Sunday, January 31, 2010

Information for Catholics

This information is for Catholics only.

It must not be divulged to non-Catholics.

The less they know about our rituals and code words, the better off they are.

The only part of a prayer that everyone knows.

Your receipt for attending Mass.

A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the Parish to lip-sync.

A liquid whose chemical formula is H2OLY.

A song of praise usually sung in a key three octaves higher than that of the congregation's range.

The last song at Mass often sung a little more quietly, since most of the people have already left.

Holy Smoke!

An order of priests known for their ability to find colleges with good basketball teams.

The original 'Jaws' story.

When kids have kids of their own.

The only Greek words that most Catholics can recognize besides gyros and baklava. (for you non-Catholics it means Lord have mercy)

The most famous trio to attend a baby shower.

Where Mary gave birth to Jesus because Joseph wasn't covered by an HMO.
(The Bible's way of showing us that holiday travel has always been rough.)

A medieval torture device still found in Catholic churches.

The ceremonial formation at the beginning of Mass consisting of altar servers, the celebrant, and late parishioners looking for seats.

The ceremonial procession at the conclusion of Mass led by parishioners trying to beat the crowd to the parking lot.

People who have been going to Mass for so long, they actually know when to sit, kneel, and stand.

The most important Top Ten list not given by David Letterman.

The only people in the parish who don't know the seating capacity of a pew.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Letter from the Bishop

I received a letter from Bishop Finn today that read in part:

"I have received with great pleasure your application for admission to our Diaconate Formation process. At this time I am happy to advise you that in reviewing your application and the other information presented, I have accepted the Diocanate Selection Committee's recommendation that you be admitted to Aspirancy' a period of mutual discernment for Diaconal Formation."

I've been expecting this letter for a week or so--or I guess I should say--I've been expecting A letter for a week or say telling me either yay, nay, or try again next time! Every time I've gone to the mailbox I've said a quick prayer, "Okay God, may YOUR will be done . . . and help me to remember that." I've been contemplating this descision for a long time and been very nervous. Sometimes the diaconate looks very interesting and something that I would enjoy . . . others it scares the heck out of me! Two things have put me at ease, 1) knowing that the five year process is a discernment process . . . . you have up until your ordination to say no. 2) knowing that family comes first. They recognize that my marriage and family is my primary vocation. It's made known that the person with the ultimate authority to say no isn't the bishop but Abby.

So, now I await more paperwork from the Diaconate Office telling me my schedule for the next five years. Please, remember me in your prayers as I enter into this next phase of my life.

Tebow and Life

It is interesting that the first line in this Sunday's reading, which is from the book of Jeremiah, reads, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." When I read this Bible verse, it makes me think of the question pondered by many of when does life begin. The Catholic teaching, of course, that life begins at conception--that is the moment that body and soul are united. But God knew us even before conception. I find it interesting that this Bible verse is placed in the lectionary at this time of year since there is so many things going on in the Pro-Life world.

Last Friday was the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and over 100,000 people marched in Washington D.C. at the annual March for Life. There were also tens of thousands of people across the United States.

But it's not just the Roe v. Wade anniversary or the March for Life that is bringing the pro-life issue to people's minds. It is the Super Bowl of all things. The group Focus on the Family has a commercial during this years Super Bowl telling the story of Florida Gator quarterback, Tim Tebow. No details of the commercial have been released officially, but it is believed that the commercial will tell the story of Tim Tebow's birth. Tim's parents were missionaries in the Philippines when his mother was pregnant with him. She contracted dysentery and was encouraged to have an abortion in order to save her life. Obviously, she did not and her son grew up to be a Heisman trophy winner and by all accounts, an amazing young man.

CBS has chosen to air this commercial this year but last year NBC chose not to broadcast a commercial during the Super Bowl paid for the Catholic Vote which showed a sonogram of a baby stating all of the hardships and difficulties is was going to go through. It finished by stating that this baby was going to grow up to be the first African-American president and showed a photograph of President Obama. NBC said it was too controversial.

The Tebow commercial has also sparked controversy from Pro-Choice advocates. What is difficult to understand is why they are pro-choice when it comes to abortion but anti-choice when it comes to having the child. Why is it all about "reproductive rights" when it's for abortion and not, ironically when it comes to reproduction? Heck, even President Obama has said in his attempts to "dialogue" that alternatives to abortion should be sought and attempts to reduce the amount of abortions in this country made--wink, wink, nudge, nudge (how is is doing in that promise so far)

I honestly think there is more to abortion rights than a "woman's right to choose." Who is behind the pro-choice movement? Groups like Planned Parenthood, who--gasp--make money off of performing abortions. Yes, don't fool yourself. It's not about female rights--it's about making money. If it WERE about women's rights to chose then wouldn't they be all about showing the women all of the alternatives?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Masonry Unmasked

There are many fraternal organizations out there where men can meet, network, bond and do all types of men type stuff such as Rotary Club and Lions Club. These organizations normally do all types or good work in the neighborhoods and communities that they are in. One of these organizations--Masonry--and the Roman Catholic Church have not played well together. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church has said that anyone who becomes a Mason is automatically excommunitcated. That is a harsh punishment. Why is this? What is Masonry and what is it about Masonry that the Catholic Church doesn't like? Does the Catholic Church still say that Catholic's cannot be Masons?

These answers and more can be found in Masonry Unmasked: An Insider Reveals the Secrets of the Lodge by John Salza answers those questions and more. Mr. Salza is a former Freemason who, as a Mason, wanted to find out why the Church objected to Masonry. He explored Masonry and his faith and discovered for himself why the two are incompatible and wrote Masonry Unmasked so that he could share his findings with other.

Mr Salza does an excellent job explaining what is wrong with Masonry theologically. He explains how Masonry advances "indifferentism" or how no religion is better than any other. He then explains how indiffenrentism goes against the basic teachings of the Christian faith. Mr. Salza explains how Masonry shows indifference to God, Jesus Christ and the Bible. The section is pretty theologically deep and the reader needs to take his time to understand it because it really sets the foundation of what is wrong with Masonry.

The book then continues and teaches about Masonry doctrines and it's secrecy. The book explains what is wrong with Masonry's doctrines and how it goes against Christian teaching any why the secrecy and making oaths goes against the commandments. Next, Mr. Salza makes a very good argument about how Masonry, in itself, is its own religion.

Masonry Unmasked then continues to explain the Church's continued opposition to Masonry over the centuries. It shows how numerous pope's have condemned it how, even today the Roman Catholic Church, despite what is being told to Catholic by Masons, continues to forbid Catholics from being Catholics.

This is a very interesting book, although it is easy to get bogged down sometimes and should not at all be considered "lite reading." I would recommend this book to an Christian, protestant or Catholic, who is contemplating joining a Masonic Lodge.

This review was written as part of the Catholic Book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Masonry Unmasked.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Humbled by CrossFit

God loves me. Want to know how I know? Because he does such a great job at keeping me humble. Yep. Every time, I think I have things figured out or start to feeling really good about myself he knocks me down a peg. Every time I start getting cocky, He makes sure I trip and fall flat on my face.

Starting last week, I have a sure fire way of keeping humble. I started the CrossFit training program. I think this program can make the most athletic jock feel modest. But take a 38 year old, over weight, out of shape guy who's main diet consists of McDonald's and thirty minutes later you have a puddle of goo. Throw in the fact that I'm doing the "puppy" level of the workout and you have a guy who feels like he's been thrown down the stairs and into the basement. Fortunately, I have two things going for me. The first is that I can't feel my spiritual pains because I feel like my lungs are going to explode, my legs barely support me anymore and I'm trying to keep my lunch down. The second thing is that I'm doing the program with a great group of people. The instructors and the other people going through the program are wonderful and really keep you motivated.

I don't really need CrossFit to keep me humble though. I have a wife for that. Oh, she does a great job of loving me and making me feel special. But she is quick to point out that I need a shower, my eye brows are out of control or that I need a mint. I expect she does that because she figures I'm going to embarrass her by saying something stupid so I might as well look my best doing it.

Even without CrossFit or Abby, there are things flying at me every day to humble me. It may be work, or kids or even my spiritual life that reminds me that I have a lot of improvement to be made. It's okay though. Every time I am humbled, I am reminded that God loves me.

You see, God, the creator of the universe humbled himself to show his love for you and me. God--who is has always existed and who will always exist became human flesh and blood for you and me. He suffered a horrible death by being beaten and whipped and flogged and finally being hung on a tree so that we may have eternal life in him. So if we are to imitate, Christ, we must be humble ourselves.

That is pretty amazing if you think about it. God loves me enough to humble himself so it shouldn't be anything for me to be humbled. I'll remember that tonight when I feel like a sword has pierced my side.

How about you? How has God humbled you lately??

Friday, January 22, 2010

We Are All One Body

The interesting thing about the mass is that it makes the Body of Christ present. Obviously, the body of Christ is made present in the Eucharist but in a spiritual sense, the Body of Christ is made present in all of the people who are there. Paul reminds us in this Sunday's reading that through baptism we are made part of the Body of Christ.

It is in the Eucharist though, that I feel this the most. It is during the mass that I feel connected with everyone else at mass. I feel connected to those who are sitting in the pews in front and behind me. I feel connected to those who are celebrating across town at St. Andrews or downtown at the cathedral. I feel connected to those celebrating mass in cities all across the country and around the world. It is in the mass that I feel connected to those saints in Heaven. For it is in the Eucharist that we are all made present and connected.

That probably isn't the best theology because one could assume that we are not part of the body of Christ outside of the mass. Now--the way some of us act outside of mass you would think this this is true but it is not. We need to remember that. We are always part of the Body of Christ and we all have our part to further the Kingdom of God. None of our tasks are greater or lesser than another. None of us are greater or lesser than another.

We, the faithful, need to act like this. We need to rely on each other and help each other out. It's not all about us. It's all about Him! Like Paul says:

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you, “
nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”
Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker
are all the more necessary,
and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable
we surround with greater honor,
and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,
whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.
But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

We should always remember this. If we keep in mind that we are all one body it will help us appreciate the mass more and it will help us appreciate each other more outside of mass.

How do you appreciate the other parts of the body outside of the mass? How can you do better? Do you have weaknesses that are helped by other? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Friendships Are Not Complicated

One of the "joys" of being a parent is consoling your children when they feel omitted from a circle of friends at school. Maybe their friend played with someone else at recess. Maybe they weren't invited to a birthday party. Or a friend moves away and they feel left alone. In our house, my kids know to come to me for empathy. Don't get me wrong, Abby is a very sympathetic woman but we have just had different view points when it comes to friendships. I've always wanted to be everyone's friend and was hurt when I was left out. She has been more along the lines of "if they want to be my friend then they will be my friend." Our Facebooks kind of reflects that. She only has close people she knows as her Facebook friends. I, on the other hand, have over 500 friends and many of them I've never met.

I have learned something about friendships though. Part of the lesson came from experience and part came from Abby. As I stated, I always held my friends on up on a high level. I even found myself WORKING on friendships. In the end though, either the friendship is going to go be there or it isn't. I'm not saying you should neglect a friendship but if you find yourself stressing out about maintaining the friendship then maybe it's not worth it. Friendships are not burdens and if it feels that way, maybe it's time to let it go.

You see, if you feel that you are having to work at a friendship then you are really setting your friend up for failure. A friendship should be fun. A friendship should be give and take. But if it's work then it's not going to be fun and you are going to realize at some point that they are not there for you as much as you are there for them. That's not to say that a friendship is always stress free but it shouldn't be stressful.

It's taken me 38 years to realize this and I realized it by just looking at my two closest friends--Jim and Heather. Jim used to be my partner (work partner--not life) and he is the godfather of my oldest daughter Emma. He is one of the nicest people you have ever met and someone I look up to. We may go months without talking but we will quickly catch up. I know that he is always there for me if I need someone. He knows that I'm there for him if he ever needs someone. Fortunately, he realizes that if he needs help moving something heavy that I'm probably busy that day. :-) In the end, Jim is someone that makes me happy.

I speak to Heather more often, which is good since we carpool our kids. Heather is a friend from church. She is the Director of Youth Ministry and I am one of the people she uses as a catechist. She is the godmother of my youngest daughter. She, like Jim, is also one of the nicest people I've ever met and someone I look up to. Like I said, we speak more regularly than Jim and I. We meet every couple of months over lunch and discuss how we are going to make the world a better place. We don't always agree but that's okay. We respect each other's opinions. Again, she knows I'm there for her and I know she's there for me. And she also realizes that if she needs something heavy moved that I'm busy that day. (I'm a very very busy person). Like Jim, Heather is someone that I leave in a better mood after having been with.

I don't know what made me realize it. Maybe it was just an "ah-ha" moment. But at some point I looked at my friendships with Jim and Heather and compared them to friendships in the past and realized--they are stress-free, uncomplicated and fun. I'm not sure I can explain that theory to a 14 year old or a seven year old girl. I definitely can't explain it to The Boy (you can't tell him anything) so I guess, I will just have to hug them, listen to them, and let them learn it on their own.

Does anyone have any ideas about friendships? Have you ever had one that just seems like work? Do you have great friends that are stress-free. I know my sister, Maggie--has a couple.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dr. King and Justice

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. He had a vision. He was searching for something and he was demanding something. This thing he dreamt about and was searching for was--in one simple word--"justice." As a police officer, isn't that what we are supposed to strive for---to see that justice is served?? But what is justice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines justice, which is one of the four cardinal virtues as, "the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor." It continues and says that, "Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good." (1807 CCC) Equality and fairness for the common good.

It is so easy to say that we want justice but really another to put this into practice. You see--to be true--justice has to be for all. This is difficult in a society that puts self above others. This is difficult when we face this tendency to sin and always try to better ourselves.

For the poor, we want to give money to charities but not get our hands dirty. Or worse, we figure we pay our taxes and expect government to take care of the them with welfare and food stamps---a system that has been proven to fail.

We want justice for the criminals, but we only want to incarcerate them with no idea of how to minister to them or to help them so that they can better themselves without feeling that they have to turn to crime.

We want to put walls on our borders so that illegal immigrants can't come into our country without wondering how immigration reform might allow people to come to our country legally to better themselves and their family.

In our places of employment, we speak ill of our co-workers. Through gossip or complaining we raise ourselves up by making other's think better of us.

Yes, it's difficult not to think of ourselves first and to forget others. After all---they are probably doing the same and why should we work harder if they don't? Why should we be victims without wanting our revenge? Why should we let others into our country to enjoy it's benefits? Why should we work at the soup kitchens or thrift stores if they are just going to live off of Uncle Sam and our taxes and not do any work?

We need to do this because that's the way God designed us. Dr. King dreamt that we would see everyone as being made in the image and likeness of God. Until we do that and realize that we are all parts of the body of Christ then justice will not be served.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Do Whatever He Tells You--

The vast majority of the saints are just your regular run of the mill type people who lead exemplary lives. That seems kind of like an oxymoron doesn't it? How can you be run-of-the-mill and live an exemplary life at the same time? I guess "regular" is relative isn't it when you consider the stories of some of the saints. Obviously, you have your martyrs--those who died for their faith--but then you have others who were given some sort of super gift. Some were given the gift of healing. Some were able to levitate. Still others, like Padre Pio, were able to bi-locate---actually be in the two places at the same time (that would probably be the only way I would be able to follow through with my dream from yesterday's blog and go to Las Vegas with a bunch of buddies so that Abby wouldn't know I was there!) Am I the only one who has read about some saint and gone, "WHOA! Why can't God let me do that?!?!?!?"

I suppose the gifts God wants me to use aren't quite so spectacular. I suppose I should not look at what other people do and figure out what my gift is. In this week-end's second reading, Paul tells us that there are many gifts that the Holy Spirit gives but that Holy Spirt does not give us all the same gifts. Each of us receives a certain gift for us to manifest for some benefit. Paul says that, "To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another, the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another, faith by the same Spirit; to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another, mighty deeds; to another, prophecy; to another, discernment of spirits; to another, varieties of tongues; to another, interpretation of tongues." (1 Corr 12: 8-10) It's not up to us to determine which of the gifts we receive. The Holy Spirit gives them to us as He chooses.

How do we figure out what our gift is though?? The obvious answer is to follow Mary's advice in this week-end's gospel reading. The reading is about the wedding feast in Cana. You remember the story. Jesus is at a wedding with Mary and his friends and the party runs out of wine. Jesus is sitting there with his friends and Mary--ever the mother--says to them, "Hey--they ran out of wine!" Jesus--the 30 year old guy hanging out with his buddies says, "what concern is it to me? poor planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on my part." (that last part may not actually be IN scripture-but I'll bet Jesus said it) Mary, being a woman, ignores him and says to the steward, "do whatever he tells you." Jesus follows his mother's wishes and changes jugs of water into wine.

The line that always gets me in that story is, "do whatever he tells you." We should follow that advice in our every day lives. Especially when we are trying to figure out what God's plan is for us and what gifts we are given. Ask Jesus. "Lord, help me to figure out my talents and help me to use them to fulfil your role for me." It may not be what you expect. My greatest gift may not be my great wit and sarcasm although I really don't know what else it may be. It may be my great skills as a husband ;-) or as a father.

Our challenge though, is to shut up and listen and "do whatever he tells you."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Guilt and the Hangover

In the last two nights, unintentionally, I've watched two different movies that have to do with---shall we call it--drinking to excess while in Las Vegas. I realized that I've never had a chance to go to Las Vegas for a night of drunken debauchery with my friends but that I don't need to travel all that way to sin and have remourse.

The first movie, "The Hangover," is a raunchy movie and I could not recommend it to anyone with any sense. I happen to have not sense though and thought it was hilarious. It's about four guys who go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. They wake up the next morning with a chicken in their room, a baby in the closet and a tiger in the bathroom. The only thing that was not in the room was the groom and no one can remember what happened the night before. So they spend the rest of the movie trying to retrace their steps so they can figure out what happened.

The second movie, "What Happens in Vegas" is about a guy and girl who do not know each other and are having issues back home go to Las Vegas to let loose. Once in Las Vegas, they meet each other, get drunk, get married and happen to win $3 million in a slot machine. They both want the money but they are married. Back home the judge makes them stay together for six months and the rest of the movie is about them being together when they don't really want to be.

Both movies have the same catelyst--a night in Las Vegas and what happens when you drink to excess. Unfortunately, instead of being a warning against hedonistic behavior, the movies probably actually encourage people to want to go to Vegas. It's supposed to be a place of good times! It's where you can party and do whatever you want because no one will ever find out. After all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Like I mentioned above, we don't need to go to Nevada in order to misbehave. We don't need to go to Sin City in order to sin. And we don't need to wake up in a hotel room missing a tooth in order to have regrets. Heck, I do this on a daily basis right here from Kansas City. It may not rise to the level of marrying a stripper or stealing something from Mike Tyson but I misbehave, sin and have regrets right here in Cowtown.

Over the years as I've matured spiritually and with the grace of God, I've done better. I've learned to control my vices, I've learned to bite my tongue, I've learned to look at the girl in the eyes and not below the collar. The problem comes in when I don't follow those lessons I've learned and I do what I know I shouldn't. Sometimes it takes me to the next day to realize the sin. Often it's right afterwards that I feel like a horse's backside.

Fortunately, we have reconciliation. Unfortunately, I screw up enough that I have a spread sheet with all of the parishes in a 30 mile radius and when they have confession. Oh boy, confession. I'm a fan. You know that feeling of dread when you do wake up in the morning with the hangover wondering what you did the night before or worse KNOWING what you did the night before?

You know that feeling after let loose with that verbal jab and you see the pain in your target's eyes and you feel like a total donkey. Confession somehow takes away that dread and remorse.

The fact of the matter is I would still like to Las Vegas with a bunch of friends to have a good time. I trust myself to behave and to be responsible. But just in case, I might like to take a priest friend with me. Fr. Jim!! Are you available???????

Monday, January 11, 2010

CrossFit Catholicism

I am fat and out of shape. I've tried to get into different work out programs over the years but for whatever reason I stopped. Normally, the reason is that it's difficult to find the time. Working over night messes with the sleep schedule and slating a time to go to the gym is difficult. I'll be honest though---I just don't really like working out. I've never really been athletic and well, working out hurts.

An opportunity has come to me though to get my hind-end into shape. My buddy, Jim Keller, is a PT/DT instructor at the police academy. Keller and his fellow instructors are trying to start a CrossFit excercise program at the academy for police department members. They are starting with a pilot program and they are hoping that it does well and that it will spread throughout the department. I was fortunate enough to be picked for this pilot program. I expect I am the old, fat out of shape sergeant that they are hoping they can point to and say, "if HE can do it, anyone can!"

When I was asked to be part of the group, I jumped on the opportunity for several reasons both physical and spiritual. Obviously, I recognize that I need to get into shape. I have failed workout programs in the past but I am optimistic about this one because it is in a group setting and because I trust the instructors and because I think they have put trust in me to help their program to get started.

I feel that there is a connection between spiritual and physical well being though. There are several similarities. They are both difficult to get into. They both can be painful. They are both made easier by having something there to motivate you. Here is the number one reason they are both important though. As human beings we are both physical and spiritual beings. It is who we are and they are both gifts from God and should be taken care of accordingly. If I don't take care of my body there is a chance that my life on this world may not last as long as it would otherwise and I may not be able to fulfill God's plan for me. Likewise, if I don't take care of my spirit, I may also not fullfil God's plan for me and put myself in eternal jepordy. Fulfilling God's plan is why whe are here so we really need to take care of these two senses.

I also am interested in the CrossFit system. It seems very "catholic" to me in its universality. It's basically a different workout a day and doesn't focus simply on speciallized activities such as strength or cardio but on a broad and general system but targets the whole body. Likewise, Catholicism is not focused on specific part of our spiritual life but has such a fullness of faith to it that we could never be fully satisfied.

The 12 week pilot program starts on Sunday. I went through the introductory course this morning. I discovered I'm 230 lbs and have a 31% body fat. I will save you the horror of having to look at any "before" photographs but I ask that you pray for me that I succeed on this program and continue it after words.

Is There A Difference

A Facebook friend stated in her status yesterday that she was pondering the fact that there are different denominations such as Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic etc and wondered aren't we all Christians and followers of Christ. The responses were basically along the lines of yes, as long as Christ is the foundation that is all that is important and "all the other religious stuff is just stuff."

Well, yes, that is true to a point. Yes, Jesus is the foundation but by no means is He all that is important and all that other religious stuff is not just stuff. If you went to church thinking that it does not matter where you go or that everything is the same you could be led down the wrong road and end up someplace like the Westboro Baptist Church. I don't think anyone here wants to end up being led by Fred Phelps.

Obviously, the idea that you would end up protesting and saying horrible things is the extreme but is meant to be an example that a person should be vigilant in looking for a church to attend. No one wants to be led astray and everyone, I think in the end, is looking for truth. The problem is that in society truth seems to be subjective when it is objective. There can only be one truth and the truth does not change. We must search for the truth even if we may not understand or even fully agree. That is why we have over 30,000 different protestant denominations today--people are looking at truth in a subjective way, as if it can change to fit society and fit their needs. God wouldn't do this to us. He wouldn't leave us rudderless. That is why Jesus established a church, gave it authority, a heiarchy and a form of succession. This apostolicstic succession has lasted for 2000 years.

As to the second argument that all that other religious stuff is just stuff. It is true that in the end the music, the architecture, even great preaching does not matter. But the sacraments---those physical ways that God gives us grace are much more than just stuff. Baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist---they are much more than just symbols. Marriage and ordination are more than temporary life decisions. They are amazing gifts given to us by God to help us through life and should not be easily dismissed!

I've had difficulty writing this. I think I've tried being too politically correct and not ruffle any feathers. But all of the Christian churches aren't the same. If they were they would not have broken off from the other and they would look exactly the same. I do know that Jesus hoped that we would all be one though and I do know that He only established one church. I also know that if I didn't believe that the Catholic Church was that church or that it did not contain the truth and have the fullness of faith that I would be looking for the one that did.

Note: Please, don't confuse what I'm saying as an attack on your faith or how devote you may be. Believe me, I realize our protestant brothers and sisters are wonderful, devout beautiful people who love Jesus and I'll be the first one to criticize Catholics for not being as devout as we should be (myself included) I'm merely trying to point out that there is a difference

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Every Rose Has It's Thorn

Some days I feel like every time I turn around I get cut. A nick here, a scrape there. I suppose that is to be expected because as they say, "every rose has it's thorns." So I guess for every beautiful thing, every good thing we come into contact with we should expect a little pain? Is it inevitable? Or as Poison says, "every night has it's dawn. Every cowboy sings his sad, sad song."

So what should we do? Should we avoid the beauty that comes with the rose altogether? I don't think so. But we should be wary. The life we are given her on Earth is like that rose. We should appreciate it. Enjoy it for the beauty that is here. But we have to be careful of those darned thorns or else we will end up "choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature." (Luke 8:14)

Let me tell you what--sometimes I feel like I am that seed that fell among the thorns. I've heard the Word. I know what is expect of me. I know what I'm supposed to do. But I still get nicked by those dam thorns! The desires make me stick my face right down in the rose bush. They make me grab the flower without paying attention and before you know it, I'm bleeding again. Then I look in the mirror and see a cut up, bleeding idiot and I wonder, "what the heck was I thinking?"

But here is where I am more fortunate than Bret Michaels and C. C. DeVille and the rest of the band---the Lord is always waiting for ME to return. He's not going to find somebody new. I mean the world to Him. He's just waiting for me to realize how careless I was and to reconcile myself to Him.

Then, like the loving Father that He is--he will but salve on our wounds, bandage us back up and infuse us with His grace so that we can wear it like a glove so that we can enjoy the rose without sin cutting us all up. And like a loving gardener, he will place us in good soil so that we may hold His word in an :honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience." (Luke 8:15)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Picturing the Twelve--and Yourself

There is a scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Harry is looking at an old photograph of the Order prior to his birth. The Order of the Phoenix was an organization tasked with tracking down Lord Voldemort and his followers. Many of the people in the photograph had been killed, including Harry's parents. Others had been maimed, scared or forever changed. But in this photograph, everyone looked young and still innocent.

Do you ever wonder if John, the apostle ever did that? Can you picture John looking at a photograph of the twelve, maybe around Jesus during His ministry? You may be saying, "Uhhh--Jamie, they didn't have photographs 2000 years ago." Duh--I know that. I'm not a University of Kansas grad! ;-) Just play along though. Imagine John recalling Jesus and the twelve. Jesus of course had been crucified. Judas has committed suicide. And the other ten has also been martyred--six of them suffering the same fate of their Lord. John was the only of the apostles who lived to a ripe old age and died naturally.

Have you ever looked at a photograph of yourself--maybe looked through an old high school year book and thought, "Wow, if I only knew then what I know now!" Hopefully, we can do that in our spiritual life. Hopefully, we can look back a year, maybe five or even ten years and see the growth we've made instead of being stagnant. Those years may seem like we've been fighting dark wizards or faced martyrdom (maybe daily) I know I can see great strides in the last five years. Ten years ago---wow--don't ask!

I think it's important to look back and to see how far we've come because too often if feels like for every step forward we make in the spiritual life we take two steps back. It's as if we are climbing a snowy mountain. But by looking back, we can see our footsteps and see how far we have actually come.

And then we can be better motivated and concentrate on making strides forward. We can do that examination of conscience and realize what we have to do to better ourselves and by recalling the past we can better prepare ourselves to go out and fight those demons.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Resolution to Mary, Mother of God

I want to know who in their right mind decided to make New Year's Day a holy day of obligation? Seriously, the day after all us drunk Irishmen go out drinking we have to wake up for mass?? But it is and I did my duty trekked out bright and early this morning for the Solemnity of the Mary, the Mother of God. (Okay--I may exaggerate a little--I didn't go drinking and mass was at 10 am)

So we celebrate Mary, the Mother of God today. A little apologetics lesson. Some are critical of the title "Mother of God" saying that God was here before anything so God could not have a mother. True but Mary is the mother of Jesus. Jesus is God. So if a=b=c and Jesus is mother of Jesus who is God then Mary is the Mother of God. It's as simple as that!

As I lay, meditating about Mary, the Mother of God and how it falls on New Year's Day I came up with a brilliant idea. You see, I do not have a great devotion to Mary. I can't tell you when the last time I said a rosary or asked her intercession or anything like that. So I decided for a new years resolution, I would work on my devotion to Mary. You see, sometimes I feel like I'm at a hump in the road in my spiritual life. I feel like I'm just treading water and don't have that passion and zeal for God that I should. I suppose that's what happens when you hang around holy and spiritual people--you see how much you need to improve. So, who better to help me to get me get closer to Jesus that his mother. After all, from the cross, one of His final words were, looking at Mary his said, "Woman, behold your son." Then looking at his beloved disciple said, "Behold--your mother." Since the early church, it's been traditionally taught that by doing this, Jesus gave Mary to us as a mother to take care of us and help us. I think I need to take Jesus up on his offer.

I'm going to take it a step further though. The second part of my resolution is to have a deeper devotion to my own mother. I need to do a better job of honoring my mother. I need to call her more often. Visit her more often and actually send her gifts for Mother's Day and her birthday.

Finally, I need to do a better job at having a devotion towards the mother of my children. Mary may be the Queen of Heaven, but Abby is the Queen of my household and I need to do a better job at expressing this. By doing so, I hope to be an example to my daughters as to what to expect from their own husbands and to my son as to how to act towards his future wife.