View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

More on an accused priest, then some positive news

A few weeks back I responded to a request from our local daily for someone to become the blogger for Gates, the suburban community in which I live. I responded with two e-mails, a phone call, and, in response to request during that phone conversation, another e-mail detailing my background.

Nothing yet. Meanwhile, Gates still does not have its own blogger.

As I wait to hear back from them, Gates has been in the news.

Sadly, one of those items involves a priest allegedly involved in sexual improprieties (I'd reported on this earlier). The local weekly had a few more details.

The priest, 80-year-old Father John Steger, was accused of inappropriately touching a 12-year-old girl twice, once in April, once in May. The exact nature of that touching is not explained.

The weekly goes on to note that the police chief has received some calls from people "who think they have information." The article says the chief declined to say whether these calls involve possible witnesses or alleged victims.

Father Steger has been placed on administrative leave by the diocese.

Meanwhile, his arrest has unsettled the community. He is the founding pastor of his parish, he's a commisioner with the town fire district and a chaplian with the fire department. The police chief has been a parishioner at Father Steger's parish.

The whole situation is sad.

On a more positive note, the town hired a new finance chief. Annie Sealy will leave Nazareth College to become one of the highest ranking black female department heads in the entire county. Blacks comprise 12 percent of Gates' population.

Town Supervisor Ralph Esposito says she got the job because of her qualifications, not her race. That's as it should be. Still, it is heartening to see this happen.

Finally, on May 16 the Gates Chamber of Commerce honored a number of people in the community, including Sam Palma, who was named Outstanding Citizen of the Year.

I've known Sam for a number of years through serving on the Friends of the Gates Public Library Board with him, and being members of the same parish, St. Theodore's.

I also taught at Mercy High School for five years with his daughter-in-law, and her husband (his son) is the director of the permanent diaconate in the diocese.

Sam has been a member of the Friends for 20 years, organizing the successful used book sales among his other contributions. He has been active in other groups and the parish.

Good man. Good sense of humor too. He deserves the award.

I'm sure he enjoyed all the fuss, but I suspect he's more concerned with getting the next book sale organized.

And asking me to volunteer for it, of course.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

candle power

I have a piece at Chesterton and Friends talking about St. Francis and Chesterton as brother “poets.” Let me know what you think.

Writing the piece was a way to relax as I deal with Nana’s ills – she is to go to a nursing – Mollie, my wife’s dog, who will likely have to be put to sleep, the potential loss of my beard, selling my parents' home, contacting my long-lost nephew, rehearsing the students in the school play, finishing up the school year, and overall exhaustion.

As Ron Legest once said, “Some people burn their candles at both ends. I just throw mine in the fire.”

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Convicted murderer freed

Douglas Warney has a 68 IQ and AIDS.

He also has a criminal record that includes assault and robbery.

And up until last week, that record included a murder conviction.

Last week, Warney was released after 10 years in prison for murder.

A murder he did not commit.

In 1996, Warney confessed to killing William Beason in Rochester. But he then recanted that confession, and there is evidence that police interrogators may have helped to plant ideas in his 68 IQ brain.

The evidence just did not add up.

A car he said he escaped in was not available to him at the time of the murder. The bloody clothes he said he took off could not be found. The cut he said he sustained did not exist. He was somewhere else at the time of the killing. The blood found at the scene was that of the victim and another person – but not Warney.

Yet there was that fishy confession.

And Warney was not a model citizen.


He almost got the death penalty, but the jury settled for the lesser charge of second degree murder.

So he sat in prison a convicted murderer.

Until his case got the attention of the Innocence Project.

Using DNA testing not available just a decade ago, the Innocence Project got permission to test the unidentified blood found at the scene, and discovered it was that of Eldred Johnson.

Johnson is already serving time for another killing. He has now confessed to killing Beason.

Warney is now a free man. He just lost 10 years of his life.

It can be argued that this is proof that the system works. He was not found guilty of
first degree murder in the first place and thus not executed, allowing time for the truth to surface. He was eventually freed.

But what if he had not caught the attention of the Innocence Project? What if the DNA testing used to overturn his conviction were not now available?

How many other innocent men and women are serving sentences for homicide and other serious crimes?

How many have been executed?

What if they don’t get the attention of someone who can help? What if DNA tests are not permitted? What if DNA testing won’t help in their cases?

And who cares – especially if they are people with criminal records, AIDS and a 68 IQ?

Or Black?

Or poor?

Or anything else we don’t like?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is pretty clear that in places like the United States, “the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity `are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’” (2267)

But that doesn’t prevent situations like this in which a man sits in jail for a decade for a crime he did not commit.

The system worked. Sort of. But only after 10 years and outside interference.

We need to keep working to improve the system to prevent more cases like this.

Promoting the death penalty is not a way to improve the situation.

It just puts blood on our hands.

And sometimes, innocent blood.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Beardless Bard?

I teach at a small, private Christian school that's part of a nationwide network.

It's run by a denomination known as the Plymouth Brethren.

They don't want their children polluted by the kinds of influences they'd encounter in public schools. (Understandable.)

Or even regular Christian schools. (!)

The particular group that runs the school is very traditional - I liken them to Amish in the city. (Or the characters in the movie The Village.)

No radios. No televisions. No computers. No college. No eating with people who are not members of the denomination. Modest dress. Head coverings for women. Everything focuses on family and family businesses.

But unlike the Amish, no facial hair for men.

Yes, the men are all expected to be short-haired and clean shaven.

A gathering of Brethren men looks like a meeting of young Republicans.

When I was hired two years ago, they made an exception in my case. A short beard was allowed.

On Thursday, I was informed that they were tightening the rules across the nation for teachers: No more beards or moustaches.

So if I want to keep my job, I have to shave.

I have had a moustache for 33 years. Except for a foolish six months back in 1986, I've had a beard for the same length of time.

My wife has never seen me without a beard. She says my beard is one of the features about me she finds attractive. (Considering how few attractive features I have, I need all the help I can get!) (That's my view, not hers, by the way.)

She is not happy.

This would also mean that I could not be a natural-bearded Santa this year - losing out on $25 an hour.

Me, without a beard?

I know, a beard is just hair. It will grow back.

But it's been a part of my identity my entire adult life.


I'm looking for a new job.

Too bad: I like this one.

But if I don't find anything else -- razor time.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A milestone

With yesterday’s spike in page views (sadly, because of the Father Steger piece), my page view count topped 20,000.

Visits are up over 11,000.

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Traditionalist priest charged

80-year-old Father John Steger of the Diocese of Rochester has been charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.

Father Steger is the founding pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church in my town of Gates.

He’s charged with two counts of sexual abuse and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

In a statement, the Catholic Diocese of Rochester said Father Steger has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the criminal case. He will not be allowed to engage in any public ministry.

The diocese says it is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Father Steger was ordained in 1951. He’s been pastor at St. Jude since 1968. He previously served at St. Theodore Church (my church), St. Alphonsus Church in Auburn, and St. Joseph Church in Wayland.

According to a news broadcast, the alleged abuse involved inappropriate contact with the girl, who had come to clean the rectory. The incidents took place this year.

Father Steger, by the way, is one of the Diocese of Rochester’s arch-conservative priests. His parish has been a center of Marian and pro-life activities, and traditional devotions and services (I've attended a few).

He has a reputation of being a hard-line, by-the-book, old-style kind of priest. In his parish – and there was never any doubt it was HIS parish – his word was law.

He has been at odds with the diocese and some of his fellow priests at times because of his independent ways and his bluntness.

I have heard that he has not been well, and that there have been some questions about his mental state in recent years. If these reports are true, then they may provide some mitigating circumstances.

Still, if these abuse charges are true, it’s a real blow to the traditionalists here.

This whole business leaves me sad. Pray for him, the girl and her family, his parish, and this diocese.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Chesterton and me

Not long ago, I noticed a request in Chesterton and Friends ( for another blogger or two to help with the site.

As a fan of Chesterton, I liked the idea. He has certainly poked his head into this blog a few times.

So I contacted them, and beginning Thursday I will be one of the team contributing to that blog.

Chesterton and Friends is described as “A site dedicated to G.K. Chesterton, his friends, and the writers he influenced: Belloc, Baring, Lewis, Tolkien, Dawson, Barfield, Knox, Muggeridge, and others.”

I have long enjoyed the writing of some of the other “friends” (Lewis in particular), so this deeper foray into the realm of blogging should be a pleasure.

I will still maintain the foolishness that is this blog, of course.

And fear not, G.K. will still pop in here.

There’s enough of him to go around.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A good soul goes home

Mary Reilich has gone home.

She died April 12 at age 90. I just learned about it from the diocesan newspaper.

I met her years ago when I was the associate editor of the diocesan newspaper. She was soft-spoken and sweet and patient – the kind of woman who wears a perpetual smile.

She was also determined.

She’d had this wonderful idea: The people of the diocese should pray for their priests.

So she created a monthly prayer-request for priests calendar.

Each day of the month bears a different priest’s name -- either an active or retired diocesan priest, or an order priest serving locally. You pray for that priest on his day. Groups are sometimes prayed for, such as “vocations and seminarians.”

Reilich readily and humbly admitted the idea was not her own. The prayer-request calendar is an extension of an international apostolate that has existed since 1990.

But she got it off the ground here, selecting the names and assigning them days, and raising the money to run the calendar in the paper as an ad (our editor would not let it in for free).

When the money got too low to continue the ads, Reilich’s pastor offered to let her run it on the parish website (

I remember her coming in once a month. We’d sit and chat. She’d tell me how her fundraising efforts were going, how many people had contacted her about the calendar – including some priests – and how she had to keep on top of things because of so many older priests dying. She didn’t want to list a name of a priest who had just died. (I told her once that even dead priests might need a few prayers. She smiled and said I was probably right, but she didn’t want to cause hurt for loved ones left behind.)

The obituary noted that she always carried a rosary, was a daily communicant, and had a special devotion to Mary.

I’m not surprised.

She was a good soul.

Pray for her – and for priests.

Update on haiku/choir flaps

Went to the haiku meeting at the professor’s home.

It was this huge house with the two story addition that is home for just two people.

The woman he’d interrupted at the last meeting did not show up.

Nor did the best haiku poet in the group.

We did not decide on new leadership. (At least we hadn’t by the time I left; the meeting ran late and a few folks lingered, so maybe there was a coup!)

We did not read haiku.

We barely talked about haiku.

Instead, we toured his Japanese world: viewing dozens of bonsai trees – the trees kept trimmed so they are miniaturized and live in pots – did some arranging of sticks, flowers and branches (Ikebana), looked at some shaped stones, “listened” to incense, and held a tea ceremony in his tea house.

As he took up through his world, he kept up a running commentary about what everything meant, where he acquired some of his items, and the cost.

$60 for a small packet of incense?

$160 for a rock?

$10,000 for the tea house?

Part of me felt like the fellows in the Bible upset at the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume.

Another part of me appreciated his passion for these things.

But I kept wondering why he brought up money so much.

Was he trying to impress us?

Was he just sharing his amazement at the prices?

Was the money important to him?

Did he think the cost of things is something that would be important to us?

Who knows.

I found it all overwhelming – too many things crammed in – and excessive. I had the sense he very much needed to be in control.

And in the end, my overwhelming feeling was one of sadness.

As for choir –

The Jokerrrrr started in right away making jokes at the expense of the Junior Choir Director during practice before Mass.

