Welcome

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.

Saturday, 14 December 2019 19:41

II SUNDAY OF ADVENT, 2019

II SUNDAY OF ADVENT, 2019

II SUNDAY OF ADVENT, 2019, Year A
(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.

Saturday, 14 December 2019 19:20

III Sunday of Advent, 2019 (Gaudete Sunday)

GAUDETE SUNDAY, III SUNDAY OF ADVENT, 2019

Christmas is just around the corner . . . well, almost.  But with three candles burning on the Advent Wreath, Saint Paul calls us to rejoice:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed, the Lord is near.  
(Phil 4:4-5)

As someone has said, if you want to keep Christ in Christmas:

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the stranger and the unwanted child, care for the ill, love your enemies.

If we could manage to work on the corporal works of mercy, then perhaps we really might be able to open the door to welcome Christ this Christmas. 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 11 December 2019 18:11

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

My mother had a Christmas tradition . . . she loved to attend performances of Händel's Messiah in December.  Our tradition of Messiah began at Oakdale Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama, which we attended when I was young.  Every December the choir, directed by Sue Lamb Whatley, would perform a portion of Messiah.  After I was ordained a Catholic priest, my mom and grandmother would visit me during the month of December.  We always managed to find a performance of Messiah nearby.  Mom liked the full Messiah . . . not just the Christmas portion with the Hallelujah Chorus tacked on at the end.  A memorable year was the sing-a-long Messiah we participated in at the Central United Methodist Church in Asheville.

Well, last night, I was able to keep our Christmas tradition alive in Medellín, Colombia.  The Orquesta Filarmónica de Medellín, conducted by Alberto Correa Cadavid, together with the Estudio Polifónico de Medellín, performed the complete Messiah at the Teatro Metropolitano.  It was a magical evening.  The metropolitan theater is located near the new River Park in Medellín.  Don Alberto is the founder and first conductor of the philarmonic.  He began the tradition of directing Händel's Messiah in Medellín in 1974.  He has directed it every year since.  Last night was the 45th performance of Messiah in Medellín.  It was sung in English with supertitles in Spanish.  The soprano and the bass were excellent; the tenor and the alto performed admirably.  But the chorus was simply magnificent.  I was probably the only gringo in the audience, and so I was surprised that when we arrived at the Hallelujah Chorus, everyone in the house stood as is the custom. 

I think that my mom would have been very pleased with the performance last night.  In fact, I'm sure she was singing along with the angels:

 

"King of kings, and Lord of lords . . .

And he shall reign forever and ever!"

 

 

Friday, 06 December 2019 11:44

Happy Saint Nicholas' Day!

Happy Feast Day!

APOSTOLIC LETTER

ADMIRABILE SIGNUM

OF THE HOLY FATHER
FRANCIS
ON THE MEANING AND IMPORTANCE
OF THE NATIVITY SCENE

1. The enchanting image of the Christmas crèche, so dear to the Christian people, never ceases to arouse amazement and wonder. The depiction of Jesus’ birth is itself a simple and joyful proclamation of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. The nativity scene is like a living Gospel rising up from the pages of sacred Scripture. As we contemplate the Christmas story, we are invited to set out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman. We come to realize that so great is his love for us that he became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with him.

With this Letter, I wish to encourage the beautiful family tradition of preparing the nativity scene in the days before Christmas, but also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and town squares. Great imagination and creativity is always shown in employing the most diverse materials to create small masterpieces of beauty. As children, we learn from our parents and grandparents to carry on this joyful tradition, which encapsulates a wealth of popular piety. It is my hope that this custom will never be lost and that, wherever it has fallen into disuse, it can be rediscovered and revived.

Monday, 02 December 2019 01:00

The Beginning

Today is a beginning . . . not only of this blog, and my ramblings here, but here in Envigado (a small town within the great metropolitan area of the city of Medellín, Colombia) we have started the Christmas Season with music, dance & Christmas lights everywhere!  And in the liturgy we have begun the Season of Advent.  Several members of my extended family here in Colombia have worked all year on the lights . . . and I have seen the decorations in the workshop, but now we can see them illuminated, hanging in the parks and the streets of our little town.