Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy Boxing Day

This is an edited blog post that was originally written in 2008:

Today is the day after Christmas. It is a day when kids play with their Christmas presents and parents sleep in and relax, if they are lucky enough to not have to go to work. It's also a day when lots of people return Christmas presents to the stores and exchange them for something else. For still others it has become a day to shop for super discounted items as stores continue to make deals to get rid of their Christmas supplies and overstocked items. For this reason, it is now being called Black Friday #2. But on my calendar it says Boxing Day (Canada). Boxing Day? What is Boxing Day and why is it on my calendar? It also says Kwanzaa on my calendar today, but that is a topic for another day. I did a little research and found out that Boxing Day is celebrated in Great Britain (England), Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It has it's roots going back to the Middle Ages in England and spread to the previously named countries over time. The name derives from the fact that in the early days, servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but were given the next day off. Their employers would give them gift "boxes" on that day (hence, Boxing Day), to thank them for their services. As time went on, people expanded the tradition to include other service people, like doormen, porters, mail carriers, and the like. I think this is possibly where the tradition of giving someone a tip comes from. Tipping is a good idea for a future blog also. Anyway, for whatever reason Boxing Day has continued on as a holiday in these other Anglo-Saxon countries besides ours. I'm not sure why this tradition did not make it to America (although tipping sure did). So that begs the question. Why is it on my calendar? Is it because all calendars sold in America are also sold in Canada where they celebrate Boxing Day? Or is it because there are plenty of Canadians who now reside in the United States? I'm not sure. Hey wait a minute...some calendars also say St. Stephen. What's that? Now this is really getting confusing. St. Stephen's Day is also an English holiday, and a Catholic Feast Day, marking the day that Saint Stephen was martyred by being stoned to death in Jerusalem in 34 or 35 A.D. This is where we get the line "on the feast of Stephen" from the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas. If fact, many websites on this topic suggest that St. Stephen's Day was the name of the holiday before it became known as Boxing Day. So there you have it. A history lesson and my thoughts on Boxing Day.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

An empty Christmas

Most people don’t understand Christmas. They never think beyond the Babe in the manger. But Christmas is about emptiness—an empty throne, an empty manger, an empty cross, and an empty tomb, all of which fill our empty hearts. It’s a circuit. When Jesus traveled from heaven to earth, He used a round-trip ticket with stops along the way. He left the throne for the manger, the manger for the cross, the cross for the tomb, and the tomb for the throne. He left blessings behind at every stop. He emptied Himself so we might be filled. That’s the true story of Christmas.

Robert J. Morgan, "A Blue Danube Christmas"

Sunday, December 20, 2015

4th Week of Advent

Christmas is almost here...are you ready?  Has this been the best Advent ever?

Friday, December 18, 2015


"It’s all about anticipation. Anticipation is the fuel of Christmas. Here, we commemorate the Advent calendar counting down the days to December 25th, and in church, we light the Advent candles for four Sundays prior to Christmas. Even the word Advent is derived from the Latin word for arrival. It’s kind of like starting your birthday four weeks early by planning events to anticipate its coming."  John Fischer

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Gaudete Sunday

“The Lord who is now nigh and close at hand.”

Monday, December 7, 2015


Are you having the best Advent ever?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wait...Thanksgiving or Turkey Day?

This is an edited version of a blog post that was originally written in 2008:

The other day I was driving in my car and listening to the radio, and I overheard the radio host talk about how she was looking forward to Thursday because it was "Turkey Day". She made no mention of the fact that it is actually called Thanksgiving Day, and has been an official national holiday since 1941 (although it has been celebrated unofficially on the last Thursday of November since Abraham Lincoln was in office and declared the day a "National Day of Thanksgiving"). So why do people try to be cute and call it Turkey Day? Actually, while most people seem to point to the year 1621 as when the first "Thanksgiving" was celebrated (when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast), there was probably no turkey involved. According to information I found on the website, here is what was probably served on that day: venison and fowl (probably not a turkey) and certainly not mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie (who likes this stuff anyway?). The most detailed description of the "First Thanksgiving" comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:
"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
So to the radio host and anyone else who might call today, "Turkey Day", let's get it right, it's Thanksgiving. Be thankful, show thanks and give thanks! We do have much to be thankful for, even in these crazy times.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Left Foot

