Saturday, October 10, 2015


October 11-2015
It is estimated that there are about three hundred million guns in the United States.  How in the world do we keep track of three hundred million of anything?  I use to own guns.  I liked the workmanship, the detail and precision.  I enjoyed going out to Red Rock Canyon in the Mojave Desert to shoot at targets.  I never once killed anything, nor did I ever see my guns as a solution to any of my problems.  There are millions of people just like me.  I have never understood hunting except when absolutely necessary for survival.  When I lived in West Virginia a school bus or two per year always seem to be the accidental targets during hunting season.  With gun violence on the rise in the 1960’s and 70’s I got rid of my guns; yes as a statement but mostly because I didn’t need something lethal to have fun.  There were other avenues.  Now, I shoot photographs.
Banning guns won’t work.  Prohibition didn’t work in the 20’s.  The war on drugs hasn’t worked either.  Seems to me we have to go back to the source of the problem; individual choices to shoot or not to shoot.  We are enamored of easy answers to difficult problems.  Bang, bang, problem solved.  Well, no, it isn’t.  The problem has just gotten a lot worse.
So many the shooters have been shown to be mentally challenged.  Okay, lets round them all up and put them far away.  That won’t work either nor is it justified or fair.    We need to  remember that mentally challenged people are more likely to be victims  of violence than perpetrators of violence.  We are constantly trying to erase the symptom but not treating the disease.  We don’t have an epidemic of guns, we have an epidemic of people who use a gun to solve some problem in their lives; low self esteem, I don’t have a girl friend, no one likes me, loners, isolators, folks who are really, really sad, no job, no friends, nowhere to vent my anger or frustration.  The list can go on and on.  In a sense we are all mentally challenged, at times needing help with one issue or another and we find ways to connect, or reconnect when life gets really difficult.
We find help in families, good friends, church communities, social clubs and needed psychiatric counselors and groups like 12-Step programs so we can learn to live on life’s terms.  In a very real sense we all, every single one of us, needs to be prat of the solution rather than continuing the problem.
Clearly we need universal and comprehensive background checks.  More than that, we need universal health care, especially psychiatric health care for the homeless , bullied teenagers, those feeling rejected and abandoned, and all unable to pay for such care.  We need safe places where people can gather and share their angers and frustrations and discover real alternatives to what they are experiencing.  We need to create communities, neighborhoods, cities and a nation where being kind and caring is the prime directive.  We need friendly streets and safe sidewalks.
Whatever the motive the gunman in Roseburg, one thing is clear.  He had a major disconnect with himself and others.  The question is how do we keep people connected with reality, with one another.  How do we provide safe places to share our brokenness and we are all broken.  Most of us feel what it is like not to be able to share a particular secret in our lives; how isolated and alone it makes us feel. Many of us have also felt the incredible feeling of relief when we are able to share something we thought impossible to share - the freedom and lightness.  All of us, can do this, be this for one another.  Showing loving kindness is not rocket science, but as close as our ability to smile, to offer acceptance rather than rejection, love rather than hate.  We need to disarm not the finger from the gun, but disarm the idea in some people’s minds that a gun is the only solution.

Fr. Michael

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lummi Nation Totem Blessing


Members of the Lummi Nation will be blessing a new totem at St. Philip Neri Parish on Monday, August 24 from 5:30pm to 8pm

The Lummi People. are the original inhabitants of Washington's northernmost coast and southern British Columbia. For thousands of years, they worked, struggled and celebrated life on the shores and waters of Puget Sound.

All are welcome to this spirit filled event at 16th and Division in SE Portand.  There is lots of parking and we are on the Number 4 Bus line… Come and join us…
Lummi  Nation

Members of the Lummi Nation will be blessing a new totem at St. Philip Neri Parish on Monday, August 24 from 6pm to 8pm

The Lummi People. are the original inhabitants of Washington's northernmost coast and southern British Columbia. For thousands of years, they worked, struggled and celebrated life on the shores and waters of Puget Sound.

All are welcome to this spirit filled event at 16th and Division in SE Portand.  There is lots of parking and we are on the Number 4 Bus line.

Come and join us…

Homily for August 16, 2015 -- 20th Week of Ordinary Time

There was a common saying when I entered the seminary in 1966: "you keep the rule and the rule will keep you." Some in formation for priesthood, even today, don't get beyond this dictum. Some of them have risen to great heights -- bishops and cardinals.It is the dictum for succeeding in the "system" whatever than system may be. I am obviously ding something wrong —- thankfully. Fortunately I found out, early on, that Paulists aren’t good at keeping the rule.We are stretched by the overwhelming influence of the Holy Spirit -- by Wisdom as mentioned in our first reading from Proverbs.The line in our reading from Proverbs that caught my attention is: "Let whoever is simple turn in here." We are not looking fort simple-minded people; but wise people, watchful people, seeking people who want to enrich and deepen their experience of God. In Paul's letter we are asked to "watch carefully how we live" to not be foolish persons but wise ones. Paul wants us to walk as people who are wide awake, making good use of every opportunity -- to be constantly open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It means being open to new and unexpected possibilities.It was the genius of both Paul and Jesus to be able to take old useless rules and regulations and adapt them to be of positive use to the people in front of them. They both got in trouble for this. In the Gospel Jesus confronts the doers of the rule and they simply can't see, can't understand or experience the new life Jesus is offering them. They are so rule bound that there are no options in their lives. Rules, while good can also put us to sleep, make us feel satisfied or bloated with righteous indignation at all the rule breakers. Jesus was seeking them, inviting them to change the way they were leading their lives. Jesus was trying to set them free to experience life at a new depth and quality they simply could not imagine. Jesus is an inconvenient Truth because to welcome Him into our lives means that we have to change the way we live.
 Former Vice-President Al Gore said climate change is an Inconvenient Truth. It is inconvenient because it demands that we change the rules about they way we live our lives. Many fear what they might have to give up be it power, control, comfort, amassing goods; rather than seeing it as an opportunity to connect with others; to live more simply so that others may simply live. The poor and the homeless are also an inconvenient truths. Their needs cry out to us and at times we go to great lengths to not see, to not hear barricading ourselves behind walls imaginary and physical. Wall as indifference, walls of avoidance thinking of them not as individual persons but as some kind of sub-group. They have hopes, dreams and fears just like all of us. At times our families, our friends, co-workers are inconvenient truths. As long as everyone is playing by the rules everything is just dandy; but get a fly in the ointment, like someone comes out as gay, or gets a divorce, has a child outside of marriage or as a teenager we become lost as to what to do. Jesus is calling us, inviting us to embrace the inconvenient truths of our daily lives. We are to embrace and welcome them as our inconvenient truth that invites all to turn and enter here. Here is where we can all be fed, to become what we eat, to become what we pray for, to become inconvenient truths for others in our own right,

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Homily For 12th Week in Ordinary Time (Fathers Day) 2015

Tempests, storms, upheavals seem to abound from the very personal to the global.  My dad is dying and in hospice care.  The terrible tragedy at the AME Church in Charleston South Carolina.  The dark hatred of ISIS spreading through the Middle East and beyond.  Climate change.  If ever we felt in a small boat in stormed tossed sea, now is the time.  Oh, by the way, Happy Father’s Day.
Today is a VERY HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.  The answer to our quest, the answer to our need to celebrate is found in the boat Jesus is riding in.  Chances are you missed the source of happiness.
Did you see it?  Did you hear about it?  What am I talking about?  Jesus’ head was on a cushion.  I have been pondering that pillow all week.  Where did it come from?  I imagined it as being embroidered, hand made.  My cousin Bonnie suggested to me that maybe His mother made it for him, the Gospel equivalent of a Teddy Bear. I wouldn’t  think that fishing boats in the time of Jesus, let alone today would have cushions, but there it is.  Of all the things the Gospel writer would put into the Gospel description of the life of Jesus shy spend even a couple of words describing a cushion?  It doesn’t belong there, yet there it is, all unexpected.
Our cushions are to be found in the most unexpected places.  We need to be cushions for one another.  In Douglas Adams epic work “A Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy” he says, “Don’t panic and carry a towel.”  A towel is the most important item for an interstellar hitch hiker. With a towel or a cushion we can stare directly into the dark tempest and begin calming the storm.
My dad has been and will continue to be a cushion for me, he’s held me, forgiven me, cushioned me agains the blows of bullies, gave me hope to see into the next day. He’s been a guide, mentor and best friend.  His two home caretakers are a cushion for me.  For the past three weeks I have been with humble, competent caregivers, Sam is in good hands.
This faith community of St. Philip Neri has been, is and will be a cushion for many and all who come through our doors, those in pain, suffering loss, those rejoicing and wanting to serve, those who need the silent warmth of love and compassion.
Pope Francis has been and is a cushion for us, and especially in his newly released encyclical on Climate Change.  I urge you to read it.  This encyclical soars in language of both alarm and hope.  This is what Dads do, warn when necessary and always with hope and possibility.  We can argue until the cows come home the cause of global warming but pumping billions of tons of crud into our skies and rivers, using our oceans as garbage dumps clearly can’t be a good thing.  As Gerard Manley Hopkins said, the Heavens are charged with the grandeur of God, yet is it becoming more and more difficult to see.  We are making it so.  Whatever the cause we must work hard and work today to create a sustainable home for all life — no one can be left behind.

Today is truly a Happy Father’s Day, a day when we celebrate their loving alarms  and warnings and their  being a source of hope for tomorrow.  Today fathers must also be mothers, and mothers must be fathers; friends and neighbors need to be fathers and mothers we are all intently interconnected. WE are all in this boat together and we need to be cushions for one another.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Holy Thursday Homily

    Tonight we remember.  We begin to remember that Love is stronger than death.  We remember this not just as something that happened 2,000 years ago in Jesus, but as something that IS happening to us, in us, right now on this Holy Night.
    The death, that Love is stronger than, is not just our physical death, but all the deaths we endure in loving service of our neighbors.  St. Paul said, in his letter to the Galatians: “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.”  To experience this Divine Union in our lives requires a constant death to self so that we may rise in Christ and Christ rise in us.  The steps to this new life are remembered, and hopefully made our own, in the three acts of our Triduum service that we begin tonight.
    Tonight’s action is humble service.  I know it is awkward, and you feel a little self-conscience but imagine what it was like for those at the Last Supper.  Dirty, sweaty, smelly feet; and since no one else would do the task, Jesus bends down and washes everyone’s feet.  This action tells us that    Jesus loves us down to our toes, and that we must love each other in the same way.
    Tonight we need to remember that this table is not just for us gathered here.  All are welcome to the Table of the Lord, all; who suffer unjust laws that seek to discriminate against LGBT community, blacks, Hispanics, all who are coming to our shores seeking a fuller life; all who suffer from our pet peeves and prejudices, all who suffer from our family spats and arguments, all of us who suffer from illnesses and disabilities, who suffer from not feeling not good enough or worthy enough; all are welcome here to the table of the Lord.  Jesus asks: “do you realize what I just did for you?”  We washed each others feet in humble acceptance and welcome, so we do whenever we welcome , without reservation, someone into our lives, or into our community of faith.  Tonight we remember and we do for others what Jesus did for us.
    Tonight we gather around the Table of the Lord, to do what Jesus told us to do in His memory.  We gather in because we need each other.  We gather in for support in our weaknesses, and to share our strength with those who feel they can’t go on.  Together in Christ we are more than we can possibly dream of or imagine.  We need each other so we can face the darknesses that will inevitably will come.
    We end our evening tonight in silence at the Altar of Repose, as we anticipate the deep darkness and emptiness of Good Friday.  It is in the deep darkness of Good Friday that God speaks to us in the silence, for God’s first Word was silence.  It is in the deep darkness of the tomb that all the good stuff happens, and brings forth Easter joy, Yhere may be bunnies and Easter eggs but without the tomb there is no real joy and lasting joy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The film on this website will be presented to Pope Francis on March 17, by two of my Paulist brothers. Fr. Mark-David Janus, CSP will present the Pope with Cardinal Kasper’s newest Paulist Press book, “Pope Francis’ Revolution of Tenderness and Love.” Fr. Gil Martinez, CSP will present the film "Owning Our Faith" in a private audience after morning mass.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent

    Can we talk?  In today’s liturgy of the Word we reflect on two mountains, Mt. Moriah  and Mt. Tabor both of which we are asked to climb.  We remember Abraham and Isaac, Peter, James and John; two encounters with God.  The first seems dark, even sinister, the second glorious.  In fact, they are both glorious.
    Abraham lived in an era when child sacrifice was common practice among other religious traditions.  Abraham, delighted in a “new” God who had given him a child even when Sarah was barren, unable to give him a child.  Sarah and Abraham delighted in Isaac — the precious gift.  During the walk to Mt. Moriah Abraham must have suffered, must have wondered how in the world God would change joy into tragedy, leading him to the edge of committing the sin of murder.  This story is not about a punitive God who asks deadly things of us, but of a God who wants our full and undivided attention.  God wants all of us, wants to lift us out of our suffering.  Abraham knew that suffering is inevitable but learns that it leads to new and fuller life.
    Peter, James and John suffered from darkness, not understanding who Jesus really was.  So, off to the mountain they go, and there, in an instant of insight they really SEE Jesus - for a single moment Jesus captured their full and undivided attention, lifting them out of their suffering and darkness.  It doesn’t last long, Peter wants to nail it down, hold on to it and own it — and poof it disappears.  .
    Can we talk?  I am tired of naming sins.  It is a useless endeavor.  I am tired of listening to people naming other people’s sins — “look at what they are doing.”  It is even more useless endeavor, unless of course you just want to feel better than.  In the course of a year I listen to the naming of thousands of sins, and it is boring.  95 percent of them are sexual in nature which I am sure God doesn’t care about in the first place.  The naming and absolution go on and on and nothing changes.  People feel frustrated and I come away thinking that everyone is having more fun than I am.  Sin is not the problem, suffering is.  Sin is something we can name, suffering is something we need to enter into in order for it to be healed.  Naming is easier than entering into, so we settle for naming rather than going for transformation - even transfiguration.
    The question is not, what sin have I committed but how am I suffering?  How do I cause the suffering of others?  How are others suffering, not how sinful are they. 
    Last Tuesday I buried a 92 year old man.  Six times he went to the mountain and experienced transfiguration — during his life he had six holes in one, the last at age 86.  Imagine the swoosh of the swing, the crack of the club against the ball — it is all coming together — kerplunk in the hold.  For one, brief, moment singularity happens — all is one in wonder and excitement — all is well in the universe.  Poof, the moment is gone, ego takes over and we walk to the next hold.  These moments can happen not only on a golf course but any time we really let go and let God — when we push through the suffering of practice to glory that is simply given us, a gift, a precious gift.
    This we can experience when we free ourselves and others of the sufferings we all endure.  Lets go to the mountain, to the altar of God that tells us there is NOTHING THAT CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST, except our own EGOS, our willfulness.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Power of Story - The Need for Silence

  A mother once asked Albert Einstein how her son could become as smart as he was.  Einstein replied, “read him fairytales.”  “What else should I do” she asked, “read him more fairytales.”  Einstein once said “logic will get you from point A to point B, imagination will take you everywhere.”
    In a lot of ways we have lost the power of the story.  Immediately we want to know if something is true or not.  We get obsessed with data, facts and what we think is real and concrete.  In religious and spiritual realms we settle for beliefs and creeds rather than faith.  It is ease to say “I believe” quite something else to free fall head long into what we say we believe.  Imagination helps us take that step, the step that can lead us to far more than we can possibly imagine or believe.
    Jesus gave us no creeds.  Jesus told stories, stories that would, if we use our imaginations, lead us to new and fuller life.  Jesus told stores about daily life.  The story of the sower, the story of flowers in the fields, the woman who lost a coin and a person born blind. These and all the other stories Jesus tells can, if we use our imaginations, draw us ever deeper into the ordinary things and events we see, hear, smell, taste and touch.  Jesus knew long before the poet Gerard Manly Hopkins “that all of creation is charged with the grandure of God.”
    A few years ago my dad and I drove the Alcan Highway to Fairbanks Alaska.  I took many beautiful photographs but when I got home I was very disappointed with all of them.  None of them captured what I really saw; they all fell short of the insane beauty of that trip.  People who have seen them like them but I knew their shortcomings.  This is true of our words and iyr language especially when we try to tell someone of our spiritual experiences.  Our words, our symbols are only shadows of what they are trying to convey.
    In recent years my dad has told me stories of his landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day.  Interesting stories but only my imagination can lead me into the drama, horror, and full fury of what he was experiencing.  His words are only shadows.  My words, our words are only shadows of what we are trying to convey to each other.  This is why silence is so important for in the silence is the fullness of truth.
    God’s first Word was silence and out of that holy silence all was created in the imagination of God.  Only in awe-struck silence and we appreciate God’s truth all around us; only in such silence can we hold tenderly the truth of our friends, relatives, partners and our community of Faith.  “When you pray, go to your room and shut the door.”   We need to do this often alone and with others to discover God’s truth and love that abides deep within each of us.
    Let our first word, be Holy Silence.

Fr. Michael Evernden, CSP