The One Upper

I once lived with a friar who was a notorious one-upper. For every story that everyone else in the house would tell of their lives, he had a better one. After a while, it became so obnoxious that we really wondered if he wasn’t making much of it up. Then the game began, and some of us would make up outrageously ridiculous stories just to see if he would take the bait and counter with an even more outlandish story that couldn’t possibly be true. Needless to say, he is no longer “with the firm”. Aside from this guy’s poor… Read More

Taking Charge

As I write this I am not sure when Coach K will return to the sidelines from back surgery to Coach the Duke Men’s basketball team. He has been recuperating for a number of weeks and in the interim, he has tasked his Assistant Coach Jeff Capel to lead the team. While illness can force any number of issues, it is still difficult to turn over the reins of a prized possession to someone else. Duke basketball has become synonymous with Coach K’s name, and letting anyone else lead it for any reason is not done lightly. Imagine doing it… Read More

A Compelling Voice

In a world of competing voices, which one wins?  Sometimes it is the loudest, other times it is the most urgent, and still other times it is the most well-reasoned.  As I regularly reflect on how to reach the many students on Duke’s campus with the message of Jesus, I often feel caught in a competition of those very competing voices, and I wonder if the students are listening.  It is clear that they are, but it is not so clear to whom they are paying most attention.  More importantly, what voices can get them to act? This Sunday’s Gospel… Read More

Things Take Time

Every time I am in the car with Fr. Brad and we come to the corner at the end of our neighborhood, if Fr. Brad has to wait to turn left for more than 20 seconds, he declares that we have been waiting for at least 10 minutes and the cure for this horrendous waste of time is that the city should put a traffic light at that corner.  Given the hyperbole, it caused me to examine how much I do the same thing, not only at that corner, but often in so many other ways of everyday life (slow… Read More

Lesser is More-er

Humility gets a bad rap.  For some, it requires such a denial of who they are as to seem oppressive.  For others, it is so associated with a false self-deprecation as to be dishonest.  And for still others, why be humble when you are as great as I am (the Pharisee in Sunday’s Gospel or other current prominent figures in the news come to mind).  Regardless, humility is hard to embrace well and it stands as a character trait that is little celebrated in our culture.  Then why is it so held up by Jesus? Jesus’ very life is a… Read More

You can’t serve 2 (or 222) masters…

“Do you place any conditions on your marriage?” “No” they reply, every time I ask the question in marriage prep with couples.  It is a question that must be asked and answered, and who can imagine any young couple saying anything but no.  And yet, we all know that conditions get put on relationships all the time, such as:  I will love you as long as you love me; are faithful to me; don’t change into something I don’t like; etc. Whatever happened to the unconditional yes? Jesus puts a similar challenge before us in the Gospel this Sunday.  He… Read More

A Broken Part…

There are some people on the planet who are capable of fixing their own cars – I am not one of them!  That said, my passenger side low beam headlight went out this week and, not wanting to take it to the dealership, I went to a local auto parts store to buy a new one to install myself.  After all, how difficult can it be?  I can certainly change a lightbulb – the principle is the same.  As I was contorting my hand to get the burnt bulb out, I noticed that the bulb went on.  Maybe it wasn’t… Read More

I must be in the front row!

There is an old Miller Lite commercial where Hall of Fame baseball announcer Bob Uecker, famous for self-deprecating humor, is being ushered out of his stadium box seats falsely believing that he is being invited to something better.  He exclaims “I must be in the front row” as he is ushered to the far corner of the upper deck (Google it – it is far more clever than my description).  Front row seats are a prized possession in so many venues – except Church!  Why won’t anyone sit in the front row(s)? This Sunday’s Gospel might give some the answer… Read More

Medal Count

As the summer Olympics come to a close, I must admit to a somewhat daily ritual these past few weeks – checking the medal count.  For some inbred patriotic reason, I find myself wanting to make sure that the good ole’ USofA finds itself at the top of the leaderboard showing our mastery of sport with a dominance on the world stage.  Alas, no thanks to me, it would seem that my hopes will be realized with (at the writing of this column) the USA in a comfortable position to take home not only the most medals, but also the… Read More

Uncomfortable Chaos

It is uncomfortable to watch members of each party during this presidential race forced to swallow hard as they find themselves conflicted between what they believe in their heart and party loyalty.  Not wanting to be seen as undermining their candidate with critical remarks about a candidate’s poor choice or ill begotten statement, they often find themselves saluting (however weakly) something that they really don’t believe.  In some cases, the response is almost overkill, with the thought that it if I “double down” (a phrase that has been overused this political season), I may sooner be able to wash the… Read More