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Thoughts on Responsibility and Self-Criticism:
(Proverbs 21: 29, Psalm 36: 2-3)
Thoughts on Life
  • It is not what we are given at birth that matters. The mark we make in this life is determined by the choices we make everyday. - Fr. Julian Deurbeck O.S.B.
  • If we live a family life of love and kindness, of care and concern, our children will learn a lesson that they will want to pass on to their children. - Abbot Dismas Kalcic O.S.B.
  • If you embrace the values of your culture you will become indifferent to the presence of God within you. - Abbot Dismas Kalcic O.S.B.
  • Physical comfort is good. But if we have too much of it our hearts grow dull. We become indifferent to those around us. And we can no longer lay hold of eternal life. - Abbot Austin Murphy O.S.B.
  • There are five truths about life we would do well to learn: Life is hard, you are going to die, you are not in control of your life, you are not that important and your life is not about you. - John Grossman
  • A healthy community needs a clear understanding of what it can tolerate lest the fabric of the common life be stretched so thin that it disintegrates. Individuals need to know that they do not operate in isolation and that their behavior affects everyone else in the group. - Columba Stewart O.S.B.
  • You can have anything you want. You can be anything you want. You can achieve anything you want. All it takes is hard work. If you don't want to work or you quit then you have no right to complain if you don't get what you wanted. - Richard Ferre
  • Give thanks to God for all you've been blessed with. Lift up your face to heaven. And smile. - Br. Kevin Coffey O.S.B.
  • Lord, remind me on the days I don't get my way what a glorious day this is! - Barbara McCartney
  • As one observer recently noted, our society is exchanging moral concern about sex for moral concern about diet. We are not sure that moral judgments should be made when it comes to sexual behaviors, but when it comes to free range chickens and excess carbohydrates, the moral categories kick in. - Albert Mohler
  • You say the times are evil, then improve yourselves and the times will be better: you are the times. - St Augustine
  • Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides. - Andre Malraux
  • Silence is the only state of being in which man can contemplate mystery. Only in silence does man have the quality of simply being, neither projecting himself onto others, nor caring about his public image, nor trafficking in abstract expressions, nor removing himself to the political sphere, the God-debate sphere, or the attention-seeking sphere. - Marc Barnes
  • "Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself." - Samuel Johnson
  • Give up the excuses you've been living. - Undefeated welterweight boxer Will "Power" Coix
  • I understand that sad is a part of life and it adds depth that nothing else can. - Barbara McCartney
  • No merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight. - Hilaire Belloc on Christianity
  • Compared to what? - Voltarie (responding to a complaint that "Life is hard!")
  • How extraordinary! The richest, longest lived, best protected, most resourceful civilization, with the highest degree of insight into its own technology is on its way to becoming the most frightened. - Aaron Wildavsky
  • Re the current "4th trimester abortion" debate: "[bioethicists] professionally guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on the way to becoming the justifiable until it is finally established as unexceptionable. - Fr. Richard John Neuhaus
  • "The abiding perhaps dominant myth of this present age is that personal authenticity requires that I be able to perform for the world that which I feel I am inside. From Rousseau to Reich and beyond, this nonsense grips the popular imagination. If I am to be recognized as me, no thought can go unarticulated, no desire unrealized, no personal idiosyncrasy unexpressed. No longer do institutions train us to belong to something bigger than ourselves. Rather they are there to support me in my acts of self-expression. - Carl R. Trueman
  • Lord, while the media screams trouble and danger, let us rest easy in the knowledge that our eternal future is not in the hands of the world, but in Your hand where it cannot be snatched away by even the strongest power the world has to offer. - Charlie Daniels
  • "First, we overlook evil. Then we permit evil. Then we legalize evil. Then we promote evil. Then we celebrate evil. Then we persecute those who still call it evil. I call it evil. - Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • Dr. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge


Through the gracious generosity of the monks at St. Procopius Abbey I have been priviledged to become the latest vintner responsible for the 110+ year old vineyard at the Abbey. I am now in my seventeenth year of carrying on this honor. Not a day in the vineyard goes by that I do not reflect on those who have gone before me, both those who were my teachers (Brs. George, Joe and Raphael) and those I have never met who started this work over 100 years ago. After so many years of both successful and less than successful wine making seasons I have even come to look on the vines as old friends and mourn those who do not make it through the hard winters.

One thing I have learned is that I really don't know very much about grapes and wine. So as such I have spent some time consulting the Illinois Extension Service and as many resources, e.g. Washington State Extension, as I can.

It is now summer and things are happening. Our perennial fungal infection was light in 2020, 2021 and 2022. 2023 has seen very little fungal infection. Last year we harvested 1243 pounds of grapes. What 2023 will bring . . . ? I hope that 2023 will be as good (or better than 2022) and I ask God's blessing on the vineyard and orchard.

Unfortunately personnal complications have arisen. In September of 2022 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. My first (and hopelly only round of treatment) ended in April 2023. The cure has been worse than the disease. As such I have reached out to friends offering them wine if they can help me with physical labor I can no longer do. The first bottling is this month (August).

Besides God's blessing on the land He continues to bless this community with faithful voluteers. The care of the vines could not have been done without the hard worh of Eileen, Peggy and Ruth! And this coming fall, the students of BIOL 1165 will also work the land!

To round out my vineyard work I am still teaching courses in wine biology and chemistry at Benedictine University (13 years now).

If you are interested in the monastic lifestyle and might even like spending a weekend staying with the monks and getting a feel for their life please vist the abbey's web site. I was priveleged to have had several of the novices work with me in the vineyard. It was fascinating to learn how they ended up here called by God.

During this process of becoming a part of this Benedictine heritage I took my vows as a Benedictine Oblate of St. Procopius Abbey on Sunday, November 14th, 2010 and am still an Oblate in good standing! :-) If you might be interested in Oblate life please visit the Oblate web page.

Risks, Environmental and Otherwise

On March 4, 2019 I gave a presentation at the Benedictine Teach In on Environmental Justice. This was followed up by an interdepartmental seminar between Biology and Theology. Follow this link to view the presentation. (I will be updating this shortly.)

What would I like people to "get' from this presentation, i.e. what would I like their take away thoughts to be? After some refection I suggest three good reflections would be: what are the risks you face based on your personal choices, what can you do about both your situation and that of our society/the world, where is our society/the world headed?

Re the later point: It is true that climate change is happening to an extent that is still being quantified. We might ask then the questions: how much is that change, how much is due to human actions and what can we do about it? But above and beyond that I point out in the presentation that I believe our greatest threat, either in terms of personal risk e.g. cancer, or in terms of our U.S. society and the earth is ourselves. Bluntly: I believe we are killing ourselves. We have embraced death and lost our souls to self interest and a blind pursuit of personal/sexual freedom with little thought as to where we are headed. In this country there are many of a liberal/leftist bent who invoke images from Margret Atwood's "A Hand Maid's Tale." I suggest given the current world demographics P. D. James' "The Children of Men" is much more accurate. If that sounds pesimistic I ask any who read this presentation to do some research and prove me wrong. (My being wrong in this case would be a good thing!) A word of caution: the main stream media social media, entertainers, NGOs (e.g. Green Peace) are not acceptable sources of factual information. Try NIH, CDC, WHO, the EPA, etc. Feel free to share what you discover. For a little intellectual exercise the next time you hear/read of a pollution problem see if any numbers are acctually quoted on level of exposure, level of regulation and expected level of risk that put the risk in perspective. My bet is if it's main stream media 99.9% of the time this information will not be given.

As pessimistic as this sounds, the theme I echoed in an Interdepartmental Seminar as a follow up to the 2019 presentation was "A species that refuses to reproduce and kills its young is doomed to extinction." If you think this is to wild too be true you might check the statistics on natural death and number of yearly abortions. These, in 2021, translate to 73 million abortions and 60 million natural deaths. Do the math.

Even now, as pointed out above, the liberal side of our system continues to beat the drum of over population. They are wrong. And not just "kinda wrong" but wrong to the extent that, in my opinion, we will have destroyed our world by abortion, euthanasia and suicide long before climate change gets us.

Follow this link to view the status of procreation in the US.

Follow this link to view the status of procreation in the world.

I suggest we need some epiritual heroism. And I present 3 quotes that talk about death and life. In my opinion each requires heroism.

A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity, and I certainly have not done so. But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying. And it has held up ever since above the European lances the banner of the mystery of chivalry: the Christian courage, which is a disdain of death; not . . . a disdain of life. G. K. Chesterton

To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about, Is nothing so bad when you've cover to 'and, an' leave an' likin' to shout; But to stand an' be still to the Birken'ead drill is a damn tough bullet to chew, An' they done it, the Jollies -- 'Er Majesty's Jollies -- soldier an' sailor too! Their work was done when it 'adn't begun; they was younger nor me an' you; Their choice it was plain between drownin' in 'eaps an' bein' mopped by the screw, So they stood an' was still to the Birken'ead drill, soldier an' sailor too. Rudyard Kipling

If you don't know what the Birkenhead Drill is, look it up.

Work should be looked upon not as a drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker's faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God. Dorothy Sayers

On Thurifers

In the early Christian Church a test of whether you were really a Christian, imposed by Roman authorities, was the demand that you burn incense in the burner (thurifer) to honor Caeser as a god. If you didn't, well, things would probably go badly for you. If you did you'd probably get off.

The name sometimes given to those Christians who did burn incense to Caeser was "thurifer". I submit that in our country we have an abundance of Thurifers who say they are Christian but prefer to burn incense to the "pattern of the world." As one Catholic Bishop expressed it: At your judgment before God, how will you explain changing your position about abortion and how will you explain promoting no limits and allowing all protections removed protecting the most innocent? Will you tell God you supported the ultimate child abuse because of the American Constitution?

In Psalm 139, the writer uses not the stars, mountains or weather to express God's power. He uses the forming of the human being in the womb. (Psalm 139: 14 - 16)

As one commentator says "The Hebrew word used to express God's forming us in the womb, raqam, is the same word for needlework or embroidery. In others words we are a tapestry that displays God's artistic mastery." - Rev. J. Kirk van der Swaagh

To destroy this tapestry might not be the best idea for eternal security. As Genesis states it "Your brothers blood screams at Me from the ground!" I expect murdered, unborn childrens' blood can scream too.

War Stories

Like mamy people of the boomer generation my father and all my uncles served in WWII.

My father told a LOT of stories about the war. As my children said once "Grandpa always tells us a different story. He never repeats any." (As it was, in his 90s, he did repeat a few.)

The stories varied: Hunting deer in Germeny from a jeep with a 50 caliber machine gun, Christmas Eve arrival by train to help the Battle of the Bulge cleanup, losing a fellow soldier to an accidental triggering of a thermite grenade, his drunk, unarmed bttalion commander talking a battalion of Germen reinforcements into surrendering, an inspection officer setting off a confiscated Panzer Faust because he had no idea what it was, etc.

The one thing he didn't talk about was combat. He had a Combat Infantry Badge (30 days or more in combat) and a Bronze Star. But the details of all this are unknown to me.

He did mention 3 specific things. He was there when his platoon commander, known as Little Boy Blue was killed by a sniper. (See link to the poem about him.) The first time he shot someone he got sick to his stomach. And, as company clerk, he would always try and get people who fell asleep on guard duty sent to the rear: their buddies would come up to their foxhole at night a roll a grenade into it, i.e. you don't let your people down.

For any interested I recommend "On Killing" by Lt. Col. David Grossman and "Generation Kill" by Evan Wright.

On A Lighter Note

And for a little bit of kid humor: Marie and Freya battle Melvin the robot.

Last Updated 08/16/23
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