June 11, 2017

Trinity Sunday, First Mass of a New Priest

A friar who was ordained to the priesthood yesterday invited me to be the preacher at his first Mass. Here's the homily I gave.

(Trinity Sunday, A)

When I was a new priest—and had even less good sense and tact than the precious little I have now—I used to say that one of the benefits of becoming a priest was that you didn’t have to listen to any more Trinity Sunday homilies.

You know; they can be brilliant, but sometimes, not so much. It goes something like this: God is three, God is one, it’s a mystery, you can’t really understand it…please stand for the Creed.

And this is unfortunate; this business about ‘you can’t understand’ the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. We cannot have a full comprehension, of course, but this doesn’t mean we can’t have some understanding. In fact, all of us who are Christians can have some understanding of this great mystery, precisely because we have all had an experience of the Blessed Trinity.

To get at what I mean, let’s turn to something we all know well: Christmas. What is Christmas all about? As we read in the gospel of St. Matthew:

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. (1:18)

June 7, 2017

A Prayer For My Dead Confessors

One of the standard activities of a visit to our place in Yonkers is a trip to the friars' cemetery to remember and pray for our dead.


This is the section where the friars have been buried since I joined the Capuchins. When I was a postulant we were on the back row. A few others who have died since then are buried elsewhere.

I prayed a special gratitude for those friars who had been ministers of the mercy of God for me in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That is to say, my confessors.



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

Requiescant in pace.

May 4, 2017

Blessed Solanus Casey

Today in the daily Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office there has appeared the awaited news that Pope Francis has authorized the publication of the decree to recognize the miracle attributed to the intercession of our own Fr. Solanus Casey.

Of course I'm happy about this as a Capuchin, and as a member of one of the Provinces of the Order that descends from the one that Solanus, then called Bernard, had joined back in 1897. But I'm also grateful in a personal way.

At the beginning of my postulancy with the Capuchins we made a visit to Fr. Solanus's tomb in Detroit. I remember praying for his intercession as I began this new, Capuchin phase of my Franciscan journey.

More recently, I have been happy to be helpful on the peripheries of his cause for beatification. I have translated emails and been a communication go-between for our friars in the USA and the office of the General Postulator here at the Capuchin General Curia in Rome. Though I must confess that I wasn't a great success at this, I did some translating of pathologist's reports from English into Italian with regard to the investigation of the miracle attributed to Fr. Solanus's intercession.

Today I am happy to see that things are official, and the way forward to Fr. Solanus's beatification has been set. And I'm grateful for having had the chance to help in some small way.

Blessed Solanus Casey, pray for us!

April 16, 2017

The Easter Itinerancy

(An old post updated)

Every year on this holy night I reflect on the grace of itinerancy that the Holy Spirit has given me; only twice in my whole baptism have I been in the same place for the Easter Vigil for more than two years in a row. When I think about the places I've been for the Vigil, it puts me in awe of God and in a state of gratitude for my journey.

April 9, 2017

Franciscan Identity Crisis Ramble

I've been thinking about trying to write this post for a long time.

There's a lot of begging in Rome. There are scammers too, but with the scams that I usually get, I guess because I look like a good 'ugly American' mark, I've grown wise and I turn the tables and frustrate the person and try to playfully shame him."What would your mama say? Going around tricking foreigners!"

But it's the begging that troubles me more.

March 10, 2017

Eating in a Hurry

Yesterday there came around in the Office of Readings the instructions for the Passover in Exodus chapter 12.

This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you will eat it in a hurry. It is the LORD’s Passover. (Exodus 12:11)

The Passover is eaten like those in flight,  fleeing from the oppression and slavery of Egypt, reeling with God's plagues, into the long journey that will one day bring God's people into the Promised Land.

February 25, 2017

On Judging Others (and God)

"Such is the lowliness of our condition in this life; for we think others are like ourselves and we judge others according to what we ourselves are, since our judgment arises from within us and not outside us. Thus the thief thinks others also steal; and the lustful think others are lustful too; and the malicious think others also bear malice, their judgment stemming from their own malice; and the good think well of others, for their judgment flows from the goodness of their own thoughts; and to those who are careless and asleep, it seems that others are too.

"Hence it is that when we are careless and asleep in God's presence, it seems to us it is God who is asleep and neglectful of us, as is seen in psalm 43 were David calls to him: Arise, Lord, why do you sleep? Arise (Ps. 44:23). He attributed to God what is characteristic of humans, for since they are the ones who are fallen and asleep, he tells God to arise and awaken; although he who watches over Israel never sleeps (Ps. 121:4)."

(John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, 4,8)