Epiphany of Love

It’s true that there are difficulties, there are problems with children or with the couple themselves, arguments and fights… but the important thing is that the flesh remains one, and you can overcome, you can overcome, you can overcome.

And this is not only a sacrament for them, but also for the Church, a sacrament, as it were, that attracts attention: “See, love is possible!” And love is capable of allowing you to live your whole life “in love”: in joy and in sorrow, with the problems of children, and their own problems… but always going forward. In sickness and in health, but always going forward. This is beautiful. — Pope Francis

This video (below) is of a couple my wife and I helped prepare for marriage this year. Their 7 minute video is an artistic masterpiece and a testament to their faith-filled love for each other — which Patti and I can say is just as real in life as it is in film. No, far more real.

I thought it would be a wonderful Epiphany meditation, as marriage is, in God’s providential plan, the central epiphany of His love for creation.



I will not be posting for the next several days, entering this season’s deepest heart with my family.

Thank you to those who read here, to those who comment here. I never take any of it for granted.

Thanks also to those many dialogue partners from over the years who have fueled my thinking and writing, who have allowed me to mine their wisdom and reflect their light to others. It’s why almost all of my writing retains a conversational style, because I want to make clear that what I have to offer of value is all borrowed light.

Glory be to Jesus Christ for giving us life and light, hope and joy, love and mercy without limit this Holy Season.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

Being an unoccupied parent

Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on. — Henri Nouwen

I was given this piece of advice around the time our second son was born, and it has been the source of more good than I could possibly express in words. David, who was a father and grandfather, said to me something like this:

Make sure your home life has structure, order, consistency. But also make sure your kids have enough unstructured time, and be sure to always plan in ‘down time’ in your home life when you’re just available, when your children know you’re free and interested to play or talk or do something spontaneous with them. A time when you don’t bark out orders.

If everything is planned and structured, the parts are always moving, you’re always getting on to the next thing, always efficient or keeping them busy, you’ll miss out on what can only be had in those unstructured moments. Freedom for creativity, imagination. Without this, your influence over the deeper parts of their inner worlds will be shallow.

Kids spell love T-I-M-E and P-L-A-Y. These mean, I’m interested in you, I love being with you. Disconnect from your preoccupations, open the door, let in the uncontrolled air and the bugs and other messy things.

Need a Babysitter?

Shameless family promo Evening Edition post.

If any family in the New Orleans area needs a seasoned and certified babysitter, my daughter Maria is available for hire. Just email her to get more information: mariatneal@gmail.com 


Beautiful Feet

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy,
and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said,
And they came to him, took hold of his feet,
and worshiped him.  — Matt. 28:8-9

Fear and great joy. Ran. Greetings! Took hold of his feet, and worshiped.

What a scene! Mary Magdalene and the “other Mary,” after seeing the angels and hearing their proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection, sped off only to be stopped “suddenly” by Jesus greeting them. Imagine how disorienting this all must have been for them. And their reaction? To seize hold of his feet!

How tender, how human, how intimate.

The verb “to seize” used here was used in only one other place in the Gospel of Matthew: in the Garden of Gethsemane when, after Judas’ betrayal, the Temple guards seized Jesus to take him off for trial and execution (26:50).

How lovely that now Jesus’ feet, forever bearing wounds opened by betrayal, are seized by joyful love from these faithful women who never fled during the Passion (cf Matt 27:55-56). It is most fitting that they, who had come to the tomb to honor Jesus’ dead body, are the first to worship him as Risen.

Isaiah 52:7 rings through these messengers of the Messenger:

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Those feet are worthy of worship, for

he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his wounds we are healed. — Isaiah 53:5

The feet of a God who came to wash his creatures’ feet, symbols of God’s extreme humility and tender love. Let us become like this Most Low God whom we worship.

Ashley and Maria: Opening for the Donuts!


Just a note to the Mashley fan base that they will be opening for Bag of Donuts this Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. at Rock n Bowl in New Orleans!

It is a big night for Bag of Donuts, as they will be the first cover band to be inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. See details here.

Donuts, and in particular bass guitar player Jerry Christopher, have given the girls amazing opportunities to perform in public venues. How grateful we, and Ashley’s family, are to them!