Quiet! Be still!

A Father's Love

A Father’s Love

Prophet Job 38:1, 8-11

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said: …

Thus far shall you come but no farther,

   and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

Gospel According to Mark 4:35-41

“Let us cross to the other side.”

Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up.

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”They took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.

Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”

The wind ceased and there was great calm.

“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

Homily for 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time & Father’s Day

Welcome to hurricane, tornado or flood season. Actually, there are storms throughout the year. But what is the storm that terrifies us into waking Jesus up and asking him,

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

The real storm in each of our lives is anxiety.

What do we fear? What terrifies us?

Cancer in a loved one? Senseless shootings? Security? Enough for retirement? Final exams? Financial Distress? Poverty? Alzheimer’s? Gun Violence?

Let us Cross to the other side.

Let us Cross to the other side.

Where do the waves of anxiety break over our boat that is hopefully sailing toward guaranteed eternal life if we ask?

“Today you will be with me in Paradise!”

When we get to the point of paralyzing fear like the disciples did as their boat was swamping, we wake Jesus up. (Is this why we call the service before the funeral a wake?)

We almost say this with sarcasm if we are honest,

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”photo-10

Jesus does care. Jesus grew up to be like his father on earth and in heaven. Even when our Dads were sleeping, they had protected us to the best of their ability (and probably beyond). But Dad also encouraged us to grow to be the best version of ourselves. We too can be like Our Father in Heaven.

Each of us is called and encouraged to care and love like Our Father.

Sometimes the encouragement comes through the violent storms of our lives.

This is the faith Jesus asks of us.

“Quiet! Be still!”

We indeed have the authority to calm the storms like Jesus does, just as he was, the calm in every storm.

We are God’s sons and daughters. We can call God, “Father,” “Abba,” “Daddy”.

But Jesus asks each of us, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

Hopefully, we will eventually answer, “Jesus, I do believe, help my unbelief!”

Before we know it, we will be walking on the stormy seas more than just a few feet as Peter did.

Jesus won’t have to grasp our hand and say, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

My father helping me to Cross over!

God loves us more than any father could or ever will.

What Good News it is to have faith that we can wake up God, Our Father, especially when we are terrified of the storms.

Happy Father’s Day to all of our Fathers…

…and to You, O Beloved God and Our Father in Heaven and on Earth…

Happy Father’s Day DAD!

Why are you terrified?

Why are you terrified?

Breath Loss

(This article is being published in the Anthology of the Military Writers Society of America this month.)

Empty Vessel

Empty Vessel

12 November 2007

 Three years ago today, I held a man as he died. He was stretched out in the operating room like a crucified man, on his back, guts hanging out. I had overwhelming love for this man whom I had just met. I was exhausted from the war, embattled, depressed, and frustrated.

 And yet I could see in the dark murky moments…a sense of light. Edward opened me up to a world I never knew existed. The tear which gently and remarkably escaped his closed eye was a prism of light that flooded my soul. Honestly, I still can’t find the words, thoughts, or song to express what happened, nor what is continually happening to my being.

 As soon as this moment of love, joy, and sorrow broke into that operating room in Fallujah, Iraq, it seemed to slip out in a vanquished moment. How did I get there? Where did part of me go? I also left the room, and I continue to wait for the return of my mind, my spirit, my soul.

 Part of me was killed in action without a trace. My friends and family still look into my eyes and search for the Ron who has yet to return home, and may never return.

 Edward, the corpsman, the nurse, and I are still confined in that cramped little operating room that may no longer even physically exist. But it is there for me. Like a crime scene, the evidence of the destructive force of war and violence is waiting to be discovered and solved, or at least, to be compassionately closed and sealed forever.

 Thank you, Edward, on the anniversary of your death and resurrection, for coursing through my eyes, my writing, my blood, and my soul.

I love you.

Go with God and with Jesus.

You have nothing to fear.

Love: a wonderful joy,

Peace, joy, love,


[Excerpted from A Tear in the Desert (2010) by Ron Camarda]


God shines on us

We begin and end independent life on this beautiful earth with a breath. Along the way, there are times when we literally lose our breath. The loss of breath can be the most joyful, scary, stunning, devastating, spiritual, or exhilarating mystery. People use the term, breathless, to express the inexpressible.

