The Definition of Sin

Sin is an offense against 
and right conscience.

It is a failure 
in genuine love for 
God and neighbor 
caused by a 
perverse attachment to certain goods. 

It wounds the nature of man 
and injures human solidarity. 
It has been defined as
an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.

Sin is an offense against God:
 "Against you, you alone, 
have I sinned, and done 
that which is evil in your sight." 

Sin sets itself 
against God's love for us 
and turns our hearts away from it. 

Like the first sin, 
it is disobedience, 
a revolt against God 
through the will to become "like gods,"  

Sin is thus 
"love of oneself even to contempt of God."

In this proud self-exaltation, 
sin is diametrically opposed 
to the obedience of Jesus, 
which achieves our salvation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church


A Pile of Dry Shit

Matthew 5:8 ; Matthew 5:43-44

One day a famous government officer met a highly respected elderly master. 
Being conceited, he wanted to prove that he was the superior person.

As their conversation drew on, he asked the master, 
"Old monk, do you know what I think of you and the things you said?"

The master replied, "I don't care what you think of me. 
You are entitled to have your own opinion."

The officer snorted, "Well, I will tell you what I think anyway. 
In my eyes, you are just like a pile of dry shit!"

The master simply smiled and stayed quiet.

Seeing that his insult had fallen into deaf ears, he asked curiously, "And what do you think of me?"

The master said, "In my eyes, you are just like the Buddha."

Hearing this remark, the officer left happily and bragged to his wife about the incident.

His wife said to him, 
"You conceited fool! 
When a person has a heart 
like a pile of dry shit, 
he sees everyone in that light. 

The elderly master has a heart 
like that of the Buddha, 
and that is why in his eyes, 
everyone, including you, is like the Buddha!"



Twelve tribes of Israel
Eleven curtains for the tabernacle
Ten commandments given to the freed slaves
Nine months to take David's ill-advised census
Eight day old boys circumcised
Seven years Jacob worked to marry Rachel
Six days of labor before a day of rest
Five smooth stones for a slingshot
Four corners of cloaks have tassles
Three sacred festivals
Two women and a baby come before a king
And one God
who created it all from an empty void.


Twelve disciples of the New Israel
Eleven of them after the cross
Ten coins reunited with their owner
Nine cured lepers not turning back
Eight unmentioned people who also passed the robbed one
Seven loaves to be blessed
Six stone containers to be filled
Five virgins were foolish/Five were wise
Four days Lazarus was in the tomb
Three gathered in His name
Two pieces of wood
And one empty tomb
which opened the gates of the Kingdom.


The Pogues    (Music)

Seen the carnival at Rome 
Had the women I had the booze 
All I can remember now 
Is little kids without no shoes 
So I saw that train 
And I got on it 
With a heartful of hate 
And a lust for vomit 
Now I'm walking on the sunny side of the street

Stepped over bodies in Bombay 
Tried to make it to the U.S.A. 
Ended up in Nepal 
Up on the roof with nothing at all 
And I knew that day 
I was going to stay 
Right where I am, on the sunny side of the street

Been in a palace, been in a jail 
I just don't want to be reborn a snail 
Just want to spend eternity 
Right where I am, on the sunny side of the street

As my mother wept it was then I swore 
To take my life as I would a whore 
I know I'm better than before 
I will not be reconstructed 
Just wanna stay right here 
On the sunny side of the street


Meditation on Mary McCleary's Prodigal Son

(click to enlarge)

A fact of life is
that ranchers 
are land rich and cash poor.

So when the 
baby boy asked
for his inheritance,
the Father had
to place a parcel 
of the homestead
on the market
to make it happen.

And after the sale,
the Law abiding brother
dutifully pulled 
the fence and barb wire
from the old property line
and started to place the new 
boundaries of the estate.

And with each post 
he pounded into place,
he imagined his 
departed brother
nailing someone 
in a distant land. 

Angry Young Man

Luke 15:29:  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.'

poor child
of the Law!

There is no 
or rule
in your 
Book of Law
on how to
throw a party!

And  after
seeing how 
Grace celebrates,
you stormed up 
to your room
and started
to write
the absolute manifesto
on how to have fun.


The grace of God means something like: 
Here is your life.  

You might never have been, 
but you are because the party
wouldn’t have been complete without you.  

Here is the world.  
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  

Don’t be afraid.  
I am with you.  
Nothing can ever separate us.  

It’s for you I created the universe.  
I love you.  

There’s only one catch.  

Like any other gift, 
the gift of grace can be yours 
only if you reach out and take it.  

Maybe being able to reach and take it is a gift too. 

Frederick Buechner


Ash Wednesday (2014)

approach the altar
to accept the dirt cross
and hear the words
said to the first couple.

After this holy event,
we leave the temple
with Cain's mark of 

But unlike Adam's progeny,
who wandered
east of Eden,
we place our trust
in the One
who tells us
He knows
the way


A young fugitive who comes to a town where the people are willing to take him in and hide him. When soldiers arrive in search of the fugitive, the townspeople protest that they know nothing. Suspecting their lie, the soldiers warn that, unless the fugitive is turned over by morning, the entire town will be destroyed.

In deep fear the people rush to their pastor for counsel. The priest, greatly troubled, starts searching scripture for an answer. All night he reads and finds nothing. Then, just before dawn, his eyes fall on a passage, 'It is better that one man should die for the people than the whole people be lost.'

He is sure that's the answer, and goes to the people with the news. The soldiers are informed that the fugitive is indeed hidden among them, and the young man is taken away. They throw a big party in the town, lasting far into the night, and celebrate their deliverance by the grace of God.

But the pastor returns to his study, still troubled. An angel appears to him and asks what's the problem. 'I still don't feel right about turning over the fugitive,' the pastor says. The angel replies, 'Did you know that he was the Messiah?'

The pastor is incredulous. 'How was I to know?' he asks. 'If, instead of reading your Bible,' the angel replies, 'you had taken time to visit the young man and looking into his eyes, you would have known he was the Messiah.'

Silent God

This is my prayer—
That, though I may not see,
I be aware
Of the Silent God
Who stands by me.
That, though I may not feel,
I be aware
Of the Mighty Love
Which doggedly follows me.
That, though I may not respond,
I be aware
That God—my Silent, Mighty God,
Waits each day.
Quietly, hopefully, persistently.
Waits each day and through each night
For me.
For me—alone.

Edwina Gateley


Falling off the Charts

age one to 
middle age 44,
homicide is among
the top five ways 
to die
in America.

Then after the mature age of 45,
killing is not even in the 
top 10.

I wonder -
did we learn to love
our neighbor
did we crush
all our enemies?

Number One with a Bullet

Accidents do happen.
Leading cause of death 
from ages one
to forty-four.

Then from forty-five
to sixty-four 
cancer leads the way.
Or as the researchers call it
Malignant Neoplasms. 

And then for the remaining years,
poor maintenance
and regrets
causes the heart to break.  

The Archangel Gabriel

Leo Tolstoy

Once upon a time, the archangel Gabriel heard the voice of God speaking from Paradise, blessing someone.
Gabriel said, "Surely this is some important servant of my Lord, God the Father. He must be a great saint, a hermit or wise man." 

The archangel went down to earth looking for the man, but he could not find him, neither on earth nor in heaven. Then he addressed God and said, "Oh Lord, my God, please show me how to find the object of your love."

God answered him, "Go this village. And there, in a little temple, you will see a fire."

The angel went down to the temple, and he found a man praying before an idol. Then Gabriel went back to God and said, "Lord, how can you look with love upon this idol worshipper?"

God said, "It is true that he does not understand me properly. Not one man living is capable of understanding me as I am. The wisest of the whole human race are just as far from really understanding me as this man is. I look not at his mind, but at his heart. The heart of this man searches for me, and therefore he is close to me.


Someone Got Told

I wonder if 
after the mother's retort
to Jesus,
the teenaged Mark said
 the Aramaic equivalent of:
“Oh snap, Jesus!”
before witnessing
a God who could 
change His mind.

"Unsuffer Me"

Unlock my love
And set me free
Come fill me up
With ecstasy

Surround my heartbeat
With your fingertips
Unbound my feet
Untie my wrists

Come in to my world
Of loneliness
And wickedness
And bitterness
Unlock my love

Unsuffer me
Take away the pain
Unbruise, unbloody
Wash away the stain
Anoint my head
With your sweet kiss
My joy is dead
I long for bliss

I long for knowledge
Whisper in my ear
Undo my logic, undo my fear
Unsuffer me

Lucinda Williams

The Greatest Goal Ever -6/22/86

Maradona has the ball, 
two mark him, 
he touches the ball. 

