Monthly Archives: August 2018

Thursday Reflection 8.23.18

“Inspired to Make a Difference”

  Thursday Reflection                                                                                     

August 23, 2018

This won’t be a prophetic text of overpowering insight.  It’s just a call for us to take time and remember and move on.  Remember the days and dates that meant so much to you.  A call to reflect on the hopefully happy, the sometimes not-so-happy, the challenging, the eye popping memories that we call carry within us.

It’s August 23:  and on August 23, 1971 (“a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away”) I boarded the Leonardo da Vinci (sister ship of the Andrea D’Oria – by the by … oops) and headed off to spend the next four years as a theology student in Europe.  And indeed my ideas about my country and its place (and responsibility) in the world, and my call to greater scholarship as a candidate for Holy orders changed me forever.  So I remember this date with fondness.

Of course we should remember the birthdays of spouses, child(ren), grandchild(ren) or parents.  We remember the day we took vows and promised before God to do all in our power to commit ourselves to the “other” in love until death.

I hold in memory the sadder days: the day, when I was still a child, that my youngest brother died and changed our family dynamic forever.  I remember Sept. 11, 2001 and its legacy in terms of national identity, national fears, hope and hopelessness and being drawn back into the pseudo-religious tragic decisions that were the “Crusades” and their now 21st century aftermath so many centuries later.

Holding on to memories is not an excuse for never letting go of the past.  It can be an invitation to better appreciate those who are our loved ones even as we hold in our hearts those who have passed on.  I’m sure this parish will always remember its former days with fondness and longing even as we have to admit that those days and the culture that supported this parish decades ago is “…but the chasing of the wind.”.

Truly remembering can free us from the burden of carrying the burden of a false nostalgia – as if what was past is only what was good or only what we should or could be.

It’s August 23, and while I remember with fondness where I was and with whom on this date forty seven years ago, I can (hopefully)  move on and not be stuck there – in memory.  After all, if I were to tell the WHOLE, story, not only do I remember leaving New York Harbor, or the water canon salutes from the ferries, or the anticipation of four intensely demanding but wonderful years of study with classmates who were so much more gifted academically than I ever could have been, I must also remember how SICK I became later that evening as I was introduced to the reality known as sea sickness!  Remember – hold the memories close – appreciate those you remember – but always move on!

— Fr. Joe

Thursday Reflection 8.16.18

“Inspire To make A Difference”                                                    

Thursday Reflection                                                                                                    

  August 16, 2018

Some people have their best conversations or do their best thinking (and I have heard, best singing) in the shower.  Not me!  I believe my best on-my-feet thinking comes whenever I have these early morning walk-n-talks with Abby.  She has a way of posing such seemingly innocent but self-serving yet pointed questions.  She does her “Border collie” species proud!

So anyway, this morning (Sunday) as we were racing up a hill, she questioned why I am forever trying to get her to not bark at every unexpected sound or every person who walks by the house,  (or into my office when she comes to work with me).  I tried explaining for the zillionth time that while I understand that it’s in her nature to bark to strangers (who might secretly be wolves trying to hurt her sheep – one never knows), just because it is a part of her nature, she does not have to do this every time.  Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to do it each and every time.

So she asked for concrete examples.  It’s like being a Met’s fan, I told her.  You know the team, as constituted, is abysmal.  The season cannot end soon enough, and there is little hope for the near future.  You CAN always choose to support another team and end the pain.  But I choose not to.  My dad and uncle brought me to my first game when I was 12.  It’s where I belong.  Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should.

When I’m driving on stretches of road without another car in sight, I certainly CAN exceed the speed limit.  After all, who would know?  But should I?  So Abby, you can bark, but perhaps you should choose to not bark

So then she asked:  is it like this:  you American humans certainly could choose to not sink into social media hype and hate speech diatribes towards others with whom you disagree.  You can avoid hate centered town gatherings and marches if you choose to.  You just choose to not do the right thing.  Just like I choose to bark and not be quiet.

Now I explained it’s more complicated than that.  Here we have laws and systems of rights and guaranteed freedoms and all the complexities of 21st century high tech political and social life with which to contend.  So she retorts: I’m not sure what any of that means.  I just know that you told me that simply because you can do something, that doesn’t mean you always should. So I guess this only applies to dogs and not humans?  Now that sounds right and just .. not!  These early morning walks-n-talks are starting to give me a headache!  I hate it when she’s right!


— Fr. Joe

Thursday Reflection 8.2.18

Thursday Reflections

August 2, 2018


“Inspired to Make a Difference”

If you could travel back in time, what person would you want to meet or which event would you want to witness (or even change)?   Would you speak with Capt. Smith in April 1912 on the bridge of the Titanic and ask him:  “Race at Full speed at night into the ice fields.  What could possibly go wrong?”

Would you like to be able to determine what the real electoral count from Chicago precincts were in 1960 – and did Kennedy actually win or lose Illinois and thus the election? (And you folks thought presidential electoral political chicanery was invented in 2016! Seriously?)

Would you like to have listened to the missing minutes on the Nixon tapes before they were erased?  Would you have wanted to be in the stadium and cheered (perhaps alone and being abused) when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and changed processional sports forever?  Would you have loved to have seen the faces on the Cardinals in the Vatican Ecclesiastical Industrial Complex when in 1959 Pope John XXIII decided that his Church needed to open the windows and let in the Holy Spirit?   “Were you there when they crucified my Lord”?

On a lazy hot summer day, it’s always fun to play “what if”.  But we are creatures bound and limited by time.   We can only know our present, and can only act within the horizon of our own experiences.    We can never know with certainty what others may have seen or heard or felt in the past.  As limited human beings, we remain flawed and fragile, hope filled and failure prone.  The limitation of temporality is a reminder that we only create our stories in the “now”.

And no one will ever really travel back in time and judge why they (or we) did what was done.  No one will ever be able to truly justify another’s motivations or actions with absolute certitude.  We live in this moment and are responsible now for what our decisions or actions cause.  For the last time, we are creatures living in the present and journeying into an always uncertain future.  We have no power to change what has been!

So in answer to my own question:  what person or event would I wish to witness if I could travel back in time?  Frankly, what’s the point?   I would prefer to live life to the fullest now, and work with all the gifts God has given me now and do my limited human (but grace filled) best for our future.  I’ll leave the past to itself.


— Fr Joe