Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jesse Romero

I'm sure this is no surprise to many who know me but I am a Catholic geek. Being a Catholic geek, I enjoy listening to Catholic speakers. There are some, like Scott Hahn, who's insight makes you go "whoa." There are some, like Matthew Kelly, who are such great story tellers that you don't even realize you are learning. Then there are some, like Fr. Corapi, who make you feel that if you don't listen to what they are saying they are going to kick your butt! Then there are those, like Jesse Romero, who you can just hear the passion in their voice.

So when the website,, decided to host "Support a Catholic Speaker Month" and asked different blogs to write about Catholic speakers and I saw that Jesse Romero was still on the list I jumped all over it. I admit that I have never heard Mr. Romero speak in person but I have heard him on Catholic Answers Live and I knew enough about his background to intrigue me.

Jesse Romero is a retired Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff so we have a bond that all law enforcement officers do. I think anyone who has seen the under belly of society people like those in public safety have should have a passion for Jesus. We have, after all, seen the work that Satan can do. Jesse has taken his experience, as well as the evidence he saw of God's existence in unlikely places, as well as his faith in Jesus and turned that into a passion for evangelizing and spreading his Catholic faith.

Jesse's talks are straight forward, simple and orthodox. They cover the spectrum from evangelizing to apologetics to the sacraments. If I haven't it gotten across yet, Jesse is energetic and has the listener leaving excited about his faith. He is like a football coach giving a half time pep talk and making you believe that you can defeat the foe because you have Jesus on your side. As Jesse says, "I am a pyromaniac for JESUS, I am a straight shooter, I shoot straight for the heart, I have conviction, passion and I give straight talking, no nonsense, no spin, bible centered, Holy Spirit fire brand Catholicism" His mission statement is simply, "Love God, Save Souls!"

For more information on Jesse Romero, including books, CD's and speaking engagements please visit his website at Oh, and one final thing. Jesse Romero was also a three time World Police boxing champion and two time U.S.A. kickboxing champion so, like Fr. Corapi, if you don't listen to him he may kick your butt too!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Face of God

A couple weeks ago at confirmation class, I passed around note cards and had everyone write down a question that they would like to ask God. I then collected the cards and gave each table two questions to answer. One of the questions that came up was, "What do you look like?"

Ironically, yesterday, my nine-year old son, Max, asked the same question. "What does God look like?" I admit that I tried to give him the quick "lets move on to the next subject" answer by saying that he gets to see God in the Eucharist. He shut the door in my face, sort of, by replying "Dad, that's Jesus."

So what DOES God look like? Many people have the traditional image of God as the grey-haired bearded old man that in see in Michelangelo's "Creation." We also have the image of Jesus, being the second person of God. Then in the Holy Spirit we have images of either a dove or as fire. We also get images of God from movies. In "Oh God" we see God in George Burns as an old man that we would probably walk by in the grocery store. In "Bruce Almighty" and later "Evan Almighty" we see God in the image of Morgan Freeman.

Theologically, seeing God as an old man is incorrect. God is spirit and does not have a body. Probably the best picture we can get of God is by looking in the Bible. In the Old Testament, God is seen as a cloud that comes over the Tabernacle (tent) that the Jews has set up for him. In the New Testament, God is again seen--this time at the Transfiguration--as a voice from a cloud. I'm sure there are other images of God in the Bible and I'm sure that I probably messed those two images up somehow but lets face it---I'm no Bible scholar.

Let's face it. Probably no one knows what God looks like. I say probably because I'm not going to say that He hasn't appeared to someone. The fact of the matter is that we will have to wait until we die and then--hopefully--we will see the Beatific Vision and be in the presence of God.

Until then--imagine God however you want. Anything that helps you in your prayer life and helps you get closer to God. Heck-here is a great idea--ask God during your prayer time. If it helps you to pray to imagine God as a grandfatherly figure, as a bearded old man or a cloud then I say go for it. Just don't be shocked if later on you find out something else.
What do you think?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Healing of Bartimaus--a Reflection of the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

We all know this guy. Maybe we ARE this guy. You know the one--the guy that everyone goes to for stuff. It may be advice. Maybe he has a pick-up and whenever anyone needs help moving he gets the call. Maybe it's the smart guy in class who everyone asks for the answers to their homework. Maybe it's the girl who just keeps getting walked on by her boyfriend who only uses her. There are many names for them. A sap. A push-over. A chump.

My question is why do we treat Jesus like that?? We are all guilty of it in someway or another. Do we treat God like a good luck charm? "Oh please, help the Chiefs win this Sunday!" (A true miracle in itself.) Do we sin, ask forgiveness, only to sin again? Do we wait until someone is critically ill, beg for healing only to never be seen again once the healing has been done?

We've all done it in someway or another--treated God as a chump. We are blessed though because God IS always here for us not matter what or not matter how poorly we've treated him in the past. In this weekend's gospel reading (Mk 46-52) Jesus heals the blind man, Bartimaus. Jesus asks Bartimaus what he wants. Bartimaus says, "I want to see you." Jesus tell him, "Go on your way. Your faith has healed you" and Bartimaus could see.

"Go on your way." Jesus tells him to go not to stay. He didn't say "Okay, I'll heal you. Follow me now." Jesus did not make a deal and tell Bartimaus that he would be healed but that he must become a disciple. Just like Bartimaus we are free to go or free to stay. It is our choice and God will always be here for us because of his love for us.

Just like it isn't right to treat that kid in class or a girlfriend or that dude with a pick-up like a chump it's not right to treat God like a sucker. Not only is it night right but it's a waste of a chance to become closer to God. If we go to confession and receive forgiveness but go out and continue sinning we are wasting that grace. If we receive a favorable response to a prayer and we do not spend time in thanksgiving and use then build on that to strengthen our relationship with God then all we are doing is truly using Him.

God's love is free and we are free to go but the right thing is to follow him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Successor of the Apostles and Obedience

There is no doubt that some of the teachings of the Catholic Church are difficult, especially for someone living in today's society. We are bombarded by so many messages in society that go against catholic teachings. We must recognize the Church for what she is though--the universal church established by Jesus himself with bishops placed in positions of authority to Shepard, guide and teach those who reside in his diocese.

Without that thought in place, it becomes easier to become a "cafeteria Catholic." A "Cafeteria Catholic" is someone who simply picks and chooses what they want to believe as if they were in the line at the cafeteria. Without recognizing the bishops for who they are--the successors of the apostles--it is much more difficult to agree and uphold all of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Jesus knew it would be difficult enough in society and that is exactly why he gave his authority to apostles. That authority did not die with the apostles though. It was passed along in succession with those who came after them.

We here in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are blessed to have The Most Rev. Robert Finn as our bishop. Bishop Finn is very orthodox, as most Opus Dei priests happen to be and he really rocked the boat when he came to Kansas City because of his orthodoxy. I would say that it is safe to say that there are catholics in the diocese who are not pleased with Bishop Finn. Personally, I am happy. I am pleased to have him as my bishop because I know that he will be faithful to Catholic teaching.

It is definitely difficult to follow teachings that we do not understand. That is why we must humble ourselves, have trust, faith and be obedient. Maybe it's easiest to simply ponder the words of St. Josemaria:

How difficult it is to live humility! As the popular wisdom of Christianity says, ``Pride dies twenty-four hours after its owner.'' So when you think you're right, against what you are being told by someone who has been given a special grace from God to guide your soul, be sure that you are completely wrong. (The Forge, No. 559)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I've worked overnights (affectionately called "dogwatch") for nearly eleven years in a row now and off and on going back for seventeen years. I really love working dogwatch. The only problem is that your sleep cycle gets messed up especially on days off. One such example is tonight. I'm off of work yet at 1 a.m. I woke up and was wide awake. I tried to lay back down to no avail. There were a ton of things bombarding me as I laid down trying to drift asleep--work, kids, Cub Scouts etc etc etc. I don't know of the correct phrase but I tried to just meditate on Jesus and think of him as I tried to sleep. All of these things just kept creeping back into my head. One minute, I'm trying to meditate on Christ's love and the next minute I'm wondering why a squirrel would live under the sea in the kid's cartoon, SpongeBob Squarepants.

Finally, a video that Fr. Jim Chern posted on his Facebook page came to mind and felt appropriate. Fr. Jim is the campus minister for the Neuman Center at Montclair State in New Jersey. Last weekend, they had a lock-in for the students and performed this skit.

I know that the skit was before they did an examination of conscience and confession but I don't know what occurred prior to that so I may be off based on what I saw. (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) In the video, I see God creating a woman and giving her the world. They danced together but the woman allows things to get between her and God: men, money, alcohol, drugs, and concerns about physical appearances. All unassumingly innocent but at the same time Satan is in the background and at the right moment he pounces. He encourages us to destroy ourselves. We are at a point that it doesn't seem that we can ever make our way back to God. But He will be there for us when we turn to Him. God, the giver of Divine Mercy, will sweep away all the bad and give us a clean slate so that we can once again dance with Him.

Those small things that in and of themselves may be innocent can become sin when we allow them to become false idols and to separate us from God. Money can be a good thing but when the desire for money takes us from God it becomes sinful. Alcohol in moderation isn't bad but in excess can lead to destruction. Even concern about physical appearance can be a good thing. Our body is just a part of ourselves as our soul is and a gift of God-we should take care of it. But when it leads to to vanity and eating disorders it leads to sin.

In all, we should allow absolutely nothing to become between us and God. Even when we are taking care of our responsibilities God should always be in view and in the picture. We must take time for prayer. We must ask God to help us make even the simplest decisions.

Finally, it is through sin that we are separated from God but we must never be in so much despair that we think we can never be turn back to God. He always desires relationship with us no matter how far away from him we are. Thankfully, we have the gift of reconciliation to make it so much easier to return to his graces.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top 10 Reasons for Going to Mass!!!!

Do you have kids who don't want to go to mass? Do you have a teenager who wants to sleep in on Sunday morning? Do you need an excuse to get your own lazy butt to church? Well, here, without further ado are TOP TEN REASONS FOR GOING TO MASS!!! YEAAAAAA!!!
  1. Eucharist--how many times do you get to hold the creator of the universe in your hands (it's a trick questions--it's every day if you want)
  2. To listen to the beautiful music
  3. To mock the bad music
  4. To listen to an inspiring homily
  5. To tell bad jokes to Father that he has heard a million times about sleeping through his homily
  6. Because kneeling on a piece of wood with a quarter inch of padding feels so wonderful on the knees!
  7. To look at the stained glass windows and play that fun game "Who's That Saint!"
  8. To play that other fun game, "Count how many times will the kids ask, 'where are we going to eat after church?'"
  9. It's the uniting of Heaven and Earth.
  10. If you don't go you are in a state of mortal sin and have to go to confession, Fool!

In all seriousness, mass is the greatest gift that God has given us as crazy as that may sound. Imagine a time and place where Heaven and Earth are united. A time and place where the universal church is united whether you are in Kansas City, London, Rome, India or the Philippines we are all brought together during the liturgy. A time that God infuses you with grace. A place where the created consumes the creator and the consumer becomes the consumed.

Mass is like no other. You don't need any excuses, just go!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I am a MAN!

I recently realized that I missed an important anniversary. It was 20 years ago in September that I graduated from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. Yep--I graduated from Marine Corps boot camp and earned the right to wear that Eagle, Globe and Anchor and earned the title of "Marine." I did six years in the Marine Corps Reserve serving in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm/Shield.

I've also spent the last fourteen years as a police officer--both in Excelsior Springs, MO and for the last twelve years in Kansas City, MO.

Now, I don't want to get into some huge gender argument. Both the Marine Corps and the police department have lots of women and they do wonderful jobs. But lets face it---being a Marine and being a cop is pretty manly. It right up there with firemen, astronauts and bull riders (strike that--I think you have to be part nuts to be a bull rider)

But that isn't what I believe has really made me into a man. I believe what has truly made me into a man has been being a good husband and a good father. I'm sure that there are a million retreats and dozens of different classes or whatever that will tell you exactly this. Obviously, there are men who are not husbands or fathers and I encourage you to pursue whatever vocation God is calling you to. But for the husbands and fathers who are reading this: if you aren't striving to be the best husband and father you can be than you are failing at your manly responsibilities.

I'm sure there is some muscle bound guy out there who is divorced and has no relationship with his kids who is wondering if I'm talking to him and threatening to kick my tail-end. Yeah, yeah---I'll accept that butt-kicking if you look into yourself and decide to do what you have to do to fix that relationship.

It takes huge sacrifices to do manly things. Athletes train long and hard. They have to wake up early. They forgo that pepperoni pizza in order to stay on their diet. A husband has to sacrifice and make compromise in order to keep his wife happy. A dad may have to stay up with a sick kid or give his daughter his ice cream cone when she's dropped hers.

To do manly things means facing your fears. It takes courage to go into combat. It takes nerve to go into a burning building. What about when your teen-age son or daughter is late coming home and they haven't called? Nothing is more scary than seeing your child grow up and start to gain more and more independence.

Sometimes when you manly things all you can do is to cross your fingers and hope for the best. Football players who have battled in the trenches for three hours have to stand on the sidelines as their whole season rests on the foot of a kicker. A dad has to trust in his child. He has to trust that his child has a good solid foundation and will always do the right thing.

We have to do what we have to do to be the best husbands and fathers we can be. We have to make sacrifices. We have to face our fears and sometimes we have to cross our fingers and hope in the best.

My hopes is that at my funeral my wife and my kids will simply say, "He was a good man."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sons of Thunder: a Reflection on the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Forgive me for my brashness, please, but did James and John not just have some nerve? They weren't called the "Sons of Thunder" for nothing. This week-end's reading is a perfect example.

They flat out come to Jesus and say, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." Now that statement takes a lot of nerve but I think most of us have been guilty of that when we've prayed haven't we? Maybe not all but certainly most have just gone to God and said, "GIVE ME!"

It's the next statement that really shows that they may have needed knocked down a peg. They say to Jesus, "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left." Jesus kind of admonishes them and tells them that they don't know what they are asking and finally tells them that it is not for him to give.

Obviously, when the other apostles hear this they are kind of ticked as I think most of us would be. But Jesus admonishes them also saying that normally rulers Lord their authority over their people and make their authority felt. Jesus goes on saying that whoever wants to be first will be the servant and the slave to all. He finishes up saying that Son of Man did not come to serve but to be served and "to give his life as a ransom for many."

We must remember that. It should be our daily mantra: not to serve but to be served. (if you'll excuse me for borrowing a word from an Eastern religion) If we recall that saying we can be transformed. To serve really is what we were made for because through serving we are able to show love for others.

This can be difficult in my line of work. As a police officer, we are in a position of authority and sometimes we don't think of ourselves as the public servants that we are. We are so used to giving commands and making decisions that we forget our roles. We forget that we are here to take care of people and not to "Lord over" them.

It can be really troubling when we (notice I said WE) look down on those who have been forgotten. It was just a drunk who got assaulted. Why should I take a report on that? Sigh, another Mexican--probably here illegally--I don't need to give her the quality of service that I give to a hard-working American taxpayer do I? We MUST remember that these are people too! We need to look on all people as children of God, made in His image and likeness, just like we are.

The primary role for all of us should be service and ministry. We should do whatever we can do to help those less fortunate than us and not rely on someone else or rely on the government to do it. To do so would to be like the Sons of Thunder and expect to sit at the side of Jesus in a position of power. If you want to be at the side of Jesus, like we all should, we need to remember that Jesus will be in the position of servitude and we should be ready to be servants too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tony Does It Again

My mother-in-law and wife are taking and overnight trip and my mother-in-law left her dog, Sasha, at our house to dog sit. Here other two dogs--lap dogs named George and Lenny, were at my sister-in-laws since our dog, Sarge, would surely hurt them by playing with them.

I woke up at about one expecting there to be two dogs in our house but Sarge was it. I called Abby, my wife, and she told me that George has already escaped twice today and been taken to the vets. She said that Sasha was in the back-yard because, well, let's just say Sarge enjoyed having a female dog in the house. I let Sarge out and there was no Sasha in the back yard. There was a hole in the fence where Sarge has already chewed on one of the planks. Sasha evidently had finished chewing through it and slipped between the slats and had escaped.
I hopped in the car and started looking. Up and down the streets of the neighborhood. I even drove to my mother-in-laws house thinking maybe she had made the three mile trek there somehow. I asked mailmen (excuse me---postal workers) and others and no one had seen her. I called the animal shelter but for some reason if you asked them if they had picked up a brown dog they can't help you out very easily.

I continued my expedition looking for this dog. For two hours, I looked. I contemplated driving to the animal shelter to look around and finally I did it---I prayed to St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost items. He has came through in the past so I figured I would try it again. "Anthony," I said, "I have a big one for you. I'm missing a dog. She is probably running around someplace. Can you help me find her?" I even tried the old stand by, "Tony, Tony, look around---something's lost and can't be found."

Finally, I had enough. I'm going to have to drive the the shelter. She MUST have been picked up. But first I had to got to the bathroom. I drove home to use the facilities and guess who was sitting on the front porch. Sasha was. Evidently St. Anthony found her and put her there. This was the first time she had been to our house. How else would she know where to go?

So thank-you, St. Anthony. Does anyone one else have any St. Anthony stories. I have another really neat one but I want to hear yours.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


In the Harry Potter trilogy there are three unforgivable curses--the Cruciatus curse (used to torture or extract information), the Imperius curse (used to control) and Avada Kedavra (the killing curse). Fortunately in Christianity there is only one unforgivable sin--to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. The blaspheme the Holy Spirit to simply to be unrepentant. It is perfectly logical: God, the King of Mercy, desires to forgive us for all of our sins. The only sin He cannot forgive us for is that which we are not sorry for.

Sometimes, I'm afraid that the reason people are unrepentive is because we don't trust on God's mercy. We think that the thing we have done is so horrible that God could never forgive us. That would be our first big mistake. God is a font of forgiveness. There is nothing that you could have done that He won't forgive you for. God desires to forgive you because sinning is to separate yourself from God and there is nothing God desires more than to be connected with you.

I wonder if the reason people think that their sin is so great is because they can't forgive themselves. How could God forgive me if I cannot even forgive myself?? We are all sinners. We all makes mistakes. We all behave foolishly. I doubt there is anyone out there who is not embarrassed because of their past behavior. I don't think that after hearing confessions for awhile there is anything that really shocks a priest anymore simply because what you think is so awful has been committed by several others. The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and move forward.

Forgive yourself and then ask for God's forgiveness. Humble yourself and accept your humanity and reconnect yourself with God today.

In the wizarding world there may be three unforgivable curses but fortunately, I live and there are is nothing unforgivable as long as I seek God's forgiveness.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Neither a Liberal nor a Convative be . . .

That twist on the line from Shakespeare struck me when I learned from the Twitterverse about The Conservative Bible Project and I thought how sad is it that it's becoming more and more difficult to determine if news is coming from The Onion or not. First President Obama wins The Nobel Peace Prize and now this. Sadly, both of the news items were in fact true.

The Conservative Bible Project says that there is a liberal bias in modern Bible translations due lack of precision in the original language, a lace of precision in modern language and a translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one. The Project states that there is no modern day translation that satisfies ten guidelines.

Now, I consider myself conservative but more than that I consider myself an orthodox Catholic--someone who follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. So re-writing the Bible so that it fits more closely with conservative teachings is just a horrible idea. It just seems crazy to me. The Project is flat out saying that it is trying to translate the Bible so that it has a conservative bias. It goes as far as saying that it wants to remove sections of the Bible to include the Adulteress Story John 7:53-8:11 or removing the first "word" Jesus said from the cross, "Forgive them Father, for they do not know what they do" because they show too much of a liberal bias.

The whole concept really makes my head want to explode because you cannot take the Bible and twist it and change it into whatever you want it to say. Jesus was neither conservative nor liberal. He wasn't Republican or Democrat. He was Jesus. He broke all the molds. That is why the universal church doesn't set up camp on either the left or the right. She is more in the middle. Pro-Life and Anti-Death Penalty. Not for either socialism or capitalism but for a social justice model in which people are free to flourish and the poor are taken care of. She is a green Church realizing that the Earth was placed into our care by God and realizing that hunting is good conservation.

Maybe the one line that really makes my eyeballs pop-out says that the socialistic terminology that permeates through the Bible, "improperly encourages the 'social justice' movement among Christians." WHAT? First--there is a difference between socialism and social justice. Socialism is the government providing the basics of life and no bureaucracy can properly do this. Social justice is us taking care of our fellow humans. Ensuring that they are fed, clothed and have shelter. Ensuring that people have freedom and that there is justice.

Personally, as someone who considers myself a conservative, I am embarrassed by the Conservative Bible Project. As a cop, I figured out a long time a long time ago that in a dispute there is Person A's side, Person B's side and somewhere in the middle is the truth. We should always seek the truth and instead of seeking the full truth it appears that the Conservative Bible Project is trying to make the Bible say what they want it to say. If they are having problems with it then they need to pray on it and ponder where they may be wrong. The Bible is after-all, the inspired Word of God and not the word of conservatives (or liberals).

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Quick Request for Uncle Mick

Today would have been my Uncle Mick's 60th Birthday. Unfortunately, he passed away nearly six year ago to emphysema and other issues (from smoking!) He left behind two daughters and never got to meet his three grandchildren.
Uncle Mick, one of six uncles, had an influence on me growing up. He lived in the same town I did and was the Chief of Police there for twenty some years. That encouragement to get into law enforcement along with his sense of wit and humor (much to my wife's chagrin) has turned me into the person I am.
On his 60th birthday, I would ask that you pray for the repose of the soul of Michael James McAdams. Thank you :-)

The Rich Young Man--A Reflection on the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

One criticism of the Catholic Church is that we are too "legalistic." Catholics are expected to go to mass every week, to go to confession at least once a year or not to eat meat during Friday's in lent. That along with the sacreaments of baptism confirmation and the belief that it is through faith AND works as opposed to just faith that we are saved a person can see why someone would think Catholics are "legalistic."

Sometimes we do a pretty good job making ourselves look legalistic. If you listen to any catholic radio show where there are callers asking questions about the faith you will hear people say "does it count if . . ." And there seem to be some parents who think that their requirement for giving their child a religious education is making sure they get the sacraments. "Hey, little Jimmy is in second grade, we need to get his first communion and first reconciliation out of the way!" CHECK! or "Allision is in High School---it's time to get her confirmed. Come on Allison, you have to go to CCD class on Sunday now!" GRADUATED!!

In reality nothing can be further from the truth. The Church puts these things in place because she knows that it is through the sacraments that people receive grace which will help people through life. She puts rules in place because people DO ask questions about the "bare minimum" like "what's the latest I can be to mass for it to count?"

In this week-end's gospel, the rich young man asks Jesus what he has to do to get into Heaven. The young man says that he follows all of the commandments but Jesus says more is required. Jesus says that he must sell all of his riches and attend to the poor. Mark says that the young man went away sad because he had many possessions.

More is expected of us that attending mass every week. More is expected of us that to be a "good person." We must cooperate with God's graces and have a conversion of heart. We must become like Jesus ourselves. If we don't, we may stray and go down that wrong path.

Jesus also says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to make it into heaven. He points out that for human beings it is impossible and ONLY through God is it possible to make it into Heaven. The Church is like our Mother. She knows what we need in order to get the graces we need to live life in eternal glory. She sounds legalistic because like a mother she tells us to eat our brussel sprouts and to clean our room.

Eating your brussel sprouts or cleaning your room isn't going to get you anywhere though. It sets a good foundation though. We must build on those. Just like we build on the graces we receive eating the Eucharist or cleaning our soul.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Letter from Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of police officers, is the leader of the legions of angels that fought Satan in heaven and forced them out. He is my patron saint. Here is a letter, supposedly written home from a Marine who was wounded on the battlefield during the Korean War.

I don't know if this is real or if someone just wrote it--but I like it the same.

Dear Mom,

I wouldn't dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard but I have got to tell somebody.

First off, I am in a hospital. Now don't worry, ya hear me, don't worry. I was wounded but I am okay you understand. Okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month.

But that is not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn't have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well I always have.

When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer that you taught me?

"Michael, Michael of the morning fresh crop of Heaven adorning, " you know the rest of it. Well I said it everyday. Sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting. But always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.

Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up over the front lines. We were scouting for the Commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold, my breath was like cigar smoke.

I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when along side of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I'd ever seen. He must have been 6' 4" and built in proportion. It gave me a feeling of security to have such a body near.

Anyway, there we were trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start a conversation I said, "Cold ain't it." And then I laughed. Here I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute and I am talking about the weather.

My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly. I looked at him, "I have never seen you before, I thought I knew every man in the outfit."
"I just joined at the last minute", he replied. "The name is Michael."
"Is that so, " I said surprised. "That is my name too."
"I know, " he said and then went on, "Michael, Michael of the morning . . ."
I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that you had taught me? Then I smiled to myself, every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn't I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen. Why now and then, they even referred to me as St. Michael.

Neither of us spoke for a time and then he broke the silence. "We are going to have some trouble up ahead."
He must have been in fine physical shape or he was breathing so lightly I couldn't see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds. There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself, well with the Commies all around us, that is no great revelation.

Snow began to fall in great thick globs. In a brief moment the whole countryside was blotted out. And I was marching in a white fog of wet sticky particles. My companion disappeared.

"Michael, " I shouted in sudden alarm.
I felt his hand on my arm, his voice was rich and strong, "This will stop shortly."
His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard shining disc.
I looked back for the rest of the patrol, there was no one in sight. We lost them in that heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise.

Mom, my heart stopped. There were seven of them. Seven Commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only there wasn't anything funny about them now. Seven rifles were aimed at us. "Down Michael, " I screamed and hit the frozen earth. I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael still standing. Mom, those guys couldn't have missed, not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to bits. But there he stood, making no effort to fire himself. He was paralyzed with fear. It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake. At least, that was what I thought then. I jumped up to pull him down and that was when I got mine. I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit, now I know.

I remember feeling strong arms about me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look. I was dying. Maybe I was even dead, I remember thinking well, this is not so bad.
Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock. But it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor.

As I say, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, but he seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger, his arms stretched out wide, maybe it was the snow falling again, but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an Angel. In his hand was a sword. A sword that flashed with a million lights.

Well, that is the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me. I do not know how much time had passed. Now and then I had but a moment's rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.

"Where is Michael, " I asked.

I saw them look at one another. "Where's who?" asked one. "Michael, Michael that big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us."

"Kid, " said the sergeant, "You weren't walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was just going to call you in when you disappeared in the snow."

He looked at me, curiously. "How did you do it kid?"

"How'd I do what?" I asked half angry despite my wound. "This Marine named Michael and I were just . . ."

"Son, " said the sergeant kindly, "I picked this outfit myself and there just ain't another Michael in it. You are the only Mike in it."

He paused for a minute, "Just how did you do it kid? We heard shots. There hasn't been a shot fired from your rifle. And there isn't a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there."

I didn't say anything, what could I say. I could only look open-mouthed with amazement. It was then the sergeant spoke again, "Kid, " he said gently, "everyone of those seven Commies was killed by a sword stroke."

That is all I can tell you Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes, it may have been the cold or the pain. But that is what happened.

Love, Michael

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Serving the Lord

All I could do was sigh. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I had seen in a long time. No, it wasn't something I had seen at work. Of all things-- it was a thread from a Facebook status. The friend was someone I had just recently added. He is a former supervisor or mine and a very intelligent man. He was complaining about how he and his family have been treated by Christians. The resulting comments from his friends literally pained me.

I have spoken a couple times about how Christians can be the worst evangelists. Either we come across as hypocritical because we aren't living the Christian life or there are those who try too hard and come across as Bible thumpers and telling people that they are going to Hell if they don't change their way. Guess what turns people off and makes them tune out your message---being told that you are going to Hell.

Well, this friend of mine and his friends are literally pagans and self-proclaimed heathens and they weren't just bashing Christians. They were against God. They have rejected God (or "your [my] God") and this fear-mongering religion. There were several other things said but I choose not to recall them and not to put them here. It literally pained me because I know that nothing I could say would influence them and all I can do is pray for them (although I'm sure they would be upset if I even told them that)

In the end though, I'll take Christianity over everything else because I know that if I work to allow Jesus to work through me and if I try to see Jesus in others there is no way I can go wrong. I can't go wrong by following the ten commandments and by not stealing, not killing or committing adultery. I know I will be okay by following the Beatitudes. If I live a virtuous life then I'll live a life worth living.

What people don't seem to get is this. If you are a loving person and living a good life then God is working through you whether you reject Him or not. God is love. Without God there is no love. It is by cooperating with God's love and God's grace that we can change the world. That is why you see Christians manning the food pantries or the thrift stores. That is why you see nuns tending to the lepers or priests taking care the poor and underprivileged. They are letting God work through them and their lives are much better for it.

I'm sure any of the people posting in my friend's thread would read this would have choice words for me but it's true. If you truly are caring and loving then MY God is working through you. You do what you want but as for me and my house---we will serve the Lord.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Christmas is Coming!!

There are only 80 days until Christmas!!! Or to be more specific, as of 9:00 am on October the 6th there are 1912 hours. You can get an exact countdown at this site. Why am I bringing up Christmas in early October? Well, according to local merchants I'm already a month late. They have had Christmas stuff up since Labor Day!! Actually, the real reason is because Sunday I was teaching confirmation. We were talking about the baptism of Jesus. By "we" I meant the instructors. Evidently, the table in the back of the room was talking about when Jesus was born. The question eventually came to the forefront and I told them I would do some research and find out for them.

The truth of the matter is that no one really knows when Jesus was born. There are numerous theories as to why the Catholic Church chose December 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The most accepted is that it was during the pagan solar festival Natalis Invicti and what a better way to bring pagans into the faith than by having celebrations on the days that they are already used to celebrating.

I think those that try to say that Jesus was actually born some other time of the year are just saying so to bring some conspiracy theory or discredit to the Catholic Church but that's just a theory of mine. The fact of the matter is that believing that Jesus was born on December 25th isn't a matter of faith. If you want to believe that he was born in July or September or May it doesn't matter.

The Church gave us this holiday to remember that God loves us so much that He became man so that we might have eternal life. It's also important to remember that Christmas isn't even THE major holiday of the Church. That would be Easter. It is said that Jesus is the reason for the season. Well, Easter is the reason that Jesus became man. So don't forget to celebrate Easter. In our materialistic society it seems to get forgotten.

Monday, October 5, 2009

To Be Neighborly . . .

The other night, I responded on a call with officers who had to kick open a door who were dispatched on a medical call. When they arrived there was no answer at the door but they could see someone laying on the floor. The ambulance got there shortly and the crew started CPR and transported the lady to the hospital. A little bit later we got a phone call from the hospital and they told us that she did not make it--she had passed. Now by policy, all we had to do was secure the door and leave but the phone number to the house was the only number that the hospital had for any next of kin. Judging by the house, all the lady seemed to have to keep her company were a couple of cats. There weren't family pictures or anything to show that she had anyone close. So we felt we needed to find family somewhere.

We started to look around the house for some sort of phone numbers, addresses---anything to reach the next of kin. We found one number that had the emergency contact as her next door neighbor. He gave us a glimpse into Madge's life. She was elderly (95 years old). She had married late in life. Her husband had already passed away. She had no children of her own but her late-husband's children looked after her. He did not have any contact numbers though.

Back in the house, we found a emergency contact list. The first person on the list was her husband. The second and third were brothers who she has marked as deceased. The fourth and fifth were marked as nieces--both of them living in southern Missouri. I tried both numbers and both of them were answered by gentlemen who stated that they were the husbands of Madge's nieces. Both gentlemen also explained that their spouses were both invalid (86 years old and 75 years old) and there was no way they could come to Kansas City to take care of any arrangements. One of the husband's restated what the neighbor had told us--Madge had made arrangements for her late-husband's son to take care of everything.

I was pretty bummed out at this point. Here was a lady who had lived for nearly a century and it seemed that all she had were her cats and we couldn't even get anyone to take care of them.

Finally, a closer look at the emergency contact book revealed that "husband" was scratched out and "step-son" written in and a second phone number. I called it and was able to track down the step son. I gave the number to the hospital and gained reassurance that they would come the next day and start taking care of the house. We were finally able to secure the house and leave.

As I was walking to my car, another neighbor stepped out of the house and asked where the ambulance had taken Madge. I told him that she had passed and he looked a little sad. My first impression that this lady had been alone had been wrong. There had been people who cared for her and took care of her.

Sadly, there are people out there who are alone and have no one. There are people who live alone or live on the streets who have been forgotten by society--young and old. The world is filled with lonely people. It may not seem that they are alone. It may seem that they have many friends but they feel alone.

This is why we are supposed to take care of our neighbors. Not necessarily the people who live next door to up but the people we may come into contact with but our fellow human beings. We are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This isn't an easy task--to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Heck, sometimes it's difficult to love a loved one as we love ourself but that's how we are to live our life.

So love our neighbor. It doesn't always take nice. Maybe just a smile instead of a scowl. Maybe by not giving the guy who cut you off that hand gesture. Or so something more. Be a friend. Listen when someone needs someone to listen to. Help when someone needs help. Most importantly--love when someone needs loved. And finally--say a prayer for Madge.

Friday, October 2, 2009

One Flesh: A Reflection on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

In this weekend's gospel reading, we get to hear one of my favorite bible quotes. It is one that reminds me of how special my wife is to me and what she really means to me. It is a passage that reminds us of what marriage is all about. It is a quote that is so important that we hear it not only in the first reading which is from Genesis but in the gospel reading also.

In the first reading, man is lonely and God gives to him all of the animals of the land and of the sea. None of them prove to be a suitable partner. In order to make man happy, God puts Adam to sleep takes out a rib and creates Eve. Adam is excited! He says "This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." The passage goes on and says that this why a man must leave his mother and father and clings to his wife and the two of them become one flesh.
We then see in the gospel reading, Jesus is asked if a man can divorce his wife. The Pharisees were trying to trick him because Moses had given them permission. Jesus corrects them and says that Moses allowed them because of their hard hearts but it was not meant to be in the beginning. Jesus repeats the quote from Genesis. "God made them male and female. For this reason a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two become one flesh.

When Abby and I were married we were no longer two separate individuals. We became one. That means I should treat her as well as I treat myself. That means I should love her as I love myself. Sadly, because of my own selfishness, I don't always do this but it's what I should strive to do. ironically, that is the way we were designed. We were designed to treat each other just how we treat ourselves. Do you ever wonder why Adam and Eve were naked until original sin came along?? It is because before sin they were able to see each other as PEOPLE to be loved and not as objects to be used. We HAVE to treat people the way we were designed to be. We have to treat them as people to be loved and not objects to be used. It is difficult because we are selfish and we don't trust the other person to treat us the same way. We want to use before being used.

At the very least, we need to practice this philosophy at home--with our spouse. We have to treat our husbands and our wives as the people we love most in the world. We have to stop treating marriage as a civil union only useful until one or both parties decide the arrangement isn't for them. Marriage is more that that. It is a bonding sealed by God. it's a sacrament where we receive graces and are supposed to be there for the other in order to help the other better themselves and get to Heaven.

I highly encourage everyone to try to understand how we were designed and what God's plans for marriage are. Love starts at home and I've found that as I understand God's plan for marriage better, i have become closer to Abby and our marriage gets better. i fall in love with her every single day. She is after all, "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh."