From The Pastor's Desk
Holy Family 12-28-03
Community, fellowship, close relationship, (koinwnia-Greek) is a key reality and word found in the Scriptures. We don’t come to God as isolated monads. Immediately after his birth, Jesus is the member of a Holy Family. When Jesus is born in our hearts, he empowers us to be sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters to each other. We are part of the Holy Family of God. This Holy family is one that experiences both the joys of communion and the tensions of working and living together. Notice that even the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had some tensions and anxieties for example, as they looked for Jesus and found him in the temple. Even Jesus had to grow in wisdom before God, all the while remaining sinless.
4th Sunday of Advent 12-21-03
God NEVER breaks his promise. One of his most incredible was to send his son Jesus to enter into our human situation so that he could bring the whole human situation back to himself. What a Promise! What an amazing Mystery! Emmanuel! God With Us! This is the promise of the fourth Sunday of Advent, only to be fulfilled at the celebration of Christmas that will be here in only a few days. All the gifts and acts of love that we celebrate at Christmas are to point to the ONE gift and act of love, JESUS CHRIST!
3rd Sunday of Advent 12-14-03
“If your heart is happy, will you please inform your face?” This doesn’t mean you have to walk around giggling and chuckling all day. It does mean that we, as followers of Christ, are to bring the joy and light of the gospel (a word meaning GOOD NEWS) into this world that is often laden with sadness and pelted with bad news. Saint Paul exhorts us to rejoice in the Lord always, to let the good news bring us to another plane of joy and peace that this world cannot touch. He wrote this while he was in Prison. What are the prisons that you put yourself into? Let the light of Christ shine therein dispelling the darkness.
2nd Sunday of Advent 12-7-03
Whether we like it or not, whether we are a strong practicing catholic or on the edge of atheism, life can cover us with a robe of mourning and misery with paths that are very rough. The Lord challenges us today to take off our robe of mourning and misery and to look to him to make the rough way smooth. We don’t pray for an easy life. Rather we pray to be a strong person walking in the Joy, the light, and the love of God. It is amazing how differently two people can react or respond to the same difficulties. One will keep their eyes on Jesus and walk on water. The other will take their eyes off Jesus and sink. Please allow Jesus into the joys and sorrows, the victories and defeats of your life. You WILL walk on water.
1st Sunday of Advent 11-30-03
Are You Ready?
Christ the King 11-23-03
Someone once said, “It is not so much a matter of getting into the Kingdom of God as much as it is getting the Kingdom of God into us.” These words challenge us to let Jesus be King and Lord of our hearts. The way we get the Kingdom of God into us is to let the King reside in our hearts. The Lord will never force his way into our heart. He stands at the door of our heart knocking and to those we open up he will enter and break bread with us, the bread of his love, the bread of his word which leaves our hearts burning within us, and the bread of the Kingdom of God. If you are not being fed, it is because you are not eating!
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 11-16-03
I remember as a very little boy (I was probably about 7) hearing a homily that stirred my soul. Beautiful light was streaming through the stained glass window of Corpus Christi Church. Father Gene Sitzmann was preaching on today’s readings about the end of the world, about how all who keep their eyes fixed on Jesus will be gloriously with the Lord, shining like the stars. I remember thinking, “I want to be one of those stars. I want to be a glowing saint!” we went home after mass and as mom made breakfast, I was in the living room filled with a deep joy that I could not even explain. Even though today’s Gospel seems to be doom and gloom, it really is one that speaks of great victory and glory for the sons and daughters of God. It is a great consolation that the world as we know it will pass away. If anyone upsets you just say, “It doesn’t matter, I am not going to be alive much longer anyway!” “What? Are you terminally ill! Are you thinking of taking your life?” To which we answer, “Oh no, nothing like that. But I only have 40 to 50 more years left, a blink of the eye!”
The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica 11-9-03
I Praise and Thank God that it is now law that partial birth abortions are banned! Let us continue to pray for the whole nine yards so that abortion will be illegal across the board. Two weeks I spoke about the preciousness of each soul from the moment of conception. Last week I spoke on each soul redeemed by God through Christ and that Jesus will reject no one who comes to him. This week I would ask you to consider the things you allow into your soul, The angry, mean, lustful, proud and self-centered thoughts. We celebrate the feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, as well we should because it is the “Cathedral” Church of the Holy Father. However, let us never lose sight of the temple of our hearts and how indeed we need to cherish and guard them from all that would be contrary to the Kingdom of Light. We can never recognize the greatness of a Basilica in Rome if we don’t first recognize the greatness of our own souls and treasure the Lord who dwells therein.
All Souls Day 11-2-03
Rejection is one of the most painful realities that we face. Rejection has been the cause of sleepless nights, anxiety-ridden days, and a feeling of meaninglessness for many. Just talk to someone who has been abandoned by their boy friend or girl friend. Talk to a newly divorced person. See the pain on the face of someone who was just fired. There are many more cases. We need to listen to these great words of Father Ed Carpenter, “Don’t be too concerned about what other people think of you, because they really think of you very little. Be more concerned about what God thinks of you because he thinks about you always!” Jesus declares that he rejects no one who comes to him. Paul writes in Romans, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” These are consoling words that we need to take deeply within our souls. Every soul created by God is planned by God to know everlasting life in a total, accepting love that will never waver, change, or lessen. You have got it made! God and all of heaven accept you, love you, and cherish you! We rejoice and are Glad because our God has saved us!
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time 10-26-03
The old saying goes, “There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.” The reality of God is so clear that it is not clear at all to some. I personally cannot imagine not believing in God. Yet, just like the oxygen we breathe, so is his Presence among us taken for granted. Once as a pre-school child I asked my dad, “Could you teach me to speak another language?” He replied, “Sure, what do you want to speak?” I said “English!” to which he responded, “Duh, you already speak English!” We may say, “Help me see God!” My response is, “Duh, he is closer to you than you are to yourself. Find God in your life by getting back to the basic self-evident truth.”
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time 10-19-03
“We adore you O Christ and we praise you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” We often marvel at the incredible love that Jesus showed us as he gave himself for us on the cross. This is good and right. However, think of Him in the bliss of heavenly glory and light, in perfect happiness. Then think of him leaving that place of pure heavenly peace and coming to us to be born of a woman, subject to all the difficulties of life. Because of Jesus, we no longer can cry, “God, you don’t understand our pain!” Instead, we know that we have one who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, has similarly been tested in every way that we are, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and help.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time 10-12-03
Years ago my brother Patrick was in a play at Saint Edmond’s High School titled YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU. Even though I was only in grade school, I have often thought of that title and what it means. It makes great sense! No matter how much you acquire on this earth the only thing that really matters is storing up for yourselves heavenly treasure that never fades or perishes. I think of Saint Francis of Assisi, who had much wealth and popularity, yet after reading today’s Gospel gave it all up. The words, “if you truly would be wealthy, sell all you have, give to the poor, and then follow me,” were seared into his soul. In the eyes of the world, Francis died a poor man. He had trousers, an old tattered habit, and a cord for a belt. However, in the eyes of the Kingdom of God, he was exceedingly wealthy. He spent time building up the richness of the soul, so much so that he could truly say with Saint Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me.” May the Lord give us the grace to live that kind of reliance on God alone. YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU!!!
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time 10-5-03
½ + ½ = 1. This is true most of the time. However, in a marriage relationship, ½ + ½ = ¼. If you are looking for your spouse to be the beatific vision (the face to face vision of God which totally and utterly satisfies every longing of the human heart), you are in for great heartache and disappointment. Please find your deepest joy at the center of your own heart wherein dwells the God of all love and hope; Only then will you really have anything to share with your spouse whatsoever. Find your deepest fulfillment in Christ then you can truly say, 1+1= 1.
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time 9-28-03
“Now I am Set For Life!” Does that mean your finances are in order? Perhaps you just had a good check-up? What does it really mean to be “set for life?” Eternal life is this, to know the one true God, and the One whom he sent, Jesus Christ. James makes it very clear to us that we should not place all our eggs in the basket of this world but that we place all our hopes on the gift of everlasting life. James tells us that our life is like a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. May the “puff” of our life rise like fragrant incense of love to the glory of God the Father!
Concert! John Michael Talbot’s music has deeply touched my life since 1976. I believe that he is the best of the best, an inspiration to many. He will be in concert in Omaha Nebraska on October 12th at Christ the King Church 7:00 pm (Phone 402-391-3606) and in Algona, Iowa At Saint Cecelia’s on October 13th 7:00pm. (Phone 515-295-3435) suggested donation for a ticket is $20.00. Please sign up in Back of Church if you want me to order you a ticket and specify which concert you want to attend to cut down on calls to the church. You will have to provide your own transportation.
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time 9-21-03
The teacher turned to me and said, “I don’t have that much. My job doesn’t give me any satisfaction. I need to get a life!” to which I answered, “You don’t have to get a life, YOU ARE A LIFE!” Each precious soul, made in the image and likeness of God is so very valuable. This lack of awareness of ones innate value is the root cause of jealousy, the jealousy we hear about in this weekends readings from James. If we knew how incredibly good we are, we wouldn’t have to seek attention and affirmation from outside sources. Scripture says that our “sole credit comes from God”... and from Job, “naked I came forth into this world and naked I shall return.” O the freedom of letting go of the need to be stroked and affirmed by others. When you have Jesus, you have it all. The rest is just frosting.
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time 9-14-03
God never sends anyone to hell. It is God’s direct will and desire that all people go to heaven. Even though there were a few minor questionable moments in the current movie “Bruce Almighty,” the wonderful point highlighted in the show was that God cannot mess with our free will. One of the greatest gifts and greatest trials given to humans is our free will. Without free will, love is impossible. No one can force us to love. WE CHOOSE IT. But when God shows us that he is all goodness and all beauty, HOW CAN WE REFUSE!
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 9-7-03
The man went to the doctor on a regular basis with all kinds of fears of various kinds of sickness. Finally, the doctor gave him a sheet of paper with a prescription: Of all your fears great and small, the greatest are those that won’t happen at all... and if they do as long as Christ lives in you, all is well and all will be well forever! This ended the man’s trips to the doctor and great peace ensued.
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 8-31-03
What is an “impure” thought? We automatically assume that an impure thought is exclusively an inappropriate sexual thought. This is only partially true. Impure thoughts go way beyond that. They include any thought that is in any way opposed to the mind of God. The more we put on the mind of Christ, that is seeing the world through his eyes and heart, the more “pure” our thoughts. The more unloving our thoughts, the more “impure” they are. The gospel tells us that acts of fornication, theft, murder, adulterous conduct, greed, maliciousness, deceit, sensuality, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and an obtuse spirit are all evils that come from within and render a person impure. Try and see yourself as Gods well holding the pure water of his love. Make every attempt to not pollute the well with the aforementioned impurities. We do have a choice as to what we allow in our thoughts. Through prayer, the sacraments, good and wholesome reading and study, and through the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling within, the pure water of God’s love is poured into our hearts. Lord Jesus, Please give us your mind and heart!
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time 8-24-03
“Wives, be subordinate to your husbands.” This line is a hard line for many. However, if one reads further, Paul also writes, “Husbands, love your wives as much as Christ loved the Church!” In essence, Paul is calling for MUTUAL love and MUTUAL subordination. Please read the entire passage and understand this.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 8-17-03
When we eat food it breaks down and becomes us. The Eucharist is different. When we eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood, we break down and become transformed into Christ. We become one with him!
I will be back Friday the 22nd of August. I promise my daily prayers for you. If you need a priest please contact Father Frank the visiting missionary at the rectory. If you can’t find him please contact Father John McGuirk at 712.664.2915 or Father Terry Roder at 712.883.2406.
R.C.I.A.- The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is being offered this fall. It will entail about every other week till Easter and then one class afterwards. This for those who are interested in possibly joining the Catholic church and secondarily is being offered for those who want to renew and refresh their Catholic faith. If interested, please call Father David. Linda Galvin, Mike Stover, or Mike and Sherry Hittle.
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 8-10-03
Please consider these beautiful words by Thomas Merton:
TRUE ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST
LIBERATES SOMETHING IN US,
WE DID NOT KNOW WE HAD,
A CAPACITY FOR LIFE,
AN ABILITY TO BOUNCE BACK
WHEN WE THOUGHT WE
WERE COMPLETELY DEFEATED,
A CAPACITY TO GROW AND CHANGE,
A POWER OF CREATIVE TRANSFORMATION.
These words have been in my bible since 1975 and have continually pointed me to prayer, the living encounter with Christ. He is why I became a priest. He is why I am still a priest. He is why I will die a priest. He is why I am a priest forever!
May this personal and powerful encounter with Christ enable you to live a life worthy of your calling as well. May you be faithful till death so that you will receive the crown of life!
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 8-3-03
When we pray, Give us this day our daily bread, we often think only about where our next meal is coming from! While this is well, good and normal, we often fail to see the other hungers that we need to bring before the Lord. The title of Ralph Martin’s book HUNGRY FOR GOD put it well, simple and to the point. We hunger for God. We all have an emptiness within that only God can fill. If you don’t sit down put food in your mouth, chew, then swallow, you will not be filled with food. If you do not pull up to the gas pump, take off the cap, and pump the gas, your car will stop. Why do we think we can go anywhere in life without stopping to open our mind, heart and will to God in prayer. It will NOT happen automatically. The Lord says in Isaiah, “Open Wide your mouth and I will fill It!” I beg you, for your sake and for the sake of the health of the church PLEASE, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time 7-27-03
God does not view time in spatial, sequential, or chronological order. That is for limited minds. For God, all reality and time are one. Therefore, what we do today has retrospective ramifications on Jesus’ suffering and death on Calvary. Whenever we choose to avoid sin and act in love, we actually are already back some two thousand years in God’s “ever-present now” lightening his load and easing his pain on the cross. We actually pour mercy on him who died to pour mercy upon us! Imagine Jesus on the cross before you now in great physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain. He is truly before you now! Realize that when you choose not to sin, you choose to show him mercy and lighten his burden. Conversely, when we sin, we add to his agony because it was for our sins that he was crucified! Sometimes we sin because we just figure that God is in his bliss, Jesus already died, and we cannot hurt God anymore. While on one level this is true, on another it is not true. Jesus did suffer and die on the cross for you and I. The most intense suffering was not the physical but the sense of being separated from the Father. When we sin, we feel alienated from God, others and ourselves. Jesus felt the ultimate alienation when God made him who knew no sin to become sin itself. This means that Jesus became alienation itself, which is the most intense suffering one can experience. In essence, it is hell. Another way that we hurt God through sin, is that we hurt him in us. When we sin, we hurt ourselves and when we hurt, God hurts because we are his children. Finally, whatsoever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, that we do unto him
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time 7-20-03
We are not human doings. We are human Beings. This means that we have infinite value and worth long before we “do” anything. God does not love us because we are on earth doing something for him. Rather, we are on earth doing all sorts of things because God first loved us. A parent has a profound and sacrificial love for their child, a love that would die for their child. The child just exits, looks at them, wakes them up at all hours of the night, is fed and diapered by them. In terms of “doing” they don’t seem to be contributing much, next to nothing. However, to see the look of love and pride on a parents face as they show the world their new baby. Indescribable! Each individual human BEING is indescribably precious to God.
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time 7-13-03
The word apostle means one who is sent. The word disciple means student, pupil, or learner. One can never expect to be an apostle without first being a disciple of Christ. We must first sit at his feet in his Holy Presence to take in all that he has to teach us. We must approach Jesus with humble teachable minds and hearts in order to learn of the things that really matter. Often it is only after going through the crucible that we truly grow in our relationship with the Lord because it is only then that we are ready to listen. After Listening and learning from the Lord, only then are we ready to go out as his apostles. Obviously, I make a distinction between the formal role of bishops as successors to the apostles and the priesthood of the laity who by virtue of baptism are sent out to bring the gospel to the world. Then all who are sent out must daily return to the source of their teaching, preaching and ministry through deep daily prayer and once again sitting at the feet of the Lord as his disciples. I recall the very public story of John Schlitt who sang for the famed group HEADEAST. After several years of taking time off and deep study of the word of God, he emerged again in the music seen as the lead singer to the grammy-winning-christan group called Petra, one of my personal favorites. Look at Elijah in his cave, then going out in power. Look at Saint Francis who spent 75 to 80 percent of his time in the hermitage yet who was used by God to transform the world of his day.
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time 7-6-03
Recently I was reflecting with a dear friend of mine, Msgr. Heras on our time in Rome. We both left from a college setting to go to seminary with a bit of a complacent attitude about the U.S.A. Many college students have a very “I know better than them” attitude. We fit that bill. However that changed. Being away from the states for two years at a time brought on a longing and missing of home. On Thanksgiving Day, which is not celebrated in Europe, 180 students at the college would get together for a great banquet complete with Italian pumpkin pie. At the end of the meal we would sing GOD BLESS AMERICA. There was not a dry eye in the place. Prayer: Lord we thank and praise you for all the good in America. We cannot put into words how wonderful it is to be an American. The opportunities and blessings in America are beyond words! However, we know that much needs to be done to more deeply reflect your kingdom. Help all Americans to grow in deeper holiness, to repent of sin that is offensive to you and against your love, especially the sin of abortion. May America more and more reflect on earth the kingdom of God. AMEN!
Feast of Saints Peter & Paul 6-29-03
As Catholics, we stand strong and sure in our faith because of the strong and sure faith of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. It was Saint Peter himself who said that it was not by “cleverly concocted myths” that we told you about this Jesus. Saint Paul in I Corinthians 15 makes it clear that not just the philosophy or teaching of Christ rose from the dead, but that the Person of Christ truly rose and our faith is in Him. Peter, who was crucified upside down, and Paul, who was beheaded at Tre Fontoni, are credible, solid witnesses to the reality of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Although we have a personal faith in the reality of the Risen Christ, we also have a faith in their faith, a faith that has been handed down and dearly guarded through the centuries. This is our Faith. This is the Faith of the church and we are proud to profess it!
Corpus Christi 6-22-03
Jesus said that one has no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another. At every Eucharist we remember Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for us as his body was broken and blood shed for us on Calvary. When we receive him in this Eucharist we learn that we too must reciprocate this love by laying our life down for God and for our brothers and sisters, hence bringing to completion what it truly means to LIVE the Eucharist.
Holy Trinity 6-15-03
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN. How many times do we say or pray this? This prayer connects us with the ONE true God who is the source of our life! Through this most short yet most powerful prayer, we clearly state that what we are about to pray is not according to our will and design but according to God’s way and will. Saint Teresa of Avila states that holiness is not necessarily determined by our happiness as much as it is our resolve to do only the will of God in all things and to attempt to never offend God. Whenever we pray this prayer, that is exactly what we are doing. Implicitly we are asking God to make us Holy, To make us Living, Glowing Saints by doing only his will. Through Jesus, With Jesus, In Jesus, In the Unity of the Holy Spirit All Glory and Honor is yours almighty Father forever and ever! AMEN
We don’t have it all together, but together we have it all! I have met guitarists that can play circles around me in their sleep, but they could not write a song to save them. I know some songwriters that craft beautiful songs but to hear them sing makes one cringe! You feel like asking them to sing a solo so low that nobody can hear it! There are those who are not that great of technicians, yet they know where and how to place the lyrics, guitar lick, or drum fill in such a way that it takes you to the heavens. The following is only my opinion: John Lennon had a wide, tremendously creative and incredible vision of music, but needed the focus and boundary skills of Paul to craft so many of the Beatles songs into the fine units of music that have touched the hearts of so many. John was the fire but Paul was the fireplace! Ringo was not a phenomenal technician on drums but he knew exactly what to place and where to place it with a tastefulness that often leaves me amazed. He knew the meaning of “less is more.” I know of no other drummer who could have fit the Beatles better than he. He is my primordial inspiration to play drums! Lets not leave George out. Wow! The underrated and quiet Beatle whose signature sound formed the foundation of so many songs! Those unforgettable forever-etched-in-our-hearts guitar licks. They were the inspiration for an entire generation of guitar players and then some and beyond. As solo artists the Beatles did great work, but nothing even touches what they did as a “group.” Together they really had it all. Now take this secular passing group and multiply it by the number infinite and you have the church. Pentecost is the birthday of the church. The gifts of the Holy Spirit given to each member in various number and degree are given for the up building of the church. We are to create and be a symphony of eternal praise to the Father through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit. We do not go it alone. We go to the Father as the Body of Christ, each with our own talents and gifts. We need each other to make it happen. The Lord gives us each our call to do our share so as to evangelize the world. We don’t have it all together, but together we have it all!
Ascend means to go up. It means a physical going up but also a going up in terms of rank. This is the case for Jesus who emptied himself, being born in the likeness of man and He was taken out of the apostles’ sight in a physical sense. He also ascended to the right hand of the Father in Glory to take his rightful place as King of heaven and earth, Lord of lords, the Almighty! In truth, Jesus reclaimed what was already his from all eternity. It is an unchangeable position. However, for a short time, Jesus emptied himself of the Glory to “touch base” with us so that all of humanity would not only touch base with divinity but also become divinized and made holy, as God is Holy. Because Christ is ascended to the the right hand of the father, he forever lives to make intercession between the Father and us. We go confidently to the Father, Through Jesus, In the Holy Spirit. That is what Ascension is all about. Being reconciled to the Father, which IS our salvation. To be reconnected to the Father IS to be saved and it is Jesus who brings this about!
6th Sunday of Easter 5-25-03
It was November of 1977. I had just finished my first set of exams and we were on our way home for Thanksgiving break. All of the sudden CRASH!!!! Our car, which ran a red light, was broadsided. I was in the back left seat. My head busted out the side window and I ended up in the hospital with quite the concussion. A friend of mine noticed that I had lost my glasses, and then had found them. No kidding, when I announced that my angel had found them and placed them on my face Steven McLoud, now Father Steven McCloud, knew that he had better take me to the hospital. I remember starting the rosary, then being finished and forgetting that I had prayed all the prayers between. Well, soon I was back on my feet but not without learning some huge, life-altering lessons. Don’t ride with Steve McLoud. JUST Kidding Steve! This is the lesson: The first thing I really remember after coming too was a crucifix on the hospital room wall. I hardly new my name, but I knew who HE was and found great comfort in Him. I realized also, that I could have been gone that fast from this world and that all the things I thought were so important aren’t. It didn’t matter so much what grades I received as much as how much love I had in acing or flunking the exams. I reviewed my life and realized that God is not looking so much for accomplishments as he is Love. I realized that the only thing that will really matter at the moment of my death is whether or not I believed in and accepted Jesus and then if I lived that faith out in love. In fact, it was shortly after this experience that I read Saints Paul’s words stating that the only thing that matters is “Faith that shows itself or works itself out in Love.” The word and command in this week’s gospel is crystal clear... Love. Saint John of the Cross says that in the eventide of life we shall be judged by love. But above all remember, “Love consists in this, Not that we have loved God first, but that he loved us first and sent his son as an offering for our sins.” By the way, later that year, on our way up to a religious rally in Saint Paul, Father Steve marvelously maneuvered us out of a near fatal crash thus proving himself to be a great driver!
5th Sunday of Easter 5-18-03
God wants spiritual fruits NOT religious nuts! While it is even admirable and good to speak often on religious matters, it is much better if we deeply live the religious life. Sometimes we can be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good! If we receive the Lord Jesus on our tongue in the Eucharist, and then proceed with the same tongue to cuss the guy out in the parking lot after mass that inadvertently pulls out in front of us, we are not showing forth a fruitful Christian life. What we profess in our religious life must show forth in our daily life. The fruits of the Holy Spirit as laid out for us in Galatians, Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control, These fruits are signs of true holiness, that we are living an authentic catholic life. This authenticity comes from being deeply connected to Jesus Christ who is our vine. We, the branches, draw everything from him. Apart from him we truly can do NOTHING. Connected to him we can do all things and face all things.
4th Sunday of Easter 5-11-03
There are many voices speaking to us! They come at us from all sides. Unfortunately, often times these voices are shaming, condemning, and downright mean. Why do we listen to these inner and outer voices that don’t reflect and even contradict the One Voice to which we should always be tuned, the voice of the Good Shepherd? We need to tune into the frequency of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ to hear what he has to say to us. There is so much Good News and Truth that is just longing to set us free from the voices that would condemn or belittle us. Please do yourself and those around you a favor and listen to the sweet words of the Good Shepherd. Hear him say, “You are my precious little one for whom I have laid down my life!”
3rd Sunday of Easter 5-4-03
There is too much finger pointing! He did this! She did that! They are to blame! More often than not, the problem lies in us. We are not willing to take responsibility for our actions. It is always someone else’s fault. The reason we won’t take responsibility for our actions is often to due to the fact that we don’t believe that we can be forgiven! If we truly believed that we could be forgiven and free from sin, we would more readily bring it before God. One of the main fruits of the resurrection is the gift of repentance leading to the forgiveness of sins, leading to a joyous life of love. How wonderful our society would be if we could stop pointing fingers at others, take responsibility for our actions, confess our sins, and THEN BE FREE! We always want to sweep others peoples side of the street, when in fact we are called to sweep our side of the street. I am not saying that we should never confront evil or deal with the crimes and sins of others. I am simply saying that the holiness of this earth and the healing of society begins with the holiness of each life and the healing of each person, and this reality is made possible through the saving death and resurrection of Christ our Lord.
Concert! On May 12th at 7:00 pm, some of the finest catholic musicians in the world will be right here at Sacred Heart to put on a concert you will never forget. I had the privilege and honor of playing some concerts at WORLD YOUTH DAY with David Vogel (whose style is similar to Pure Prairie League or the Eagles), Dennis Grady (Who is very similar to Jackson Brown) and Auggie (who was years with Billy Graham). I will once again accompany these great guys on drums. What a blessing to have them right here as they embark on a nation-wide tour. Please do not miss this opportunity. A free will offering will be taken and CD’s and cassettes will be available.
Mercy Sunday 4-27-03
When we truly love, we want to give of ourselves to the beloved. Jesus, has chosen a certain way to remain with us and to continue to give of himself after he would rise. He wants us to take and to eat of his body and drink his blood. Jesus wants us to live in deep and everlasting communion with him. This is why he established the Eucharist as the Living Memorial of his real presence. It was very clear to the early church and remains so today in the Roman Catholic Church, that Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist is the true and real presence of Jesus; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Jesus is the intimate companion of your soul, your best friend, the one who will one day cause YOU to rise from the dead! Alleluia!!
Easter Sunday 4-20-03
What is the one, central and key reality to all of Christianity? What is the one truth, if we take it out, would make all of Christianity fall? Give up? The Resurrection! It was not just the idea of Jesus that rose. It was not just the teaching or influence of Jesus that rose. From the very start the church has always clearly and boldly declared, even to the point of torture and bloodshed, that the Person of Jesus Rose from the dead! ALLELUIA! Saint Peter makes it clear to us that “it was not by way of cleverly concocted myths” that we teach about the Lordship of Jesus but rather they testify to reality that JESUS IS RISEN! Therefore, he is God, Savior, Lord, Redeemer, Hope of the Nations. At all times, in all places, let us boldly and lovingly declare that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Let us lovingly and reverently enter into his presence in prayer to find grace, hope, wisdom, meaning, peace, healing, joy and love.
Palm Sunday 4-13-03
“Don’t count the passing days, but make the passing days count!” Father Pius gave these wise words to me at New Melleray Abbey years ago. The question in response to those words may be, how do I make the passing days count? One major suggestion, given to us from the movie The Gladiator, is penned as follows: What we do on earth echoes in eternity. Therefore any act of love, starting here and echoing into eternity would certainly seem to count for a lot. DWJWD- Do what Jesus would do, is another way of putting it. Everything that Jesus did was motivated by love, even when he overturned the money-changer’s table! Mother Teresa of Calcutta tells us that even the simplest act when done in love takes on infinite value. So then, how does one make the passing days count? By loving with the Heart of Christ. In these upcoming days of the Triduum, please make them days that count by deeply loving the Lord and the people that surround you, even the thieves on the cross!
5th Sunday of Lent 4-6-03
For this week’s message, Please follow directions below:
1. Find a quiet place (you may need to go to church)
2. Find one hour (forget watching your regular back to back episodes of Three’s Company on TV)
3. Quietly rest in the Presence of the Lord and Listen to Him
4. Hold the message in your heart and/or write it down
5. Congratulations! You just heard God’s word!
4th Sunday of Lent 3-30-03
At the Beginning of our spiritual journey, we see God through creation, but at the end of our journey we move to a point where we see creation through God. The Lord works lovingly and gently with us to bring us into deeper union with him so that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” When people blame their sins on “just being human” they miss the mark. The more “human” we become the more we become like Christ. When we sin, we actually lower our dignity and are less than human. The definition of a person is An individual subsistent (exits in self and not in another) being endowed with a rational and responsible nature. The Perfect person is Christ. It is He we seek to not only imitate, but to be while keeping the clear distinction that we are his creation and he is our creator. We are made in his image and likeness. O the grand dignity of the human person from conception right into eternal life! God so loved this world of ours that he sent his only that whosoever believes in him may perish but have everlasting life!
3rd Sunday of Lent 3-23-03
If you had a violent person break into your house, would you say, “No problem, when you get done smashing the television set why don’t you go for the china and crystal cabinet. Oh, by the way please smash me and my family as well!” NEVER!! You would do everything in your power to protect your treasures! Then why do we let evil, mean, hurtful, sinful, gossipy, lustful, greedy, self-seeking thoughts into our mind and heart? The battle ground between good and evil is in our heart and Mind. We start with the evil thought conceived in our mind. It then grows and gives birth to a sinful act. In contrast, we begin with a good thought which realizes itself in a virtuous act. The place to stop sinful acts is in the mind and heart. Saint Paul tells us in Philippians Chapter 4 to think on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, and worthy of praise. We have a choice about what we dwell upon and what we let rent space in our heads. To be a man or women of prayer is to be a person whose mind is formed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and one who expels what is not holy from the temple of our soul. Instead, let the Holy Spirit make his dwelling place in your heart.
2nd Sunday of Lent 3-16-03
Even during lent, Permeating our heart and soul is the good news that Christ is Risen...and during The Easter Season we never forget that Christ died for us. During this season, the church gives us the Gospel passage on the Transfiguration of Christ. Before Christ underwent his passion, he showed his closest friends a taste of his glory so that they would not lose sight of the goal. He wanted them to have courage through the time of his suffering to live in the hope of resurrection. Daily we die and rise with Christ!
1st Sunday of Lent 3-9-03
God loves the sinner but hates the sin because it hurts the sinner whom He loves. When you look at yourself, are you happy with what you see? Do you like the person you have become? Lent is a time when we make an intense effort to root out all that is not of the Kingdom of God and to let all that which is of God to grow. “I must decrease. He must increase.” The Lord tells us that “now is the time of fulfillment...The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel!” There is a twofold movement here:
1. Repent - means to turn away from all those things that are not of God.
2. