Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Servant CUA

These are some thoughts I shared with our student leaders last Sunday. As I read the Gospel passage from John 13. Student leaders from different organizations on campus came and washed and kissed each others' feet. I think their acting out of the Gospel had a profound effect on the 150+ student leaders who participated.


Because of our Mission I would propose to you that men and women in leadership roles here at CUA should exercise them in a unique way.

Just like there should be a different in our Residence Hall because we are the Catholic University of America and there is….

You guys don’t know how different it is here because you don’t have other experiences to compare us to...

I think, I hope because we are Catholic we care more.
Because we are Catholic look out for each other more
Because we are Catholic we try and get the whole story before we act

Just like there should be a difference in the way our Offices treat students and most of the time there is… because we are the Catholic University of America

How should we exercise leadership at CUA

I would like to propose to you a passage from scripture to help us get started.
Whether you are Catholic or not it is a very touching story..

John 13: 1 – 20

1 2 3 Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already induced 4 Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, 3 fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God,4 he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist.5 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.6
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Master, are you going to wash my feet?"7
Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later."8 Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."9 Simon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."10 Jesus said to him, "Whoever has bathed 6 has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all."11 For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."12 So when he had washed their feet (and) put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?13 You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.14 If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet.15 I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

(Student leaders pre picked from different groups wash each other’s feet in front of everyone)

Kind of radical isn’t it
Not easy to look at.
I think it is harder to have your feet washed then to wash someone’s

This is the model of Leadership that Jesus proposes to us
and this is the model that we should propose at Catholic.
It is how our students should lead
This is how you need to lead
It is how our staff should lead
It is how our administrators should lead
It is how our faculty should lead

I want to make a disclaimer…
WE ARE NOT perfect
I am not perfect
I feel a little uncomfortable asking you guys to do something that I am not necessarily good at doing myself

Even our offices can do better
We talk about doing better
We are working together at getting better.
Sometimes however our humanity gets in the way

And sometimes we don’t listen to each other as we should
Sometimes there are petty competitions between offices
Or turf wars

We are getting better but there is still room to grow.
So in a sense I don’t want you to let our own weakness our own mistakes keep you from being the men and women we need you to be.

1. The first thing that we need to learn from this model of leadership is that we can’t be in it for ourselves.

Our service our leadership cannot be about us
It is not about us.
People involved in leadership here at CUA should never say things like
“I’ve go the power”

The gift of our time and our talents has to be free.
Just like love has to be free.

Jesus did not wash the feet of the apostles because he liked doing that

It was not necessarily a pleasant task the roads were dusty their feet were dirty
He did it because he cared about them
There was nothing in it for him.

Our leadership cannot be about feeding our ego to make us feel important.
That’s how turf wars begin…

And at Catholic especially in the past especially in our student governance or leadership they took turf wars to a new level
They are or have been almost an art form.

When it is not about us then we shouldn’t hear things like
This is my program
That’s your program why should we help you look good
You don’t have my permission Maybe I’ll give it Maybe I won’t
I haven’t signed off on that yet

Words like My and Mine and I want etc…
Are hard to keep in mind when you are washing someone else’s feet

CUA Student Leadership cannot be about making yourself look good
I repeat your service and the gift of your time and talents and efforts has to be free.
A Free gift

2. In our model of leadership here at CUA we have to do something worthwhile.
Do something of value

Make sure your programs touch people lives.
Make them laugh
Educate them
Make them healthier
Help them affiliate or feel at home here
Entertain them
Help them care about others

Make sure your efforts affect the greatest number of people
Remember your whole constituency

Sometimes people in power use their influence for a select few their special friends.
And anyone else who might happen to benefit from it.

Your efforts have to be broad based.

Lots of times people have ideas which they really think are great but really don’t seem to make a difference in the lives of our students.

To make our service worthwhile…
We shouldn’t say to our constituencies "I know what is best for you" Or "This is how I am going to serve you"
Rather we should say
How can I serve you
How can I help you
What kind of programs do you want

(We can’t be all things to all people) and
We can’t satisfy everyone needs and wants
But worthwhile service begins with listening.

When Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles it benefited them
Their feet were clean after he washed them

We continually have to ask ourselves as we program and work as student leaders how is this helping someone?

Yes you have to try things.
But if no one attends or it doesn’t work out.Then you have to try something new.
It is doesn’t work change it.

Don’t be a student leader for yourself
Use your leadership to do something worthwhile.

