A Vessel of Love filled with Fire


January 25th, 2013 ~ The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle  

Paul was an amazing man. He was small of stature; he refused to depend on charity–thus, he worked as a tent-maker wherever he went.  After he got severely beaten, he was in constant pain, but went on and on and on, because. as I myself learned . . . .

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

Paul before his conversion was known as Saul of Tarsus, and as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles he says, I persecuted this Way to death, binding them both men and women and delivering them to prison.  And then he tells the story of his conversion on the way to Damascus, that a great light blinded him and he heard a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (You can read the rest of the story in Acts 22: 1:16. 

I enjoyed what St. John Chrysostom, a bishop in the early church says about Paul in the divine office for today:  Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what man really is, and in what our nobility consists and in what in what virtue this particular animal is capable.  Each day he aimed even higher; each day he rose up with even greater ardor and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him.  He summed up his attitude in his words: “I forget what lies behind me and I push on to what lies ahead.” 

I never paid a lot of attention to Paul for the longest time until recently.  And suddenly, I fell in love with him; thus, I’m taking the time to write this blog in his honor, despite his texts about women and the misuse of his words toward gay people.  Here’s the reason . . . .

Chrysostom (a word meaning “Golden Mouth”) was an outstanding preacher. He goes on to say that the most important thing of all that he knew himself to be loved by Christ.  Enjoying this love he considers himself happier than anyone else . . . . He preferred to be thus loved and be the least of all, or even among the damned, than to be without that love and be among the great and honored.  So too, in being loved by Christ he thought himself as possessing life, the world, the angels, present and future, the kingdom, the promise and countless blessings.  Apart from that love nothing saddened or delighted him; for nothing earthly did he regard as bitter or sweet.

A year ago, a priest-friend of mine sent me a Christmas card with a favorite quote from St. Paul on the cover that I framed and set on my dining room table that I often read.  As I have had my own cup of suffering from long years of severe manic-depressive illness it means a great deal to me; it was–and still is the only thing that keeps me sane . . . .

“My grace is sufficient for you,

for in weakness power reaches perfection.”  

And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  

For when I am powerless, it is then I am strong.  

(2 Cor. 12:9-10) 

You see, Paul has helped me love my Lord–or rather to deeply and richly realize in tears of joy that Jesus loves me–as I am, weak and sinful.  He has raised me up and heals me allows me the wonderful grace to share his love as best I can at the tip of my cursor, if in no other way.  

And so, dear friends, know that you, too, are loved, whether you know it or not.  Our God is love!  Know that–despite whatever else you’ve been taught, despite however guilty you may feel or however unworthy you think you are.  YOU ARE LOVED!  THIS IS A MEANINGFUL UNIVERSE! And if you want, call me and I’ll try to help ~ 904-315-5268.

We’ll let St. Catherine of Siena have the last word which really grabbed me, Paul “became a vessel of love filled with fire to carry and preach God’s Word.   Amen.  Amen!  

And now, before you go, here are the St. Louis Jesuits singing the Prayer of their Founder, “Take, Lord, and Receive.”  It’s a beautiful prayer and a beautiful song.  Click here.  

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection for Unborn Children

IMG_0266_2Today is the fortieth anniversary of Roe v Wade.

Let us stand down, stop the condemning and judging and seek light and understanding, forgiveness and wholeness, kindness and compassion for the young in desperate situations who have no one to turn to and who may themselves be abandoned.

We live in a world that refuses to recognize the inviolateness and sacredness of every single person on this planet.

Jesus shed his blood so that not one drop of blood need be shed ever again!

My sense is that the sin of those who are quick to condemn others is as great or greater than those who bring violence and bloodshed into their very own bodies.

We ALL have much to ask forgiveness for.  We ALL need to ask God  increase our capacity to love and turn away from hate.

There is just too much hate in this world — sometimes from those who even minister the Body and Blood of Christ at the altar.

The ones Jesus loves the most are the lost sheep of this world.  He would reach out to those who have had abortions.

The enemies of Jesus are those who justify themselves, the self-righteous, the hypocrites, the ones who know nothing of compassion,

those who would never think of walking a mile in someone else’s moccasins before lashing out with their tongue.

St. John has said NO ONE is without sin!  He also said that  “Any one who HATES his brother or sister is oneself a MURDERER!”

 HOWEVER, I quote from a blog on the Los Angeles Times: The blogger is commenting on those polled who said that abortion was no longer a key issue.

 “If the killing of 1,200,000 babies each year in this country, with over 700,000 (59%) of those children killed being Black (400,000+) and Hispanic (300,000+), if this is no longer a “key” issue, then that speaks volumes of how far we have regressed back to the days when Hitler and his Nazi henchmen thought that the genocide of the Jews was also a non-issue. Abortion is the most violent of all heinous crimes as it attacks life in the holy of holies, the mother’s womb. For those of you ignorant of your history, every civilization that went into the killing of their children has perished from this planet by the same violent means as they used to kill their future generations.  These include: the Canaanites, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Mayans, the Incas and the Aztecs just to name a few.”

Yesterday, I listened to President Obama’s address to our nation.  It was very much a civil rights message, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King.  The President emphasized Thomas Jefferson’s words  that “All men have certain inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  And then he recalled the words of Dr. King, “our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on earth.”

Well, I’d like to use those words against the President, who as we know, is a strong advocate of Planned Parenthood, a strong abortion provider.  I’d prefer to see Mr. Obama to take Mr. Clinton’s approach that “abortions would be “safe, legal and rare.”   Planned Parenthood has an aggressive, non spiritual agenda; they talk about fetus as if it was just disposable tissue, not a living being. That is not acceptable!  And we should call the President to account for that!

Yesterday I was reading a magazine from Defenders of Wildlife that I enjoy very much.  They’re concerned about the killing of wolves in Wyoming, Grizzlies in Montana, Polar Bears in Alaska, Orcas in Hudsen Bay.  And I wonder if they are Defenders of Unborn Human Life.


       Dearest Lady, mother of Jesus,

  whose tender love brought Love Itself into our world,

  help those who have never known the tender embrace of their own mother’s love

  to receive the same tender care and love you wish for each of them. . . for each of us . . .

  as you offered the strict, 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 Jesus learned the joys of human love.

  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 Incarnation of the son of a young beautiful woman, Son of God,

       our Brother, our Friend, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  


And now, before you go, here’s “Surely He has borne our grief”, from The Messiah.  Click here.

Bob Traupman

 contemplative writer

Hint:  If you do not yet accept our faith that Jesus is true God and true human

just accept it as a beautiful love story.  The message still works!

And P.S.  Don’t worry about the aborted children;  the innocent ones will shine like the stars in God’s kingdom.

The tragedy is that they will never set foot on this beautiful planet.

+ + + 

The Legacy of a martyr

National Portrait Gallery

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We’re in as series of blogs to pray for our country before the inauguration of President Obama which will take place on Monday, January 21st, the day set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today I honor him as a mentor of mine.

He was 39 when he was martyred on April 4, 1968 — a young man who had a powerful influence on our country.

This is an excerpt of what I said on the fortieth anniversary of his death  April 4th 2008, also the fortieth anniversary of my ordination:

Forty years ago on, April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee while he was leading a strike for sanitation workers.  He inspired and led the Civil Rights movement that achieved great change in our land.

This man is still one of my mentors.  He was a man who committed himself to absolute nonviolence like Mahatma Ghandi and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the only way that justice and peace can be achieved. He inspired ordinary folks, black and white, to stand up for their rights, to sit down and accept the vicious blows of police and to have the courage to go to jail for what they believed in.

Forty years ago on the day after he was killed, April 5, 1968, I formally entered the service of the Roman Catholic Church as an ordained deacon.  I was a seminary student at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The shrill sound of sirens all over the city mingled with the ancient chant melody.  As I lay prostrate on the floor with my brothers to be ordained  I sucked in a deep breath and committed my service to the Church to be in the shadow of this man whose ideal of justice and peace and freedom I wanted to absorb into my soul and body.

On this anniversary, April 4, 2008, in this land of America, we have lost a lot of the freedoms and ideals of another great man Thomas Jefferson who declared that all men are created equal and have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Today, not only young black men are listless and have no hope; it’s true of young white men as well.

We are no longer a free nation when “they” can listen in on any of our phone conversations without a court order, our cell phones track and Google track our movements, when“they” deny the right to a trial, when we torture our enemies.

Where are those today who will inspire us and lead us out of our complacency?
Who will inspire us to stand up and put their lives on the line for what they believe in?
Who still dreams the dream of Martin Luther King and Thomas Jefferson?
Who is willing to sacrifice to restore those ideals to our beloved country?

O God of Justice,
raise up men and women in our day who will inspire us and restore us to the original ideals of our nation.
Enable us to wake up from our slumber and see what we have lost, that we are no longer a free nation.
Give us the strength and courage to pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to win this spiritual revolution that now lies before us in 2008.
We pray to you, God,  for You are the God who cries for justice for your children
and who still hears the cries who know and realize they are poor without You.
We pray to You for only You can can restore us to the ideal of freedom and justice FOR ALL.

St. Luke attributes has Mary sing these words in her Magnificat sung or recited every evening in the church everywhere in the world. Would  that we would believe it and commit ourselves to it!

“[God] has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servants
for he has remembered the promise of his mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers [and mothers}
to Abraham [and Sarah and Hagar]
and [their] children for ever.                                                                                                                                                                        
(Luke 1:46-55)

I call us more than a generation later, now in 2013, to the principles of Non-Violence Dr. King gave to us.

He trained them to sit down on the ground and take blows of the police because they knew that Non-Violence was a more powerful weapon than guns and bombs.

That legacy of Dr. King made it possible for Barack Obama to become president of the United States.

Would that he would have the courage to commit himself to that great man’s ideals.

Dr. King held no public office.  He persuaded us by the power of his words and the depth of his conviction.

And his willingness to give his life for what he believed in — no matter what.

Is there anything you  are willing to give your  life for?

I continually ask myself the same question and pray the answer is Yes!

Now, before you go, here’s  a  5-minute excerpt of Dr. King’s last speech the night before his assassination  in Memphis. If you’ve never heard him speak, (and I had in my seminary days), I promise you, it would be worth your time.  Click here.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Friday, January 18, 2013

Reconciliation: Finding common ground to stand on


image (c) bob traupman 2009. all rights reserved.

We’re in a series of blogs building up to President Obama’s second inauguration.  I’m suggesting that we take this time to reflect upon and to pray for our the transformation of our country.  I called us to that four years ago and there is as much need for personal and societal conversion of mind and heart as there was then.  Today, let’s reflect upon the need for reconciliation . . . .

I hate “either / or” alternatives, Lord.

Ultimatums, accusations, mud-slinging — all that.

I think You are always “both / and . . . .”

I think you are always calling us to live in the middle, in the center,

or at least to realize that the pendelum of life is always swinging back and forth

and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

So help us, Lord, to stop following the extremists on either side and be reconciled with each other.

Make us one, Lord.  Make us one.  As a Nation.  As families.  As a Christian Church.  And within ourselves.

Perhaps, dear reader you might like to reflect on the value of reconciling opposites, of seeking our center; this taken from reflection / letter  FOR PRIESTS ONLY.

Both body and soul.  Soul and body. We need both to be human. We must learn to tend to both body and soul.

There is good in bad . . . Bad in good. Those who say there is no bad within them  portray themselves as filled with truth and light and,  therefore, can be evil incarnate.

Left and right . . .Right and left. A person who is missing one of his arms misses something important.  A church that does not embrace left and right misses part of the truth.

Democrat and Republican. A politic that does not embrace both left and right also misses part of the truth.  A one-party government would be disastrous.

Sin and grace . . . Grace and sin. Jesus teaches us that the one who realizes he is a sinner  is the one who is open to grace.

Spirituality and sexuality . . .  Sexuality and spirituality. Every one of us has a body, and by that reason, we are sexual beings, whether we are celibate or not.  Spirituality needs a wholesome sexuality and sexuality needs spirituality to be redeemed and meaningful.

Heaven and earth . . . Earth and heaven. As we strive for heaven, a place of bliss and fulfillment, we remain rooted in our earthiness.

Up and down. . . Down and up. Sometimes down is up and up is down.  (“He has cast down the mighty…”).

Sickness and health . . . Health and sickness. Sometimes sickness helps us find spiritual health and, similarly, good health only may make us feel invincible.

Life and death . . . Death and life. Life prepares for death which opens up to new life after death.

Masculine and feminine.  Feminine and masculine.  Each of us has both qualities within us.

Able and disabled . . .  Disabled and abled. Sometimes the disabled do more with their disability than the able do with their ability.

The seeing and the blind . . . The blind and the seeing. Sometimes the blind see more than those who see and sometimes the seeing are blind.

Belief and unbelief . . . Unbelief and belief. Sometimes those who do not believe search harder and love more deeply  than those who believe.

Hope and despair . . .  Despair and hope. Sometimes those who despair find a truer hope.

Bound and loosed . . .  Loosed and bound. Sometimes we need to be bound  (by discipline) and sometimes we need to be loosed (from fear).

Darkness and light  . . .  Light and darkness. We would not appreciate the light if it were not for darkness.

Progressive and conservative . . . Conservative and progressive. Seek progress but conserve what is worth conserving. Sometimes the conservative is truly progressive and the progressive truly conservative (as in the environment).

Rich and poor . . . Poor and rich. Sometimes the rich are poor in that they may not recognize their need for God and the poor can be truly rich in that they do.

Teacher and student . . . Student and teacher. Good teachers produce better students and good students produce better teachers.

Sane and insane . . . Insane and sane. Sometimes the insane prophetically see the insanity of the world  that the “sane” do not see  in themselves.

And the either/or tendency can become violent: Israelis and Palestinians . . . Black and White . . .  Gay and Straight. . . Protestants and Catholics . . . Muslims and the rest of us.

All these conflicting tendencies can tear at our soul.  We must find resolution or we will not be at peace.  Thus, it is an important secret of life  not to consider opposites as either/or  but both/and.  The key to all spirituality is to find a spirituality in the balance.    “In media stat virtus.”  (Virtue is found in the center.)

The problem is that we do not tolerate points of view that differ from our own and we may hate and want to do harm to those who embody them. 

What would happen  if we taught  people to LISTEN to one another, to search out the truths in each other’s position?  

What would happen if the church and political leaders of our country would call together those who are pro-life and pro-choice to find a way to respect one another and to listen to each other?

You know the statue of the blind-folded woman who represents justice?  She holds in her hand a balance.  In choosing between disparate elements, we should choose a little bit from the right and a little from the left so that the scales balance.  A little bit of light and a little bit of darkness.  A little bit of body and a little bit of soul and, yes, tolerate a little bit of bad with a little bit of good in ourselves and in others. 

We just cannot  dispel or disperse all the weeds from our garden!

I strongly feel that by seeking both sides to a question we will be led to experience new horizons in which we can find God and ourselves and at least a little bit of the truth that will nourish  and strengthen us.

Seek to draw the disparate pieces of your life together. 

Seek balance and tolerance by seeking the truth hidden (to you) in your opponents’ views.  Seek respect and reverence for those who are different.

I believe very strongly that the Truth embodies both the left and the right.  I know from my own life that “symbolein” — the force that draws together rather than casts out or seeks to destroy (diabolein)– is a powerful force indeed.

For me, that Force is JESUS, who is for me the Stillpoint of the universe or universes (Col 1:19-20).

To him be glory and honor forever.

Now, before you go, here is a “This Land is My Land” sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir against the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge accompanied by a beautiful slide show.  Click here.  Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers. 

With love. 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Re-birthing America


We’re coming up in a few days on the second inauguration of Barack Obama.  In this series of blogs, we wish to pray for him, for our congressional leaders and for our country.   In 2009, I asked my readers to realize that personal transformation is connected to the need for transformation of our country.   Four years later, I see that call as urgent as ever.  Let’s take some time over the next few days and over the long weekend to reflect upon and to pray for the inner growth and change we need.

On  July 4, 1776, the men in this image, with their families supporting them published the sacred document, the Declaration of Independence, that created this country.  At its conclusion, they said:


Imagine the risks they undertook and the courage that they needed
to bring the ideal of freedom and equality that existed in their minds and hearts into external reality.
They had to be willing to sacrifice everything dear to them — their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.                      And many of them actually did lose either their lives, their fortunes or their property.
Their signatures, bound to their lives,  created the United States of America.

We need to return again and again to that moment.
We need to re-birth America in our hearts in this time and place.

Many of our service men and women are compelled to serve tour after tour, sacrifice their physical and emotional lives and those of their families while the rest of us American people have been asked to sacrifice very little.

John Kennedy said:

“Ask not what your country can do for you.

Ask what you can do for your country.”

Are you willing to make your own contribution?  Each of us must do our part, neighbor helping neighbor.  We sink or swim together.

God of our understanding,
we thank You for the vision of our founding fathers and mothers and their courage to bring it into reality.
May each of us be willing to transform
our hate to respect for all people,
our reliance on material things to reliance on You,
our greed and selfishness to self-giving and compassion.
May we always be willing to respond to the grace You give us
to transform our lives and our country to serve the good of all.
Let the lessons of hardship that many of us now are experiencing
prompt us to turn to You, God of our understanding,
for You, are the Source of all that is good in our lives.
May all our actions show Your wisdom and love.

And now, before you go, here’s a slide show to “My Country Tis of Thee sung by a children’s choir.  Click here. 

With love,

Bob Traupman, 

Contemplative Writer                                                                           

You are my beloved Son / Daughter

IMG_0958The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

This feast is part of the epiphany cycle feasts ….

It reveals further the meaning of the Incarnation of the Son of God, that is. our God entering our world and becoming flesh and blood.

God sent is only Son to become one with us.

What better way to do this than to show acceptance of the human condition by being baptized for the forgiveness of sin.

Jesus has no personal sin.  Yet he lined up with hundreds of pilgrims to be baptized by the prophet John in the Jordan.

In this we see Jesus’ humility.  He is willing to accept ALL of the human condition.  He willingly presents himself to baptism.

There he is:  John in his camel-hair shirt at the edge of the desert, wading out into the waters of the Jordan River.

A crowd has gathered on the banks.  Jesus is among them.  He is relatively unknown because he has yet to begin his ministry.  He has chosen this meeting with the Prophet to inaugurate his own mission.

Jesus waits patiently amidst the crowd.  There is a line of people eagerly waiting to meet individually with John  and to receive his baptism of repentance.

It’s almost Jesus’ turn.  John catches his eye as he talks with the young woman ahead of  Jesus.

As Jesus walks up to John, his cousin objects, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’

I wonder why John said “I NEED to be baptized by you.

There’s a crowd around but a bit of an intimate conversation between cousins.

I wonder when the last time the talked.

I wonder how close they were.

Did they ever have “guy” talk?

But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented.

John probably admired his cousin a lot and found it difficult to play this role of “holier than thou” so to speak.  Consenting he probably did reluctantly.

But if I were John, I would have doused my cousin GOOD!

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’

I have a strawberry conditioner I put on my non-hair as a reminder of my anointing at confirmation.  It’s a ritual I do every time I shower to remind me of my baptism.

These days I very much feel a Beloved Son, with whom my heavenly Father and my Lord are pleased. 

Why? Because they know I try my best to pray well and to be faithful as odd as that may seem as I walk this very unconventional path.

You see, Jesus fulfills ALL of the proscriptions of a penitent.  He does everything that he is supposed to do.  He does not ask for special favors.  He does not expect any courtesies or privileges.

(I can learn a lesson here.  In the days that there were special privileges for priests — not any more — I sometimes relished being whisked to the head of the line or getting a “clergy discount.”)

But back to our story.  An astonishing thing happened; the two of them were privileged to a vision.  The sky opened up and John saw the Spirit of God descend on Jesus like a dove and hover over him.

With that, a voice from the heavens said,

“You are my beloved Son;  with you I am well pleased.”

In our immersion into the waters of baptism, we are consecrated, set apart and made holy.  In Jesus’ immersion in the baptismal waters of the Jordan, the opposite becomes true.  Jesus consecrates, sets apart and makes holy the waters of baptism.  Jesus as Man   consecrates the movement of divine grace that flows just as rivers flow.

Sometimes the river has abundant waters that give life to all living things that share its banks.  But sometimes the waters dry up and become like a desert.

So, too, with grace.  Grace flows like a river bringing wonderful fruit to all who drink and are immersed in it.  But sometimes grace  seemingly dries up and we live in a desert for awhile.  But the river is still there — unseen; it just moves below the surface.

So we have to be willing to be immersed.  To be immersed in divine grace.  To be immersed in God.  To be immersed in love.

But that precisely is the problem.  We are scared of being immersed in love.  We are scared of being immersed in God.  We prefer to stand on the banks of the river and watch the waters of grace flow by, without having direct contact with it.

So this feast day is about us as well.  Don’t be afraid to be immersed in God.  Don’t be afraid to be immersed in love.

If we are immersed in God, in love, we will hear the voice of God say to us

“You are my beloved son.  You are my beloved daughter.  

Now, before you go, here’s Randy Travis singing the traditional spiritual “Shall we Gather at the River.”  Click here.   

And here are today’s Mass readings: Click here.

With Love, 

Bob Traupman 

Contemplative Writer



The Feast of the Epiphany ~ Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Today’s feast day has several meanings.  In the Roman Church we celebrate the story of the Magi visiting Jesus and offering him gifts.  In the Eastern churches, they focus on the story of the Baptism of the Lord.  Both celebrate the manifestation, the revelation of Jesus to the whole world.

Paul in today’s letter to the Ephesians proclaims that “that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

We focus on the story of the Magi in our celebration today.  In the Gospel of Christmas, the angels proclaim the Good News of Christ’s birth  to the shepherds, who were uneducated and poor folk;  The story from Luke indicates that the gospel is to be preached to the poor.

Today’s story is from Matthew.  The Magi, are scholars and learned men.  They  discern from their study of the heavens that the Messiah was to be born in their time;  they would risk the search for him and offer  their treasures.  The Magi represent all the peoples of the earth outside and beyond the Jewish experience.  Jesus is the Christ for everyone!

This Gospel story is about darkness and light.

Brilliant light and terrible, fearful darkness.

The Magi were comfortable with the dark.  They knew how to find their way in the dark because they could interpret the lights of the sky.  They were adventurers / seekers / explorers.

They represent all people who are at home in the world of the intellect.  All people who are willing to journey far to seek and find the truth.

They went out into the night following the light, the great star which marked a singular event in human history.

They stopped to see Herod, expecting that he would welcome the light.  He couldn’t; he was filled with diabolical darkness; he could not abide the light of truth.  He tried to snuff out the life of the God-Man, Jesus the light of the world.

Herod, the guy in charge, a king, was worried about the birth of a baby.  Herod was very powerful, and yet, as Matthew says, “ . . . he was greatly troubled.”

What was Herod afraid of ?  Obviously, he knew that Jesus was going to make a difference in his world and was afraid that a change would mean losing the power he had.  He wanted Jesus gone before any of that could happen.  He liked things just the way they were.

So Herod decreed that all firstborn male babies under two were to be killed.   Jesus and Mary and Joseph had to flee into the night to find a safe place in a foreign land, the land of Egypt.  And so a shroud of violence comes over the innocence of the Christmas story.  Jesus and his family became political refugees.


Some of us too are swallowed up by darkness, enshrouded by night.

Some of us live in  dysfunctional families.  That can be terrible darkness, though we may not recognize it.  We may think that yelling and screaming are quite normal.


Some of us get up and work very hard  every day.  Perhaps it is work that we do not enjoy, perhaps even hate.  Perhaps our spirits are far away from our jobs.  We go to work  trying to make a living while hoping that the darkness  will not overwhelm us.


And we know that there is darkness in the world.  The Israelis refuse to seek peace with the Palestinians. Hate seethes deep in the souls of neighbors a few miles away from each other.  And we’re trying to recover from the shock of a major hurricane, followed by unbelievable sorrow in the massacre of little children.


And so, listen to these  powerful words  from Isaiah in the first reading:




This feast is about a light that penetrates the most stubborn darkness of our lives.

This feast brings a Light to us all, if only we, like the Magi, would seek.



Violence seems to enshroud our whole planet.  We are all engulfed in it.



Don’t despair of the darkness, dear friends.  Know that there is a light that can penetrate it.

There was sadness and a thick veil of darkness over my own life for many years.  I had the good sense to move  to the little bit of light that I could find.  A candle flame can be as bright as a great Nova when one is looking for light.

WE need the light of God’s truth in the world today.



Out of the darkness came the Magi bringing gifts for the Light of the World.  Gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the Holy Child who was the Light.

But before we can give a gift, we must — often in the midst of the darkness – open our hands and our hearts to receive the gift that God would give to us.  We must first receive before we can give.

Out of the darkness of your lives, you  also can find gifts to give to the Lord and your family and friends.

What gifts do we bring?

Do we bring Jesus the gift of our adoration which the Magi did? The gift of our hearts?

These learned and influential people got down on their knees before this little child.  What or  who receives the gift of OUR adoration and allegiance?


The world does not know how to adore God.  We adore so many other things — a new sports car, a new home, a gifted child of our own, good-looking women or men  .  Maybe we adore a favorite movie star or your favorite sports team when they are winning at least.  Do we adore our career path, willing to do whatever it takes, even if we embrace the darkness along the way?


Remember the story of the little drummer boy?

What one gift can we give to God this day?

Close your eyes.  Think about it for a moment.

Now, before you go, here’s The Little Drummer Boy to help you think about what gift you have to offer.  Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

You can find today’s Mass readings at this link.  Click here.

With love,  

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer






St. Augustine, Florida at Christmastime © bob traupman 2007.  all rights reserved.
St. Augustine, Florida at Christmastime © bob traupman 2007. all rights reserved.

Where are we, this New Year’s Day 2013, Lord?

Are we better off than we were a year ago?

What will 2013 bring for us?

Are we prepared for whatever the year will bring?

Do we realize that “We never know . . . what the next moment will bring?

Give us hope, Lord, this New Year’s Day.

A realistic hope that we might be a little kinder,

a little less self-centered,

a little more willing to go the extra mile for someone, even for a stranger.

Give us the strength to be ready for whatever may come.

— If the economy should get worse;

–if we should lose our job;

–or if a dire crisis should occur.

Give us the grace to be truly thankful and truly repentant, truly humble this New Year’s morning.

This is my prayer, Lord, for me,  for our country, for our world.

This morning may we pray as St. Francis taught us . . .

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen!

May it be so! may it be so!

And now here’s this prayer  on YouTube sung by Angelina

A Happy and Blessed New Year, everyone!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer