Easter continues around the world


Dear Friends,

Happy Third Sunday of Easter!

From today’s gospel:

“The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread(Luke 24:35).

And here is how my Sunday began.  Enjoy.

A song of hope that went around the world.

The Easter experience of New Life and Love is everywhere.

No matter how little we have, we can still find life and love and joy.

Our Easter celebration continues for 36 more days.

Look for new life and love wherever you find it.

Bob Traupman

priest writer

What’s your “wonder” quotient?


Easter isn’t over yet. We celebrate it for fifty days, ten longer than Lent.

Here’s an Easter homily I gave in 2007:

“Awesome, dude, the surfer said of the huge wave that was larger than life. “Totally awesome!” He was full of awe, full of wonder. He respected the sea; he revered it.

Something awesome is overwhelming, impressive, venerable, stately, moving, regal. Something wonderful is awe-inspiring, remarkable, amazing, astonishing, “unreal,” “unbelievable.” To wonder about something is to ponder, meditate, reflect, marvel at, think about something wonderful.

What are you in awe of? What do you wonder about?

Here are a few things to test your “Wonder Quotient.”

This little guy is reading the Declaration of Independence emblazoned on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial
This little guy is reading the Declaration of Independence emblazoned on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial

Ponder each one for a moment.
Have you ever sat in silence on a mountaintop, gazing at the stars?
. . . Have you ever wondered how many there are? How the earth stays in orbit?
. . . Have you ever wondered how our heart can keep beating nearly a billion times in a lifetime?
. . . How the Internet can call up the page you want in an instant from millions of pages?
. . . How God can keep track of the prayers of millions of people?
. . . How your dog knows what he knows?
. . . How a friend can love you as much as they do?
. . . How Christianity has survived for two thousand years?
. . . a surgeon can repair the heart, the size of a grape, of a child in the womb?

The act of wondering is not meant so much to understand something, as to be caught up in the mystery of it (the unknown, the unknowable), as the surfer was caught up in the mystery of the wave. A person who has no sense of wonder can have no spirituality. Wondering leads us to God, to the totally Other.

Have you ever wondered about the Resurrection of Jesus?

Have you ever wondered how we will rise with Jesus?

What eternal life will be like?

What the dawn of our share of eternity will be like?

Do you think it will be wonderful — awesome?

Do these things beckon you, call you?
The Risen Christ can draw us forward. We are called to ponder our future with the Lord. This means thinking about our death as well. Looking beyond our dying to our rising to eternal life. It means putting our life in order. This requires some reflection on our part. Some yearning, some joy, some wonder.

Here are the words of the ancient Easter proclamation, the dramatic beginning of the Easter liturgy.

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpets of salvation.

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
Radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
Echoing the might song of all God’s people.
… the “Exultet” from the Easter Vigil liturgy

Easter does not begin with such exultation. The apostles and the women disciples were crestfallen and fearful. It took them a while to take in what was happening. Fifty days later they were still bewildered. So it is not surprising that many of us take some time before we ”exult” in the Risen Christ. Even for Jesus, he forever bears the marks of his wounds. Forever risen, he is also forever slain. The joy of Easter is powerful. It is so powerful it can penetrate suffering and sorrow and even persecution. It is the joy that lasts forever and does emerge in us from time to time to exult in exaltation. May you find that joy this Easter deep down in your heart.

Easter Hope
The Risen Christ is the focus of our hope as Christians. In fact, no Resurrection, no Christianity. For some of us , we are filled with joy. Our lives are bright and airy and cheerful. For others of us, demonstrations of joy do not come easy. Nevertheless, believing steadfastly in risen life for Jesus and for us, gives us something powerful to hang on to. In the act of hoping is our joy!
“Hope springs eternal” is indeed a worthy and powerful statement.

Let us take the Resurrection personally this Easter. It is our greatest gift, the gift of our eternal life, the gift of our joy, our hope. Something awesome to wonder about.

Jesus is risen! Indeed he is risen!

Look for the signs of new life in the midst of your difficulties.

Take time to stop and wonder at the beauty of a delicate flower, the breeze caressing your face, the little things that make life worth living.

Expand your wonder quotient today.

Christ is risen!

Bob Traupman

priest / writer

let him easter in us! – e.e. cummings

happy b'day to me with augie and, er, "old" friends in my home
happy b'day to me with augie and, er, "old" friends in my home


Well, I’m back!  I was struggling with a depression this past week and couldn’t write anything joyful for Easter, so I didn’t.  I was fighting to find a way for Augie to get the medication he needed in a crisis with his own bipolar illness and found myself on Easter Sunday alone while he was in the hospital wondering where the Easter joy was at.

I’m working on my Easter Arise entitled “Waking up to New Life”  which is the dramatic conclusion of series on the Paschal Mystery. I got as far as the first sentence:  Easter doesn’t always happen on Easter, but Easter always comes.

And it did on the second Sunday of Easter.  Augie is home and five very dear friends of many years from St. Bart’s parish, 30 miles to the south, embraced us both with there love and I had the happiest birthday  since my 21st birthday!

(Adolph and I share the same b’day; my mother often said she was determined to make sure that I didn’t end up like another Hitler, which tells you a lot about her already.

Yes, Easter doesn’t always come on Easter, but, hang in there!  If you believe, in life, in your Higher Power, and if  happen to profess to be a Christian, in Jesus, then let him really and truly be your Way, your Truth and your Life!

(But let us never ever judge those who do not; I have met many folks outside of the church who are better people than people I know inside.  And I have met people inside the church who are a helluva lot worse than many I have met outside the church.)

So to begin our Easter series I’d like to reflect on yesterday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles 4:32-34:

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.  There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.  (NAB)

Something remarkable happened to the community of the Apostles.  Their lives were so changed by this mysterium tremendum of the Risen Christ that they left everything behind, selling their possessions and their property.   They loved each other so much that no one was in need.  What an amazing transformation!

