On the Inside; On the Outside


All Souls’ Day

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Today we remember those who have passed from this life with faith, hope and trust in the promise of eternal life. Life is a gift from God and nothing that God gives or does is ever wasted. And let us always remember that each of us is a beloved child of God.

Our lives are a reflection of God and his love. Those who have passed whom we remember today somehow reflected that love. Sadness, sorrow, and grief may fill us today, but that is a reminder of their presence and love in our lives.

While we still mourn, we are confident that our loved ones are enjoying the peace, comfort and joy of eternal life. All Souls’ Day is a great reminder for each of us that we are given the gift of life.

So we pray today for our deceased parents, spouses, children, relatives, and friends. We want them to be capable of receiving the full bounty of God’s love; so we pray for them in our daily prayers.

All Souls’ Day touches us personally. Yes, it is a day of mixed emotions. It is our day to remember, to miss, but also to be joyful. We also reflect on our own existence. Each of us is a soul…a soul on a journey. We are still walking on that journey to become all that we were meant to be – a child of God enjoying eternal life with him.

“I will not reject anyone who comes to me,” the Lord said in our gospel today (John 6:37-40). We trust in the God who loves us – to care for us and our loved ones in life and in death. And so we pray, “May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.”

Persistence in Prayer

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Today, Jesus teaches that we should pray with persistence (Luke 11:5-13). Of course, the question comes to mind: if God is such a loving and caring parent who will only give “good” things to us, why do we have to persist in asking? Why do we have to ask at all? The reason is not because God needs persuading. Persistence in prayer is for our benefit. Read More

From Me to the One Who Made Me

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During deacon formation, I was required to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church for one of my classes. While reading this document, I came across a beautiful prayer from St. Nicholas of Flue. It is a prayer that has become one of my favorites and it is one that I often use when I give talks at other parishes. This is the prayer:

My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.

This prayer continues to touch me every time I read it. It is very simple, yet hits me where I need it the most. It’s about transforming my thinking from being about “me” to being about the One who made me. It’s about placing our focus on serving the Lord without getting caught up in the distractions of our world.

This is an extremely powerful prayer and yet it’s a very difficult prayer. Why? Because we tend to make things about ourselves – and we often get wrapped up with our own drama. When we place all of our thoughts, actions and energies toward ourselves – everything about me and what I want, there is simply no room for God. We in fact become our own God.

But when we take the time to center ourselves and refocus on our one true God, our perspective slowly begins to change. We become less self-centered and more Christ-centered.

When we allow God to “re-become” the center of our lives, everything simply falls into place. It’s just like St. Teresa of Jesus wrote:

Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you.
Everything passes. God never changes. Patience obtains all.
Whoever has God wants for nothing. God alone is enough.

Prayer Changes Our Hearts

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Don’t hold back when praying to God – tell him exactly what’s wrong and insist on holding him to his promises. Prayer should be like speaking face-to-face with a friend: “without fear, freely and also with insistence.”

Pope Francis made these comments in a homily based on today’s reading from the Book of Exodus (32:7-14), when Moses begs God to spare his people, even though they have created a golden calf to worship as their god.

Pope Francis said that Moses shows what praying to God should really feel and sound like: not filled with empty words, but a heartfelt, “real fight with God.”

Moses is courageously insistent and argues his point, and prayer must also be “a negotiation with God, presenting arguments” supporting one’s position.

When God decides to not punish his people, it’s not God who has changed, but Moses, Pope Francis said.

“Prayer changes our hearts. It helps us better understand what our God is like. It helps us grow closer to him, recognize his love and rejuvenate our faith.”

The pope underlined what Jesus said: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.”

“No, say what’s what: ‘Look, Lord, I have this problem, in my family, with my child, with this, with that … What can you do? Now see here, you can’t leave me like this.’ This is prayer.”

Pray like Moses did, face-to-face with the Lord, like a friend, freely, with insistence and good arguments, the pope said. “And also scold the Lord a little: ‘Hey, you promised me this, and you haven’t done it …’ Like that, like you talk with a friend.”

Open one’s heart wide to God and get to know him better, and you’ll be amazed at how your relationship with the Lord will deepen and grow.

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

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thanksgiving-brownscombeFather, all of Creation rightly owes you thanks and praise.
Your justice, love and mercy abound.
We thank you this day for all that you have given us:

For the Passion and Death of your Divine Son,
we thank you Father,
through the Cross, He redeemed the world.

For the Church,
we thank you Father,
it is our beacon for salvation.

For the martyrs and saints who give testimony to your Son,
we thank you Father,
their witness to your Son is our inheritance.

For our loved ones and friends who have died and gone before us,
we thank you Father,
their love abides with us forever.

For loving spouses,
we thank you Father,
together we seek you.

For the gift of children,
we thank you Father,
they are your precious gifts to us and to the world.

For the gift of our families,
loved ones and good friends,
we thank you Father,
Through them we see the reflection of your Son.

For jobs, our homes and all that we have,
we thank you Father,
give us only that which we need, as we seek Your Kingdom.

For the bounty we are about to eat,
we thank you through Christ Our Lord.


Prayer is a Powerful Thing

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Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

A man’s daughter had asked the local pastor to come and pray with her father. When the priest arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No, who are you?” “I’m the new priest at your church,” he replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?” Puzzled, the priest shut the door. “I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, “Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now. So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.” The priest was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, and returned to the church. Two nights later the daughter called to tell the priest that her daddy had died that afternoon. “Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked. “Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, In fact, beyond strange – kind of weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed.”

Prayer is a powerful thing. But we need to remember that prayer doesn’t change things for us, it changes us for things. That’s why we need to be able to integrate prayer into our daily schedule. It’s not difficult to do. We just need to get into the habit of doing it.

Let’s make a commitment, starting right now, to pray throughout our day. Let’s praise and thank God for all that we are and for all we’ve been given.

My sisters and brothers, Jesus is sitting right next to you. Let the conversation begin.

3 Things You Need When You Pray

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How is your prayer life? Is it improving day-by-day, or are you stuck right where you stand?

I always suggest to people that if they are struggling with their prayer life, or if they find themselves stuck in the same-old, same-old, to shake things up a bit. It is always a good thing to try out different prayer forms to get your creative and spiritual juices flowing once more. I believe that it often helps one to re-connect with their Creator and develop a deeper relationship with Christ. Read More

Who Ya Gonna Call?

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There’s something strange in the neighborhood. Who Ya Gonna Call?
There’s something weird and it don’t look good. Who Ya Gonna Call?

Most of you probably know the song and the movie quite well. Ghostbusters was a huge hit back in the day and the new version is doing quite well in theaters now. If there was ever any dreadful danger or spooky situations, the Ghostbusters were the best at saving the day. The song is still great and the movies are still funny, but spooky ghosts and goblins aren’t real. Proton packs and ghost traps don’t exist. There’s nothing spooky to be afraid of. Read More

Undesirable Prayer

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Once again, I find myself going through some old notes that I had taken on a prior retreat. And behold, I found this anonymous quote:

“The more words in prayer, the more undesirable the prayer is.”

So what exactly does this mean? Well, let’s be honest with ourselves – sometimes, we pray with too many words. We find ourselves going on and on to God about all that is happening in our lives, what prayers we want answered and what intentions we want to be granted. We deliver a long list of requests, needs, wants and desires – and we expect immediate action on every one of these.

Often times, we make our prayers too complicated. Simplicity is often needed in order to pray. Otherwise, we are just telling Jesus about ourselves. When we approach prayer, we need to have the simplicity of a child. If you’ve ever listened to a child pray, there is both a beauty and an innocence to their words. They are not weighed down by negativity, but are lifted up in positive spirituality. Their way of praying is simple, to the point, and from the heart.

One of the best ways to experience God in prayer is by forgetting yourself. Ultimately, if you want something, you must experience nothing. Our prayers should not be filled with meaningless words or just going through the motions. We must come to prayer  with a simplicity of speech and a willingness to listen to God. Always remember that prayer is a two-way dialogue with God. The challenge is to forget ourselves and to let our prayer be a loving experience with God our Father. We must be willing to let the Lord speak to us and to be open to receive what he has to say. If we can find a way to truly listen with our heart, we will then be able to experience desirable prayer.

Prayer is the most concrete way to make our home in God. ~Henri Nouwen

You Are Special

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I recently came across some notes that I had taken while on a silent retreat a number of years ago. There’s something special about finding little nuggets of information from past moments in life that bring back not only fond memories, but often times new-found joy. It’s like re-learning something you already knew – but kind of compartmentalized far back in the recesses of your brain.

man_silhouette_clip_art_9510One of the things that I had written down from our retreat master was something that he told us to remember: I am special, and God has plans for me. This is certainly a statement that we need to keep repeating to ourselves each and every day. It needs to be a part of our core values as Catholic Christians. It needs to be spoken by us when we are struggling with the stresses of our lives. It needs to be a part of our daily language.

We so often forget that we have been uniquely created by God and that each one of us is a major part of God’s plan. Yet, here is something to reflect upon: How often do I try to interfere with God’s plan? How often do I try to do what I think is best for me instead of first asking God? Sometimes, we get so stressed out trying to figure out what we should be doing with our lives that we forget that it’s really not up to us in the first place. God has destined us for greatness.

We truly need to feel and believe the fact that God knows what He is doing. We need to stop second-guessing God and simply listen to His directions for us. This can only happen if we take time each day for prayer. We need to be able to voice our questions and concerns to our Creator, but then we have to be able to be silent and listen.

Try repeating this phrase each morning as you arise from your sleep and several times throughout your day: I am special, and God has plans for me. You’ll be amazed at how your perspective on life will change.

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