Experiencing the first breath of an infant is an awesome breath loss. But I also remember times when I was a young priest grieving with parents whose child never had a breath to lose. I was also present for William’s last breath at 7 years and Rebecca’s last breath at 8 years. What could I say? How would I cope? Those losses changed my relationship with their parents and my worldview forever. We were experiencing a horrible breath loss! We still are. Holding the last breath, literally and figuratively has become my gift, cross, passion, grief, and vocation.

When I was a boy of three or four years, before I could swim, I would hold my breath when I rode on the back of my father as he plunged beneath the surface of Lake Winnipesaukee. It was a death grip around his neck. If I tapped him on the back, he would surface immediately.  I took pride in holding my breath longer than all my brothers and sisters.  I was joyfully able to be breathless. But there are many times that we do not have that choice.

I remember the time my little brother and I took a trip to the Grand Canyon. After that incredibly long and sometimes contentious drive, Andy (12) and I (22) stood breathless at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Then I foolishly persuaded my brother to hike to the bottom and back in one day. As we started to make our way out of the canyon, I realized that he was in danger of dying. His belabored breathing terrified me. We literally crawled out long past sunset after gut-wrenching vomit, diarrhea, and lying in donkey dung. Another loss we endured was our dignity. That terrifying episode my brother and I endured has become our greatest gain and bond between us to this day.

When I was 40, I was present when my mother whispered, “I love you” to my father as she breathed her last breath. My mother could not eat anything for forty days before she died. She could not even take water the last week. Toward the end, as her prayer group serenaded her in the back yard, my mother complained to me that she was crying, but she had lost her ability to form tears.  I still mourn the loss of her tears and breath.  She could only breathe and whisper those last days, but something deeper was going on in her heart. Those breaths were so important and reverent! Loss of breath is part of the constant change in every human being’s journey. The last words formed by the last breath of all people are very important, if not the most important.

In his book, Helping Grieving People: When Tears Are Not Enough, Shep Jeffreys defines the exquisite witness as a person “who enters the sacred space between two human souls — having the deepest respect for the yearning, seeking, and wishful hopes of the other to diminish pain and survive in a new world after a loss.”

When Jesus of Nazareth, was dying on the cross, he could hardly breathe. The meaning of his life would be lost and meaningless if there had not been at least two exquisite witnesses to hear his final words and breaths. Among those exquisite witnesses was his mother. Not only did Jesus have to die a torturous death, but he had to helplessly watch his mother plunge into utter terror.

The last words of Jesus — “I thirst!” — are placed beside the crucifix wherever the Missionaries of Charity (founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta) serve. The power of those last words breathed by a dying man almost 2,000 years ago still motivate millions of people and me. I have prayed in those chapels just before witnessing the last breath of the poorest of the poor. My faith encourages me that the divine is present in all people, especially the dying, regardless of nationality, culture, or religious faith.

DSCF5916During my deployment to Iraq in 2004, I learned that Marines and Soldiers can have some really annoying and nasty habits. But when a person is dying, things change. I discover that even my irritation and annoyance melt and change to love. I do not think that we can ever learn enough about the complications and intricacies of loss and bereavement. For me, as a person and as a pastoral counselor, it will be an ongoing conversion both painful and joyful.

Many times, even in war, the breath seems to pour out of the person. I can almost see the loss of breath and soul just as I have seen the loss of blood. I did not believe that I was worthy to be a priest, never mind an exquisite witness. However, I have learned to recognize my gifts and foibles as a calling. In their book When Professionals Weep (2006), Katz and Johnson tell us that “Patients, their subjective experience of their own illnesses, their families, and their worlds — everything, in fact — is irrevocably changed with our entry into the helping relationship.”

When I am around the dying, I am naturally able to help people, to touch the living and the dead with meaning, moisten their lips, sing to them, hold hearts and hands, breathe with them, and say their goodbyes. When I enter their lives, I allow my life to be irrevocably changed.

Countless times throughout my life, and poignantly in Iraq, I have seen with my inner eye how a human soul detaches from the body and rises. Sometimes this loss of soul happens before the last breath and sometimes it happens long after the soldier violently dies in the battle or from a self-inflicted wound.