Think about it!  If we really believed that Christ lives now and sustains us now / makes himself known now / XXX     and invites into intimate relationship to him and to one another now, we should be completely changed  in as dramatic a way as a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly  (See blog post for Easter.

I speak now to my Christian sisters and brothers:

If we really took the gospel of Jesus seriously, then they will know we are Christians by our love; if they see only hate and self-righteousness and condemnation, then they will not see or be interested in Christ.

The new members of the church family were addressed by Paul (I Corinthians 5: 7-8):

Purge out the old leaven of corruption, then you will be bread of a new baking.

Think about it:  The reason so many do not connect with the Christian faith is because so many of us fail to live it and  fail to be totally and radically transformed by it.

So we’re in the Easter season now.  It is a powerful and dramatic journey of transformatio.  As we read their story in Acts, at the beginning we find Jesus’ buddies afraid, locking themselves in an Upper Room. But as the seasons moves forward, we see them waking up to the realization that they, too, have been transformed by this Mysterium tremendum which is the goal of the Paschal Mystery for Jesus and for us. This mysterious something will transform us as well — if only we ALLOW ourselves to be transformed.  If we don’t cut it off by our cynicism.  The Easter season moves on to the fortieth day celebration — the Ascension of our Lord into heaven — Jesus leaving his disciples behind and giving them the commission to carry out what he had taught them.

When they experience his departure, gain, they are afraid.  They go back to the upper room.  Locked themselves in.   Confused.  Leaderless.  Fearful.  Mourning again the loss of the One who had taught and led them.  Thinking about going back to their fishing boats.

And then ten days after that  a mighty wind blasts them out of their closet and they spill out into the pubic square and witness to their own transformation and proclaim to all who will listen:  You too can be transformed!

By God’s Holy Spirit who blows where it wills and delights and surprises and wakes us up to what is already taking place within us.  I am praying for a NEW  PENTECOST in our Church as there was when good Pope John opened the windows and let the bad air out and the good air in.

(By the way,  the number of days are important;  it’s simply the liturgical celebration of events that happened over time.  They are telling us that something very powerful happened to that little band that radically changed them. Remember, in the gospel of John all three parts of this mystery — resurrection, ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit occur simultaneously.

Christianity CAN make a difference — if we live it.  If we are willing to be totally and radically committed to the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  “Love your enemies.”  “Do good to those who persecute you.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”  “The meek shall inherit the earth.”

And if we are willing to die for our faith.

Now I want to apply this to our country.  For three years now I have been cajoling / pleading / warning us to seek personal transformation by renewing our relationship with Christ (or your Higher Power according to your understanding, if you prefer) for the sake of the transformation of our country.  Bail outs-won’t do it.  Politics won’t do it.  Tea parties won’t do it.  Yelling and screaming at each other won’t do it.  Spending won’t do it.

Here again is the message that my long standing readership are tired of hearing.  Unless America turns and realizes that only a Power Greater than Ourselves can save us, I declare we will not make it.  We might postpone the inevitable for a while.  But eventually the collapse of our country will come.  We need to “acquire a fresh way of thinking – St. Paul — somewhere.  I’m a good Catholic, I can’t quote Bible verses like good Protestants.)

But Easter is about hope.  There are indeed signs of transformation occurring.  All I have to look at is the astonishing transformation that is occurring in my body / emotions / mind / spirit.  And already in Augie.

Young  twenty-something Dude’s  black T- shirts with skulls and crossbones are being replaced in a three page GAP ad in the March 19th issue of Rolling Stone with bright colors and smiles instead of the often sullen faces of the young.  Our young black brothers are pulling up their pants.  Maureen Dowd, a liberal Op-ed columnist of the NY Times with a clever use of  pen and humor  that I envy is talking about affluenza — the sickness of affluence.

Now let’s go deeper for a moment into the Acts passage about communal living. I invite  you Capitalists out there who call yourselves Christians seriously ponder that.  It is still a model of Christian living.  Sharing our resources.  Binding together.  Lifting up the weak and vulnerable, rather than trying to climb our way up the economic ladder.  Generosity of spirit and resosurces, rather than self-centered individualism which doesn’t exist anyway.  We need a transformation of our economy to sustain the common good, not the wealth of individuals.  I am not advocating communism or capitalism or socialism as we know them. Both modern economic systems have failed.  Capitalism in its unbridled consumerism and focus on the making money for the most wealthy (plutocracy) is just as atheistic as communism.  Capitalism is about making money for the individual and, therefore, by definition is opposed to the teaching of Jesus who said “You cannot serve God and money.”

Focusing on money has made all of us spiritually and morally bankrupt.  The dollar bill is only paper.  It is what you do with it that is important. We need to think outside the box. We need to let capitalism, as we know it, die so a new economy, focusing on lifting up and serving people rather than an economy that insanely, only works by cajoling us to buy the latest upgrade, a  new wardrobe when we have a closet jammed full of perfectly good clothes when so many have none.  There are over five million of us writing about  “The Death of Capitalism!” Google it and see for yourself. Some deplore it; some, like me, sense it is the only way forward.  Dying is only the means to greater life, on the way to transformation.

I stumbled across one that is saying what I’ve been only intuiting from my prayer, only he is credentialed economist, not this poor little blogger on the edge of life who knows little about making money (unfortunately) but I have always had enough and have always shared even from what I did have.  It is an economist by the name of Jack Lessinger.

In 2008, We the People are in the midst of a slow-moving but astonishing transformation. Our whole society and economy is transforming from the pursuit of what’s in it for me, to what’s in it for us—from the Consumer Economy to the Responsible Capitalist (in his book Transformation:  Fall of the consumer economy — Rise of the Responsible Capitalist.)

The lesson of the caterpillar is that we don’t have to force a transformation;  all we have to do is let it happen.

To let go and let God.    But will American today let him do it?

So, ponder the very important message of yesterday’s reading from Acts, and then look at this video with the sound track of a song by Peter Scholtes that I taught our kids at Good Counsel Camp in Inverness in the Florida heart land in 1962.  I haven’t heard it since and here it is on U-Tube in several versions fifty years later.  Enjoy.

They’ll know we are Christians by our love.

And if you have another moment, read Bono’s Easter reflection on the Op-Ed section of the NY Times yesterday “It’s 2009: Do you know where your soul is?

For those of you over 60, Bono was one of the hottest rock stars ever, who has dedicated his life and his fortune for the good of humanity.

What are you doing with your life?

Join the transformation of America and our world and your life and mine!

Fasten your seat belts, this is day nine of our Western Easter and day two of the Orthodox Easter of what could be a powerful Easter season for us all.



Bob Traupman

priest / writer


of caterpillars and butterflies

(c) tony marchesseault.  all rights reserved.
(c) tony marchesseault. all rights reserved.

Dear Friends,

Here is an Easter story I created twenty years ago about two nasty caterpillars named Joe and Pete who were also asleep in their cocoons, completely unaware of what was going to happen next.  Perhaps we can hear it with the eyes and ears of children and bow, once again, before the mystery of life!

+ + + + +

Once upon a time, Mrs. Murphy had a very beautiful magical  garden nestled against her very lovely house in East Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  She had nasturtiums, and marigolds and tulips and petunias and begonias and roses in her garden.  They were all arranged in a way delightful to the eye along the  brick pathway that encircled her garden.  It really was the prettiest garden in greater Oshkosh.

EXCEPT…something or someone was eating the leaves off  her pretty flowers.  The flowers were lovely, but the leaves were all chewed up!

She hunted and hunted all over the garden for the nasty little culprits, but no matter how she tried, she couldn’t find them.

Meanwhile, Joe and Pete were munching away contentedly on the underside of the leaves so they couldn’t be found.  Joe and Pete were rather ugly caterpillars. (At least the girls thought so;  the boys always delight in such funny looking creatures.)

Joe was fuzzy all over with black fur and had orange stripes.  Pete, on the other hand, was rather naked for a caterpillar, with ridges up and down its body.  Even the boys felt sorry for him — he was so ugly!
Joe and Pete rather enjoyed their diet of leaves, but it took them light years to get from plant to plant because they had to crawl from place to place.  “Remember one leg at time — one leg at a time,” Pete told himself when he had to make the long journey to another plant.  (And all those legs!  It took a century  for a caterpillar to move from place to place.)

Though they ate voraciously, they were rather bored with life.  Existence was really very dull for them.  They longed for a freer, more happy existence, and wondered what future might lay in store for them.
One day, something mysterious called them away to a quiet corner of the garden where no one, including Mrs. Murphy, could find them.  They were really very grateful that she hadn’t found them, for they would surely have come to a dastardly end.  (The society for the prevention of cruelty to caterpillars was not too pleased with this article.)
And then something very wonderful began to happen to them.  Something that has happened to every caterpillar that has ever existed on this planet — although they  won’t  know what it is like until they have experienced it.
They attached themselves to the  underside of two large leaves and went to sleep —  a  very, very long sleep.  Soon a cocoon  made of silvery silk threads began to grow around them.  It covered them all over as if they were dead and sealed them up as if they had gone into a tomb.  A long time passed  — at least a long time for caterpillars.

Mrs.  Murphy kept searching for her nasty little pests, but couldn’t find them.  But she did notice that no more of her lovely flowers were being disturbed.  (She had been praying against  these mischievous caterpillars and it looked like her prayers had been answered.  That was as violent as Mrs. Murphy ever got  — to pray against them.)  She breathed a sigh of relief because it looked as if there was finally peace in her lovely garden.
One bright, spring morning  she noticed two wonderful additions to the feast for the eyes that lay before her and all the visitors that came to see her roses and nasturtiums and tulips and daffodils.  These two  new additions to her garden were really wonderful to behold — though one had to be really discerning to notice them.  They were the two most beautiful butterflies her garden had ever seen!  One was hued with silvery blue in the center, surrounded with  bright crimson.  (Was it Joe or Pete?  —  we could ask;  but they wouldn’t tell, they were so delighted to be free and happy and no longer condemned to eat off the leaves of plants.  They actually  had felt not a little guilty for destroying others so they could eat.)

The other (Was it Pete or Joe? They wouldn’t tell.) was bright orange and yellow and brown on the outside along the tips of the wings.  Both wonderful butterflies danced in the air from flower to flower.  They were so happy that any one who noticed them could see.  They were free!  Finally free!  They really, really loved their new existence.

No longer did they have personalities that hurt or destroyed others, but now they were actually helping  all the flowers spread their pollen around so that, next year, there would be some more beautiful nasturtiums and roses and begonias.

And for the purposes of this little Easter story, let us just say that Joe and Pete and Mrs. Murphy lived happily ever after.

Quite a story of transformation, don’t you think?  Joe and Pete as caterpillars were ugly and (let’s face it) downright nasty creatures.  Who would ever think that they could have such a total transformation!  After their experience of darkness, they became  the most beautiful of God’s creatures.

So it is with Jesus:  before his experience of darkness, he was bound to the physical laws of suffering and death, just as you and I.  After the Resurrection,  his body became transformed as  light!  And his power extends from end to end:  he lives and reigns as Lord of the Universe.

So too with us:  we are also bound by the laws of suffering and death.  And many of us think that that is all there is– that there is no hope beyond the grave.

But the wonderful  meaning of Easter for us is that we will transcend our own experiences of darkness — our own experiences of cocoon,  or tomb — and we will also have a body which will  be transformed as light!
This is the central message of the faith of Christians.  We, too, will have a glorified body and spirit and will live forever and ever and ever and ever!

I KNOW   this is true.  I am absolutely certain of it.  There is not the slightest doubt in me that all my ugliness and nastiness will eventually be transformed into a  beautiful creature of God.

And so, I become interested in the transformation process.  We call this “the Paschal Mystery,” namely the transition from suffering  > to death >  to resurrection.

My faith trains me to keep recognizing where I am in the transformation cycle.  Am I in the suffering phase?  Am I dying to my self-centeredness?  Letting go of my faults and my own nastiness?  Or am I in the rising phase, experiencing new life and new growth?

This cycle goes on and on and on until that day in our off-planet journey (at a time that the Father himself decrees) that the glory of God and all his creation should be revealed in all splendor and refulgence.  And we, too, will be included in that glorious transformation!

Who would ever think that a caterpillar could become a butterfly!  Who would every think that a man could be risen from the dead!   Who would ever think that our own darkness and drudgery could become  as light!
And so, dear reader, the message of Easter is that there is hope.  Things are not as dark as they seem.  Even if they do not get better for us in our planetside journey, they will be so wonderfully better on our off-planet  journey — if we open ourselves to God and to love.  And what is even better news, is that the Paschal Mystery continues–even in this life.  In other words, transformation of our ugliness and nastiness is possible right here in the  midst of our earthly life!

And so, may we say with  e. e. cummings (the wonderful poet known for his preference for small letters):     “let him easter in us!”

Let him easter in us.  Let him work his wonderful transformation in the inner parts of our soul.  As for me, a most wonderful affirmation of my priestly ministry has been to witness him “eastering” in so many of his people, including myself — transforming darkness into light, pain into joy, despair into hope.

Yes, the caterpillar-transformed-into-a-butterfly is the natural symbol that enables us to understand the resurrection of Jesus and our own participation in the death/resurrection process which we call the Paschal Mystery.  Reflect on the little story I have told here.  Take in its power, its magic, its mystery, its miracle, its beauty.

And then apply it to your own life.  Let it strengthen your faith and enliven your hope.  Hope that there is a way out of darkness and pain and suffering and seemingly hopeless situations.  Be assured that there is even hope that whatever ugliness or nastiness may  be  in your personality can be transformed as well.
Let him easter in us!  Unite your life cycle to the wonderful life cycle which is the Paschal Mystery of Jesus!  Let the Lord do for us what we cannot do for ourselves!  The caterpillar cannot effect its own transformation.  That  happens by the power of  nature.  So, too, with us.  We cannot effect our own transformation.  No matter how much we try, we are powerless to bring about so great a miracle as God is calling us to.  In God, what wonderful things can come about in us!  In God, we will  not even recognize the new self we are called to be (as we do not recognize the caterpillar in the transformed butterfly).

Yes!  let him easter in us!

(Isn’t wonderful that someone has made “Easter” a verb?)

What wondrous love is this?

Holy Thursday / Good Friday 2009

Dear Friends,

I share with you oneof my finest homilies given to the people of St. Bartholmoew’s Parish, Mirimar, Florida on Good Friday 1992. . . .

The Heart of Jesus
(Jesus the Tremendous Lover)

Like a sapling he grew in front of us,
Like a root in arid ground…
a thing despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering ….
And yet ours were the sufferings he bore,
ours the sorrows he carried.
But we thought of him as someone punished,
struck by God, and brought low.
Yet he was pierced through for our faults,
crushed for our sins.
On him lies a punishment that brings in peace
and through his wound we were healed
–excerpts from Isaiah 53.

“What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this, O my soul?

Jesus is the one who is our tremendous Lover.
He came to live among us to reveal to us, his sisters and brothers, that we have a Father/God who loves us with a Love that is once a passionate, unconditional love and yet gentle, always inviting, never coercing.  Jesus came among us to be our Love, to show the human race how to use the supreme power which God could give us:  the intimate, infinite Love which is ours, if only we would claim it and model our lives after Jesus, who is Love itself.

Jesus was to be for us the model of Love because he was willing to experience in his heart the depths of human emotion.  He risked time and again to embrace the sorrow, the agony, the unfreedom, the need of those who came  to him to be healed.  He risked being burdened by the needs of others.  He risked being disheartened by those who would take from him and not even say thanks.  He risked being misunderstood and rejected  by the authorities of the day and even his neighbors in his home town.  He risked the pain of realizing that even his closest disciples and friends had narrow vision and missed the main point of his message.

He risked all, and realized that, in spite of the pain and sorrow, in his heart, the soft Voice of the Father within him was asking him to keep going, to risk even more.  To go deeper into his heart and to carve out still more and more places for those he would touch and heal, until one day there would be room in his heart for the whole world.

I doubt that Jesus ever forgot a single individual that he encountered, not even those who oppressed him.  He kept them all in his great heart, remembering them, praying for them, hoping that they would open their hearts to the One who Loved them with a passionate Love — the Father/God of all.  He must have realized how important it was to see and feel the tragedy of the corruption he witnessed among the religious and political leaders of the day, to keep even these things in his heart.   As painful as it was, he hoped that by keeping them there some of the great evil he saw would be disarmed and tamed.

That’s all he could do, after all — absorb the tragedy, the struggle, the sin, the failures in Love of the human race in his great, great heart.  Yes, he healed a few sick and gave the gift of sight to some, but most of all he Loved:  He let people into his heart (that’s the definition of Love, after all:  to let someone into one’s heart)  there to be comforted, if just for a moment. For one brief moment in the heart of the Lord Jesus is enough for any of us.

He had room for young John and impetuous Peter.  And for Judas.  He had room for the outcasts of his day, Zacheus and Matthew and Mary Magdalen.  And he brought the outcasts in and seated them at his table  He had room for beggars and lepers and blind people.  And he had room for the Pharisees who broke his heart by their refusal to see and understand.

We remember that he was capable of deep emotion.  He wept profoundly when he saw in prophecy what would happen to Jerusalem because of the hardness of the people’s hearts.  And yet, even the gift of his tears and the greatness of his Love would not stop the destruction that would come because of Israel’s hardness of heart and lack of vigilance.

In the end, he wept in the garden.  I like to believe that his agony was not focused on the trauma he personally was about to endure but because the Father permitted him, in that moment, to experience to the depths the reality of evil and tragedy in the world.  He must have experienced some of the pain and loss that many of us feel when we encounter hardness of heart and misunderstanding.

Jesus embodied the compassion of God — the mercy, the tenderness, the Hesed of God  (to use the wonderful Hebrew word).  God wanted to be known as the Merciful One.  And we, likewise, are instructed to “Be compassionate as our heavenly Father is compassionate.”

Jesus became for us the “Man of Sorrows”, familiar with suffering” 1 — the suffering Servant of Yahweh.  He bore the weight of the world’s refusal to Love and even worse its refusal to be Loved  by the God of Love.  He allowed that evil, that senseless tragedy of the human race, to be absorbed, and thereby redeemed and purified, with his own blood.  In his own bloodstream the cosmic battle between the forces of Love and Hate was waged.  And “his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.”2   In him the great cosmic battle was focused.  Our great compassionate God sent his Son to bear within his soul the brunt of that cosmic storm.

We are filled with awe at such overwhelming Love.  And so we honor this evening his great, great heart.  But most importantly we should realize that he has become for us Love itself so that we will also might become Love.

The one essential ingredient of the Christian religion is to Love as Jesus has Loved us.  We are to become compassionate as Jesus is compassionate.  We, like Jesus, are called not to be afraid to embrace the suffering, the tragedy, the sin of the world, so that in Love we will join our hearts to his and, as St. Paul says, “to make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.”

Perhaps we can say, therefore, that there are two kinds of people in the world — those who are willing to accept their own share of suffering in the world (and a bit more for Jesus’ sake) and those who cannot or will not bear even the suffering caused by their own failures and sins.  The compassionate ones do what they do out of Love, a seemingly foolish Love.  Some Love because they have been opened up to a mystical awareness that they, like Jesus, are making their own soul and body available as an arena for the cosmic drama of interaction between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.

I do not pity those who suffer.  I rather pity those who are afraid to suffer.  Out of suffering comes understanding — a larger perspective of the world and with it a practical wisdom that tempers Law and Life with Mercy.  Out of suffering comes the ability to see the face of Christ in even a hardened criminal or a seemingly pitiful alcoholic.

The ability to see, to understand, the inner workings of people’s lives is a gift far greater than the suffering one must endure to attain it.  To-suffer-unto-understanding (a definition of compassion) is to be able to look upon the world as Jesus does and as he invites us to do in the Beatitudes.3 (Of course, a person can suffer without  understanding — especially when we are angry about  and refuse to accept our lot of suffering.  But if we pray faithfully while we suffer, God will most assuredly gift us with  his own very special kind of understanding.)

Understanding is the goal of suffering for those who have eyes to see.  Understanding which sees through the eyes of Jesus.  Understanding allows us the courage to be with Jesus hanging on the Cross and to see what he saw from that perspective.  Understanding allows us the courage to go with Jesus into the bowels of the earth and descend into hell and to see what Jesus saw.  Then, too, understanding allows us to feel what Jesus felt when he was lifted from the grave.


I have always had an inner sense that the fastest, most efficient way to handle a crisis was to face it head on — not to avoid it.  And so, I invite you to “go with” the suffering.  Explore it.  Allow yourself to experience the feelings, as painful and confused and frightening as they may be.  The more you fight it, the more you will suffer.  Ask Jesus the Light to lead you through the darkness.  Then have faith and confidence that he will.  (After all, the worst you will experience is what Jesus experienced, as long as you follow the will of God.  (Other persons have suffered more cruel deaths than crucifixion.)  And if you truly want  to follow the will of God and are praying daily, then be assured that God is  leading you.  Take his hand in the darkness and follow — even if you can barely see the ground in front of you!

The pain may feel unbearable for awhile, and the temptation is to avoid it as long as we can, and, of course, to worry about it.  (I have always found worry most bothersome, like walking around with a pebble in my shoe.  Far easier to bend down and take it out than to walk around with it for years!)  So, too, with suffering.  Even in one of my earlier bouts with emotional and mental suffering, I somehow found myself diving into it to seek its cause.

From what I can see there is always a cause of suffering.  Discovering the cause can often lead to alleviating the suffering.  In fact, the pain oftentimes will be transformed the moment the cause is recognized and diagnosed, so it is to the person’s advantage to stay with it and find out who or what the “bugger” is.  (Perhaps there is an analogy to the oyster who “suffers” an irritation that will eventually through which it may become a pearl of great price.)  If we see the larger picture of reality, seen through the eyes of Christ, some joy and satisfaction and relief will enter our soul.  We will thus be on our way to recovery and new life.

The easiest way through suffering is to stretch out our arms and allow ourselves to be nailed to our cross.  Don’t fight it.  Surrender to the will of God.  Jesus in his agony on Thursday night saw through the nails in his hands and the crown of thorns on his head to the Resurrection.  He didn’t ignore the Cross; he saw it and the horizon beyond it.

Jesus didn’t focus on the pain.  The pain of the Cross was only a brief moment (which he knew he had the strength to endure) in the history of his lordship presiding over the business of the universe.  So you, too, should not focus on the painful aspects of our life.  Look instead for the cause of the pain.  Look for the reality — the truth!  And remember that Jesus said “the truth shall make you free!”   See as Jesus sees; that is, see and accept the truth.  And leap from your cross as a butterfly leaps from the cocoon and as Jesus leapt from the grave.

“Impossible!” you may say, especially if you have been suffering for years.

“Not so!” says Jesus and the whole company of prophets and martyrs and confessors and virgins.

Ask for strength and you will receive strength.

Ask for guidance and you will be led through the darkness to a point you will recognize.

Ask to understand and Jesus will let you see yourself through his eyes.

But remember! Don’t focus on the pain.  All those gory pictures of Jesus in agony and bloody crucifixes of the past generation, hopefully, are, hopefully, gone for good.

The Cross is the focal point in that we realize the great Love which Jesus has for us and what he personally has done for us.  But one must not forget to look at the horizon beyond the Cross.  The sky on that first Good Friday afternoon undoubtedly was an awesome sight to behold.  The cross, the pain that is our lot in life to endure, is there only to be transformed and transcended.  The cross is but a moment.

Suffering in life is only a means to greater life.   It is not our final lot.  Resurrection is.  Glory is.  Triumph is.  Though the paradox is that we must accept our cross totally to be through with it.  We are invited to surrender to our Father in complete abandonment as Jesus did, as if we were to leap off a cliff and know that we will land in the Loving arms of our great God.

A further delusion of spirituality of the past generation is that our reward will not come until the next life.  What is delusional about that is that we fail to realize the kingdom is already inaugurated by Jesus in history by his triumph on the Cross.  Our lives are already illumined  by the light of the resurrection.  And there is no reason that we cannot triumph here and now — if we accept our cross.  And, in fact, I am convinced that it will be Christians bold enough to take up in their hand and in their minds the Cross of Jesus who will lead us in XXI and XXII Centuries, just as this has been true in every age of the Church.

And so, the question that we ponder this holy night is, once again:
“What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this, O my soul?

And the answer is:  “The great, great Love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who Loved us so much that he stretched out his arms in the most loving, indeed, the most-nonviolent act, the world has ever seen.  He stretched out his arms in the face of his enemies and said from his Cross:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Come, then adore the Lord who wants to be for us all our Beloved.  Come, then, adore the Lord, the tremendous Lover.  Renew your Love for him and know even more than ever before that it is by the holy Cross that we have been redeemed.

What wondrous love is this, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this?

Abandoned by God and friends


Dear Friends.

It’s just a few minutes after 8 PM, Wednesday, April 8 and my Jewish brothers and sisters are sitting down with family and friends for the ancient Passover meal.  The Jewish celebration celebrates, renews and makes present the passage, the dleiverance of the Israelite community from the slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12).

Our Christian Passover — the passage of Jesus through suffering > death > risen life begins tomorrow night and contines through Good Friday to the Solemn Vigil of Easter Saturday night.

I had wanted to reflect on the abandonment of Jesus that appears in today’s Mass readings — the betrayal by Judas, one of his chosen and the denial by Peter, one of his intimates, and the lack of courage of the Twelve to support Jesus in his hour of need. On the Cross, Jesus even felt that his heavenly Father with whom he had such a loving relationship had abandoned him.

Today I was  in solidarity with so many of us who have such feelings.  As a person who has had the stigma of mental of illness and other things I know what abandonment and rejection feels like.  And I have a young friend who was shifted from foster home to foster home and now lives a tormented life,  distrustful of adults. I was in solidarity in prayer today for him and others who live and die alone without friend or love or comfort, especially children who have been emotionally abandoned by their parents..

But even a very loving women / friend of mine who confided in me that though she has a lovely husband and children and grandchildren she feels terribly alone at times.  Many people find a friend in a bottle or a line of coke to alleviate the pain of loneliness.

Let is pray for these folks as we enter Jesus’ passion tomorrow and Friday.

Lord Jesus,

on the Cross you cried out,

“My God, my God,

why have you forsaken me!”

You felt such deep human pain

that so many of us feel —

isolated and alone,

with a spouse in the same bed,

or a child who must fend for himself.

Forgive us, Lord, for abandoning our friends or lovers,

or spouses when the going gets rough.

Help us to be there for one another.

Let us get the strength we need to bear the pain of such aloneness

from You.

Bob Traupman

priest / writer

Here’s some info about the Jewish Passover celebration.

The sorrowful mothers of the world

The Sorrowful Mother (The Pieta) - Michaelangelo - in the millenial year of 1500 when he was 24 years old

While I was on my retreat the first week of Lent 2009,  one of my prayer assignments was to sit before a statue of the sorrowful mother.  I have always had a devotion to Mary, the mother of the Lord,  and on that balmy afternoon against the background of the cypress swamp I reflected on all the mothers I have tried to console throughout the forty years of my priesthood.  I record for you now  the prayer which was my journal note for Father Don the next day.  Several of those women mentioned in the prayer are still in my life today.  I dedicate this blog as I remember them with love.

Be sure to read the commentary about the 24 year old Michaelangelo and his first sculpture which follows.  He chiseled his understanding of human grief, tap by tap,  for two years.  It is a magnificent meditation.  Ponder it yourself.  And unite your own prayer to our Lady to his this Holy Week.  There is also a very different image of grief below that I photographed from a book.

Dearest Lady,
mother of Jesus, whose tender love
brought Love Itself into our world,
may those who have never known
the tender embrace
of their own mother’s love
receive the same tender care and  love you wish for each of them. . .
for each of us . . .
as you offered the stern, yet tender love of a Jewish mother upon
Jesus, the Son of God
who was nourished at your tender breasts,
cradled in your arms,
bounced upon your knee;
whose booboo was kissed by your lovely mouth,
whose dead body you received come down from the Cross:
You were the one from whom
Jesus learned the joys of human love.

Dearest Lady,
Simeon said, holding your little Child in his arms,
that a sword would pierce your soul.

Did you have any idea what he meant?
Did you follow Jesus throughout his ministry?
Where you among the women who took care of him
and the others?
If so, where did you stay?
Or did you stay at home in Nazareth?
Did you go out to visit him when you could?
To listen to him preach?

Where you in the midst of the crowds
who pressed around him?
Did you have a chance to be alone with him for a while?
Did you give him any motherly advice?
Did you wash his clothes,
fix his favorite meal when he was on the road?

Did you gain a sense of foreboding as you listened
to the murmurings of hostility beginning to grow toward him?
What did you do with that concern?

I think perhaps you knew.

You could see  where this was going to end,
because you kept all those foreboding things Simeon told you
in your heart.
Sorrow and sadness must have entered your heart
long before that fateful Friday.
But probably not much worry or anxiety because
I think you must have said over and over:
Be it done unto me according to Your word.
Be it done.
Thy will be done.

A mother can never be prepared to lose her son.

Dearest Lady, I think of mothers I have known
who’ve watched their children die.

My cousin, Lynda, whose beautiful child Robbie
who bore her father’s and my name
died in a fire at age three.
I don’t think his mother ever got over that sadness.
I think of Marie whose paralyzed son was in prison
who couldn’t find a priest to console her after his wrongful death.

I think, dear Lady, that you unite yourself with other mothers
who suffer at the bedside of a sick child.

With all those mothers in Haiti or Chile whose children died in tragedy.

I think of Monica whose son Andrew died of AIDS;
Rosemarie, whose very popular high school senior John
died heroicilly of a brain tumor;
Fran, whose son Jimmy died at the hands of a drunk driver;
Chris who loved two children within her belly
and wrote a book to work out her grief;
Florence, the mother of my best priest-buddy Phil
who died suddenly at age 47.
“What a dirty trick!” she wailed at God;
the woman whose name I have long forgot
whose surfer-son drowned in a storm
in my first week of priestly ministry;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mothers I know whose sons who cannot escape from addiction;                                                                                                                                                                                                            Monique whose son despaired and ended his life, leaving his children

And I think of all the mothers of the world who are condemned to watch their children die of malnutrition.

How can any of us really know what a mother must feel
who must outlive her child?

Dearest Lady,

I have loved you since my boyhood.
I brought you flowers in springtime
to express my devotion.  Still do.
Today, I contemplated the sorrowful image
a sculptor captured in white marble.
When I gazed into the eyes of that chiseled image
for just a moment, I knew what you must have felt,
what my friends must have felt.
And that moment was gift.
A gift I will always remember.

Dearest Lady,
as you yourself shared in Jesus’ passion,
I ask you to be with all those whose hearts are
broken in sorrow.

Receive today

all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters

on this planet,
born and unborn.
Draw us all into that one great mystery of divine/human love
which is the glory of our Christian faith:
the birth, suffering, death and resurrection
of the son of a young beautiful woman,
Son of God,
our Brother,
our Redeemer.
Our Friend,
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

+ + + + + + +
From: ‘Guide to Saint Peter’s Basilica ‘
This is probably the world’s most famous sculpture of a religious subject. Michelangelo carved it when he was 24 years old, and it is the only one he ever signed. The beauty of its lines and expression leaves a lasting impression on everyone.

With this magnificent statue Michelangelo has given us a highly spiritual and Christian view of human suffering. Artists before and after Michelangelo always depicted the Virgin with the dead Christ in her arms as grief stricken, almost on the verge of desperation. Michelangelo, on the other hand, created a highly supernatural feeling.

As she holds Jesus’ lifeless body on her lap, the Virgin’s face emanates sweetness, serenity and a majestic acceptance of this immense sorrow, combined with her faith in the Redeemer. It seems almost as if Jesus is about to reawaken from a tranquil sleep and that after so much suffering and thorns, the rose of resurrection is about to bloom. As we contemplate the Pieta which conveys peace and tranquility, we can feel that the great sufferings of life and its pain can be mitigated.

Here, many Christians recall the price of their redemption and pray in silence. The words may be those of the “Salve Regina” or “Sub tuum presidium” or another prayer. After Peter’s Tomb, the Pieta Chapel is the most frequently visited and silent place in the entire basilica.

It is said that Michelangelo had been criticized for having portrayed the Virgin Mary as too young since she actually must have been around 45-50 years old when Jesus died. He answered that he did so deliberately because the effects of time could not mar the virginal features of this, the most blessed of women. He also said that he was thinking of his own mother’s face, he was only five when she died: the mother’s face is a symbol of eternal youth.

Prayer from the desert / Holy Week 2008

Palm Sunday a year ago
Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monastery

Dear brothers and sisters,

This was taken on Palm Sunday a year ago thirteen miles on a dirt road in a desert canyon north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
It was the  destination of my  pilgrimage I made to the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico to pray for the transformation of our country.  I found myself as if I were the scapegoat of Israel driven into the desert bearing the sins of the nation.  I journeyed westward  in absolute silence all the way,  applying my prayer for the transformation of our beautiful country mile after mile to the rubber of the road.  I spent Holy Week and Easter last year  at the Cathedral in Houston.   When I went out the bayous of Louisiana were still dormant; as I returned after Easter the whole South was ablaze with azaleas and dogwood, nature itself proclaiming the resurrection of our Lord.

And this was my prayer at that time:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I have journeyed into the desert to ask God’s blessing upon our beloved country
And to seek cleansing and purification of my own sins and shortcomings.
I have traveled to Bourbon Street and the bayous of Louisiana;
Then westward on I-10 through Houston and San Antonio to El Paso;
I walked across the bridge to Mexico;
Then to Tucson to visit the Redemptorist Renewal Center outside of Tucson, Arizona.
I prayed for you  there.

In the absolute black of night at 8000 feet on the way to the Grand Canyon, Shivvy and I stood upon a mountaintop  in awe of a sky filled with stars.
And I prayed for our country there.
At the Grand Canyon I pondered the evidence of the origins of the earth billions of years ago.  I sat on  the edge of the canyon with my feet dangling over.
And I prayed for you and our country there.
I took a smooth water ride on the Colorado and pondered the greatness of this  land.
I traveled eastward through Navajo lands to the four corners of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico and pondered the hardship of those who eked out an existence in the desert.  And I prayed for you and our country there.
I went north into the snow-capped mountains of Colorado and pondered the awesome Cliff  Palace with hundreds of rooms of our ancestors, the cliff-dwellers of Mesa Verde.
And then south to Abiquiu, New Mexico to this sacred place in the midst of the stark desert beauty thirteen miles into a remote desert canyon.

Here I have pondered my own sinfulness and mused about Jesus’ own prayer in the desert.  I came here to pray to enter in to the deafening silence, the whisper of the wind, the golden glow on the mesa as the sun reaches first the canyon walls on the opposite side.

And I celebrated with the eighteen Benedictine monks in this beautiful monastery for St. Joseph’s Day and  Palm Sunday.

Each of you are in my heart and in my prayers this Holy Week.
As always, I wish to unite myself in still a new way this year 2008 with the Paschal Mystery of Jesus – his suffering, death and resurrection.
I pray with Jesus for the whole world for no one who has ever lived
has ever been excluded from his love.

This whole pilgrimage is my way of laying down mile upon mile (3558 thus far) to seal my prayer for the transformation of our beloved country
from my home on the ocean to the bayous, the prairies, the deserts, the canyons, the cities, the mountains, the mighty rivers of our most beautiful country.
May America be beautiful, not only in its vast and varied land but morally and spiritually as well from the mountains to the prairies from sea to shining sea.

Lord Jesus, we ponder once again the love you have for us
in accepting even death on a Cross for us.
as once again we enter the events for our salvation.
We beg your mercy and forgiveness for our beloved country
and for each of our families and ourselves.
May we unite ourselves with your suffering and death
So that we may share in your risen life.

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You
For by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world!

Happy Easter, everyone.

Abiquiu, New Mexico

March 15, 2009
Bob Traupman
priest / writer

The Passion of Jesus 2009


Palm Sunday / April 5, 2009

Dear Friends,

This has been one of the most powerful and fruitful experiences of Lent that I’ve had in many years.  I am sure that is partly due to the retreat I made at the beginning of Lent to ponder the meaning of my priesthood.   I have sunk more deeply into  the scriptures as the Jesus I know and love came even more alive for me.  I wanted to share more of that with you, but I must accept my limitations.  All in due time.   I have no official ministry as I am “retired” (I hate that word), I am available “to do what love requires,” like receiving  Augie into my home.   We have just spent an hour to prepare for Holy Week together.   I try to be present to a little flock  and press on  trying to develop a more regular online presence. This past week I was beset with all kinds of tech problems that are making my Holy Week Arise late.

Nevertheless, all is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus.  The stage is set for the drama of the Paschal Mystery to be re-enacted in the parishes throughout the world.  Some will do it with love and devotion and emotion and creatively so that people can really be touched anew and unite themselves with the Passion of Jesus as it continues in our world 2009.   Others will do it without care, almost because they have to be bothered.  This is the church in disarray that brings great sadness to my heart.  But there are parishes around which are filled with life.  I hope you can find one.

Augie and I have found a parish south of Fort Lauderdale, St. Maurice in Davie, which  has been doing liturgy well and devotedly for many years.  People there are alive, spontaneous, welcoming.  Their eyes sparkle with joy and life — and this in a neighborhood of many old people. img_0422 I find this such a contrast to the parish I attended before I moved here, humbly sitting in the pew, even as they complain about the shortage of priests.   There were few smiles, very little light in peoples’ eyes.   I know the church can come back to life.  And I am determined to stay and pray and work and write  for a new Pentecost.  I believe in the gospel and and I am just trying to do the very little I can to share it and let it come to life in peoples’ hearts.

As I participated in the liturgy of Palm Sunday , I pondered Jesus’ humility and am grateful that he whittled my aberrant ego down to size.    I know what humiliation feels like; I am a marginalized person with a mental illness and other things. But I rejoice Ihave found my way to a home here in Cypress Chase A condominium, as an ordinary person.

As the crowds hailed him as King and shouted “Hosanna to the Son f David! and threw cloaks and palm branches at his feet, I wonder what he was thinking.  He surely knew that the end was near.  What was his prayer as he looked into the faces of the crowd of well-wishers who would abandon him a few days later when the going got rough.

My prayer this Holy Week is two-fold:

First, the renewal of the priesthood which I find sadly in disarray these days.  Reflecting on Hebrews this week I had a renewed sense of the meaning of Jesus’ priesthood.  He was to stand in the breach and offer his own life as sacrifice.  I pray that we priests would do the same — to heroically offer our own selves as gift for the people we have been ordained to shepherd.  I understand the meaning of Jesus as priest more fully, more personally — and I commit myself to this charge and ideal — to  help our people find the meaning that will inspire all of us, church and society to be purified, cleansed and made holy.  This  in the midst of the messiness of of our economy / of our own personal and family life / of the superficiality, the unreality and lack of moral courage in American culture today /and yes, the messiness of our church.  I unite myself as I have for many years with my priest/brothers who bear the heat of the day.  I will pray for you, for us, intensely this week.

And secondly, I continue to pray for the transformation of America. The post that follows this one is a reprise of the one I broadcast from the Christ in the Desert Monestary in New Mexico a year ago.  Today, I give thanks that my prayer has been answered in many ways.  This economic crisis is, in fact, an answer to my prayer because the shock of it might wake us up before we go over the cliff .  We have to return to being One Nation Under God.  Specifically, I invite you, Christian,  to turn any hatred you have toward Mr. Obama to loving prayer that the Holy Spirit will  guide the journey of his mind and heart  to become one who understand at support the sacredness of all human life.  It happened to St. Paul; it can happen again.  It is love that transforms.  It is love — and only love — which is what Jesus is all about.

The humble man who rode into his city on a donkey, not a stunning white stallion as a mighty conqueror is the Jesus I know and love.img_04271

Lord Jesus,

allow us to slow down our activity this Holy Week 2009

to unite ourselves in your high priestly prayer

for the reconciliation of the world.

May we be wiling to give of ourselves and accept our crosses

as a way of building up Your kingdom of love here in our world today.

Hosanna to You, the Son of David!
Bob Traupman

priest / writer