March 31

03-31-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: NM 21:4-9, PS 102:2-3, 16-21, JN 8:21-30

Unfortunately, I’ve begun to receive word from a few friends who work for other parishes across the country, that they have received their last paychecks and are now unemployed. These messages are disturbing on two levels.

It breaks my heart for them and their communities.

The fact is, most people who work in Catholic parishes could find higher paying jobs elsewhere, but they (and their families) happily have made the sacrifice to help the Catholic Church thrive. I’ve worked for St. Anthony of Padua, St. Stanislaus, Our Lady Queen of Angels, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Our Lady of Joy. (Mary seems to like me.) In those parishes, I’ve worked with many people who could’ve lived much more comfortable lives—if only they’d worked outside of the Church. But they love God and His Church. Now, they are being forced into unemployment.

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March 30

03-30-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: DN 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 PS 23:1-6, JN 8:1-11

If you are reading this, you already know Jesus is heroic. He walked straight into certain death and paid the ultimate price for a crime (the crime of our sin) he didn’t commit. We are reminded of this heroism and sacrifice every time we hold a rosary or look above our parish altar.

But this divine quality of heroism didn’t just appear out of nowhere just before Calvary. It can be found throughout his short three years of public ministry. Today’s Gospel shows us one of the best examples.

It is the story of the scribes and the Pharisees preparing to stone a woman for adultery. But let’s not focus on the inequality of the laws of the day. Let’s move past the obvious lessons of hypocrisy. Instead, let’s drill down to what is happening at the most basic—and often, most forgotten about—level.

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March 29

03-29-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: EZ 37:12-14, PS 130:1-8, ROM 8:8-11, Jn 11:1-45

As believers, we’ve been turning to our Lord and begging for a reprieve. Yet, it seems like things are just getting worse. Why wouldn’t God step in and temporarily suspend people’s free will to go out and spread this pandemic? Why wouldn’t God just step in and wipe out all disease as you read this?

Today’s Gospel reminds us of the story of Lazarus. Jesus hears his friend is very sick, but instead of grabbing the first donkey back, he does the opposite. He decides to remain even two days longer. He actually allows his friend to suffer and die precisely because he loves Lazarus. How does this make sense?

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March 28

03-28-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: JER 11:18-20, PS 7:2-3, 9-12, JN 40-53

Happy Birthday to me! That’s right. Lent…pandemic…birthday…yay… Okay. Now that my pity party is over, let’s talk about gratitude. I’ve heard many quotes on the subject, but there are two that stand above the rest.

“Right now, your life is full of things that others are praying for.”

I’d encourage you to take inventory. How many of these apply to you? Do you have clean water? Flushing toilets? Food in your pantry or freezer? Do you have heat and air? A roof over your head? Entertainment in the way of books, internet, and television? Do you have an outdoor space on your property? Are you corona virus free? Do you have your senses? Taste? Touch? Sight? Hearing? Are you still employed? Do you have loved ones? Do you have faith? Do you own a Bible? Are you free to pray? Do you have access to online Catholic resources like oloj.org and formed.org? What else can you think of? Here. I’ll help you with this short video. Right click the link and watch it in another tab before coming back. www.youtube.com/watch

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March 27

03-27-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: WIS 2:1A, 12-22, PS 34:17-21, 23, JN 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

As Arizona continues to discover exactly how many among us have been infected, I want to be careful not to just hammer you with the message of “stop worrying, have faith, be a light.” The fact is – there are people who are much more naturally prone to struggle in this unique combination of isolation and stress.

I don’t want to discount your struggle.

I think today’s Psalm is for you. “When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from their distress he rescues them. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the Lord delivers him.”

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March 26

03-26-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: EX 32:7-14, PS 106:19-23, JN 5:31-47

A few days ago, I walked the church campus during my lunch. It was eerie. The parking lot was nearly empty. The hall was hollow. The preschool was silent. The whole campus (outside of the parish office building) was silent. If you plan on dropping by the church for prayer, I encourage you to do the same.

Imagine (as I did) living in a country where the government permanently shut down every church. This is what it would look like. Imagine what we take for granted was outlawed tomorrow. This is what it would sound like.

Lest we forget, people actually live under those unthinkable conditions today.

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March 25

03-25-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: IS 7:10-14, 8:10, PS 40:7-11, HEB 10:4-10, LK 1:26-38 

Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. It celebrates the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary her special mission of being the mother to His only son. I like to call this the feast of “No Pressure, Mary!”

Today is a pretty big deal. Don’t believe me? Check out the Angelus. Or the Joyous mysteries of the Rosary. Today is the day God revealed to Mary her role in the salvation of the world.

But we aren’t off the hook.

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March 24

03-24-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: EZ 47:1-9, 12, Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9 Jn 5:1-16

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man who had been ill for 38 years. On the miracle scale, this might not equal Lazarus, but it’s pretty darn impressive. So what are some of the last words Jesus says to the man? “Look, you are well; do not sin anymore.”

Why does Jesus seem to be more focused on the spiritual than the physical? He heals a man’s infirmities and tells him to work on himself spiritually? We all know the answer. Physical illness can only hurt us for a limited time. Spiritual illness can impact eternity.

Years ago, a surgeon friend asked how I cope with such a “pressure-packed job.” I laughed at him. He said he was serious. As he saw it, he was only saving the temporary. My job was focused on the eternal. I do not share this story to feed my own ego (as it actually is quite frightening if I forget that Jesus can use anyone – regardless of qualification). I share this because I believe my friend had clarity of priority.

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March 23

03-23-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: Is 65:17-21, Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-12A, 13B Jn 4:43-54

Our televisions are filled with press conferences. Our streaming services are populated with movies like “Flu,” “Contagion,” and “Outbreak.” Our radios are overflowing with conflicting doomsday statistics. Our roads are empty and our grocery stores look like something from a dystopian novel.

So, what do we do?

A year or two ago, we had an incident in our church. Someone (who seemed to have some mental issues) was behaving very erratically and posed a danger to those around her. Several people scrambled to help and one member of our congregation with extensive military training went straight to the fire alarm and pulled it. He knew the situation was serious and took appropriate action without the slightest hint of panic. His calm response cleared the church quickly and made it easier to handle the potentially dangerous situation.

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March 22

03-22-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

In this time of fear and panic, what perfect timing that this Sunday’s Psalm includes the words, “Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”

And how timely and beautiful that this Sunday’s Gospel is about Jesus’ ability to heal!

I want to apologize for the how random the following thoughts will be, but we have a lot to cover.

Pray for the containment or eradication of this virus.

If you are on Facebook or Pinterest, follow the parish pages.

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March 21

03-21-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: Hos 6:1-6, Psalm 51:3-4, 18-20, Lk 18:9-14

The first line of today’s first reading says, “Come, let us return to the Lord.”

When Masses in our diocese were suspended until further notice, my phone and social media accounts blew up with people asking my opinion. My opinion was that there were too many opinions and not enough prayer.

So, what is my prayer? Beyond the defeat of this insidious pandemic, I am praying that this situation helps us all recognize that we have taken Mass for granted. Whether it was nothing more than a habit, or the highlight of our week, attending Mass was something that could never be taken away. Until now.

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March 20

03-20-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Readings for the Day: Hos 14:2-10, Psalm 81:6-11, 14, 17, Mk 12:28-34

Today’s Gospel reminds us of the top two commandments. Love God with everything you’ve got. And love your neighbor as yourself. We all need to be reminded of the second commandment-now more than ever.

Panicked people are hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and sardines. Okay. Not sardines. (Just wanted to see if I could cause a sardine shortage.) They aren’t concerned with people who might need what they already have too much of. Then, there are the people who are taking this lightly. They are fighting their boredom by setting up parties for themselves or their kids. They don’t think they’ll get sick and aren’t giving a second thought to the elderly and vulnerable they might infect.

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March 19

03-19-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Good Morning Parishioners of Our Lady of Joy and Friends Beyond,

Our parish staff continues to work incredibly hard during these trying times. There will be regular updates. We will be streaming Masses. We are working with the diocese to figure out how to handle those who are scheduled to receive various sacraments. And we have enacted a total spending freeze in an attempt to survive losing almost our entire plate income.

One of the things I can contribute is this blog. Every day, our parish website will be updated with a new entry. My prayer is that this little space helps us remain connected to our Faith and one another during this trying time.

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Stuck in Evaluation

03-15-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

It’s a little-known fact that between having served on the National Evangelization Teams (a Catholic Missionary organization) and working in parishes full-time for over twenty years, I’ve helped facilitate or coordinate over 300 retreats for teens and/or adults.

I have to tell you, something horrible happens when you’ve done anything that often. It becomes more and more difficult to enter into the experience of the retreat, and easier to make a habit of constant evaluation.

Here is a simple way to explain it: the Canadian figure skating judge can never experience the Olympics like we can.

This is tragic.

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Temptation, Sin, and Guilt

03-01-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Lent is beginning, so naturally the readings focus on temptation and sin. The first reading explains how sin entered the world. The responsorial hymn confesses our sin and asks God for mercy. The second reading describes how Jesus removes our sin. And the gospel shows Jesus resisting the temptations of the evil one.

As I read through them, I can’t help but think of the reputation our beautiful faith has in the secular world: a place you go to have guilt dumped on your head. And then they ask for money.

If it wasn’t tragic, it would be funny.

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Safe Environment Training

02-23-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

This morning, I heard some parishioners grumbling. They were frustrated that some clergy have perpetrated heinous acts against children & vulnerable adults—and now parishioners are being punished by having to jump through flaming hoops (including attending “irrelevant” safe environment classes) just for the privilege of volunteering, when it should be the clergy who need the training.

On the surface, this seems ridiculous.

Except there are several problems with this narrative. Let’s explore them.

  1. It hasn’t only been clergy who have perpetrated these crimes in the Catholic Church (along with virtually every denomination). Youth group leaders, religious education instructors, maintenance workers, teachers, and others have been convicted. And these crimes have taken place all over church properties.
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Keep the Commandments

02-16-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

This weekend, the first line of the first reading carries profound power.

“If you choose, you can keep the commandments, they will save you…”

We try so many different ways to be fulfilled. We keep thinking we’ve figured out what will do it.

Marriage.
Having children.
Children finally moving out.
Divorce.
Weight loss.
Becoming more attractive.
A bigger paycheck.
A bigger home.
Retirement.
A dream vacation.
Recognition.

But nothing seems to help the joy stick. And we don’t want to hear about the Faith. Because it couldn’t possibly be faith that would be the answer to what we are searching for.

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You are the Salt of the Earth

02-09-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

This Sunday’s Gospel is amazing, encouraging, and challenging!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Salt—without its saltiness—has no point.

What did God give you another day for? How will your unique combination of experience, gifts, talents, and wisdom be used? Ask Him to make you alert for the moments and tasks you need to prioritize.

If you miss it, you are just living out the hours till your next sleep and you have no point.

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The Presentation

02-02-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

In this weekend’s Gospel, found in the second chapter of Luke, we read of Mary and Joseph bringing baby Jesus back to the temple in Jerusalem after 40 days.

For the presentation, families were to bring a lamb for sacrifice. If they could not afford a lamb, they could bring two turtle doves or pigeons.

We learn here that the Holy Family brought the birds. This reveals the poverty of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. They certainly would’ve purchased a lamb if they were able. They couldn’t. They didn’t have the means.

We’ve often talked about the beautiful humility of our Lord and Savior being born in a cave. Of Jesus taking on the messiness of humanity. Of Jesus allowing himself to be put on trial. Of Jesus allowing humanity to torture him.

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He is Big Enough

01-26-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

When Gina Bauer visited our parish for the Advent Parish Mission, she shared a powerful message. “The Lord is great. And while He certainly wants all our requests – big and small – He might be growing tired of the limits we put on our requests. He is a great big God who can take our great big prayers.”

My brain translated this into we sometimes act like someone nervously asking a billionaire for five dollars.

(Now...I share the following only with the intention of giving glory to God and thus, spreading faith in Him.)

After hearing her say this, I sought her out for a conversation. She quizzed me for quite some time before saying the following: “So you and your wife worked incredibly hard to eliminate your college and vehicle debts within years. Then, through two failed adoptions, one reversed adoption, and – finally – the successful adoption of your daughter Georgiana, you find yourself back in significant debt?”

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Make the Extra Effort

01-15-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

Often, we mentally miss Sunday’s readings. There are several reasons this might happen. We find ourselves distracted by something in the church. We are preoccupied with worry over struggles we weren’t able to leave at the door. Our minds wander to fear about our future. Exhaustion strikes as soon as we stop moving for the first time in days.

Whatever the reason, we miss something special.

I’m reminded of those horrible moments when I realized I drifted away while my wife was talking to me. I’m reminded of the hurt I caused in those moments. I’m reminded of the extra effort I’ve dedicated to ensure that rarely – if ever – happens going forward.

We need to do the same for our Lord. We have every excuse in the book, but we all know it’s better to live in such a way that excuses aren’t necessary.

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Fear of the Lord

01-12-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

In the tenth chapter of Acts, we hear Peter say some interesting things. “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.” “Whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”

The ramifications are pretty strong. God doesn’t love you more because of your gender, your race, your age, your political party, your nationality, or even your religion.

It’s true.

He can’t love you any more than he already does.

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Humility and Gratitude

01-05-2020(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

What if I told you there was a member of the staff who has worked tirelessly at Our Lady of Joy for 30 years? What if I told you he never asks for recognition? What if I told you we all directly benefit from his hard work? (Side note: How many of you knew this without seeing a mention in the bulletin a few weeks ago?)

There are people in our lives who take care of so many things we take for granted.

I am a blessed man. I come home to a cooked meal most nights. Yet, because I'm a man and my stomach is a pretty direct route to my heart, I always notice. But I admit I don't notice many other things my amazing wife takes care of while I'm working at Our Lady of Joy.

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