Tuesday, January 01, 2019

2018 another tough year for our Church.



2018: one of the difficult years for us 
Catholic Priests and our Church.

For us priests and church leaders the celebration of Christmas and the New Year this year is greatly muted.   We are embarrassed and ashamed by how our clerical culture allowed some of our own brothers grievously to wound so many of our children and youth.   

No matter the number of offenders from among our ranks, all of us priests, or at least some of us bear some of the blame.   We did not take good care of some brothers among us.    Clearly as a simple example, we should have dealt more resolutely with those with drinking problems.   But more to the point if we knew thirty and forty years ago what we know now we would have questioned certain other social behavior in which our brother priests engaged.    For example, we observed priests spending an unusual amount of time with minors.    Such behavior then seemed to us who observed it to be if not a kindness at least innocent. We should have known better.   Such behavior was clearly unsuitable for men who would have been blessed to find their social health among their brothers.


DAWN  2019
"I bring all this to our attention in this season of hope in a new year because I want you to know that we in my religious order are taking steps to restore our community’s health: first of all a commitment to total transparency;  in addition, over the past ten or fifteen years we are taking much more seriously our day to day care of one another.  We meet frequently to discuss the standards we set for ourselves.
"I believe we know now what to do.   We ask God’s help in carrying it out.  We practice, too, the Marian devotions that can sustain us.   We priests are sustained, too, by witnessing especially in this season the devoted love of so many in our congregations for their family members, and for others, the sick and the poor.   We priests need to grow in this way, too.
"God will stand by all of us.   The darkness in the Church dims our spirits.  And the darkness will trouble us for years to come.   But may the celebration of Joseph, Mary and their Child open our hearts to new ways of finding God’s love."

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Perkiomen Trail

Perkiomen Trail

Cold winter without snow



Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas!


MERRY CHRISTMAS!



The creche at the corridor entrance of the Wernersville chapel includes these four figures as the center piece.   A poem I recently uncovered features the one figure that might seem out of place.

The Oxen
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

May we all weave "so fair a fancy" in 2019!  

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Frank P. Fischer Memorial


Frank P. Fischer





NOV 10, 1926 - NOV 16, 2018

At Frank's funeral on December 21 in St. Ignatius Church in Baltimore.

300 of his favorite people gathered to mourn with one another.

The Desanctis family, his sister's children, were present and spoke of  the pleasure of knowing  him as a guest at their groaning table when they were growing up.

I remembered how I first saw  him when I was a student at Saint Joseph's Prep and Frank was there with seven other Jesuits in their white cassocks getting a blessing for their mission to Burma.

About forty African American grads of Loyola Blakefield processed in to the Church at the beginning of the funeral Mass.   All of them knew Frank as their teacher at Loyola.  He was responsible for the programs that began meaningful racial integration at the school in about 1967.

It was clear from testimony in the church and afterward in the church hall that Frank always, and I mean ALWAYS, focused on the persons in his presence and encouraged them to be their best positive selves, without any question.   It was his way of loving.

In reaching out to his urban students, he would go so far as to drive them from the suburban Loyola campus back to their downtown neighborhoods.   Sometimes he would not know the way; sometimes his students questioned the quality of the car; sometimes, as they told the story with happy memories, they chose to take the bus instead.

Someone testified to his compassionate work at the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center where people with every kind of housing finance issue came to see him.  Once a client was suffering also with a bad tooth.   Frank took her to the University of Maryland dental clinic and paid for the healing work required to relieve the pain.

Another testified about one source of his compassion: his own chronic back pain.   Somedays even when in his office he would simply lie flat on the floor to ease his discomfort.

Another testified to some of his absent mindedness in his last years.   She told how he, intending to call someone else, dialed her number by mistake instead.   She had not spoken with him in some time but was thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with him and he responded with genuine affection.

Another created an imaginary conversation between Frank and his loving wife Jeanne.   In the conversation Frank announced that he had given away his car.   Jeanne questioned the abundance of his generosity.   He thanked her for watching over him and moderating his behavior by saying how lucky he was to be married to her!

We also tried to sing without the success we would have had with Frank in the room.   We tried  to sing one of his favorite songs from his pre-college youth, "Chattanooga Choo-Choo."    I believe that we won't ever be able to sing it  again with the enthusiasm that Frank lent to our voices.   No, it is too difficult for us to sing now that the Choo-choo has choo-chooed him home.

Morning Star December 4, 2018




Venus has been steady in the early winter dawn.    A few days ago lined up with the crescent moon.





And this morning leaving the sliver of moon behind in the eastern dawn.



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

MATTHIAS ANTHONY BUR NOVEMBER 11, 2018


MATTHIAS BEGS ENTRANCE AT THE CHURCH DOOR SO THAT HE CAN BE BAPTIZED.   HE OUTGREW THE FAMILY BAPTISMAL GARMENT BUT IT SHOWS UP JUST AS IT HAS FOR A COUPLE OF GENERATIONS  IN THE GATHERING AROUND THE BAPTISMAL FONT (HOLY CROSS CHURCH, GARRETT PARK, MARYLAND).   THE PARENTS (MIKE AND LAURA) AND THE GRANDPARENTS (STEVE AND ANN) WERE SMILING MOST OF THE AFTERNOON.   THIS MUST BE A SOLEMN PART OF THE READING!


Saturday, November 03, 2018

Autumn Colors Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth Nov 3, 2018


Jesuit Center, Wernersville Pa

The Autumn Colors are suddenly upon us this year and already they are starting to wain.   Fortunately we have some sun today!