Thursday, April 28, 2011


In a couple of weeks we will be leaving for pilgrimage to Medugorje.  My wife has been organizing and leading such pilgrimages for the past few years.

Now, if you would have told me ten years ago that not only would we be going to such a place but that we would return again and again--I would have laughed at you and promptly labeled you a wacko.
Years back when I was a Roman Catholic deacon--the assistant priest at the parish gave me a book entitled Medugorje, by Wayne Weible.  I thought he was playing a joke on me.  After all, I was the soon to be ordained "new-breed-of-open-minded-progressive-priest"--so I threw it away.

Many years later, my wife brought the book into our 'Episcopal home'
And the rest is a story soon to be published--(with an ironic twist of who is instrumental in bringing it to print)

Here are some pilgrimage correlations that I believe are applicable to the spiritual quest.
1.  Ultimately God calls you and wants you.
2. satan hates it....satan doesn't want you, what he wants is to keep you from God--it's all about pride remember?
3. The Mother of God wants you to be with her Son.
4. Again, satan hates it....satan doesn't want you, what he wants is to keep you from God.
5.  God's greatest work was you, the creation of your soul.
6. satan's work is not creative--in the end it is destructive and he will use any means to that end--ergo the many pings throughout the day just to keep your heart and mind from praying and working for God.

There is a direct correlation between the soul's desire for union with God and satan's nonstop pinging.

My wife could enumerate countless 'events' that accompany pilgrimage planning--Years back all the deposit money was lost in some overseas bank transaction,  plane reservations have vanished,  phone calls dropped, computers crashing--all surrounding pilgrimages.  How about this one---an unseasonable snow fall on the morning we needed to make the first connection--then in the midst of the drive finding out that the back doors of the van were open with all the luggage exposed to snow, slush, and falling out---funny luggage was lost--weird?  Pings.
My wife also has a prayer that she shares with those on pilgrimage reminding everyone that they are a pilgrim and not a tourist.  It is a remarkable prayer that is applicable to the spiritual quest--i'll have to find it for you.

Pieta--Michelangelo   St. Peter's Basilica Vatican City
If we approach the spiritual journey as a pilgrim and not some entitled tourist then we begin to live with virtue and the greatest model of a spiritual pilgrim is the Mother of God.

Oh, and by the way--satan hates virtuous living.

Be a pilgrim.

Monday, April 25, 2011

In the end...

A few years ago..when I was an Episcopal Priest my Bishop was the Right Reverend Robert Rowley (RIP 2010)  Together we shared not only the same Roman roots but Benedictine since we both attended St. Vincent's in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

The story goes that while I was learning all things Anglican I often times would confuse not only some of the words in the Eucharistic Prayers but also which Bishop I was supposed to be mentioning by name during the prayers of the people.  During one liturgy, with the Bishop present, I replaced 'Robert' with the name 'William'.  When I returned to my chair in the sanctuary--He leaned over to me and asked; "Did you just replace me with a dead Roman Catholic Bishop?"
"Why, yes I suppose I did. My apologies Bishop."
There was a moment of silence and he leaned over once more; "You know...he was once my Bishop too!"

I've been thinking of him during the past Triduum--especially when, in Matthew's Gospel account the angel rolled the stone away and 'sat on it.'

Bishop Rowley used to say;  "In the end, Jesus always wins."

On another note and in keeping with title of this blog PRAYLIUM
Here is a battle being waged--I am sure this will upset some readers--check it out it is worth it--

Harry Potter???

In the end...Jesus always wins.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday

It is Holy Saturday here in Pennsylvania--the middle of the Triduum.  I would care to take a break from sharing some of the hard truths and challenges of this blog and offer a glimpse into some personal past.

I like to fly kites--especially during the Triduum. It started years ago during my first year of priesthood.  I was on my way back to the parish following the renewal of my priestly promises at that morning's Holy Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.  I remember my bishop addressing the clergy following the Mass.  He was torqued about a guy who left the priesthood and was talking smack on us.  It was a great experience for a newly ordained.

Anyways, I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought a kite.
That afternoon I trudged into the barren field behind the rectory and the 1.99 event was launched.
It never came down until after my last Mass on Easter Sunday.
It became known as the Triduum Kite.

When I first left the priesthood and moved away--some kids from the youth ministry secretly left a kite on my wife and I's doorstep, rang the bell and left.