Sometimes I meet a human being for the first time at their last breaths. Most times I do not realize at the time of death the full impact of God’s need for me to witness the last breath. Later — when I am sharing their beloved’s story and their last breath — parents, family, and friends often surprise me with added meaning to what I thought was unimportant content. My love and care, like a spring that wells up, helps soothe the parched existence of the beloved dying, the beloved grieving, and those who will learn of the last breath of their beloved.

DSCF7548I am beginning to wonder if the many losses that we have, and continue to experience, in this life are preparing us for the loss of our last breath. Shep Jeffreys says often that all loss is like death. Those moments have caused me — and the people who listen to my stories — to be breathless and befuddled with the loss of breath.

I concluded my book, Tear in the Desert, with the letter that appears at the beginning of this article. It reinforces how we caregivers must be prepared to pitch our tent with the people who suffer devastating losses and bereavement. Compassion means “to suffer with.”  I only knew Edward for his last tear and his last breaths in this world, but not a day goes by where his last breaths do not disturb my being.

Grieving my losses of breath throughout my life journey has indeed pushed me in new directions, and these directions have resulted in some good and some bad days…and an acknowledgement of my gift of loss.

Still breathless and still touched by my breath loss!

Father Ron Moses CamardaBravo-Surgical

Stewards of the Voice of God: Are you listening?



Today, the Feast of the Ascension had the Conclusion of the Gospel according to Mark.


Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

   So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.


Beloved, when I went to get in my car to go to the 8 and 10 am Mass, the garage door broke and I couldn’t get my car out. I was stuck. The door was too heavy to lift. In desperation, I borrowed my neighbor’s car and arrived at the church 2 minutes late, but the pastor was already going down the aisle. Yes, yes, I needed to breathe in…and breathe out…I ended up presiding at the 10 and the noon…and baptize 10-month-old Maximilian Stephen after the Mass. What a blessing that was! I was hoping to drive to Gainesville for a 25th anniversary of a parish at 2 pm, but instead, I was anxious, vulnerable and being used by Jesus at the Masses and the baptism. Maximilian and Stephen are two great Martyrs. I also needed to die to something. I needed to trust in Jesus.


I tell you this because I had a plan…and God had another plan (which was much better).


Maybe Jesus is using each of us for his healing of someone. Aren’t we asking Jesus to heal the people we love? God hears our prayers.


For my homily I shared about when I was about 19 years old and on my required year at sea for college, and not being able to call but once or twice from Africa to my parents. This was back in 1979-1980. Just hearing their voice filled me with joy and strength.  One time at sea, God spoke to me through the moon. It was totally beautiful and terrifying, but I didn’t clearly understand until many years later. 


Then, when I was sent to Fallujah Iraq, I remember calling my Father and sharing some of the stories. My father’s voice was like food for my soul. I once shared how an Iraqi Soldier came into the hospital with his buddy that was dead. When they went to bring his buddy to Mortuary Affairs instead of the hospital, he went ballistic and screaming. I walked in with this Muslim who only spoke Arabic and instantly loved him, but I couldn’t speak the language. In reality I knew the language of love.  As the “Iman” I kept saying in Arabic “Allah be praised!” He fell into the arms of the Chief (who I would baptize in a few weeks) and in my arms sobbing. I was so mad that enemies would hurt this child of God. I then instructed the translator to have him look in my eyes and breathe in and breathe out. It was like standing back and seeing Jesus use my body and comfort this beloved man in the death of his friend. He stared at me and heard every word I said through the translator. Eventually he went off.


At that time, I wanted to hear the voice of my mother who had died in 2000. I shared with the congregation that in a way she could hear me…and I could hear her voice. Now a days, we can talk anywhere in the world with a cell phone. I pulled mine out. I prefer voice rather than texting. Sometimes we text to each other while we are in the same building! My mother had written me an anniversary card on my 10th anniversary to priesthood. I was ordained 22 years ago today. She wrote:


Dear Ron, 

   We are very proud of you and love you very much. The last 10 years have been very different for you to say the least. Good, bad, indifferent, exciting, blessed, scary etc, etc. But one thing is for sure you have always been in the hands of Jesus who has to love having fun with you. Don’t you think? We hope the next ten years will be just as wonderful. 