The genius of world football 
dashes to the right 
and leaves the third 
and is going to pass to Burruchaga. 
It’s still Maradona! 

Genius! Genius! Genius! 
Gooooooooooal! Gooooooooooal! 

I want to cry! Dear God! 
Long live football! 
Gooooooooooal! Diegoal! Maradona! 

It’s enough to make you cry, 
forgive me. 
Maradona, in an unforgettable run, 
in the play of all time. 

Cosmic kite! What planet are you from? 
Leaving in your wake so many Englishmen, 
so that the whole country is a clenched fist 
shouting for Argentina? 

Argentina 2, England 0. 
Diegoal, Diegoal, Diego Armando Maradona. 

Thank you, God, 
for football, 
for Maradona, 
for these tears, 
for this, 
Argentina 2, England 0.


Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiYYSradplU


City of Blinding Lights

The town on the hill
was blessed with a 
great light.

The poor
the lame
the weak
from the 
surrounding villages
saw the light
but could not go up
the hill
to experience the light.

They shouted up to
the town
to bring the light 
down the hill 
and to their villages.

But the town said, 
"No. There are too many technical issues.

Will the darkness swallow up the light?

Will we lose some (or all!) of the light
if we give it away?

What can you give us in
exchange for the light?

We will have to examine this
in much further detail
before we do anything."

The Accused

Just as he locked the door, as he pocketed the key,
as he glanced over his shoulder, they arrested him.
They tortured him until they tired of it.
‘Look,’ they said,
‘the key is your key, the house is your house,
we accept that now; but why did you put the key
in your pocket as if to hide it from us?’

They let him go, but his name is still on a list.

Yannis Ritsos
translated from the Greek by David Harsent

Thanks, Mr. Sun

I’m thankful the sun starts slow
and glides in a graceful burning
arc across the firmament. I don’t
think I could handle life if ole’ Sol
was a herky-jerky-shakey-jake.
Mr. Sun stays in his own lane,
daily commuting with polite constancy,
never nervous about missing
something like a primo parking spot.
For a fireball it seems to have it all
together, unshyly shining golden on
this blue-born world’s flappable.

John Blase



I think the Rapture is bunk.
 imagine an aftermath

Insurance companies getting religion
and declaring the Rapture
an Act of God
as they stiff their policy-holders.

Consider a sight of
 several hundred million children 
gone off to the Kingdom.

Elementary school teachers 
 to teach the ones 
that were left behind.

The one per-centers
texting: WTF
Where did the help go?

The pastor who
didn't get caught up in the clouds
wondering if
 he would have a flock to tend?

Bullies will miss their patsies.
Patrons will remember their bartenders.
High school kids will revere the cheerleader.
And gossips will ask, 
"Why her? /Why him?"

And all the while,
me and you 
will go through
the departed's
fridges and garages
prepping ourselves for
the Final Days.

The Seven Deadly Sins

Forget about the other six, says Pride.
They're only using you.
Admittedly, Lust is a looker,
but you can do better.

And why do they keep bringing us
to this cheesy dive?
The food's so bad that even Gluttony
can't finish his meal.

Notice how Avarice
keeps refilling his glass
whenever he thinks we're not looking,
while Envy eyes your plate.

Hell, we're not even done, and Anger
is already arguing about the bill.
I'm the only one who
ever leaves a decent tip.

Let them all go, the losers!
It's a relief to see Sloth's
fat ass go out the door.
But stick around. I have a story

that not everyone appreciates
about the special satisfaction
of staying on board as the last
grubby lifeboat pushes away.

Dana Gioia


The Prodigal Son
All callow thoughtlessness
Outshone his brother

Unfair or unwise
To favor the miscreant
Yet it's instinctive

We value others
For the love that we give them
Not the love returned

Martin Locock 


Small deaths

Jesus suffered the small deaths of life.

Losses of Joseph and John.

Rejected in His hometown.

Being misunderstood
by His followers and the crowds.

Grieving over Lazarus.

Angered by the condition
of His Father’s house.  

Denied by Peter.

Betrayed by Judas.

The bullshit trial.

Which lead to His Big Death

That blessed us 
(as we suffer 
our own small deaths)
never to experience
the curse of a
Big Death.

The Day After Sinatra Married Mia Farrow

So the coffee would stay hot all morning 
Edna, the large-boned Dutch waitress, 
her face and throat flushed from the heat 
would first fill my thermos with boiling water 
in the Circle Diner on Kutztown Road, 
this July morning steamy and loud 
with a highway crew at the counter, 
two grizzled mailmen in the side booth 
and us from the nearby construction site, 
a job I loved for its noise and fresh air, 
screwing big lag bolts into the sills 
of Caloric Stove's new factory warehouse, 
the whirr of the countersink drilling the wood, 
clean white hemlock or spruce

and when one of the mailmen heads for the door 
Edna calls out to him "Hey Jack 
how you think Frank's feeling this morning?" 
Smoke from the grill and the cook's cigar 
clouding the wide glass window: 
Frank, 20 years her senior, 
stepping from Sam Giancana's limo 
or else whispering One For My Baby 
into the spotlight: his death 
in his voice with its flawless control, 
his slanted fedora and raincoat, 
his glittering life we could only imagine

though most of us are laughing by now 
wolfing our hot cakes and eggs 
when the old man yells back, "Tired as hell!" 
pulling his hat down low at the door, 
happy enough to be going to work 
on a Friday under the dawnwashed sky 
of Johnson's Great Society, 
with the Lehigh Valley opening its thighs 
and the weekend gorged with promise.

Joseph Millar


The Gates of Love Budged an Inch

Just an ordinary day.

Casting for cash.
Mending our tools.
Minding our own business.

Then the Extraordinary enters,
asks us
to join Him 
in finding His lost sheep.

And the fools
run off with Him,
while the rest of us
have to hold the fort
without them.

A Great Leaf

A great leaf, that God and you and I
have covered with writing
turns now, overhead, in strange hands.
We feel the sweep of it like a wind.

We see the brightness of a new page
where everything yet can happen.

Unmoved by us, the fates take its measure
and look at one another, saying nothing.

Rainer Maria Rilke


The Poor Rich Man

The poor rich man
misheard the gospel.

He thought 
his fellow one percenter
went away mad
instead of sad.

"Oh, My God!"

Not only in church
and nightly by their bedsides
do young girls pray these days.

Wherever they go,
prayer is woven into their talk
like a bright thread of awe.

Even at the pedestrian mall
outbursts of praise
spring unbidden from their glossy lips.

 Billy Collins



No one’s hangin’ stockin’s up,
No one’s bakin’ pie,
No one’s lookin’ up to see
A new star in the sky.
No one’s talkin’ brotherhood,
No one’s givin’ gifts,
And no one loves a Christmas tree
On March the twenty-fifth.

Shel Silverstein

"...but deliver us from evil."

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

please deliver me from 
the pleasures of sins.

And when I fall,
grant me Your mercy
as I suffer its consequences.



Canticle of Mary

(The Magnificat)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
   and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be for ever,
world without end. Amen.

"...not into temptation"

(A meditation on each word(s)
 of the Lord's prayer)

Even though I profess
You are the one true God,
the world contains 
so many of
its own gods.

Trying to seduce me
that their fantasies 
are able to
fulfill my 
needs and wants.

may every choice
I make today,
be considered
Your Way
and the 
world's temptations.


A Christmas Circular Letter

The city had withdrawn into itself 
And left at last the country to the country; 
When between whirls of snow not come to lie 
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove 
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city, 
Yet did in country fashion in that there 
He sat and waited till he drew us out 
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was. 
He proved to be the city come again 
To look for something it had left behind 
And could not do without and keep its Christmas. 
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees; 
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place 
Where houses all are churches and have spires. 
I hadn't thought of them as Christmas Trees. 
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment 
To sell them off their feet to go in cars 
And leave the slope behind the house all bare, 
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon. 
I'd hate to have them know it if I was. 
Yet more I'd hate to hold my trees except 
As others hold theirs or refuse for them, 
Beyond the time of profitable growth, 
The trial by market everything must come to. 
I dallied so much with the thought of selling. 
Then whether from mistaken courtesy 
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether 
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, 
I said, "There aren't enough to be worth while." 

"I could soon tell how many they would cut, You let me look them over." 

                                    "You could look. 
But don't expect I'm going to let you have them." 
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close 
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few 
Quite solitary and having equal boughs 
All round and round. The latter he nodded "Yes" to, 
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one, 
With a buyer's moderation, "That would do." 
I thought so too, but wasn't there to say so. 
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over, 
And came down on the north.
                                     He said, "A thousand." 
"A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?" 

He felt some need of softening that to me:
 "A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars." 

Then I was certain I had never meant 
To let him have them. 
Never show surprise! 
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside 
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents 
(For that was all they figured out apiece), 
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends 
I should be writing to within the hour 
Would pay in cities for good trees like those, 
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools 
Could hang enough on to pick off enough. 
A thousand Christmas trees I didn't know I had! 
Worth three cents more to give away than sell, 
As may be shown by a simple calculation. 
Too bad I couldn't lay one in a letter. 
I can't help wishing I could send you one, 
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas. 

Robert Frost

"And lead us..."

(A meditation on each word(s)
 of the Lord's prayer)

It is true
that the angels
cheer and rejoice
over the one
that the Shepherd
has returned to the fold.

they are mystified
at the Master's
difficulty to
lead the 99
from the 
pastures of the past
fresh new meadows.


"...we forgive those who trespass against us."

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

The Physician

"In order to stop
you must end
this self-medication of 
and hurts."

But we respond:
"We will
really suffer!"

And He answered:
"Then healing 
can start."

So we make the decision-
Should we
consider this cure
start exploring
second opinions?

"As we..."

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

we're having this
nice conversation of
what You will provide
now and in the future.

And then
You bring 
into the discussion.

"What could we do for You?"
we ask.

And after a
moment of
the Other speaks
one word:


William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.


“Christmas traffic”

Three, two, one, liftoff
Signals Mission Control. And off they go.
To the dark parts of the planets
In their pressurized spacesuits,
Cocooned in technology, the astronauts.

Mission control whispers in someone’s ear.
Yes, she says, I will. And in due time
A different traveler makes a quieter journey,
Arriving hungry, naked, but true to instructions,
Docking on Earth, taking the one small step.

U. A. Fanthorpe

"And forgive us our trespasses"

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

As we cleanse
our temples
and rid 
ourselves of 
all the souvenirs
from the places
where we thought
we could find
unconditional love,

please take them
along with our
desires for them.

And afterwards, 
 lead us
your rebellious children
in a service
of rededication.


"Give us this day! "

(A meditation on each word(s)
of the Lord's prayer)

Give us this day
to live and share our love.

Give us this day
to take delight in You.

Give us this day
to be peacemakers in this hostile world. 

Give us this day
to be patient in this "me-first" world.

Give us this day
to show kindness to strangers.

Give us this day
to value our friendships.

At the end of this day
may we surrender all back to You
and petition You, 
our heavenly Father
to grant us one more day.

"Give us this day"

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

The Hand You’re Dealt

Every day
God deals us
our hand
for the day.

Some of us
in resignation.

Some of us
our way 
through the day.

And the rest
play the game
the way the Master 
taught them.

"...our daily bread"

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

The people of the Empire
wonder why 
the God of abundance
parcels out
His Providence
in daily packages,
the rest of the world
utters a 

The Vast Ocean Begins Just Outside Our Church: The Eucharist

Something has happened
to the bread
and the wine.
They have been blessed.
What now?
The body leans forward
to receive the gift
from the priest’s hand,
then the chalice.

They are something else now
from what they were
before this began.

I want
to see Jesus,
maybe in the clouds
or on the shore,
just walking,
beautiful man
and clearly
someone else

On the hard days
I ask myself
if I ever will.

Also there are times
my body whispers to me
that I have.

Mary Oliver


Happiness by Carl Sandburg

I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
     me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
     thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
     I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
     the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
     their women and children and a keg of beer and an

“On earth as it is in heaven”

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

Christian Nation

How will the
people of the Empire
who value
individual rights
be able to
an eternal life 
the singular rule 
of a 
a world
based on
rather than