Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Excitement

This Christmas, many of us will get some nice gifts.  

Some will get the digital device they have been craving.  

Others will get a tie.  Or a dress.  Or the latest Xbox game.

A select few, that apparently only live in commercials, will even get a new car.

And we will smile, cheer and pump our fists in joy.

Which is fine, as long as we show 100x the excitement at Christmas Mass as we celebrate God's gift to us.

Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas, and the peace of God's love.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Would You Come Here?

"For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son..."

This past week's tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut (not to be confused with the Superstorm tragedy in Sandy Hook, NJ) left most of us speechless.

Twenty beautiful children and eight innocent adults were killed in what can only be described as a nightmare.

It was horrifying.  Sad.  Unexplainable.

And you know what?  It feels like this kind of stuff happens way too often.

So I'm left asking myself one question.

No, it's not the ever popular "how could God have let this happen?"

I know full well it is human choice that has led to this, not God.

I want to know something different.

In the spirit of Advent, I want to know why on Earth God chose to come here to dwell among us?

How could He love us so much to come to a place where this kind of stuff happens?

God Bless.

P.S.  You can read my companion post to this here at the Community of Catholic Bloggers.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Did You Just Miss Today?


It's what passes us by while we are planning for tomorrow.

Or the weekend.

Or next week.

Or next year.  

Or when we are older/smarter/richer/less busy.

Yes indeed, we are a people that like to plan.  To think about what's next.  

Half the time we ignore what is right in front of us because it is in the way of what we perceive to be our finish line.

And you know what?  

We are missing God's beauty today.

In fact, I shudder to think about how much I have missed.  

And maybe that is why, today, on the first Sunday of Advent (ironically a time of preparation) we need to stop and smell the roses.  

To slow down our sprint to Christmas and enjoy God in this minute.

Because in our race to get all our gifts for December 25th, we are missing all of His...

May God Bless you and your families this Advent Season.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stirring Up the Pot

I had the pleasure of hearing a wonderful homily on Thanksgiving.

I wanted to pass it on to all of you (I'll paraphrase, of course).

Our priest commented that with so many negative things happening in our country right now, it is easy to question what God is doing during all this.

Unemployment is still high.

We just elected a president that does not share many of the same values as Catholics, namely pro-life initiatives.

Hurricane Sandy just wreaked havoc in the northeast, leaving many homeless.

Etcetera, etcetera.

He then gave us an analogy.

He told us that each morning, he makes instant coffee.  He puts two scoops of powdered coffee in a mug, then two packets of Splenda, and finally some creamer.  

Then he stirs it vigorously, and made the hand motion to emphasize the point.

Finally he adds steaming hot water, to make, in his words, a delicious cup of coffee.

He then asked those in attendance what ingredient made the coffee taste so great?

Was it the coffee?  The Splenda?  The water?

"No," he told us, shaking his head.  "It was the stirring."

Without the stirring, he said, the coffee would have tasted either too black, or too creamy, or too sugary.  

"It was the stirring that made the goodness come out," he said  as he smiled.

"And that is what I believe God is doing right now.  He is stirring all of us to bring out the sweetness... to make all the goodness come out."

What a beautiful perspective, on a day that begs us to look at the silver lining in everything and offer thanks.

God Bless.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

But Mostly, I Pray

I see the destruction of Superstorm Sandy all around me, and I wonder how people will deal with the giant trees on their houses.  Or the debris blocking the roads.  Or not having power for two weeks.

But mostly, I pray.

I wonder how we could get a Nor'easter in November, and how people with no power kept warm in the middle of a snowstorm.

But mostly, I pray.

I wonder how people can give blankets and coats to those who lost everything, and then curse each other out while waiting on a mile-long gas line.  

But mostly, I pray.

I wonder if America made the right decision to re-elect President Obama, and how much more of God's will will be removed from this country.

But mostly, I pray.

I wonder if people used these past two weeks to reflect on all that God has given them, and realize that even if they lost their home, clothes, gadgets, cars and power, they will still have the most important thing in the world.  His love.

But mostly, I pray.

God Bless.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Son of David

This week we read about Bartimaeus.  

While Jesus restoring his sight is nothing short of a true miracle, there is another amazing fact that often goes overlooked.

Bartimaeus calls Jesus the Son of David, which is a Messianic phrase.  

Assuming that phrase was not added later by Mark, that means this blind man knew what all the people with sight did not.

That Jesus was the Messiah.   

Which goes to show you that sight is not always as important as insight.

God Bless.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's a Celebration

I was visiting another church this weekend, and the deacon ended the mass by saying:

"Go in peace ... this Celebration of the Eucharist has ended."

I'm used to hearing "The Mass has ended, go in peace," or something to that effect, but I really liked that Deacon's perspective.

In one short phrase, he reminded us that the Mass is really one 
big celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ.   

Something I sometimes take for granted.

God Bless.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

LaGuardian Angel

"Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven."

That line was from this week's Gospel - a Gospel that is mainly known for a line about a dromedary and needle.  

You know that story, so no need to repeat it here.

But our Deacon told us a different one this weekend.  One that focused on what it means to help the poor. 

Fiorello LaGuardia was the mayor of New York city during the Great Depression.   He often took over the judge's bench in one of the poorest parts of the city.  

One night, when he was presiding, a poor woman was brought before him.  She was charged with stealing a loaf of bread to feed her family.  

LaGuardia reportedly told her that the law is the law, and he could not make exceptions for her. He fined her $10, then reached into his wallet and paid the fine himself.

He then turned to the courtroom and fined each person fifty cents for living in a town where a woman had to resort to stealing bread so her family could eat.  

In other words, even the poor in the Great Depression were expected to help those less fortunate.

I imagine the same applied, tenfold, to the rich.

God Bless.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Jesus Saw in Black and White

Today we read about Jesus' first prediction of His Passion.  

The part that always strikes me about this reading is the clarity in which our Lord saw things.

Peter had just told Jesus that He was the Messiah.  To anyone around, this probably looked like a friend acknowledging a Friend.  Or a disciple reiterating what His Master hinted at.  But Jesus, who saw things for what they truly were, saw God working through Peter.  And speaking to Him through Peter. 

Fast forward a short period of time, and we see Jesus rebuking Peter because He saw Satan working through him.  Again, anyone around who saw Peter upset that his Lord would have to suffer would have probably seen this as a friend offering support to his Friend. Or a pupil wanting to protect his Teacher.

I know that is how I would have seen it.  (And often times, still do when I read this passage!)

But that would have been the clouded, human view of things.  

Luckily, Jesus did not suffer from those vision problems.  

Instead of seeing His friend in both scenarios, He saw His Father and Satan.  Good and Evil.  Black and White.

I wonder what the world would look like to us if we had that clarity?

God Bless.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Now Hear This


And immediately the man's ears were opened.

Having heard this passage many times,  I am guilty of sometimes taking it for granted.

Instead of thinking about what  it must have actually been like, I lump it into all the miracles that I will never fully appreciate.

And when Mark continues writing about our Savior, I usually follow right along with him, leaving that former-deaf man in the annals of biblical history.

But a few days ago, on the show 20/20, they played a video of a woman fully hearing for the first time.   (you can see it here)  

She was pretty much in tears from the second they turned her hearing device on, and I realized all the emotion that goes along with the words "his ears were opened".  

Now I envision that man having the same mix of speechlessness and tears when Jesus healed him.  

The world as he experienced it - on many levels - would never be the same again.  His life changed forever.  

And thanks to a timely TV show, that for some reason I watched when I usually don't, so did my appreciation for one of our Lord's miracles.

God Bless.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our Terms or God's Terms?

I was listening to the Daily Audio Bible the other day, and Brian was reading from the Book of Job.

There was a line from Elihu's second speech that really hit home.

Just because you refuse to live on God's terms,
do you think He should start living on yours?  

A pretty powerful rhetorical question.  

Let's be honest, we all have bouts in our life where we stubbornly plead for God to do things our way.  But Elihu reminds us that we are here - and we were created - to follow God's plan. Not the reverse.

Now, interestingly enough, I didn't remember coming across this line before.  I wondered if it was because Brian had been reading from the Message version of the Bible.

So I checked the Douay-Rheims version and it offered this translation for the same line:

Doth God require it of me, because it hath displeases thee.

And the King James version offered this one:

Should He repay it according to your terms,
Just because you disavow it?

Neither is quite as straightforward as the Message version, in my opinion, so perhaps that is why I missed it the first umpteen times I read it.

Is this translation pure to the original intent?  I don't know.  Far smarter minds than mine can weigh in on that.

But there is no disputing the message itself is spot on.

God Bless.   

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Let Mary Hold Your Hand

“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. 
Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. 
And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.” 
                                                                              - St Bernard

I came across this quote last week and was quite moved.  I especially loved the thought of Mary holding our hand as we go through the trials and tribulations of this earthly life.

Prayers that our Blessed Mother shows all of us favor, so we can reach our goal of being with Her in Paradise.

God Bless.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Would You Do This for Your Spouse?

Many of you probably know this story from Bishop Fulton Sheen.

I just came across it this weekend, and figured I'd share it here for those of you that don't know it.  It's an incredible example of what it means to offer your Earthly life and comforts for someone you love.  (When I read what Elizabeth wrote in her journal, I sat there in shock at the pureness and selflessness displayed in her request to our Lord.)

"Just at the turn of the century, there was a woman married in Paris, just a good, ordinary Catholic girl, to an atheist doctor, Dr. Felix Leseur. He attempted to break down the faith of his wife and she reacted and began studying her faith. 

In 1905, she was taken ill and tossed on a bed of constant pain until August 1914. When she was dying, she said to her husband, “Felix, when I am dead, you will become a Catholic and a Dominican priest.”

Elizabeth, you know my sentiments. I’ve sworn hatred of God, I shall live in the hatred and I shall die in it.”

She repeated her words and passed away. 

She died in her husband’s arms at the early age of 47.

Rummaging through her papers, Felix found her will. She wrote:
“In 1905, I asked almighty God to send me sufficient sufferings to purchase your soul. On the day that I die, the price will have been paid. Greater love than this no woman has than she who lay down her life for her husband.”

Dr. Leseur, the atheist, dismissed her will as the fancies of a pious woman. He decided to write a book against Lourdes. He went down to Lourdes to write against Our Lady.

However, as he looked up into the face of the statue of Mary, he received the great gift of faith. So total, so complete was it, that he never had to go through the process of juxtaposition and say, “how will I answer this or that difficulty?”

He saw it all. At once.

The then reigning pontiff was Benedict XV. Then came World War I. Hearing of the conversion of Dr. Leseur, Pope Benedict XV sent for him. Dr. Leseur went in the company of Fr. Jon Vinnea, orator of Notre Dame. Dr. Leseur recounted his conversion and said that he wanted to become a Dominican priest. Holy Father said, “I forbid you. You must remain in the world and repair the harm which you have done.”

The Holy Father then talked to Fr. Vinnea and then again to Dr. Leseur and said:
“I revoke my decision. Whatever Fr. Vinnea tells you to do, you may do.”

In the year 1924, during Lent, I, Fulton J. Sheen, made my retreat in the Dominican monastery in Belgium. Four times each day, and 45 minutes in length, I made my retreat under the spiritual guidance of Father Felix Leseur of the Order of Preachers, Catholic Dominican priest, who told me this story."   

                                                        - Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

God Bless you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bread and Diets

Today's first reading about Elijah eating Heaven-sent bread, and Gospel reading about Jesus as the Bread of Life, both made me think of one thing ...

... it's a shame today's world is on such a low-carb diet.

God Bless.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Only Miracle in All Four Gospels

Do you know what the only miracle (aside from the Resurrection) to appear in all four Gospels is?

Give up?

It's the multiplication of the loaves and fish!

That fact alone underscores the significance of this beautiful event.  And while I often wonder how it actually happened, and what the Apostles' reactions were as they were experiencing it, the message I always take away from it is very clear.

The small boy had but 5 loaves of bread, and 2 small fish.  Hardly enough to feed a group of 15, let alone 5,000.

But he gave his small gift to Jesus.  

And through Christ it became significantly greater.

It's a wonderful reminder to us all that our gifts and offerings are that much greater when we go through our Savior.

God Bless.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Forgotten People

Thursday marked the Feast Day of Sts. Joachim and Anne. 

These two Saints represent the parents of Our Blessed Mother, although neither is mentioned in the Bible itself. 

Now before you are too impressed that I knew that, I should probably come clean.  I only know this because I read The Saint of the Day, and they happened to be the feature two days ago.  Sadly, the truth is that I forgot all about them.  

In fact, as I read the tribute to them, I started to feel embarrassed that I never ponder what good parents they were to Mary.   The lessons they must have taught her.  The strength they must have given her.  The role they played in our Salvation.  Nope, instead, I jump right from God to Gabriel to Mary to Jesus.  

But then, at the end of the summary, was this:

Joachim and Anne—whether these are their real names or not—represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure. 

And then, it dawned on me how many Joachims and Annes there have been throughout Christianity.  Thousands of Holy people that did simple things like passing on a tradition, teaching the faith, or proclaim God's word.   People that will never make a holy book.  Will never have 15 minutes of fame.  Will never be revered.  

People I will never think about or appreciate.  

And yet, they hold a special place in God's heart.  They carry out His will, spread His word, and proclaim His kingdom.  

Heck, given that, maybe someday, someone will forget about us, too.

God Bless.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

And The Crowd Goes Wild

I've mentioned before that I like to listen to the Rosary on long car rides.  

One of the versions I have on CD recites a few passages of scripture at each Mystery, and I have found it really helps me think about, and reflect on, each decade. 

The other day, as I was listening to the Sorrowful mysteries, the passage about Pilate offering to release Jesus or Barabbas came on.    

Lots of visuals pop in my head every time I hear that passage.  But the other day I imagined I was in that crowd.  I could hear the loud, violent shouts for Barabbas.  I could feel the anger and the chaos.  I could see the sorrow on the face of our Lord.

And I wondered ...

I wondered what I would have done, had I known the full Story that those folks didn't.

I asked myself ... If I was standing there, knowing that Jesus' death meant my Salvation ... wouldn't I have rooted for Pilate to release Barabbas, too? 

I know.  It sounds horrible.  And selfish.  And I felt ashamed I even thought of it.  

And then, in the pool of my embarrassment, I felt His great, unselfish, unwavering Love. 

God Bless.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Missing Zero

Did you know that the concept of a zero place value did not get introduced to the West until around the 12th century?

That is why, for example, the Bible tells us Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days.  

Good Friday is Day 1, Saturday is Day 2, Easter Sunday is Day 3.  

In today's day in age, we would have counted Saturday as Day 1 because we use a zero place value for the current day.

I know, I know, "Thanks for 'nothing', Michael."

God Bless.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Solstices, Jesus, and John the Baptist

We celebrate John the Baptist's feast day June 24th because we know he was conceived 6 months before Christ.

Nothing earth-shattering there.

But last week I heard the relation to the solstices for the first time.  (Bear with me if I'm the last to figure this out!)

John's feast day is very close to the summer solstice - the longest, brightest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.  There are many analogies one can draw from that (ie, John blazed the path to Jesus, shone the light towards Him, etc).

But ironically (or planned?), just as John said he must decrease - so Jesus could increase - each day after the summer solstice gets a bit shorter and a bit darker.  

Until, of course, we get to the winter solstice, which ironically (or planned?) is right about when we celebrate the birth of our Savior.  

After that, every day gets a bit longer and a bit brighter!

God Bless.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What if John Acted Like Us?

All the celebrating of St. John the Baptist this weekend got me thinking ...

What if he acted like us?  

What if, instead of shouting the famous "Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!", he said:

"Psst ... see that Guy?  He might be the Christ, but I'm not sure.  Let's wait and see if He gives us any proof."


"Hey guys ... huddle up for a minute ... see that Guy over there?  He is the Savior.  Now, don't say anything because we don't want to offend anyone, okay?"


"Wow, look, it's the Son of God!  I have to go do a couple of things, but hopefully He is still here when I'm done."


"Jesus!  You have finally come to us!  Here is a list of all the things I would like ..."

Thank goodness Jesus had St. John, instead of us, as His original herald.  

But the truth is, the Lord still needs us to proclaim to the world that He is here.   
Just better than we are doing now ...

God Bless.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Two Ways To Live Your Life

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
                 - Albert Einstein

I wonder what miracle I will take for granted today?

God Bless.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What if They Never Mentioned It?

I sat pondering what I could post about the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

I mean, what could I write that hasn't been written?
What else could I say about the most holy of Sacraments?

The only thought that kept popping in my head was ... what if no one wrote about it?

At first I laughed at myself, questioning how one of the most important events in history would go unrecorded.

But the more I thought about it, the more I decided it wasn't that improbable.  

After all, there is evidence that the early disciples did not understand everything Jesus did to the fullest.  (Heck, who is to say we even do!)  

What if they just second guessed what Jesus really meant?  It wasn't the easiest event to decipher in retrospect.  What if they just glossed over it during the mayhem that ensued shortly thereafter, forgetting the command to repeat that meal in memory of our Lord?  

And even if they didn't forget it, surely they thought twice about trying to explain to folks that normal bread and wine miraculously changed into the actual Body and Blood of a Carpenter, right?  

How about convincing people that eating the Body of their Teacher was not cannibalism?

Of course, I'm sure the Holy Spirit would have inspired them had they taken a different course.  

But as our priest held up the Blessed Host and uttered "Take this, all of you and eat it", I not only thanked our Savior as I always do, but I also thanked the Evangelists for passing on this most Blessed Sacrament through their writings.

God Bless.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I am ... say what??

If you asked me in a religious setting who I was, I would probably stumble a bit and mumble some version of  "a devoted Catholic who loves God and tries his best to stay in his Grace and make him happy."

But the other day You Love Me Anyway by Sidewalk Prophets came on the radio, and the lyrics made me think twice about that answer ...

I am the thorn in Your crown
                        but You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
                        but You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
                        but You love me anyway
I am Judas' kiss
                        but You love me anyway

See now I am the man that yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground

Yes, then I turned around away with this smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace

And then alone in the night, I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life
                        but you love me anyway

(Sound of Michael falling off pedestal)

God Bless.

Monday, May 28, 2012


A teenage boy had just gotten his driver's license and inquired of his father as to when they could discuss his use of the car.

His father said he'd make a deal with his son: "You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, and get your hair cut. Then we'll talk about the car."

The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he'd settle for the offer, and they agreed on it. 

After about six weeks his father said, "Son, you've brought your grades up and I've observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I'm disappointed you haven't gotten your hair cut."

The boy said, "You know, Dad, I've been thinking about that, and I've noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair...and there's even strong evidence that Jesus had long hair."

To this his father replied, "Did you also notice they all walked everywhere they went?"

God Bless. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mary Did You Know

The song Mary Did You Know has been stuck in my head this week.  

Appropriate, given that it's Mother's Day Weekend.

Also appropriate because, as you know, I'm constantly wondering right along with that song.  Did Mary know ... really know ... what was ahead of her?   Did she know her Son was going to walk on water, give sight to the blind and calm storms with His hand?  Did she realize how He was going to save us all?  That she was kissing the face of God?

I thought to myself that the same uncertainty, albeit on a much more human level, can be asked of all you mothers out there.  Did you really know what is was going to be like to have a child?  How little sleep you would get?  How much attention you would have to give?  How much pain you would be in when you saw your child hurting?  How many times you would question yourself?

Then it dawned on me that that second set of questions applied to Mary as well.  Aside from the Holy path she was walking in raising our Savior, she was also experiencing all the "normal" situations, problems, and emotions of just being an "earthly" Mom.   

I am guilty of taking that part for granted when I think about our Blessed Mother's life here on earth.  How she dealt with both at the same time, I will never know.

But I'm thankful she did, and I'm thankful she is our Holy Mother.

God Bless, and Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and Godmothers out there.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Choose Your Own Adventure

You are walking in the park, and all of a sudden three men jump out of the bushes and tackle you.

They start punching you over and over.

Then one of them grabs a branch and starts hitting you with it.

Another pulls out a knife and starts stabbing you in the arms and legs.

They drag you to the middle of the park, and prop you up on a bench.

A crowd gathers to watch.

You are beaten, bloodied, and embarrassed.

One of the men then falsely tells the crowd that you were a criminal ... and proceeds to shout out a list of horrific things you supposedly did.  He then pulls out a gun and points it right at your head, asking you if you have any last words.

Choose your answer:
a)  Why did you do this to me, I don't even know you?
b)  I (expletive) hate (expletive) all of you (expletive).
c)  I didn't do any of those things you said I did.  You have to believe me!  I swear!
d)  You better shoot me or I will kill you.
e)  I forgive you, and I ask God to do the same.

God Bless. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Story Continues

Once upon a time, a priest friend of mine, after getting tired of hearing me yearn for more detail about the life of the Apostles and Evangelists, finally said:

"Why are you so interested in every little detail of the past?  The truth is, what WE are doing today is AS important ... if not MORE important ... than those little details."

That hit me like a ton of bricks.

Now in fairness, he wasn't saying that we were more important than those folks.  What he was inferring was that they already did their job.  They passed the Word down to the next generation.

Now its our job to do the same.

Our Faith relies on each generation carrying out the task successfully, regardless of obstacle. The early followers faced persecution. We face indifference.

(Sometimes it is hard to tell which is worse.)

In any case, that priest's words kept echoing in my head this Easter.  We read the Gospel proclaiming the Resurrection and it's easy to feel like the Easter story is over.

It's not.

We write a new chapter every single day.

God Bless.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What is Truth?

"What is truth?", Pilate asks Jesus.

This line has always bothered me as it's just left out there with no answer.  

Was he mocking Jesus?  Or really looking for an answer?  Did Jesus respond?  Did Pilate just walk away after asking it?  Was it rhetorical?  And why did John feel compelled to include that line in his Gospel?

Personally, I always assumed it was part rhetorical/part mocking.  

Just like I always assumed Pilate wrote Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews on the sign above our Lord purely to mock the High Priests.  

But this Triduum, I wondered if the two weren't related.  

And serious.

What if Pilate really was seeking the truth?  What if during that short window of time, Pilate realized that the Truth was Christ?  And that He was not only the King of the Jews, but the King of Kings?

A long shot, perhaps.  But one can hope.

Here's hoping this Easter brings more people closer to Jesus - the Way, the Truth, and the Life.   And special prayers for those that have left the church ... may the Risen Christ bring them back for good.

A very Happy and Blessed Easter to you and your families.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Six Hours

I enter each Holy Week wondering if God will share something new with me.  

If He will move me even more than He did the year before. 

If, despite reading the same passages multiple times, year after year, He will open my eyes to something I've missed.

By now, I should know the answer.

Of course He will ... assuming I'm ready to listen.

This year while listening to Mark's Gospel, I realized how little attention I've paid to Jesus' time on the cross.

I've written before about the suffering Our Savior endured during his beatings, and how unbearable it must have been to watch.  (Especially knowing our sins did that to Him.)

But two phrases from Mark popped out at me this weekend.  

Nine o'clock.  And three o'clock.

That is how long Christ suffered on the cross.  

It goes by so fast when we read it the Gospels, doesn't it?  Our Lord moves from Crucifixion to turning down wine to death in a few short sentences, while our minds quickly move to the Resurrection and endless Thank Yous.  

But those six hours must have been brutal.  There are plenty of resources that explain the pain of crucifixion, but a common phrase used to describe it is "unending, excruciating, agonizing pain."

For six hours.

That is the length of two baseball games.  Or six Masses.  Or twelve, half-hour sitcoms.  Heck it's almost a full work day.

It's such a powerful example of His love for us.  

And I've been shortchanging it for years.

I hope each of you has a similar, eye-opening, Blessed Holy Week.

P.S.  Bonus Exercise:  Check the clock right now.  Set an alarm for six hours from now.  Then think of everything you did during that time, and imagine that instead, you were nailed in one spot ... in more pain than you have ever felt for every second of it.

(Note: There are 21,600 of them)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Do We Point To Him Enough

In listening to the Gospel today, especially the part where Jesus tells us that a grain of wheat can produce much fruit after it dies, one word kept ringing in my mind ...


Obviously Jesus left the greatest legacy of all - Salvation.

But what about us?  

What is the "right amount" of legacy for us to leave?  What is realistic for us mere mortals?  What should we be aiming for?

Deep questions, I know.  It feels almost too big to wrap my simple mind around.

But there is a song by Nichole Nordeman, appropriately titled Legacy, where she asks:

How will they remember me?  
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things? 

Maybe it is as "simple" as those two questions.  

When people look back on our lives, will they say we followed God's greatest commandment and loved? 

And will they say we pointed to God, not just once in a while, but consistently enough so that we made a difference?

While those might not be the only two things we want to be remembered for, they are certainly excellent starting points.  

And what better time than this Lent to start working towards that goal.

God Bless.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Extra Coat in Your Closet isn't Yours

I came across this quote that I think is super timely given we are knee-deep in Lent.

"When someone steals another's clothes, we call them a thief. 
Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? 
The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor."   - St. Basil the Great

How many of us have a shirt in our closet we never wear, but are keeping "just in case"? 

A 10 year old jacket we hold on to for sentimental reasons?

A pair of pants we wear twice a year?  

Before reading that quote, I categorized the act of hanging onto those things as - at the worst - hoarding.  That the only victim was the hoarder, right?  The poor sentimental sap's only punishment was an overcrowded closet, yes?  

But St. Basil gave me a whole new perspective.  

Those things don't belong to us.  They belong to the poor that need them.  By keeping those items we are depriving the needy.

Instead of wearing that shirt once a year, someone else might wear it 52 times.  Those shoes we wear only when we find ourselves at a mud-filled sporting event might become someone's daily pair.  That jacket we hang onto "just because" might keep someone warm all winter.   

Our "just in cases" and "extras" are their necessities.  

(Michael disappears off screen, headed to his closet with bag in hand ....)