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.

R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.
R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
(Psalm 138)

Today we celebrate God’s providential care for us as manifested through the angels. The names of the archangels are theophoric (the name contains the name of God): Michael (Who is like God?); Gabriel (God is my Strength); Raphael (God heals). They are the only angels named in the Bible. Michael was my confirmation name.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020 16:56


And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job,
and that there is no one on earth like him,
blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?”
But Satan answered the LORD and said,
“Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?
. . . .
And the LORD said to Satan,
“Behold, all that he has is in your power;
only do not lay a hand upon his person.”
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
(Job 1:8-9,12)

A wager between the LORD and Satan. What a beginning to the Book of Job! And of course, the question that the Book of Job asks, “Why do the good suffer?” is THE question of all the scriptures of all religions. It is THE question period.

The photo is a painting of Job by Danny Helms.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020 11:04


Complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
 united in heart, thinking one thing.
 Have in you the same attitude
 that is also in Christ Jesus.
(Phil 2:2,5)

To have the mind and heart of Christ, the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus . . . Saint Paul invites us to put on Christ. That means what happens in our baptism is real. Maybe that is what the old prayer tried to teach us:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, make our hearts like unto yours.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020 10:53


Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the evil days come
And the years approach of which you will say,
I have no pleasure in them.
Before the sun is darkened,
and the light, and the moon, and the stars,
while the clouds return after the rain;
When the guardians of the house tremble,
and the strong men are bent,
And the grinders are idle because they are few,
and they who look through the windows grow blind;
When the doors to the street are shut,
and the sound of the mill is low;
When one waits for the chirp of a bird,
but all the daughters of song are suppressed;
And one fears heights,
and perils in the street;
When the almond tree blooms,
and the locust grows sluggish
and the caper berry is without effect,
Because man goes to his lasting home,
and mourners go about the streets;
Before the silver cord is snapped
and the golden bowl is broken,
And the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the broken pulley falls into the well,
And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.
(Eccl 12:1-7)

This beautiful poem about old age is a fitting conclusion to this very strange book.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020 10:49


(God) has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man’s ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.
(Eccl 3:11)

Probably one of the most popular passages of the Book of Ecclesiastes or even of the Scriptures. It is often requested for funerals. The key to the whole passage is this last verse: that God has placed the “timeless” in our hearts. The passage echoes Saint Augustine’s beautiful prayer:

O Lord you have made us for yourself,
our heart is restless until it rests in you.
(Saint Augustine of Hippo, Confessions)

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 11:41


Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!
(Eccl 1:2)

One of the strangest books in the Bible is the Book of Ecclesiastes. It reminds me of that marvelous scene from Moonstruck (1987), when Rose, Loretta’s mother (played by Olympia Dukakis), tells her cheating husband, Cosmo (played by Vincent Gardenia):

Rose: I just want you to know no matter what you do, you're gonna die, just like everybody else.
Cosmo Castorini: Thank you, Rose.

And as the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes reasons: It’s better to be a live dog, than a dead lion (Eccl 9:4). And the book concludes as it begins:

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
    all things are vanity!
(Eccl 12:8)

Jesus summoned the Twelve . . .
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
(Lk 9:1-2)

The mission of the Twelve: to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. The mission hasn’t changed: to preach, to heal. My mother was a nurse. She worked 20 years in obstetrics and then 10 years in juvenile cancer. But I remember when she went to help out at Blessed Martin de Porres Hospital in Mobile (it became SAINT Martin de Porres Hospital when he was canonized in 1962). It was a maternity hospital for black women run by the Sisters of Mercy. The sisters opened the hospital to allow black doctors to admit their patients when they were refused privileges at the “white” hospital. I remember my mom telling me that the archbishop of Mobile had a suite at Blessed Martin de Porres Hospital whenever he needed hospitalization. The archbishop did NOT go to the “white” hospital. And here we are in 2020 with the same struggle: to preach and to heal “no importa la raza ni el color de la piel” (without regard for race nor the color of one’s skin) as the old song says.