Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Stop Resisting Temptation

     How's Lent going for you? Did you give something up? (If you don't do Lent, think about your last New Year's resolutions, and if you don't do those, either, the last time you resolved to change a habit.) How hard is it? How challenging of a resolution did you choose? How are you doing at resisting temptation

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Original Sin

     Today is the first Sunday of Lent. As is becoming my usual practice, attending Mass in a language that mostly goes over my head, I spent the homily in my own meditation on the Scripture readings. This time, just the first reading, which is Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7. The first sin, the sin of Adam and Eve in partaking of the only fruit that had been forbidden to them in the whole Garden of Eden: the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The sin is obedience, or presumption, or trying to usurp God's place and be (as the serpent said) "like gods." 

    But why does God forbid them to eat of that fruit? I mean, leaving aside the question of why God would plant that tree there, right in the center of the garden, why wave temptation in their faces and then forbid them to touch it. Leaving that aside, why would God not want them to have the knowledge of good and evil? It seems so baffling, so counter-intuitive. Isn't that basic human formation, what parents try to teach their children and religious leaders their congregations? What is this allegory really all about?

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Hungry Month

     Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. What are you giving up for Lent? Maybe that's the wrong question. Why are you giving up anything for Lent? What's it all about? 

    This might be a somewhat unconventional answer, but it's the one that occurred to me this morning as I was, once again, zoning out on a homily delivered in a language I don't yet understand very well. What will happen when I get more fluent in French? Gee, I might have to deliberately take time to meditate on the Scriptures ... would that be a terrible thing? Probably not. Meanwhile.... 

    What I was thinking about was how back in the old days, before supermarkets, refrigeration, or pressure canning, there wasn't really very much choice about whether or not to fast toward the end of winter.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

It's not about being a doormat

    Hello, readers ... I'm back! I know, I haven't posted for a month and a half, since Epiphany. Well, in that time, I moved from Spain to France, and am still very far from settled in here. And I have a big, wide, deep blog post in progress, which will be out soon, I promise. But in the meantime, I was struck by something during Mass today, as I was zoning out on only halfway understanding the homily (because I only halfway understand French!). So I thought I'd sketch the idea out here without over-complicating it, so it can come out today, since it's related to today's Mass readings. 

Saturday, January 7, 2023


     When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

    An epiphany is a manifestation of something hidden, or a sudden realization of something significant. This feast of the Epiphany is all about human beings encountering God among us. The readings at Mass are about the visit of the magi, but properly speaking, "Epiphany" also includes the angel's announcement to the shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem, and infant Jesus's presentation in the Temple, where he was recognized as the Messiah by Simeon and Anna. And more: it includes the adult Jesus's baptism in the Jordan River by John, when the dove descended on him, and also his transfiguration up on the mountain, in the presence of Peter, James, and John. 

    Stick with the magi, the wise men, for a moment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


     We're almost to the end of Advent, the season of waiting.... Waiting for the Incarnation, for the coming of infinite God into intimate communion with our bounded humanity. 

Monday, December 19, 2022

Examination of Conscience: Innocence

    I've been writing a lot lately about sin, examination of conscience, confession, and how important it all is for psychological and spiritual growth. Today I want to say something about a very different aspect of self-examination, which is discerning when we have not been wrong. The truth is that victims of certain kinds of traumas -- especially any form of child abuse or neglect (physical, emotional, or spiritual), sexual trauma, or intimate partner violence -- are likely to carry a load of guilt and shame that doesn't belong to us. Rightly, it belongs to the perpetrator of the abuse. We may understand that rationally, and shame may co-exist with rage. But still, we carry it, and it can be crippling.