Posts tagged: Bishop John McCarthy

Onward Through the Fog

By , May 4, 2014 10:50 am

Bishop John McCarthy


Surprise, surprise! I’m a little embarrassed about having disappeared from this spot for the last couple of weeks without any explanation, but we’ve had some special circumstances, including turnover in our chancery staff, that disrupted this daily blog. Let me say, however, that I am very proud of the fact that we did indeed produce daily blogs for over four years, with little repetition in the subject matter. Creating this commentary each day, for lo those many months, has been a real delight for me. I no longer have steady access to a pulpit, so being able to share with so many friends- and I do mean FRIENDS- what I thought about this or that issue was a true joy.

There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven:
A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, a time for uprooting what has been planted.
A time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building.
A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning, a time for dancing.
–Ecclesiastes

Thank you so much for visiting this space, and let’s walk into the future with FAITH and LAUGHTER,conscious that it is a battered, worried world, but that ultimately, our loving God is in charge.

Let me send you “onward through the fog” with one of my favorite Irish blessings:

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind always be at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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At Last, A Book!

By , September 23, 2013 5:02 am


For years and years, I have laughingly told people that I was going to write a book. Of course, the possible topic would change on the basis of to whom I was speaking. However, that elusive book has finally been published. It actually started in a roundabout way. I was giving a talk to a group of elementary and middle school students at St. Theresa’s here in Austin, and I really stressed the evil of bullying. Bullying is terribly destructive, and I feel very strongly that our society needs to deal with this issue better than we have. Afterwards, a friend of mine, Dr. Drew Grimes, gave me a delightful small book (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart)- a book that included many topics in small chapters, written in a very encouraging and positive style. Drew’s wife, Dr. Jill Grimes, joined me in the project, and you can see the effect in the advertisement on your right!

The book actually touches on nearly 150 different subjects, but they are tied together by what (in my opinion) is an easy, relaxed conversational style. No threats, no condemnations- very little that is negative. The response has been extraordinary! We had two initial book signings- one at St. Louis, King of France, that drew over 600 people, and the next day, approximately 400 people attended another signing event at Book People.

The reaction happily leaps across denominations and binds generations. I’ve found that parents of adult children have been especially responsive when they see the positive reaction from the younger generation. Interestingly, it has also worked the other way around, where young adults have given the book to their parents.

How wonderful to be able to enjoy an experience like this when you are a mere six years from 90!

Thanks be to God!

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What a Night!

By , August 19, 2013 5:17 am


Many thanks to Father Larry and his hospitality committee for hosting our book signing at Saint Louis King of France Catholic Church last night! The event was a marvelous success, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and enthusiasm. It was wonderful to see everyone smiling, laughing and getting to know their neighbors in the long lines. And what a joy to know every penny of profit from these sales is going to Saint Louise House, to help those previously homeless, hard-working mothers and their precious children to get a fresh start.

We look forward to seeing more friends at Book People on Lamar tonight at 7pm for another book selling/signing/speaking event.
God Bless you!

Photo: Lampert

Photo: Lampert

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There Comes A Time…

By , October 30, 2012 4:21 am


On September 30th, I experienced what I think is an important event in my life. I celebrated Mass at St. John Neumann Parish in Austin. I had a difficult time getting through it and took this opportunity to tell the congregation that this would most likely be the last time that I would be the principal celebrant at a large Sunday Mass. I frequently tell people that I am not that old. I am really a youthful 82 but those altar steps have gotten too high for me.

With this experience in my life, I was profoundly moved by a comment on the same subject by a very important Brazilian theologian who is now a layman. He was a Franciscan, a proponent of liberation theology. He is still active despite his age.

Referring to that age, he recently stated that:

“Old age is the last stage of human growth. We are born whole, but we are never completed. We must finish our birth, creating our existence, opening up paths, overcoming difficulties, molding our destiny. We are always in genesis. We start being born, we continue being born, by stages throughout life until we finish our birth. Then, we enter the silence. And we die.”

“Old age is the last opportunity life gives us to finish our birth, to mature and finally, to end our birth. In this context Saint Paul’s words are illuminating: “To the same extent that the outer man perishes, the inner man is renewed.”
(2 Corinthians 4:16). Old age is a demand by the inner person.”

“What is the inner person? It is our deepest self, our singular way of being and behaving, our trade mark, our most radical identity. We must confront this identity, face to face. It is intensively personal and hides behind the many masks that life imposes on us. For life is a big stage on which we play many roles.”

As you may know, Liberation Theologians were condemned, silenced and persecuted for being “too political.” Making “political” choices, the Vatican opted to support murderous dictatorial regimes. I think that explains the difference between “good politics” and “bad politics.”

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When It’s Over, It’s Not Over

By , August 17, 2012 4:12 am


I’m 82 years old, or as a rather insensitive friend said to me last week, “not right, John, you are actually only 8 years from 90″. That mathematical switch went through me like a knife. I thought it over and realized that while the math was identical, the emotional response varied somewhat.

I wonder if it’s because I am in the ninth decade that I am suddenly becoming aware that people I have known for so long have a tendency to move on ahead of me. It certainly is food for thought…and I’m thinking!

I have been molded and formed by the Roman Catholic faith, and although it has many rough edges, it is extraordinarily optimistic. Catholicism has always held that human nature is essentially good, but weak. Martin Luther, on the other hand (who has a moderate amount of influence in the Christian story) always taught that human nature was essentially corrupt, and only faith in Jesus Christ could overcome the evil that was innate in the human condition. These thoughts pass through my mind as I find myself journeying from funeral to funeral. Funerals are profoundly important. They bring together people who have not seen each other in years. They create an atmosphere that calls for reconciliation. Tears flow. But laughter abounds!

All of this is even more true for people who are Irish. “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy” (W.B. Yeats).

If I said that I enjoyed funerals, I would be misunderstood, because they are usually connected with sadness. But, if a person is committed to the Christian faith, that sadness should be seen as a short term, immediate reality, and beyond the pain is a vestibule opening into eternal life & eternal joy.
There is so much real tragedy, so much agonizingly unnecessary suffering in the world, that we Christians should give an example of hope, optimism and joy when someone we love escapes into eternal life.

Does that mean we are not to cry, not to shed tears when we experience the agonizing loss of a loved one? Not at all. But with the eyes of faith, look beyond that casket. See through that tombstone. See the purpose for which each one of us came into being, which is now being fulfilled.

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The Bishops Vs. Obama

By , March 9, 2012 4:36 am

Photo by Nicole Grimes


For the last month, the media have been filled with a conflict which is usually framed as a conflict between the Catholic bishops and the Obama Administration. Three of the Republican candidates picked this up and accused the Obama administration of waging war on the Catholic Church. We are certainly witnessing a clash in values on this issue between the Administration and the Roman Catholic moral traditions but calling the differences “a war” is a cheap political shot.

The Administration made a terrible political blunder and lately is trying to correct it. The issue is that new directives are demanding that all employers must provide insurance that would cover contraceptives and some form of abortion. The bishops are not the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is a faith community of approximately 65 million members divided into every imaginable subgroup, but what unifies most of them is the appreciation that the United States has always guaranteed them and all others freedom of religion. Millions of those Catholics are now very angry and unless the present impasse is adequately corrected, it will have a measurable effect on the November election.

An editorial of the National Catholic Reporter said it well. “Catholics of all stripes have voiced their deep concerns. The opposition to the decision runs across all the usual divides – left and right, conservative and liberal, orthodox and progressive – all have made it clear: we might disagree with our bishops and each other over the issue of contraception but this ruling seeks to force our church to violate its conscience on a serious matter. Some of the voices that spoke the strongest words and risked the most on advocating healthcare reform now see a threat to the church inherent in the roll out of the reform.”

I understand that.

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A Priest Forever!

By , May 27, 2011 5:03 am


Maybe not forever, but at least 55 years! Yesterday I celebrated my 55th anniverasary as a Catholic priest. On May the 26, 1956, along with a dozen classmates, I lay prostate on the floor of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Galveston, Texas, and was ordained to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. I rose to face what I could not imagine- an extraordinary life filled with faith, love, conflict, misunderstanding, poverty, litergical celebrations, and divisiveness that so tragically marks the human condition.

I found that my priesthood lent itself easily to all of those situations. I have never known a set of circumstances, new opportunity or even tragic situation that the fact of my priesthood could not lend itself beneficially to the moment.

I loved the work, and God knows there was enough of it! It has often seemed to me that while the modern world organizes itself around the 40 hour work week, the priests I knew either worked 80 hours or 10. In a large parish, you never really get “off duty”, but of course, you can hide. When that happens, it’s a tragic, misspent life.
Most people love their days off, and live for that glorious vacation of several weeks in the summertime. Did you ever think that if a parish priest is going to take a day off, he has to leave the rectory, and cannot enjoy a stay at home vacation? Many priests have this in common with doctors! When people approach you with a crisis, you cannot say “I’m sorry, it’s my day off”. Therefore, the only real way to have a bit a privacy is to be elsewhere. Please realize this, and bite your tongue before you tease your priest on Sunday morning and comment “today is your only day to work!”

Back to my 55 years, though. While I have worked in many parishes, I was only the pastor in three of them, but I also served in some very interesting administrative roles at the diocesan, state and national levels. All in all, those 55 years were a magnificent mix of human experiences, endured most of the time with laughter and optimism.
I’m on to year 56!

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Why Do I Do This?

By , October 12, 2010 1:51 am

Sometimes my friends ask me why I bother putting an item on my blog every day.  I reply that I do it for a number of reasons.  Many people know that even though I am over 80 years old, I am excited by the reality that I see around me.  I am excited about political and economic issues that affect everyone but most especially the poor, and I am excited by the Church, which is struggling to shed the baggage of the second millennium and make headway into the third.  I can’t read the New York Times in the morning or a copy of America or Commonweal in the evening that I do not have sharp responses either in favor or in opposition to what is being presented or discussed.  The blog gives me a marvelous vehicle through which to express those responses.

I will try to balance these brief comments to the reality that is impacting on me by doing about half of them on issues in the larger secular world and the other half on various aspects of life in the Catholic Church.  How do I react to what is going on in the world and how do I react to what is going on or not going on inside the Church.

I was a parish priest for many years and have strong feelings on how parishes ought to be set up in order to provide maximum spiritual care and social service to the people who make it their religious home.  Over the next couple of days, I will be talking about some of the small problems that really irritate people and with a minimum amount of effort could be corrected.

See you tomorrow.

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