3. I propose that The third component of Student Leadership at CUA should be humility.

We really need to meditate on that.

When it comes to service or leadership, Humility is not something that the world sees of value.

If you drive down North Capital to the building with the dome you won’t find a whole lot of people who are promoting humble service or humble leadership.

Our government has some brilliant people who are great at what they do, but there is not a whole lot of humility there.

Jesus was the Rabbi
Jesus was the teacher
But he washed the feet of his disciples
He performed a task which was usually reserved for a slave

When guests arrived the servants or the slaves would wash their feet.
We need to lead humbly
As I said before it is important to realize that you are not the whole show

If we are humble we realize that someone else might have a good idea
When we are humble it is so much easier to collaborate.
It is so much easier to work together.

That’s something we have to do a lot better around here.
We need to collaborate…
We all have the same goals

To continue to make CUA
A positive fun safe place to be
A place which helps us all be the men and women God created us to be.
We need to Collaborate
We need to collaborate

That is something the Fr. O’Connell is always asking the administrators to do
Listen to each other
Help each other
Figure it out together.
He doesn’t want us to always run to him.
But frequently tells us to work it out on our own.

I feel that this is an area where our student leaders need a lot of growth.
When I say collaborate I don’t mean that everyone does everything.
Our office can never be responsible for club sports and
Mike Allen in Athletics should not start saying Mass.

There are however tons of things we can work on together
And sometimes
He can help us
And sometimes we can help athletics.

We need to find more areas where we can help each other.
We need to do more things together.

We have to get away from pronouns like
Theirs, mine, his, hers, I, me, and move to our or we

The Campus life CUA is our’s to create

Our service must be free
We have to do something that’s worthwhile
We have to be humble and allow ourselves to collaborate more
Work together

It is so easy to fall into the trap of being proud.
It is so easy to forget that your love your service
The gift of yourself your leadership
Has to be free…

Here are some prayer cards with the Word WASH on them...
I propose this simple word as a slogan for service next year.

W - Work
A - at
S - Serving
H - Humbly

This little word offers us a lot to think about indeed.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sitting in my chair

I'm sorry I haven't been posting much lately... the end of the Semester is always busy with talks and thank you dinners and all kinds of events. The Luau is this Friday and the students have really worked hard on it. They managed to get Sythian a band that even I can appreciate. When I come home I usually just collapse in my chair and veg.

The other day a young man appeared in my door, the first of many I suspect. His request was simple, " I want to become Catholic" he had been thinking about if for a while and the Holy Father's visit pushed him over the edge.

He comes from a wonderful family who just never really practiced any religion. For a while now he has felt himself being called to faith. Now he just has a hunger to learn and soak it up. He has even begun to bring his Mom back to Church.

I believe that we will reap the benefits of the Holy Fathers visit for years to come. It was a wonderful vote of confidence and something that I am really grateful for.

Here are a couple of videos which were part of CUA's Celebration of the Pope's visit. The first one we used as part of our catechesis on the ministry of Peter. The second one is a student tribute(Welcome") that we played at the "Rock the Pope Rally"

Hope you enjoy them..

Vicar of Christ
Thanks Sarah Winchester

CUA Welcomes the Pope
Thanks Sarah Hortsman

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Year A 2008

Several years ago my cell phone rang and when I looked at the number it looked like someone from Mars was calling it was like nothing I had ever seen before.

When I answered it was not Mars but rather Kevin from Ireland.
He was one of our students who had gone over and gotten a job after graduation

After the formalities I asked him if he was OK
I don't get calls from Ireland every day or every year in fact that was the first call ever.

And he told me the reason he was calling was simple
He had finally said the "L" word
He was in love…

I remember long talks with Kevin
He was afraid he would never say "L" word
He was afraid that he would never really be able to love any one
He convinced himself that he would never share his life with anyone

When I asked him how it happened and why he had finally said it
His response was simple…

There came a moment in our relationship when I was happy to do things for her
And really happy to give up things for her
That's when I knew.
When I started happily giving up things I loved for her.

Kevin and John the Evangelist have a lot in common when it comes to their understanding of love.

John's Gospel is the gospel of Love.
He always talks about it

Remember "God is Love and whoever abides in love abides in God and God in him"
That's John's Gospel

For John like Kevin Love is not a sentiment
It is not a feeling even a strong feeling
Love is only love when it is a verb

Love is only love when it is demonstrated real by actions
Love is only love when it is lived in actions day in and day out.
God so loved the world that he sent his only Son that wall who believe in Him might not perish but have eternal life.

God sent…
God loved….
John can say God is love because he had experienced God's love
in real way during his life.

Remember John was the only Apostle to stand at the foot of the Cross
And in today's passage Jesus says
"If you love me you will keep my commandments"

Love is not a sentimental pleasurable feeling which makes us happy
Love is an action a deed which we are happy to perform only because we love

Hopefully all of us have been loved
All of us have experienced love in action.

Most of your parents loved them you in action.
They went to jobs they didn't like
Put new sneakers on your feet when they needed things themselves.
Got up in the middle of the night when you were sick
Accepted the innumberable number of colds you brought home from school and still hugged you.

Love is action..That's all it is

How can you tell you love someone
You sacrifice for them

How can you tell if you love God your actions not your feelings testify to it.
" You love me if you keep my commandments"

The first readings speaks of love in the same vein
Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ
Samaria was not a favorite place of the Jews

Many would have said why waste your time there
Yet that is where he went

He went to convert people that many Jews felt were not worthy of the Gospel
the Samaritans

He did not sit on the Gospel
He did not use the good news for himself and his benefit
but his love compelled him
his love in action compelled him
to preach it even to people like the Samaritans.

His was a Love in action which won over so many for Christ.

Just like Philip went out of his way to share the Gospel
Went out of his way to do something good for someone

We have to do something if our love is real
we have to act
Our love must be mirrored in our flesh.

Who have we loved ?
Who have we reached out to even when it was not easy

Who have we continued to love even when our efforts to love, or to ack
were not immediately reciprocated or maybe even appreciated.

Love does not stay on the couch
Love does not simply wish someone well from afar
Love gets involved

You can't say you love the poor if you never get involved in their lives
You can't say you love your children if you do not sacrifice for them
You can't say you love God If you don't keep his commandments.

Love is a verb
We don't just feel it
It is only real when we do it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Click below for all of the talks the Holy Father shared during his visit


Overwhelmed and still processing

I can't really explain how I feel about these last few days. I am filled with awe. I have a desire to be holier and so much more knowledgeable in my faith.

I want to go deeper, to preach better to serve more generously. I want to give my life more freely to God and his people. There are
all kinds of emotions in my heart. They swirl around in my being and I find it difficult to unravel them let alone understand them.

I am not a man moved easily I am not one to scream at rock stars yet I am so moved at the presence of Pope Benedict here on our campus. I want to learn more about him. I want to read his works I want to understand them as best as I can. I want to share them with others.

"I am with you always until the end of time" Jesus promised in the Gospel of Matthew. Yes he his and while I have always respected and been most grateful for the ministry of St. Peter passed down from generation to generation... I have a new understanding and awe of place that Peter's
ministry should have in my own life. The Pope who teaches without fear, the Pope who embraces the world, the Pope who protects us from error, the Pope who unites us and is the guarantor to the communion (small c) we all share in the Church.

I need to think and I need to pray more fervently what do you want me to do Lord.

hmmmm.... so much to think about indeed

Overwhelmed... trying to figure it out.

Oh by the way the morning after the Pope left our Campus I went with Fr. O'Connell to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast where President Bush made an apperance. He spoke about the importance of Catholic Schools and the incredible gift the Church is to our country. I was impressed by what he said and the manner with which he spoke but..... there was no comparison.

5th Sunday of Easter Year – A -

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts

The Gospel today was written for the disciples.
Jesus was first of all speaking to his friends who are about to witness the horror of the Cross.

He is trying to build them up and encourage them.
He wanted to give them something to hold onto when they would see him arrested, tortured and hung in agony on the cross.

Many of the disciples still didn't get that the Messiah's mission would not be fulfilled in coming of a victorious king,but rather a suffering servant as foretold in the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus hoped that the seeds which he planted with these words and the memory of the works he had performed would suddenly make sense to them when he died on the crosss.

He hope these words would give them hope and keep them from despair
when all seemed lost.

Yes those beautiful words " Do not let your heart be troubled" were meant for the Apostles.

But the Word of God also communicates with us.
Jesus is also speaking to us.

His words have meaning and a purpose in our lives.
The Word of God gave hope and direction in the lives of the Apostles but it also should transform us and give us hope.

"Do not let you hearts be troubled" is very apropos for men and women of every time and culture.

Fear has always been a part of the human condition
We are afraid of so many things.

Fear is so prevalent in our society that John Paul II felt it necessary to almost continually remind us not to be afraid.

From the very first moment he walked out onto the balcony after his election
He proclaim that profound truth "Do not be afraid."

In the Gospel the Word reminds us that when fear comes upon us
It is important to faith in God and Faith in Jesus.

Let's look at that.
If we have faith in Jesus we follow his commands
and we embrace his example.

If we have faith in Jesus if we believe He is really the Son of God,
we have to value what he valued and discard what he didn't think was important.

Faith in Jesus liberates us from the cares of the world
Faith in Jesus frees from so many fears.

Believing in Jesus sets us free
by showing us what is really important in our lives and by showing us how to get home.

The Gospel also encourages us to have faith in God.
How can we trust God?
How can our belief in God give us peace and encouragement.

The real question should be how can we not trust God?

If God was willing to send us His only Son to pay the price of our sin and lead us home then doesn't it follow that God will give us anything we could ever possibly need to come home to him?

Fear is such a part of our world our entire world

The poor fear dying from hunger or sickness and they fear for the future of their children like anyone else.

The poor are often very afraid of the violence which is so sadly common place in the lives of refugees and those in desperate need even in our country.

The rich fear not having enough even when some have so much they could never spend what they have.

Some wealthy people also fear only having two houses or not being able to keep up with others more wealthy.

The powerful fear that someone will grow more powerful than them.

The influential fear that someone will become more popular and take their place.

Children fear they will be abandoned.

Teenagers fear they won't fit in or that they are not handsome or beautiful enough. Some are so afraid that they even stop eating.

Young adults fear they won't find a husband or wife they can share their lives with.
College students fear they won't find their place in the world
They (you) are often so afraid you won't find that special place which is life giving and where they can make their contribution.

Young families fear not having enough to give to their children
People starting out in their careers fear that they won't get that special break they need or that they will somehow screw things up.

As children get older Mothers and Fathers are so often afraid for them.
Some of your parents are afraid for you.
Will they be happy ?
Will they do drugs?
Will they find someone to love?
Will we be able to protect them from the struggles of life?

In middle age people filled with fear ask themselves is that all there is?
Is this what life was about?
In their fifties… people often wonder if they have gone as far as they can go in their careers.

They fear the young smart talent people who are coming on board.
They wonder if they still have what it takes.

In their sixties and seventies thoughtful people wonder if they have ever really made any difference with their lives.

They often ask, did I do anything at all of value?
As people grow older they fear getting older

They are afraid of aches and pains

They are afraid of sickness
They are afraid that they won't have enough to retire on
They are so afraid of losing their independence

When people are near death many are so afraid to meet God
Good Holy Generous people become afraid.

Just like there are very few atheists in fox holes
There are very few atheists in hospitals.

Yes fear is all around us.
If we let it fear can rule our lives.


The Gospel says "Do not let your heart be troubled"
If we allow Jesus to be the way the truth and the life

If we base our lives on God's truth,
then we really need very few material possessions
We can even be surprised by how little we really need.

If we base our lives on God's truth
Then we can look at other people as our brothers and sister.

If we pattern our lives after Jesus
Then we don't have to work 60 hour weeks but we can play with our kids and never miss one of their games.

If we pattern our lives after Jesus
Then we don't have to be the most powerful

he saved us by being weak
If we pattern our lives after Jesus

Then we don't have to fear for our children because we can see that they are held in the loving hands of God

If we pattern our lives after Jesus

Then we don't have to fear sickness or old age because even these experiences through which almost everyone must pass can make us better people more generous people.

Sometimes older couple grows apart until one of them gets sick and needs the other.

The salvation of many people and many marriages has been found in the burden of sickness and the necessity of caring for your husband or wife who is ill.

Caring for someone or being cared for changes a person's heart.

This week let's mediate on these powerful words
Do not let your hearts be troubled

Do not let your hearts be troubled indeed.
God means what he says.

Do not be afraid


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pope Day 3

Pope Day 3 has been a long day. It started with Mass with the friars at 8:00 then Roll Call and a Prayer with the Public Safety Officers at 8:30. Then I walked around Campus for a while. At 11:00 AM I went with some students to get my yellow fever vaccination. We were late for the appointment because we could not get across Pennsylvania Ave, guess who was coming. I have never seen Washington so excited.

Back on campus I got into my habit and went to the CUA Mall where there was a crowd of 8000 people waiting to see the Pope.. It was incredible there is certainly a real case of Pope fever around here.

Tonight we had a prayer vigil with all night adoration. Incredible.
I'm going to bed tomorrow the Pope comes to visit us.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Pope Week Day One

"Fr.Bob we are in the eye of the world..."
Isn't that the truth..

I started off my day looking for a missing student and praying with the Public Safety Office. Day one was exciting as the media began to arrive and the campus started to take on a different appearance. . Campus Ministry was a behive of activity. There were flyers to design and print for the candlelight Rosary with the Seminarians of Theological College. The script for the Rock the Pope Rally was being proofed and proofed and proofed. Amid all of the chaos I had the chance (priviledge) to talk to a couple of students about their lives. That is my favorite part of my whole day and it keeps me grounded and reminds me what is important.

Last night we had a the Candlelight Rosary. There were over 250 people who attended we know because we made 200 worship aids and we quickly ran out. The media followed us around campus taking all kinds of pictures and videos. There were several interviews before and after the Rosary walk. I hope to post some pictures when I can.

Following Rosary we had a Rock the Pope practice. It went from 9:00 PM to 10:45. To see the whole thing put together for once was really nice. The students made some suggestions and we'll see what we can do to incorporate them into the script. Every time I watch the video of JPII I am so moved.

As I said goodnight to the kids in the pryz I finished off the night with 1/2 scoop of ice cream and a scoop of granola. WONDERFUL.

Pope Day 2 to follow.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Year A

Once when I went to confession in St. Peter's as a young seminarian
there was a Maltese Friar hearing confessions in English.
I could tell from his accent and the languages on his door.
I wasn't good at Italian yet so I went to him.

He was kind and gentle and piously heard my confession.
He offered good advice and encouragement and I was happy I went to him.

Then after he finished he said matter of factly…
Jesus is the shepherd and we are the sheep of his flock
to help you remember that
for your penance go to the Blessed Sacrament chapel
and meditate on that very important truth
and when you are finished
quietly bleat like a sheep out loud.
And then he quietly went like this Baaaah
And gave me absolution.

I was stunned mortified.
Bleat like a sheep in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome…
It wasn't as if I killed anyone
I was to afraid to challenge him and very slowly walked over the chapel with my head down

There were about 20 people before the Blessed Sacrament
it is a pretty big chapel but it was a weekday evening so it was not crowded
I sat there so embarrassed wondering if I would ever have the courage to do my penance

I tried to think of a way out there was none.
I almost went back to ask for another penance what if the new one he gave me was worse

I kept trying meditating on the fact that I was the sheep and Jesus is the shepherd
but it was hard to concentrate because I was terrorized of making that sound.

I was about to choke and leave when very quietly from a bench in front of me
this small little woman bleated like a sheep
It was really quiet but I heard it

As soon as she did that a guy on the other side of the chapel did the same.
It was almost like he got his courage from her
Just once very quietly but I was sure I heard it again

Then all of a sudden I heard another sheep behind me
and as I glanced back with a smile it was the guy behind me in line.

He was smiling back
Finally I had the courage to do my bleat
and slowly but surely the sheep of God's flock left the chapel.

You know a sheep is a very docile animal.
Sometimes they are so busy eating that they don't even realize there is a predator around them.

It is very easy for them to wander off and get lost
sometimes when one sheep wanders off
the others will simply follow them.
Kind of like the blind leading the blind

They aren't the smartest animals in the world
If there is food right over there and no one takes them to it
they are capable of starving because they are not smart enough to go and find it

Their safety and well being depends on the shepherd who guides them to the food and protects them from foes who would hurt them and binds up their wounds.

The Gospel is full of analogies which compare us to sheep

Quite often when we blindly rely on ourselves and are oblivious to the world around us.

We spend our time wandering from place to place from day to day from fad to fad
Often we never really thinking about what we are doing.
We don't live thoughtful lives

Quite frequently we dedicate ourselves and our energies to things which don't make us better people
And don't nourish us.
Bad food if you will
There might be good things for us right around the corner
but we don't expend the energy to find them or make them part of our lives

Just like sheep we often lead each other astray
Sometimes its on purpose
But most of the time it is not

We lead people astray by being bad examples
Or by being no example.
Or by not being the best that we can be.

Let's face it we are vulnerable just like the sheep
Vulnerable to our own stupidity
Vulnerable to the mistakes of others
Vulnerable to following the crowd

Am sadly there are many in our flock who have wandered off
We can't find them anymore
They don't even remember that they are part of us
Part of our flock part of our Church.

Good Shepherds were courageous and caring.
They would often stop at nothing to save their sheep

Remember the story that Jesus told in the gospel
About the shepherd who left the 99 sheep to find the one that was lost

Sometimes to keep the sheep from running off and protect them from other animals and people and even themselves
shepherds would make a circle of stones out in the fields usually about 3 feet high
and then they would stick brambles on top of it to keep the sheep in

At night the shepherd would lay in the opening
so anything or anyone who wanted to get at the sheep
would have to face the shepherd.

In a very real way the shepherd became the gate just like the Gospel said

If we are God's Sheep then
Jesus is God's Shepherd
Jesus leads us home
Jesus provides us with food
his word and the Bread of Life

Jesus and his message protect us from error
His word and his teaching keep us from wandering off
Jesus shows us the way home and protects us on our journey

Like a shepherd Jesus built us the sheepfold
we call it the Church
In the Church we find the consolation of our brothers and sisters
In the Church we find safety and security

Just like a sheep can never be alone in his flock
We can never be alone in the Church
Just like a good shepherd would lay down his life for his flock
Jesus laid down his life for us.
He died for us
He paid the price of our sins
He paid the price our brokenness
The price of our stupidity our arrogance

We are the Sheep and Jesus is the Shepherd
Are we willing to listen to his voice
Are we willing to follow him
Like the sheep listen to the voice of their shepherd and won't follow anyone else

Yes We are the sheep and Jesus is the Shepherd
And that is a very important truth which we have to remember

You know looking back
I know that The only reason I ever had the courage to bleat like a sheep was because the little woman in front of me and the guy across the aisle had the courage to do so first.

I never would have made it without them

To recognize our place in God's plan
To have the courage to follow God's voice
To truly live as members of the flock of the Good shepherd

We need each other
We need to inspire each other
and we need the Church

After that experience I walked out of St. Peter's Basilica thought St. Peter's Square toward the 238 bus home on the Lungo Tevere
I remember I allowed myself to think youthful cocky thoughts
I remember thinking what a dumb penance
What was a matter with that priest?
I remember thinking no wonder people find it hard to go to confession
Blah blah blah blah

Here it is 29 years later and I never forgot that moment
or that penance
or that priest or that experience

Everytime I hear that passage from Scripture
I remember well that confession
And the important lesson it taught me

And here I am even preaching on it to you
Now I remember the whole experience with a smile

Father wherever you are prayers promised
and thanks.

I'll try not to forget

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

It's all about balance ot the wheel or whatever...

Call it whatever you want.. Welleness wheel... Balanced life style whatever...

As I watch our students go through their days I become more and more convinced that happiness and holiness is all about balance or being able to give everything its proper place in their lives, our lives. There are so many things calling for their, our attention and it is very easy to mess things up.

Approval, even the tough ones who say they don't need it, need it desperately and some can even almost get physically sick if they don't get it. How you are preceived is very important to a young adults just starting out in the world. I guess it is important to all of us to some extent.

In a balanced person there also has to be a place for physical well being. Our students are so much more attune to this then our generation was. The fitness center is almost always packed with people trying to stay healthy and yes "look good" there's that approval again. They also check the nutrition kiosk in the Student Dining room I've seen it... They aren't too good at getting enough sleep though... sometimes the temptation to watch a movie or play Halo is just to enticing. Some have also grown to depend on chemicals to change their mood and make them feel well. Sad.

Then there is their work or purpose, as much as it is fun to be here and enjoy the social life and new found freedom to live your life as you wish, it is paramount that a people here remember why they are here. 40 grand it a lot of money simply for the chance to live in Spellman and enjoy the kids down the hall. College is all about getting ready, getting ready to leave your mark or make your contribution it is all about purpose.

Some seem to think that our kids don't take studies seriously. I would venture to differ. Almost all of them know why they are here but quite often especially in the case of our Freshmen they just don't know how to get the job done. They know they have to study but they just don't know how go about it. Often they get lost in the moment, the present and can't get up and leave. They haven't developed the discipline to get up and do their work and the vast majority of them feel guilty very guilty about not doing their share. Some figure it out some never do. The guilt that many feel about not doing or being able to do what they came here for sometimes consumes them. If it is an impetus to push them on a little farther on their live journey that's great. However, a few just simply curl up on their bed or get lost in a bottle of beer medicating themselves. Sometimes you can pull them if you catch it in time. Being able to do your work, be about your business, and experience a feeling of accomplishment is essential in every stage of life. Remember the first time you road a bike?

Another key component in wellness is being able to put your needs and your desires in the proper context. A person who only thinks of themselves and what they want and what they hope to achieve is often never satisfied. When life becomes all about me then a person is walking down the road to sadness. Part of living a fulfilling life is being able and desiring to help others live a good life. The older a person grows the more they should grow comfortable with and desire to give or share themselves with others. People who discover this realize that the world is much bigger than their own perspective. It is really important to figure that out. The papers are filled with people who never got that lesson, from petty thieves to corporate executives. Yell and scream and play your music loud at 3:00 in the morning when the big football player next door has 6:00 AM practice and sometimes you'll find out that life is not all about you quickly.

Approval, health, purpose all of these things are important I may have even left some important things out... don't hesitate to let me know.

However, I have also come to believe "duh" (I'm not sure how you spell that ) that you can never be well or whole or HOLY unless you know where you came from and where you are going and who you are journeying with. Everything we do leads somewhere . I believe that these questions can only be answered by faith. Only in the context of our faith can we figure out that we are so much more than a conscious speck of dust in the ever expanding universe. Faith teaches us that we are loved and created in the image of God... We simply not the product of some atom or particle that smashed into another one billions of years ago. Hard to believe but some people actually believe that. I know, I've spoken to them. Our destiny is to go home, to return from whence we came. We live for heaven our home our destiny.. And because we share a common Father our goal is also to bring as many people with us as we journey home. Everything we do, every breath we take, every hope, every desire should, must be examined in the light of where we came from, who we are and where we hope to go.

You can travel down the roads of life for a while without a road map and sometimes it may even appear that you are getting someplace... sadly, so sadly, sometimes without a clear map provided by faith, people often spend their lives traveling in circles.

What prompted these words... Last night as i mopped (see the post, "Have you mopped today") around a campus I ran into wonderful people. There wasn't a bad one in the bunch. But, many had part of their wheel missing and they were thumping along, moving through life but it was far to difficult. This one was failing two classes and discourage about failing his parents, that one was looking for a boy to go out with, there were a couple who blew off all of their classes yesterday and others who were surrounded by books but had no one to talk to. There were also those who seemed to be doing fine, we discussed internships with them, and tattoos with others (why did those come back) there was a lot of interest in the Pope coming. Several have lost their tickets already... The Freshman Retreat Team was agonizing over the theme for next year and the Architecture students were really disappointed that they don't get to do the murals this year.

I don't pretend to be the model of wellness but at least I know enough to write about it. I think all of us young and old should examine ourselves at the end of the day asking, What was missing from my life today? How did I do on the road home ?

Have a good day Holy ones and wannabe's

Monday, April 07, 2008

As I finish my day

The setting Sun now dies away
And darkness comes at close of day
Your brightest beams dear Lord impart
and let them shine within our hearts

We praise your name with joy this night
Please watch and guard us through the night
Joining the music of the blest
O Lord we sing ourselves to rest

To God the Father God the Son
and Holy Spirit three in One
Trinity blest whom we adore
Be praise and glory evermore


Lord please grant us a restfilled night
a peaceful death.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Third Sunday of Easter April 6, 2008

Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

The Emmaus story is so important for us to meditate on.
It is filled with details and the narrative or story draws us in…

Let's look a the key components of the story.

First of all it is important to note that the Disciples were headed away from Jerusalem when Jesus met them
or rather,
When Jesus sought them out.

That's important to remember
Jesus sought them out.

They had left the community
They were walking away

They were discouraged and questioning filled with doubt
and disappointment

Even the news from the Women in their group that Jesus had risen from the dead
did not restore their faith.

At that moment in their lives it was easier for them to doubt than believe

Next the account says that Jesus walked with them for a while.

He listened to them
he tried to figure out where they where
what they were thinking what they were feeling
what they were afraid of.

He didn't just begin telling them how they were wrong.
Only when he had heard them speak from their hearts did he intervene.

Only when he knew what was on their mind did
he enter into dialog with them.

In other words he respected them and their doubt.

Then with a question,
not with an affirmation
he entered into their world and their experience.

By asking them what they were talking about.
He listened attentively as they explained
"The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene."

Only when they had finished did he speak
(I'll be honest the phrase" O how you foolish are"
put me off for a while… as I prepared my homily.)

I'm not sure you enter into dialog with someone by telling them that they are foolish they are.

In a commentary I read it explained that when Jesus spoke those words to the disciples o the road they probably heard something like "don't you get it?"

From the story it is clear that they were not offended.
They did not distance themselves from him but remained attentive.

Then slowly but surely he helped them understand the teaching of the prophets.
He helped them see that it had indeed been foretold
that the Messiah would have to suffer and die to enter into His glory.

For so long the Israelites had understood that the Messiah would be a triumphant warrior king and it was just so hard for even Jesus' closest disciples to overcome that error even after they had been with him for so long.

They listened attentively and they were now able to understand
It was finally easier for them to believe then to persist in their doubt and fear

When the road split he pretended to go on…
in other words he did not force himself on them.

It was now time for them to take a step
It was time for them to make a move to seek more understanding

Faith is not a one way street it demands a living response.
"Stay with us" they asked him

They wanted more.
Jesus was happy to respond.

And then at the table when he broke bread
they recognized him
And he vanished….

His work was complete
Their faith was restored.

Who knows how many disciples Jesus visited that day
How many experienced
His concern and
His respect

Who knows how many recognized him in the breaking of the bread.

The disciples of Emmaus immediately returned to Jerusalem
They immediately returned to community to the Church

They were no longer quiet
No longer afraid
No longer in retreat
Rather they shared their experience of the Lord with anyone who would listen

What a beautiful story
What a well written narrative
And today how important it is,
urgent even, it is for us all to mediate on it
And follow it's example

Not to long ago a study was released by the "Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life" stated that

"No other major faith in the U.S. has experienced greater net losses over the last few decades as a result of changes in religious affiliation than the Catholic Church,"

While The Church is still growing in the United States it is only because the significant number of "cradle Catholics" who leave are being replaced by Hispanic Immigrants.

The findings of this reputable study should give us all pause
They should challenge us

They should help understand how pertinent the Emmaus story really is for our contemporary experience.

For the study proves that people "our brothers and sisters" are walking away from the church away from Jerusalem, if you will
maybe just like the disciples in the story

Jesus did not let them walk
He intervened

He respected them and reached out to them
He showed them how important they were to Him
He spent time with them.

Sadly, so sadly, sometimes, many times we don't even seem to notice when someone no longer practices their faith.

We don't seem to notice or even give an indication that we care when someone is walking away.

Frequently there isn't any response from us at all
Not even a goodbye
Not even we'll miss you

And in those rare moments when we do respond quite frequently we respond poorly.

We don't listen we just we judge.
We start talking before we even understand what has happened what the problem is.

Jesus didn't appear to the disciples and say something like…
"it's a sin to miss Mass"
"you are not a good parent because you don't bring your kids to Mass or religious instruction."

He loved them where they were and brought them to more.

And once they understood they were so quick to return and to share their joy and their experience of God's love

Holy ones… there a so many people on our campus who no longer practice their faith or who have never really been properly catechized.

In most cases they don't come to Mass simply because they have fallen out of the habit of doing so.
Or have no one to come with.

Their failure to attend Mass is not a rejection of God but maybe even a simple misunderstanding.

They are not bad people
There are so many people who no longer appear in our pews

What are we doing about it?
What have we really done?
How have we reached out?
How have we loved them
Cared for them ?
Listened to them?
Calmed their fears
Walk with them?

Someone once said that the Catholic understanding and practice of evangelization is printing the parish or campus ministry phone number in the bulletin and waiting for the phone to ring.

Sadly I fear that is often also our response to our brothers and sisters
Our dear brothers and sisters who have walked away from the Church
for whatever reason.

Somehow we just expect them to find their way home and we are disappointed in them when they don't.

Our Emmaus response to those who leave, to those who walk away is not the only the responsibility of the priest or the staff of the parish.

Yes we should be willing to help and we are
but this important task
has to be shared by very one who says Jesus is Lord

Lots to think about
Lots to pray about
So much to be done

Love demands it

Ask Jesus….


(Sorry it's a long one)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Beginning the day

In the early hours of the morning I think of you O Lord
-In the early hours of the morning I think of you O Lord

You are always there to help me
-I think of you O Lord

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
-In the early hours of the morning I think of you O Lord