Saturday, September 26, 2015


Way to busy to post. Many super speakers and conferences. Will be at Pope's visit to WMOF this aftetnoon.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Attending World Meeting of Families

Am on the way to World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Pope Francis will join us on Saturday and on Sunday will say Mass for a huge crown outdoors. I am scheduled to be a Eucharistic Minister at this mass (along with 1499 other Priests and Deacons). If I have time I will post photos and comments about these events here.

I am eager to hear the first keynote speaker, Robert Barron, speak. He is now an auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles. He was the creator and producer of the acclaimed video series "Catholicism" which many of us saw on Public Television, on EWTN or in their home parishes. An outstanding communicator in the tradition of Fulton Sheen.

I am hoping to meet other bloggers while there. I note that Roxane Solonen, the Fargo author, blogger and Fargo Forum Feature writer, will be coming. Perhaps the St Cloud and Fargo teams will cross paths during the week.

Monday, November 10, 2014


(A homily for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus when they demanded his opinion about paying taxes to Caesar. One of their guys called out from the crowd,

“(Hey) teacher, ..., what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay (taxes) to Caesar or not? ”

Now Jesus probably had heard this question before and knew that, coming from these guys, the Pharisees, it was a trick question.  At the time of Jesus there were, among the Pharisees those that felt that paying taxes to Caesar was immoral and many faithful Jews agreed with them. Caesar was the title of the Emperor of Rome and so the title represented the civil authority in Palestine at the time. If Jesus agreed with them his enemies would report him to the Romans as a tax dodger. If he disagreed with them they would claim that he was not a faithful Jew.

He asked them to show him the coin that was required to pay the tax. When they handed him a Roman coin. Jesus deflated their trap with a simple question.

Whose image is on the coin? 

Lets try it here. You and I probably have, in our pocket or our purse, some examples of the currency that we use to pay our taxes? Take out one bill and look at it. I see see that many of you are now holding a one dollar bill.

Let me ask each of you - whose image is on that dollar bill? {George Washington}  And what does it say just above his picture? {United States of America}. 

We all agree, then, that this is the "coin", the money, used to pay taxes in our country?

Then we hear Jesus say, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

This confrontation on the shore of the Sea of Galilee gives us a way to understand how we can be both a faithful follower of Christ and a good citizen. Since this reading is usually heard on a fall Sunday and our annual election day comes up every fall in November we remind you that a good Christian not only pays his or her taxes but votes. So be sure you get out and vote in November.

Now Jesus was called “Teacher” by his Disciples and by the Pharisees. However, he was not a teacher of Roman Tax Law nor of Roman civil law regulating life in an occupied country, he was known as a teacher of God’s Truth. Lets listen to Jesus’ statement again.......

“.. repay to Caesar what belong to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”

Obviously Jesus is about the business of teaching about the second part of his declaration, our relationship with God.

If you or I  apply for a Job we are often asked to take tests and participate in an interview where the potential boss asks us questions. We are asked to list our credentials, our degrees and our experience. You might say they are checking if you or I  have the "coin" to do the job.

Likewise, when we encounter God he asks us to show Him the coin of our lives. What are we living for. What is it that we are seeking and what are we doing to obtain it? Our God asks us to open our hearts and tell him:

“Whose image is the coin of our hearts?”

Of course the coin that Jesus will ask you and I about is not literally a metal coin or paper bill. What is the coin of our lives and how can we determine the image on that coin?

Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians (that we read today) says he thanks God for them (the Thessalonians) because of their Faith, Hope and Love (Charity). You might say he recognizes them as Christians because the coin of their lives are Faith Hope and Love.

Bankers will evaluate the value of coins and bills based upon the financial strength of the issuing country and its banking system. In the case of money the image or inscription on the coins or bills identifies the issuing country and thus their value.

In the case of the coin of your life or mine, our Faith, Hope and Love, the issue is who stands behind this coin.

Paul goes on to say,

“The Gospel did not come to you in word alone but also in the power of the Holy Spirit,” 

Just as in money there is a big difference between currencies that are created by printing and those  currencies that are backed by an economy and reserves.

You might say the value of a currency backed only by a printing press is zero but the currency backed by a strong economy and reserves is high. Thus different currencies are rated differently in comparison to each other. Even if currencies come in the same denominations, as Canadian and US currencies are both called dollars and cents, they are given different values in the market place.

And so when we look at the Faith, Hope and Love of our lives we are concerned with whose economy and reserves is backing them.

When anyone asks to see currency of your life does the image of our God shine through?

At the end of your life, when God asks you whose image is on your coins, will you be able to say your life reflected the image of God?   Or will your spiritual coins reflect the images of other gods, gods such as money, power, pleasure or self worship? 

When Jesus asks you about your coins of faith, hope and charity will you be able to show they bear the mark of God’s economy and not that of man. That they are of great value because they are backed by the power and reserves of the Holy Spirit? 

My friends, if we belong to God, the "coin" of our lives must clearly reflect His image.

© Copyright 2014 Joseph E. Hilber. All rights reserved. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Human Life at Every Stage of Development - Does ND Value It?

 Next door to the state where I live voters will have on their ballot, this year, the the following article to be added to the North Dakota Constitution:

"The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected."

First a few items in the interest of transparency:
  •  Both side have claimed major interference from forces outside the state. While I grew up in North Dakota and came to love politics studying its history, I am currently a citizen of a neighboring state so I am one of those "outsiders."
  • Both sides claim that significant non-ND funding is driving their opposition. It appears that the Vote No side gets the prize for funds from outside. While my family makes a major contribution to ND taxes (via sale tax)each year, I am in no position to provide any significant funds at this time.
  • There have been endless side taking about the well being of those of us at the later stages of human development if this amendment is approved. My age is within months of the life expectancy (77.4, WHO, 2014) for males in the US.
  • It has been a long time since I have seen so many ad hominem attacks on Catholics as I have read in recent weeks. I am one of those terrible Catholics.
  • One trait I took on during my years in politics was to try to know my opponents' rational for their positions as thoroughly as possible. My initial analysis of this issue (its not just a ND issue) put me on the vote yes side. Thus I have read more editorials, letters and position papers from the vote no side.
  • Both sides seem to agree that the origins of this proposal is from proponents of a right to life. This is documented well in any list of declared organizations supporting the measure. I am one of those proponents. The label(s) "pro life" (and  "pro choice") are used by our media as designations of single issue positions. However, most supporters of a right to life see it as a human right of any human in any situation or stage of life, obviously not a single issue position.
The most surprising discovery in reading all those papers, letters and editorials from lawyers and doctors on  the Vote No side, was that many claimed that a "right to life" would result in denying seniors, such as myself,control over their own health care decisions. Now, in my understanding of language, logic and the meaning of rights in political thought, it seems to me to be just the opposite. In other word, it seems to me, a constitutional protection of my right to life would in fact protect my ability to control my own health care. The ability to control, accept or reject, or choose alternatives for health care seems to be an integral part of of my human dignity, my right to life.

My fraternal recommendation to friends and relatives on the other side of the state line is to vote yes on measure one.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


It been a while since I wrote about Jennifer Fulwiler. Now that her book has been published she is less present on the net (Book tours and speaking engagements). Here is a short summary of her journey via You Tube video.

You can order her book here in either paper or electronic form. It is entitled , Something Other Than God with a subtitle that mentions happiness.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Universal (Catholic) Hospitality

The readings for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time remind us about the universal opening of God's call to all peoples found in both the Old and New Testament. They reminded me of a story I wrote many years ago. I re post it below.


Years ago, in a more formal culture, than our own, a young woman married the youngest son of a very well to do family. The patriarch had died and his widow, the young woman’s mother-in-law, guided the family fortune with a tight grip on the reigns. She had made it clear that her children and their families would inherit a share of the families wealth only if they led a cultured and aristocratic life. The young couple moved to their own estate many miles from the mother-in-law’s home as had the husband’s brothers and sisters at the time each married.

Now the mother-in-law would travel around to visit her children’s homes but she would try to surprise them with her visit. She felt that in the surprise they would reveal if they were living the life she thought suitable for those of great wealth.

The fact was the that the young wife had come from a family of somewhat less means than her new family. Thus every visit of the mother-in-law Was pure hell. She would only have a few day or hours notice. She would run around and borrow good plates and buy her mother-in-law’s favorite tea. She would brief the butler and the cook on special measures to be taken during the visit and so on. After each visit she would feel great relief and things would return to normal. At first she thought that she would have to do this only a few times as her mother-in-law was quite old.

But after a few years it got to be quite a drag. She tried getting a cook in her mother-in-law’s house to spy for her in hope of getting a little more notice of a visit. Since communications systems were not what they are today this didn’t help much.

After a while she came up with another tactic. She began buying lots of the special tea so that she would always have it on hand. She instructed the butler to always announce "dinner is served" at exactly the right time each day. She had the cook and kitchen staff serve each meal with the all the right plates, utensils and in the right sequence every day. And she bought enough good dresses that every day she could be dressed as though an important visitor was coming. Now she began to relax, she was always ready and could not be surprised by her mother-in-law.

Her mother-in-law lived for many years. After a while the young woman grew older and became famous for her hospitality and manners. You see she welcomed and treated every person that came to her home as though they were the matriarch.

When the matriarch lay dying her financial advisor asked her how she would carry out her long planned decision on which of her children would inherit the family wealth. As they went down the list she already had enough data to drop some from the list. Others it was not clear and more data needed to be collected.

When they came to the youngest son the matriarch said, ""I already know the answer"". You see she had been hearing for years from friends and relatives of the younger woman’s great hospitality and style. Even strangers reported, ""she treated me just as though I were you!""

And so it came to pass that the youngest son and his wife inherited the bulk of the family wealth.


My friends each of us is called to be a Universal Christian. I challenge each of you to get in shape for a Christian life worthy of the inheritance that our God has planned for you. So that at the end of your race the Lord will welcome you home, just you welcomed peoples of all nations as though they were Christ himself.

© Copyright 2014 Joseph E. Hilber. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission of the author.