I recently heard a severely misguided accusation I’ve heard less than ten times in over twenty years of parish work: “The parish staff are only in it for the money!”
Allow me to preface the next paragraph with the following heartfelt disclaimers: Being Director of Faith Formation at Our Lady of Joy is a dream job. I get to spend the majority of my day learning about and passing along the Catholic Faith. I have met and become friends with so many incredible parishioners. I work in an environment that benefits my Faith rather than eroding it. It is a tremendous blessing. Having said that, there are struggles for every parish worker I’ve ministered beside for over two decades.READ MORE
This week, I’m am writing to you from a farm in Stuttgart, Arkansas. I actually love hanging out with farmers. More often than not, you know where they stand. And if you don’t, just ask—they’ll tell you what they think. And those opinions are solidly grounded in common sense.
If you find a friend, keep them for life.
Do as much as you can with what has been entrusted to you.READ MORE
Congratulations are in order! Easter Morning has come and gone—which marks the end of thirteen months of Lent!
All kidding aside, we are an Easter people and it’s high time we start living like it!
Jesus defeated death.
If we REALLY believe that, there is nothing to be afraid of with the one exception being falling short of heaven. As Scripture says, “Death, where is your sting?” There is no persecution that can deny us entry into heaven. There is no burden that will not be lifted upon entry into heaven. No chronic pain or psychological illness that can rob us of heaven. There is nothing except our own free will.READ MORE
Welcome to Our Lady of Joy.
This parish belongs to God. And His family.
You are as much a member of His family as I am.
You are missed when you aren’t here. There is a hole that no one else can fill. Even when the pews are filled, the Church can never be full without you.
We could never be the same without you. Without your prayers. Without your gifts. Without your smile. Without your burdens.READ MORE
We are entering Holy Week. It is the most sacred week of the year for Catholics. Within eight days, we experience Jesus being hailed as King, presiding at the last supper, betrayed, captured, scourged, nailed to a cross, and rising from the dead.
And yet, for those of us who have been Catholic for years, Holy Week can become nothing more than the last stretch of giving up candy, alcohol, or television. For others, it can signal the end of meatless Fridays. Maybe it reminds us that we need to shop for ingredients that will go into a Easter Sunday feast. And sometimes, it means we will be joined by those family members who only agree to join us for Mass a few times a year.READ MORE
Have you ever known a bitter, hurt, or heartbroken person who cropped someone out of a picture? Have you ever been that person?
Either way—you know what I’m talking about.
After the crop, the remaining picture might just look like an incredibly happy individual. And it was an incredibly happy individual, but now that picture represents what is no longer there.
I have one of those pictures.READ MORE
I am proud of you.
I know it might not mean much, but I needed to say it just the same.
I am proud of you.
We’ve been at this for about a year now. All of this. It was a Monday morning when we received word from the diocese.
Since that day—you’ve done your best to navigate through opposing political agendas, to sift through shifting medical directives, and to endure through the Church’s attempt to do the same.
I am proud of you.
You’ve done your best to maintain civility in relationships with loved ones whose approach to any of the above differed from your own.READ MORE
Have you been watching my online Lenten Retreat on our parish YouTube channel? If not—it isn’t too late!
(And you’ll have to look for Week Three on the YouTube channel as it will be released after I write this, but before you read this.)
Now...here is a quick reflection on this weekend’s Gospel…READ MORE
This weekend’s readings are so full of astonishing comfort... I hope you didn’t miss it.
First, let’s tackle the First Reading. It is the story of Abraham and Isaac. It is the story of a loving father. It is a story of his only beloved son. A story of the father willing to sacrifice that son. A story of the son willingly carrying the very wood that would lead to his execution up a hill. The son laying upon that wood for the sacrifice. It taking place—quite possibly—in the same precise spot where all these things would take place again 2000 years later.READ MORE
If you haven’t heard, every Wednesday of Lent, I’ll release a short video on our website and Parish Facebook Page. This past Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) was just the primer for the weeks to come. And this coming Wednesday’s video will be about some things we might want to remove from our lives. But we don’t just want to create a vacuum. We need to fill our lives with good things...holy things. I know of just the opportunity for some of you.READ MORE
Today is Valentine’s Day. (If you need to set this down and run to the local grocery store’s floral department— no worries—I’ll wait right here......you back? Okay.) It’s all about love. And some commercialism. But mostly LOVE.
It is the perfect word to describe our God. Everything God creates and everything God does and even everything God allows emanates from love. It can be so hard to believe or understand in various seasons of life, but that doesn’t diminish from its truth.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus encounters a leper. Take note of the wording here: a leper. Not a man suffering from a disease. The disease has become the identity.READ MORE
Would you like an uplifting quote from the Bible to get you through these tough times? Well join me, won’t you? Let’s go to today’s First Reading!
“If in bed I say, ‘When shall I arise?’ then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.” (from Job 7)
Yeah. Well. Hang on. First things first.
Don’t most of us feel this way sometimes? Some of us more often than others?READ MORE