Sunday, December 30, 2012

Just Don't Do It!

Is it that simple?

Just don't do violence if you want to stop it.

For sure.

If I don't want to pick a fight with you, I won't start one.

I change my mind.

And, when I change my mind, my way is changed.

I walk down another street, you may say.


Violence, like a snowball, is shaped with snowflakes rolled up in a ball, altogether, like violence.

It gets its energy from anger and hate that stems from within one's self.

There is no other way.

Either I morph, and, help mend the wounded in street or war violence, or, like a rolling snowball,
I add to the force of evil.

Take Chicago, for example.

500 dead this year.  That's the highest number of murders since 2008.

Portia Nelson's story seems like the way out.

When violence wants to emerge its ugly head, go down another street.  That way, one avoids ereuption emerging from within one's erupting inner life that is far from peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the land.  Jesus said that.

His own native land is wrought with evil violent acts now.

To stop the slaughter, one needs to walk another way.  "I am the way, the truth, and the life,"  Jesus also said.

He is the way.

I'll walk that way.

Will you go with me?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

+ Eternal Rest Unto Norman Schwarzkopf + + +

"Stormin Norman" was the affectionate name given to this respected  U.S. military General.

And Infant of Prague statue of Jesus that was dressed in glistening garb, adorned his bedside table in his tent, reports indicate.

A tough leader, Norm Schwarzkopf died in Tampa, Florida, recently.

I remember Father Richard Rohr, OFM, Cap., telling us on retreat about the image of Jesus near his bed while in war's theatre.

Such a simple, prayerful, powerful presence and reminder of God.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Season Through Mid-January

Christmas is like holy matrimony.  It's more than one day, or, the day of the wedding for the bride and the groom. 

Christmas is a season through Epiphany, and, the baptism of Jesus, the Savior, Christians revere.

A joy-filled time, believers relish the days of the Christmas tide.

At least, I do.

I catch up on inviting acquaintances, or, friends, over to my place for a home-cooked meal.

Little gifts are given to some, including my family.

And, a relaxed pace fills my being fully, it seems.

That's enjoyable.

The season merits twelve days of celebrating.

After all, God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son, as the Gospel of John, notes on placards and signage at ball parks across the globe.

Love is like that.

Good news, indeed.

In fact.

Long,  like a marriage that grows with deep respect for one's spouse.

Christmas season. 

I savor it.

Fresh, Father Time, As It's Called

We all like fresh bread and cakes.

At least, I do.

And, with the page of the calendar turning to 2013, I'm  trying to turn my heart with it.

That is to say, I'd like to ask forgiveness for an offensive story that had my name on it in The Oakland Press, and, The Daily Tribune.

You see, when I was growing up, my parents taught me to reconcile with them, and, my siblings, among others, before we arrived in our brown, Dodge automobile, at the late Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Detroit.

Only then were the car doors unlocked for us to tell our pastor our sins. Imagine nine of us sitting on a sibling's lap in that vehicle!

Formally, confessions are private and personal.  Yet, although that is not what I'm telling readers here, this revered parental practice that I was taught, means so much to me today, also.

I offended my editor, and, the family of the brother, among others, who I sat next to in the edifice at the final Mass on a Sunday afternoon, recently. His parent's names were written by him at the top of my pad, along with Madison Heights, as the interviewee's city of residence, only blocks away, he assured me, when I confirmed the name and city.  Wrong!

Boy, was that incorrect, even after I questioned him from my chair, pointing to the names he listed at the top, with Royal Oak crossed out when the parishioner told me he resides in Madison Heights.
My apology was accepted by a member of the family by way of an online media outlet, when I called the lone telephone I could secure since parishioner contact information records were "accidently deleted" at St. Dennis, admitted a receptionist at the merging parish in Madison Heights, MI.  What else could go wrong here, I thought.

Even though my editor told me on the telephone to forget this issue when we discussed it, it's an unhealed wound for me, given my Catholic practices. Resitution has to be made, I was taught.  And, when I was told I ruined one's reputation, I am all the more in need of seeking forgiveness.

Julie Jacobson is a well-known and respected journalist, and, city editor, who manages The Oakland Press, a major metropolitan daily. She challenged me to rewrite copy often. I learned a lot from her.

Roger Wingelaar, another former writer, and, Jacobson taught me how to write clear, succinctly, and, factually. But, I got this lone story wrong after a half-decade of submissions. It was flawed. I accept responsibility.  The buck stops here with this writer.

And, I own up the errors in the piece that offended alumni of St. Dennis School, readers, my editor, and, staff, among others, at the distinguished, The Oakland Press. 

I'm willing to meet face-to-face to seek forgiveness.  Is there any other humane way, despite digital media, or, the telephone that limps for this kind of reconciliation?

That meeting would honor my parents, also, who taught the seven of us youngsters how to ask for forgiveness, that, missing the mark, like the archer who aims poorly, although my error was far from intentional to qualify for sinful matter.

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Wish List This Christmas

That Sadeer Farjo's matrimony this April will be a lifelong blessing with his bride.

That Sacred Heart Church in Roseville, MI., continues to stand up, and, speak up,  to be a people's parish, like the pilgrim people of God.

That Ken Kaucheck stands tall once more as parishioners welcome him!

That the religious leaders take bolder positions to lift up Detroit, and, the vulnerable young, especially, in, and, outside the womb, among us.

That the poor find in me, and, others, supportive companions of the Gospel.

That children are secure in schools.

That 2013's fresh start stirs hope, and, aims to help the common good.

That Ray and Renia's 35th anniversary of marriage be a blessing to Jennifer, Matt, among others.

That this winter's weather be free of icy, dangerous sidewalks, especially for those challenged by nature's glassy ice.

That condominium boards be formed in how to serve beyond being self-serving leaders.  That they learn how to lead with rules and regulations applied to all, incuding themselves.  Is is true that condo boards everywhere are disruptive, and, problematic?

That education, and, growth, be a priority for me in new time.

That I keep praying, and, reading, regularly and daily.

That  Theology On Tap morphs and mends many in the metropolitan Detroit, MI., area.

That Woof, my snowy white, Bichon Frise, continues to be the gift he is for others, for me.

That the struggling, print media newspapers, find a buyer to keep a paper coming to my porch daily.

That good news is part of our culture once more.

That life continues to be a blessing.

That I look out for the lost and left out, among those pressed and packed at the bottom.

That the personnel problems of parishioners, ecclesiastical leaders, and, the pope imagine a way to thrive beyond clusters and mergers. 

That health, wellness, and, faith grip us all. 

That the Christmas season is celebrated through mid-January, and beyond.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

The mayor of Bethleham is pleased that all the hotel rooms are filled in that town where Jesus the Christ was born centuries ago. And, believers, are perhaps, even more glad to ring in "peace on earth goodwill toward all" in this time of national discord, school massacres, and more.

Although the economy is bad there in the Little Town of Bethleham, also, the first female mayor, is upbeat according to reports.

While, elsewhere, and, especially here in metropolitan Detroit, everyone wants in on a good party, it seems.  Amid the heartache and desolation, the calming consolation of "Silent Night" sings out in churches across the universeral Catholic world, along with other Christian edifaces.

"Hark the Herald Angel Sing" resounds with vibrant voices of hope-filled victory over vice, sin, guns, and, other weapons of mass destruction. How I long for this peace, even if for a moment in time!

Welcome aboard Jewish, among other faith tradition, including Muslims and their love of Mary.

A Huntington Woods, Michigan rabbi was wrapping gifts the other day when we talked on the phone about the January 21st observance of the birth of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with an 8:30 am breakfast and service at Unity Temple near Palmer Park and McNichols and west of the Woodward Avenue area in Detroit.  She steers the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network (DION), an intra and inter-faith coalition of diverse clergy, among other various faithful of all faith traditions, who aim to lift up Detroit and its young people, accoridng to DION's mission.

Saying "Merry Christmas," is a greeting that many of my acquantances who are leaders of Jewish, Christian, Muslims, and more,  repeat with a reverential respect these days leading up to tomorrow, Christmas Eve, the day before the observance of the Nativity, the anniversary celebration of Jesus' simple and humble birth by way of a maiden who "did not know man."  Talk about town tongues wagging about that mystery when Jesus seemed to quietly sneak into our reality, thanks be to God!

What is observed seems to fulfill prophetic and Bible beliefs about one who is to come to make straight the way.

At 10 pm Mass at Saint Thecla Chuurch on Nunelly near Groesbeck and Metropolitan Parkway in Clinton Township on Christmas Eve, deep feelings of faith will reverberate within me as I lead Christ's Mass, meaning, Christmas, there amid the faithful, and, in Hamtramck, MI., at 12 noon at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Church on Conant, north of Caniff on December 25th.

Little else thrills pastors more than serving parishioners these high, holy days.

A diverse population of accents will ascend into the Romanesque Hamtramck ediface with middle easterners and southern Asians, in what is, perhaps, the most enthnically diverse town in America where immigrants migrated to work at the Dodge automobile plant in this town the size of Harrison Twonship, where I reside.

Bells will ring as incense rises like smoke to fill the olfactory nerves of one's nose amid choir voices singing out "Ave Maria," and more. At the table of the Word, and, the altar of sacrifice, both feeding troughs like the crib of Jesus, the faith will flock, and, be fed. Later, parents, will present their youngsters, the size of the kindergarteners in Newtown, CT., to the Christmas crib of shepherds, angels, Magi and more.

For a brief moment in time, all will be calm and bright, perhaps, in a declared and respected cease fire filling the air in that ancient part of our world where many believe forgiveness, peace and healing was originally born.

Light shines.  And, a star is born.

I'll pray that we heed the plea of this new-born King, this Jesus who is "the way, the truth and life," that is not a metaphor, but a reality, yet to guide and grip us in a firm embrace.

Following that, my family will feast on turkey, ham, and, a hearty meal.  Stories will be shared.
And, some oplatek, a thin wafer of bread, an ancient Polish practice, will be broken as we greet one another with "Merry Christmas" that runs through mid-January, 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Print Media Struggling

Months ago, a parishioner who works for The Detroit Free Press told me before Mass one Sunday evening that the Freep was buying the bankrupt Journal Register Media, including The Macomb Daily, and, The Oakland Press, among other local, sister papers.

Late tonight, I heard that the Journal Register will be auctioned off to the highest bidder in January.

The Oakland Press re-invented itself with a journalism laboratory, citizen journalists, and more.

As a citizen journalist myself, I learned a lot about writing a news story.  For example, Roger at The Oakland Press told me to write down everything I wanted to tell readers about at any event I was covering.  Note the opening sentence, with all else following in separate paragraphs with tansitional devices and a summary of the story in the final sentence.

Mistakes happened. 

Life is like that.

Yet, I learned from them.  For example, when I asked the guy sitting next to me at Mass to jot down his name at St. Dennis Church in Royal Oak, MI., he must not have heard me, since he wrote down his parent's names, and, all his siblings in the order of birth.

It was too late when I figured that out, and, a complaint was made by this guy's brother.  He wasn't at church that Sunday, nor did he call me when I left a voice message, although he did accept my apology.

I asked the subject sitting next to me for his city of residence, and, he pointed to Madison Heights nearby as I pointed to it, confirming that the names at the top were his, as I assumed the gal sitting next to him was related since she chimed in also.  Again, I think he had a hearing problem but would not admit it.  What a blunder.  I quoted his deceased parents in the paper,in fact.

The brother was upset, but, I didn't hear back from the guy I interviewed for a story about the final Mass at St. Dennis Church. His brother seemed to challenge the error.

Live and learn.

I'll miss The Oakland Press, and, the front page stories I wrote for it, and, for The Macomb Daily.

What the future of Journal Register is, I do not know.

I bet the Free Press is the highest bidder, however.

It could use some subscriptions as its sales dwindled since a nasty strike decades ago.

I wish the editors and reporters at the Journal Register well. May they find employment.

It is a tough time for print media.

And, for employment.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Newtown Victims Get Shrine Dedicated to Them from Care of the Soul's All Faiths Festival

Hearts are broken.

Even the yellow smiley face baloon secured on a string near a makeshift shrine for the "angels" has a band-aid on its left cheek. That's hopeful thinking for survivors who prayed Tuesday in front of the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Roseville, MI., with an Advent Tea following for all at the interfaith service.  The Care of the Soul and Companions' All Faiths Festival hosted the event marking 23 days of preparation and anticipation of God's light before Christmas Day when believers hold that Jesus the Christ was born in Bethleham, near Nazareth where he grew up in a troubled Palestine then, and now.

Like a litany, the list was read for 26 people, the participants in the prayer service, called, angels.

The killer, and, his mother, were also remembered as the group sang, "Silent Night," and "Hark
the Herald Angels Sing."

At Gratiot and Utica Road, cars honked as they joined in the prayer, it seemed, December 18, 2012.

The "Our Father" was prayed, while media bolted for comments for the early aftenoon news that dark, wintry day of 36 degrees.

Faith, and, its inner resource, will see the parents, siblings, teachers, and Newtown, CT, residents through this horror of a massacre with an assault weapon that killed 20  5-6-year-olds in Sandy Hook Elementary School last week Friday.

More flowers, a butterfly, and candles adorned the shrine on Wednesday as caregivers maintain it through Christmas - the Nativity, when Jesus the Christ was born centuries ago in the greatest story ever told in the Bible.

"Let the little children come unto me," words from the Christian Scriptures in Matthew's Gospel, said by Jesus, were noted on a sandwich board sign, and read by mother and grandmother, Linda Beaumont of Madison Heights, MI.

A procession of passersby frequent the shrine daily now. A teddy bear or two crowd the sign that notes in bold, black letters:  26 Angels.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

And, God, help us with this nation's obsession with weapons of mass destruction. Are the words of Jesus that those who live by the sword, die by the sword, words  I believe in personally?

I do.

Other groups, including a metropolitan interfaith council of clergy and citizens, incldug Victor Beggs, and Robert Brutrell, plan a remembrance vigil for tonight in Beverly Hills, MI., on the west side of the metropolitan area.

Hearts are broken everywhere.  They hurt and ache for the little angels. 

We are literally dying over guns.

God help us in our insanity, and, the out-of-control gun cartel in this country I so love.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Principal Protected, Shielded Her Students

She didn't save her life.

The principal at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT., allegedly ran toward the killer in her attempt to protect her students.  She died in the fray.  And, did what she had to to protect her students.

She lost her life.

And, laid it down for the sheep to use the metaphor Jesus uses as told by the Gospel writers.

Lose your life to save it, the Good Book says.

She did just that.

Her sacrifice follows the Christian guidance of Jesus, the New Testament, or, Christian scriptures distinguished shepherd.

What a way to exit, that is, to shield the sheep, as it were, when trouble and evil lurks.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.

A remarkable and impressive woman.

I am heartborken over the action she took to try to stop the killer.

She lost her life to lift the life of others.

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Family Is Fractured

When a family member dies, a father is affected. 

At least, this one, affectionately called, "Father,"  is indeed touched and poked with pain when parishioners perish.

Profound pain at the loss of the innocent lives.  26 of God's creations gone now.

Moms also are clearly left with grief also.  A lot of it.  A parent's nightmare.

Little lambs of God.  And older angels, servants of these youngsters and society.

I'm angry.  And, more.

Protecting families rests on parents, and adults.  After all, it does take a village to raise a child.

As youngsters, my sisters and brothers would fall down the stairwell of our two-story, aluminum-sided home on Detroit's east side near the City Airport, not far from Lynch Road and Van Dyke.

At times, I'd fall into the radiator on the landing where another dozen steps awaited my footsteps.

Once upon a time, I recall crying only after my dad picked me up from another fall in that stairwell.  When he swooped  me up into his arms with a prompting from my mother, I weeped.

Not before when the bruise first afflicted me. 

Now, in dad's hands, however, I felt safe. 

Very safe.

Safe enough to cry.

Perhaps it's that way wit the 20 youngsters now. And, the six adults, teachers, a counselor, their principal.  They're safe now.

Yes, safe in the arms of God.  Away from the harm, and, at times the culture of death that is consuming us in its doubt, despair, even the denial about this land's attachment and obsession with guns killing our kids, and more.

My kids.

It seems that few civic and clergy leaders, let alone police chiefs and other first responders, want to begin a national conversation about guns.  Why not?

Will it require some change?

To do more, to morph, in fact, to keep my kids safe and secure.

Perhaps, now, they will.

Hopefully, they'll join me Tuesday Dec. 18 at 12 noon at Roseville, Michigan Sacred Heart Catholic Church for an interfaith vigil to remember.  To feel the grief.  To act. And, to be together once more when these national tragedies are as common as blwoing one's nose.

The litany list of victims will be read.  Names of my family.  My kids.  Their father."

We'll sing the hymn, "Silent Night."

We'll be family.  Yet, a fractured family wanting to do more to protect children, among others.

We'll pray.

We may look up now, knowing  that more angels are watching to tell us we need to do more when it comes to gun control in this nation I love.

"We can never do enough for families," noted the late and loved, Cardinal John Dearden of Detroit, a shepherd, one who enjoyed being called, "Father," also.

After all, he was.

Like myself.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

We're Wired for Love, Meaning, Purpose, Gratitude

The fabulous four, I call them:

1)  Love:  We're wired for love and charity.  It's in our DNA.  War is not what we're made for, yet more energy is placed in fighting, it seems, than in loving, lifting up life in charity.  We pray for peace, and pay for war, go figure!

2) Meaning:  It comes from reaches out and looking out for each other; from getting to know one another on our street, next door.

3) Purpose:  Why did God make me?  To know, love and serve God.  Without a purpose, people perish.

4) Gratitude:  A grateful heart is a hopeful and healed heart.  It is.  Really.  An attitude of gratitude is a pure prayer.  Single-minded beyond a double-mind.

The fabulous four.  They are. 

Really, for me, perhaps for you?

Dear Principal, Children, and Others in the Horror in Newtown, Connecticut

Dear Principal, Children, Other Victims of Violence in Newtown, Connecticut:

Saying I'm sorry seems so little to say in the death you experienced earlier today. 

It seems that your lives were so full and lively with an eagerness to excell and study well.

When Americans are attached to nearly 300 million guns, some conclude that it's useless to try to turn the tide with gun control. 

In fact, this month's, The Atlantic, published a piece by Jefrey Goldberg, "The Case for More Guns (And More Gun Control)." 

See what I mean?

As you were silenced, I prayed for your peace, and, that of your families and friends who grieve your deaths.

I am sorry that I have not stood up more assertively to try to help close the loop with the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004 and was not renewed.

There are some who think that more guns will help us thwart off gun carriers who explode with rage, for example, as the 20-year-old, seems to have done on the taking of your precious lives. 

Each week in the Thumb of Michigan's heart, there is a city that hosts a market on Mondays.  My brother, Bob, said that many guns are sold there without any ordinances for registration or clearance to check with buyers are not mentally ill.

Even some police chiefs I know in the Detroit area told me that some countries that allow citizens to carry guns have less crime.

So, if I had a gun and was a teacher in your schoool, and, I used the gun on the killer, that would help solve our solution to gun violence in America?

I don't know.

What I do know, however, is that when people are asked to enter a local and national conversation about limiting assault weapons, few attend meetings.

In your memory, however, dear sisters and brothers, (not that it will change the horror and bring you back to life), citizens, clergy, and others will be meeting Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm for about an hour or more in the Saint Clair Shores Public Library at 22500 Eleven Mile Road at Jefferson, to re-ignite the conversation.

I know it's too late.

Yet, I hold out hope to help, to not let your lifes go in vain.

Even a poet, chimed in centuries ago, saying, "So late, ever so late. . .

It is late. Is it too late?

Is there turning back the tide of the escalating numbers of guns, and, especially assault weapons?

Like others, I doubt it.

We will have to learn to live with guns in this nation. How strange that we cannot learn to live with each other without violence.  People will need to be trained to respect guns.  Similar to young people, among others, being taught to respect sexuality. 

I am so sorry about what has happened to you today.

I am even more sorry that I doubt that anything will change. We just way for the next rampage, and, move on days later without a conversation about imagining ways out of this dilema.

The next outrage of gun violence will bring about the usual repsonses.

Turning the newspaper's page, yawning, commenting, or . . .

Even dubbing it as "normal" will be the battle cry of some.

Normal as blowing one's nose.  That's how deeply embedded is violence in this land that I love.

Eternal rest grant unto you, and, let perpetual light shine upon you all.

What Jesus was to have said seems so fitting in our culture whre guns are so present.

Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.  I don't mean you personally, but a nation that lives by violence.

Will we?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Unresolved Disagreements

Recently, an unresolved issue, emerged again, as it has repeatedly.

There's little else that grows dangerously harmful for unity in the workplace, or, other systems, for that matter. Disunity spills over, as, this case I refer to, does.

In fact, as the problem was faced, they were no follow-up.  Frustration finds its way into one's self, one's roots and relationships.

Consequently, bitterness explodes.  Feelings are hurt.  Communications are unclear, an axe to grind stays current, even cynical, so to speak, and, failure in intent abounds.  Gossip follows for sure.

When a team works together, it shows.

And, marketing morality makes the system, the team, the synagogue, the family, the school, the church, the neighborhood, the business, or, the mosque, flourish and thrive.

People are pleased with clarity and crispness of thought.  Aims and goals are front and center.  Team spirit soars also.

Unity, oneness, not sameness, singlemindedness beyond double-minds, is contagious. Witnessing unity attracts others to want to join, be part of the team, the system, even a family.

To be one is a mark of the church. 

One, holy, Catholic, and apostolic are the four marks of teh Catholic Church.

They're aims.  They're goals like stepping on the rungs, or, objectives, to get to the top of the ladder.

Trust enters.  It takes time, however, among individuals, and groups.  When a new members comes in, others have to move over, and, be open to the novice.

Otherwise morale limps.

How blessed are the single-minded. . . the Good Book notes.

Things get done in singleness of mind.  Double-mindedness defeats the spirit of the team.

Sin is like that.  The "harmatia," missing the mark, is when the Israelites, for example, were in exile.
They were not at home.

No union and unity.

They were homeless, then.

Not being at home, causes distress with the team, or, the family.

A culture of unity is the product of giants, of legends we become as managers, parents, bosses, or pastors and principals for others to emulate.

It is rare.

Yet, unity is possible.

"That they may be one," was the prayer of  God in the Gospels.



How sweet it is when witnessed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

National Conversation

Clergy personnel are protesting the proposed gun legislation that is headed for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's desk.

The gun conversation and the fifth commandment merits serious debate.

Detroit area Police chiefs have told me that they prefer pemitting people to have guns and assault weapons as some countries allow.  Local chiefs seem to conclude guns by all deter criminals.

Go figure.

Solving conflict by other less deadly means is what I'd market by way of ethics and morality of the great commandments to love God and neighbor.  Imagination is short here it seems on this issue.  Weapons of mass destruction seem to be the easy way out.

I am confounded by the lack of leadership to seriously sit down to resolve this gun battle before the next outrageous slaughter at a mall, or, other places people gather.

If I sat in the back of the theatre in Colorado, for example,  with my own assault weapons and shot back at the armed criminal shooting at people watching the movie, would I be arrested?  Would I be considered an accomplice?

Serious heads and hearts need to gather to talk as human lives continue to be snuffed out by the minute in this nation that knows better.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Christmas Tale

The young lad wrote down his 'to-do' list.

That is, the gifts he expected from God, or, St. Nick.  Whoever responded fast and first was OK with him.

A bicycle.

That was at the top of the list.

As was his praying daily to God.

Why the bike wasn't coming, he wasn't sure.

So. . .

After everyone left church one Sunday afternoon.

And, after another prayer for that shiny Scwinn bicycle, he stepped up to the sanctuary.

There, he has a word or two with Mary, the tall, blue statue depicting the Mother of God.

And, the icon for Catholics.

The one they go to when all else fails.

Well. . .

He carried her home, and, put her under his bed.

An hour later, he prayed for that bike again.

"God," he shouted.

"It's me again.  I want that bike for Christmas.  I got your mother!"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Saint Nicholas Checking Who Is Naughty or Nice

He is.


Saint Nicholas is the saint who would be Santa Claus.

He's a link with the gift of charity - love - that is Christmas.

A special St. Nicholas Day cookie, called speculaas, is eaten and shared by all in
Belgium and the Netherlands this day.

These customs, like so many, merit preservation and passing on to families everywhere.

Today is the day, December 6th, parents often put a gift into their children's  shoes, recalling why all those presents are purchased these twenty-three days before Christmas, December 25, a time and season called Advent.

Advent is an adventure anticipating, preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ in Bethleham.

And, St. Nick's was brought to this land by German and Dutch immigrants, among others.  He traded in his pointed hat - a miter a bishop wears - and a shepherd's staff - a crosier - for a cap and white, fur-trimmed dashing red suit.

The practice began in Germany and the Netherlands  where youngsters hoped to be declared nice, not naughty by this churchly-dressed, "Sinterklaas."

Nicholas, santa's name, combines the Greek words for, "people" and "victory."

Legends loom large about good ole Saint Nick who makes many happy this day.

Monday, December 3, 2012


What is it?

What does it look like? 

Who is holy may be a better question.

Whole.  Holy.  Wholeness.  Holiness.


Connecting daily seems to be a fruit of holiness.

Visiting multiple times a day with the Creator may well be holiness.

Such centering and focus gives way to fruits showing themselves in rapport with others, the stranger, the immigrant, the lost, the oppressed, the incarcerated, the pressed down, the home-bound elderly one, the jobless, the foreign faces we fear. 

All of them.

Fear flees in connection with the Maker.

It does.

Spontaneity in engaging and reaching out, reaching down, and, lifting up the vulnerable everywhere.

Is that holiness?

Urgency and ardor amid a digital culture that engages media to mount an offensive for showing the face of God in the "Good News" always and evrywhere we are planted.

Powerful Pentecost and Presence will fuel the evangelizing with a fresh and lively approach.

This holiness begins within.

Where all love, and, the Kingdom of God lives, as Jesus said.

The Kingdom of God is within.


It starts here inside in one's soul - the spiritual heart of one's living temple, and Body of Christ.

Giving God's face away in one's own.

Is that holiness?

From Hostility to Hospitality

The courtliness of Francis of Assisi, Italy tells of queens and kings.

Each person is considered to be precious as royalty.

Courtesy comes from the word, courtliness, acting as in the courts of law.

Cultural shifts find this society moving from hospitality.

An air of hostility and contentiousness pervades, it seems to me.

Go figure.

A rabbi told me once of a quote from a learned scholar and biblical commentator who was also a rabbi.  He was to have said that how we look at someone, or, something is how we perceive it.

How true.

Fresh looks matter beyond stereotypes made of people met.

From hostility to hospitality is a global shift, even enormous.

It takes presence, listening, and charity as strong as love for people.

To be really present, as a presence, like the Presence!

Imagine that.

The Advent days for believers are an adventure in hospitality.

Like that of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth in Palestine.

They were happy to visit.

With fullness of presence they were there for each other. Fully, consciously, actively enthused!

And, the baby in mother's womb leapt for joy, say the Scriptures.

With enthusiasm. A wild kind of joy, it seems.

The word, enthusiasm, means, God within! There's a vitality, an ardor, a fresh engagement.

Providing a space, even a womb, for others this season -- that could be a challenge if
the practice of hospitality is rare.

It gets easier each time one is welcomed, and paid full attention in visitations.

It's a movement from a hostile culture, at times, to hospitality, Presence, presence.

Truly a gift.  Such dignity shinng forth in conversations with family, acquaintances, and more.

A Christmas greeting, a gift.

Visits like that of Mary and Elizabeth this Advent season loom large for people, witnesses, guests, and visitors.

Guess who's coming to dinner?