Thursday, June 3, 2021

That God exists is not an issue for me.  To imagine a world view where God is absent is unimaginable and illogical.  

That God is a loving God, a God who cares about His creation, is also an awareness that resonates in me.  You might ask: “Why then is there pain and suffering in the world? How can a loving God allow this? It's because we underestimate - undervalue - our freedom from God, our free will. We are free, entirely free to explore, free to choose, and free to reject.  We can choose to disbelieve or ignore God, because He made us that way. He allowed us that freedom. 

The opposite of love is evil.  Once His love is rejected all forms of horror are possible. What you see too often in the world is the rejection of God's love.

If God is a lover, he longs to be loved in return.  And only freedom allows love. Without freedom, what would our response to God be? Duty? Fear? God created us free so that we could choose to love Him.  

To choose love … is … to choose God.

God is all about love. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Now that COVID is waning, it is time for all to return to Mass on Sunday.  We should not take the ability to go to Church on Sunday for granted. In the early days of the Church, Christians did not enjoy the freedom of religion that we enjoy today in the United States. The Roman authorities regularly persecuted them for attending Mass. One story is told of a Mass in 303 where 49 Christians suffered torture and martyrdom because they defied the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s order not to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday. When asked why they had disobeyed the emperor, one of them said, “Without Sunday, we cannot live.”

In the past century, Catholics in former Communist countries like the Soviet Union or Vietnam were persecuted for practicing their faith. Today in Egypt, China, North Korea, Iraq, Sudan, and countless other areas, Catholics risk their lives and travel for hours to attend Sunday Mass. We give thanks to God that we do not have to put our lives in jeopardy to attend Mass at our local parish. Unlike some in poor areas, we rejoice that we do not have to walk for miles, over hills, or on inadequate dirt roads to attend. Most of us can walk safely down the street or take a short drive to arrive at our beloved parish.

I grew up in the middle of the last century.  In my family, going to Mass on Sunday was about as optional as breathing. It was not a matter of authoritarian parents or social pressure, but rather a sense of how important the Sunday Eucharist was for our family identity and survival. To miss Mass is to stop breathing; it is the sure path to spiritual suffocation.

Just because Catholic Mass doesn't have mega projectors, or Hillsong-style music, or entertainment- oriented preaching, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have anything going on. The truth is that Mass is amazing and beautiful and rooted in the Bible, as well as Christian and Jewish history and tradition. Our Mass has been the same for two thousand years, it is rooted in history not in the current fashion. Each Mass contains a real miracle in the Eucharist. Each Mass is a chance to come physically in contact with our Savior through Holy Communion. Nothing is boring about Mass if you enter into the prayer and the miracle of it deeply.  Do not expect to be entertained – that is not the purpose of our worship. Every Catholic Mass around the world and throughout history is spiritually united, which is the reason we stay true to it's structure.  Our goal is to pray profoundly and join in the miracle of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. Mass is the opportunity to sit in the upper room with Jesus when he says, "This is my Body. This is my blood."  It is a holy moment shared with all who are Catholic. It is deeply prayerful and profoundly moving.    

The priests and deacons at Saint Brigid are so excited to welcome you back! See you Sunday because, "Without Sunday, we cannot live."

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Ascension ...

 I once heard someone describe the story of God as a three-chapter book. 

Chapter one of the book is God the Father revealing Himself to the Jewish people. The second chapter of the book is where God reveals himself in human form. In a way that we can identify with him. It is the story of Jesus. The final scene in that second chapter is the story of when Jesus ascended into heaven; it’s the end of Jesus’ mission on earth. The very last action of Jesus, before he ascended, was to ask his followers to go and tell his story. He said: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel – proclaim my story – to every creature.”

Chapter three of the story of God is about his followers doing that. God's plan was to reveal himself to the world, through the people of God, through you and me. The third chapter of the story of God is our story. Like Peter, James, John, and the other disciples, we are being asked to go tell the people in our lives about Jesus. And then those who we tell are asked to tell others, and so on. The story of Jesus has spread – person to person – as He said it would. The goal is for the entire earth to know his story, and we are getting close to that now.

This church Jesus left behind to tell his story has been wildly successful. The church he founded 2000 years ago with a hand full of followers, in some ways, is stronger than ever. There are about 2.5 billion Christians in the world right now, by 2050 it’s projected there will be 3 billion. The most extensive growth is in Africa and South American. China's Christian population is also growing. When I was born, there were about 450 thousand Catholics globally. Now, there are 1.2 billion.  75% of adults in the United States identified themselves as Christians. So don’t believe everything you hear about the demise of the church. The story of God is far from over. Chapter three of the story is still being written; and, we are called to play a starring role.  As we wait for God's Kingdom to come when Christ returns, our call is to tell His story.   

Something incredible happened at the Ascension. St. Augustine describes what happened beautifully when he wrote: “You ascended from before our eyes, and we turned back grieving, only to find you in our hearts."  

An English Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins once said: “Christ plays in ten thousand places lovely in eyes and lovely in limbs not his” 

Saint Catherine of Sienna said: "Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

It is our time to open our hearts and be Christ’s messengers to the world. God could have had just two chapters. He could have done the whole thing himself, but he didn’t. He chose to pass on his mission to us. God chose us to write Chapter 3 with the help of the Holy Spirit. He sends us the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the sacraments. 

This is the time of year when many of our beautiful children receive their first communion.  I compliment their moms and dads for passing the torch to the next generation; that is exactly what we are called to do!  Our call is to share our faith with our families and friends. The reality is - if you do not have a plan to get your family to heaven, the chances are they will never get there! And the very best way to teach your friends and family how to become a child of God is to be a child of God yourself. 

That is our call to know God, to love God, and to tell God's story ... to write our chapter in his book.

Friday, May 7, 2021

It's so simple!


In the fifteenth chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus said:  (John 15:10-12) "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."

I think we all want joy. Right? So what is this list of commands we must keep to attain this joy? Jesus tells us in verse 17 there is just one command, and that is to "love each other.”

That’s it - love each other!

When you go out and try to explain our Catholic faith to someone, maybe with the goal of getting them to understand or to be part of our faith, do you tell them there is only one rule that Jesus said we must live by, and that rule is to love each other? Why do we make our religion so complicated?  All we are asked to do is to love.

The question we must ask ourselves as Christians is: How am I doing with this love command?  What little things did I do, or not do, this week that responded to this command?  Did I make someone's life better by a simple act of kindness? Did I love someone that challenges me? Did I ignore someone by my insensitivity and, in doing so, make their life a little sadder? How aware am I of my loving or un-loving responses and actions? 

The truth is if we Christians lived this one simple command – "love each other" – the sum of all the little loving acts done, would be a great flood. And this flood of goodness across the world would be powerful beyond imagining. Just picture a world where every Christian spent each day loving the people around them. That’s the revolution the world needs right now!  For us to simply love each other.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Second Sunday in Easter - John 20:19-31

The apostles were anxious and worried gathered in that locked room. In the last three days, their whole world had been turned upside down. The one they gave up everything to follow, the one they had hung all their hopes on, had just been brutally killed. They thought Jesus was invincible – after all the miracles they had witnessed. Now he was dead, and they were scared that they were next. 

Earlier in the day, they heard from the women that Jesus’ grave was empty. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves, and it was empty. Later that day, Mary Magdalene told them she saw an angel, and then she said she saw Jesus, who looked like a gardener. Can you imagine their state of mind?

Suddenly Jesus was standing there with them. You must believe that what he says to them in that moment is important. It’s the first message to them after his resurrection. And what he says is something we all need to hear. He said: “Peace be with you.” Be at peace.

 All of us have just come out of a year of stress and worry. We have faced an illness that has killed - I read today - 3 million people. We are living in a country where our political parties barely talk to each other. Most of us never dreamed of the kind of homelessness we see in our major cities. A policeman is being tried for the death of a man, and race relations are at a breaking point. Many of us are nearly as frazzled as the apostles that night. And Jesus says to each of us today … be at peace … it’s going to be alright. 

How do we find that peacefulness Jesus is offering?

In his gospels we read each week, Jesus tells us how to find this peace.  He told us first of all what peace is not. He said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.” John 14:27 ESV  We won’t find – true peace in our lives from the things this world tells us will make us happy. We don’t get peace from the things of this world, even when things seem to be going our way; when our bank account is full, our job is going well, our investments are all increasing, our kids are brilliant and well mannered. That’s all delightful, but it isn't the peace Jesus offers.      

That night he showed them his scars his wounds. He opened his hands, and pointed to his feet, and pulled up his tunic so they could see his side. He kept these marks in his resurrected body, almost like badges of honor. In doing that, he dignified all of our wounds.  His wounds proved that God could take what is broken in our lives and turn it into our moment of triumph. We all have wounds; it’s part of life. And Jesus shows us that we, too, can use our wounds to help others. If we let God use them, our life experiences are the mysterious and perfect preparation for how we can serve. 

I've seen addicts reaching out to other addicts through twelve-step ministries. We have a bereavement ministry where widows and widowers use their wounds to help others dealing with the loss of a loved one. I have seen many veterans struggling with the horrors of post-traumatic stress disorder sharing with other vets how to heal.

Life with God isn’t immunity from difficulties; God can give us peace and purpose within our challenges. By trusting in him and offering our experiences to Him, we find peace. One of my wife Linda’s favorite sayings is: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain."

Real peace, the kind Jesus gives, has roots much deeper inside us. It's the peace that comes into our hearts when we say to the Lord: “I give my life to you, all of it, all of my experiences for you to use. I know you can be trusted, so I put my trust in you.” 

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus asks us: “Are you weary carrying a heavy burden? Come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” Matthew 11:28 TPT Giving ourselves into His hands does not guarantee good luck or immunize us from trouble.  But it changes everything. It changes the way we experience whatever life brings. When we turn it over to God, it takes away fear and lets us relax in His loving arms. He is just waiting patiently to fill up our empty spirits. Trusting God sets us free from the doubts and fears that steal the joy that belongs to every day. When we trust him, it frees us from our doubts and fears that stop us from giving ourselves to one another as we would like and as we should. Real peace comes to those who trust the Lord enough to walk with him in good times and in bad. 

Jesus spoke about us that night with his Apostles. He said: Blessed – blessed is just another word for happy - happy are those who have not seen and have believed. That’s us he is speaking about on the day of His resurrection. We were on His heart and mind that night, telling us that we will find happiness if we believe in Him.  

Jesus entered a place dominated by fear and flooded it with peace! 

He can break down the doors that we hide behind and offer us peace.

Monday, April 5, 2021

To those who doubt the Lord’s love or understanding of our trials, Christ’s wounds speak tenderly and clearly of His love and of the price He was willing to pay. His wounds are more eloquent testimony than any words could be. Is God merciful? Does God understand or care at all about our condition? Look to the wounds of Christ; dwell in them. Take shelter in the wounds of Christ.

He loves you so much he accepted these wounds so you may live forever! 

Sunday, April 4, 2021