to make it grow, they got bounced.  Why?  Because there is one thing that they could not get, not even from God -- TIME.  God Himself did not grant His own Son the grace of letting "This chalice pass from me"  God's definition of the time allocated to us is not negotiable... He doesn't make exceptions.  

One final spiritual thought about this.  It has been nearly 70 years since my grandfather died and it has been going on 60 years since my father died.  God was good to them, and to us.  No suffering.  Out like candles in a storm.  These two people are still a part of my life.  Not just in pure human memory, but in spiritual presence.  They still guide me on the way.  I still follow the advice that they give me.  
God has given me the grace to relate to them and He gives them permission to guide and move me. That is the loving power of God,  Count on it.  I promise that you will experience JoeMari's supporting and guiding presence many times along the rest of the way that leads to heaven.  Yes, my sons tell me the same thing about the grandfather whom they never even knew.  Do not doubt it.  Live it and when it comes time for me to leave for good, remember that I do not allow crying at my funeral.