                           Love you,

                               Mom & Dad



I had this card from my mother when I was out in Iraq. It sits in my bible. It was like hearing her voice. Jesus is truly alive! He is in Heaven, but he is with us closer than a phone call. Every Sunday we gather together almost like in a phone booth and we call home. God, Our Father and Mother, encourages us…especially when under the burden of the Cross. God loves us and is with us always. God loves us too much to let us alone.


I remembered a song as I walked along the beach last night. We started singing it at church back in 1980 when I graduated from Kings Point. It goes like this. Please join with me as you hear it and believe it also:


We remember how you loved us, through your death

And still we celebrate for you are with us here

And we believe that we will see you, when you come

in your glory Lord, 

We remember, we celebrate, we believe


Here a million wounded souls

are yearning just to touch you and be healed

gather all your people, and hold them to your heart


We remember how you loved us….



Beloved, please have a wonderful week.  Remember to listen to the voice of God. Ask to hear His voice. You will receive His Love.


Love, joy, peace,

Father Ron Moses +


P.S. TEAR IN THE DESERT, the TV special will show again on EWTN on Memorial Day, May 28th at 5:30 pm ET. 


A Letter from the VFW State Chaplain of Florida

May 11, 2012

Dear Beloved Veterans of Foreign Wars of Florida,




   This has been a wonderful year for me as your State Chaplain.  My on the job training has been an adventure. It has been an honor to serve. Trying to bridge the gap between being a Navy Chaplain to a VFW chaplain has its share of challenges and growing pains.


   I am hoping to pursue a PhD  in Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University Maryland this fall.   This is the premier program in the world for pastoral counseling. This degree will open doors for me to be better apt to assist our combat veterans and their families. Please pray for me.


   My Post 9/11 GI Bill will help with half the costs. I am grateful. However, it is interesting to note that a veteran reservist who served in combat for 6 to 7 months is only entitled to 50% education benefits while a veteran who never leaves the states for a three year tour is entitled to 100% education benefits and MHA, and can transfer this benefit to their dependents. It seems we need to give “bonus” days for those who risk their lives on the front line.


   With that said, I am not going to run for State Chaplain for the upcoming year. My vision of where the role of the State Chaplain needs to go will require more time than I am able to give. I hope you understand.


   There has been much criticism and praise of the way I approach prayers and ritual. I am merely a servant of God and do not rely on what others think. I pray and lead with my inner compass as to what I believe is faithful to God and Country. Not all positions are applauded. When Abraham Lincoln insisted in the Emancipation Proclamation, he was viciously attacked. However, he was spot on.


   The VFW is a great organization. However, it needs to be pruned in order to bear more fruit.  Pruning is never easy, but it is necessary.  Amendments in our Constitution are in place because our country has needed pruning from time to time.  The next chaplain needs to be “a chaplain at heart.” The position of chaplain should never be a steppingstone to a leadership position.  My two recent predecessors, Sal and Doug were outstanding and spirit filled men and great mentors for me. They have great ideas and visions for the Spiritual and Moral direction of the VFW here in Florida. They too indicated some of their frustrations in this position.


   If there is someone in your post who has a background as a chaplain with real training in the role of a chaplain, please encourage them to  consider putting out into deeper waters and possibly taking on a role as a “servant chaplain”.  In the Navy, the Chaplain Corps has a motto I abide by:

Called to Serve!


   Have a great week and keep the faith. See you at the State Conference.

Please pray for our Nation, our Family, our President, our VFW, and especially for our men and women who serve in foreign wars.


Love, joy, peace,

Acta non Verba,



Padre Ron Camarda, LCDR, CHC, USNR-Ret

Department Chaplain of Florida

Priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine

 Tear in the Desert, Silver Award in Spirituality Military Writers Society of America



** Supported by the U.S. Army, Tear in the Desert, a 30 minute TV special will be showing on EWTN Catholic Station at 5:30 pm on Memorial Day, May 28th. It was filmed on Fort McCoy, Wisconsin with men and women preparing to go to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thank God for William!

Thank You God for the Gift of William

In keeping with my November theme and continuing to “give thanks”, I would like to share with you about a little boy who died at about 7 years of age back in 1992 in my second year of priesthood at Sacred Heart Church in Jacksonville. He would have been 26 years old today. One of his classmates served with me in Iraq in 2004. I give great thanks that I met him. William taught me how to live and die with great love and respect. I was so hesitant to be there at the moment he died, and yet it is probably one of my most amazing and precious gifts. Because of William, I believe I was taught to stand by the men and women who died in Iraq as they died and serve with integrity those left behind.

God bless you on this Journey of William. The Gospel I used for this homily at his funeral is Luke 24:13-35 which is the Road to Emmaus. They recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread which was at the dinner table when they were giving thanks!


Thank you God for the gift of William,
His life, his love, his longing for God
I, a priest, met William in the hospital
last fall when he was beginning to be shaken from the tree.
The winds of time
And the hard frost of cancer weakened this small boy terribly

But at the same time we were stunned with helplessness
Our William became stunningly colorful
William was a work of art,
A reflection of God’s holiness and creativity

In the too few times
I encountered William these past few months
I felt a wonderful peace and presence
that permeated my soul from this gentle and lovely boy.
He laughed and giggled and prayed with me
through songs and puppets and goofy tricks

What amazes me most of all about William
is that he knew who I was
as a representative of God and Jesus.
William called me to be Christ,
even though I am unworthy for the role…honest
We, the parish of Sacred Heart,
anointed William three times with the oil of the sick
Once in front of the entire community
as he hid his face within his Father’s arms
and moved every one of us with deep emotion
I believe that when William was anointed with the holy oils
and the laying on of hands, he healed us a bit
We received the touch of God through the touch of William
who still touches us now
as our hearts burn
almost to the point of consuming us with grief and loss

We weep and we hurt
William has wept and hurt
But no longer
Jesus, O Jesus
Meet us on this road
Meet us today and explain to us what is happening
Let our hearts burn with William’s presence and love and spirit
Let this church of lovers burn with your presence and love and spirit
Break open the Silence
Comfort our hurtin’ hearts
and assure us that you have not abandoned us

William called for me via his mother
His mother asked me to help William, so I thought,
to pass through the Fear of Death
Upon arrival I realized, that no
I experienced that William
was to help me and you through this pain in our hearts

I anointed William for the third and last time
And then the oil poured down from heaven
I broke the bread, the Body of Christ, and touched it to his lips
and then shared it with his family

A spasm
A song
A prayer and breaking open of Scriptures

While his family wept for William with heads bowed,
they knew he was saying good-bye
I noticed his little gasps for breath
and focus of his eyes
William seemed to take the appearance of Jesus
William was seeing the Glory of God with Jesus
and Jesus took the pain!
I was looking at Jesus
And Jesus was looking at me!
And now Jesus looks at You!
Calling you all to love one another
And be loving
Come to Jesus
and live the Kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven
And William will not be far from you
In fact,
In the Breaking of the Bread
which we will share soon
Rejoice in the Love of God
The burning of Love
A God who shares our pain, and sorrow and joy
Believe it
As you feel it right now
Be alive and risen

This little boy
Like a small seed falling to the ground
Has become a tree of love, of life
To shade us
And bring us peace
Thank you God for William
Thank you God for

Beloved on this first week of Advent, may we journey to the Birth of Christ and then on through his life to the glory of Easter.

Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron Moses +

Seven Years since the Battle of Fallujah

I guess I have been quite negligent in this blog.

Here I am on the 7th anniversary of being in the Battle for Fallujah.
My view of life is different.
It has been tough.
It has been wonderful.
It has been a long journey.
Since I last posted, much has happened. June 2011, I was elected the State Chaplain of the VFW for Florida.
This past weekend I went to the Fall Meeting in West Palm Beach.

What I realized is that the Veterans of Foreign Wars must someday close their doors. This will only be accomplished if we don’t participate in any more wars overseas. I truly do desire for World Peace. WE MUST BE PEACEFUL first in our own families.
Can you imagine the joy if 100 years from now we would no longer need an association of war veterans? It would be a celebration.
No more Tears!
This is my dream and hope.
Just imagine!
Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron

Imagine World Peace


Battle for Fallujah

7 November 2004 Phantom Fury- Vigil

Here I am, somehow caught up in this battle in the desert. Our President believes it is specifically to conquer terrorism and the evil forces of the enemy. He truly believes God is on his side. I don’t think terrorism will ever be conquered. It is like trying to eliminate hatred. Brothers have been hating brothers since the beginning of the human race. It is part of us. God help us.

10,000 troops from the United States of America are staged here in Fallujah. We say this is a coalition force. I see American troops, some Iraqi troops but hardly any troops from other countries.

I am the Catholic priest at Bravo Surgical. I am the only Catholic priest here. The injured and the “Angels,” or the dead, funnel through here.

Surgeons, doctors, nurses, corpsmen and Marines are staged and ready. Bravo Surgical has a motto: “Cheaters of Death.” We are moving to say instead, “Ready to Receive.” We have already experienced quite a few casualties.

This whole thing is bloody and confusing. If an enemy insurgent arrives whose injuries are slightly worse than an American’s…we must treat the insurgent first. O how I want to go home, yet I am dragged into this mess. I want to run away like Jonah. I know God will prevail. I know God is planning something beautiful. I don’t fear death.

St. Ambrose: Office of Readings

“Death” in this context is a Passover to be made by all mankind. You must keep facing it with perseverance. It is a Passover from corruption, from mortality to immortality, from rough seas to a calm harbor. The word “death’ must not trouble us; the blessings that come from a safe journey should bring us joy. What is death but the burial of sin and the resurrection of goodness? Scripture says: “Let my soul die among the souls of the just,” so that I may cast off my sins and put on the grace of the just, of those who bear the death of Christ with them, in their bodies and in their souls.

Saint Paul to Timothy in his second letter (2:11-12):

Here is a saying you can depend on: If we have died with
him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer with him,
we shall also reign with him.

God was preparing me for what was to come.

10 & 11 November Phantom Fury: Al Fajr

Two Marines were in serious trouble. I had planned to go to bed but decided to hang around. I am almost deliriously tired. In fact, I may be too tired to cry. Even my tears feel dry and lonely. Gene and Joseph were in Trauma Beds One and Two. At first, there were too many people in the room. And then I saw their dog tags, both of which said, ‘Roman Catholic.’ I love the Church, especially the notion that at the moment of death, we can shout, “I am Catholic! I want my Father!” How can I be Father? I’ve not raised these boys, yet at the moment of need, they beg for strength, courage and the life of Our Father; “You O Lord! Father, Dad, Beloved!”

“I can’t do it!” I shout to God in the core of my being.
“You can do it!” God shouts back to me.

O no Jesus! They must let go of everything! I believe, I believe, I believe! But they don’t always believe. It seems they must be taught in the fleeting moments woven with terror and fear…your love. Their last contact with this wretched world needs to be love.

Gene’s friends were hovering as the docs and nurses searched for fragments of his life. However, I didn’t know they were his friends. I didn’t know this Marine was a member of Bravo Surgical just a few months ago. How would I know this? I moved away from Gene when I read his eyes…his body would no longer hold onto his soul. The tattooed dragon on his right shoulder would remain until his skin was no more, but Gene was moving forward. God promised. God is faithful. Today you will be with me in paradise.

Gene passed out after I anointed him, and I moved to Joseph in Trauma Bed Two. Joseph was the son of Monica. I encouraged Joseph to breathe in and out. Joseph was getting cold, and I stood near his head. It seemed my place was reserved, yet I didn’t understand. O Jesus, I didn’t know what to do. Somehow, I felt so inadequate, like I didn’t know what I was doing. The stones covering our hearts are so terrifyingly big.

The most important matters in my life at this moment were saying the Jesus prayer and teaching Joseph to breathe. Here I was, coaching again. I rubbed Joseph’s head, held his hand, searched for ways to warm him, and encouraged him with whispers. He was so thirsty, and I couldn’t give him anything. I desperately wanted to give him a drink, but he was going into surgery. I felt ill-prepared for this. I felt I hadn’t fasted or sacrificed enough for my prayers to be answered. The doctors cut Gene’s side to massage his heart. He couldn’t breathe, so I returned to him. My words were jumbled…they are for the living…I knew Gene would die…yet I said nothing…I couldn’t…Help me to understand!!!!!

Joseph was then moved into the operating room…and I carried things that needed to be moved, and I found myself in the room. I talked to Joseph all the way but not before seeing the doctors were letting Gene go.

