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

Saturday, April 3, 2021

"The good news of Easter is that Jesus has triumphed over sin and evil — and so will we if we open our hearts to his Easter power.

The good news of Easter is that every Good Friday in our lives can be turned into an Easter Sunday.

The good news of Easter is that nothing can defeat us anymore — not pain, not sorrow, not even death.

The good news of Easter is that Jesus will work a miracle in our lives on this very day if we will but open our hearts to his Easter power.

What miracle might I ask Jesus to work in my life this Easter day?

How might I open my heart, in a special Easter way, to let the risen Jesus do this?”

Mark Link, S. J.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Spend some quite time today, building up a mental picture of Christ on the cross. 
Once you have built up this mental picture, ask why this is taking place. 
He is doing this for us
He didn't have to; he chose to. We matter that much to him. 
Anyone who suffers low-esteem needs to take this insight to heart.  
You matter to the greatest one of all!  

He was wounded for us.
Each of those wounds is a token of the loving care of a compassionate God. 
Can you see how this should change the way we think about ourselves? 
We are of such importance to him that he chose to undertake that suffering, pain, and agony. 
Form a mental picture of those wounds. 
Cherish them.  
It is by them that we are healed.  
Each of them affirms the amazing love of God for us.  
Each nail hammered into the body of the savior of the world shouts out these words - 

"He loves us!"  

How can we doubt someone who gave everything for us?

Alister Edgar McGrath is a Northern Irish theologian.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. 
I do not see the road ahead of me. 
I cannot know for certain where it will end. 
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. 
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. 
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. 
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. 

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost 
and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

from Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude

Friday, March 26, 2021

Lent is a time of going very deeply into ourselves... 

What is it that stands between us and God? 

Between us and our brothers and sisters? 

Between us and life, the life of the Spirit? 

Whatever it is, let us relentlessly tear it out, 

without a moment's hesitation.  

Catherine Doherty

Thursday, March 25, 2021

O, do not pray for easy lives.

Pray to be stronger women and men.

Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers.

Pray for powers equal to your tasks. 

John Henry Newman

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Secret to Life.

Jesus tells us about one of the fundamental laws of life. You might even say the secret to life. It’s one of those secrets hidden in plain sight.

So, what did he say: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

This law of life Jesus speaks of is the pattern of loss and renewal, a law that runs throughout our lives and our world. We have all lived this and experienced it, sometimes by choice and other times by chance. 

Look at the way this pattern is present in your life.

Have you ever fallen in love and committed your life to another? If so, you had to let parts of your old life go; something of your single life died so that you could be with the other person.

How about parenting? If you are a parent, you know that there are sacrifices of yourself and your life to be made for your child's new life to emerge and grow.  We give up parts of ourselves for the other. And then parents are continually letting go of their child, and the child is letting go of the parent, so the child can grow up and flourish.

Have you ever been the caretaker of another?  If so, you could name the parts of your life that died so that another might live with dignity, compassion, and love.

What are the costs, the losses you paid for your education or career?

You chose certain losses and let go of some things. Let them die so that other things can arise.  We see this same pattern in nature, in the changing seasons: falling leaves and new blooms.

The bible is full of stories of loss and renewal. Abram left his country and his relatives so that he might become a great nation. Renamed Abraham, he became a blessing to all the families of the earth. James and John, Andrew and Peter, left their fathers, boats, and nets to become disciples of Jesus and fishers of women and men. We see the pattern over and over: loss and renewal, dying and rising, leaving and returning.    At our Mass each week, we declare it.

Christ has died

Christ has risen

Christ will come again.

Sometimes the most growth in our lives comes when we least expect it. Everyone experiences moments when you look back on them; you think, “I never want to go through that again.” But.  I would not trade that experience for anything. Yes, something was hard. Something died but what came from it is a new life. For me, it was a battle with cancer.  It transformed my spirit and led me to an unexpected new life.  I never want cancer again, but I love what it did for me.

The challenge for us is to become aware that we are where we are by God calling us to be there. God is calling us to let our ego die and know that we are where we are by the grace of God and doing what you do by God’s grace too. It’s in the letting go, the emptying of the stuff of our ego; it’s in the dying to ourselves like a grain falling to the earth that we find the secret to life. Jesus said, if you are devoted to your life in this world,  you will lose it.  But if you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life.

Letting go of our selfishness allows God to use us to create new life right where we are.

Over the next two weeks, we will see this played out in the miraculous movement in the life of Christ – in his death and resurrection. That’s what he was telling his followers, that he was letting go of this life, moving through death to life; through defeat to victory; through suffering on the cross to the glory of Easter.  

That is the secret of life.

Jesus gave his life away for the sake of others so that we might live, and He asks us to do the same, to die to our own selfish needs to share our faith – our life – so others may live.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Mother knows best ...


A college girl asked her mother 

“How can you be sure Jesus’ teachings are true? 

You can be convinced in only one way," 

her mother said, "by living them. 

If you live Jesus’ teachings they will speak to your heart 

and tell your heart that they are true.”

Thursday, March 11, 2021


        I sought my soul,                                                     

        But my soul I could not see.


        I sought my God,                                                   

        But my God eluded me.


        I sought my brother,

        And I found all three.


                                        William Blake

Monday, March 8, 2021

Our God is not a distant God. He knows us intimately! Psalm 139

Lord, you have examined me 
and you know me.
You know everything I do;
from far away you understand 
all my thoughts.
You see me, whether I am working 
or resting; you know all my actions.
Even before I speak,
you already know what I will say.
You are all around me on every side;
you protect me with your power.
Your knowledge of me is too deep;
it is beyond my understanding.

Where could I go to escape from you?
Where could I get away from your presence?
If I went up to heaven, you would be there;
if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there.
If I flew away beyond the east
or lived in the farthest place in the west,
you would be there to lead me,
you would be there to help me.

You created every part of me;
you put me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because you are to be feared;
all you do is strange and wonderful.
I know it with all my heart.
When my bones were being formed,
carefully put together in my mother's womb,
when I was growing there in secret,
you knew that I was there—
you saw me before I was born.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Monday, March 1, 2021

 “Joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence.” 

- Teilhard de Chardin

Cheerfulness and optimism is a choice. When we choose to trust God for everything, we can rest in His promises to take care of us the way He sees fit. Trusting God brings joy. The key to being joyful is to keep life simple.  Mother Teresa said: "Do small things with great love." St. David whose feast day we celebrate today said: "Do ye the little things in life."  Joy comes from staying connected to God and then doing small things with love. A smile, a helping hand, a kind word make those the essential things each day, and joy will find you.

Friday, February 26, 2021

 If you have tried everything else, why not try God?  


Identify someone close to you who has tried everything else, 

and pray that this person will try God.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

"The two most important days in your life 

are the day you are born 

and the day you find out why." 

– attributed to Mark Twain

What is your "Why"?  

Saint Paul realized that he was chasing the wrong "why." In a life-changing moment, when Paul heard the voice of God, he completely redirected his life.  In a letter to the Christians in the city of Colossae, he shares this "why" with them,    

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 

To his friends in Corinth, he said, "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  

Paul found his "why" when he met Jesus. Telling others about Jesus was how Saint Paul lived out his "why."  I believe we who discover Jesus in our lives all have the same "why."  And that is to share the joy and the love we have experienced with others.  The world desperately needs to hear Good News.  Those of us who know the love of the Lord, need to make sharing that love - that good news - our "why."

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

This story touched me ...

One day, while on the bus, I encountered a man and his two young daughters.
The young girls immediately gravitated towards me, and we chatted the whole ride. Several minutes later, my stop arrived. As I was getting off the bus, I noticed that the shoelaces of the youngest were undone. “Oh sweetie,” I called over, “I wish I had seen that your laces are undone. I would have tied them for you!” “Tie my shoelaces now!!!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. Fortunately, it seemed this was their stop as well, since the father and his daughters exited the bus. I asked her father permission to tie the girl’s shoelaces, and he gave it. I tied her laces. Soon, the older daughter was also exclaiming, “One of my laces is undone too!” I didn't want her to feel left out or ignored, so I simply tied her shoes. I thanked the gentleman for allowing me to help his daughters. He thanked me back, explaining, “Myself, I cannot help them. I only have use of one hand.”
In parting, I recalled the words of my father so many years ago:
“Do you know what it is to be Christian?” my father asked. “Yes,” I replied, “we go to church.” “It is much more than that,” he instructed. If you are somewhere in society and see someone struggling, you need to walk over to them and help. That is being Christian.”

So simple ... but so true!  

Friday, February 19, 2021

 “You can’t go back and change the beginning, 

but you can start where you are and change the ending.” 

– C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Lent of Love.

Lent is different this year.  This past year, we have been living a life where sacrifice is the new normal. For our good, and the good of our neighbor, we have abstained from social events and strapped on masks for any and every outing. We have skipped vacations.  We have endured mental, emotional, and spiritual fatigue that comes with months of uncertainty and anxiety. Emotionally, the pandemic has taken a toll on each one of us in ways we might not even realize. 

Lent this year is a time to reflect on how we responded to the challenges we faced throughout the year?  Do we need to ask anyone for forgiveness? Is there a change we need to make from what we learned about ourselves?

Maybe this year, Lent should be different. This year during Lent, let us all take time to think about how we should live as a community, protect each other from illness, finding new and better ways of taking care of each other in the years to come.  Rather than give something up this year, let's seek out neighbors or fellow parishioners who have genuinely suffered this past year and bring some love and joy to them.  This Lent, let us pray and fast, but let's also reach out and love someone.  Let's make this Lent a time of healing not only our bodies but also our souls.  This Lent let's find someone who needs our love, and love them back to health and hope.  

Let's make 2021 the Lent of Love. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

We try to live so that He will love us, rather than because He has already loved us.

- Lloyd Ogilvie 

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. 

- Saint Augustine

Friday, February 12, 2021

Psalm 19 says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Since he was a boy, my son Luke has told me that his church is the ocean.  While I rolled my eyes at this witty remark from this avid surfer, this response has grown on me over the years. Don’t get me wrong; Luke always attended Mass on Sundays growing up and brings his family now as an adult.  But there is something religious for him about the ocean.  What he experiences in the sea is summed up in the word – awe.  The power and majesty of the ocean give him a sense of the transcendence of God. He feels awe in the ocean, which helps him experience the power and majesty of God. 

Awe enables us to perceive in the world hints of the divine, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple.  Moments of awe allow us to feel the passing of God.  What we often cannot comprehend by analysis is grasped in a moment of wonder and awe. 

Awe is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Wonder and awe are God's gifts that enrich our lives and allow us to feel his touch. Awe opens our eyes to the presence of God in the world of nature. It allows us to see God in each other, feel his presence in prayer and in the celebration of the sacraments. 

If we zero in on the sights, smells, and sounds around us and savor details we might not have noticed before in our daily rush, everything can inspire awe. The main requirement for channeling more wonder is learning how to slow down, let go of worries and be present in the moment.

Try one of these: 

  • Spend time with a child. Young kids seem to live in a perpetual state of awe over nearly everything they do and see. Their amazement is contagious and can help you experience the world through their fresh eyes. 
  • Learn about inspiring people like the saints allowing yourself to be energized by their example. 
  • Go surfing, or at least walk by the seashore. 
  • Take a walk in nature.
  • Let me close with the words of St. Paul. 

    “May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -  Romans 15:13

    Monday, February 8, 2021


    Harvest of God

    by Macrina Wiederkehr

    It was only a small wind,

    Rather gentle, like a breeze.

    It blew a strand of hair across my forehead

    And I knew it was God.

     I was awakened by a tiny gleam of light

    It slipped through my curtain, onto my face.

    It drew me to my feet and on to the window

    Drawing back the curtains

    Dawn stepped softly into my room.

    I knew that it was God.

     In the middle of my loneliness

    The phone rang.

    A voice I knew so well, said

    “Hello, I love you.”

    Love stirred in my soul

    I knew that it was God.

     Rain fell gently on thirsty ground.

    Slowly, carefully, steadily it came

    To an earth parched with waiting.

    Through those raindrops

    I walked, unafraid – without an umbrella.

    I knew that it was God.

     It was only a little bitterness I thought

    But it wouldn’t leave my heart.

    It hung around my soul for ages

    Until a storm came, violent and terrifying.

    It shook me to the depths of my being

    And blew all the bitterness away.

    I knew that it was God

     It was only a Silver Maple

    But in the morning’s sunlight

    It was filled with heaven.

    I stood in a trance

    As one touched by angel wings.

    I knew that it was God.

    O God, I cried, Endearing One,

    I love you! You cannot hide from me.

    Between the cracks of daily life

    I find you waiting

    To be adored.

    You slip into my life

    Like night and day

    Like stars and sunshine.

    I know that you are God.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2021

    Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace

    Today we remember the presentation of Jesus in the temple as a baby. In the temple, Jesus was welcomed by an older man - Simeon - nearing the end of his life. Simeon's words on seeing Jesus are words every Christian should make one's own. "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation."

    Like Simeon, we have seen our salvation in the life of Jesus Christ.  Like Simeon, the effect that should have on us is ... peace.

    The word "peace" in the Bible refers to a mental attitude of tranquillity a Christian experiences from a relationship with God. It describes the result of a person's response to God's Grace. A response we refer to as faith. There is personal peace with God, which comes when a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior. Then, there is the peace of God, which is available daily as the believer participates in the Christian life. So, when we respond to God's grace by faith, the result is peace. 

    Amazing Grace is the most powerful Christian hymn because it speaks the truth simply and profoundly.

    Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me
    I once was lost, but now I am found
    Was blind, but now I see

    Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
    And grace my fears relieved

    “The Christian faith makes it possible for us nobly to accept that which cannot be changed, to meet disappointments and sorrow with an inner poise, and to absorb the most intense pain without abandoning our sense of hope, for we know, as Paul testified, in life or in death. . .’that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.'” – Martin Luther King Jr.

    This quote from Martin Luther King Jr perfectly explains why being a Christian brings a peace beyond all understanding. We have peace because we believe God's love gives our life purpose.  

    "Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."   Romans 5:1

    Monday, February 1, 2021

    Do you read the Psalms?

    If I'm telling the truth, I struggled with the Psalms most of my life; I pretty much ignored them. The Church encourages priests and deacons to read the Psalms daily. It has been a pleasant surprise how much the Psalms have moved my heart. It is easy to offer a prayer that is simple sweet, something we learned as a child.  When we pray with the Psalms, the range of emotions recorded in them forces us to speak honestly to God about our life.  

    The Psalms talk of happiness, delight, and laughter but they also speak of sighing, crying and groaning. They challenge us to confront our hatred, fear, and guilt exposing our darker side to God. The Psalms force us to face our shame and disgrace. Often reading them is not easy. But if you want an honest dialogue with God, they are great tools.

    When life is full of questions and doubts, when life is just plain difficult,  it's OK to yell and scream at God. The Psalms can help you do that:

    • My eye is wasted from grief – 31:9
    • Day and night Your hand was heavy upon me – 32:4
    • My strength is dried up – 32:4
    • How long, oh LORD? Will you forget me forever? - 13:1
    • My God, my God, why have you forsaken me - 22:1
    • Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord! - 130:1
    • With my voice, I cry out to the Lord; with my voice, I plea for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I declare my trouble before him. - 142:1–2
    • In my trouble, I called to the LORD; I called to my God for help. - 18:6

    The Psalms will also give you words of comfort, words that lift your spirit:

    • Whenever I am anxious and worried, you comfort me and make me glad. - 94:19
    • I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. - 34:4-5
    • You are my God. I worship you. In my heart, I long for you, as I would long for a stream in a scorching desert. 63:1
    • Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. 46:10
    • You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.  - 86:5
    • I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. - 119:58
    • Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people,  - 100:3
    • I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. - 116:1-2
    • The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul - 23:1-2

    Open the Psalms during your prayer time and let them speak for your heart to God. 

    Friday, January 22, 2021

    To be a Catholic child in the '50s was a cultural experience, something that permeated our being right to the core.  As a Catholic, you belonged to something unique.  We felt part of the other Catholics we knew and, for that matter, all the Catholics we saw at other parish churches when traveling.  We felt part of all the Catholics on the face of the earth. As children, we could recount the names of dozens of saints, and we knew their stories —  as if they were family.  We believed they were with God in heaven but still close enough to talk to because they were always watching over us like grandparents looking down from high front porches.  What happened? 
    My wife and I are good Catholics, but we haven’t been able to raise our children to feel that way about being Catholic. And for my grandchildren, it seems even more removed. They have not been grounded in their Catholic faith like I was. We have failed to reinvent the communal Catholic experience that nurtured us so well. 

    Maybe it is time we go back and revive some of our lost traditions, those things that made us feel unique and special.  

    Meatless Fridays were a Catholic thing.  Abstinence from meat made each Friday a day our faith was right before our eyes. Jesus died on a Friday, fasting on Fridays became a way to honor his sacrifice. Why did we stop?

    There was a time when you could begin grace before meals in a Catholic gathering, and everyone knew the words.  Do our grandchildren know that prayer?  “Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts …” 

    Votive candles flickered in all Catholic parishes, giving off a warm red glow from the glass holders. You remember those stands with the sixty or so small candles to light for a special intention. My mom always encouraged me to light a candle for someone in my life who was facing a challenge. There must be a safe way to have votive candles in our churches again. 
    One of my fondest memories is of my father's rosary beads hanging from his fingers.  I love the stories of President Joe Biden wrapping his son’s rosary around his wrist. Oh, how I wish the Church would lead us back to a devotion to the rosary.
    Despite what you might think, Americans are not losing their faith in God. Eighty-seven percent - 87% - of the public expressed belief in God last year in Gallup’s figures, which is roughly the level pollsters have found for many decades. The spark of faith is alive, and well, we need to fan the fire a bit.  

    Perhaps what has happened over the years is Americans have lost their connection to our Churches.  We need to make being Catholic a unique and binding experience again.  We can do it! 

    Friday, January 8, 2021

    “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” — Jesus Christ.

    When I was young, politicians of different parties stood side by side leading this country together.

    Republican Ronald Reagan and Democratic leader Tip O'Neill

    I ask you all to pray with me that we return to that spirit of cooperation. If we continue to have leaders who will only stand with their own party, America might not make it.

    In the Hebrew Bible it says: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

    In the Christian Bible it says: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

    It's time to end the constant discord and come together as one. Union is strength, discord can only lead to defeat.

    Pray with me:

    In this century and in any century,
    Our deepest hope, our most tender prayer,
    Is that we learn to listen.
    May we listen to one another in openness and mercy
    May we listen to plants and animals in wonder and respect
    May We listen to our own hearts in love and forgiveness
    May we listen to God in quietness and awe.
    And in this listening,
    Which is boundless in its beauty,
    May we find the wisdom to cooperate
    With a healing spirit, a divine spirit
    Who beckons us into peace and community and creativity.
    We do not ask for a perfect world.
    But we do ask for a better world.
    We ask for deep listening.

    - Jay McDaniel, Professor of Religion, Hendrix College, Arkansas

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021

    Saint Augustine once said in a prayer to God:

    "You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” 

    As a young man, Augustine would have fit in well in our current culture.  Like so many today, he fell into the illusion that something other than God could satisfy, could give his life purpose and meaning. It is easy to be completely distracted by the world and ignore the one who can fill us with purpose, joy and peace: Jesus Christ.

    Our restlessness is not an obstacle to experiencing God's love, just the opposite. Our restlessness is the best avenue we have for the grace of God to touch and transform us. If you seek peace and purpose in your life, that is God tugging at your heartstrings, saying, look here.  


    Saturday, January 2, 2021

    The Catholic Church has a "hall of fame." We give those we honor the title "Saint."  These are people who lived lives worthy of imitation.  Nearly everyday the Church recalls the story of one of these great witnesses to Christian life. In this way these "Saints" continue to light our way on our journey of faith.

    Today we honor a 4th Century Christian - St. Basil.  His impact was so profound he has been given the title Basil the Great. The iconic domed church in  Red Square in Moscow dedicated to him is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. 

    Catholics each day have the opportunity to read something our Saints have said.  What St. Basil said 1600 years ago has motivated me to clean out my closet today and head to the local homeless shelter.  

    He said:  "The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”

    ― St. Basil the Great