On the Inside; On the Outside


Don’t Have a Cow!

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The expression, “Don’t have a com, man!” was made popular by Bart Simpson in the TV sitcom The Simpsons. But its history can be traced back to the 1950’s when first introduced in Great Britain as an expression of “having kittens” rather than a cow.

“Don’t have a cow” means to chill out, calm down, to not to be worried, upset or angry about something. I also think this expression has a significant meaning in our own Lenten journey. Read More

The Cocoon of Self-Absorption

Posted by | Emotions/Feelings | No Comments

One of the many wonders of nature is a cocoon. A caterpillar encloses itself in a type of tomb and then emerges transformed and flies through the air in the form of a beautiful butterfly. We view this as a type of death and resurrection.

An image for the Gospel today is that of a cocoon. Rather than a transformation into beauty, we witness a deformation into misery. The Gospel never says that this rich man committed any crime, but it seems that he is just so overly focused on himself that he cannot see beyond his clothes, his meals and his own doorstep. His wealth is something that he spends on himself and not something he shares with others. He is so tightly woven into his cocoon that he cannot seem to break out.

This disturbing parable tells us to not be absorbed with ourselves, to pay attention, and to wake up. We need to remember that our possessions are not owned by us, but loaned to us. They are entrusted to us; not only that we can meet our basic needs, but also so that we can help others. St. Augustine described sin as being caved in on oneself. Sin closes us in on ourselves and charity draws us out of ourselves and that is where we find joy.

We’re instructed to pay attention to Moses and the prophets; that is, to pay attention to God’s word given to us in the Scriptures and by Jesus.

And we need to wake up because most of us at times can be like the rich man. And the five brothers – they represent us too. We are not to expect some sort of personalized message, but should instinctively live out our faith by loving God and our neighbor. Actions have consequences, and so do our inactions. We can sin by what we do but we can also sin by what we fail to do.

This Lent, let us pray that we receive the grace to not be imprisoned in the cocoon of self-absorption. Rather, let us strive to live generous and joyful lives not selfishly but selflessly.

It’s All About the Connection

Posted by | Everyday Life | One Comment

I love social media! In fact, I’m all over social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, and LinkedIn. You can find me @DeaconAllenT. Make sure you check me out.

What’s great about social media is that you can make a connection with people across the globe in seconds flat. You can instantly communicate what is happening at any moment of your life. And it’s an excellent way to stay in touch with your family and friends wherever they may be. I just love social media!

However, there is a downside to social media. We often become so self-centered and making things all about us, getting consumed with how many likes we receive or how many people are following us. When we make things about us (which is a nasty form of vanity), we often neglect, we criticize, we say rude and crude things about others, and we spread lies and rumors in order to make us look better or more superior. Sometimes, we are just downright mean and not very Christian-like. And it doesn’t matter if we are not on social media. We all find ourselves doing these exact same things without being online.

We are living in a constantly-connected world but have somehow allowed ourselves to become disconnected from our God.

During Lent, we are asked to turn away from evil and return to the good. We are asked to repent sincerely, to openly recognize and admit that we are sinners and need to re-connect with God through fasting, prayer and sincere sacrifice. And this all needs to begin with internal conversion of our mind and heart.

I challenge all of us this Lent to stop the lies, negativity, anger, and hatred toward one another – whether on social media or in face-to-face reality. Let’s start this right now, by truly feeling the cross that will be traced on our foreheads. Conversion of our mind and of our heart must lead to loving God and others. It’s all about connecting with the One who leads us to conversion. Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

St. Patrick – The Real Story

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Everyone knows about Saint Patrick — the man who drove the snakes out of Ireland, defeated the Druids in contests of magic, and used the shamrock to explain the Trinity to the pagan Irish. It’s a great story, but none of it is true. The shamrock legend came along centuries after Patrick’s death, as did the miraculous battles against the Druids. Forget about the snakes — Ireland never had any to begin with. No snakes, no shamrocks, and he wasn’t even Irish! Read More

The Trouble Tree

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Tonight, I want to share with you a powerful story:

I hired a carpenter to help me restore an old farmhouse.  After he had just finished a rough first day on the job, a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. Read More

God Understands

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A farmer painted a sign advertising puppies for sale and was nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy. “Mister,” he said. “I want to buy one of your puppies.” “Well,” said the farmer, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.” The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?” “Sure,” said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” Out from the doghouse ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain-link fence. His eyes danced with delight. Read More

Second Chances

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I was in 6th grade and about to take a big science test. But this test was not with just any teacher. It was with Sister Bernadette – the holy terror of my Catholic Elementary School. There was just something about her that gave me the creeps. I was a fairly average student back then, holding my own in all of my class subjects. But when it came to science, it just didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a proton, a neutron, or a Klingon. I was terrified of this test! My Mom and Dad were always proud of my efforts to get good grades and I didn’t want to let them down. So just before the test, I wrote several of the answers on the top of my desk in barely legible pencil. I sat nervously as Sister started to hand out the tests. I didn’t want to get caught, but I didn’t want to fail either. Read More

Are You Life-Giving or Life-Taking?

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A few years ago, my wife Stephanie and I took a group of our parish teens on a summer mission trip to Cincinnati, Ohio. We were blessed to spend the week working with an organization called Little Brothers: Friends of the Elderly. This is a group that works with elderly people who have lost ties with family, have no family at all, and face the reality of simply being alone. Read More

What was He Thinking?

Posted by | Emotions/Feelings | No Comments

thinking jesusWhat was He Thinking?
(Based on John 8:51-59)

“Whoever keeps my word will never see death.”
Spoken to the Jews by the man from Nazareth.
The crowd, they thought, “This man is possessed!”
What was he thinking?

Was he greater than Abraham or the prophets of old?
This statement he made was really quite bold.
“We’ll never taste death.” Of this we were told:
What was he thinking? Read More

A Lenten Prayer

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 A Lenten Prayer (Jesus Creed) by Christine Sine

We have chosen to fast
Not with ashes but with actions
Not with sackcloth but in sharing
Not in thoughts but in deeds
We will give up our abundance
To share our food with the hungry
We will give up our comfort
To provide homes for the destitute
We will give up our fashions
To see the naked clothed
We will share where others hoard
We will free where others oppress
We will heal where others harm
Then God’s light will break out on us
God’s healing will quickly appear
God will guide us always
God’s righteousness will go before us
We will find our joy in the Lord
We will be like a well watered garden
We will be called repairers of broken walls
Together we will feast at God’s banquet table.

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