For the past 5 or 6 years or so, I have been taking a low dosage of high blood pressure medicine to control what was then diagnosed as mild hypertension.  Over the years I have maintained good blood pressure readings at my annual check ups, usually 120/80 or thereabouts.  This past May, my blood pressure reading came in at 100/80 which my doctor considered low.  He said to watch it and check back in six months for a follow up.  So last week at my follow up visit, my blood pressure reading was 108/80, still low.  So my doctor recommended that I stop taking the medication and see what happens in a month.  In addition to this, he advised me to begin a walking regimen, in order to help my body naturally adjust to the change and also to get a little bit of exercise which I was lacking anyway.  So I dutifully began taking 15-20 minute walks in the morning before I went to work.  I found it to be enjoyable to get some fresh air, clear my head, and take in a little exercise walking the hills of my neighborhood and surrounding area.  Everything was going fine until this past Thursday when, halfway through my walk, I stepped on a big, green, sweetgum ball, prickly thing that I did not see sitting on the sidewalk as I approached.  I rolled my ankle and immediately, dropped to the pavement, not knowing what had just happened.  As I picked myself up, I realized that my left ankle was in severe pain and I would not be able to continue my walk.  I hobbled across the street and made my way to the entrance to our subdivision, when I noticed a neighbor pull up in her vehicle and stopped when she saw me limping in pain.  She asked if I wanted a ride home which I quickly agreed to.  I told her what had happened and she wished me well as she dropped me off in front of my house.  By the time I got inside and inspected my foot, I noticed it had already begun to swell.  I decided to take some pain medication and go to work, but I could hardly walk the rest of the day.  Since I could put weight on my foot and the swelling wasn't purple and blue, I decided that I had not broken my ankle, but had just severely sprained it when I rolled it over that sweetgum ball.  The next day, I could walk a little better, but still with a slight limp, and very slowly at that.  I realized that my morning walks would have to come to an end for a while until my foot healed and I regained the flexibility needed to take brisk walks again.  Until then, I am suffering from the fact that my goal to get in better condition and off a daily medication, has landed me on the injury reserve list.  Oh well, it could have been worse, much worse, so I am grateful that it wasn't more serious.  This sort of thing does make you appreciate your overall good health and for that I thank God.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day Holiday

This is an edited rerun of a blog post first written in 2008:

Today is Veteran's Day, a national holiday that has been observed since 1954 (before that it was called Armistice Day). It is a day set aside to honor the country's living veterans who served in wartime or peacetime. Some people confuse this holiday with Memorial Day, which also honors veterans, but is actually to honor those that have died serving our country. Still others confuse both holidays as a day to have a sale! Usually it's the furniture stores, car dealerships, and most any other retail store that chooses to do so. Why? What does honoring a veteran of war have to do with getting 50% off a new couch or end table? If they really wanted to honor veterans, they would close their store like most banks do, and go to a parade or museum with their family. Better yet, call a veteran or go by a local VFW hall, and thank him (or her) in person! I have uncles and cousins who served our country in the military. My nephew is a paralegal in the Army and is also serving with the Army Rangers. The closest I got to serving was when I was in the Air Force ROTC while in college. I had a pilot slot but dropped out after I failed my vision exam before my junior year. Nevertheless, I honor the many living veterans today who served our country with honor, to give us the freedom that we enjoy today! Thank you for your service to our Nation. May God bless you all the rest of your days!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

No Shave November

My Managing Director sent out an e-mail the other day saying that our office was going to participate in a "No Shave November" beard growing contest to help and support people suffering from cancer.  Now, I haven't had a beard or goatee in over a decade, so it's not something I would have decided to do on my own, but since our office and entire agency is supporting this cause, I thought it might be fun to participate.  My wife was not thrilled with the idea when I informed her of my intentions, but she knows I am a team player and like to participate in contests and competitions of all kinds.  Now, I don't seriously expect to win this office beard growing contest, as my beard growth, from the couple of times I tried it in the past, is fairly thin and patchy.  My best bet is to grow another goatee and see what happens.  I used to have a goatee, like I said, over 10 years ago and I thought I looked pretty good with it at the time.  My wife said it made me look mean, but I thought it gave me a distinguished look and perhaps made me look smarter, if that's possible.  Anyway, this time around, I expect that my goatee will come in gray like most of the hair on top of my head.  Perhaps it will be a good look for the holidays this year.  At any rate, it can always be shaved off at the beginning of December if it looks really bad.  So far, I just enjoy not having to shave for a while.  For those of you who would like to learn more about the No Shave cause, please check out my page and consider donating:  Scott's No Shave November.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pope Francis

By all measures, the recent visit to the US by Pope Francis was a resounding success.  The cities and places he visited while he was here were packed by millions of people who wanted to get a first hand glance at the Pope, or a photograph of him as he passed by in the Popemobile or the now famous, Black Fiat.  Even the media seemed to have nothing but good things to say about him.  While most Popes are usually held to high esteem, and are loved and adored by the flock of Catholic Christians worldwide, this Pope, Pope Francis, seems to be taking it to the next level.  The numbers of people who attend the weekly audience has increased 3 or 4 times since he took over as Pope in March 2013.  His popularity seems to be increasing all the time as he touches the lives of those all around him in a way that only he can.  Yet, he is still misunderstood quite often due to misrepresentations by the news media and others who misinterpret his quotes.  Most of the problem is due to the language barrier as Pope Francis usually speaks in Spanish or Italian.  When his words are translated into English or other languages, the meaning gets changed sometimes.  On other occasions, I wonder if his comments are purposely misrepresented as some try to read between the lines or for some reason have wishful thinking that he might be saying something that he is not.  As much as some people might want to think so, the Pope cannot change Church teaching and dogmas of the Church.  A great example is in the case of women as priests.  No matter what people may think or want it to happen, the Pope cannot decide one day that he will let women become priests.  In fact, no Church council or synod can do this either.  Women just cannot become priests, period.  Aside from these issues, I think everyone would agree that Pope Francis is doing a great work as Pope and I look forward to the many years ahead as this Pope brings those outside the Church into a full and faithful understanding and appreciation for the genius of the Catholic Church and the rich history and tradition that we have in proclaiming Jesus Christ as our risen Lord and Savior for over two thousand years!

Monday, September 7, 2015

What's stopping you from becoming Catholic?

Do you or someone you know have questions about the Catholic faith?  Would you like to be able to go to a class where you could get your questions answers and maybe learn some other things you did not know about Catholics?  Well you're in luck?  A new RCIA class is forming at a parish near you!  RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  It was originally created to help those who were unbaptized adults who wanted to convert to Catholicism, understand the basic tenants of the Catholic faith so that they can be sure that they fully understand and believe in the doctrines and dogmas of the church they are wanting to join.  After all, there are over 2000 years of church teachings and traditions to filter through.  RCIA classes are now also for those adults who have been previously baptized in another Christian faith tradition or denomination.  But you might say, well I'm not sure if I'm ready to join the Catholic Church, but I do have questions about the Catholic faith.  Then RCIA is for you!  What better place to come and get your questions answered than from others who have at one time or another had the very same questions you do.  So if you are ready to take the next step, contact someone you know who is Catholic and ask them about going to RCIA classes, or send me an e-mail at and I will help you find one in your area, or if you are in St. Louis, Missouri, you can attend the one at my parish.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Where are you headed today?

Summer is a great time to hit the road on your motorcycle.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What is summer to you?

For many people, summer has a lot of different parameters as far as when it begins and when it ends.  For children, summer begins when school lets out for the year.  When I was a kid, that meant sometime in June, but now it means late May.  This past school year, my children were done for the year on May 20th!  For people who work for a living, Memorial Day weekend kind of marks the beginning of summer, a time when the temperatures are warmer and the local swimming pools open up.  Of course, if you go by the calendar, the official beginning of summer is on June 21st with the summer solstice.  If the weather doesn't cooperate, most anyone else will have to admit that by July 4th, Independence Day weekend, we are definitely into summer.  People who have children in school will most likely agree that what we think of as summer, the time off between when school ends and when it begins, has definitely moved from a Memorial Day to Labor Day time period to a late May to early to mid August time period as schools nation wide have adjusted their schedules over the last 20 years or so.  For many folks, once the calendar flips over to August, vacations are over and you are buying back to school supplies and thinking about school starting again.  But really, summer is only about half over because it doesn't really end until Sept 21st.  So when is summer to you?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Independence Day

I was reminded by my parish priest during his comments in his homily at the July 4th Mass I attended, that Missouri was never under the rule of the British.  While most everyone in the United States celebrates Independence Day on July the 4th, most of what is now the United States did not belong to Great Britain in 1776.  Missouri for example, was first settled by the French Canadians in 1764 but quickly fell under the rule of Spain until France took it back in 1800 under the Treaty of San Ildefonso.  In 1803 it became known as the Missouri Territory as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and did not become a state of the union until 1821.  So while we all celebrate July the 4th as the birthday of the United States, you have to look to your own state's history to determine when it actually became a part of the union, which for Missouri was August 10, 1821.  This begs the question:  why don't states make a bigger deal about the anniversary date of when they became a part of the United States?  Why don't we in Missouri, celebrate August 10th with fireworks?

Sunday, July 5, 2015


4th of July Fireworks Display

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Memorial Day

My wife and I went to Mass on Memorial Day and our priest told a story in his homily about a man named Matt, he knew that grew up without parents.  This man led a lonely life and it seemed that everything he did or tried was met with a closed door.  He joined the military and eventually was deployed into active service in Afghanistan.  On return home to the US while on leave, he seemed bitter and distant to the priest and others who knew him.  His demeanor had changed now that he had been exposed to the brutality of war.  Upon his return to Afghanistan for another tour of duty, he fought bravely for his country, but this time he was killed by enemy fire and returned home to the US again, but this time he returned in a flag draped coffin.  He was given a proper funeral Mass and burial service, and this time he went through an open door, a door which led to heaven.  At this point the priest got choked up and everyone could see that he was very moved by this story.  The story of a person he knew personally, who had fought and died for his freedom as an American.  A person who was not loved by many people on this earth, but was loved tremendously by God.  We often don't think of the thousands of people, real people, real human beings, who lost their lives for this country, when we think of Memorial Day.  We tend to think of the patriotism and the flags, but we quickly turn to thoughts of summer time, BBQ's and time off from our jobs to be with our families and enjoy a day off.  When you think about people who were touched by a soldier who gave his life, it gets personal.  We live in a great country because of people like Matt.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Now that we are in the age of social media, I want to remind my followers that I am on Twitter under the handle @scottjwheeler or you can go to to see my page and follow me.  I find that Twitter is more interesting than facebook lately as you see thoughts and messages from so many more people around the world, not just people that are your "friends".  While I don't tweet as much as some, I'm more of a retweeter, I do like to post messages occasionally and you'll find my Twitter page much more current than my facebook page or my blog.  You'll find that I tend to retweet interesting quotes, comments and thoughts I come across, pertaining to the Catholic Church which I now belong to.  There is so much to enjoy and respond to as I study and reflect on the rich history and tradition of the Catholic faith.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Happy May Day!

Does anyone dance around the May pole anymore?

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I recently went on a men's silent retreat at the White House Retreat center in Oakville, Missouri overlooking the Mississippi river.  It is a Jesuit retreat house that has been in existence since 1922 and is patterned after the St. Ignatius of Loyola's teachings of the Spiritual Exercises.  The retreat is 3 days beginning on Thursday evening and lasting until Sunday afternoon at around 2 pm.  Retreatants have their own private room in a residence hall that accommodates about 150 people.  The rooms are modest and on the small side, with a single bed, desk and rocking chair being the only items in the room.  A bathroom with toilet and shower adjoin the room with no door.  My room had a view of the Mississippi river which was very nice.  Barges could be seen going up and down river throughout the weekend.  Meals were eaten in a dining hall.  The food was very good and served by young women from the area who seemed to really enjoy their job.  The days were filled with a full schedule of talks in the chapel, given by a visiting priest from Kansas City.  There were also times for praying the rosary, morning prayers, benediction, and confessions.  Private meetings with the resident priests could also be arranged.  There was plenty of time given for personal time of prayer and reflection on the talks, as well.  Nature walks were also an option to those wishing to brave the cold weather.  A paved path through the woods along the river featured the Stations of the Cross.  While the retreat is silent by rule, there are a few times in the evenings after dinner, when talking is allowed with the other retreatants.  Overall, it was a great experience which I enjoyed thoroughly, and I will definitely plan to be back next year!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Groundhog Day

Now that we're into February it's clear that the new year has begun, but we're still in the early stages of it.  By now you should be comfortable writing 2015 on your checks and documents, that is, if you still write checks.  My check writing has mainly been reduced to contributions to my church, and money sent to my kid's school to fund their lunch accounts.  Even these could be done online now, but the school charges a fee to use online funding, which I think is crazy.  As for my church donations, if I used the online method then I would have to pass the plate without dropping in my envelope.  While God and the church know that I made my offering, it just wouldn't feel right if I didn't put something in the basket when it passed by.  Does anyone else feel this way?  While we are not supposed to judge people, I'm sure others might notice that I never put anything in the offering plate.  I guess there is something about the gesture of placing your weekly tithes and offerings into the collection basket during the offertory song at church, and now our envelopes have a box that you can check to indicate that you did give online.  That way, you can still drop your envelope and feel good about giving to God during the Mass or church service.  So what does this have to do with Groundhog Day?  Nothing, but I sure hope that groundhog doesn't see his shadow...I'm ready for spring!