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.”

Fear or Faith?

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More than 19 million Americans have this, and it causes difficulty in some area of their lives. What is it? It’s a phobia. A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. If you have a phobia, you may experience a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of your fear, whether it is of a certain place, situation, or object. Unlike general anxiety disorders, a phobia is usually connected to something specific. Here are a few of the most common phobias:

  • Altophobia: Fear of heights.
  • Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders.
  • Claustrophobia: Fear of confined spaces.
  • Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
  • Theophobia: fear of God.
  • Ecclesiophobia: Fear of church.
  • Homilophobia: Fear of homilies. (Maybe even Deacon Allen’s homilies!)
  • Testophobia: Fear of taking tests.
  • Phalacrophobia: Fear of becoming bald.
  • Chaetophobia: Fear of hair (other people’s hair).
  • Xenophobia: Fear of the unknown.
  • Ephebiphobia: Fear of youth (teenagers).

There is an old proverb that goes something like this:

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things will be yours.

Notice, “Fear less” is at the top of that list of what needs to be done if all good things are to be ours. Moreover, “Fear less” was high on Jesus’ list of things you need to do in order to experience wholeness of life.

Jesus wants you to know beyond all doubt that you and I are important to God; that God wants to be in a relationship with us. You may turn on the busy signal if you wish, but God never will do that. We can always count on God’s constant care for us.

Each one of us is called to go out and serve those in need, the most vulnerable in our society – and that can be scary. We are often afraid to speak the truth, to stand up for what is right, or afraid of those who might try to hurt us. We might be afraid to try new things, or meet new people who are different than us. But Jesus promises us that God is in control: “Not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.” Jesus reassures us of the value that God places on us. You and I are worth more than many sparrows; and we are also precious in God’s sight. With God by our side, we have nothing to fear.

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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God is with Us

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We are Emmanuelites…God is with us!

We used this call and response in Youth Ministry many years ago. And it had two purposes: first, to gain the attention of the teens so they could focus on what was about to happen. And second, to remind them to trust in the fact that God is with us at all times.

We are Emmanuelites…God is with us! 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!

What a Surprise!

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My wife and I spent this past weekend with 13 teenagers on a Peer Ministry Retreat at a camp in East Troy, Wisconsin. This was our 8th year doing this retreat and we really enjoy watching the teens as they learn important leadership skills and deepen their relationship with God. We always stress to them the importance of making time for prayer in their busy lives, and I always share this story with them.

surpriseA few years back while on this same retreat, I decided to do my Sunday morning prayers down by the lake. It was a misty, calm morning as I sat myself down on the little wooden pier. I pulled out my Liturgy of the Hours and began praying out loud. At a certain point, I began freely talking with God about some things that were going on in my life at the time. I verbally placed my intentions before the Lord hoping for some direction and guidance. Suddenly, I noticed movement from deep beneath the murky waters, and slowly emerged a very large turtle. His head peered out of the water and it was looking directly at me. I was completely caught by surprise. It felt like God appeared before me right when I needed him during my prayer. After a brief moment of eye contact between each other, the turtle returned to the depths of the lake.

Our God surprises us so many times during our lives, but we’re often so preoccupied with life that we often miss it. Sometimes we’re asked to put out our boat one more time, to try again, to go outside our comfort zone and take a chance. But how often do we react like Simon Peter and say that we’re not worthy of such blessings, that we’re not worthy of such love? We need to trust in the Lord and not be afraid, for he made us out of love and wants what’s best for us. And if we do, the rewards will be amazing.

May the Lord bless and fill your life with his mercy, his unending love, and with many surprises.

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

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

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