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.

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.

Saturday, 14 December 2019 19:20

III Sunday of Advent, 2019 (Gaudete Sunday)


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



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!"