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

Forgiveness is a Tough Job

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Just the other day I was flipping through TV channels and came across a show about a guy who picks up road kill for a living. I thought, “Why in the world would anyone want to watch this?” And then, of course, I couldn’t turn it off! That show was called “Dirty Jobs,” and Mike Rowe was the man who became famous for trying some of the dirtiest jobs on the planet. He has waded through sewers, castrated horses, farmed worm poop, and sorted through medical waste, just to name a few. He goes out and learns about the jobs that none of us would ever want to do, and gets coached by the people who do these jobs every day for a living. It’s not just for entertainment, because Mike goes deeper in order to pay respect to the men and women who roll up their sleeves and do these challenging jobs every day. Read More

We Need to be Poked!

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I was looking through some old photos of our past family camping vacations not too long ago. It was fun looking back on all of those vacations that we took, many to some incredible places with some amazing campsites. As I was looking at the pictures of all of us sitting around the campfire at night, I fondly remember lighting all of those fires – and keeping them going well into the night.

If you’ve ever been around a campfire, you know that once the wood catches fire, there is a need to poke the wood every so often in order to keep it burning. Sometimes you even need to adjust the position of the logs so that the entire log has a chance to burn. And that is a great analogy for our spiritual life as well.

As St. Paul wrote, each of us must “stir into flame the gift of God.” (Timothy 1:1-8) Sometimes, we become stuck right where we are. We become comfortable in our faith, almost to the point of non-action. We go through the motions and do what we’ve always done, but we don’t go any farther. We become stagnant, complacent, and our fire doesn’t burn completely – and we need to be poked. We need to get re-energized, renewed and redirected so that we can continue to follow our baptismal calling and mission to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world.

Let’s not hide our lamp under a bushel basket, but spread our light for all to see. Let us use our gifts to serve our Lord and our neighbor. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.

Consider yourself poked!

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.


Our God is Amazing!

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20150915_105137About three weeks ago, Stephanie and I returned from a well-needed (and deserved) vacation in the Canadian Rockies. We spent about 10 days hiking, sightseeing, and taking in the beautiful scenery. Some people say that’s it’s the most beautiful place in the world. I can’t really speak to that, but I will say that it felt like I was standing in a painting that was created by God’s fingertips. It was truly amazing, and I couldn’t stop thinking the entire time we were there of how great and glorious our God is. Read More

Memories of Dad

Posted by | Family | 12 Comments

Over the past week, I have been watching my father’s old 8mm home movies. This was a project that was started months before his passing, where he was cleaning out his basement and wanted to get rid of all these old reels of film. Being the video buff that I am, I said that I would take it and capture on video all of the important parts so we had it as a memory of the past. So for months, this stuff sat here in my “things to do” pile. Well, I’m finally getting to it, Dad! Read More

The Gift

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The Gift

If one cannot grow, one cannot learn
the meaning of life; the gift of return.

If one cannot fly like a bird of a feather,
feelings held captive and held in forever.

If one cannot reach for a star in the sky,
dreams are left shattered and the future will die.

If one cannot say what rests on the mind,
the two doors of speech will be closed to the blind.

If one cannot feel for the strength in the air,
nearness is coldness, darkness, and fear.

For if one cannot love, one cannot live,
and grow in the Spirit and possess what you give.

(I wrote this poem on February 2, 1984.)

Giving Without Cost

Posted by | Discipleship | No Comments

heritageDuring the last few days of June, I went on a private, silent retreat. A retreat is a requirement for deacons so that they take time each year to break away and spend some private time with the Lord. This year, I went to the Franciscan Spirituality Center outside of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I stayed in a hermitage located on a forested ridge. It was four spiritually-fulfilling days of silence, prayer, reading, contemplation, meditation, and peace. I also reflected on the many gifts that God has graciously given me. And I couldn’t help but to praise and thank God for all of these wonderful gifts. But the important thing for all of us to remember is that we must use these gifts that we have been given.

In today’s Gospel from Matthew (MT 10:7-15), Jesus tells us, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Sometimes, it’s easy to look at our gifts and the successes that come from them and brag and say that I was the one who was solely responsible for making that happen. After all, I was the one that did all of the work; therefore, I should take the credit. I’ve learned over the years that it takes a lot of time, effort, and spiritual awareness to know that everything is a gift freely given to us from God. Let me say that again: EVERYTHING is a gift freely given to us by God – every breath we take, our brains, our talents, our skills, our personalities, and on and on. All of it is a gift! Read More

Can Spring Be Far Off?

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robinThis morning, I was standing in our kitchen, waiting for my tea to steep. Gazing outside the window at the cold and snowy landscape, I noticed a robin in our neighbor’s tree. How strange, I thought, to see a robin at the end of January. We usually don’t see these birds here until the weather warms up, like around early March. But there she was, just sitting in the tree and enjoying the winter morning. Read More

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