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strawberry-rhubarb and peach

17 Oct

The laid back, slower paced, always having a friendly smile and ready for some conversation people of West Milton love pies.


They really love their pies.


And so does this new West Miltonian. Knowing that tomorrow I leave for Rome, and that on my return on October 28 I intend to “get back on program,” so that I can get my belt loops back where I like them, I went to town and bought two pieces of pie to bring home with me this afternoon. The strawberry-rhubarb, I convinced myself, was for after Mass and after packing. Well, it was after Mass anyway.


The peach is for breakfast in the morning … after I pack.

pleading for long lasting justice

16 Oct

On the rear vision mirror of my car …

hangs the gift that I bought in Jerusalem and gave to my mother, which she called her “fancy” rosary, and which I gave back to myself when she died. Alongside it is the Jerusalem key chain that two teachers from Nablus gave me last Friday evening. Yes, that is the Palestinian flag and the Islamic Dome of the Rock.

On either side of my garage doors hang two flags: Palestinian and Israeli. They fly with heads bowed, both in grief over the daily violence in their land that we call holy.

This afternoon they are in agitation.

May they soon fly in calm and security, in long lasting reconciliation and justice.

we cannot stand in the field, but …

2 Sep

St Andrew adoration September 2

Even though at this moment we cannot literally stand with our “family” of the Catholic parish of Beit Jala, as we literally stood with them whenever we go to the Holy Land on pilgrimage, we stand with them liturgically and virtually.

This evening, Wednesday, September 2, the doors of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Milford, Ohio, open wide to anyone who would like to pray silently before the Blessed Sacrament for our family in Beit Jala. Around 6:30 p.m. there will be a rosary, prayers to Our Lady of Palestine and the closing hymn, “Jerusalem My Destiny.”

Although we cannot stand with them in the fields of the Cremisan valley, they will know that we support them at this time and that we are praying with them and for them.

The live streaming camera will be turned on at 6:00 p.m. Go to the St. Andrew parish website.  On the left sidebar, look for “Church Cast,” and click on “Watch our Mass online”

St Andrew adoration September 2 number 2

the first to clearly refer to it as such

13 May

Even though the Holy See has referred to Palestine as a State over the past year, this marks the first official diplomatic communication to clearly refers to it as such. 

have you anything here to eat?

19 Apr


A homily in back to back Masses can be the same and different.

At the 8 o’clock Mass there was a baptism. I made a reference to (mother) Marni feeding her child.

At the 9:30 a.m. Mass there was dismissal of a catechumen (or candidate, I was not and still am not sure) after the homily. Then I got carried away introducing the universal prayer and forgot the creed. Rutro!

The homily was the same – and different. God is good.

is your hope tall enough?

6 Apr

This is the question that I asked on Easter Sunday: “Is the candle tall enough?

This is the question that I ask on Easter Monday: “Is my hope tall enough?”

Keep Hope Be Hope 2015

he gets it, she gets it; God gets it, we get it

3 Apr

Good Friday wall 01

On Good Friday the wall behind our altar is noticeably blank. Something is missing. If one looks closely, one sees where the crucifix usually is. It is taken down to be carried in procession into church for the Veneration of the Cross during the Liturgy of Lord’s Passion.

Good Friday wall 02

Jesus knows suffering: physical suffering, emotional suffering, and spiritual suffering. He knew the pain of whips, thorns and nails. He knew the pain of betrayal and the pain of being left alone in agony. He knew the pain of feeling abandoned by God. He knows suffering.

When we go to him because we are suffering, physically, emotionally or spiritually, we know that he understands. He gets it!

Here’s how I tried to say that on Good Friday:

During the veneration of the cross our music director played a piece for the first here at St. Andrew, which was the first time ever that the piece was played and sung anywhere. The “Ave Maria – Woman of Sorrow” was written/composed by our Deacon, Timothy S. Schutte, at the death of Pope John Paul II. Good Friday is the one day of the year that the text and music is appropriate; it is meant for Good Friday. The piece joins the Annunciation and the Crucifixion, the conception of Jesus in her womb and the death of Jesus on his cross. As Mary stands at the foot of the cross in her overwhelming grief, she remembers and feels all over again her bewilderment when she was face to face with the angel Gabriel.

Ave Maria Schutte

The refrain is the words of the angel to Mary, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, and blessed are you” (in Latin). In the grief of Good Friday, Mary speaks, “My Heart pierced through, / my sorrow the sword. / His mission done, / my tears freely flow,” and then the line that connects this moment to her response to the angel, “Look what my ‘yes’ has done.” But then God speaks, “Oh fairest one, / do not despair /  your Son and Mine, Divine Heir / His love poured out, / My face you see,” and ends with a phrase echoing back to Mary her own words, “Look what your ‘yes’ has done.”

Here’s how our choir sang it on Good Friday:

In the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we pray, “Eternal Father, for the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

things I will miss (2 of …)

22 Mar


When I leave St. Andrew, I will miss the view from the presider’s chair.

As I sit down after praying the opening prayer at Mass, I look across the sanctuary toward the ambo. Lectors, like Ray, bow at the foot of the sanctuary steps toward the table of the Eucharist, and walk toward the table of the Word to proclaim the daily scriptures to us.

Their shirts do not always match the color of the bound lectionary, the book of readings, as they do in the picture above, but they are always standing beside the tabernacle and under the stained glass window of the Immaculate Conception.

Sometimes at the Saturday evening Mass the setting sun shines so brightly through that window that I cannot even see the lector or the lecturn, so blinding is the light coming our way through the “woman clothed with the sun.”

But always I enjoy the colors and the image of Mary with folded arms over her heart, an embrace that held Jesus as a newborn child at the manger and as the crucified savior at the foot of his cross: an embrace of motherhood, faithfulness and devotion.

It is heartening and encouraging to see her embrace of the Word, as we are trying to do the same.

Immaculate Conception 06

Yes, Ray, I will miss you, too

under my roof – not worthy

21 Mar

Ludlow Falls in winter

 Lord, I am not worthy

that you should enter under my roof,

but only say the word

and my soul shall be healed.

This is what we say before receiving Holy Communion.

We find these words (sort of) in two of the four Gospels, with a couple details differing.

In Matthew 8:7-8, the centurion comes to Jesus himself, asking for a cure for his servant. When Jesus says, “I will come [to your house] and cure him,” the centurion responds, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof [the roof of my house]; only say the word and my servant will be healed.”

The words in Matthew are closer to what we say at Communion, but the words in Luke are closer to what we mean when we say them.

In Luke 7:5-7, the centurion, being a non-Jew, sends elders of the Jews, maybe thinking that they will have a better chance at getting Jesus’ ear, and asks them to ask Jesus to come [to his house] to cure his servant. The elders tell Jesus that the centurion “deserves to have you do this for him.” But when the centurion hears that Jesus is coming toward him and his house, he realizes that he does not deserve to have Jesus do this for him. He sends his friends, people who know him better, that is, to Jesus to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof [the roof of my house]. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.”

Hmm. I do not deserve to have you do this for me. I do not consider myself worthy to come to you. I am not worthy to have you come to me. But say the word and I will be healed.

Lord, I am not worthy

that you should enter under my roof,

but only say the word

and my soul shall be healed.

I am not worthy to come under “his” roof: I am not worthy to walk into “his house,” to kneel in its pews and or to approach its altar.

I am not worthy to have him come under “my” roof: I am not worthy to have him in my house, where I live.

I am not worthy to receive him under the roof of my mouth in holy communion.

As I pulled into the driveway of my retirement home for the first time, I walked into the doors of my new place with a realization and a prayer: 

Lord, I am not worthy

that you should enter under my roof,

but only say the word

and my soul shall be healed.

Laetare learning

17 Mar

gas gauge

The trick is to rejoice over learning something that you think you should have known a long time ago.

Advent and Lent both have a middle Sunday on which the Mass vestments are rose-colored. Each has a “rejoice” Sunday half way through the season. The names of the Sundays are Gaudete and Laetare, I know. But which was which puzzled me every six months. When I mentioned that to a much younger priest friend, he said, “That’s easy. Lent starts with an ‘L’ and so does Laetare.” Forty years a priest and it had never dawned on me that it was that easy.

The trick is to rejoice over learning something that you think you should have known a long time ago.

I was in a rental car. Pulling into a gas station, I grumbled that I did not know what side the gas tank was on. My passenger said, “That’s easy. Look at your dashboard.” As I looked at him and then at the dashboard, “Do you see an icon, a symbol of a gas pump? Is there an arrow by the pump? Which way it is pointing?” When my thumb pointed to the left, he smirked. I had never known that.

Did I rejoice over learning something that I thought I should have known a long time ago? Not really. The first three people I asked, “Do you know how you can tell which side of the car the gas tank is one?” answered, “Yeah, there is a little gas tank on the dashboard by the gas gauge, and there is a little arrow …” I quickly learned something else – that I was not rejoicing over learning what I thought I should have known all along; I was looking to find someone who didn’t know  what I knew.

The trick is to rejoice over learning something that you think you should have known a long time ago.

A man was blind since birth. Wanting to see something that, literally, he had never seen before, he went to Jesus for the grace. Jesus gave him sight. Now seeing, he saw many things that he had never seen before, that he “should” have been able to see a long time ago. No doubt he also learned something about himself that he had never known. And he certainly learned something about Jesus who had been right in front of his eyes all along!

In  this Laetare week, if you ask God for the blessing, you might be given the grace to learn something about yourself or about God that has not dawned on you until this week.

The trick will be to rejoice over learning something that you think you should have known a long time ago.

The key is to rejoice, not to be disappointed in yourself that you never noticed it, not to be embarrassed because you think that you should have seen it or known it a long time ago. The key is to rejoice.

May God give you this Lenten week the grace of a Laetare learning.

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