Then He talks about His “friends.”  That is quite a conversation:  Father, there is Peter.  Smells like fish.  Impetuous!  One minute he’d die for you, the next minute he’s running for his life.  But he is strong like a rock, and will be a good leader. ---- Matthew is a tax collector.  They don’t like tax collectors.  The Temple people went ballistic when I went to his house for dinner.  He is honest and kind, and will be a good record-keeper.  ---- Then there is John.  A nice young man.  So sensitive and loving.  Always looking for love in all the right places….


Then Jesus mentions YOUR NAME.  MINE, too.  On this night He is thinking of all those who will ever believe in Him.  What do you think He’d say about you?  What would the Father add? 


Father, Thank You for giving them to me.  In gratitude, I have given them YOU!


(I’m not quoting Jesus.  I’m imagining His words so as to help me with my conversation with God.)


My friends, that can be PRAYER:  conversation with the Lord.  We watch what Jesus does, how He does it, and then we try to do it, too.


Oh, it’s not like ten Hail Mary’s.  That’s ok, as long as we don’t say them at machine-gun speed.  Good conversation is slow, deliberate, and directed to another person, eye-to-eye – not to the floor or to our belly buttons. 


Jesus prayed aloud and sang psalms in the Temple.  But He also spent nights in quiet prayer.  They say He prayed before something BIG happened.  I think it was the other way around:  something BIG happened after He prayed.


So think about it.  Jesus is talking to His (and Our) Father.  We can listen in.  We can add our own comments, and surely Father and Son will reply.


Prayer:  raising the heart and mind to God.   Prayer: having a chat with God the Father and His Son.  Try it.  See if it works for you.



May 2017


Fr. Alex’ Corner, May 14, 2017


Fr. Alex’s Corner, May 21, 2017


Fr. Alex’s Corner, May 7, 2017

the war would end.   In the later visits, Our Lady said the war would end (it did on Nov. 11, 1918), but if people did not turn to God, a more terrible war would come and more people would die.  The sign of another war, she said, would be a bright light in the night skies, visible to much of the world.  You can check this out on the internet, but a massive Aurora Borealis occurred on the night of Jan 25, 1938, visible for five hours in the skies of Europe and parts of America.  World War II began months later.  Our Lady warned that Russia would spread communism over the world and cause untold sorrow.  We know how that worked out.  


Our Lady predicted that the two younger children would come to Heaven soon.  They died in the influenza pandemic two years later.  Lucia was told she’d live longer to promulgate and explain the visions.  She became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at 98 (long enough?).


There is more to the Fatima story, and I hope to continue next week.  What I emphasize today is what fascinates me about this story.  From the very beginning, the children were questioned – and threatened – about every single detail of the visits and message of Our Blessed MOTHER. They never flinched, and never changed their stories.


Here is my point:  One hundred years ago Our Blessed MOTHER told three children to pray the Rosary daily for peace in the world. (Technically, to pray for an end to the war.)  If people didn’t turn to God – and keep praying the Rosary - wars would continue.   That’s what’s eating me. 


Are we at war?  Is there violence in our midst?  Is there turmoil in our world, in our country?  You answer!   Go ahead!


Now, unless you judge that all is merry and bright, HOW ABOUT THE DAILY ROSARY FOR PEACE!  Hey, it’s not my idea.  A Lady from Heaven said it.  She’s a MOTHER.  How do you say “NO” to a Mom?






This is “Good Shepherd Sunday.”  I have some nice shepherd stories, but I’ll hold them for another day.  I don’t know if YOU have sheep (other than lamb chops in the freezer), so I’ll leave that to the Sunday preachers at your home parish. 


The Good Shepherd concept is that God is merciful and takes care of His sheep.  He does it in different ways.  One way is to give us a good MOTHER.   This Saturday, May 13th, marks the 100th anniversary of our Blessed MOTHER’S appearance at Fatima.  I want to draw your attention to that today.


My generation knows of Mary’s six visits to three young shepherds in Portugal in 1917.  Though the Church wisely makes distinctions between Gospel proclamation and private revelations (appearances of the Lord or Our Lady to individual persons), some of these events deserve our attention.  I believe Fatima deserves our attention Big Time.


