Life or death

LIFE_OR_DEATH_STEP-1On this last day of 2017, there are many articles and social media posts that look back at the year that was. I look back, thankful for some things, less thankful for others – and then I realize that even those things that are a challenge to be grateful for are gifts also. Every moment gives us the opportunity to glean something, to learn and to go forward. As a result, I won’t detail much of what was, but I will refer to one thing that resurfaced – regrettably so – in 2017.

Life or death? Which one do we choose? Most of us, if we are honest, float back and forth between the two. Whether it is too much sugar in our diet, or supporting a particular political position, or by avoiding the difficult and perpetual journey of examining our morals, principles, values, and conscience, we are constantly choosing one or the other.

Frankly, like many, I am not good at navigating this journey – and that is a huge part of what our faith journey requires. Heading down unmapped paths that are chock-a-block with challenges, difficult to traverse, and full of peril. Yet that is what we are called to do. Can’t I just stay on the sofa and scroll through social media or watch Netflix, not thinking about this stuff? Yet we are constantly called to make choices, most of them Continue reading


UPDATED Innocence and perspective

See below for update!
Things on my mind today… how we easily pick and choose those for whom “the dignity of all human life” matters for and who it does not matter as much for, and also Odoardo Focherini. The phrase “dignity of all human life” no doubt brings forth images for you, and meaning.  I’m guessing that you may have never heard of Focherini, unless if you, like me, read about him in today’s Give Us This Day.  Reading about him on today’s Feast of the Holy Innocents reminded me that perspective and context are everything, and that makes picking and choosing our moral precepts problematic.

Liturgically in the church today is the day when we recall the massacre of the Holy Innocents by Herod. Enraged to learn that the magi had deceived him, old Herod decided it would be a good idea to just go ahead and murder the children of Bethlehem. You know, he was throwing a wide net “just in case.” We wouldn’t want any dangerous babies around, would we?

Obsessed as I am with matters of immigration debate, the irony is not lost on me and I find myself with a bitter taste in my mouth. Last week on December 21 it was reported that the White House was considering a policy where children would be separated from their parents in cases of undocumented human beings crossing the border illegally. You can read about that here. Honestly, reading terms like “family units” or “unaccompanied alien children” (also known as “UACs“) makes me sick to my stomach. This is how dehumanizing human beings, all born with the dignity of human life in them, takes off.

If you find yourself feeling Continue reading

No room at the inn

DRtl9hNVoAESn_EInto this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited.

But because he cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it,
and yet he must be in it,
His place is with the others for whom
there is no room.

His place is with those who do not belong,
who are rejected by power, because
they are regarded as weak,
those who are discredited,
who are denied status of persons,
who are tortured, bombed and exterminated.

With those for whom there is no room,
Christ is present in this world.
– Thomas Merton

We can build walls, we can arm soldiers, we can dispatch drones, and we can spread hate – all with alarming ease, almost as simple as asking Siri or Alexa to carry out our will.  That is one thing about voice activated technology that alarms me, we might believe ourselves to be more omnipotent that our inflated egos already do believe. Simply saying “do this” or “change that” to an inanimate object and having it carried out is chilling to me.

We can never truly lock love out, and of that I am Continue reading



10712572_892777050756968_1814298329830640466_oI saw this image about worry and I thought about how true it was, and about how much I give myself over to worry. Frankly, worry and I have an open door policy; it just traipses in whenever the hell it feels like it and I feel powerless to resist. This is not good.

Just yesterday I was driving and I decided to try to listen to the radio. Big mistake, that’s like sending out a signal telling worry to get here ASAP! Anyway, it was too late and suddenly I heard a Republican economist, one that had advised Republican presidents and I clenched my jaw. Until, that is, he began speaking about how terrible the new tax plan was, but that he was certain that it would be both reconciled – and disastrous.  Great – a Republican who thinks that the plan was too hasty and poorly constructed without both parties input, that freaked me out. That opened the door for Worry to stroll in and plop down on the couch of my soul.