I left the operating room and returned to the trauma room as Gene’s face was being covered. I rushed into the room silently saying, “No!” I held his head in my hands that break the sacred bread of the Body and Blood of Jesus…and I prayed; I don’t know what…
I prayed the prayer attached to Gene’s dog tags that also stated he was Roman Catholic:

Dear Lord Jesus, I realize I am a sinner. I repent for my sins and right this moment I receive you as my Lord and Savior. Amen. I will be strong and courageous. I will not be terrified, or discouraged for the Lord is with me Wherever I go!

I bent down and kissed Gene’s forehead. I truly loved him even though I had just met him. Later, with Mortuary Affairs Marines and with his friends, I prayed and then sang.
Into your hands O Lord, we commend the Body and Soul of + Gene Ramirez. If God is for us, who can be against us? Give us rest O Lord!

* Joseph Heredia died in Germany ten days later, on November 20. I didn’t hear the news until over a year later as I was writing this book at Prince of Peace Monastery in Oceanside, California. I really loved this kid and expected him to make it. My heart breaks for his poor mother, Monica. Please lift her up in prayer.

TV SPECIAL on 11-11

Great News!
Tear in the Desert will be broadcast this Thursday, Veteran’s Day on EWTN at 6 pm eastern and CATHOLIC TV at noon and 7:30 pm.

My article at CATHOLIC STEWARDS of Creation www.catholicstewardsofcreation.com
has a lot of information about this broadcast and some excepts from my book that occurred exactly 6 years ago this week.

If you google VETERAN’S RADIO you may find my recent live interview.

God Bless and God Bless our VETERANS and their FAMILIES.


"Final Journey"

Final Journey

Semper Fi!

This is hard work keeping up with a blog. Anyways, the TV special TEAR IN THE DESERT that was scheduled for Memorial Day never made it because of scheduling conflicts with the Pope in Cyprus. St. Teresa always says that God had a better plan. EWTN has scheduled the 30 minute special for JUNE 5th at 6 PM (EST). This is better because it is the eve of the feast of THE BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS.

The show begins with me in front of the tabernacle of Our Belvoed Jesus. I speak of Edward who reminded me of the sacrificial lamb. With the segment of Christmas in Fallujah, I place the Body of Christ in the grubby battlescarred hands of a Marine teenager. Yes, God has a better plan. Please pass this on.
Love ya,
Father Ron

The Poor Teach Us

Mother Teresa of Caluctta in her own words:

To die in peace with God is the culmination of any human life.
Of those who have died in our houses, I have never seen anyone die in despair or cursing. They have all died serenely.
I took a man I had picked up from the street to our Home for the Dying in Calcutta. When I was leaving, he told me, “I have lived like an animal on the streets, but I am going to die like an angel. I will die smiling.” He did die smiling, because he felt loved and surrounded by care. That is the greatness of our poor.

Father Joseph Heim shares in his book on page 101:


In the Jesus Caritas Fraternity we say a prayer every day that was written by blessed Charles de Foucald. One line of the prayer has always caused me some personal concern because I doubt my ability to say it with sincerity. It reads, “Whatever You may do, I thank You.” I wonder if this means that I should be thankful for cancer, for insults, for some thug putting a knife in my stomach to get my money? Should I really be thankful? Then I recall a hospital visit many years ago.
I visited a young father of three children who earned his living as a roofer. One day he slipped and fell backward into a vat of pitch. I visited him the next day in the hospital, and I have to say that I never saw anyone in such pain. Evidently morphine cannot totally eliminate such severe pain, but the young father did not complain. As he talked about his accident, he said something that I will never forget. His words were, “You know, Father, this is really painful and I wonder how it happened, but then I have to say that I am grateful to God that it happened to me and not to one of my children.” I am not usually at a loss for words, but that day the power of his experience left me speechless.

Beloved, how about you? As the Easter Season has closed with the celebration of Pentecost this week, are we speechless or are we still complaining? It seems to me, that if we can somehow get off our duffs and stand beside the bed of the cross of Jesus as he was suffering and continues to suffer, he will speak to us of his tragic betrayal and crucifixion. “You know, my beloved, this is really painful and I wonder how it happened, but I have to say that I am grateful to God, OUR FATHER, that it happened to me and not to one of my children, friends, enemies or You.”

Have a wonderful Pentecost. The picture is of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris.
Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron