The Power of a Wave and a Smile


Dear Friends,

I love these hours in the quiet before dawn.  I’m sitting in my old green recliner on my second floor porch.  The only sounds are the quiet, soothing whir of the ceiling fan and the ha ha ha of Shivvy’s breathing as he snuggles next to my chair on the floor next to me. He’s not usually up this early. I guess he just wanted to keep me company for a while.

I’m opening a new category on this blog,  “Return to Civility”, though it’s a theme that runs through much of what I write.

The transformation of our country is a responsibility for every single one of us. And it happens with very simple things.

Here’s a story from last Friday>>>>

Shivvy and I were taking our morning stroll around our Cypress Chase “A” condominum complex.  On the West side of the building a Waste Management truck came rumbling towards us.  Like most dogs, Shivvy doesn’t like loud noises.  We stopped in the middle of the driveway and waited for the truck driver to proceed to the dumpster in the building opposite us.  He deftly lifted the bin and dumped its contents into the truck.

With  a bit of youthful energy  he bounded down from his high driver’s seat onto the asphalt..   He had passed us by and  was facing away from us.  He turned for a moment to look at us just for a second, turned again the other way and  with an exuberant push, (I like that word; it describes me, too, and often gets me into a whole lot of trouble!!!) he landed the heavy object back in its corral, turned toward us again and grinned from ear to ear  and a great big wave he jumped back into the truck and was gone.

Now, I just want to tell you that that ten second encounter with a stranger made my day.  I was not having the best of mornings up to that point.  But this young man who was aware of the people around him and took the time ot acknowledge us spread a positive energy around that surprised me / woke me up / affirmed me / stimulated me / and impressed me so much that I am sharing it with you several days later.

My point?  Let’s be aware of the people around us. Look them in the eye and give them a nod which says without words:  You are a person like me. You have as much right to be here as I.  And then realize the power of a Smile and a Wave.  It won’t cost you a thing.  But it will change you and perhaps another.

My friends, that’s how we’ll make it through difficult times.

We’re all in this together. We’ll survive together.P7190111

And the opposite is also true: If we do not bind up our differences and come together we are not going to make it.  I promise you that.

There’s a lot of hate out there.  There’s a lot of people who’d like to spit us out and grind us up.

There’s a lot of people out there who don’t give a damn about anyone else.

Spread love not hate by a wave or a smile or even a nod.

This is civil behavior. People trying to get along and restore our country to the greatness we once had but have sadly lost.

There are two opposing forces in the world that rub up against each other like subterranean techtonic plates.

Symbolein (A Greek word which means to draw together). This is what Jesus is all about.

and Diabolien (which means to throw out or disperse) This is what Satan is all about.

So a thought for you to think about today.  What kind of person are you?

Are you one who draws people together.  Are you one who includes or excludes?

IMG_0267Good and gracious God,

You sent your Son Jesus to live among us to teach us how to love.

You want all your children to be included in your kingdom.

Help us to be aware that we are not the center of the universe

but to be aware of others around us and acknowledge that they, too are your children,

Teach us to be respectful of every person we meet

even the ones we may find to be a pain in the you-know-what!!!

To You God of Love, be praise and glory this day.


Bob Traupman

priest / writer

areal photo of Ft. Lauderdale

The summer of ’69: The lunar landing – July 20


Dear Friends,

I had said (tongue in cheek) that I had set off a chain of events for the Summer of ’69 with my ordination to the Catholic priesthood on May 24th of that year.

I did a blog on the second event which was as almost equally unknown as my event in Orlando — the Stonewall riots in New York City that is marked as the beginning of the Civil Rights movement of gay people (though I hate that word.)  You might check out my blog on that event posted on June 28th.  Be sure to read my reply to the comment below about how we can overcome our prejudices.

images-2I also had a very personal connection to the Apollo ll flight to the moon.  I arrived at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in early June with the holy oils fresh on my hands as a baby priest.  Father David Page, editor of the Florida Catholic newpaper asked me to write the lead piece for that publication reflecting on the spiritual significance of that event.  What an honor that was!  But since my files are still unpacked after moving here to Lauderale 11 months ago, I couldn’t possibly find it right now.

Holy Name had many of the men who sat in the Mission Control room which you will see in the video below were in our parish, including Paul Donnelly, the launch director for Apollo 11.  I was very aware of what a privilege that was.  Mr. Donnelly had given my parents an intimate tour of the cape and I was permitted to eve to step into a LEM for a later lunar flight!

It was my duty to stay in the parish for the July 16th lift off while the pastor was a guest at the launch site.

Here are three videos to recapture that event.

The first is a the actual lunar landing.

images The second is a narrative by Buzz Aldrin recounting an unidentified object flying along near  them.   Hmmm. I wonder . . .

The third is a photo album of pictures from NASA for that flight.

Forty years later I wonder if we have any kind of connection with the heavens above any longer.

I wonder if we have the sense of wonder we had back then. We take everything for granted.

I wonder if we wonder when we look at the moon.  If we’re ever moon struck any more.

I often muse about the crew of Christopher Columbus charting their course over the vast unexplored ocean by their knowledge of the heavens above.

I wonder how many of us have seen the Milky Way on a really dark night away from city light pollution?

What has happened to our sense of wonder and exploration since 9/11?

Where do we really fit in this world? In this universe?

Do we have any sense of connectedness or communion with anything bigger than us?

What’s it all about?

Bob Traupman

priest / writer

Worshipping celebrities / thirsting for meaning


Dear Friends,

I was very sad about the Michael Jackson story last week.  I pray for him.  He had a lot of suffering in his life.  But I wonder how much of it was redemptive.  I was sad for other reasons, though. I want to share with you an excerpt of a fine piece of writing by Jamie Manson whose blog appears weekly in the National Catholic Reporter.  I agree with it 100%.  She says it clearly:

“Celebrity culture, it seems to me, has become our religion. It is unreality posing as reality. It devours our attention and shapes our values and concerns. It has a unique power to move us and propel us toward action. Sometimes it even helps mold our consciences. We donate to a cause if “American Idol” has decided to “give back” to it. We become interested in Darfur because George Clooney insists on it. When Oprah made a documentary about building a girls’ school in South Africa, millions were moved by her generosity. And who has been a greater promoter of Kabbalah spirituality in its centuries-old history than Madonna?

As much as I appreciate celebrities who use their enormous power for the good, I cannot help but be troubled by their capacity to dominate our minds and hearts. They lift us up in frenzy of concern that seems to fade as quickly as it erupted. Celebrity culture is fickle and faddish, and very often the social awareness the celebrities promote suffers the same fate. Remember Jackson’s “We Are the World/ USA for Africa” project that set out to end famine in Ethiopia? He received an extraordinary amount of celebrity support and a mega-hit was born from it. Sadly, 25 years later, the situation remains the same in that region of the world.

So, for this week at least, Jackson is the object of worship and veneration in our cult of the celebrity. The heightened sense of loss suggests that we are so hungry for meaning, for some sense of the sacred, that the moonwalk and an epic music video are being spoken about as if they are sacraments.

But what I believe fuels our obsession with celebrities most is not their artistic or philanthropic contributions — or even their scandals — but their fame which serves as a symbol of our own deep desire to be known. Our preoccupation with them is in many ways a mark of our own yearning to be well-known. As communities decline and the act of socializing becomes more isolated by communication devices and social networking sites, we become less and less present to one another. This is why, I believe, sites like Twitter are so popular. We are so anxious to be recognized, that we feel the need to tell our every move to anyone willing to read about it. Unfortunately, this does not create the quality of presence that feeds the spirit and leads us into more intimate levels of knowing and being known.

Our country’s preoccupation with Jackson’s death this week illuminated for me the role of celebrities in our society: they are cultural golden calves that distract us from being present to one another and from recognizing the sacred working in our midst. Our cultish attachment to celebrities reveals the pathos of our culture. In our obsession with them, we are at once crying out for attention and being distracted from those realities that are most in need of our authentic presence. At its core, it suggests that we are hungry for meaning that no other cultural entity seems to be willing or able to make for us. We are starving for presence and looking towards American idols to offer us a fantasy of being known and a diversion from the challenge to know more deeply.

Jamie Manson received her master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School where she studied Catholic theology, personal commitments and sexual ethics with Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley. She is the former editor in chief of the Yale magazine Reflections, and currently serves as director of Social Justice Ministries at Jan Hus Presbyterian Church, working primarily with New York City’s homeless and poor populations. She is a member of the national board of the Women’s Ordination Conference.

A July 4th Prayer


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This is an actual image of one of the four panels of the words of Thomas Jefferson emblazoned upon the walls of
of perhaps America’s most sacred shrine, the Jefferson Memorial.
The image was taken in October 2007 on my first pilgrimage to pray for our country’s transformation.

I continue, as I did yesterday, my personal reflections on these words.
As I offer my thoughts, I invite you to observe this Fourth of July by a deeper, interior observance of the heart.
Take time to make these words, of the Declaration of Independence, your own.
Realize, especially those of you who are young people, that these words conceived, founded and established our country.
What existed only in the minds and hearts of our founding fathers and mothers became the United States of America.
But, very sadly, it is my sense that we have wandered far way from this vision.
We don’t realize that we are constantly re-birthing America — for good or for ill.

It is my sense that at this critical point of American history that we — each and every American — ought to
re-visit that moment of our founding.  Imagine what it was like.
Imagine their vision of what did not yet exist in the external world.
Imagine the courage they had.
Next to the Word of God, there are no words that are more sacred to me than these.
They are sacred because they reflected divine reality.
God blessed these words and our country was born on the Fourth of July 1776.

When I lived in Washington in the summer of 1979 when I was 36 years old,
I would go a couple of times a week and sit in the rotunda of this sacred shrine
and ponder anew the vision of these sacred words.
I’d like to share with you what was going on in my head and my heart 29 years ago and today as we face this critical election.
They are faith-based thoughts.  I do not want to impose them on you.
I just share them because they lead me to a very positive view of our country and our world,
a view that resists the profound hatred and violence and self-indulgence of our comotose society.
As you ponder my thoughts ask yourself what vision of America, what vision of the world and our future do you yourself have?
What do you want for you, for your children, for our country, for our world, for our planet?

Dearest God,

I believe your Holy Spirit inspired these words:


I, as a Christian among other God-fearing women and men.
I address You and love You as my Father.
You are my Father.
But this means that You are not just my Father, but the Father of all the ones you have created.
You care about every person on this planet who has ever lived or who ever will;
Therefore, we are all equal in your sight.  We are all persons.
You conceived and created each human being with a unique identity, a body and soul, in Your mind and heart from the very beginning
and you sustain each one of us today and for all eternity.

I have come to recognize that ALL of us are in Your family, Father.
And that makes us but sisters and brothers.
Help me to embrace all of Your children on this planet in my heart.
Help me to want for every one what you have so generously provided for me —
a little place to call home,
simple food on my table,
a decent education
and decent health care.

Help me, Father to recognize and support
the right of every human person to life, liberty and the pursuit of other people’s happiness as well as my own.
Help me not to be only concerned about my own needs, my own family’s needs,
but to realize that we are all one family.
But we are torn apart by hatred and violence; brother still kills brother.
Help us export love not hate, peace and development for all people, not war and destruction.

This is my constant prayer, heavenly Father, for the world in which I live.
I pray that you would allow me the grace to be able to help bring that about,
not only for the people of America but for the whole world.
To you, heavenly Father,
Father of my Redeemer and elder brother Jesus,
all honor and praise and thanksgiving now and forever.


This, sisters and brothers, is my constant prayer for the world in which I live,
the world I wish to be a part of and help to bring into reality.
It has ever been such since my lazy summer  of ’79 in Washington and always will be.
I do not expect you to be able to use my words as you pray.
I just invite you to make your own prayer.
Make this Fourth of July a re-dedication to our ideals.
We need God in our world today.
But we rely on ourselves and not on God.  Capitalism, by definition, creates that illusion.
I urge you to re-birth the vision of our founding fathers and mothers in your own heart this Fourth of July 2009.
We need to renew that vision, that commitment every year, every day,
from the mightiest to the lowest of our land.
And I warn you (me too), if we don’t constantly attend to our renewal,
we will lose what we have and are.
Great civilizations have collapsed because of their complacency before us.

Nevertheless, it is my sense that God IS transforming us.
All we have to do is co-operate with the process.

Let us be at prayer and reflection, this Fourth of July.
Ask God for guidance.  Ask forgiveness for taking all of this for granted.
We need God to  bring us through these critical times.

With love,

Bob Traupman
priest / writer

July 4th / The Courage of the Signers

Declaration_independenceDear Brothers and Sisters,

On  July 4, 1776, the men, and 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.
Their signatures, bound to their lives, fortunes and honor, 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.

We honor today the sacrifices of the women and men and their families
in Iraq and Afghanistan who are in service of our country.
Many of these men and women are compelled to serve tour after tour,
sacrificing their physical and emotional lives and those of their families.
But let also realize that the rest of us American people have been asked to sacrifice very little.
We go on with our complacent lives,
untouched by the reality of war for our Marines or Iraqi children.

May we not take for granted what we have here in America.
May this Fourth of July be a time for us to take stock of ourselves.
John Kennedy said:
“Ask not what your country can do for you.
Ask what you can do for your country.”
Each of us must be willing to enter a path of personal transformation
for the sake of transformation of our country.
I invite you to pray every day for God’s help in that transformation.

Good and gracious God of our understanding,
we thank You for the courage and vision of our founding fathers and mothers.
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
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.

With love,
Bob Traupman
priest / writer

A Father’s Day blessing (for everyone)

Guess who's the father
Guess who's the father

To all the fathers in my life:

Dear Brothers — and everybody . . . )

I just opened my computer this morning and found this beautiful blessing.

May it lift you up,

encourage you,

heal your heart

and give you joy.

The blessings movie

(from Simple

P. S. There is another Father’s Day post on here that some have liked.

Here’s to all the Father’s in my life.

I wrote it thinking that last Sunday was the day.

(I’m not quite on the planet yet!)

With all my love to all the father’s in my life!

Bob Traupman

priest / writer

Here’s to those who have fathered us!!!


Here’s to all the fathers I know!
And those I don’t.

To grandfathers, great grandfathers
and fathers-to-be.

Rejoice in your daughters and sons!
Give thanks today for what you have wrought,
not only from your loins
but from your spirit.

Perhaps you have been a great father,
Perhaps not.

Just be as good a father as you can be.IMG_0516

That’s all your kids want.

The most important part of being a father,
I think,
is not what your provide for your family /
nice home /good food /
health care / education / lots of cool stuff, / all that.

The most important part of being a father
is the time you spend getting to know each one as unique individualsIMG_0400
and to call forth their gifts –
to encourage them to be who they are,
to find their own identity,
—  not what you want them to be,
but to find their own place in the sun (Son).

If life circumstances have caused you
not be the greatest of fathers,
it’s not too late.
Just be the best father you can.

Focus on your kids first.

Some fathers who have lost their jobs are discovering their children for the first time.
The most important thing is to be real.
To be honest, a man of integrity. To love.

You are also somebody’s son.

Maybe you have had a great relationship with your own father.                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe not.

Whether living or dead, honor them today as well.

Just keep trying.  Rejoice in your kids.026_26
They are the greatest gift you have in life.
Be proud of them and they will be proud of you.

And so may we pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
we give you thanks for the life and love you share with us,
Help us as fathers to be there for our kids,
And if we haven’t,
May we do so from this day forward.
We are all Your children, Heavenly Father.

We give thanks for those who have fathered us,
even though they may not have given us our DNA
— uncles, teachers, friends, older brothers

And I, too, Father Bob, give thanks to the men
who have initiated me into manhood and the ways of the spirit.

IMG_0103I also rejoice and give thanks for all those
for whom I have been a spiritual father
during the forty years of my priesthood
by helping them to realize
that it is You, heavenly Father,  who give life and love to us all.
To You be all honor and glory and praise!

Bob Traupman
priest / writer

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 of our surroundings and what’s going on inside of us — paying attention to our feelings that are indicators of the health of our body / mind / spirit.

I’ve been submerged in writing my in-depth reflection on my life as a priest for forty years while neglecting you all, my blog readers.  I began my 40th year this past Sunday.  And I am very appreciative of these forty years.  If you’d like to read them, they’re a pdf download titled Both Sides Now.

I said in that article” 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.  No!  We need a hurricane to blow through us.

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 as well as my beging my next 40.

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!

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

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.