On the Inside; On the Outside


We Need More, Not Less

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Welcome to 2018! We are now four days into the New Year and we begin the annual tradition or ritual of the New Year’s Resolution. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that list of things that we’re going to do (or not do) in the New Year; and from what I hear, there’s an outcry that people want less, not more: less weight, less stress, less financial worry, less time away from friends, less arguing with family, less health concerns, etc.

I think that we need to demand more in our lives, not less. More time serving those in need, more patience with others, more peace in our hearts, more thankfulness for what we have, more concern for human life, more honesty and integrity, more kindness, more love of neighbor, more compassion and warmth, more reverence for the earth, and more prayer in our lives.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a woman who was born in the upper class and married into a wealthy family. But when her husband’s business failed and he later died of tuberculosis, Elizabeth realized that she needed more out of life, and was awakened to the things of God – dedicating her life to the service of others.

As we head full-steam into 2018, let us demand more out of life and ourselves. May we be awakened to the things of God instead of the things of the world so that we, like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, can serve more, care more, and love more each and every day of the coming year.

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.”

What is God Like?

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Once upon a time there was a little boy named Johnny. Johnny was always coming home late from playing outside.

One day his mom and dad had enough of it. They said, “Listen, Johnny! You never come home in time for supper. Your supper is always getting cold. We always have to warm it up for you, and this has got to stop. The next time you come home late, we’ll give you bread and water. That’s all. No butter, no peanut butter, no jelly; just plain bread and water.”

Well, the very next day Johnny came home late for supper again. He walked into the house and sat down at the supper table. His mom and dad, who had plates with meat and potatoes and vegetables in front of them, didn’t say a thing. They quietly gave Johnny a plate with some bread and a glass of water.

Johnny was crushed. He never thought his mom and dad would do such a thing. How could they? But he was wrong.

Johnny’s father waited for the lesson to sink in. Then, silently, he took his own plate full of meat and potatoes and vegetables, and put it in front of Johnny. Then he took Johnny’s plate and put it in front of himself.

Johnny is now a man. And not long ago someone asked him, “Do you know what God is like?” Johnny said, “I’ve known it all my life. I’ve known it ever since that night when my father switched plates.”

Each of us is called to love and serve God with all of our being and direct our whole lives to God, which includes our actions and choices. As a result, we should view the rest of Jesus’ teachings as helping us to love and come closer to God.  We are to show God’s unceasing love for all people, which then enables us to see more fully God’s presence in the world.

If we can love God with our whole being – heart, soul, mind, and strength – everything else in our lives will flow forth from there.

And Now, I Wait

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I am one of the disciples of Jesus. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am in hiding because of the events that have recently taken place. After what had happened to Jesus, I feared for the worst. All I could think about was could this possibly happen to me as well? I was terrified, and I fled for my life. Here I thought that my faith was strong enough to withstand anything; but man, was I wrong. I abandoned my Lord, and I feel awful. He told us to trust in him, but I didn’t. But can you blame me? I’ve never been so frightened in my entire life.

And now, I wait.

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The Book of Your Life: Fact or Fiction?

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What if someone were to write a book about your life? What would they say? We all like to think that it would be something like: he loved his family; she was so self-sacrificing; or he made such a difference in the world.

But what if the story they wrote about your life sounded more like this: he worked really hard all his life to make himself happy and to have good things and to retire in order to do whatever he wanted; she was so focused on having the perfect house that she didn’t spend much time serving other people – but the house was really beautiful! Or success consumed her so much that she would do whatever it took to become a success and to look good in the eyes of others. Is that the type of book that you would want written about yourself?

Our first reading today from St. John (1 John 3:11-21) gives us a definition about what the book of our lives should be about. Here are some key points worth noting:

  • “Love one another” is not only a prescription and description of our Christian life, but it’s also one of the tests of our Christian life. Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.
  • It’s impossible to say that you hate your brother or sister and remain in fellowship with God. We must love everyone!
  • As Catholic Christians, we constantly move from death to life, and even our desire to love is affected by that. Each of us angels only have one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.
  • Loving one another is not overlooking someone’s sins and letting them live however they want. Loving one another is acknowledging their brokenness and helping them find righteousness, like Jesus did for us.
  • God expects us to forgive and love others in the same way that He forgives and loves us.

In our book of life, the answers are never in the back. You will always find the answers within. Let us pray that our eyes be opened to see how God would have us humbly, practically and sacrificially love another person this week – especially those who have hurt us. Let our lives be an open book so that we can truly love one another; for where love is, there God is.

You’ve Got a Saint-Maker!

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Have you ever encountered someone who was difficult to work with or was challenging to be around? For the most part, we always seem to get along or even become friends with most of our co-workers. But every one in a while, we stumble across one of two people who just seem to get under our skin. Read More

Don’t Worry!

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I thought that I’d share an entry from my personal journal dated September 21, 2007. I hope you find this to be helpful if you struggle with worrying.

worryaboutnothingYesterday morning, I experienced one of those “God Moments” on my way to work. The day before, I had been hearing some nasty rumors of major layoffs coming in October at our office location. It sounded like it was going to be one of those bad ones with a large number of people being let go. So naturally, I began worrying. With me being the “new guy” in the group (being a part of this team for only a few short months), I figured that I would surely be the first one to go.

My sleep was restless that night; and from about 4 am on, I was wide awake with worry thinking about potential job loss. After tossing and turning for a while, I finally decided to get up and get on with my day. On my commute to work, I was praying to God about calming my mind. I prayed that I find the strength to trust in the Lord at all times and not worry about things that are out of my control, for God will take care of me and guide me – as He always does!

As I am driving, I passed a church on my route that had a sign out front. It read: “Don’t Worry – It May Not Happen.” It was like getting hit in the head with a brick. God was giving me a sign (literally). A feeling of calm suddenly enveloped me, and I finally felt at ease. (And when October came, I was still employed.)

May I continue to praise God for being the light in my life and for reminding me that all will be fine if I can only trust in Him who gives me life. Worry about nothing – Pray about everything. That’s good advice for all of us!

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

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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