Today’s Readings: ACTS 8:26-40 PS 66:8-9, 16-17, 20 JN 6:44-51
Maryrose Hall married me ten years ago today. We had no idea what we would face in ten short years. Infertility. Foreclosure. Two failed adoptions. One reversed adoption resulting in the loss of a child we named, baptized, and raised for almost her first full year. A legal battle that spiraled us back into debt. But there have been more than just valleys. An all-expenses-paid Alaskan cruise. The ability to get my degree. Becoming debt-free…twice! The adoption of our amazing little girl. Realizing the resilience and faith of my wife runs a thousand times deeper than I could’ve imagined.READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 8:1-8 PS 66:1-7 JN 6:35-40
Thank you. Many of you have done an amazing job continuing to give to Our Lady of Joy throughout this crisis. As a result, it will take our parish much less time to recover and resume normal programming in the wake of current events. So many parishes will be forced to wait months before purchasing programs for children and/or adults. Many released staff members will take this time as an opportunity to make a career move. In some cases, others will realize they get paid as much on unemployment. Churches will spend money to recruit, hire and train up new staff. One document just suggested it will take the Church three years to recover.READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 7:51-8:1 PS 31:3-4, 6-8, 17, 21 JN 6:30-35
I’ll never forget my time as a parish youth director in Newport Beach, California. Some of the most financially successful people in our country sent their teenagers to my youth ministry program. Some would set appointments, “clothed in humility,” asking for counsel. Others fought everything I tried to teach their children. They didn’t want me to help their kids discover what God had created them to be. They had no need for their children to pursue sainthood. They only wanted their church to aid in molding their children into respectable members of society who would go to a great college, but would never end up in a police report.READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 6:8-15 PS 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30 JN 6:22-29
One of the very cool parts of going to daily Mass is the occasional Biblical cliffhanger. Many of us have watched shows where one episode ends and we look forward to what comes next.
This morning marks the beginning of a three-part arc focusing on St. Stephen. If you don’t know the story, I encourage you to keep up by reading along with my handy dandy “Today’s Readings” section above. It is the reading from Acts.
But today, I want to encourage you to go to daily Mass as often as possible once we are cleared for public Masses again. You can even attend virtually until that day. https://www.wordonfire.org/daily-mass/READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 2:1, 22-33 PS 16:1-2, 5, 7-11
1 PT 1:17-21 LK 24:13-35
I have to be honest. I’m a bit discouraged at the state of our country. Even a pandemic has become a divisive issue. Let me write that absolutely insane sentence a second time. Even a pandemic has become a divisive issue.
It is known fact—revealed by the unquantifiable number of denominations and unaffiliated Christian churches—the Bible is large enough that if you ignore context and/or cherry pick the verses you like best, you can make your own entirely unique church tomorrow.READ MORE
Today’s Readings: 1 PT 5:5-14 PS 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17 MK 16:15-20
The first reading begins, “Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another.”
I can almost hear your questions. 1. Do you EVER read past the first line? (I DO! And I’m offended by the question!) 2. How might we clothe ourselves with humility? (#2 is a far superior question to #1.)READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 5:34-42 PS 27:1, 4, 13-14 JN 6:1-15
Today’s Gospel contains social distancing violations and food shortages. Is that enough to hook you?
It’s the famous story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. I encourage you to read it in its entirety, but here’s the short version: a huge group of people were following Jesus. They were spread all over a huge grassy field. They were in a fairly remote spot and apparently forgot to pack a lunch in their Yeti coolers, so hunger was setting in. Jesus asks Philip where enough food could be purchased for them. Philip explains they could never afford that much food.READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 5:27-33 PS 34:2, 9, 17-20 JN 3:31-36
Today’s Psalm says, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”
Yesterday morning, as I pulled into the barren church parking lot, I saw a car that could only be described as obviously belonging to someone who lived out of it. The presumed owner of the car is a sixty-year-old man who goes by “Sonny.” He’s from Michigan. He has two sisters and a brother. His father has passed away, but his mother is still alive. I’ll let the rest remain between us.READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 5:17-26 PS 34:2-9 JN 3:16-21
Yesterday, we talked about the early Christian community and how they shared everything.
The beginning of the next chapter of Acts takes quite a turn. It talks about Ananias and his wife. They sell land, but hold back some of the proceeds from the community. When confronted by Peter about his deceit, Ananias dies on the spot. Then, his wife lies and claims they gave all the proceeds of the sale. When Peter tells her what happened to her husband and that it will happen to her, as well, she falls over dead.READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 4:32-37 PS 93:1-2, 5 JN 3:7-15
Some people might get a bit nervous when they hear today’s first reading.
“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.” It goes on. “There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.”
Sounds a bit…well…socialist. (This is meant to be a statement of fact – not an endorsement or rejection of any political platform.) But we can’t call the apostles socialists because no one was forced to participate. Socialism (like every American political platform in this regard) imposes its will on dissenters if it is in a position of political power. What is described in today’s reading is something entirely different.READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 4:23-31 PS 2:1-9 JN 3:1-8
When I ask what your favorite aspect of Catholicism is, I’d expect the usual: founded by Jesus Christ, the sacraments, devotion to Mary and the saints, it focuses on Jesus rather than the music and/or the orator.
All of those are great reasons to love the Faith. Every single one of them.
Here is another: we understand that our relationship with God is not only an individual relationship – it is a familial relationship. It matters that we pray together. It matters that we gather together.READ MORE
Today’s Readings: ACTS 2:42-47 PS 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 PT 1:3-9 JN 20:19-31
Today’s First Reading begins, “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”
Seriously? Another reading about gathering together and the breaking of the bread?
Yet, I’d like to share how I’ve seen our community really shine during this troubled time.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: ACTS 4:13-21 PS 118:1, 14-21 MK 16:9-15
Today’s Gospel ends with Jesus challenging the eleven with the following words, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
I’ve shared in the past how full churches were in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. I am in NO WAY about to say this is a bigger tragedy than 9/11. I am not. But this hit the Church in a way that tragedy never did. This shut down Mass. This took away the Sacraments.
I’m not sure if you knew it, but our parish was recently on the local news (3AZTV) because you filled our parish with your pictures for Easter weekend. My prayer is that we flood back to the Church in such a special way that a news crew comes back! Not for our glory, but for the glory of God.)READ MORE
Readings for the Day: ACTS 4:1-12, PS 118:1-2, 4, 22-27 JN 21:1-14
Here are two lines from today’s Psalm: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.”
So, I know, I know. I gave you homework yesterday when I declared a roll call, but I’m giving you homework again today. I want you to write five things you are grateful for from the last 24 hours. You can email it to me or keep it to yourself. That’s up to you.
And remember: just because we are grateful for something, doesn’t mean we like everything. It is a fact that if we wait for everything to be perfect, we will live lives bereft of gratitude.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: ACTS 3:1-10 PS 105: 1-4, 6-9 LK 24:13-35
Today’s Gospel is one I can really identify with. It’s about two disciples who encounter Jesus. They don’t realize it’s Jesus. And it isn’t until he breaks the bread that they realize it is him. Then, in retrospect, they talk about how their hearts were burning within them as he spoke.
There have been so many times in my life when the Lord has visited me, comforted me, blessed me. And I don’t even recognize it in the moment. It isn’t until time passes and my sight clears. That was God!READ MORE
Readings for the Day: ACTS 3:11-26 PS 8:2, 5-9 LK 24:35-48
It’s time. It’s time for a roll call.
Why? Because if you’ve been reading this column, I want to know how you are doing!
Are you staying healthy? Do you (or does anyone you know) need a prayer? Are you an essential worker? Or are you cooped up at home? Are you starting to understand the idea that “a bit of distance makes the heart grow fonder?” If you are not a member of our parish – where are you located and how did you find your way here? (Welcome!)READ MORE
Readings for the Day: ACTS 2:36-41 PS 4-5, 18-20, 22 JN 20:11-18
“Stop holding on to me.” – Jesus
I’m not joking. That is a direct quote from today’s Gospel. It is also a perfect example of why Catholics are such sticklers for knowing the context when reading the Bible.
Jesus had just revealed himself to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection. And he does, she exclaims “Rabbouni!” The best translation for the word is teacher. But the Bible doesn’t tell us what she does. We are left to infer that by the next thing Jesus says. “Stop holding on to me.” But wait. He continues, “for I have not ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”READ MORE
Readings for the Day: ACTS 2:14, 22-33 PS 16:1-2, 5, 7-11 MT 28:8-15
Donald Henry Lins.
The man was my hero. He had a tremendous level of education, but never felt the need to flaunt it. He spent months of his retirement serving in Jeremy Wharf (the most dangerous and impoverished part of Haiti). While everyone else watched personal televisions at their stations during dialysis, he never turned his on…so he could spend his time praying for them.
My dad died just over a decade ago, but I still miss him.READ MORE
Well. Here it is. Easter Sunday.
Easter Sunday without the ability to attend Mass.
How is it even possible?
I pray we never experience it again.
But just as we had to walk through Lent in order to arrive at Easter, we have to get through this global health crisis in order to arrive at healing.
I’m growing tired of writing about the coronavirus. I’m growing exhausted with the inability to escape its all-encompassing nature. I don’t want anyone else to lose a job, a home, or their health. I just want to wake up to a world where every surface we touch and every other human we encounter is no longer considered a threat to my life.READ MORE
Readings for the Day can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/041120.cfm
One of my hats at the parish is Director of RCIA. And while the Rite of Christian Initiation is technically for those getting baptized into the Catholic Faith as adults, most parishes (Our Lady of Joy included) combine their RCIA program with the preparation for their candidates – that is – those who have been validly baptized in other Christian communities and wish to become Roman Catholic.
This year, it has been my honor and privilege to get to know the incredible adults who wish to come into full communion with our beautiful Church. They understand that the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. They understand the beauty and necessity of the sacraments. They understand the life of a Catholic is one of continuing prayer and education. And I know our Faith will be richly blessed to have them as full members.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: IS 52:13-53:12 PS 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25 HEB 4:14-16; 5:7-9 JN 18:1-19:42
St. Stephen wouldn’t stop proclaiming his faith after being threatened with death. He was stoned.
St. Damien of Molokai wouldn’t stop ministering to lepers despite danger of contagion. He died after contracting the disease.
St. Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take the place of another Auschwitz prisoner who had been sentenced to death. His offer was accepted by the guards.
How did these saints have the courage to walk directly toward death? They learned from the best. They knew the story of Good Friday and every day that led up to it. They understood the suffering that comes before the rising. They knew death was (and still is) only temporary.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: EX 12:1-8, 11-14 PS 116:12-13, 15-18 1COR 11:23-26 JN 13: 1-15
Like most people, I am a complete sucker for those videos where members of the military return and surprise loved ones. The unabashed emotion of the reunions never fails to move me.
Holy Thursday should hold even more meaning this year. It celebrates the institution of the Eucharist. The Body and Blood of our Lord. It is the sacrament we’ve been denied as a result of this tragic pandemic.
But we never would’ve had it without today.READ MORE
Before we dive into the Triduum, I just wanted to take a few minutes in order to share with all of you what we are doing to fight the coronavirus and continue our ministry during this trying time.
We are taking the spread of this illness very seriously. Thus far, we have determined about half our staff are able to work from home. Those of us left behind have individual offices making distancing quite easy. Adoration has been moved from the chapel into the larger main church. Confessions have been moved outside or into the former bookstore with appropriate space. A staff member disinfects between each individual confession. All doors to the office are being left open for those who need any help or are dropping off envelopes. All doors to the church are also being left open to facilitate less possibility of unclean surfaces.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: IS 49:1-6, PS 71:1-6, 15, 17, PHIL 2:6-11, JN 13:21-33, 36-38
My toddler is just about the cutest little human on earth. But once in a great while, she tries to deceive me. Examples? I’ll ask if she remembered to wash her hands after going to the bathroom. “Yes, Daddy.” I never heard the sink. Or I’ll hear little footsteps in her room and slowly open the door and see her quickly pulling up her blanket to appear as if she’s been in bed the entire time.
If a parent is paying attention, a toddler won’t be able to fool them. In much the same way, we can’t fool God.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus turns to one of his disciples and lets the man know he isn’t fooled. He knows the man is in the process of betraying him. He doesn’t restrain the man. He doesn’t stop him. He simply says, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Judas leaves at once.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: IS 42:1-7, PS 27:1-3, 13-14, JN 12:1-11
A few days ago, I heard Fr. Clement say something profound. (Warning: You know how your laptop or phone autocorrects? My brain autoparaphrases. So, this will be my brain’s translation.)
“Our sin can always be traced back to a lack of patience with God. Our redemption can always be traced back to God’s patience with us.”
Reread that if you haven’t already. It is genius. And the insight pairs nicely with the final line from today’s Psalm: “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.”
Let us pray for an increase in patience. We need it now more than ever.
David is the Director of Faith Formation at Our Lady of Joy.READ MORE
Having worked in Catholic parishes all but three years of my professional career, I have to let you in on a secret—it astonishes every parish staff I’ve been on that it doesn’t matter what you give out, parishioners will flock to the Church.
Your honor, may I present Exhibit A? At most Catholic parishes, the attendance on Ash Wednesday for exceeds the attendance on most Holy Days of Obligation. Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, but you do get ashes smeared across your forehead!
I fully understand there are several wonderful reasons for the Ash Wednesday influx. It is a great way to deeply participate in Lent. It is an opportunity to show the world you are Catholic. Humans have always gravitated toward traditions and ceremony. The list goes on. It is a great thing to attend Ash Wednesday Mass and I would never discourage it, but attendance at Holy Days should be just as high or greater!READ MORE
Readings for the Day: EZ 37:21-28, JER 31:10-13, JN 11:45-56
The majority of us have probably read the various symptoms of the Covid-19 that has circled the globe. Fever. Dulling of taste and smell. Exhaustion. Difficulty breathing. Sniffles. Cough.
It has caused other issues.
Imagine the pressure of the following scenario…
A couple are hiding in a cave next to a campground. Somewhere in the campground, there is a large, growling animal. It has already wounded (and possibly killed) other inhabitants in the area. Neither is sure where the animal is. Neither is sure if will attack them next. They are running out of food. They are running out of patience. They disagree on whether it is safe to sneak out and forage for food.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: JER 20:10-13, PS 18:2-7, JN 10:31-42
I’m an interesting duck. I fully admit to it.
One of the many genres I enjoy is dystopian. The particular stories within that genre I gravitate toward are ones where something goes wrong and everything falls apart. As things get worse and worse, people begin to hide from one another. Only written notices or messages are left behind. Parks and highways become increasingly abandoned. Businesses close and common communication goes silent.
I took a walk the other day.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: GN 17:3-9, PS 105:4-9, JN 8:51-59
As I am prone to do, I’d like to zero in on one line from today’s readings. And you don’t need to go far to find it. It is the first half of the first line of the First Reading: “When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him…”
When was the last time we humbled ourselves before God? I’m talking getting on our knees next to our beds and pleaded with him? I’m talking let our requests be so real that tears have fallen from our eyes? I’m talking walking down the center aisle of our church (where we’ve moved adoration to aid in social distancing) and laid down on our chests to beg God?READ MORE
Readings for the Day: DN 3:14-20, 91-92, 95, DN 3:52-56, JN 8:31-42
In today’s first reading, three men defied a king.
This king threatened to burn them to death if they wouldn’t worship a golden statue. They responded by saying whether or not their true God would choose to save them, they would never bow before the false god. The king “became livid with utter rage” and demanded the furnace be heated seven times hotter than normal before the three men were to be tossed in.
Sometime later, the king peeked into the furnace and immediately checked with his people to ensure three bound men had been thrown in. He checked because what he saw amid the flames were four men, unbound and unharmed. And the fourth man looked “like a son of God.”READ MORE