service

On the Inside; On the Outside


 

We Need More, Not Less

Posted by | Everyday Life | No Comments

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.

Called to Do Great Things

Posted by | Discipleship | No Comments

A little more than a week ago, Stephanie and I took a group of high school teens from our parish to NCYC, or the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Together, we were part of the 25,000 teens in attendance for this three day conference.

Our teens heard some of the top Catholic speakers and musicians as they played and prayed throughout the weekend. And they were all in agreement that the Friday night adoration was extremely powerful and moving. (Try to imagine 25,000 + in complete and total silence before the Blessed Sacrament. It was a true spiritual experience.)

The theme of the conference was “Called.” And the message was simple: each of us is being called by God for greater things. This is also the message of our Gospel today (MT 4:18-22).

Andrew, Simon, James and John were fishing – just doing what they always do – when they received the call from Jesus. They were asked to follow Jesus and be fishers of men.

We too, are fishers of people. Each of us is also being called to do great things in God’s name. We are called to follow Christ and to then lead by example through loving and serving others. We are called to be saints so that all may see, through us, the goodness of God.

As our teens learned, each of us receives God’s call every single day, right where we are. This can be a scary thing. But we need to remember that we never fish alone; for we are always accompanied by the One who constantly calls us to do great things in His name.

Slow-Roasted for Christ

Posted by | Hodgepodge | No Comments

Saint Lawrence was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out in the year 258, Pope St. Sixtus was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping, “Father, where are you going without your deacon?” The Pope answered, “I am not leaving you, my son. In three days you will follow me.” Full of joy, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand and even sold expensive vessels to have more to give away.

The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. Lawrence said he would – in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor, the sick, the blind, lepers, widows and orphans. When he showed them to the Prefect and said: “This is the Church’s treasure!”

In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. Lawrence was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but he was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. In fact, God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side!” And just before he died, he said, “It’s cooked enough now.” Then he prayed that Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Catholic faith might spread all over the world.

Today, St. Paul tells us that whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (Corinthians 9:6-10) . St. Lawrence understood this and it led him to realize these two simple truths: that God is able to make every grace abundant for each one of us, and that God loves a cheerful giver.

May each of us burn with the fire of Christ’s love so that we can readily serve our Father and others with honor, joy, and holy humor.

What is God Like?

Posted by | Emotions/Feelings | No Comments

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.

Sleeping in God’s Love

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Sleeping Hermaphrodite: https://evolvingcritic.net

Imagine that you’re sleeping soundly in your bed, comfortably snuggled up in your blanket. You are in a dream-like state, and you feel secure and rested. Then your alarm goes off; and suddenly, you have a choice to make. You know that if you get up, there are things to do and people to see. Or you can stay right where you are and just give in to the peace and comfort that you’re feeling. Even though the outside world is calling, in your mind you know that there is no other place that you would rather be than where you are now.

Each of us has experienced this feeling of wanting to remain in bed where we feel great peace and comfort. While we do not always have the luxury of staying in bed and sleeping in every morning, there is a good place that we can remain in every moment of every day; and that place is in God’s love.

Every day, we have the opportunity to remain in the love of our Father. While we can all agree that sleeping in is a pretty nice every once in a while, it is nothing compared to the peace and comfort of knowing that we have a God that loves us so much and only wants us to have the best. God is love, and there is nothing greater in this world than loving and being loved.

I heard it said the love of Jesus is like an electric current. If the current does not pass through you, it cannot enter into you. Similarly, if the love of Jesus does not pour through us to others, then that love is not really in us. The love of God has to be recognized, responded to and passed on. It is not just a ‘given’.

We have a chance to remain in that source of that love, but we cannot just hold onto it for ourselves. We need to find a way to share that love with others, giving to others what God has given to us.

By remaining in God’s love, and sharing that love with others, we will experience a life like we have never known; because His joy will be in us and our joy will be complete.

May the peace and joy of the Lord be with us each and every day!

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!

Standing Here Naked

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naked manWhen praying the Liturgy of the Hours recently, I came across a line from the Book of Job that reminded me of something I once heard from my instructor in a communications class that I took during deacon formation. The line read:

“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall go back again.”

I remember the teacher telling us that when we die, we will stand naked before the Lord – bearing everything about ourselves. We come into this world with nothing, and we leave this world with nothing. It doesn’t matter how much or how little we possessed while on this earth. It is all about what we’ve done with our time here. Everything we do remains a part of us. So when that day comes and we stand before the Lord naked, are we to be ashamed? Will we try to hide those things about ourselves that we find embarrassing?

We need to live our lives in a way that God desires, not to walk around thinking that we’re better than others, or more deserving or entitled to certain circumstances or behaviors. We need to always be aware of how our words and actions could make or break someone’s day. We need to be on constant watch for the temptations of the evil one who longs to point us in the wrong direction. We need to open ourselves up, to become fully exposed before our Lord and not be ashamed of who we are or what we’ve done. Let us strive to live a life of worthiness: loving everyone as God loves us and making a difference in our world.

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

Is It Soup Yet?

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corn soupOn Wednesday, I whipped up a batch of homemade Sweet Corn and Crab Soup for dinner. There’s nothing like a good pot of soup on a cold, winter evening. So I went grocery shopping last weekend to make sure that I had all of the needed ingredients to prepare the feast. I’m always amazed at the number of ingredients needed to make a pot of homemade soup. And it can be anything from meat, fish, various vegetables, and usually several spices. Then you have to do all of the necessary chopping and mixing. So the question to ask: is it soup yet? Well, not quite. You need to have the soup simmer for a period of time. Once these steps have been completed, you can finally partake in your creation (and hopefully it turned out well). Read More

Do I Trust God?

Posted by | Prayer | No Comments

Having spent three days this week with our parish teens at Youth Ministry talking about vocations, you can imagine that this topic is still fresh on my mind. The very fact that each one of us is called to a vocation is a powerful thought; but to be able to discern your vocation and live it out is an entirely different story. Read More

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