I told him to knock it off.

At Mass, the Junior Choir Director was the cantor, so we did not sit near each other. After Mass he came over to me and apologized for what had happened Wednesday and said he’d been out of line.

That was classy of him.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Nana, the choir, haiku: Arrgh

Amid the usual twists and turns in my life - Nana is now in the hospital with a bowel infection and some possible heart problems - two of the more stable and pleasurable elements in my world have been my involvement with the choir at church and the Rochester Area Haiku Group.

But, God, with his typical sense of humor, has thrown some curves.

Or maybe the devil is at work!

In the choir, there are two fellows who are a little full of themselves (I'm not counting myself, of course).

One likes to make comments, jokes, argue, talk, etc. He sings loud and on key - great - but also has bad habits of holding "l's" and "r's". "Lord," for example, comes out not as "Lawd" (as our director would like to hear), but as "Lorrrrrrrrrd." And he keeps carrying on conversations while the director is trying to give us instruction.

The other fellow thinks he is the junior choir director. He constantly butts in to give directions to the other choir members about how to sing, when to pause, enunciation, etc. To be fair, he's usually right.

But he also seems to have it in for the joker. (Henceforth referred to as the "Jokerrrrrrrr.")

Mr. Junior Choir Director keeps making comments about the Jokerrrrrr - sometimes openly, sometimes under his breath (but loud enough for those around him to hear them). One practice, he stormed out after the Jokerrrrrrr made some comment back.

On Wednesday, the Jokerrrrr apparently sang a refrain in harmony when he wasn't supposed to.

The director halted us, and we tried it again.

Again, the harmony.

Junior Choir Director, who was sitting immediately to my left, made some comments, then, when we tried again, leaned over me toward the Jokerrrrrrr and bellowed the melody.

In my face.

Every time we came to the refrain.

In my face.

Even after we moved on, he kept making comments.

Then we got to a new, somewhat difficult piece. One of the problems was with the wording and rhythm of the song (it's a mouthful!).

We were struggling with it.

The director gave us some guidance, but we blew it again.

Then Junior Choir Director jumped in and started on this lengthy "instruction" about how the words follow the normal pattern of speech.

After finishing his oration, he continued to make comments about the wording and patterns of speech.

I commented that the way it is written is not the way I speak.

He fired back that he has a masters' degree in literature, so he knows.

I replied that I have a master's degree in literature, too, and it's not written the way I speak.

He kept making comments, now directed at me.

I finally turned to him and said, "I've stopped talking, why don't you? I'm getting annoyed."

He spent the next 15 minutes of practice with his back turned to me.

Then he suddenly grabbed his cell phone out of his pocket, talked into it, announced that he had to pick someone up, and left.


I'm not looking forward to Sunday. As basses, we usually sit near each other.

As for the haiku group, at the last meeting, the "coordinator" - a college professor who has a high pompous index - for some reason kept interrupting a woman.

The woman just happened to be a skilled poet and one of the founding members. After several interruptions, she stood up and left, obviously upset.

I thought of calling her, but had misplaced her number, then didn't get around to trying to dig it up. Mea culpa.

All the members later got an e-mail from the coordinator in which he apologized. He said that he had been just trying to keep the meeting moving.

The next meeting is this afternoon. It's at his home. He said we will be choosing new leadership today.

I hope the woman is there. I'll vote for her.

So, both of my havens have had tensions of late.

Meanwhile, no Mother's Day lunch with Nana now - unless we do it in the hospital.

And this is my first Mother's Day since mom's death.

I won't visit her grave - I'm not into that sort of thing.

Maybe I'll write a haiku.

Or sing a song.

I'll sing the melody and not the harmony, though.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

first attempt at a tanka

in a magazine
recognizing myself
in a poem you wrote

raindrops ripple a puddle
on the path from your house

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Chesterton and cheesy poets

I have quoted G. K. Chesterton a couple of times on the matter of cheese: “Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. “

Although I liked the humor of the quotation, I’ve always sensed it was wrong.

Surely there must have been have been poetic tributes to such a basic food? One can easily imagine a French “Ode de Fromage,” or an English “Canticle of Cheddar.”

So I went on line – a resource not available to Chesterton.

Poets have most certainly not been silent on the subject – including G. K. himself:


Stilton, thou shouldst be living at this hour
And so thou art. Nor losest grace thereby;
England has need of thee, and so have I –
She is a Fen. Far as the eye can scour,
League after grassy league from Lincoln tower
To Stilton in the fields, she is a Fen.
Yet this high cheese, by choice of fenland men,
Like a tall green volcano rose in power.
Plain living and long drinking are no more,
And pure religion reading 'Household Words',
And sturdy manhood sitting still all day
Shrink, like this cheese that crumbles to its core;
While my digestion, like the House of Lords,
The heaviest burdens on herself doth lay.

(Hmm. I think he owes Wordsworth a slice of cheese for this one!)

W. H Auden – a certified poet - penned:

A poet's hope: to be,
like some valley cheese,
local, but prized elsewhere

There are a number of other poems cited. One site I found – Cheesenet ( – has an extensive collection of cheese-themed verse.

The site includes some “Cheese-Ku” by John Mitchell

Open Limburger
This is one odor on which
I can't blame the dog

When cheese makers pray
They don veils of buttercloth
And face Wisconsin

As he burns the Swiss,
"Holy smoke!" the parson yells
Double Entendre

Yes, you're beautiful
Red lips, pink cheeks, yellow hair
But I prefer cheese

As I slice the cheese
I pray that I might grow old
Half as gracefully

Behold, Grasshopper!
It is milk, and yet not milk
More Zen than tofu

I also learned that when it comes to cheese, there is a poet laureate: James McIntyre of Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada.

The transplanted Scotsman died in 1906 after composing a number of verses about his adopted home, including its cheese making.

Indeed, he is often referred to as “The Cheese Poet” and “The Chaucer of Cheese” (and, alas, sometimes as “Canada’s Worst Poet.”)

One of his poetic efforts was the “Oxford Cheese Ode.”

The ancient poets ne'er did dream
That Canada was land of cream,
They ne'er imagined it could flow
In this cold land of ice and snow,
Where everything did solid freeze,
They ne'er hoped or looked for cheese.

A few years since our Oxford farms
Were nearly robbed of all their charms,
O'er cropped the weary land grew poor
And nearly barren as a moor,
But now the owners live at ease
Rejoicing in their crop of cheese.

And since they justly treat the soil,
Are well rewarded for their toil,
The land enriched by goodly cows,
Yie'ds plenty now to fill their mows,
Both wheat and barley, oats and peas
But still their greatest boast is cheese.

And you must careful fill your mows
With good provender for your cows,
And in the winter keep them warm,
Protect them safe all time from harm,
For cows do dearly love their ease,
Which doth insure best grade of cheese.

To us it is a glorious theme
To sing of milk and curds and cream,
Were it collected it could float
On its bosom, small steam boat,
Cows numerous as swarm of bees
Are milked in Oxford to make cheese.

Then there’s this verse:

Ode on the Mammoth Cheese
(weight over seven thousand pounds)

We have seen the Queen of cheese,
Laying quietly at your ease,
Gently fanned by evening breeze –
Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

All gaily dressed soon you'll go
To the great Provincial Show,
To be admired by many a beau
In the city of Toronto.

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees –
Or as the leaves upon the trees –
It did require to make thee please,
And stand unrivalled Queen of Cheese.

May you not receive a scar as
We have heard that Mr. Harris
Intends to send you off as far as
The great World's show at Paris.

Of the youth -- beware of these –
For some of them might rudely squeeze
And bite your cheek; then songs or glees
We could not sing o' Queen of Cheese.

We'rt thou suspended from baloon,
You'd caste a shade, even at noon;
Folks would think it was the moon
About to fall and crush them soon.

He also wrote a “Prophecy of a Ten Ton Cheese,” (Who hath prophetic vision sees/In future times a ten ton cheese,) “Hints to Cheese Makers”, “Father Ranney, the Cheese Pioneer,” “Lines Read at a Dairymen's Supper (And let us all with songs and glees/
Invoke success into the cheese
.), “Fertile Lands and Mammoth Cheese,” “Lines read at a Dairymaids' Social, 1887” (“In this land of cheese and butter,/ But no young man should be afraid/To court a pretty dairymaid.), and “Dairy Ode” (Our muse it doth refuse to sing/Of cheese made early in the spring,/When cows give milk from spring fodder/
You cannot make a good cheddar.

There was apparently an annual cheese poetry contest in his honor for a number of years – though I don’t know if it’s still being run.

Now lest you think Chesterton might, after reading the works of this bard of cheese, qualify his remark to say he meant “good” poets, remember, he also said:

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Chesterton and haiku

I don't know if G. K. Chesterton knew about haiku. Although haiku did not become well-known in the West until mid century, the west was beginning to learn about haiku in the first decades of the 20th century. Chesterton was an omnivorous reader, so it wouldn't surprise me if he knew something about it.

Perhaps a Chesterton scholar can provide an answer?

If he did know about haiku, I don't know if he ever tried writing one.

Again, any information Chesterton scholars?

Whatever the case, I suspect that Chesterton would have understood what haiku poetry is all about.

In haiku, the poet considers commonplace objects and experiences - a frog, a crow, snow, rain, a bowl of rice, peeing, whatever - and through that object or experience glimpses something deeper. For many haiku poets, that "something deeper" is spiritual in nature.

Chesterton certainly celebrated the commonplace - the objects in his pockets, cigars, beer, cheese, babies, a sprained foot - and used them not only as fodder for verse and essays, but as ways to glimpse the spiritual.

Chesterton, like the haiku poet, views the world with a sense of wonder.

He once wrote, "The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder."

Another part of haiku is a sense of humor about human nature. More properly, a haiku with a twist of humor is called a senryu.

Whatever you call it, the poet uses his poem to point to some element of human foolishness - pride, greed, jealousy, etc. - often with a dash of cynicism.

Chesterton is anything but cynical. But he certainly poked fun at his and others' foibles, and cherished a good chuckle.

"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly," he said.

And typical of Chesterton - and haiku poets - he sees a deeper meaning to laughter.

"I am in favor of laughter, it makes men forget themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves, something they can't resist."

So while he not have written haiku himself, it seems approriate for us to write haiku in his honor.

Maybe about cheese.

After all, as he noted, "Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."

Friday, May 05, 2006

My so-called Dada life (i.e. Nana and the haiku)

I came home yesterday to find a note from bottle rockets. They were buying one of my haiku – for $.50.

Let’s see, having sent it with a stamped, self –addressed envelope, the haiku cost me $.78 to mail.

So I lose $.28 on the deal.

Ah, the world of the haiku poet.

Still, I was happy. Publishing is publishing.

Then I got a call from Nana’s adult home. She’d fallen and was complaining of back pain. She had to go to the emergency room, but refused to get in an ambulance.

I had to take her.

Of course, the emergency room went code red (i.e. full), as did the other main ER in the area. Not enough emergency beds are available locally. Cost-cutting health providers … grr.

Five-hour wait.

After teaching all day.

She finally got x-rayed.

She has old compression fractures in her spine (typical of 91-year old women), and the fall tweaked one section. No new breaks, though.

Some pain medication prescribed. Then back to the adult home.

Then home for me to eat dinner and fall into bed.

Today, a day of teaching, then out to my dad’s adult home to deliver some prescriptions and adult diapers.

Tonight, I am zonked.

Tomorrow I have to get up at 4:30 to go to work at the radio station.

Hey, at least I sold a haiku.

Appropriately, it’s about coffee. (Sorry, I can’t publish it until they print it. Publisher’s rules)

And I only lost $.28.

There has to be something Dadaesque about this!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

crow/cat haiku

the crow in the tree
watching the cat on the porch
watching the crow

spring haiku

first warm spring day –
a bumblebee passes me
on the nature trail

Monday, May 01, 2006

St. Joseph was a Dada man

If Dada is an attempt to challenge the values of the world, if it is an embracing of that which the world views as absurd, then St. Joseph was a Dada saint.

Think about it.

Here he is, this nice Jewish guy, a craftsman, looking for a wife.

We don’t know if he was a young man newly established in his carpentry trade and ready to start a family, or an older widower with children. There are stories both ways.

But he wanted Mary.

We have no description of what she looked like. Yet she was full of grace, so there must have been some kind of beauty that emanated from her.

The kind of beauty that stirs men’s hearts.

Including Joseph’s.

He likely dreamed of all the joys that marriage to such a woman would mean.

And then he finds out she’s pregnant.

Any normal man of the world would have rejected her. Another man’s child in my wife-to-be?


Ah, but he was a saint. A Dada saint.

An angel came to him in a dream. An angel? A dream? Who believes such things? It’s absurd.

Yet he listened. He believed. He took her into his home.

And he did not touch her. Ever.

Never? You’re married and you never, ever?


He took her to Bethlehem. All these strangers came to visit his wife and her son.

He was in the background. The fuss was about them.

A forgotten man.

Why any man of the world with pride would have boasted of his role.

Yep. An angel came to me. That’s the Son of God. I’m part of this.

He never said a mumblin’ word.

Then another dream. Another angel.

Run off to Egypt? With a wife and newborn? Just leave my business?


They went. We don’t know how long they were there. Perhaps it was for just a short time. But if it lasted any length of time, Joseph must have had to find a job to support his family. Maybe he worked for someone else. Maybe he even started his own carpentry shop.

Then there was yet another dream, another angel. Go home.

Just uproot yourself. Forget about the new home you started and the business connections you made in Egypt. Go.

He did.


And then there was that trip to Jerusalem. The boy goes off on his own.

He deserved a thrashing for that.

And tossing that “father’s business” crack in Joseph’s face.

Rubbing it in, right? I’m not your son.

Not a word.

And his role over, Joseph simply disappears.

What kind of man was he? What kind of man would put up with that?

A saint.

A Dada saint who embraced this absurdity and set an example for the world.

Amen the Amen!

A nod to St. Joseph the Worker

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

He is, of course, my assigned saint for the year. He’s also my confirmation name (my middle name is Francis, so I have two saints I like as part of my name).

Pope Pius XII created the feast in May 1, 1955 – a month before I was born. Pius reportedly did it as a response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists.

Of course, he’s long been associated with work anyway. So many of the depictions of Joseph are of him at work in his shop (sometimes with Jesus).

Here’s a little prayer for the occasion:

Prayer to Saint Joseph, Patron of Workers

Glorious Saint Joseph, you are the pattern of all who work. Obtain for me, please, the grace to work conscientiously and to put devotion to duty before my selfish inclinations. Help me to labor in thankfulness and joy, for it is an honor to employ and to develop by my labor the gifts I have received from almighty God. Grant that I may work in orderliness, peace, moderation and patience without shrinking from weariness and difficulties. I offer my fatigue and perplexities as reparation for sin. I shall work, above all, with a pure intention and with detachment from self, having always before my eyes the hour of death and the accounting which I must then render of time ill-spent, of talents unemployed, of good undone, and of empty pride in success, which is so fatal to the work of God. For Jesus through Mary, all in imitation of you, good Saint Joseph. This shall be my motto in life and in death. Amen.