A single year



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January 29, 1988
Dear God, it is 11:50 pm and I am tired. I promised to write each day this year and so I am writing. I have just finished preparing an exhausting income tax return for a young couple who is seriously in debt.
I have gone out of my way to treat them in a most fair way. That is of course, only what I am supposed to do.
Maybe through me they can learn something of you. I hope so.
Well as you know , we are worried about getting a job. Please find one for us.
We love you and thank you for hanging on to us. Please don't turn us loose.
Your friend,
John
January 30, 1988
I was privileged to be the song leader at the 4:30 mass today. I really felt like a minister. I guess I mean that because people openly responded to my song leading, I felt I had made a contribution to the success of the service.
Now I know that bread would have become the body and blood of Christ if I had not been there. I think what I mean is that in order for the fullness of Christ's presence to be felt; it is necessary for the whole celebrating community to actively take part in the praising of God. Because the people that were at this mass responded to my song leading by singing strongly, I was aware of their participation in the mass. The people became a core part of the celebration. Along with the principal celebrant, the priest; the other ministers such as myself, the Eucharistic ministers etc.; the community itself took an active part in the celebration.
In reality this is what should happen each and every time the mass is celebrated. I think this is why church law is that in order for a priest to celebrate the Eucharist, the community or a part of the community must be present. Priest, community, and the presence of God make for the finest of all combinations of love.
Always aware that some people may decide to listen to me sing rather than take an active personal role in the singing. I try to stand as still as possible and I try to use a minimum of gestures. The reason for standing still is so I will not accidentally detract from what is taking place on the altar. The same thing with the gestures. You see I am not the star of the show. There is only one star and it is of course, our Lord! I also try to begin each song as surely and strongly as I dare, after the song has begun I can then moderate my voice and try to sing with the people.
This day I was able to be a song leader at the beginning of each song. The quieter I got the more I heard so many people singing. It gave me chills listening to the people sing. Usually people do respond to my song leader abilities, but today was special. Hearing the people of God singing God's praises made me feel very special. I thank God for the privilege.

January 31, 1988
Well, one month has past since I began this collection of written thoughts. Why not just call it what it is, a journal? Well, in many ways it is much more than one person's journey. You see I believe God has chosen me to write special things down on paper. Now, I can give no reason for God choosing me to do this thing. Frankly, I would seem to be a most unlikely candidate to do this. I certainly have no formal training and my abilities seem to be fair at best. There can be no doubt though, this is what God has asked me to do. In general I have been most reluctant to do what I think God wants. Usually I will try to do anything but what God wants. This one time in my life, I am determined to do God's will no matter what. One twelfth of the way. Eleven more months to go.
The Super Bowl was on today. I watched the complete game, with some pizza and a cone. After the game was over and Washington had won, I saw some most interesting things. The Washington quarterback was a black man who had come into the NFL about ten years previously. He had played for an expansion team that like all expansion teams lost more games than it won. The team he played for was in Florida, the deep south. When his team lost ten years ago, this young talented man suffered much verbal abuse. Quite a bit of that abuse was centered on the color of his skin. A most common comment was that black quarterbacks did not have the mental ability to direct a winning football team. You see black people in general and black quarterbacks specifically were not as smart as white people and especially white quarterbacks. After winning this Super Bowl and in the process being selected most valuable player of the game, Doug Williams, black quarterback, was asked how it felt to be the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl. Doug answered in words similar to these. He said, when I came to Washington, I came as a quarterback; not a black or white quarterback, but as a quarterback. Well Doug, you probably did. But if you did, then you were very much ,excuse the pun, in the minority. You see Washington is a northern city made up mostly of black people. Those black people with their white neighbors really support the Washington Redskin team you play for. Those black people, mostly black working people, were pulling not only for their team to win, but also for their quarterback to do well. And he did, Doug.
You know, my father and sister, whom I love and respect so very much are in their way, racist. I accept them. I love them. I do not understand how they can be the way they are. You see, Doug, if you were driving your car and you broke down in front of them, I really believe my dad would stop and offer to help you. As soon as he finished helping you, he'd lean over to me and assure me that he was not a racist because he'd just helped you a poor colored boy who was in trouble. Today, my dad and my sister was pulling for you to have a good game. You see they live in Florida across the peninsula from Tampa. The fact that you were a black quarterback did not seem to matter. The fact that they probably were among your biggest detractors, although they deny it now, did not matter. They were for you. They were not for Washington. They were for Doug Williams because he used to play down there.
Me, I was for John Elway and the Broncos. Sorry, Doug. I did not care if you were black or white, I just thought Elway was good enough to take you guys on and get job done.
Well, my friend, I was wrong. For one incredible quarter, you were the greatest quarterback that ever played the game - black, white, green, yellow, or any color. Now you know, I am a Fran Tarkinton, Dan Marino, John Unitas fan from way back. Hey, you were the best, for that one incredible quarter. I thought Denver kind of quit at the half. I had really expected a 42-35 game with you and Elway combining for 750+ yards. I thought you would win at the half. I never expected the second half to be routine which it was. You played a fine game and I hope will be recognized for what you are and have been, a fine quarterback. I'm glad black people can take pride in you. I'm glad I can take pride in you and I'm glad my dad and sister and quite a few of your Tampa "friends" can take pride in you.
I want you to know though, my pride in you is not because you are black. My pride is in what you did and how you did it both on the field and off of it, I never once thought the amount of brains anyone had was determined by the color of the skin. I have to tell you my friend, after what you did today, a lot of other people should reconsider their positions. Unfortunately many of those people will take away from your accomplishment by coming up with excuses such as you didn't do it, your line did it...etc. Well, you did do it and you were magnificent.
The Lord God himself told us to love our neighbor. Jesus neglected to say which color neighbor to love so I guess he meant we were to love all our neighbors. You are my neighbor, Doug Williams, and I not only love you but I am very proud of you. Thank you for providing one of the most exciting quarters of football any football fan could ever ask for. It was incredible!

February 1, 1988
One of the most popular movies of last year was the movie, fatal attraction. An incredible number of people paid an even more incredible amount of money to go see this movie. I had heard and read a little about what the movie was about and frankly, I was intrigued. I mean supposedly this movie is one of the great thrillers of recent times. I am an out and out Michael Douglas fan, no doubt partially because I was an out and out Kirk Douglas fan also. But the subject matter did not appeal to me and so I put off going to see this movie.

Now let's be truthful. I am a real movie person. I love movies. Usually I can find something to enjoy in most any movie I go see.


Well, I found myself one night with something very unusual for me. Time alone. I had gone to upstate New York to pick up my daughter at college and bring her back home for the holidays. That night before we left for home, she went out for a final night out with a friend. I did not mind but I was alone. I looked for a movie to go to and found a real bargain or so it seemed. Fatal attraction for one dollar. Well I simply could not pass it up.
Michael Douglas was married to a beautiful woman who apparently loved him and had a very beautiful daughter who loved him. He seemed to love them. Inside of twenty minutes into the movie, he found himself alone for a weekend. Now I was alone so I could empathize with him. It isn't much fun. But he managed. Boy did he manage. He allowed himself to set aside his feelings for his wife and daughter long enough to rather easily be seduced by another young woman who did not really care what his married situation was.
After he has sex very lustfully, and we in the audience were treated(?) To some very graphic sexual scenes, well, Michael is ready to go back to being a happily married daddy as though nothing has happened. His sex toy did not want that to happen. She tries to rather clumsily kill herself and sure enough mike's got to take care of her. Some story, right. Thriller of the year.
Now I always thought some of the fun of a thriller was not knowing what was going to happen next. We all knew exactly what was happening in this movie. I got up and left before the exciting twelve to fifteen final minutes. Actually I left a lot before then.
Let's see if I got this right. I am a married man alone, away from home, and lonely, so I go to see the thriller of the year. I see a man risk everything most men ever want, or work for all their life, a loving wife and child, plus his career. All for sexual intercourse with an exciting woman who wanted him for the moment. The woman gets mad when the man wants to go back to his wife and child and acts as though what happened between them was just a moment of savage lust. The woman scorned follows mike and wife to their new home, makes friends with mikes wife. Mike tells her to stop. She doesn't like that. She tries to kill mike and wife and maybe kid. I did not stay for that part. I bet mike and wife and kid survive.
It wasn't worth my dollar.
I think movies can be both graphic and meaningful. Two movies, Missing and Salvador come to mind. I think a movie can make you feel good all over and ET comes quickly to mind. I think sex in a movie can sometimes add to the enjoyment of a movie. I don't know why, certainly it was immoral, but I was not uncomfortable in the movie an officer and a gentleman. I understood the movie-maybe it just brought back our own memories of my time in officer candidate school. Sex was very explosive and breathless between us back then. Partially because we were so young and so scared about so much. We understood an officer and a gentleman.
I remember coming out of midnight cowboy and hearing everyone rave about how great it was. My wife and I looked at each other and both agreed we thought it was a horrible movie. The whole story revolves around a drug addict and a male prostitute. I remember coming out of the movie, guess who's coming to dinner, on the other hand feeling good. It was a super movie, if not very realistic, at the very least, very enjoyable.
Fatal attraction was like Midnight Cowboy. The story was wrong. Because of the story line, it did not matter that the acting was superb. Now I know that fatal attraction may well be voted the best picture of the year. Wouldn't that say something to all of us? Shouldn't the best movie of any year be the movie that brought the most enjoyment to the most people? Maybe fatal attraction did that. I really wonder. I wonder how many people went to see it because they heard it was so good and after seeing it felt almost obliged to agree. I wonder how many husbands and wives really felt comfortable in that movie. I wonder what good comes out of a movie like that. What did it teach? What did it say about the world we live in? What does it say about our view of marriage when we support movies that make a thriller out of the acts of violating all that is sacred about marriage? Maybe the last few minutes were extremely exciting and I certainly agree there is a certain special enjoyment to a special thriller. Anyone who has ever been to an Alfred Hitchcock movie knows exactly what I mean. I just did not want to get my thrills watching an adulterous deranged woman try to kill her former sex partner and his wife. I was just a little disappointed, not surprised, disappointed, that so many others did want to get their thrills that way.
Well, I've held that in for about two months. I'm glad I got it out.

February 2, 1988
Today was the feast of the presentation of Jesus in the temple by his parents, Mary and Joseph. It is a special day for many reasons. I like to think of it as the coming out of Jesus, actually, Mary and Joseph took Jesus there to fulfill the law of their God which required that every first born male should be dedicated to the Lord. In the act of doing this thing, a man to whom it had been promised by God that he would live to see the Lord's promised messiah, took the child Jesus in his arms and acknowledged aloud that Jesus was the light of the world. At the very same time this man was acknowledging Jesus as the Lord's messiah, Anna, a very old woman also began to speak of who the child Jesus was to all who would listen.
Jesus was presented by his earthly parents in accordance with the law. Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to God as their man child. At once the Lord made it clear that although Jesus was a man child, let there be no doubt as to who Jesus really was.
To Mary and Joseph this public acknowledgement by two very wise and well respected people or God was a clear reminder that this child had indeed come to them in a most special way. It was a clear reminder that Jesus had been placed in their human care but also that he, Jesus, was firmly in the Lord God's care. you know after what they had been through, fleeing in the night after Jesus' birth and all, I wondered if maybe Mary and Joseph were growing just a little too possessive. I mean they loved this Jesus child. Maybe when they presented him to his real father, and his real father made it so clear once again to Mary and Joseph just who Jesus was, maybe they felt honored at being entrusted with such responsibility. Maybe they because they were of human nature, felt a little twinge of sadness over the realization that someday Jesus would leave them and go about what it was that he was put on this earth for. If they did feel such sadness, I think it would even make them more special to me. I would have felt somewhat that way if I was Joseph and Jesus had been entrusted to me.
I would also have been honored, of course. I think I would have asked the Lord at least once or twice, why me? Why entrust me with the raising of the hope of the world? If Mary was my wife, I think perhaps our relationship would have become so special that nothing could have come between us.
A comment or two from the carpenter, Joseph.
You see, as husband and wife, we 'together were given this special honor. God did not choose Mary by herself. God knew it would take a very understanding, gentle, and special man to be not only the father of Jesus but the husband of Mary. For me both jobs shared the same importance. I know, you would think Joseph would be more concerned with the raising of the son of God. But you see, %, Joseph knew, Jesus was the son of God. Ultimately he was going to be fine. Mary on the other hand as perfect as she was and she was perfect in every manner, yet, Mary was of human nature. She needed a strong gentle shoulder to lean on and to provide her with the support she needed. She was very young. She was a natural mother from the first moment of Jesus' human life. Mary not only mothered our, God's and our human son, she gave him direction that only a mother could give. Mary was always there for me. Yep, I'd get tired and down a little especially as I got older. You know, I, Joseph was much, much older than Mary. Mary's wifely love and devotion to me sustained me every time I thought of what lay ahead for Jesus. No one knows this, but Mary and I, Joseph had been given a vision of where and what Jesus would be enduring. No, God did not
just drop Jesus in on us and leave us. God the father was there in every way all the time we were on this journey.
I said earlier that Mary was of human nature. That might have implied I was not. Let me assure you I was most human. You know people tend to confuse holiness with loving, trusting and obeying God. I was not especially holy. I was a man of the world. Yet God still chose me. I knew that my God did not make mistakes. If God chose me, I'd be ok. I just knew God would give me whatever strength and answers I needed to do the job he had given me. I loved God, I trusted him and I did my darndest to obey God, but, holy, I never ever thought of myself that way. Mary, now that was a beautiful and yes a holy lady. Now if you took your child for let's say a formal baptism, you would kind of expect every one to of course make over the child. You might if you were human, expect people to kind of pat you on the back a little and tell you what a good job you did, you know, make over you a little also. Well, that didn't quite happen like we thought it would. Instead these two very well respected wise people of God announced to everyone in a rather loud voice just who our son really was.
I think Mary and I needed that. It sort of brought us back down to reality. You can say without a doubt, we remembered who Jesus was and where he had come from.
Well I guess you can see why this day was such a special day for me.

February 3, 1988
Have you ever been guilty of trying so hard to be considerate, that you ended up being inconsiderate? You know what I mean, you want to go see one movie and you know your wife wants to go see another movie so out of consideration for each others feelings you go see something entirely different and wind up totally bored. It has happened to me and about much more important things than just r movie.
For example, sex. Sometimes I am really attracted to my wife and would like to have a spontaneous loving act right then. Often she will not even be aware that I felt that way until much later. You see, I really love my wife and she really loves me so we try to be considerate of each other. In trying to be considerate toward her often the reason I do not simply whisper something sweet, etc. In her ear is that I am aware that she maybe doesn't feel good, or perhaps I am aware of just how tired she is or any number of other reasons. All of these reasons are real and would more than justify my claim of being considerate. She will do the same thing to me.
The problem is that in trying to be considerate we may not be giving the other person a chance to really express their feelings about what it is we are being so considerate about. Perhaps my wife as yucky as she is feeling, would really like to be made love with. Perhaps the act of love would pick up her spirits.
I think what I am so poorly trying to say is that directness has its place. Darling, I know you'd like to see this movie so well see my choice some other time. Darling, I know you are feeling yucky yet you look so wonderful to me I wondered if... And on the wife's part there must be honesty. Hey, it's always a pleasure making love with you but you're right, I just don't feel like it right now.
Of course the difficult part of this is that feelings get in the way of good sense. We take offense if we do not get the answer we expect. Hey I do too. All of us do. If we know we are going to take offense at the wrong answer then why bother to ask. If we know the answer before we ask there is no need ask. It would seem that we should ask the question and we should not take offense at an answer that is not to our liking. If we can do that then we really are trying to be considerate.
So I guess what I have written this day is that we should be considerate. We should ask when we have a need. We should not expect to receive the answer we would like every time we ask. We should not be offended when in fact we receive the quote, wrong answer. This I think is what consideration is all about.

February 4, 1988
There is chance involved in almost everything we are and we are involved in. Even the act of breathing involves chance. There is the off chance we might breathe in air that is so polluted by an unseen, unfelt, unsmelled substance that we might die from breathing what seems to be ordinary, even extraordinary good and pure air.
Obviously there is chance every time we get into a car. Who really knows if someone else might not drive into us and kill us even if we are a very good driver and are being again extra careful. Can we control any one of the other people driving cars at the same time we are driving?
What about the chance involved when we get on an airplane" you know the saying, what goes up must come down. What if our pilot suddenly decides to kill us all? Do you really think you could stop him?
How about going to a safe fast food place like a McDonalds? What could be safer than a McDonalds? What if some demented person takes a gun into McDonalds just as you are there? What if he or she decides simply to shoot and kill everyone in sight at that McDonalds? It has happened at least once, could it not happen again?
Chance is involved in so much that sometimes we begin to think our life is controlled by chance. Haven't you ever thought that who you are was not near as important as who you knew? How often it happens that the most successful people are the ones who are in the right place at the right time. At least it seems as if some people just know when or where to be.
Through the chance of birth you were born poor. Another person was blessed with parents having money so it was a more prestigious school for them then you could afford and so they have the better job.
Certainly by chance you were born white and not yellow or black or red.
By chance you were born a free man in America. Chance dictated that you were not born a slave before the civil war.
For sure then, or so it would seem, chance is really what determines your future along with determining who you are.
Where does God fit into chance? Does God fit into chance? And what about free will? Does chance negate free will?
First of all I don't see chance as having anything to do with anything at all about any of us. You and I are creations of God's infinite love. In a way we are explosions of God. It was not by chance that God created you or me. Indeed it was by and because of love that we were created. This love is a part of us from the beginning of our time and will never leave. Free will is the gift that our loving creator gave each of us in order to allow us individually and as community to choose to accept God's great gift of love. God does not take chances. We are a sure thing in the eyes of the Lord God. Our God knows each of
us in the most personal of ways. God knows if we really love him-God knows after any and every thing that has happened, just what it was that happened and who caused it, why it was done. If we are happy or sad and what the ramifications are. What's more God knows all this all before we ever think of doing it. God's knowledge is what causes chance to be non existent.
Now is everything all planned out in every way? No indeed! Free will gives us the opportunity to change so much both before and after it has happened. God's all knowing does not negate our right to change everything. Even though God knows what is and what will be, God does not interfere. God simply and always loves man.
Chance comes about only when there is no choice. If there is choice, there is free will. What ever free will chooses is not chance but is the act of living out opportunity granted to each of us in our creation. There is never no choice. Maybe the choice will end up with the same result. It does not matter. There is always choice. Again this choice is a result of each creation of mankind by God having the gift of free will.
Free will is God's love acted out by man. When the action of free will is an action reflecting the acceptance of God's love within the, act, it is the ultimate act of love. When it is an act devoid of consideration that all acts include God's love, it is the worst kind of act. This act is never an act of chance but always an act of the choosing reflecting the free will gift that man received from a loving God at creation.

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