So today my lovely wife asked if it was windy enough to fly a kite.
I'm interested, but now I fear my son may be too 'old' for such a silly event.  Maybe I can talk my brother into it--two old farts tripping and running with string.

I love Easter.
--cause I know the rest of the story.

Imagine the disciples who didn't have the pieces we do.  Imagine.
Imagine Mary--who did know--but what of her sorrow?
Imagine those who witnessed his passion and death--and the darkness and the earth moving.
Imagine satan's surprise and hate when Christ showed up conquered death.

Yeh...things to think about as we take breaks during the Triduum and prepare for the Eternal Light to shine.

God Bless you and go fly a kite.

Hours later.......

So the kite flying...
The photos say it all.

Following the fish kite getting stuck in a tree, we grabbed an additional Justice League kite and moved to a nearby swamp. 
My kite suffered considerable structural damage, entanglement, and a cut string due to my brother's numerous attacks from his gecko kite.
I found two more trees and eventually with the help of my lovely wife and four dogs--lost the end of the string.  As I chased it---well the photo below shows the result.
The kite found it's forth tree--at which point my brother,(or as my son referred to him, 'the kite whisperer') walked over, picked up the end of the string--and, as if on cue, the wind picked the kite out of the trees.

Yeh playing in God's Creation and thankful for our Salvation.

By the keeping things light.... 
I've added another link to the sidebar.  It is a special link because it comes from some graduates of a youth ministry program that I was part of.  They are solid kids who have a ton to offer the world and our Church.  I ask that you say a decade of the rosary for them and their intentions.....God has plans for them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ping Time

  • Pastor questions very existence of Hell--Time Magazine current issue
  • Timely release of pop star's crap song about Judas
Why wouldn't marketing fire a big gun this time of year? 

Yep, days away from the Triduum and we have a million copies of a magazine promoting a book that questions the very existence of Hell. But this time it isn't some agnostic approach--it's Christian.

Here's an idea--Instead of spending time with Jesus on Holy Thursday night, why 
not hook up the ipod listen to a song about loving Judas and read a book about how you can be Christian and deny hell?  

Satan keeps pinging. 
It's simple.  Time the release of dark crap and get the people to focus on something else that will eventually leave them wanting more of nothing.

From the beginning of time Satan has succeeded in convincing people he doesn't exist and that we are on par with God.
There is no evil.
There are no consequences for anything.
Do what you want.
You are the only one who matters.

(By the way someone ought to have told Jesus this before he went into the garden that night some 2000 years ago).

Have a Holy Triduum everyone.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Forgiveness Part II

When I was an active priest I never went to confession enough.

I was formed during a time when psychology was over spiritualized and spirituality and sacramentology was over psychologized.
So confession was sometimes approached as a therapy session and there were priests who forgot about just offering the sacrament and decided to do armchair uneducated therapy sessions.  Perhaps they were victims of a pop psychological approach to priesthood--hopping on every new approach to holiness.  Truth is--a whole generation has gone unconfessed.

I never felt I needed confession until I was married and a father.

Confession isn't about you.
It's about God's love for you.
But we need to get little with it.
We need to make ourselves humble.  Humility squashes pride.  Pride is sin.  

You aren't being humble by writing sins on a piece of paper and secretly burning them or drowning them.  You need to speak the sins to another human being and the way Christ set it up 2000 years ago was to have Himself present through the priest to forgive and welcome you home.  

Why do we keep trying to get around that?  If you go down that road you go down the road of relativism--and then there is no sacrifice, no meaning, no forgiveness, no salvation--nice--go to the cafeteria and pick what fits you because religion and God is supposed to be all comfortable and cozy and no sacrifice.  Oh, I'm sorry is that a crucifix I see?

Okay abuses have happened, Lord knows inside and outside the confessional.  And there will always be excuses.

 "I had a bad experience when I went once before and so I just confess to Jesus"  --pride is keeping you away and we know who the king of pride is....
"They always hear them when I can't make it."--actually this one has a ton of credence.  I wish priests would spend just as much time in the confessional as they do in the other endeavors.  (no disrespect just an observation from an 'insider')

So it is Passiontide--time to be made clean in the blood of the Lamb of God.  No magic paper, no pretend confession in a mirror.  It is time to be humble.

(please check out the comment exchange below)


Years ago, in the midst of my diaspora, I was an Episcopal priest.  Now, for most Sunday Episcopalians there is the formation hour which falls between the two sunday services.  Ideally, it's a pretty neat set up when it works because it provides faith formation as well as liturgical celebration for all ages.Often I would use the time for teaching.  This was especially true at my last church since I inherited a rather low approach to liturgy and sacramental life.

I had just completed a six week series on the sacrament of reconciliation that included a psycho-social-scriptural-historical-personal witness-approach.  In one week it would be Palm Sunday and I was offering the sacrament of reconciliation during the upcoming week.

They were ready. They understood the origin and scriptural basis.  We discussed all the pros and cons and disected the famous "Why do I need to tell a priest?" argument (even though The Book of Common Prayer includes the sacrament).  They were ready.

Then came "the magic paper"

A parishioner held up a piece of paper and said: "Another way is to write your sins on this magic paper and then dip it in water and watch them disappear." 

I wanted to vomit.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pope Who Prayed for Me

The beatification of Pope John Paul II will occur on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011.

Six years earlier, on the night he died, I was on my knees outside a Roman Catholic Church--all alone.  People were inside the church praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

I heard over the loudspeaker in several different languages that the Pope died.
I knelt there, an excommunicated priest, and asked him to intercede for me, my wife, and my son.
Oh, and by the way the church was St. James in Medjugorje.

Totus Tuus
original oil by D Mendoza

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Fourth Station

The Fourth Station
Jesus Meets His Mother
Blessed Savior, your eyes meet your mother's and memories fill both your hearts.  " are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."  We give thanks for so great a love which bore you.  We give praise for so great a love which bears us.
Passion of the Christ movie

The above Station of the Cross meditation was written by my wife and I a few years ago during my brief tenure as a rector at an Episcopal parish.

I recall the stir that was caused when I replaced the 14 1970 poster board collection of social justice photos with traditional stations.  We also needed station booklets (for the 4 people who would attend) so my wife and I compiled and produced station booklets with scripture and prayers.

A couple of months later we went on pilgrimage to Medjugorje...and you know the rest of the story.

Yesterday I remembered this particular station while I lead youth and teachers on a day of retreat. The stations of the cross were large sculptures--certainly a lost art in many Catholic churches today.
We walked from station to station and took the time to just stare at the sculptures.  When we reached the fourth I asked them to just focus on the faces of Mary and Jesus.
After a short time a few of the kids dropped to their knees.

By the end of the 14th station everyone was on their knees.

Yeh.  Mary has a way of taking your hand.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Please pray for the youth and teachers I am leading in retreat today.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Flash Love

Last evening I watched the premier of a new show entitled; "Mobbed"
I have to share that I was a little choked up by the whole thing  (of course I didn't cry like my wife).

After all, it was nothing more than a televised marriage proposal.
But it involved:  hundreds of people, dancers, waiters, a marching band, music, friends, family, and (just in case she actually said 'yes') a bridal party and a minister from the state of California.

As a spectator I wanted to witness the surprise and joy and roller coaster of emotion.
I wanted the music and the dancing to be pure celebration.
I wanted the camera to stay on her and her fiancee.

Because it's just really neat to witness love and (hopefully) life long commitment.
People want to be taken into that moment, that point of life and love and truth and possibility.

Okay, that's nice--but let's go deeper.
In my 'old' days of priesting whenever I preached a wedding homily I often times asked the question, "Do you ever notice how couples begin to look like each other as the years go by?" 
(I understand the same could be said for dog owners and their pets)
My point being--the likeness that is shared is love.
The same is true with Christ, who is each soul's Bridegroom.
Lent is a good time to look in the mirror and see if you are looking any more like Christ.

It's nice to watch a show when love is happy and easy and exciting and full of surprises and marching bands.
You could sit and watch it forever.

But what of love that involves a cross?  People don't stick around for that.  Who was at the cross of Christ?  Mary the Mother of God, John, Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdala. (Gospel according to John)
Christ Crucified outdoor devotional St. James Medugorje
When the fullness of the way of love begins to reveal itself people shy away because it involves passion and suffering.  Even the possibility of resurrection seems remote when in the throws of suffering. 
Back to those couples who look alike--they probably resemble one another because they've shared in some suffering.

Yeh.  Mobbed was a neat show if for anything it had me thinking about love.