On May 13, 1917, Our Blessed MOTHER appeared to three cousins in Fatima, a small town in Portugal.  Lucia was 11, Francisco, 9, and his sister, Jacinta, 7.  They had no education, and their town was remote from centers of learning or mass media.  No internet or I-phones in 1917.  I say this to help you appreciate where these kids got this information if not from some very special (Heavenly!) visitor.  The Lady appeared on the 13th day of each month from May to October 1917.  The October apparition included a spectacle witnessed by 70,000 people, some of whom came who cheer, others to jeer.


Historical setting:   World War I, the “war to end all wars,” was destroying Europe and Pope Benedict XV began a novena to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, on May 5, 1917, asking Our Lady’s intercession to end the war.  The first apparition was on the 9th day of the Novena.  The children knew nothing about that.


In each apparition, the first request of Our Lady was for the children to say the Rosary daily so that


Fr. Alex’s Corner, May 28, 2017

long story short, the Secret was revealed in 1982 when Pope John Paul II took to Fatima the bullet that nearly ended his life one year earlier.  “The Secret” predicted violence against the pope.  John Paul II called attention to the main part of the Fatima Message: the daily Rosary for peace in the world, and prayer for conversion of sinners.  That is THE MESSAGE of Fatima.  Many people were so obsessed with “the Secret” (we love conspiracy theories!) that the real message was obscured.


Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI visited Fatima to underscore its importance, and Pope Francis dedicated his papal ministry to Our Lady of Fatima. 


We are rightly concerned about world terrorism today.  But terrorism isn’t just “out there.”  We see violence in our cities, at political events, even on school campuses.  Some people can’t talk about or to one another without verbal violence.  There is anger in the land that threatens to destroy us.  We vote for “change,” but the change we need does not come from politics.  We need inner cleansing, a healing of our angers.  That’s a change of heart, and that is another word for conversion. 


Without conversion, even the daily Rosary may not suffice.  It’s got to be both:  the DAILY ROSARY for peace in the world; and the CONVERSION of sinners, including YOU and ME!


A very Blessed MOTHER came to tell us that – more than once.  Her only words of advice in the Gospels: “Do Whatever He Tells you” (John 2:5).   That’s Her mantra….  It’s Her echo….  That is conversion.   Now that is CHANGE we can believe in!


On this MOTHERS DAY, I smile as I think how many times my Mom broke up the spats and fights between my brothers and me.   What does it say when God sends a MOM to save us from ourselves. Come to think of it, she taught us the Rosary, too. 


Some things never change….









Let me ask:  do you listen in on other peoples' conversations?  Come on, be honest.  When others are chatting lively, aren’t you at least tempted to listen?  Depending on what they are saying, your ears may perk up, or your eyes will glaze over.


What about listening in to the Queen and her son?  Or the President and his son?  Wouldn’t that be cool!  Now, how about God and His Son?  Oh, my! Imagine that they are sitting around your kitchen table or on the porch.  You bring them coffee, or a glass of wine. Or a Starbuck’s Unicorn Frappuccino!  Whoa!   Now the Father and Son are chatting.   And you are listening.


Part of today’s Gospel captures Jesus speaking to His Father on His last night away from Home.  We don’t hear the Father, just the Son.


In his “Spiritual Exercises,” St. Ignatius of Loyola says that to learn the Gospel, one should “enter the scene.”  Be part of the drama.  You can be a main character, a witness or bystander, even God the Son (or the Father).  Get into the scene; inject yourself into the conversation. See what happens.  Mother  Teresa did this, too.  Shall we try?


[I’ve said many times that when I’m in Heaven, and Jesus has time for coffee and a chat, I have some questions.  For example:  who came up with the idea of His crucifixion?  Why?  Wasn’t there an easier way…?  Ok, that’s a biggie.  But I have other questions, too.  I hope He likes coffee.] 

So here we are (John 17: 1-11):  Jesus talking to His Dad.  Read the text s-l-o-w-l-y!  Create a voice for Him.  He asks His Father to glorify Him by accepting what is about to happen.  It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s what He agreed to do.  Now, YOU think how the Father might respond.  You are a parent, or a child – maybe both.   How would you respond to your Son who wants only to please you?

We hosted an eminent visitor at the Novitiate this week.  Fr. Jarek is a Polish Friar-priest who, in 1987, with two confreres, established a mission in Peru.  In 1991, while Fr. Jarek was in Poland due to his Father’s illness, the two others, Friars Miguel Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkowski, were shot to death by Marxist guerillas.  Fr. Jarek told the story of these heroes, details we never heard.  They have since been beatified as ‘Martyrs for the Faith’ and we Friars are promoting “the daily Rosary to end Terrorism” under their patronage.  I wrote to all my family and friends about this last Fall, and I will re-tell the story here in the near future.


