These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.

Thursday, 19 December 2019 10:32

O Clavis David

December 20

O Clavis David:
“O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”

O Clavis David is based on two verses from the book of the prophet Isaiah:
“I will place the Key of the House of David
on His shoulder;
what he opens, no one will shut,
what he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22)
and also:
“His dominion is vast and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over His kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).



O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav'nly home,
Make safe the way that leads on high,
That we no more have cause to sigh.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019 20:55

O Radix Jesse

December 19

O Radix Jesse:

O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and “On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
From ev'ry foe deliver them
That trust Thy mighty power to save,
And give them vict'ry o'er the grave.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019 09:59

O Adonai

December 18 O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.”

The prophet Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).

O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times did give the law,
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019 11:03

O Antiphons

O Antiphons

The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil.

The antiphons are formed of verses mostly from the book of the prophet Isaiah. They were seen as prophecies of the coming of Messiah. They go back to the early church. The antiphons are the basis of the popular Advent hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. They are used as the Alleluia verse before the reading of the gospel in the Mass for these final days of Advent. The first words of each antiphon form a Messianic title and they are sometimes known by these titles.

I’ll never forget the catechist that I met in Mexico. His last name was “De la O.” His last name came from the O Antiphons!

Dec. 17 O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.”

Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).

Monday, 16 December 2019 13:36

Novena de Aguinaldos (The Christmas Novena)

Novena de Aguinaldos (The Christmas Novena)

In the first Reading from the Mass of today (December 16, Monday of the Third Week of Advent), we find that mysterious prophecy of Balaam:

I see him, though not now;

I behold him, though not near:

A star shall advance from Jacob,

and a staff shall rise from Israel. (Num 24:17)

We have seen His Star, and we know that the Lord is near. Tonight, throughout the Latino world, we begin the last part of Advent preparing to celebrate the birth of the Lord. In Mexico, they celebrate Las Posadas. Here in Colombia, we begin the Novena de Aguinaldos, the Novena for Christmas.

I invited my whole Colombian family to come to my house tonight to begin the Novena. They will bring the maracas to accompany the singing of the Gozos (the Joys):

Los Gozos al Niño
¡Ven, ven, ven,
Ven a nuestras almas, Niñito,
Ven, ven, ven,
Ven a nuestras almas, Niñito,
Ven a nuestras almas.
No tardes tanto, no tardes tanto,
Niñito, ven, ven ven!

The Joys
Come, come, come,
Come to our longing souls, Lord Jesus,
Come, come, come,
Come to our longing souls, Lord Jesus,
Come to our longing souls,
Don’t make us wait, don’t make us wait,
Lord Jesus, come, come, come!

If you would like to hear the Novena in Spanish and hear the Gozos, please touch the link below:

Novena de Aguinaldos

Sunday, 15 December 2019 14:46




I would like to bring this series to your attention.  It is from America: The Jesuit Review. The series is "Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church."  You can listen to the podcasts by visiting the link below.  As many of you know, I have been involved in AIDS ministry since my early days in Asheville, North Carolina.  I founded the Caring Hearts AIDS Ministry at Saint Joan of Arc Parish in 1994, one of the few parish-based ministries in the USA at that time.  I have never been so proud of a parish as I was of Saint Joan of Arc and its support of people living with HIV & AIDS.  Like some of the stories in Plague, we too were attacked by fellow Catholics and by people who were afraid.  I hope you will follow the podcasts . . . they document what we lived through in the mountains of Western North Carolina.


Saturday, 14 December 2019 19:41



(Is 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12)

The holidays are a special time. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas it seems that everybody tries to get home. The airlines are booked, the highways are jammed. It's kinda like that old song from World War II, "I'll Be Home For Christmas":

I'll be home for Christmas

You can plan on me

Please have snow and mistletoe

And presents on the tree

Christmas Eve will find me

Where the lovelight gleams

I'll be home for Christmas

If only in my dreams

During the holidays we all want to touch that place again, that place called home. It doesn't matter that we may not physically be able to go home again . . . we've all moved on in life. But somehow we can always get there . . . to that little piece of home we carry with us in our hearts . . . maybe it's through family or friends or food, or music and lights and decorations, or simply by making Christmas happen in the lives of others. However we do it, it is possible for all of us to be home for Christmas, if only in our dreams. The holidays indeed are a magical time.