We need a rush of the Spirit


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

This coming Sunday is the feast of Pentecost, a word which means “fifty days.”  We’ve been celebrating Easter for that long.

We’ve been trying to wake up to the world around us. Trying to become conscious and aware. Both to our surroundings and to what’s going on inside of us — paying attention to our feelings that are indicators of the health of our body, mind and spirit.

I’ve been writing my  reflections on my life as a priest.  I began my 44th year today.  And I am very thankful for every day of my priesthood. 

My prayer is looking forward as I reflect on these years: We need a New Pentecost in
the Church these days.  We need to have the windows flung open once again, as
Pope John XXIII did fifty years ago and let the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit shake
us up.

We very much need a rekindling of the fire of love in our church, in our country, in our world.

The story of the radical and remarkable transformation that grabbed hold of the first disciples of Jesus is dramatically told in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11.

I pray for that continued transformation for me, each day of my life.

When I celebrated Eucharist this morning on my anniversary, I was caught up with memories of my first Mass.  My parents and my aunt and uncle, who sat in the first pew, are gone now.  I prayed to them.  I also prayed to my best priest-buddy Phil who died at age 46 and left me without the friend I loved so much.

For all of you who have been part of my journey at one point or other I say with Dag Hammarskjöld . . .

       For all that has been Thanks,

                For all that shall be, Yes!

Come Holy Spirit,

fill the hearts of your faithful

and enkindle in them

the fire of your love

and they shall be created

and you shall renew the face of the earth!

Here is “Come Holy Ghost” in its chant form “Veni Creator Spiritus” Click here. Be sure to enter full screen.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer 

P. S. This my 199th post.

Caring for the earth ~ Little things we can do

 This the third and last of our series “Care for the Earth! Let’s keep it around for a while!” which is a simple way of talking about the sustainability of the planet. Here we want to give some ways that you can help care for the earth and reduce your ecological footprint.

All this arose from my attending my first Pax Christi retreat a month ago near Bradenton, Florida with Sister Paula Gonzalez, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati.  At 79 years young, and having given over 1600 talks and retreats, I admired her energy, her enthusiasm and her dedication to the cause of trying get people to care for the earth.

She listed things that we could do to help protect the earth.

Let’s start with transportation.   She suggests the following:

Drive under 65 mph  / Buy a hybrid automobile  /  Take the bus.  /  Ride a bike.

In regard to electricity: Change your light bulbs to energy efficient ones.

Turn out the lights in rooms your not occupying.

Check the drain on the cords of your tech appliances ~ TV, stereo, computer.

Buy Energy efficient (Energy Star) appliances.

Insulate your water heater. (There are waterless water heaters on the market.)

Turn your AC up to 78 at night and your heat down to 68 or 65.

In regard to water:  Don’t buy bottled water!  This is akin to the privatization of water and it comes in harmful plastic bottles.  Instead, invest in a water filtration system beneath your kitchen sink as I have or you can attach one to add to your faucet. It will save you a lot of money over buying bottled water.  I’ve also seen some that looked like a coffee pot.  I fill up a few plastic bottles and put them in my car so I have drinking water there.

When you shave or  are washing a few dishes, turn the water on and off rather than let in run.  Take brief showers.  If you’re in a drought area, wet yourself / then soap up / then rinse off.

In regard to paper:  Sr. Paula showed us that she had kept her napkin all weekend and I’ve gotten in the habit of using paper towels over again.  My only culprit is my printer, which eats it because of my mistakes.  If you can, use cloth napkins, as I do.  Buy paper towels that have half sheets and buy organic paper towels and toilet paper.  I also buy my printing paper from sustainable mills and my printer is energy star and uses organic ink ~ a Xerox Colorcube.

In regard to food and groceries:  Sr. Paula recommended cutting down on eating meat to reduce the pasture footprint.  I don’t eat red meat anyway.   But I do recommend looking into organic foods.  There are lots of them in our Publix markets. Most of their meats are marked “all natural.”  And beware of farm-raised fish because there full of antibiotics.

Also, use organic detergent products for your dishwasher and your laundry and stay away from Clorox.   You may pay a few cents more, but isn’t the earth worth it?

I’d like to give a few final thoughts.  First, to express my awe and gratitude to Sister Paula for her dedication to this important work.  When one considers that we are already 30% beyond earth’s capacity for survival, we might want to despair, but Sister Paula calls us to hope and I feel that myself. This week we celebrate Pentecost and we’ll conclude with that but here’s a quote from the Earth Charter:

Let ours be a time remembered for the awakeneing of a new reverence for life,

the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace,

and the joyful celebration of life.    

+  +  +

If we don’t understand creation correctly, we can’t hope to understand God correctly. 

St. Thomas Aquinas

 + +  +




With Love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

P. S. I’d like to offer my thanks to Mrs. Nancy O”Byrne,

Chairperson for the Northeast Florida Chapter of Pax Christi

who organized the marvelous retreat we had in Bradenton who brought us Sister Paula.  Thank you, Nancy ever so much!

Caring for the Earth ~ Our Ecological Footprint

This is the second of a series on Caring for the earth ~ let’s keep it around for a while. In other words, to use the proper term, the sustainability of the earth. In our last blog, we said that Sister Paula Gonzalez had said that “humanity’s ecological footprint is already 30% beyond Earth’s capacity.

Perhaps the notion of “footprint” is hard to grasp. You know what a footprint is.  It’s evidence that you’ve been around.  Well, one’s “ecological footprint” is how much space you take up on the planet, in terms of what you consume.

If you look at the chart above that helps to explain it, unless you deny that CO2 is an issue, i.e. global warming as many politicians tend to do. CO2 emissions come from coal, oil and natural gas.  And we’re way behind other countries in developing the use of solar and wind power.  I mentioned in my last article that even the Pope for some years now has used solar extensively in the Vatican.  When I took a trip across country in 2008 I was surprised to see wind farms all across Texas, known, of course, for its oil refineries.

Let’s look at that graph above.  A person’s “footprint” is measured by usage of built-up land, nuclear energy CO2, fishing ground, forest, grazing land, and cropland.  Notice that we Americans are the greatest offenders.  What surprises me is Australia isn’t far behind! Then England, followed closely by Germany, Russia and Japan.

Note the two lines on the left side of the graph:

Humanity’s Total Ecological Footprint

CO2 Portion of Total Footprint

And between them the thin line of Earths Ecological capacity.

Worrisome, isn’t it?

Let’s reflect on what we’ve looked at so far:

What is your first response to these summary facts:

a) We are NOW living beyond the capacity of the planet?

b) The U. S. ecological footprint is twice that of the industrial world?

c)  Almost half of our footprint is from fossil fuel use (coal, oil, natural, gas.)

Do you deny that this is happening?  Do you deny climate change?

Are you fearful for your children and grandchildren?

Are you angry and frustrated at the inaction of our government(s)?

Are you at the point of despair?

As Pope Benedict challenged us in his New Year’s message, we have some lifestyle changes to make if we’re going to survive.  Many of these are very simple things, like changing your light bulbs, saving water, paper ~ well, I’ll let you know in a few days. 

Dear God,

Creator of this lovely world,

thank you, for the fruits of the earth that sustain our lives

and bring us joy and health and happiness

We are sorry that we have not cared for it as we should.

Please help each of us to do what we can care for this lovely earth,

so that it will be around for a while.

To You be all honor and glory. Amen.

With Love, 

Bob Traupman 

Contemplative Writer

In case you’re wandering why all the white space underneath the graph, that was scanned into a jpg; it scanned the whole page ~ nothing I could do about it.

Care for the Earth! Let’s keep it around for a while!

This will be a series of blogs reflecting on what we have to do to care for the earth.  “Let’s keep it around for a while” is a layman’s way of approaching the unfamiliar term of the “sustainability” of the planet.

The weekend after Easter my doggie Shoney and I headed up I-75 along Florida’s west coast towards Bradenton.  I was looking forward to participating in my first Pax Christi retreat.  I had been a member of the national organization since 1992.  It was set among the Spanish moss-laden oaks of the Episcopal Diocese’s Dayspring retreat center east of Bradenton.  They had pods of air-conditioned cabins of 4 double rooms – not what you would expect from what looked like a traditional summer camp.

Shoney made himself at home while I walked across the expanse and discovered the Pax Christi rooms.  (There were several other groups there as well.)


 “Awaken to the Earth as Sacrament Restoring Your Inner Peace” was the retreat theme and the major presentations were led by the vivacious 79 year old Sr. Paula Gonzalez, Ph.d.  A Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, she’s given over 1,600 talks on Planetary  Awareness, Ecospirituality, Renuable Energy and Sustainablity.  Her energy and enthusiasm was a real inspiration for this 69 year old.  She wore a T-shirt with an image of the earth with  the inscription “Crew Member ~ Spaceship Earth.”

Sister Paula says her interest in ecospirituality began in July 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and she saw pictures of the earth for the first time.  Likewise looking in awe at Earth  in the blackness of space was a deeply spiritual experience for  the German astronaut Sigmund Jahn who says, “Only when I saw it from space in all its ineffable beauty, did I realize that humankind’s most urgent task is to cherish it a preserve it for future generations.”

Then she asks ~ are we willing to face the fact that today we can see more the “fragility” than the beauty of our planet?  Daily we see reports of diminishing supplies of oil and water, toxic pollutants in air and food, disappearing species, withering heat waves, advancing deserts, hurricanes and tsunamis, melting glaciers.  When we read the newspapers or watch TV can we learn to become aware that everything is connected, that whatever happens anywhere happens everywhere?

She quotes Klaus Kepler, head of the United Nations Environment Program, “We have entered a new age – an age where all of us will have to sign a new compact with our environment . . . and enter a larger community of all living things.  A new sense of communion with planet Earth must enter our minds.”

Then she goes on to say Teilhard de Chardin perhaps gives us the key for how to do this:  “For those who know how to see, nothing is profane; everything is sacred.”  (I cringe when I see cigarette butts on the ground; I often pick them up and other trash when my doggie takes me for a walk.)  Like the astronauts, who saw the earth in a whole new way, we are called to see that everything in God’s creation is holy.  What could happen if humans learned to realize that we live “on holy ground?”

In approaching the  practical task of striving to achieve “sustainability: it is important to realize, she says, that there can be no technical solution to what is, at most, a spiritual problem.  It is imperative to realize that the American Dream (which many other aspire to) is already far beyond the earth’s “ecological capacity.”  Considering the entire population today, humanity’s ecological footprint is already about 30% beyond Earth’s capacity.

Which means we have to change our lifestyle if we are to survive.  In Pope Benedict’s New Year’s message, he said,  “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.  The issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle and the prevailing modes of consumption and production. . . We can no longer do without real change of outlook which will result in new lifestyles.”   The Pope has placed solar panels on many of the Vatican buildings.

We will explore some of the simple steps you and I can take to help save our planet in the the next blog.

But first, let’s let’s go back to the thought that we’re called to see that all creation is holy.  If we don’t start from that premise, then none of this will make sense and we will not be motivated.  We are not above creation.  We are part of it.  The earth is holy ground.  We need to cherish it and reverence it.

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

Life Surge


Dear Friends,

Jesus is so cool in the images he uses to communicate.

In the gospel passage last Sunday (John 15:1-8), Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

Look at the picture above.  It’s not a vine, but every little portion of that bush, every flower, receives its life from being connected to the source of its life.

So, too, with us.  I have some readers who are not professed Christians.  But if you think about it, the message is the same:  If we stay connected to the Source of life, whatever that is, then our lives will flourish and bear fruit.

But some of us are like withered branches.  We have cut ourselves off from the source of life and we do not bring fruitfulness into our lives.

The greatest fruitfulness is our relationships.  Are the people in our lives growing because they know us and are in our lives?  Or are they withering up?

Stay connected.

We want to be connected to the Internet on Facebook and Twitter and all that stuff.

What about your connection with God and his desire that the whole church, indeed the whole world be connected in love.

Jesus, you use simple images to help us understand

what life for us can be like when we stay connected to You.

Wonderful life-surging energy flows through You as the Vine.

Let that same life-surging energy which is Your Holy Spirit

surge through us as well

and renew the face of the earth!

To You be glory now and forever!

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer