North to Alaska

TJJO_Downtown_Juneau_4_2015_868ae45f-1b73-4c52-9c4f-dbea12170952This week I will head north to Alaska! No, I have never been there, and honestly – I never imagined that I would go there. My spouse has little interest in it, and at our age and with our budget, trips have to be something we both want to invest in when we take them.

It was however a delightful surprise to be asked if I would be Continue reading


May his memory be a blessing


Chris as motivational speaker Matt Foley, always a funny bit. 

Actor and comedian Chris Farley died in December of 1997.  He was so talented, and so very funny.  This past Saturday his old friend Adam Sandler was the host of Saturday Night Live, and he sang a song honoring and remembering Chris. It was deeply touching to me, and I certainly had a good little cry while watching – along with some laughter.

I have a sharp memory of Chris Farley, and it is not from SNL or any of his movies. One day, not so long before he died, I saw Chris Farley in a place that was unexpected – at least from my point of view. At that time I worked in New York City and often stopped by St Patrick’s Cathedral to light a candle and say a quick prayer.

That particular day I went to Continue reading

Kol hakavod


Flowers and signs sit at a memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue on April 28 in Poway, Calif. (Denis Poroy/AP)

UPDATE: Apparently there was a candle light vigil at Agudat Achim in Schenectady last night. I wish I could have been there.


Vigil at Agudat Achim, Schenectady

As we probably know, there was yet another act of violence in a house of worship. This time at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California.  This is a short video from Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the spiritual leader of the community. He was shot and has lost a finger. His courage, bravery, and spiritual generosity is amazing. Also, we must remember Lori Gilbert-Kaye who was killed in the shooting. May her memory be a blessing.

We are all in this together, he says – we are all in this together. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, spiritual but not religious, agnostic, atheist. We are all human and we should be united – not killing one another. Yet – we do a pretty good job of hating and killing one another. Eventually no one will be left.

We should all be asking ourselves what we can do to make the world better and then get on with starting that work. One good way is to get involved in interfaith activities. Here in the Capital District I recommend the Interfaith Community of Schenectady and/or Schenectady Clergy Against Hate. If you live in another part of the country, see what options exist for you. Or begin a movement… our world depends on it.

Kol hakavod is a Hebrew phrase that is used to denote honoring someone, or respecting them for their actions.  And Rabbi Goldstein there is no better phrase to use.  May his actions inspire us all.

Burning down the house

EDITMustBurn (1)This morning a friend sent me an op-ed from the Washington Post. It was written by Marc Thiessen; in full disclosure I am not a fan of his work. Thiessen, a former speech writer for President George W. Bush, wrote a book defending “enhanced interrogation methods.” Most of us would call that torture, and it does not square with Catholic teaching, and Thiessen is Catholic. So that is where I stand on him; needless to say I did not love this column and its distinctly not Catholic gloom and doom outlook.

Today I also read a column by the editor of the Albany Times Union, Rex Smith. It too was about burning churches, but took an entirely different tack. In full disclosure once more, I first met Rex in the Albany airport in 2007, when I walked up to him and introduced myself, much to Mark’s chagrin! And years later I began to post my blog as part of the paper’s blogging platform, something I continue to do. Continue reading

Christos Anesti! Χριστός Ανέστη!

Paschal-Greeting-622x351-04-15-14-1Christos Anesti! Χριστός Ανέστη!
Christ is risen!

Alithos Anesti Aληθώς ανέστη!
Truly, he is risen!

The paragraph below is from author Madeleine L’Engle, now of blessed memory. It reminds me that we conclude our Lenten journey and rise with Christ literally awash in the power of baptism and new life. We cannot be selfish with this, we cannot hoard this, nor feel special or privileged. Christ came for all and that compels a generosity born of Easter joy that hopes for all to rise in new life.

Today as we bask in the glow of resounding Alleluias may we also pray for those who have yet to make the journey,  as well as those who begin it time and again but fall short. That last bit is important to sit with – it is all of us.

Our Easter joy is not a prize, Christ’s rising is not reserved for certain people, but available to one and all who turn to him, no matter how long it takes to get there. May we all find even the most minuscule shards of shattered hope that brings with it the possibility of new life for everyone.

On Easter more than any other day, may we rejoice in the gladness of God’s power and glory, and may we receive it with gratitude, may we share it with generosity, may we live it with joy.

41tUZ9sS1LL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Because Jesus took into himself on the cross every evil and every sin and every brokenness to come upon this planet, there is the fragile but living hope that one day even Satan may once again join the children of God when they gather round their Maker, and that he will beg to be allowed once again to carry the light. For, as Saint Paul wrote to the people of Philippi:

Every knee shall bow in heaven
And on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

From Madeleine L’Engle, A Stone for a Pillow: Journeys with Jacob


Real power

We are invited to follow Jesus to the Cross every day of our lives, but no more so than on this day, Good Friday.

EDIT MDTP Good Friday notre dame fireJesus death on the Cross was an exercise of what appeared to be power on the part of the Romans, but instead was an expression of fear. Mary DeTurris Poust, in her book of Lenten reflections, Not By Bread Alone from Liturgical Press offered a powerful thought for this day, and I leave that with you for your prayer and contemplation. Once again the Cross at Notre-Dame Cathedral after the fire provides us with inspiration and hope.  This is an image how real power resurrects, even in the midst of the worst death.

What will we die to today? Our ego? Our hubris? Our fears that puff us up or tamp us down? Our distractions or addictions? Whatever it is, we in one way or another have prayed to be transformed by Christ during our Lenten journey in the desert with him. How willing are we in the end to be transformed? Are we willing to trust the small turns of transformation of each Lent and each day of our life as we die to the lure of some overnight event, such as winning the lottery or suddenly no longer wanting to take a drink? Or are we still hoping for something that will externally change our lives? All the while Jesus continues to beckon from within.

Transformed or not, we are all called to remember that in our daily lives and exercises of power and our use of, or response to fear of the power around us. In God is the strongest power, the power that saves into eternity. We must remember that, especially today.

Many people object to the symbol of the crucifixion, many Christians even. But without crucifixion there can be no resurrection. One is entirely dependent upon the other, they cannot be separated, although it is the Cross that triumphs. If we are left uncomfortable by the Cross, maybe it is time to die to our literalism and to be born in the hope of the Cross. God does not choose to punish us cruelly. We all do a bang up job of doing that to one another and ourselves. God invites us to eternal life. That is real power. Are we ready?

Foot care area

Deb Santo Domingo

Typical albergue scene. That’s my friend Deb in the albergue with the “FOOT CARE AREA.” Quite naturally, her feet are up!

When on Camino, normal – no, typical behaviors shift. Normal implies they must be the right thing to do; typical indicates what is generally done. At night as you sleep in rooms chock-a-block with wobbly bunkbeds, all sorts of noises erupt from the bodies around you – and perhaps from within you. Snoring, the expulsion of gas, mutterings from those in wild dream, or just two pilgrims who whisper into the night to one another.

Something that is highly normative on Camino is people showing their totally screwed up feet to one another. Taking your shoes off in a cafe or restaurant does not merit a raised eyebrow, it happens all the time. Blisters Continue reading