I would like to continue my reflection on Our Lady of Fatima, whose appearance one hundred years ago is celebrated this weekend (May 13th).  In each of Her six apparitions to the three child-shepherds, Our Lady stressed the need to pray the Rosary for Peace.  She also warned that if people did not turn back to God, wars would follow.  All Her predictions were verified.  That’s one way God does things.  He sends the Mother of His Son Jesus to speak to us through innocent and honest children.


At the final apparition, on October 13, 1917, 70,000 people witnessed a miracle described as the “dancing of the sun.”  Reporters were there, but the USA papers were filled with stories of the White Sox beating the NY Giants in the World Series.  The Fatima Miracle of the Sun story was found in the inside pages, if anywhere at all.


People my age remember the intrigue surrounding the “Third Secret of Fatima,” transcribed by Lucia, the only surviving child-visionary, and presented to the pope.  It was to be revealed in 1960.  My brother Joe was in the U.S. Coast Guard at the time. He and his fellow sailors were sailing the Atlantic, and feared that “the Secret” might predict danger to their lives.  Joe kept writing to me (in the seminary), asking about “the Secret.”  To make a

charge.  Forty days of appearances after Jesus’ Resurrection convinced His disciples that He really was alive.  The Church assigns a Lent of Forty days for sinners to pray, fast, and prepare for the Easter mysteries; and for catechumens to prepare for Baptism.  Remember “Forty Hours Devotions,” a time of spiritual renewal in parishes?


Seven times Seven makes Forty-nine, and shows real perfection.  Add One, and Fifty means forever.   The Church celebrates Easter for Fifty days, that is, forever.  After the Ascension, the Apostles prayed and gathered for Nine days until the Holy Spirit came to them.  The Church adopted the “Nine days” for novenas and celebrations of



After the Church celebrates Easter for Fifty days, it’s time to start over – and that is Pentecost.  


I give you these numbers to help explain….  Do not use them for the lottery.  It doesn’t work.  (I tried!)


In parochial school we attended Mass every day, and Sister told us to come to church early on Ascension Day to ask Jesus for whatever we needed because “He was going away.”  “When is He coming back,” one of the kids ventured.  “At Christmas,” she said.  So I sat there thinking:  if He won’t be here between Ascension and Christmas, why do I have to come every Sunday?  I was smart enough to figure that out in school, but wise enough not to mention it at home.  Dad would have said:  “Bad idea!  If you live, eat, and sleep in this house you go to church on Sunday.”  In our home, the will of our earthly Father was done on earth just like the will of our Heavenly Father is done in Heaven!   Alleluia! 

Forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus gathered His disciples, told them to go to all the world, baptize, and teach everything He had taught them.  Then, “He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight” (Acts 1:1-11).  Once again, the Lord was gone.  But this was not like Good Friday.  The disciples sensed that something BIG was about to happen.  They returned to the Upper Room in Jerusalem and waited.  Nine days later, in wind and fire the Holy Spirit came.  That was BIG!  A whole new world was beginning.


Ascension falls on a Thursday, Forty days after Easter.  Here in CA the feast moves to “the Sunday next.”  It assures that all Catholics can attend Mass.   But it breaks the “Forty-day” theme.


Have you ever wondered about those numbers in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures?  They keep repeating.  The other day someone asked if there is significance to the numbers.  I’ll try to explain.


Seven (7), an important number, is all about creation and re-creation.   God created the world in Six “days” and rested on the Seventh.  That gives the number a sense of completion.  God did it all in Seven days. We should too.  Six days to work, a day to worship and rest, and then we start again.   In our “Seven” Sacraments, God is with us all through life:  at birth, at maturity, feeding, healing soul and body, and to continue creation in the world and the church in Matrimony and Holy Orders.


Forty (40) is also big.  Forty days and nights of rain destroyed the earth in Noah’s day, so that God could start from scratch.  Forty years in the desert transformed a group of refugees into God’s Chosen People.  Forty days of prayer and fasting in the desert after His baptism saw Jesus come to terms with His identity as the “Beloved Son,” in whom the Father was well-pleased, and to put the devil on notice that he should go to H---, because God was in

Monday is Memorial Day.  Offer a fervent prayer for those who gave their lives for our freedom.  Rather than insist on our rights, let us focus on responsibilities.  Freedom never was, never will be, FREE.  Someone pays!   God bless those who did!