Day 14 of Advent: warm the frozen

13 Dec

Frozen Princesses 01 Fr_Rob+Frozen_Princesses_396_St_A_Wntrfst2014_Cmprsd - Copy


yummy or yucky?

7 Jun

9 yummy or yuckyHOPE Pilgrimage 2014

June 5 – June 6
Picking up some mom’s role in my life, “the girls” (my two sisters) sent me my yearly poem, not as terrible as mom’s, but close, on my 39th anniversary of ordination. They also gave me mom’s pre-pilgrimage warning, “Don’t ride any of those busses!”

Mom couldn’t come to the airport, but the other “Izzy”did. She was born on the date of my mother’s death and named Isabelle and called Izzy, just like my mom, even though I did not even know her mother and even though her mother did not even know my mother existed, when little Izzy was born. This Izzy came to the airport to see her grandmother off, but, after hugs and photos with her grandma, had an extra hug, from her, and vicariously, from my Izzy, too. Izzy likes stuffed animals, so she asked her grandmother to bring back a stuffed Jesus for her. When she was told that this might not be possible, she said, “Well, then, bring me a stuffed Mary holding Jesus.” I’ll see what we can do for her.

My first “forget” was the ribbons I had cut into 18 in pieces, two for each pilgrim, to be tied to our suitcases for easy identification, when our bags come around the conveyor belt at baggage claim, at least we hope they all show their happy faces and make our faces happy.

It looked like we were going to have our flight from D. C. delayed, and a visit to the gate agent seemed necessary to see if could still make our connection at. D.C. for Dubai. Two pilgrims offered to go as back-up. I said that we could hold off on the threesome, until I found that reinforcements were needed, “Let’s play good cop, bad cop – and terrorist! Oops, not a could choice of a third word at an airport.

For our first prayer together before boarding our first plane, I had pulled off my “Hat’s Off to the Spirit” blog post: the Holy Spirit prepares us, anoints us and sends us, in our meekness and in our weakness.

Flight to Dubai was real long, a long 13+ hours. I thought of a good reason to live in the Middle East: I wouldn’t have to make the flight back to Milford. The extra fee for an aisle seat with no one in front of me, that is, with lots of room for my legs to stretch out, was worth it, but the flight was still long! Especially bad so was the so-called breakfast. I chose the turkey and cheese sandwich over the vegetarian option. Jonah, the son of the daughter of friends of mine, would not have had any hesitation answering the question that is asked often of him at table, “Jonah, yummy or yucky?” The last time I flew to the Holy Land, I was mysteriously bumped up to first class. Now there was a breakfast. Oh, what a difference a curtain can make in an airplane.

On the flight a chatty, chatty, chatty row-mate said, among the many, many, many things he said, that he studied all the religions of the world, and he concluded with, “When it comes down to it, they are all the same,” I was disappointed in myself that I did not have a good 30-second airplane, Pope Francis-type response, to say something about what they say about God is different, and about Jesus in particular, and about what they say about relationship with God is different. Maybe by the next time someone offers that same conclusion about their study I will be ready to do a quick advertisement and recommendation for Catholicism.

From the air on arrival in Dubai we saw what someone said was the tallest building in the world. “Downtown” Dubai looked very small from the air, and totally surrounded by extensive, rough desert. Cutting through the desert was a huge highway, was it four or six lanes, each way. Crying out loud, in the desert, how is that for “a highway for our God?” If only for me and my pilgrims God could cut through to us that way by way of the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, possibly using a fourth and fifth lane: the land and the people. May we also find our swift and safe way to God using the same 4, 5 or six lanes.

When I get the email-photo from Christy, I can show you something from the Dubai duty-free store that I could suggest that the people of St. Andrew can give me as a parting, retirement gift.

I was disappointed that I could not get a Dubai Starbucks gift mug for my friend, Paul. The Starbucks was in the other terminal! That was a disappointment for me. What was not a disappointment was the coffee and pastries at the “Costa” coffee counter with Cathy and Judy, enjoying “A” day with kindergarten teacher Michelle: Cathy with the “airplane” figure stenciled in cinnamon on top of the foam in her cappuccino, me with an “apple” custard muffin, and Judy sawing that she was sitting on her “a word that we do not type in polite company.”

We have laughed about how terms like “riding shotgun” and “photo bomb” sound different in the Middle East.

What a treat it was to have our friends Hanan and Ranim (and her fiancé Amer) meet us at the airport when we came out into the welcome area. Ranim is one of the Palestinian 8th grade students who visited us in Milford ten years ago. She is now 23 and graduating from medical school this month in Jordan. She and Amer drove an hour and a half to the airport just to greet us and spend ten minutes in our company before we had to get on the bus and get everyone to the hotel. It was late and we had spent 26 hours on our journey here. My second “forgot” was that I did not think of the gifts that I had in my suitcase for Ranim. But I will see her parents in Beit Jala, so I can leave them with her mom and dad. Hanan, a doctor of another kind, is a professor at the American University of Madaba. Hanan came to Cincinnati last October with the group of educators from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. She will come for dinner with us at the hotel tomorrow night, and take everyone out for hooka afterwards.

My goal on this pilgrimage is to help provide for each pilgrim what each one desires or needs: that place, that photo, that gift. I must remember to tell all of them tomorrow that they can be selfish for two weeks. The group is filled with caretakers. This time can be a time for them to be appropriately selfish for fourteen days.

Provide for each, that picture, gift, place – that is my goal.


“Kissing the Face of God” by American painter Morgan Weistling

21 Dec


made “on the hill”

23 Nov


… and the homemade coffee cake, made “on the hill,” as they say here at St. Meinrad Abbey, didn’t hurt the situation either.


here comes the sun

23 Nov


Just when I thought that I had made a mistake coming here – rainy and dreary since I arrived, the one thing I brought to read is not doing the trick, no great desire to pray or be quiet (or to stay away from email), bored, even agitated – just when I thought I should pack up and go home … there is sun!


lost (and) found in Loogootee

21 Nov


If you are ever lost in Loogootee, Indiana, find in this restaurant a fine buffet of Amish recipes. In the gift shop I also found Uncle Osgood’s popcorn on the cob. If that were not enough, I think I might have found how I can keep busy and do good, when I am no longer in full time administration of a parish. Across the lake from the restaurant is a St. Mary’s Catholic Church. I wondered how a priest out in nowhere can ever get away on vacation or retreat. Where does he find priest help to watch over the parish while he is gone? I could help with that!


on its way to Pope Francis

24 Jul

SCROLL letter from Nuncio to Father Angi


chocolate and bananas: 14 hours later

24 Jun


The prayer cards and chocolates given to all at Sleman’s ordination and first Mass will make simple (and for me, cheap) souvenirs for the my parish staff. I noticed in the unpacking that the chocolates are “Queen’s Chocolates.” That goes well with the image on the front of the prayer card. Waiting for me at the airport in Cincinnati after my 14 “flying hours” in the plane(s) was my friend Susan. In the car with her she had ham and cheese and bread and milk and bananas and eggs, so that I would have at home something to eat that I like to eat I when return home. The care and affection that I have in my life is much more than I deserve. Susan took me home, put the stuff in the refrigerator, reminded me about supper at their house the next day, on Sunday, for which she was going to make peach pies, my favorite, to celebrate my birthday with the family. Am I blessed or what? After a ham and cheese sandwich, I plopped on my bed with the intention of taking a quick nap, and wound up spending 14 hours in bed. Even though the hours in sleep equaled the hours in flight, my body and mind are still a bit disoriented. But I do have a piece of leftover peach pie to help remember where I am and what I have here! As, with this post, I end this journal of my journey to Fuhais, I am a grateful man.


brain and kidney

24 Jun


For my last supper in Jordan and the last one of the whole trip itself, we went to a traditional Jordanian restaurant, I was told. When Suhail asked me what I would like to eat, I asked him to order me something “traditional.” He and his friend went round and round with the waiter. To the table came the multiple and tasty salads and what we would call appetizers. Then three plates of what I did not recognize. One was a layered variety of meats, thin bread and sauces. Suhail called it Jordanian pizza. And then this, “Here, you will like this. It is very delicious. and it is special.” When I asked what it was, it was “very delicious, very special.” After a couple mouthfuls and a second helping, “Do you like it? Do know what it is?” It was grilled, slightly mushier than chicken. “Is it brain?” “Yes, sheep brain, it is delicious, isn’t? It is a special Jordanian dish?” Then it was, “Do you know what this is?” “Liver?” “Yes, lamb’s liver, very delicious. You will probably want to scrape all of the spices out that are stuffed in the livers; the spices are very hot. The kidneys are very delicious … and good for you, too …. good for iron … they are very, you guessed it, delicious.” You have heard of the suggestion, “Eat first, ask later?” That may depend on your sensitivities. I made sure that, when I got to the airport, I popped in a couple of those pink pills.


Virgin Mary

24 Jun


This is the more recently constructed “center” in Fuheis, dedicated to the Lady.

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