Another worry is that I, a person who has contributed a lot of money into Social Security and Medicare, and is so close to reaching them, will be denied this, mostly because Senator Paul Ryan and his ilk really think it is a big drain on the economy. Does he want people to not have health care? I can’t figure it out. Personally, I think that the tax plan will be the big drain; it is still a free country, so I can disagree. At least for the moment.

Yesterday, after listening to a little bit of that economist I shut the radio off , but today I woke up feeling a bit like a heavy, heavy blanket weighed me down. I can’t have coffee this morning (blood work) and that has left me more unfocused than usual, but I sat myself down to pray with the mass readings. The first reading from Isaiah pretty much knocked worry to the ground with a single blow, and restored some hope and joy. The rest of the readings follow suit, with the Gospel reminding us that if anyone every annoyed – and disobeyed – the authorities, it was Jesus. They can call him blasphemer, but Jesus knows what God’s kingdom is meant to be.

jesusmafa_healing_paralyzed_manWorry is not the best use of our imagination, it drains our life of joy. In this time of holy waiting and watching during Advent, I’m going to pray for less worry and more hope. And like a pregnancy, Advent is a time of preparation – because once that baby comes, we will have a lot to do. So much so that while we need to be in our prayerful moments of waiting now, we can think about how we will deal with what lies ahead.

images-1The political scene promises us nothing, but God gives us hope. Jesus will be born – the Word literally made flesh. If that miracle can happen, one can only imagine what God has in store for us. The only way that will happen is if we all participate in the Kingdom. Are you in?



Prepare to be surprised


A few thoughts for the Second Sunday of Advent…

We have expectations, which is pretty normal and human, of who or what Jesus Christ is or will be. Therefore we may miss many of the cues that he is right before us or within us. An example of this is found in today’s Gospel when we hear about John the Baptist preparing the way. In addition to our expectations of Jesus, we have them about John. He is speaking to us always and we are pretty just not seeing or hearing him, or ignoring him if we do notice. Maybe it is time to prepare the way of the Lord by preparing to be surprised, delighted, astonished, challenged, and comforted.

We hate waiting and we hate to change. These are two of the biggest things that are asked of us by God. Most of us respond with resistance. Sometimes waiting is the best thing we can do, no matter how hard. At other times, when those of us who have power tell those of us who do not have power to just be patient and wait, it becomes an abuse of power. It is pretty sick and cruel, but we do it all the time, it becomes second nature. I am reminded of Rigoberta Menchú who received the Nobel Peace Prize on this day in 1992. She once said, “My people are hungry. Don’t speak to us of buildings and police forces, we need food and respect.” (I have this on a Pax Christi daily calendar, but I must say, I cannot find the quote elsewhere, but I’m going with it.) If you are hungry, cold, sick, naked, or subject to injustice, imposed waiting can be a weapon. And if change comes, whether we seek it or resist it, when it does come, it impacts all of us. Everyone needs to prepare for that because sometimes the change we seek, that meaning the justice and mercy of Christ, might not look or feel exactly how we imagined it. Surprise!

We love to make things complicated. The “no pain, no gain” model of life has taken root in many forms. We know that the way to the Cross involves Continue reading


There WILL be bread

isaiah 25v6

Today’s readings are among the most beautiful to me. Just yesterday I thought of the Isaiah reading, and then boom – earlier today, as I sat in the dim lamp light aided by one flickering Advent candle, I opened Give Us This Day and there it was.

The imagery in Isaiah is so powerful:
On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.

God is not fooling around. The is for ALL peoples, a feast, not some little energy bar type snack that tastes like cardboard, one that is meant only for a certain few who have somehow “earned” it, and includes Continue reading


Advent is here

The time of hope and expectation, of days that shorten, and darkness that grows.
Yet it is in this place of holy waiting that we pray for our hope to appear,
singing with prayers asking God-with-us to truly be with us. May your time of watchful waiting be blessed.