As coldness begins to cover the northeast, and the first cold of the season makes its way through the family, I am reaching back into the archives today. Partly because it is a powerful story of healing and partly because, on this day off from work, all I want to do is crawl back into bed.

From 2016 –

The author of Luke’s Gospel account has Jesus’ healing ten lepers in this week’s reading. It’s a story that always causes such consternation. Ten were healed but only one returned to say “thank you.”

It is good to give thanks.

But to concentrate on the one who returned is to miss the point. Maybe the other nine had good reasons.

Maybe one was a mother who had been kept away from her children for so long by this disease that turns you into an outcast. She was healed and she rushed right home and returned to her family.

Maybe one didn’t believe he had been cured because he didn’t do anything to deserve it. He couldn’t face unconditional love – healing without a price – so he couldn’t see he was healed and just went back to the colony.

Another was really, really excited about being free from the ravages of his illness and in his excitement, he just forgot.

Maybe another was alone, having already lost his family and now the only family he knew – the other lepers – were gone too. He was cured but now he was alone. He wasn’t grateful, he was ticked.

I could go on but you get the point.

Ten were healed and only one said: “thank you.”

To concentrate on the one is to miss the point. Then again, I sometimes think we’ve institutionalized missing the point.

Ten were healed.

Ten were healed.

Ten cried out for mercy. Ten longed to be near Jesus so they just shouted as loud as they could. And Jesus, never one to leave someone wanting, responded simply, “Go, show yourselves to the priest” (the priest being the only one who could verify that they had, in fact, be healed).

They asked for Jesus’ mercy and received so much more.

Ten were healed. One said thank you.

It is good to say thank you.

But something tells me it is better to be healed.

Best Dad Ever

The title of this entry comes from the birthday card my youngest made for me. She is known for her brutal honesty, so I am taking her words for Gospel.

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is the patron saint of fathers (Joseph is also patron saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general), so he and I share a bond. I don’t have any kids like Jesus, but they try.

Since yesterday was my birthday, the children were extra well behaved. The yelling was limited only to the moments when child number three hit child number four (two times) or when child number two “tripped” on child number three’s outstretched leg (only once). They made cards and gave me a wrapped package of Junior Mints. They used money I had given them for when they go to town after play practice, so technically, I think I bought the Junior Mints.

We had our standard dad’s birthday dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. Apparently, I thought we were having company because I have enough mashed potatoes for a week.

Maureen made sure I got to spend the entire day with the kids and enjoy their company all by myself, having gotten herself checked into the hospital on St. Patrick’s Day. She’s still there, hooked up to pain meds for some mysterious illness that has her doubled over in pain. I told the children she probably forgot to buy me a present.

Nothing is recorded in Scriptures about St. Joseph’s words to his family. He gets a message in a dream, but even the Blessed Mother gets to speak once in a while. And yet, he is a model for fathers everywhere. There’s a lesson in there, albeit an ironic one, about who gets to talk and who gets to listen.

This week, be like Joseph and listen more. Speak less. Work hard. And, like Joseph certainly did for Jesus, teach your children well.

St. Joseph, patron of best dads everywhere, pray for us.


What’s the Matter with Kids Today?

There is a great song in the musical Bye Bye Birdie, where the characters lament all the things that are wrong with kids today. Surely if the song were rewritten for modern times, someone would be singing about the rise of anxiety among young people.

Don’t believe me? Read this article. And this one. And this one. And this one.

The reality is that for a number of reasons, young people today are less comfortable in their own skin than ever before. What is a parent to do? May I be so bold as to suggest three things?

Cut the cord. Yes, even the invisible one. The best $99 we spent recently was for a device called the Circle. It started as a Kickstarter campaign and was soon bought by Disney, who saw the potential. Essentially, it is a device that allows a parent to set up an account for each child, assign whichever device said child uses to that account, and set limits. The children living with me get anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half, sometimes more, of Internet time. Then the Circle kicks them off. I notice that when the Internet time is up, the Legos come out or, even better, the children rediscover the great outdoors. Plus, it lets me track their usage. I can see everything they watch and everything they do online. If chores are not getting done, I can hit the pause button and every device on the Circle shuts down the Internet to the whole house.

Eat together. Survey after survey will tell you that young people who eat at least five meals a week with their family are more likely to live longer, healthier lives, all while avoiding at-risk behavior. For Catholics, I would add that, according to research I have found, families who eat together raise children more likely to remain faithful later in life.

Listen. Young people today are struggling with self-esteem, self-worth, and are searching for communities that value and love them. How can they fall in love with a God they never meet? How can they find acceptance in a community that never listens? Mom and Dad – put your own phones down and listen to what your child has to say.

The list is short and incomplete, non-scientific and opinionated. But the children hate the Circle, so I know it was a great purchase. They are learning manners and to pass things instead of slide them across the table, where the forks go, and how to share, so that’s something. And the stories they tell when we chat about the day? Well, just listen for yourself sometime and you will see what I mean.

May your week be blessed.


Strange Dreams

The last week has been filled with incredible dreams. I have dreamt about the lottery (I won), America’s Got Talent (I lost), and inventing something that lets children fly, but not adults, which seemed cool until the parenting side of the brain kicked in and realized how irresponsible it was.

I dreamt about visiting Rwanda and about dining with celebrities in New York. I dreamt about taking the children to Ireland but being disappointed when Ancestry DNA told us we are not Irish at all. At one point, at around three am, I was wondering around the house when Maureen found me and asked how I was. I mumbled something about being in the show Quantum Leap and West Side Story at the same time and then went back to bed.

Yes, it’s been an interesting week. What the doctors swore would be a routine surgery with a superficial extraction of a benign tumor in my neck turned into a four hour surgical event where they essentially cut my ear off, lifted one side of my face up, dug around for a while and then stretched everything back together. In what I can only imagine was something akin to getting a Tupperware lid that doesn’t quite fit to stay into place while not spilling the spaghetti sauce all over the counter, this mess has kicked me around a bit. The tumor, while still benign, was entangled in the optic nerve, the facial nerve, and had grown into the muscle of the jaw.

In the age of digital everything, the doctor had pictures. I think, in part, because he was so proud that he was able to do his job without too much permanent damage. Time will tell if the feeling comes back into my ear and the paralysis leaves my face, but the stitches come out tomorrow and for now, I feel comfortable walking around the house instead of staying in bed.

I have come to understand more about offering it up this week and have freed the pagan babies from Limbo. Our Lady and I have been in constant connection – sometimes just to pray and sometimes to beg her to make my face fall off.

Maureen is a saint. Kids like to look and say, “ewwww.” and none of the neighbors minded when I puked all over the driveway after returning from the doctor’s office.

Next week will be better. I am working on getting out to get a lottery ticket and trying to figure out what the judges didn’t like about my performance on America’s Got Talent.

The In Between

I find myself once again in that in between stage. Not in the metaphysical sense as in between birth and death. Not in the seasonal sense as in between the end of school and a new beginning.

No, I’m talking about pants.

I find myself too big for one size and too small for the next size up. One pair is too tight and hurts. The other pair falls off when I walk. I’m in between.

The way I see it, I could eat well and exercise, take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk around the block, ride the stationary bike, and risk shedding a few pounds so the pants that are tight fitting more comfortably.

Or I could eat more.

People say nothing tastes as good as being thin feels but I don’t think those people have ever tasted Breyers ice cream. Or peanut butter. Or the chocolate chip cookies I make with the kids.

I talked it over with the children and they voted for the stationary bike. I think they like to see me sweat – or maybe they are tired of my telling them, “I don’t bend,” when things are on the floor.

So that’s the goal: five pounds. I’ll start there.

It’s time to charge the Fitbit, that annoying piece of technology that screams, “Hey Lazy,” at the end of each day. It’s time to take a walk, ride a bike, take the stairs, and put the chips away. Starting today, I will use a smaller bowl for ice cream (let’s be honest here…)

About the same time I noticed the in between situation with the pants, I noticed it had crept into the rest of my life too. I am in between classes in my doctoral studies. I am in between four different projects at work. I am in between two books I started around Christmas. I am in between series on Netflix. I am in between the prayer I started last night when I fell asleep and the prayer I started this morning.

Living in the in between is frustrating. In this morning’s readings, we find Abram living between his old life and the new one to which he has been called. In the Gospel, we find Jesus chastising the disciples to stop being hypocrites: remove the beam from our own eyes before reacting to the splinter in our neighbor’s eye. We live in between being accepting and judgmental, kind and vicious, helpful and lazy, brave and cowardly, saintly and sinful.

Maybe this week we can choose a side that is healthy, holy, righteous, and peaceful. Tell the devil named Breyers to get behind us and choose the side that leads to better choices.

It might also lead to smaller pants.


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