As I pack up more and more stuff, it’s also interesting to see what’s left; what’s essential as I more or less camp out for a few days. Six 12-ounce packages of Starbucks French roast (I buy them expired on ebay). A giant container of pure cane sugar. A glass of roses from the garden. My portable prayer box (breviary, Magnificat, candle, incense, matches). A small old wooden crucifix. Three rosaries.


Crunch time means devoting an inordinate amount of mental space and physical exertion to “stuff” for a while. One function of the Incarnation, I’ve been thinking, is that we are constantly constantly carrying stuff from one place to another. Take a look around next time you’re out. Guys with plastic bags dangling from their handlebars, kids with backpacks, mothers with strollers, pickup trucks laded with rakes, shovels, trash barrels, all of us hauling bags of groceries into the kitchen after a Trader Joe’s run.


Every once in a while I end up at some strange, random church and hear a homily that makes me sit up straight. The priest at the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Nogales, AZ, in the gentlest possibly way, pointed out that every one of us is exactly like Judas. How many times have we sold him out for thirty pieces of silver–or, for that matter, way less?…