Sunday, December 20, 2015

Just Like One of Us


"I just love Pope Francis.  He is just like one of us!"

"What do you mean?"

"You know, he is the Pope ... the most important Catholic on Earth ... and yet, he acts like he is one of us 'common folk'.  He speaks in a way that we can understand, he takes public transportation, he eats with homeless and criminals alike, etc.  It's almost like he stoops down to our 'level'.  I like that."

"I see what you mean.  A lot of people probably feel like you do.  (pause)  So if people are so impressed by Pope Francis acting like one of us ... imagine how impressed they'd be if they stopped to think how much further God had to 'stoop' to come down and be just like one of us."

A very Blessed Christmas week to you and your families!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Conversation with Jesus on the Mountain

A vision popped into my mind at Mass this weekend. 

I imagined sitting on a mountain with Jesus, looking down at the town and busyness below.  

We were talking, mostly about how hard it is to keep God a priority in this day in age, and especially at Christmastime.  We read all the right passages in the Gospels, and hear all the right perspectives from our priests and religious men and women.  

But for the other 90% of the time, I told Him, it gets really hard to not get caught up in society.  From jobs to politics to buying presents, we are focused on many, many other things.  

I asked Him for a thought ... a reminder ... anything that could help me feel the right perspective.  

He motioned to the crucifix I wear around my neck, and looked at me with eyes that said "What else could you possibly need?"  

I nodded bashfully in acknowledgement.  

Then He said, "Ok, how about this ... if I were to tell you I could take you to Heaven right now, to be with me forever ... what else down there (motioning back to society) would you worry about?  What else would you care about?"

I soaked that in. 

The answer, of course, was nothing.  In fact, other than my family and friends, every other thing in my life shrunk smaller than a spec of sand.  And I actually felt it in that moment*.  I did not have another care in the world.

Just then, the gift basket at Mass arrived at my lap, and I returned to reality.  But I did not forget the example Jesus gave me, and will definitely remind myself of it often.

God Bless you.

*  I must admit, after re-reading this post, much of the feeling is lost in putting the words on paper screen.  In order to recreate the feeling, I find I need to not read it, but imagine the scenario again, and try to feel what it would be like to be in that situation.  Just reading the words is a poor substitute.  (Probably because there is a poor writer behind them!)

Sunday, November 22, 2015


As we enter Thanksgiving Week here in the United States, I felt like it was the appropriate time to say thank you to all my fellow Catholic bloggers out there. I learn so much from your posts, stories, and teachings.

I also wanted to give special thanks to those that take the time to stop here and leave a comment or two.  It is very thoughtful, and generous, and it means a lot to me.

My prayers go out to all of you, and I ask that you join me in praying that people remember to start their Thanksgiving day at Mass, or at least by remembering to thank our Lord first and foremost for the wondrous gifts he has given us.

God Bless you.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sinners who become Saints

I've had this topic for a post in my head ever since All Saints Day, but just haven't had a chance to get it on paper screen.  (Apologies for not posting in a few weeks!)

As I went through Mass on All Saints Day, I was reminded of one of the most inspiring facts about our Faith.  Namely that some of the most Blessed people we have ever read about were once sinners just like us.  

Sometimes even worse!

Take for example St. Augustine.  Despite being the son of another Saint (St. Monica), he was quite the pagan in his early days.  He partied, followed the teachings of Plato, and had a son with a mistress.  Yet, he turned back to Christ, became a Doctor of the Church, and one of our most influential Saints.

St. Mary of Egypt was a prostitute for years.  St. Olga murdered many people and sold others into slavery.  Saint David the King committed adultery.  

And let's not forget that even the great St. Paul had Christians killed before converting.

I could go on and on, but my goal is not to list out all the sins that these Holy people have committed.  Rather it is to share a few extreme examples as inspiration.  

One of the most beautiful things about our Faith is that we have these people to admire and emulate.  However, often times, the distance between them and us feels insurmountable.  Almost as if they were a different species entirely.  

But they weren't.  They were human just like you and I, and had failings just like you and I. 

Yet, look at what they became, and the many people they inspired.  

We can do the same through Christ.

We, too, can be Saints.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Crying over the Eucharist

At mass this week, a gentleman started crying after receiving the Eucharist.  Loudly.  All the way toward the back of the church and through the back doors.

I lifted my head from prayer when I heard the sobbing, and was moved as I saw this poor man in tears.  

Truth be told, I do not know why he was crying.  I don't even know if they were tears of sadness or joy.

But the fact that it came right after he received the Lord made me wonder why we all don't cry after Communion. 

Whether tears of sadness for His sacrifice, or tears of joy and thankfulness for His love, perhaps we should all be getting a little more emotional in His presence?  

God Bless you.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Most Frustrating Thing about the Pope's Visit to the U.S.

I, like most Catholics here in the U.S., am excited that the Pope has personally brought his message to our country.  You can feel the excitement and the hope.  Even TV stations that normally spend time covering the issues the Church has, are devoting hours and hours of coverage.  

(By the way, my favorite part of the Pope's visit was when he chose to have a simple dinner with homeless people instead of lavish dinner with Congress.  If that doesn't inspire people, I don't know what will.)

In any case, the most frustrating thing for me about the Pope's visit is the frequent comment that people are still upset with him that the Church has not moved far enough to accommodate various groups.  

There is no better example of society forgetting why we are here, or Who we are here to serve.  

We are not here to change God's laws. We are here to follow them.  

God does not adapt to our needs.  We need to adapt to His.  

We are not here to indulge in our needs.  We are here to serve God's. 

There are too many people that have forgotten that, and the importance of attending Mass every week.  

Please join me in praying for all of them.

God Bless you.  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Two Things about Mark's Gospel Today

Two things struck me this weekend when I read Mark's Gospel.  

The first, was that when Jesus tells his apostles that He will be killed and then rise from the dead, the apostles were "afraid to question Him".

One word popped in my head.  Ask.  I wonder what would have been different had the apostles just asked Jesus what He meant.  Would they have greater clarity?  Would any events transpired any differently?  Would anything have changed in our Gospel stories?  We'll never know.  But there is a great lesson there for all of us.  Ask.  Our society today is just as afraid to ask questions about our faith.  And as a result, we either remain ignorant, or worse, spread misinformation.  

The second thing that I realized (or, more accurately, learned after reading it) relates to Jesus showing the apostles a child after hearing that they argued over which of them was greatest.  Unlike today, where we honor children, children were very low on the totem pole back in Jesus' time.  They were basically servants.  Rather, it was the elderly were at the top.  But Jesus, as always, flips society on its head.  To counter the apostles selfish arguing about who is greatest, Jesus showed them the "least important".  Serving these children meant total humility.  It meant the opposite of what they were just arguing about.

Actually, there was a third thing that came to mind at the end of today's Gospel.  And that was the burning truth that things are exactly the same today.   Jesus is with us, reminding us of the crucifixion and resurrection, and, more often than not, we are talking to each other about the wrong things!

God Bless you.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Poor News Sources

"Who do people say that I am?"   Mk 8:27

At Mass this weekend, our priest made an interesting comparison.  He compared today's media and news sources to Mark's Gospel.  

Jesus asked His disciples who people said He was.  The disciples replied with numerous, less-than-correct, answers.   Why?  Because "people" got their information from other people who did not know, and who made their own assumptions.  

But Peter, as we well know, got the answer correct. Why?  Because he got his answer from a source that knew the facts - in this instance, Divine intervention!

Fast forward to today.  The media, and sadly, some Christians, do not have all the facts when they comment on our religion, the Church, and our Pope.  (Especially when commenting on our Pope.  It is amazing how many times I have read an incorrect interpretation of what the Church stands for or what Pope Francis says.)  

And since the media, especially social media, is such a big part of our lives today, these incorrect facts spread faster - and broader - than ever.   People are getting, and sharing, "facts" from people that do not take the time to understand the truth.  Like the "people" in today's Gospel, they are getting their "facts" from the wrong sources.  

That is one reason we need to pray that many more people will come back to the Church.  To take the time to study our Faith.  And, as St. James tells us in the second reading, to demonstrate our Faith through works.  

God Bless you.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Is this what Jesus went through, too?

Photo from ABC news
For those of you that missed it, ABC broadcasted some of Pope Francis' virtual meeting with the U.S. this weekend.  (You can watch pieced of it here if you want.)   

In any case, the Pope spoke to three different cities, and to individuals who shared their sufferings with him.  To each person, he gave caring and thoughtful responses.  He told a young girl to be courageous and not fear.  He told a single mother he was proud of her for bringing her daughters into the world.  And he thanked the sisters of religious orders, especially one in particular who helped care for immigrants.  

You could see the impact his kind words had on these people, and I, too, could feel it from my couch.  It was a very positive reminder of the community of caring that Jesus expects from us.

However, I was surprised (why, I'm not sure) to see all the negative comments online about this event.  It truly baffled me how so many people could say so many hateful things about a man doing his best to carry out God's will.   Our Pope listened carefully to the struggles of people he did not know, and offered them encouragement and kindness.  And yet, many online responded with negativity.  

Then it hit me ... I wonder if this is what Jesus went through.  The Gospels tell us there are many times where crowds of people disagreed with Jesus, argued with Him, and even tried to run him off a hill.  All for preaching love.  

I have to admit, I usually don't absorb what that must have been like.  I skim past those few sentences and move onto the miracles and teachings.  

But today the similarities hit me like a ton of bricks.  Like the Pope this weekend, Christ was simply spreading God's word.  He exuded kindness and love.  And like the Pope, Our Lord was met with anger and hatred.   Why?  How is that possible?

It is enough to break your heart, you know?

But as Jesus taught us, we must pray for all of them.  And so I do.

God bless you.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

That is a lot of sins

I have been reading this book called The Power of the Cross, and in it, the author gives some perspective about our sins.

He asks how much sin it would be if Jesus took on all of our sin from the past hour onto the cross with Him. That would, of course, be a bunch of sins.  (Hopefully not too many, though!)

What if he took on all of our sin for the past day?  That would be even more sin.

Now consider our sins for our entire lives.  And what about our town's sins?  Our major city's sins? Our state's sins?   Hard to imagine how many sins that is.

What if He took on our entire country's lifetime of sins onto that cross with Him?  That is certainly an immense burden.  Hard for us to even imagine.  

Now take every single person that is alive today ... and go back all the way to Adam.  Could Jesus possible carry all of those sins with Him to the cross?

It is unimaginable.  And yet He did.  For us.

Thank you, Jesus. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Is There Baseball in Heaven?

Two best friends, Bob and Mark, were two of the biggest baseball fans on the planet.

Their entire adult lives, Bob and Mark discussed baseball history and pored over every box score during the season. They went to as many games a year as they could afford. They even agreed that whoever died first would try to come back and tell the other if there was baseball in heaven.

One summer night, Bob passed away in his sleep after watching his favorite team win earlier in the evening. A few nights later, his buddy Mark awoke to the sound of Bob's voice from beyond.

"Bob, Is that you?" Mark asked.

"Yes, it's me," Bob replied.

"I can't believe it!" Mark exclaimed. "So tell me, is there baseball in heaven?"

"Well, I have some good news and some bad news. Which do you want to hear first?"

"Tell me the good news first."

"Well, the good news is that, yes, there is baseball in heaven, Mark.”

"Oh, that is fantastic! So what's the bad news then?"

"You're pitching Wednesday night."

God Bless you.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Nourishment for the Week Ahead

I had a subtle change of perspective after this weekends first reading about Elijah.

On the surface, it feels like Elijah had to eat the hearth cake and drink the jug of water.  After all, the angel of the Lord does not ask him if he wants to eat or drink, he tells Elijah to eat and drink.  Twice.  

Sometimes, I must admit, I subconsciously receive Communion each Sunday because Jesus told me to.  And quite frankly, that is a good enough reason!  But there is more to it than that. 

As I thought more about Elijah, I realized that, yes, while the angel did command Elijah to eat and drink, he did so so that Elijah would be nourished for the road ahead.  

Likewise, we need to receive the Eucharist each week (or day) so that we are nourished for the week (or day) ahead.  

I must admit, I don't often focus on the Eucharist as nourishment for my week ahead.  Yes, I use the word nourishment, etc when explaining the Eucharist, but I don't usually think about it as I do the hearth cake and water that Elijah needed for his journey.  

Now that I have this slightly new perspective, I have another beautiful image to think about when I receive Jesus each week.

God bless you.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Four Hundred and Thirty

If you are like me, you might be wondering how long it will take for society to reverse its course and return to God.  After all, it certainly feels like we are headed in the opposite direction.  Have been for years, right?  Maybe decades?  

For better or worse, one of the readings from Saturday gave me some perspective.  In the first reading, Exodus 12:37-42, we are reminded that the Israelites spent four hundred and thirty years in Egypt before God led them out of their slavery.  

Four hundred and thirty years.  

Four hundred and thirty years ago today, the U.S. wasn't even a country.  The Anglo-Spanish war had just begun, and we were in the early stages of the Elizabethan era in England.  

In other words, it was a long time ago.  

When you read about the Israelite's slavery in the context of thousands of years, it feels like a blink.  But can you imagine being an Israelite 30 years into that period, wondering how long it would last?  Not realizing there were another four hundred years to go?  

What does that mean for us today?  The optimist in me says that perhaps this generation will help shift society back to God.  But reading passages like Exodus makes me wonder if we are simply in the middle of a much longer "slavery".  

Each of us can make a difference, of course, with our actions and our prayers. But sometimes it is hard to tell which chapter of the story we are in - or even how long that chapter is!

God bless you, and our world.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


"Jesus summoned the twelve and began to send them out two by two." 

"If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up."  Ecc 4:10


They show up quite a bit in the Bible.  

In today's reading, Jesus sends the apostles out in pairs.  He knows that they will be witnesses together and strengthen each other.   In Mt 8:10, Jesus tells us that he will be there where two come together, and in 10:2, Matthew even lists the apostles in pairs.  Important events such as preparing the Upper Room, and securing the donkey for Palm Sunday also involved pairs.   

What I find interesting, is that today, we seemed to have moved to either side of that number.  At one end, we have less intimate, large gatherings that number in the hundreds or thousands.  At the other end, we have many people doing things (including praying) by themselves, without the support of another.  Both, of course, have their places.  But I can't help but wonder if we are missing some wonderful opportunities by not working in twos more often.  

God Bless you.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Are We Contagious?

This weekend's Gospel included the story of a woman afflicted with hemorrhages. 

In the spirit of "every-time-I-hear-a-Gospel-reading-I-see-it-in-a-new-way", I noticed "contagiousness" from a different angle.

In Jesus' day, people believed touching a person who was hemorrhaging would make them unclean.  There was a belief that such diseases were contagious.  (Obviously some were in the physical sense, but more importantly, they believed they were contagious in a spiritual sense as well.) 

The woman, however, knew that Jesus was also "contagious" ... that if she could just touch him she would "catch" his holiness and be cured.  

She, of course, was right. 

This reflection made me think about which kind of 'contagious" we are.  How often do we think about contagiousness in a good way?  Or role model it?  When people come in contact with us, do they leave more holy?  On the flip side, do we try and surround ourselves with holy people so that we "catch" more goodness? 

Or are we contagious in a bad way?  There are many events that have taken place these past weeks that are examples of this bucket.  Groups and individuals have made decisions and spread teachings that are contaminating followers in ways that are not in line with God's teaching.  And because many of these followers do not surround themselves with Jesus or other holy people, they are getting spiritually sicker. 

I pray this week for all those who are spiritually sick.  May they find a way to "catch" Jesus and may the Holy Spirit strengthen us to help them find Him.  

Sunday, June 14, 2015


This week we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Barnabas.  

As such, I took a little bit of time to reflect on what a important player Barnabas was in our Faith.

Surprisingly, it is not clear when Barnabas converted.  Some think he was in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, and one of the 70 Disciples.  Others believe he was converted sometime after Pentecost.   He first appears to us in Acts, where he sells his land and gives the proceeds to the community.  

What is very clear, however, is the courage and conviction he had.  For example, he stood as sponsor for Paul after his conversion.   This was no small task, considering that the Apostles must have been terrified of Saul, the man that passionately persecuted them.  We all know what Paul and Barnabas went on to do for Christianity, but the brave task of believing in the converted Saul often gets overlooked.  

Barnabas also had the courage, and forgiveness, to give John Mark a second chance.  John Mark had left Paul and Barnabas during one of their journeys, and such actions must have upset Paul.  But Barnabas was open to giving John Mark a reprieve - despite it leading to he and Paul going their separate ways.  (Later, Paul spoke highly of John Mark, the man who is believed to have written one of our four Gospels.)

Of course, both of these acts are overshadowed by the courage Barnabas showed by preaching the Word in hostile and foreign environments.  

Barnabas is believed to be martyred while preaching the Gospel, but remains a shining example for all Christians. 

God Bless you.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Three Thousand vs Negative One Hundred Million

In my last post, I lamented about the projected decline in Christianity.  

But as I reflect on Pentecost this week, I am reminded that Peter and the other apostles baptized about three thousand men into the faith that day.  

That is quite a feat, even by today's standards!

It struck me that the reason those people converted was because Peter had the strength to preach the Word to them.  Yes, they were, I'm sure, also impressed by the Miracle of the Tongues. But if Peter had not followed up with the Gospel, they would have simply thought it some kind of magic or sorcery.

I can't help but think that highlights one reason between the growth of Christianity back then, and the projected decline now.  

Maybe we are not preaching enough.  Not spreading the Word.  Not living the Way so that others can follow.

Back then people were quite amazed that they could hear the sermons in their native language.

Perhaps a miracle today would be if more people said anything at all ...

God Bless you, and may the Holy Spirit strengthen you.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sad Statistics

I read an article from Pew Research the other day that saddened my soul.

It was entitled The Future of World Religions, and it does not present very encouraging predictions.

Christianity, according to the article, may no longer be the world's most dominant religion sometime around 2050.  In fact, cumulatively through 2050, Pew predicts that 40 million people will switch into Christianity while a whopping 106 million will switch out (by FAR the most out of any religion).  And those switching out are mostly expected to switch to an "unaffiliated" status.

Can you imagine that? Christ asked us to continue to spread His word, and the world is going in the opposite direction.  

In the U.S. alone, Christianity will shrink from 78% in 20101 to 66% by 2050.   Europe will see a similar decline.  Conversely, Christians in sub-Saharan Africa will rise from 24% to 38%, and stay about the same in Latin America.  

Are all these stats and predictions 100% percent accurate?  Of course not.  But the mere chance that they might be is eye-opening.

The good thing is that we can help influence this course through example and prayer.  

Please join me in praying for the strengthening - and growth - of our Faith around the world.

God Bless you.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

About Those Sheep

Based on today's Gospel from John, I wanted to learn a bit more about sheep and shepherds to feel more in-tune with Jesus' teaching.  Here are some of the things l learned:

  • Sheep are useless by themselves.  Completely.  Which is why shepherds pay such close attention to their flock.  (It is no irony that humans are also useless by themselves, and also need The Good Shepherd.)
  • When a sheep starts to wander off, the shepherd may use a slingshot to shoot pebbles at it to get its attention.  (Think of all the signs that God sends our way when we wander off...)
  • Sheep have excellent hearing.  Which, of course, helps them to know their Shepherd's voice.
  • They can, however, also remember human faces for over a year. This is despite them being considered one of the dumbest animals on the planet.  (New research, by the way, disputes this, and states they could be as intelligent as monkeys.)
  • When wolves attack a sheep, they often nip at it from behind.  Wolves are also capable of killing an entire flock, and scattering the remains over a large area.  Some experts believe they are capable of doing this just for fun.
  • The right shepherd will lead the flock to better pasture (which was not always easy to find in Israel).  The wrong shepherd would lead the flock to a slaughterhouse for personal gain.  
  • I read one article that stated from time to time, a sheep would get carried away by a river when crossing.  After being rescued by the shepherd, and returned to its flock, the other sheep would surround the shepherd and express their thankfulness with sounds of joy.  (This immediately brought to mind the parable of the Prodigal Son.)
  • Even more fascinating, I read a story about a shepherd who did not have to count his sheep anymore.  He knew by "sense" if one had wandered off.  (And yet another one about a shepherd who could identify his sheep blindfolded just by feeling their face!)

Prayers that we always follow Jesus, our Good Shepherd, and that we always recognize His voice in a world of wolves.  God Bless you.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Road to Emmaus ... The First Mass?

Was the Road to Emmaus the first Mass as we know it?

It might just have been.

For starters, there are two disciples gathered together.  

Second, along with the unrecognized Christ, they discuss the Old Testament and the events of Jesus' life, including His death and Resurrection.  We obviously do that in our first and second readings, and our Gospel. 

Third, it is clear that Jesus is interpreting these events for the disciples, which is akin to the homily our priests give.

Fourth, the disciples do not realize they are in the presence of Jesus ... just like some people at our Masses today!

Fifth, and most powerful, Jesus breaks the bread with them.  This is the highlight of their journey, and is also the highlight of our Mass.

And lastly, after their encounter, the disciples go forth and proclaim the Resurrection of the Lord ... which is exactly what we are supposed to do after our Mass!

I hope you are all having a joyous Easter season!  God Bless you!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Perplexing Passion of Palm Sunday

I'll admit ... I've always been confused on Palm Sunday.

It is a happy day? A sad day?  Neither?  Both?

The name itself ... Palm Sunday.  It sounds happy to me.  (At the very least, neutral, right?)

Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem and people rejoice, shouting "Hosanna!".  In my mind, that is a beautiful scene.  I mean, wouldn't you smile if people rejoiced when you entered your town?

Then I think of the image of Jesus, our Savior, atop a foal. What a sad image that must have been to see our King riding such a meek animal.  Imagine a government official, or very important person, entering a town today riding a small bike with training wheels instead of a caravan of impressive limousines.  It would look awkward, silly, and a certainly not have the pomp and circumstance representative of that person's status.

And while the people are shouting praises at Him, Our Lord must be thinking about his upcoming death.  

In fact, that scene itself is pure irony on many levels.   

The people that are blind to the story are the happiest, even though their desired storyline pales in comparison to what God will give them. Meanwhile, the One who knows all must have have been carrying the weight of reality on His shoulders - despite knowing what a Glorious story He was about to write.  

So, like most days in Lent, I chalk it up as a mostly sad day leading up to the happiest day in the history of mankind.   

Except when I think of it as a mostly happy day that led to the saddest day in the history of mankind. 

Which, of course, then led to a really, really happy day...

God Bless you, and hope you have a very spiritual Holy Week!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Four Questions about the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration is one of the most amazing stories we read in our Gospels.  Unfortunately, even as I grow to understand it more and more each year, it always leaves me with some questions ...
  1. Why did Jesus only bring three Apostles with Him?  Why not let them all see the Glory of Father and Son?
  2. What did God's voice sound like?  I mean, they heard God!  Mark describes how white Jesus' clothes are ... I wish he had also described God's voice.
  3. What mountain were they on?  Some scholars think it was Mt Tabor, some think it was Mt Hermon.  
  4. After the event, Mark tells us the three Apostles wondered what "rising from the dead" meant.  Why did they not ask Jesus more about that until they understood more?  Or did they ask Him, and He didn't explain further? 
Some of these are not for us to know right now.  Maybe someday.  

For now, we are left pondering the wonder of this miraculous event, and contemplating how we, too, can change to become more like Christ.

I hope you are having a Blessed Lent.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Once again, I am an idiot

As I circled the church on Ash Wednesday, I was getting more and more frustrated.  

There was not a parking spot to be found - in the Church parking lot or the street - and I was not a happy camper.  I mumbled to my dashboard, "Who are all these people?  Ash Wednesday is never this crowded!"  

After finally finding a spot way down the street, I trudged through the snow to the Church to find seats anywhere.  In fact, there was barely any room in the narthex to stand.  

Plus, I was now late.

To say I was not in the right state of mind to start the Blessed season of Lent would be an understatement.  

In fact, it wasn't until the second reading that it hit me.  

I had been given exactly what I asked for.

Those of you that read this blog regularly know that every Christmas and Easter, I pray that all of those people that pack the church on those two Holy Days return for our "normal" masses.  

And there, right in front of me, was a full Church.  In the past, Ash Wednesday ... if we were lucky ... filled the main part of the church.  But it is normally 1/2 to 3/4 full and never standing room only.  

Yet God had called others to this mass - maybe even those I prayed for.  And instead of immediately thanking Him, and praising His work, I was selfishly frustrated because I couldn't find a parking spot.

What an idiot I am.

God must have had His head in His hands watching me.  I am just lucky He is so forgiving.

I hope you are all having a Blessed Lent.  Please join me in praying that God will continue to call people to His church.  (And open the eyes of those that already go!)  God Bless.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Jesus, Leper and You Switcheroo

In today's Gospel from Mark, a leper approaches Jesus and asks to be made clean.

Jesus, as we know, agrees and cleanses the poor man.  

At that point, Jesus and the leper pull the old switcheroo.  The leper, who previously could not be part of his community because of his disease, was now free to rejoin society.  Jesus, on the other hand, who previously went from town to town, now had to remain in deserted areas because of His popularity.

Why is Jesus so popular?  Because despite telling the leper to "tell no one anything", the now-clean man cannot contain himself.  He preaches about Christ so well, that Jesus could not enter towns anymore.  And people still sought Him and found Him where He stayed.  

But in another reversal, Jesus tells you, and me, the exact opposite.  He asks us to spread His word to everyone.  The question is ... have we had the same effect that the leper had?  

Or is it another switcheroo?

God Bless you.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Understanding Alone is Not Enough

In today's Gospel, Jesus drives an unclean spirit out of a man in Capernaum.  

That spirit teaches us an interesting lesson.

It would be a fair statement to say that that spirit understood who Jesus was.  After all, he correctly stated that Jesus was the "Holy One of God".  (In fact, he recognized it before many of Jesus' followers!)

But "understanding" alone is not enough.  That spirit did not serve the Lord, or act in a way that was pleasing to Him. 

In many ways, that spirit is alive in the world today.  There are many people who understand that Jesus is Christ, but who do not act with love, or live His words.  And worse, they go about inflicting others with this "spirit" - just like that unclean spirit did back in Capernaum. 

Perhaps we even do the same from time to time.

So my prayer today is that God strengthens us all with His Spirit, so that we may not just understand, but always do His will and reflect His light. 

God Bless you.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fact and Worse Fact

Fact:  A recent study shows that we have over $44 Billion in unused gift cards since 2008.

Worse Fact:  We have many, many more gifts from God that have been unused during that same time.

God Bless you.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jesus + Water in the Gospels

Water, then, is the most beautiful element and rich in usefulness, and purifies from all filth, and not only from the filth of the body but from that of the soul if it should have received the grace of the spirit.
                                                  - St John of Damascus

As I listened to this weekend's Gospel, it dawned on me how many times Jesus and water come together during important events in the Bible.  Aside from His baptism, here were others that came to mind:
  1. His first miracle - changing water to wine
  2. The water that flowed from His pierced side
  3. Christ tells a Samaritan woman that whoever drinks His water will have eternal life
  4. Jesus walks on water to the Apostles' boat
  5. He then calms the water of the Sea of Galilee
  6. Jesus washes the Apostles' feet at the Last Supper
I'm sure I missed others ... care to add any?

God Bless you.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015: You are Here for a Reason

Happy New Year to all of you! 

I heard the song For a Reason by Ashes Remain for the first time yesterday, and I thought the lyrics were inspiring as we start this new year.   Here is an excerpt:

If you spend your days just getting by
When you feel useless, He can use you
And show you what it means to be alive:

Every time that you wake up breathing
Every night when you close your eyes
Everyday that your heart keeps beating
There's purpose for your life
So don't give up
Don't lay down
Just hold on
Don't quit now
Every breath that you take has meaning
You are here for a reason

Everyday is a gift from above
Don't throw it away
When it feels like too much
He'll be there...

A Blessed 2015 to you and your families!