Monday, December 31, 2007

Family and Friends and Blessings at the end of 2007

Sarah, Grandma and Andrew...
I think someone is shrinking and others are growing..
Andrew are you cheating ?
(You can click on the picture to make it bigger)
Five Exhausted people in front of "The Tree" in NYC.
Take my advice don't go to New York the day after Christmas...
(You can click on the picture to make it bigger)

Deana and so much Grace
Brad and Deana you do good (GREAT )work
(You can click on the picture to make it bigger)
Sheila beautiful James and Ryan
What resturaunt did you take him to ?
(You can click on the picture to make it bigger)

Stephen and Christine...
Thanks so much for the hospitality and wonderful friendship
(You can click on the picture to make it larger)
Greg, Vincenzo, Lucio and Carrie
"Those boys could not be loved anymore than they are"
(You can click on the picture to make it larger)
The Newly Weds... John and Stephanie..
So happy to see you..
(You can click on the picture to make it larger)

Olivia, Chris, and Karin
You (Plural) are so beautiful... and I'm not talking about you Chris
Praying for you...
(Click on the picture to make it larger

Julliette, Bret, Megin and Lincoln
Could you be happier ?
(You can click on the picture to make it larger)
Bonnie, Penny and Joe
One day God looked around the world for two people with huge hearts who weren't afraid to make heroic sacrifices
You are two of the finest parents
I know and I'm sure you'll agree...
She was worth every sacrifice
(You know the drill)

Blessings indeed....

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I'm home...

I had a wonderful Christmas and will be sure fill you in ASAP

Saturday, December 22, 2007

(Somethng to think about for sure)

If it says the video is not available try again later.. I think it is getting a lot of plays during the Christmas Season

Friday, December 21, 2007

Let's Set the Record Straight

Yesterday at Mass Fr. O'Connell presented "me" with the Benemerenti Award from Pope Benedict 16. I am indeed honored and humbled by such a gracious gesture. However, I feel compelled to set the record straight. We all know that everything that has been accomplished in Campus Ministry here at The Catholic University of America is the fruit of the labors and sacrifices of many, every Campus Minister and every Student Minister who served here. Every retreat leader or Renew Leader has contributed to the success of the pastoral life on campus. Each and every person who has worked in our ministry is real a recipient of this award which as the name implies recognizes a job well done.

"I received" this award because of your hard work and sacrifice, because you have been touched by God's love for you and you want to share it.

Be assured that I accepted this award in all of your names. I recognize all of your achievements and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work and sacrifices.

When you love God you cannot be quiet.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Struck me this morning.... during our community prayers

Pour forth
We beesech you O Lord
Your Grace into our hearts

So that we to whom the incarnation of Christ
Your Son
was made know by the message of an Angel

May by his passion and cross
be brought to the glory of His Ressurrection

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On Patience and People

Now that the students are gone and the week winds down there is more time to think and write

People are not static things.... they are alive... they move and change, adapt... their motives their dreams all evolve. Sometimes we think can just "fix" person like with fix a thing. Just hit it or nail it or glue it or whatever and he or she will be like we want them to be or like the should be.

Nope it just doesn't work that way with people
They need to be guided or corrected or challenged or the best of all options they need to be inspired. Inspiring is not easy but it is definitely the way to go. When you inspire someone you win their heart.

Most of all when we deal with each other we need to love others like God loves us, Patiently.
Patience being patient, giving them time to grow, see and understand that's the only way you can really deal with people. We should forgo patience only in the most difficult of circumstances. Otherwise we risk losing not only our purpose but also the person.

Once upon a time in Danbury Connecticut on one of my walks I met an old Portuguese man who after many years was finally able to buy a house. He was a farmer by nature and by birth but he now worked in a supermarket... his garden was an incredible source of vegetables and fruit strawberries and blueberries as perfect as I've ever seen. There was even a fig tree(not the one in the picture) which had grown crooked over the years and was quite ugly no longer bearing fruit.

The man's son wanted to take an ax to it and plant a new one but the older man attached several wires to the trunk and pulled them tight... he was always checking on the tree and. He attached wires with care always gently but consistently pulling the tree in the right direction. He was very careful he knew he explained that if he pulled to forcefully the limbs would snap. If he did not keep the wires tight enough the limbs would return to their old crooked ways. Patience was the key. After a couple of years the tree pruned and righted was beautiful to behold and it had great deep purple figs in late August

Trees and people have a lot in common.

I'm not the only one who tells stories about fig trees
Luke 13: 6-9.

BTW St. Paul reminds us "Love is patient"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On Men and Women

When the semester heats up and the students begin to feel the pressure of exams and papers etc. quite often other issues surface. Every human being has only so much energy and when academics makes its demands sometimes it is no longer possible to contain other worries or concerns.

One area which I have been hearing a lot about lately is relationships....
Who can figure them out?. There are so many variables, so many things to consider. A relationship between a young woman and a young man means so many different things to so many different people. Sometimes, sadly too frequently, it even means something different to the young man and the young woman in the relationship. Is it companionship, or more ? Is the relationship supposed to make me a better person or not? Does this relationship have staying potential or is it destined to be short term. Am I even in a place where I could consider giving myself to another person for the long term ? In other words its often important to ask yourself.. Have I even figured myself out enough to share myself with someone else?

Sadly sometimes when you ask couples in the same relationship the answers to these important questions are very different. Sometimes and even worse I might add, participants in many relationships calmly admit they never really took the time to think or talk about were they are or what they hope for. No commitment... no energy spent to even consider what this person means to me or where this relationship is going.

If I have learned one thing, I have learned that gender stereotypes do not hold a lot of water when you speak about relationships. It is too easy to say the man is the non-thinker, short termer, just in it for the moment person. Yes this is true sometimes but not always. Adversely it is not realistic to say that the woman is only in a relationship for the long term. Yes some women give their heart away too soon and yes some men don't even know that they have a heart, but frequently I have seen these roles reversed or even shared between the genders...

So what... What is the point of these few little sentences ?

1. It is so important to remember that
there is a person on the other end of that relationship. There is a person with feelings, passions, dreams and emotions who deserves to be respected and to be treated with dignity. Failing to do so is one of the cruelest things a human being can do.

2. If someone is in a relationship
it is essential that they take the time to think about it and evaluate it What are we doing in this relationship ? Where do we see it going ? Why do I spend so much time with you ? Going through the motions without thought or reflection just does not give the other person the respect they need or deserve.

3. It is VERY IMPORTANT to HONESTLY COMMUNICATE what you learned from your reflection. Everyone involved in a relationship should know what the other person's expectations are or what they are thinking (if they are)

4. It is important to try and stay at the same place as a relationship develop, in other words walk side by side as you go down the road of relationships. I know this is difficult but it is important to develop the relationship together if possible. It is very sad when one person is going through the motions and the other has already given their heart away.... (not a good situation) Those of you who have lived it know how consuming and painful it can be.

Relationships are great... they are essential to our development and good loving people. God created us to be in relationship a wide variety of relationships. We should be able to relate to a number people in different ways. Throughout our lives our relationships adapt and grow and change. Almost all of our most significant moments will always be in the context of a relationship with someone else or with God.

As one of my staff members just reminded me... In every relationship we have to practice the sacrificial love of Christ. To love is to die... die to yourself, die to your will, die to your interests. To love someone means to give them apart of ourselves... "Greater love than this no one has but to lay down their life for a friend" John 15:13... You can't love with out dying...

In other words:

Walk down the road together
Appreciate the experience...

My two cents.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I just don't want to let go....

Yesterday was Christmas Card Day... 187 Christmas Cards... as I sat there all day folding, licking, signing, and stamping for over 10 hours.. I wondered why I go through this every year ?

The fact of the matter is I just don't want to let go of some of the relationships/people/and moments I have shared in the past. I can't and I won't As I look at each label it reminds me of my time with that family or that person or that student. There are people who I send Christmas cards to whom I haven't seen in 20 years. One of the housekeeping ladies from St. Francis High School who is long since retired keeps exchanging cards with me. Nellie was a wonderful lady from Lackawanna who worked hard keeping St. Francis High School clean. She was always kind and generous with her warmth. I don't want to forget her. I don't want to forget her smile or her kind words. I don't want to let go of those moments. There are so many Nellies in my life. People I prayed with at an abortion mill in Port St. Lucie, people I studied with in Rome, people I worked with at John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce, people who refused to let me pay for my pizza. People who shared that beautiful ministry with me at Western Connecticut State. So many good people wonderful people.

The crazy thing is I don't know how people get on my Christmas Card list. I think if I have their address I send them a card. Usually that means they sent me one first and I just added their address to my book. This year I finally got "organized" and fixed up my address book in November. When my cards come in I will check everyone's address and make the needed corrections. To be honest it is not even really that important if I get a card in return. I never really keep track of that. Most of the time the only way you get off my list is if your card comes back return to sender....

Nope I don't want to forget and I don't want to let go. I relish the memories of all the good people I have had the priviledge to cross paths with. Each one of them has been a gift and yes their memory is worth 10 hours of licking, stamping, folding and signing.. Worth every bit of it.

My two thoughts on Christmas Cards.

PS... I'm sorry I haven't been writing too much of late. I think I was just too busy going to receptions and parties etc. I also think I just didn't know what to write. Now that I have more time I may subject you with more ramblings.. The homilies will be on hold until the kids come back.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Does Microsoft really care about anything ?

I have been a "Windows Man" since my Apple IIe so that's a long time. There have been ups and downs with Windows but my relationship with the software giant has gone from mild disinterest to pretty strong resentment.

I can't stand the fact that I have to work like a mad man to make my posts look good. I gave up on the last one. I tried to publish it from Word 2007 and while it seemed to work all of the html codes showed up in IE but the page displayed perfectly in firefox. Go figure you would think it would have displayed perfectly in IE since it was published from Word 2007 silly me.

I am "testing" Vista and it is terrible. It crashes crashes crashes over and over again and Access 2007 is barely compatible with the products they sold us before. Word docx is not compatible with doc. and the new ribbon does nothing for me. Outlook is a disaster. If I walk away from my computer and it goes to sleep, forget it, I have to rebuild my Mail profile again and again and again.

At least Vista keeps a record of its crashes... my error report page is long. What prompted this tirade.... the look of my last post and having to reboot my computer for the 4th time today because it failed to wake up.

Offer it up.... yeah I could

But if I said Mass like Microsoft produces software I fear Jesus would not be present

Come on Microsoft does having a quasi monopoly really give you the right to keep producing things that crash and or just don't work as promised ?

Linux.... will you be my next computer OS we'll see.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Components of a Good Campus Ministry

Campus Ministry must be a mainstream part of the campus culture - Everyone has permission to participate

  1. The net has to be as wide as possible with a variety of worship styles and activities.
  2. There has to be a mainstream Student and Professional Staff who are able to relate to the largest number of people.

Faithful Model Communion

  1. Recruit staff who love the Church
  2. There cannot be any second agendas
  3. Go out of our way to model faithfulness by complying with guidelines of the Church
  4. Do all of this because it is just the right thing to do.

Top down Spirituality - Always begin with prayer

  1. Liturgy / Prayer / Bible Study
  2. Always begin with deepening a person’s spirituality
  3. Bring the sacraments to them Confessions in the Residence Hall are great ! Jesus did not wait for people to come to them. He went to them
  4. Spiritual component in everything we do

The Ministry must be relationship based with programming

Some of our Programs

  1. Retreats
  2. Friday Nights
  3. Community Service Initiatives
  4. Pro-life Activities
  5. Chastity Outreach
  6. Liturgical Ministries (Over two hundred)
  7. Community Service
  8. DC Reads

But there also has to be Ministry of Presence (Mop )

  1. Presence in our Residence Halls
  2. Presence in our Student Restaurant
  3. Presence at our Games / Plays / Library
  4. Presence where our students study ie the Architecture Building

Spirituality Based Groups Provide faith based programs where a diversity of students can share their faith.

  1. Esto Vir a Men's Group
  2. Gratia Plena a Women's Group
  3. Men’s Discernment
  4. Women’s Discernment
  5. Servi Advocatique a Nursing Spirituality Groups
  6. Knights of Columbus a Men's Group
  7. Renew Reflection groups and Bible study

There should always be a Service / Justice Component

  1. Our students are idealistic
  2. We need to show them that there is a possibility to live faith

Patience – Building a vibrant Campus Ministry takes years – Think long Range

What the future could hold for us at CUA....

Continuing integration in to Academic Community with discipline related spirituality groups

  1. Servi Advocatique (our New Nursing Spirituality Group)
  2. Education
  3. Music
  4. Social Work etc

Programs for Staff

  1. Catholic 101
  2. Renew Groups

Friday, December 07, 2007

Second Sunday of Advent Year A

Second Sunday of Advent Year A
December 7, 2007 - 9:00 PM Mass St. Vincent’s Chapel
The Catholic University of America

No hope
No future
No joy No happiness
Nothing but Despair
Kind of like rotting log,
a trunk of a tree lying on the ground
it appears to no longer contain any trace of life
It is dead
Dead and waiting to decay

The Prophet Isaiah is describing the terrible time in which he lived
Israel was affluent in his youth but fallen to the Assyrians
Judah later became the pawn of foreign powers
And even with all the compromises they had made with their neighbors
They too had fallen on very hard times later
All appeared lost
No reason to hope
Like the dead stump of a tree

But Isaiah promises
that one day from this dead stump
There will appear the tiniest of shoots.
It will seem like a miracle

All will not be lost
And as this tiny shoot continues to grow and develop
It will become clear that there is still indeed life
Life in the stump of Jesses

Jesses was the father of David,
the Shepherd boy who would later become King David
And in this beautiful text Isaiah prophesies the coming of the Messiah
And the founding of the God’s kingdom (God’s holy Mountain)

And as he writes he ponders what the Kingdom of God could be like
A world radically transformed by the power and love of God

Can you imagine a world where
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them

Can you imagine A world where justice reigns supreme
A world covered as if by the water
with the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.
You know
When water covers something it seeps into every little crack and cranny

The world of which Isaiah prophesies is a world saturated with God’s wisdom and God’s will

Holy Ones
Sometimes It is so easy for us to lose hope
It is so easy for to think that the trunk of the tree which lies on the ground is dead

In a world where violence is so present
In a world where a poor deranged lonely man can go into a shopping mall and just kill people

In a world which suffers with the holocaust of abortion every day
A holocaust which has taken its greatest toll on your generation.

In an affluent world where a few have so much
and so many have so little

In a world like ours it is so easy to ask ourselves is there any hope
Are we a stump
Is there any life left ?

It is so easy for us to believe that the world can never be a better place
It is so easy for us to think that we can never be freed
or forgiven of our sins

I’m sure that is how Isaiah felt
As his world fell apart and as his country disintegrated

But God placed in his heart this incredible prophecy
Of a world transformed by the power of love

Hope is the quintessential Christian virtue
The foundation on which our faith rests

Hope enables us to live through
and endure difficult times
Awful times

Hope gives us something to hold on to when all seems lost

Pope Benedict in his new encyclical states
Hope is more than just the belief that things will get better
Hope is the conviction that we are loved and cherished by God

And If we even for a moment understand how loved and cherished we are then our lives will never be the same.

What can touch us ?
What can harm us ?
What should we fear ?
What can we fear ?

We are not dead stumps
And our world is not a dead stump
There is always hope
We are loved by God indeed

Even on exam week

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Choral Version of the Marion Antiphon for Advent

Each liturgical season has a special hymn to Our Lady called the Marian antiphon. It is usually the final prayer of the day said after Compline or Night Prayer. The antiphon for Advent is called Alma Redemptoris Mater (Loving Mother of our Redeemer)
This is a choral version I prefer the plain chant but this is beautiful also
I put the full text of the antiphon under the clip...

Alma Redemptoris Mater
quae previa caeli
porta manes, et stella maris, succerre cadenti
surgere qui curat, populo
Tu quae genuisti natura mirante, tuun sanctum genitorem
Virgo prius ac posterius
Gabrielis ab ore
sumens illus Ave,
peccatorum miserere.

Loving mother of our Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Assist your people who have fallen yet seek to rise again
To the wonderment of nature you bore your creator
yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting
have pity on us sinners.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Lost for a while but found for good...

Today I got a chance to visit with Kathleen, Barbara, and Diane ... they are Uncle Phil's daughters and my long lost cousins... Their nephew Michael and his family Theresa, Sarah and Shannon brought them for a visit. We toured the Shrine and said a prayer for all the deceased members of our family in Caldwell chapel.
Here they are.. I was wonderful seeing them

First Sunday of Advent Year A

St. Vincent’s Chapel 11:00 PM Mass
Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

From the very first moment of our life
Every single one of us begins a journey an odyssey
And as we progress along the way
We have more and more power over how our journey unfolds

A little child’s progress depends so much on his or her family
Slowly as a person grows older they are able to take their
life more and more in their hands.

All of us have to find our way home
Many seem to lose their way along the journey
Some don’t even understand that they are on a journey at all
Some even stop all together
Others get side tracked

It is almost as if they fall asleep
In the Gospel Jesus uses the example of
The people of Noah's time
They were caught off guard and did not expect the flood

The fact that a man and his sons were building and ark
in the middle of a field did not even wake them up.
They simply were not convinced
Sadly when the flood came and their journey ended
The people of Noah’s time were nowhere close to home.

They were lost
They had not climbed the mountain of the Lord or walked in his path

The man of the household was asleep
he was not ready to defend himself
He didn’t even know that some had broken in

Two men in the field one is ready the other not
Two women at the mill one ready the other not.

You see when we fall asleep in the present
It is not possible for us be ready for eternity.

Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies is to be
so immersed in the present that we forget eternity.

We forget that we are on a journey
We forget that our souls will only rest in God
We forget that our happiness lies in God alone
We forget that heaven is our home and our only true destiny

Sadly sometimes working for the things on earth
things for here and now
can take all of our energy or attention
What prophet a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul ?

So you see on this first Sunday of Advent the church asks us to ponder this very important question?

Are we awake
Are we making progress
Are we becoming better people
More generous people
Holier people

Sadly so many of us
Spend so much time asleep
On hold
Distracted from what is really important
So many of us are lost in the present
With no thought of the future
Lost in the moment with no desire for eternity

Some people sleep the greater part of their life
Never getting any better
Never making any progress
Never taking a step toward God

You know we always seem to think we will have more time
Or we convince ourselves that somehow

we can sleep now and catch up later
But because he loves us Jesus warns us so clearly in the Gospel
Son of Man will come when we least expect it.

We never really know how much time we have
We can’t afford to waste a minute

The only way home is to climb the mountain of the Lord
We must be instructed in his ways and walk in his path

How do we do that?

How do we keep from falling asleep ?

How do can we be instructed in the ways of the Lord and walk in his path?

Sometimes I feel like I preach on this every week..but here goes

To climb God’s holy mountain… to be instructed in his way and walk in his path

We must
Enter into worship by living lives of prayer
Practice living virtuously
Practice living virtuously
so that living good lives becomes second nature
We have to participate in the life of the Church

Walk with it as it prays and participate as it celebrates the sacraments
We must have special place in our heart for those in need
The poor
The handicapped
Those people who just never seem to fit in

We must develop generous loving hearts
And be willing to try and love like God loves
You can’t go to heaven if you don’t love

Holy Ones
It takes time to put on the armor of light
All of these virtues require practice and sacrifice
We can't become virtuous people in an instant
In a week or a year..... it takes a life time

Anymore than we can lift 200 lbs the first time we lift
Or play the piano the first time we touch the keys

We don’t have time to waste
We don’t have time to dilly dally as we journey home
We don’t have time to be complacent in our spiritual lives

On this first Sunday it is so important to take to heart the world of St. Paul
in the second reading

Now is the hour for you to awake from sleep.
For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
the night is far spent, the day is at draws near
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day

Are we awake ?
That's a very important question

How we answer it will determine our salvation


Psalm: Sunday 41

December 2, 2007
St. Vincent’s Chapel 11:00 PM Mass

Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

Friday, November 30, 2007

A blast from the Past.... to be sure

Yesterday I received a visit from Henry Tritter the proto-type for Registrars as Western Connecticut State. He s the man the myth and the legend and he is a dear friend. We sat for an hour talking about people we know our families, and how things are going at Western. Isabel Carvallo sent me a hug via Henry so I sent a real big hug back for him to deliver. When the students used to register at Western, Henry would meet with them and offer them the chance to update their religious preference and other demographic information. He always told them that I gave him a quarter for every new Catholic he found. He gave many years of wonderful service at Western. He is just the perfect example of a person in the right job at the right time. By they way he and Susan have two new beautiful grandchildren I think that makes 4 andthat is why he was visiting in Washington.

My time at Western Connecticut State was wonderful. I met some of my closest and dearest friends in the little Newman Center on 8th Ave Danbury. If you are from Western and you read this please remember me fondly I promise to do the same. By the way Western is the first place people started calling me Fr. Bob which got shortened to FB....
And another Western Connecticut State connection is found in Fr. Andrew Santamauro who was a student when I served in Danbury. He was in the JLA program at Western and an RA on the Westside campus in Grasso Hall. He has been ordained for 3 years and is now working with me here at Catholic U. Here is his picture for the people at Western who might remember him. He is doing an wonderful job and is presently in our kitchen stincking up our house making Sushi or something like that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

At the End of the day

Protect us Lord as we stay awake
Watch over us as we sleep
That awake we watch with Christ
And asleep rest in His peace.

Lord now you let your servant go in peace
your word has been fulfilled.

My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people

A light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel

Glory be to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be
world without end Amen.

Protect us Lord as we stay awake
Watch over us as we sleep
That awake we watch with Christ
Asleep rest in His peace.

(from Night Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours)

Thank you for this day Lord
Thank you for the privilege of serving you and your people as a priest

Bless the good I've done and fix the messes I've made

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

37 Minutes

I'm surprised I'm going to even write about this, in a public blog it is a rather personal matter but for some reason I just feel it is the right thing to do. I know I can't be the only one whoever experience something like this and my pondering on these events may help someone going through the same or similar experiences.

While my Mom was here we decided to go shopping I took her out to the Macey's in Bowie MD a place neither she nor I had been. There was my 83 year old and I in a rather large store. She wanted to pick out my Christmas present for her and I was happy to let her do so. I turned my head and she was gone. I really didn't think much of it but after a few minutes I began to look for her. I walked and walked and walked but could not find her. She is rather short and sometimes the clothes racks hide her. I continued to search and look and I even went to the car to see if she went there. It had been 37 minutes and she was nowhere to be found. All kinds of thoughts went through my head. Was she afraid ? was she worried that I would be upset? Would she be embarrassed? Did something happend to her? Was she all right? It seemed so ironic how our roles had changed now I am now the care giver. I was the one looking for her, she was not looking for me. Finally I went to the customer service center and had her paged. When She didn't appear was close to being beside myself 45 minutes had passed.

As I took another sweaty lap around the store there she was at a check out counter trying to pay for my Christmas present to her because she could not find me. As I walked up I heard her saying to the clerk. How can I find my son. He had me paged but I don't know where to go.

I think in the end it was more stressful for me than for her. She didn't seem so concerned when I finally appeared but the whole event helped me understand more that now it is my turn to love it is my turn to protect and to care for the one who cared for me for so many years.

I hope and pray that I am up to the task. I hope that I will have a generous heart and the knowledge I need to love someone who has always loved me so well.

37 pretty scary moments. lots to think about for sure. As this great generation prepares to go home to God may we who have been loved so much by them be willing and able to love them in return.


So many kids went to confession in Conaty tonight I was so moved by their desire to be better people. We really do have great student ministers.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Let's go for a ride

Everything is ordered for Christmas, Mom's Christmas Labels are updated and printed, the friary porch is cleaned to her satisfaction, the kids were fed on Thanksgiving sooo we decided to take a ride to Harpers Ferry West Virginia, Charles Town WV and the Trappists in Berryville VA. We finished off our day with dinner in a nice and reasonable resturant in Berryville called the Main Street Bistro.. the food was excellent.

Here are a couple of more pictures from Harpers Ferry. It is really a beautiful little town.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mom and I are about to do our bit for the US Economy

This is how it works for us. The kids go on and make up their wish lists. (Andrew always has the longest list) :) Then Mom and I will sit and see what we can do. Everything we order will be shipped to me. I'll wrap it and bring it with me when I go to Greg (My Brother's house for Christmas)

No more Toys R Us for me... at least not in person.

Today I had the privilege of baptizing Abigail Mckensie Sawyer. She was such a beautiful baby with blue/grey eyes. I put hot water in the font but by the time I did the baptism it was already cold. Seeing all those little kids was a special moment for me. That was the first baptism I've done in a long time.

Mom and I are having a wonderful visit and enjoying each other's company.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

She's Here ...

Mom arrived for Thanksgiving here she is as she walked off the plane.
Tomorrow we are expecting 40 students for Thanksgiving Dinner who knows how many will show up. Tonight I'm just going to relax and start watching Band of Brothers...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Since I'm getting Sentimental

Here are 12 beautiful families and some of my dearest friends
from Western Connecticut State

Two beautiful pictures which keep me smiling

4 Incredible CUA Families
Lauren and Jake Patterson
(Class of 2002)
John and Christina, Cole and Sean Riehman-Murphy
(Class of 2000)
Rosanna and Bob Millie and Bennett Bamsey
(Class of 2000)
Tim (Class of 2000) and Lori (Class of 2002) Therese and Myriam McGoern

And one lucky priest privileged to know them

Check out the Campus Ministry Alumni Blog

How about a blog where CUA alumni can send pictures and share news and catch up on what other alumni are doing.... HERE IT IS

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christine and John Paul Winchester .... Introducing...

Bump back to the top of the Blog

I've been watching this a lot lately I thought I would pass it on again.

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C


As they stood facing the temple they marveled at its beauty.
So much effort had been put into its construction
So many sacrifices had been made to make this monument to their faith
And there it was
The temple
Columns 40 feet high of solid white marble
There was an beautiful sculpture of relief of a vine made of solid gold
which adorned the fa├žade of this massive structure
It glowed in the morning as the sun rose
The temple was
The center of their faith
The center of their common life
The temple was
A place which demonstrated to the whole world how important the Covenant was to them.

They looked on it in awe
They looked on it with Satisfaction
It was time to take pride in all that they had accomplished
It was time to rest
to be proud

Jesus did not share in this moment of self satisfaction
For he was able to read the signs of the time
He knew what was coming
40 years later Jerusalem would be destroyed
All that seemed sacred to them would be desecrated
1,100,000 would die in a terrible siege
Only 97,000 would survive

He knew their faith would be shaken
He knew that all would seem lost
He had to give them something to hold onto
And so he gave them a glimpse into the future
A glimpse that they could hold onto
The teacher said it would be so
He also gave them a promise
that when everything seemed lost
That God would be with them.

He had to help them understand that his presence
was not only in this Beautiful momument
They were also temples of his presence
It was in their hearts.

To do this he was completely honest with them
Come follow me and you will suffer
Come follow me and you will be handed over
Come follow me and you will put in prison
Come follow me and you will face false prophets
You will be misunderstood
And Made fun of
And even worse things will happen
All of this is what awaits a disciple of Jesus
Jesus never promised us a life without challenges and suffering

And even as he foretold their suffering
He promised them that they would never suffer alone
He would be with them
Look through history
How many people have suffered terribly because of their faith
But died with calm of a saint
“Do not prepare your testimony I will speak with you was his promise”
Persevere without fear

If we suffer for love
If we suffer for our faith
If we suffer for God
It is impossible to suffer alone
God will be with us
God will sustain us
God will be our strength our hope our consolation

Finally Jesus makes and incredible promise
Yes they may make you suffer
Yes they may hand you over
Yes those you love may persecute you
They may even take your earthly life

But they will never take your soul
They can take your soul
Your soul is safe with me.
I am the Resurrection and the life

The disciples with Jesus had grown satisfied
They had become comfortable
They were ready to rest on their accomplishments
symbolized by the magnificent temple they had built

I think Gospel is calling us to ask ourselves
Have we grown so comfortable that our faith no longer challenges us?
Who or what do we place our trust in?
What gives us comfort?
What gives us hope?
Do we really believe that God is with us in adversity?
Do we throw in the towel when the suffering or challenges come our way?

Jesus knew the lot of those who admired the temple
He knows what we will face in our lives
and he has been completely honest with us about them

He begs us to persevere and never give up hope
He assured us that we will never suffer alone
And even when we face what appears to be the ultimate defeat in death
He promises us eternal life
“by your perseverance you shall save your life”

Lots to think about
Lots to hope for
May we have the strength and the courage to follow Christ
No matter what the cost

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Pope is Coming the Pope is Coming

That's what the student workers in my office started yelling on Monday as an email from Fr. O'Connell confirmed what had been rumors for a long time. If you haven't seen it all ready a pretty popular Catholic Blogger has posted an itinerary...( I can't vouch for it's authenticity but you may want to check it out. Have a great day

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

As I face the day...

As I face the day
I ask you to give me a generous heart...
A heart ready and willing to love
Love even with disappointments
Love in the face of slights or untruth
Love with without reserve
Love without counting the cost.

I also pray for a discerning heart
A heart that is able to discern your will...
What you would have me do
When you would have me do it
How you would have me follow your will

Help me to see you Lord
in every young person who walks
through the door.
in every anxious parent who calls
in every staff member
who also seeks to find you
and serve you here at CUA.

Thank you Lord for the blessings
and challenges of this day
Please God
May I remain generous and faithful
Until my head hits the pillow.


Friday, November 09, 2007

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C

St. Vincent’s Chapel
The Catholic University of America

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our hearts

These aren’t the readings I would have chosen for the blessings of class rings

But on Sundays it is important to remain faithful the Lectionary

and to meditate on the same passages of God’s word

which the whole Church is meditating on

So here goes…





Will always be a part of our lives

Some of the challenges we face are simply from the fact that we have bodies

Slam your hand against a brick wall and it will hurt.

Stub you toe and you’ll hop around for a while

People with bodies get sick.

Some of the problems or adversity we face

do not come by accident but rather are the product of sin

We are hurt or challenged by our poor choices our own sinful choices

Or the poor choices of others

Yes …

We will be disappointed

We will be hurt

Jesus was hurt was saddened and was disappointed.

It is foolish to ever allow oneself to think that we will not have to endure challenges

or face adversity

They are part and parcel of our human existence.

Welcome to the human race

Perfect is not on earth

Perfect is in heaven

The different ways that people face challenges and adversity are astounding.

When adversity or sickness or disappointments come their way

Some people just get stuck they get paralyzed

Their problems are always before their eyes

They can’t get them out of their head

I am sick

I am sick

By the way did I tell you I’m not feeling well

Many times older people who carry the cross of sickness

seem to have this need to give you their medical history

They repeat their illnesses over and over again.

Younger people also brood on broken relationships

He hurt me

She hurt me

I hurt

Why do I have to hurt

Why me

Why is it always me

I never did anything to anyone and I always have to suffer

People like these

Just give adversity so much power

Over their lives

They are incapable of seeing beyond the present moment

Somehow they convince themselves that this is all that there is

I will suffer this for eternity

The struggle or the problem has all of their attention

It consumes them

They can’t look forward

It is so difficult for them to hope

Often they have no hope.

Often people who suffer feel alone

They feel unloved

They convince themselves that no one cares

There are those who handle adversity in a different way

Let me share a real life example

Once I knew a woman who had cancer.

It had progressed too far before it was discovered

there was little medical hope

She cared for herself as long as she could

She did not complain

She simply made changes in her life as they became necessary

Slowly but surely as the cancer took its toll her she had fewer choices to make

When she became a little weaker she had to give up her first communion class

which she had taught for over 20 years

When her immune system was compromised she had to give up going to mass

on Sunday for fear of catching something

When she tired easily visits with family and friends had to be shorter

And yet she did not grow angry

She did not become sullen

When you spoke to her there was just a quiet peace

Even when her breathing was labored

Somehow she held on to hope

She accepted her new circumstances lived through them she was not panicked or afraid

Instead of Mass on Sunday her daughter would take her to Church on other days and she would sit in the presence of the Blessed sacrament.

Most often the words on her lips were

thank you Thanks You Jesus Thank you.

There are lots of differences

between people who get paralyzed by adversity

and people who somehow are able to face it live through it and move on.

People who face challenges understand that

Adversity will be always with us

But how we face it is up to us.

You see they understand that

suffering is a choice we make

Faith is an incredible often a key component in the lives of people who face adversity well

People with faith can face so much more without fear

People with faith understand that this life and their challenges are not all there is.

People of faith like the young men in the first reading are able face suffering because

they know that it is temporary.

They understand that the adversity the pain,

the challenge the dissapointment they face are

just but a moment when compared to eternity

The greatest source of consolation comes from our belief in the Resurrection.

Life eternal awaits those who believe in God

And live life as he would have us live it.

Life eternal indeed.

The Sadducees in the Gospel did not believe in the resurrection

For them this life was all there was.

Jesus engaged them

because believing in the resurrection

is so essential to understanding the meaning of this life and our relationship with God

With the eyes of faith

Suffering can become redemptive

It can change us

It can make us less self centered

It can help us focus on the needs of others

Faith helps us accept our crosses

It can keep our eyes fixed on the cross of Christ

It can remind us that we are not alone and that God loves us

Our faith shows us that God himself suffered for us.

Brothers and Sisters

The readings today challenge us to ask ourselves

How will face the difficulties of life

Will we allow them to consume us

and make us grow bitter angry and hurt


Will we allow them to transform us

Adversity challenges problems disappointments will always be with us

Whether we allow them to make us suffer is indeed our choice

With God all things are possible


Saturday, November 03, 2007

31st Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C

Today’s Gospel can teach us something from three very different perspectives.

Zacchaeus had made it he was a tax collector.

The Romans trusted him.

He was wealthy influential and because they hoped to pay less taxes people probably deferred to him.

They probably respected him to his face and sneared at his back

It appeared he had everything a man could want..




Yet it was not enough.

His life must have not been satisfying.

Maybe he knew what people really thought of him.

Maybe he knew just how much people hated him

How despised he was.

Why else wouldn’t the crowd give him a place in the front row so that he could see?

And if his money had given him all the comfort people think it gives

He would have stayed home that day

Stayed home in the lap of luxury with all of his creature comforts.


Zacchaeus probably ventured out that day into that crowd

because he was not satisfied he was not happy.

All that glittered was not gold.

There must have been a void in his heart that had to be filled.

He had heard about Jesus

He had heard of all the incredible stories that surrounded this itinerant rabbi

And he wanted to see for himself.

And after Jesus stopped and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house

Zacchaeus showed just how little all of his wealth meant to him.

He gave a sizeable portion away and he tried

to amend any injustice he has done.

Salvation had entered his house that day indeed

Because Zacchaeus had finally figured out what really mattered

His heart was changed

Let’s look at this situation through the eyes of Jesus

If we read the Gospel account carefully it seems that Jesus did not intent to stop in Jericho that day.

But then he noticed that short little man being pushed aside in the crowd

And to his amazement he saw that little man in a tree.

Zacchaeus had made the first move.

Zacchaeus had made a significant effort to reach out to Jesus.

And Jesus would not be out done in his generosity.

He did not give up on this Tax Collector

He did not give up on this man who had made so many terrible mistakes in his life

He knew there was more to this little man than meets the eye.

Jesus saw an open window into Zacchaeus’ heart

Jesus saw A way in.

A way to help Zacchaeus begin anew

And he took it.

He invited himself in

And Salvation entered Zacchaeus’ house that day

New Life

New hope

New beginning

New priorities

It was a moment of grace

Zacchaeus wanted more out of life

and Jesus was so ready to give him what he wanted

For the Gospel says

Zacchaeus received Jesus with joy

There are third group of characters in this little drama.

The people watching the exchange between Jesus and Zacchaeus

Were not happy.

They had seen Zacchaeus in action so many times and were very skeptical

They could not believe that this conversion was real.

They had long since given up on Zacchaeus

They did not believe there was any hope for him

He was a tax collector and a greedy avarice tax collector and that is what he would always be

You know if they really cared about Zacchaeus

when they saw that this big sinner was interested in seeing Jesus.

The would have pushed him to the front of the crowd in the hope

that he would have a change of heart.

But they didn’t did they?

What does this all have to do with us…

Have we figured out what really matters

or are we still trying to accumulate treasure on earth.

Do we have thoughts like...

If I had that I would really be happy.

If I had that much in my bank account I would have it made.

When Zacchaeus was thoughtful enough

to realize that material wealth respect and influence were not all they were cracked up to be he was brave enough to try something new..

Are we?

Are we brave enough to try something new ?

If our life is not all that we would like it to be

are we brave enough to venture into uncharted waters ?

Will we fight the crowd or climb a tree?

Or are we just plain stuck?

Unhappy where we are but... unable or afraid to move,

Have we reached out to Jesus ?

Have we really given prayer a chance ?

Have we tried to deepen our faith to understand more ?

How committed are we to our faith ?

When is the last time we read a spiritual book ?

When is the last time that we engaged someone in a serious conversation on a spiritual topic.

When is the last time we went to Mass more than once a week and last week doesn’t count because Thursday was a holy day.

The experience of Zacchaeus teaches us that if we reach out to Christ

He will invite himself into our homes and into our hearts.

Have we even taken the first step ?

Have we ever responded to the daily prompting of the spirit to go deeper ?

Has salvation entered our house or have we closed up all the doors and windows and refused to let him in?


The crowd refused to give Zacchaeus another chance.

They refused to believe that he could be anything better than a tax collector

They had placed him in that neat comfortable box

and refused to see any hope for him

He was what he was period.

Only Jesus was ready to give him another chance and another chance and another chance.

How many people have we give up on ?

How many people have we placed in little boxes neat little catagories or labeled ?

How often have we said things like...

That kid is a looser

Why would anyone want to have anything to do with him ?

He is a tax collector or he drinks or he is rude or he will never amount to anything

Or he is a sinner and he will never change.

The fact of the matter is that everyone can change until our last breath we can change.

This little story about he tax collector who climbed a tree teaches us so much

Let us place our faith in what really matters in life.

Let us continually try to leave a little opening in our hearts for God to come in.

Let us fight the temptation to make definitive judgments about people

refusing to believe that they could ever change.

God doesn’t do that and neither should we