Friday, May 30, 2008


No one could have known
The Nazarene was Christus.
Too ordinary.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Mother's Prayers

Several years ago on the 700 Club, I listened to the testimony of a big, burly truck driver about his conversion experience. He was involved in a serious traffic accident and was clinically dead. He saw himself hanging by thin strings over a smoking, sulphurous pit. A voice from above said , "The threads that are keeping you from falling into the abyss are the prayers of your mother."

Every family has probably had one or more of their children stray from the foundational teachings that were inculcated while they were at home. It is a source of great concern for parents. But prayer is the only hope, especially the prayers of a mother.

You may be familiar with this story. The son in question hated his father, who found him a disappointment. As a teen, he belonged to a gang of thieves who wandered the countryside committing unspeakable crimes. But his mother prayed for her son.

He fled his home, taking a prostitute with him, with whom he fathered an illegitimate child. Though very intelligent, he failed out of several colleges and universities. Still, his mother prayed. In fact she prayed for over 16 years for his conversion, which occurred one evening when he happened to open a Bible and read the Gospel of Matthew.

Filled with the spirit of repentance, he wrote the following testimony of his conversion:

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new.
Late have I loved you.
You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unlovliness, I plunged into the lovely things
which you created.
You were with me but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you;
Yet if they had not been in you, they would not have been at all.
You called...You broke through my deafness.
You flashed..You shone..You dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me. I drew in breath
and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you; now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me and I burned for your peace...
I make no effort to conceal my wounds...You are my physician
I am your patient.
You are merciful; I stand in need of mercy!!

The errant son was St. Augustine of Hippo, who became one of the great philosophers and theologians of the Church. The mother was St. Monica. What if Monica had prayed for just 15 years, 11 months and 29 days? It was her perseverance and love that moved the heart of God. And so I encourage parents to pray for their children. God is especially touched by a mother's prayer. His Mother's prayer...Pray for us, Oh Holy Mother of God. Hear our petitions and our necessities, and deliver us from all dangers, Oh ever glorious and ever blessed Virgin Mary.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day

I want to express my gratitude to the Men and Women who currently serve in the US Military and my thanks for those who have paid the ultimate price:

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, May 23, 2008


God chooses to use
great and adverse winds to blow
us to safe harbor.

Bl. Charles de Foucauld

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bama's Old Cedar Chest

St. Eva the Good had determined that a yard sale was in order. I would rather serve 100 years in Purgatory than set up or go to a yard sale, but my help was enlisted, perhaps "mandated" is a better word.

And so on a beautiful Saturday morning, I found myself rummaging at the storage shed rather than mounted on my motorcycle. I do not know why I agonize over this, but I just hate to sort through old "stuff." My stuff or someone else's...It matters not. Box after box was removed to be opened and contents catalogued on the gravel driveway. And then I stumbled across it. Bama's old cedar chest.

My Mother, Bama as she was affectionately known by her grandchildren, was a notorious pack rat. When she got married in 1937, the first two pieces of furniture purchased were a bed and a cedar chest. Now, I could understand the bed, but a cedar chest? Why not a kitchen table.. a sofa or a chair? My father once said that Bama just had to have a place to store her "stuff." It was her treasure chest.

Once, I recall my brother Denny and I playing "hide n seek" in the house with Bama. He was three and I was seven. We searched everywhere for her. Now we had a small house: two bedrooms and just one bath. She was nowhere to be found. As a last resort, we went to the old cedar chest. With trepidation, we slowly lifted the lid. There was Bama, stretched out with her hands across her chest and a plastic set of Dracula teeth in her mouth. I think the spot where we stood took about a week to dry, and to this day, I cannot open the lid without expecting a surprise.

And upon opening her cedar chest on this bright and clear Saturday, surprises were still in store. I was overwhelmed with the things she so treasured. Letters and cards wrapped in ribbons..newspaper articles that I had written, along with reviews of my past theatrical endeavors, grade school works of art along with report cards which all too graphically showed she raised no scholars.

But then as we began to dig, we found the items that touch the most: pictures... those old pictures, ghosts from the past, that wring out a cascade of memories and the mist of tears. That's why I do not like to look through old "stuff." It's just too painful, especially when I found pictures of me and my first girl-friend, Anne Tucker, mugging like goof balls. Oh,the agony of viewing the ravages that time has wrought on that once thin, handsome and even innocent face.

It is unfortunate that future generations of treasure hunters in old cedar chests will be denied the "agony and the ecstasy" of viewing old photos, showing the faces and scenes of times past. One of the unfortunate bequests of the digital age is the fact that pictures are no more than "bips and bits" residing on hard drives or CD ROMS. Drives crash. CD ROMS? They will become useless, since they will be rendered technologically all of those 8 millimeter movies my Dad has. No projector exists today to play them.

So to satisfy future cedar chest explorers, make sure that you save a few things to reward their search...newspaper articles, 2nd grade art works and most especially printed photographs to visually illustrate the way we were and can never be again.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Pictures from Hubble
Shout Thy majestic "I AM"
And that "i am not."

Sunday, May 11, 2008


She looked like the proverbial "bag lady." Her unkempt hair, disheveled dress and grocery bag were the first things you noticed about her, causing me to feel most uncomfortable as she would slowly slouch past. But every day she was there for Mass at the Atlanta Cathedral. Rain or didn't matter. This street "creature" as she was called, occupied the first pew on the Gospel side of the church.

When I worked at Westminster Schools, I was able to frequently slip out and attend the mid-day liturgy. I always occupied the back pew, not to distance myself from the woman, necessarily, but I like to be know...just Jesus and me. Who cares about the rest of the pew sitters. After Mass, she would shuffle down the aisle on her way back to the streets. I, of course, would piously keep my eyes from contact with I said, just me and Jesus.

One fateful day, as she made her way down the aisle, I noticed that it appeared she was heading for my pew. "Oh, God, No. Please don't let her stop...," I ardently prayed. But the Holy Spirit had other plans. She stopped right next to me. I raised my eyes, perturbed that my "deep meditation" was being summarily interrupted. Of course, had it been the Archbishop, I would have considered it a great honor. But this was no archbishop.

I managed a somewhat supercilious, "Yes?" She looked straight into my eyes and said, "Do you think that you will persevere until the end?" She then turned abruptly and headed toward the exit. That was all she said but, for some reason, I was thunderstruck. I slumped back into the pew and tears began to fill my eyes. I had been addressed by a prophet, in the guise of a street person. The Holy Spirit was letting me know that I should forget appearances. His instruments are of His choosing. How do you think John the Baptist must have looked: dressed in animal skins, uncut hair due to his Nazarite vow, and a half chewed locust protruding from his lips? Oh God, how much Your ways are not our ways.

I cherish the encounter. I still think about it and I refuse to let her message go unheeded. Jesus warns us about being so self-assured and self-righteous that we might fall, eternally. "No one can call Jesus, Lord, except by the Holy Spirit," Paul tells us today. And by the Spirit I so call Him. But it must be a daily thing. Jesus must be Lord of my Sunday and then my Monday and then my Tuesday...until my last day. By the power of the Spirit I can persevere until the end. Paul's words will be mine: I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith. And this great truth I owe to an unknown and unlikely saint, with disheveled dress, unkempt hair and a Food Lion shopping bag.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Come Holy Spirit
Fill the hearts of your faithful
Enflame us with Love.

Our Man of Steel

We transferred Dyda to the rehab unit here at St. Joseph's. It was deemed by the powers that be that an ambulance wasn't required and he could sit in his wheel chair. If a person who is an amputee and paralyzed on his left side does not qualify for an ambulance, who on earth would? So Dyda was packed up and strapped to his chair for the eight mile journey. It killed me to see this. I never will forget the look in his eyes as the van doors closed and slowly pulled away.

After that trauma, he arrived at St. Joseph's. I had never been there but was most impressed by the facility and the staff. Dyda looked up from his bed and said "Home at last." It took sometime to clarify in his mind what the circumstances were.

His ticket home,said the therapist, was his progress in responding to the therapy. Dad loves a challenge and he began to lift his right arm and leg. "if that's what it takes, I can do it," he said.

Dyda is our man of steel. He is our family's Superman...a crusader without cape, perhaps, but no less strong and resolute. As I have written before, we could have had no finer model in our lives to demonstrate what it takes to be a husband...father..grandfather...greatgrandfather...a man of God.

Friday, May 2, 2008


God uses life's tragedies
To show us His love.