Monthly Archives: May 2014


I have found in my years as a priest that I am rarely alone when I travel. While I certainly experience the nearness of God and the Blessed Mother, here I’m talking about something other than spiritual companionship. There is always someone who greets me with a “Hi, Father!” or, if they are Catholic (and see the chain of my pectoral cross) “Hi, Bishop!” That’s quite comforting for me in these days when it seems that there is much antipathy for the Church and Her ministers.

A short time ago, I was out to dinner with some of the Franciscan seminarians from my Province and their priest Director. A good friend of mine noticed us and sent over a bottle of wine for us to enjoy. Often I encounter people in the Diocese—people whom I have never formally met—just stop by to say: “Hello” or ask for prayers. They tell me a little about their lives and what their prayer intentions might be. Sometimes we stop and pray right then and there.

Recently, on my Confirmation tour, I was having breakfast in a restaurant and a man came up, asked if I was a priest, and asked if I would mind answering some questions. I responded positively and invited him to join me. He proceeded to ask questions of such depth and wisdom that I was analyzing my answers just to make sure I was not getting in “too deep.” We had a good discussion concerning prayer and the formation of a good spiritual life. It was clear that he was well read and was interested in the Catholic point of view even though I don’t believe he was Catholic himself. We talked about saints—some of my favorites, St. Francis, St. Ignatius, St. Teresa of Avila, and several others. He enjoyed a peanut butter and banana sandwich with some granola and I had some French toast strips with bacon. I had to laugh at the ascetical “style” of our breakfasts.

I never know how God is going to manifest Himself in my life on any given day; I guess none of us ever does. People recognize a Roman collar and figure they can talk to a priest about almost anything at any time. It is important for all of us to take each opportunity to speak about our Faith and our own spiritual lives. One never knows when one may be called upon to speak simply and from the heart about our hope in Jesus Christ and our faith in His presence in our lives.

Many times, we are far too cautious about avoiding any discussions about religion or faith; but sometimes the “right situation” just presents itself and the Spirit of God may be calling on us to witness.

I continue to urge you to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Be an informed and educated Catholic. Take time—MAKE time—to pray. Stay in contact with Christ. You don’t have to talk like a scholar or some academic when asked about your faith. You just need to talk like a believer—from your heart. Leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit.

We are still filled with Easter joy and enthusiasm and we are moving closer to the activation of that joy through the Gifts of Pentecost. I like to read the Epistles of Saint Peter. They give the Church so much hope and always remind us of our firm belief in Jesus Christ. Simply consider:

…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence… (1 Pt. 3:15)

I’ll see you at Sunday Mass.


There are so many different ways that sons and daughters remember their mothers on Mother’s Day. I just read in the Newsletter of my Franciscan Province that some 122.5 million calls are made to Mom on Mother’s Day. Sadly, 11% of kids never call their mothers; and, get this, 3% of the 68% planning to call Mom will call collect! I’m guessing Mom will accept the charges and love you just the same!

Yes, Mom will love us just the same. It is almost impossible to make Mom “not” love us, even though we sometimes don’t always show her that we really care or are really grateful for her presence in our lives.

This year, at the end of May, my Mom will have been dead for 18 years. I miss her—sometimes much more often than others. I miss the way she’d cook spaghetti and meatballs. Her sauce would cook all day and her meatballs were seasoned to perfection. At the end of some days, I wish I could still call her and tell her what is going on—or even better, pay her a visit and have her rub my back! So many different memories.

I was reminded, in a recent commentary of Pope Francis, how surprised I was when my Mom’s “wisdom” really poked a hole in my “book learned” sophistication. I was a newly ordained priest and pretty much thought I had the world on a string. One day, while talking with her—more thinking out loud than anything else—I told her of something that was on my mind and I could not find any resolution for it. She gave me a piece of advice that was so right on target I wondered what spiritual books she had been reading lately. I think, after further reflection, it was simply the gift of spiritual counsel—one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. One might call it “Mother’s Intuition” but I believe that the Spirit guides parents with many spiritual gifts that manifest themselves, as always, in the hearts and lives of those who are open and receptive. Here’s a pertinent excerpt from the Pope’s last audience.

I remember once I was in a confessional in the shrine of Lujan, in front of which there was a long queue. There was also a very young altogether modern fellow with ear-rings, tattoos, all these things … And he came to tell me what was happening to him. It was a big, difficult problem. And he said to me; I have said all this to my mother and my mother said: go to Our Lady and she will tell you what to do. There was a woman who had the gift of counsel. She did not know how to resolve her son’s problem, but she pointed out the right way: go to Our Lady and she will tell you. This is the gift of counsel. That humble, simple woman gave her son the truest counsel. In fact, this boy said to me: I looked at Our Lady and I felt I had to do this, and this and this …. I did not have to speak, his mother and the boy himself had already said everything. This is the gift of counsel. You, mothers, who have this gift, ask it for your children. The gift to counsel children is a gift of God. (7 May 2014)

The Pope’s story rings true on so many levels. This week, we honor our Mothers with one special day given solely to them—for honor and respect. A good thing! Secondly, I would point out that the Gift of Counsel is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Currently, I am “carpet bombing” the Diocese celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation—the Seven Gifts (Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Piety, Fortitude, and Fear of the Lord) are a major part of what our young people study in preparation for the Sacrament. A good connection might be to read what else the Holy Father has to say about the other six Gifts. (

Finally, it’s May, the Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No matter what you know or don’t know about being a Mother, you know that Mary sure knew exactly what She was doing with Her Son! On the Cross, while He was dying, Our Blessed Lord gave Her to us—“Behold your Mother.” Whatever else you do on Mother’s Day, take some time and pray the Hail, Mary. Salute with love and respect the woman who gave you life here on earth, and the Mother of God who gave you Eternal Life through Her Son.

Go with your mother to Sunday Mass. She’ll be so happy!


I am filled with joy knowing that two Popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, are now included in the Communion of Saints of our Church. We are reminded of their saintly lives and challenged in our own saintly calling, and this has taken the world by storm. As a result, many people are now interested in the “why’s” and “how’s” of Catholic life and the process of becoming a “saint.”


The process, of course, begins with Baptism. Baptism brings us into the Divine Life of Christ—in short, we are born into the “family.” The Divine Life of God’s grace moves into us as we are claimed for Christ and anointed with Him as priest, prophet, and king. The new Christian now shares in the Life of Christ and also shares His mission of the sanctification of the world. By receiving the Baptismal priesthood, all baptized people share in the action of Christ restoring creation to His Father. This, of course, takes place by participating in the sacramental life of the Church, especially the Eucharist, where we are one with Christ in His act of self-giving love and obedience in the Paschal Mystery—His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are sent with Divine grace to profess the Gospel. This becomes another action of the Baptismal gifts of being priest, prophet, and king. The public profession of our faith, empowered by the strength of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, unites us with the prophets and apostles who lived and died, heroically confessing the wonderful works of God.

When Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, commonly called The Sacraments of Christian Initiation, are allowed to work fully in the lives of those who want to know and love Jesus Christ, there is no telling where Divine grace may lead a person. Saint Paul speaks of all of us as “God’s chosen race, His saints, He loves you.” (Col. 3:12ff)

Being publically “proclaimed” a saint is a major event in the Church and in the world at large—no doubt about it. We should, however, not lose the understanding that being a saint should be considered ordinary behavior for Christians. The expectation for us is that we are all meant for heaven. Perhaps we need to help each other a little bit more to make that happen—starting sooner, than later.

All you saints and sinners, come to Sunday Mass …