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  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Mass at Mother Seton Shrine


The deacons and I took a photo together after the 4:00 PM Saturday Mass at the Mother Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg. It was the Fall Meeting for the MD State Knights of Columbus.

October 28, 2018

[149] Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Jeremiah  31:7-9 / Psalm 126 / 2 Hebrews 5:1-6 / Mark 10:46-52

God’s people from the Northern Kingdom are returning home from their exile imposed first under the Assyrians.  The Lord has appeared to them on their return and the scene is reminiscent of the Mosaic exodus.  The prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled and Jeremiah shares with them their joy from God.  He tells them to praise God saying, “The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.”

The Lord also calls to his children in the Church.  We are summoned as his new People of God from “the ends of the world.”  The apostles would preach the kingdom into the lands of the diaspora and the Gentiles.  We are made a new nation of prophets.  Just as Jesus went out to poor and the oppressed, healing the blind and the crippled; the Church is also commissioned to “console and guide them.” The Church is the New Israel. While the responsorial carries this theme of joyous restoration, in the Church it is so much more.  It is both a consummation and a new beginning.

Our fundamentalist friends often equate the New Zion with the institution of the current political state of Israel.  However, the Catholic Church sees herself as the New Jerusalem or Zion to which God calls his people.  Instead of liberation from the Egyptians or the Assyrians or the Babylonians or the Romans, God’s people are delivered from bondage to suffering, sin and death.  We are no longer the devil’s property but have been redeemed by Christ, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah and the Savior of the world.

While the only crown Jesus would wear in mortal life was one of thorns, it is in the Lord that the earthly or Davidic kingdom is united to Christ’s eternal or divine kingdom.  We are invited into this kingdom through faith and baptism.  More than simple subjects, we are anointed as a royal household— adopted sons and daughters of the Father, kin to Christ and with Mary as our Queen Mother.

The Christian ceremony of baptism for children has us anointed into Christ as “priest, prophet and king.”  The house of Jesus is a priestly one where we are called to take up our crosses and to follow the Lord.  Priests offer oblation.  It is within our baptismal priesthood that we render loving sacrifices to God and for others.  We join ourselves with the successors of the apostles, the ordained priests, so as to offer ourselves with the Lord at Mass to the Father as an acceptable sacrifice.  We seek to be transformed in surrendering ourselves with the eternal Lamb of God.

Paul’s letter to the Hebrews compares the Jewish priesthood with the priesthood of Christ.  It is clear that an old order passes away in favor of the new.  “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Jesus is our true high priest before God and he offers the sacrifice of his very self for our sins.  This new People of God will have its own leadership and order.  The authority given to the apostles is quickly understood to have a sacerdotal dimension; they and their successors are sharers in the one priesthood of Christ.

The blind beggar calls Jesus by a messianic title, “Son of David.” The crowd is embarrassed by him and tries to silence the poor man.  He refuses to shut up.  Jesus stops and tells them to call him.  Their posture changes and they are suddenly supportive of Bartimaeus, saying, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” Notice what he does— he threw his cloak aside and proceeded to Jesus.  This in itself demonstrates faith in the person of Jesus.  He trusts that he will be able to see so as to retrieve his cloak.  What Jesus does next might sound absurd.  He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Was it not obvious? The man says, “Master, I want to see.”  Why did Jesus ask such a question? We must remember that the many miracles of Jesus always pointed to deeper realities.  Everyone healed would become ill in the future and die.  I suspect he was looking for a more profound response— like “I want to be holy” or “I want to follow you” or “I want to be saved.” Yes, the beggar immediately receives his sight; but again, we must notice the words of Jesus.  He says, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” This man not only received a healing but absolution.  Light came to his eyes and his soul is also enlightened.  Jesus confirms his faith, even though he may have hoped for a more profound response.  Look at the text.  Jesus tells him to go on his way and we are next told that the beggar “followed him on the way.”

The expression “way” would come to mean the way of faith as a Christian, literally our Lord’s summons to take up our crosses and to follow him.  This walking with Christ is our participation in the new exodus of Jesus… as children redeemed to walk in the freedom of Christ.  We are called to leave our old lives behind and trust that Jesus will open our eyes to follow him in the Christian life.  Our saving faith in Jesus Christ is not simply a profession of faith but is one of transformative unity with the Lord.

The theme of exodus has the subjects both leaving something and moving toward something.  The elements of exodus are uttered in the cry, “Repent and believe.”  We move away from our former life of sin and move toward a new life of faith and obedience to God.  Every time the priest gives absolution to a soul that was in mortal sin, there is an exodus from bondage to freedom— from death to life.  This pattern is true for groupings of people and for individuals.  Missionary endeavors seek to bring the Gospel to whole classes of people.  The spiritual life focuses on a personal exodus experience for individuals.

It should also be noted that we are sometimes reluctant to participate in an exodus.  The Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron: “If only we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our kettles of meat and ate our fill of bread! But you have led us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of famine!” (Exodus 16:3). Unhappy with the struggle of their journey, many wished they had never left Egypt.  Similarly, at the time of the restoration, many of the Jews refused to return to Jerusalem as they had integrated into their Babylonian exile and lived comfortable lives.  Indeed, some remained but sent resources with departing Hebrews so that they could rebuild. We can face similar struggles and temptations in the spiritual life.  People can become comfortable with their sins.  Bad habits or vices can direct lives and make it difficult for grace and virtue to change direction.  An important point is at play.  God makes possible the exodus, but you have to want to go.  This is not unlike the old anecdote, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”  It is an unfortunate truth that some prefer bondage to freedom and thirst to the cup of salvation.

  • Are there things holding you back from being a true companion with Christ and his people “on the journey”?
  • The story of the exodus became an important part of the Seder celebration for the Jewish people. What is your own exodus and Passover story?
  • Unlike the people of Judah, the other Jews of the diaspora and exile were never formally given an opportunity to return to Jerusalem. Are there people or forces that would keep you in bondage and in exile from God?
  • As a sharer in Christ’s priestly love, what are the chief sacrifices that you have made for the kingdom of Christ?
  • As a member of the royal household of God, do you see yourself and others with God’s eyes— as having an “incommensurate” value in terms of human dignity and life?
  • Have you been faithful to the great commission as a prophet of Good News, witnessing for Christ and his Church? (Often this translates as practicing the faith and raising one’s family in the Church and in union with parish faith formation programs.)

Christmas Poems from Fourth Graders

christmaSt. Mary of the Assumption School – December 1996

These poems are a testimony to faith and to the children’s joy found in Christmas. Every child is a reflection of the child of Bethlehem, precious and irreplaceable. The birth of our Savior is celebrated each year in the love we share with our children.

Melanie T

Christ our Savior,
Christ our Lord,
Christ our Lord is born.

A star shines over Him in Bethlehem,
Marks the great place of his birth
In a manger– in a barn.

Shepherds came from countries afar;
Kings came bearing great gifts;
Angels came singing their songs of love.

People came from countries afar,
Bearing great gifts,
Following the bright star.

Cameron T 

Once there was a woman named Mary
Who was highly favored by God.
God sent an angel to Mary
And asked her to be the Mother of God.

On to Bethlehem, Mary went
To be taxed with Joseph her husband.
The journey was long and hard for Mary.
No space was to be found
And Mary was ready to give birth to God’s Son.
Only a manger was available so
God’s son was born in a lowly place, filled with grace.

Choirs of angels announced the event
And people came from near and far.
Wise men were guided by a star.
All came to give homage to the Son of God.

Gregory R 

In a manger far away
Lay a child on the hay.
Sleeping peacefully through the night,
He will be our guiding light.

Shining above is a star,
watching over from afar.
Three kings have come with gifts in a jar,
Following the yonder star.

Not many people are aware,
That God’s Son, Jesus, is there.
Jesus will always care,
And we are thankful He’s always there.

Angela G 

Christmas is that time of day
When all the children want to play.
They play and play around
Until they fall on the ground.

In a manger far away
Lay a baby in the hay.
He will sleep all through the night
Until he sees a bright light.

While Jesus sleeps and children play–
Yes, that’s what happenss on Christmas day!

Steven B 

O joy! Christmas day!
O dear! My brother Roy,
He’s not up.
O joy! We will open presents!
O dear! My mom isn’t present,
To watch us open the presents,
O dear!

Carrie F 

There lay a manger in a barn
With a baby so nice and warm.
The glorious day this child was born,
We call it Christmas.

When Christmas comes
We shouldn’t think of gifts.
We should think of Jesus;
This gives our spirits a lift.

Christmas is a time of joy;
We go to church and pray
And sing and celebrate
The birth of Christ.

This festive time brings lots of cheer.
We think of those we hold so dear;
Of Christ’s birth, Mary and Joseph, too.
I love this time of Christmas!

Ryan T 

The North Star lit the night sky.
The wise men followed the bright star.
They traveled long and far
And brought gifts for our Savior.

Our Savior was born in a manger
One sweet night.
It became known as Christmas.
To celebrate his coming, we sing songs of joy
And under our tree, maybe a toy,

He died on a cross for our sins.
He hoped one day to bring out the angel within.
Today we continue the teachings that he began.

Freddie C 

There was a star in the sky so very high.
The kings had just said, “Hi” to little Jesus.
As he was lying in a manger.
The new strangers gave Jesus gifts.
While he lied there, everything was quiet,
Not even a sniffle.
This day is known as Christmas.
It is much fun, like no other day.

Maureen S 

It was Christmas Eve, a dark cold night,
Snowflakes were falling like angels in flight.

The Christmas tree with lights all a glow
Filled the room with warmth and only Santa would know.

The presents were wrapped with neatness and delight.
It made us know St. Nick’s flight was just right.

As Christmas day comes to an end,
We know the joy and loving will happen again.

Mary W 

Oh Christmas Day!
What a wonderful way
For God to say he loves us.
To give us his only Son
Was a true sign of his affection for us.

Joe M 

Christmas is the time of year
When everyone is full of cheer.
Yet we should never forget the true meaning of this day
That started with a baby laying in the hay.
The brightest star showed wise men where to come;
They traveled by star instead of by sun.
Little did they know our savior would be lost;
He saved us all by dying on the cross.
We celebrate Christmas, the day God became man.
I celebrate his birthday because I am his biggest fan.

Matthew S 

Baby Jesus will be born tonight,
But some of the inns will put up a fight.
All they say is go away
And find some other place to stay.

They found a stable nice and warm
And that is where Baby Jesus was born.
Three wise men from near and far
Decided to follow a bright star.

They did not rest until they were there
To see this occasion that was rare.

Christmas comes just once a year,
That is why Baby Jesus is so dear.
Although his birthday is once a year,
You should have it in your heart all year long.

Scottie C 

Away in a manger,
Tucked away from danger,
There he lay,
Tucked away in the hay.

As the shepherds arrive,
They lay down by his side.
Kings come each with a great gift
That will surely be left.

The light of the star
Has guided the visitors far.
As they watch the Baby Jesus
He gets up and sneezes.

Tommy A 

When I think of Christmas time,
I don’t think of presents, not me.
I think of the birth of Christ
And of the many people of earth.

I think of sparkling trees, wreaths
And tales galore of Santa’s lore.
Decorations fill the house and lawn,
Lights, of Christmas spirit fill the air.

I think of love spoken near and far
And gifts donated to the poor.
The songs of carolers singing out
The magic, the wonder, of a child of God.

Chris D 

In the manger there he lay
All bundled up in cloth and hay,
Little Jesus there he lie
While three wise men by his side.

Bearing wonderful gifts they did,
Looking at him in that little crib.
What a wonderful sight it was,
The newborn king, there he was.

Christmas is a wonderful thing
Because it is so pleasing.
It is so pleasing because
It’s the birthday of King Jesus.

Carrie T 

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I like Christmas
And so should you.

Christmas spirit
Should be remembered
All year through.

Keep Jesus in your heart,
So don’t think about
A pretty shopping cart.

The wise men brought gifts
And followed the star.
We give gifts,
Right where we are.

Christmas is filled with love
And shared with family
Friends, and God above.

Bethany F 

Christmas is a time to share.
Christmas is a time to care.
You wish you were a holiday prayer.
So God could be with you everywhere.

Then you would go with Him anywhere,
To be with Him side by side.
So that you can see Him every time,
Just keep on praying and you’ll find Him high.

Up above the world so high,
You know you don’t want to die.
Christmas is a time of love,
So love the Lord to get above.

Erica D

Joseph and Mary went on a caravan,
So they could get to Bethlehem.
They traveled both day and night,
But they did not worry with fright.
They asked many if they had a place to stay,
But they all answered, “No, you cannot stay.”
Someone let them use his barn
With animals who meant no harm.
There little baby Jesus was born
And the Noel angel played its horn.
While the three wise men followed a star,
They wondered how long and how far.
When they reached the barn,
They layed their gifts for the baby,
Who deserved the myrrh, frankencense and gold.
Then everyone was happy with love and merrimas
For on every Dec. 25, they call this Christmas.

Richard N

Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Kings and shepherds came to praise him.

His birth gave peace and joy
To every man, woman, girl, and boy.

On Christmas eve we pray for nice weather
So family and friends can get together.

We gather around the Christmas tree
To open presents happily.

Michelle G

At the time when Jesus was born,
There wasn’t a lot of corn.
The name of this time of year is all around the bus,
And it is called Christmas.
This is the time of year when little ones look for Santa,
Especially little Tana.
This is the time of year,
When we get liitle gadgets and gears.
We have a big pine tree in our family room,
Which we like to groom.
This is the time of year
When sugar plums and candycanes dance in our heads,
As our parents tuck us in our beds.
And in the morning,
It won’t be boring,
Because we open presents
And they don’t have any dents.

Patrick C

Christmas is a time of joy,
Children think it’s about a toy.
Christmas is a time of play,
Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

Christmas is not just for decoration,
Christmas is a time for celebration.
Christmas is a time for thanks,
Not a time to pull some pranks.

Christmas is a time of joy
For every girl and boy.
Christmas is a time for fun,
Christmas is for everyone.

Christopher B

Stars are shining,
Christmas is here.
Baby Jesus is born a’near,
Born in a stable, let’s say a prayer,
Let’s celebrate with holy praise.

Joyous love we have for you
To celebrate all year through!

Steven C

Once upon a midnight cherry
To Mrs. Claus, he said, “Bye deary.”
Over many a house and chimney of brick and stone,
He flew and chuckled, eyes a twinkling–
Suddenly he got an inkling–
As of many children thinking,
Thinking of their Christmas joys,
“Tis some children,” Santa muttered,
“Thinking of their Christmas joys,
Only this, some girls and boys?”

Bridget L 

On Christmas day,
There he lay,
Baby Jesus in the hay,
With the shepherds by his side watching over him.

Then everyone says our Savior is born,
So let’s go to seek
The special Lord– the Lord is born–
Let’s give him thanks and praise.

Then the wise men come on their camels
Bringing their gifts, following the yonder star.
They each bring a special gift: frankencense, myrrh, and gold.

Andrew G

Christmas is near,
Santa is near.
Christmas is near,
Jesus is near.

Time to put up the Christmas set,
Time to put up the Nativity Set,
Time to see the North Star,
But most important, the Christmas Star.

On Christmas, kids might have joy
For a Christmas toy.
But Christmas is about the day
Jesus is born and love us he may.

Robbie C

In a manger a child lay
Asleep in the hay,
Sleeping peacefully through the day,
He will be our guiding light.

Shining above is a star,
Watching over from afar.
Three kings have arrived from far,
Who came by the light.

People are not aware
That the Son of God is here.
His Son will care for us
And we are thankful he is here.

Merry Christmas!


Lunch with Santa 2017

Who is Father Joe?


Given that not everything is as it seems on the internet, a few people have asked if I am a real priest. I can assure readers that I am. I established the first parish web page in the Archdiocese of Washington in the 1990’s and have posted reflections on the faith on message boards and later on blogs. Indeed, when the Archdiocese began its own blog, a priest contacted me and said that I had inspired their effort. I try to be respectful to authority and faithful in transmitting Catholic truths. Pope Benedict XVI has commended priests to make the presence of the Church felt online. As for my credentials, I was ordained a priest in 1986 by the late Cardinal Hickey. I am currently the pastor of Holy Family Parish in Mitchellville, MD. The picture of me above was taken with my Ordinary, Cardinal Wuerl at a deanery meeting last year.

CLICK HERE for a previous post on this subject.

This blog is a personal effort, but always that of a Catholic priest in good standing. Hope this allays any fears or reservations. God bless!


Stuck Between the Rock & a Hard Place


Who are we going to punish? I worry about this as a priest in reference to the distribution of Holy Communion, absolution in the sacrament of Penance and in terms of preaching a faith message from the Scriptures that might immediately be interpreted as “hate speech.” Passivity and toleration is not enough to appease certain people… it is being demanded that conventional Christians become advocates for sinful behavior. If a priest gives the sacraments to anyone, no matter what their views and lifestyle, then does he not become an accomplice in their sin? Would he forfeit his own immortal soul for causing scandal and violating conscience, the commandments and his sacred duty? For the sake of accompaniment, can a bishop or even pope force a priest to say or do something that he views as sinful and wrong?

Return to Gilligan’s Island


Got to share some time this week with Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island. She may be sweeter than the character she played on television.

A Girl Doctor Who… Say It Isn’t So!


I am fearful that one of my lifelong favorite television programs is about to be irrevocably ruined… something that even Steven Moffat’s blatant atheism failed to do.


Doctor Who 1963 to 2017 Rest in Peace

Nothing against a time travel-monster-science fiction TV show with a woman lead, but I feel this will create too much discontinuity with the character. It will change how viewers will relate to all the other personas of the doctor. Most episodes for the past two seasons were poor anyway. This may be a final nail in the coffin for the series.


What’s next… a female James Bond, too?


gbI know, there are people excited about a female Doctor Who. Are they the same ones clamoring for a female but womanizer (lesbian) James Bond… or is that Jaime Bond? Enthusiasts are saying they are excited, that it can’t miss and that it is about time. Hum, did we not hear the same stuff about the all-female-cast reboot of Ghostbusters? The film company lost millions and it will go down as one of the greatest flops of cinematic history.

I suspect this is just another effort of the BBC to be PC… from atheism to multiple same-sex scenarios and now to gender-changing characters. Gads! I wish Doctor Who was still a TV show for kids. The program may gain an audience, but I suspect that millions like myself will walk away.

I don’t want an uncaring persona like this past season, unaffected even by the death of children. And I don’t want a sexy persona either.  Give me old grandfather, the hobo, the dandy secret agent, the clown with scarf and hat and big teeth.  Give me the sportsman with his lettuce or the fat guy with a temper or even the somewhat sinister but mysterious doctor who died in the first minutes of a movie.  As for the new series, they have been surprisingly good… at least until Peter Capaldi (who tried hard).  Give me jelly-babies, screaming companions and being chased by monstrous salt-shakers any day… that’s my Doctor Who, with maybe a funny scarf, hat or flute thrown in.

In a age when everything is in flux and public morality struggles with same sex unions and trans-gendered persons, could we have left Doctor Who alone… at least until the aging fans of Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee and Baker had passed from this world?  But it is too late now… Doctor Who now wears stockings and high heels.

Oh say it is not so… let her be an impostor, or better yet…  the regenerated time lord (lady) Romana released from Gallifrey to give her old friend a companion like himself. Ah, I can dream, can’t I?

Doctor Who fanatics in meltdown after BBC reveals new female Time Lord

First woman to play ‘Doctor Who’ sparks backlash

BBC face furious sexist backlash after announcing Jodie Whittaker as first female Doctor Who

Doctor Who fans in furious online debate after Jodie Whittaker confirmed as first female Doctor

Doctor Who: ‘Man Babies’ Cannot Cope With Jodie Whittaker As The First Female In Lead Role

Doctor Who ‘should never be played by a woman’, says novelist AL Kennedy

Former Doctor Who companion Peter Purves ‘horrified’ by idea of female version of Time Lord

BBC backlash over female Doctor Who: ‘Politically correct rubbish’

Shocker: Not Everyone Wants a Female Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker Doesn’t Care

Merriam-Webster Trolls Anti-Female Doctor Who Fans

The New Doctor Who Is A Woman And Fans Are Losing Their Minds

Colby Cosh: Doctor Who fans welcome any kind of Doctor, except a woman

The Infuriating Reason Some Female ‘Doctor Who’ Fans Are Upset About The New Doctor


No lady Doctor in the Tardis (for now): BBC writes to worried fan to ‘assure’ them that Peter Capaldi’s replacement WON’T be a woman

Met Two Star Trek Actors at Shore Leave Convention 39

Here is a recent photo of me with Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi) and Michael Dorn (the Klingon, Worf).


Stuff a Priest Might Collect?


Here is a bobble-head Pope Francis (in honor of his visit to the Philippines) on my bookshelf next to the Metaluna Mutant from the 1955 classic science fiction film, THIS ISLAND EARTH. The books they are sitting upon are rather interesting, too… see the titles.

Rest in Peace, Fr. Don Worch


Rev. Donald P. Worch, 75, a Catholic priest who worked at ten Washington area parishes over the course of his 49 years with the church, died August 27 at University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Beloved brother and spiritual leader of Rudolph Christian Worch (Vivian), Robert Dennis Worch (Mary) and Richard Reynolds Worch (Ann).  Also survived by 8 nieces and nephews and 22 grand nieces and nephews.

Friends may call at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, 9200 Kentsdale Drive, Potomac, MD on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 from 3:30 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. where a Vigil Mass will be held at 7:30 P.M.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Thursday September 1, 2016 at 10:30 A.M.

Interment will take place at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.

We have lost a saintly priest. Earth’s loss is heaven’s gain. Fr. Donald P. Worch died on August 27, 2016. He was 75 years old. Every time I saw him he would ask about my mother “Lena.” He was our Associate Pastor at Mount Calvary in Forestville, MD from 1971-1977. He came back in 1978 to bury my grandmother. She was interred with his Rosary in her hands. He was the first priest I called when Mom died recently. There was no answer and so I left a message. Now we know why we did not see him. He suffered from a bad heart much of his life. When I was a boy all the ladies thought he was quite handsome, yes, literally a “father-what-a-waste.” He was a good and holy man. A true priest of God.

Rest in Peace.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in his name to Catholic Charities.  www.catholiccharitiesdc.org/