I think a lot of Catholics have this rosy picture of the Holy Family. The mother was without sin. The son happened to be THE SON OF GOD. And the third member, St. Joseph, wasn’t exactly a slacker. (see: SAINT Joseph)
What problems could a trio like that actually have? Let’s come back to this thought.
This is the time of the year when many of us find ourselves wondering why our families don’t look anything like those Hallmark Christmas movies. A husband who participated in the purchase of every card and gift. A mother who finds all her husband’s idiosyncrasies as charming as the day they met. Children thrilled to spend hours laughing with each other. Their spouses relaxed by the roaring fireplace. Grandchildren grateful for every gift and perfectly behaved. The turkey a glossy golden brown.READ MORE
Advent should’ve been more.
More than a search for the perfect gift for a loved one. More than flavoring everything with peppermint and pumpkin. More than Hallmark movies with predictable plots where everyone looks like they were created in a central casting laboratory.
Advent should’ve been more.
More than a time for family. More than a time to make a yearly pilgrimage to the confessional. Even more than getting ready for the arrival of the infant Jesus. It should’ve been a time where we renew our commitment to be ready for when Jesus comes again. It might be the second coming. Or it might only be Jesus coming for us individually.READ MORE
WARNING: Christmas is just around the corner and your pew is about to be invaded!
Those people who only show up for holidays or when the guilt they’d have to endure from their favorite grandmother isn’t worth the extra ninety minutes they’d “gain” will be making it harder to sit where you want or get out of the parking lot in 4.5 minutes flat.
Or maybe there is another attitude we should have.READ MORE
When I was a youth group leader, I was often invited to various activities my youth group teens participated in. For the most part, they took the form of concerts, plays, and athletic events.
When you are a veteran of middle school concerts, you get used to the struggles of the choir populated with boys whose voices are in the midst of changing. The young ladies might have those notes nailed, but if even one unfortunate young man can’t hold back random oscillation between alto and baritone (with no stops at tenor), it can turn something beautiful into a sound that makes a person want to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.
When it comes to plays, you might have a high school thespian ready to play Willy Loman with the best of them, but if he’s onstage with a young woman who can’t remember any of her lines, it makes every member of the audience cringe (except her parents, who think she deserves a Tony).READ MORE
I’ve previously posed the question: if tomorrow only contained what you thanked God for today, what would it look like?
It is a thought experiment worth revisiting.
The youngest among us tend to thank God for toys, parents, and cartoons.
The most grateful among us tend to thank God for our loved ones, our jobs, and our meals.
The holiest among us tend to thank God for the Church, daily struggles, and faith.
How many of us remember to thank the Lord for another morning?READ MORE
In just a few weeks, our parish will be blessed with a powerful Advent Parish Mission with Gina Bauer.
While she is a nationally-recognized speaker and a truly gifted communicator, I recognize that many of you have never heard of her. (Her bio is on the next page in the advertisement for the event, but that isn’t my point.)
Some of you might choose to stay home because you’ve never heard her speak and that will be a shame. You will have missed a great opportunity to increase your faith.
Sadly, we miss these opportunities all the time. We find ourselves in conversations with loved ones, but we are distracted.READ MORE
This Sunday’s Gospel contains an interesting paragraph:
“They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”
As someone who has given talks and written articles for many years, this excerpt of Scripture has always stood out.
Before giving a talk, you should always be prepared. Before writing any article, you should have a clear endpoint in mind. (Think of it as knowing where you want to land the plane before taking off.)READ MORE
In this brave new world where we have instant access to tweets and posts from the furthest reaches of our planet, it seems there is no end to news that makes it seem like our nation, our culture, and our faith is in a state of constant crisis.
Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we were cut off from everyone further than fifty miles away (with the exception of old-fashioned mail)?
There is wisdom in this lifestyle: take care of what you have the ability to influence.
This does not mean we don’t pray for others, the Holy Father, and the greater Church. It means we do what we can for who we are able.
We take care of those who live under the same roof. We scroll a little less and listen a bit more. We post a bit less and share a bit more. We hide in our phones and laptops a bit less and pray with our loved ones a bit more.READ MORE
Luke 19:1-10 was my favorite story in the entire Bible as a young boy because Zacchaeus climbed a tree. That was it. That was the extent of my deep and profound theological reasoning.
It remains one of my favorite readings to this day, but for different reasons entirely. (Well - almost entirely. I still think it is pretty fantastic that he climbed a tree in pursuit of Jesus.
It teaches us two beautiful lessons.
The first lesson: God rewards those who are willing to be undignified in their pursuit of Him. Zacchaeus was an important person. He was a chief tax collector. He was certainly well-known and very unpopular. Yet people would be careful how they spoke to him. In that time, virtually all tax collectors were corrupt and would raise taxes on whomever they wished and keep the excess for themselves. This feared and powerful man climbed a tree in order to draw near to the Lord!READ MORE
I have come to believe—after over twenty years working for parishes—that the devil’s last stand is pride. If he can’t entangle a person in lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, or envy, pride is his last stand. And it’s a killer.
It is as if the devil realizes none of the first six are working anymore on an individual, so he sits back and waits for the targeted soul to become comfortable and content. He knows that over time, our hearts grow into conformity with the law and we don’t have to fight quite as hard to resist certain sin as we once did. It is then that he strikes.
“Look at how great you are doing!” he whispers. “You did it!” he confirms. “Anyone can do it,” he suggests. “Why is everyone else still making those mistakes?” he questions. “Why isn’t everyone as holy as you?” he demands.READ MORE
You know what I love about being Catholic? We know from historical documents that a man referred to as Jesus Christ walked the Earth about 2000 years ago.
We know that he turned the world upside-down with a message that was completely radical.
His followers recorded Him saying such things as, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (John 6:56) and “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:23)
We also know (again, historically) that He was tortured and put to death in a gruesome manner.
We know that His followers denied knowing Him and locked themselves away in fear of suffering a similar fate.
We know Jesus rose from the dead and made it clear to His followers that death is not the end and there is nothing to fear outside of separation from Him.READ MORE
One of the key elements of being a Catholic, is that we know that there are two, equally important aspects to our relationship with God. One is our individual relationship with the Lord.
Most denominations emphasize only the “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” The natural result is less of an emphasis on the need to attend every Sunday. ‘Sure,’ they will say, ‘You should join us for the worship and the fellowship, but if you don’t, it certainly isn’t a sin.’READ MORE
I often hear people lament the fact that there are so few believers left in the world. We are outnumbered. We are the remnant.
Except it isn’t true. We have just lost our nerve.
In the first chapter of 2 Timothy, we hear the words, “I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord… but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”
Power. Love. Self control.
These are three qualities that can be difficult to balance, unless we ask for the help of the Holy Spirit.READ MORE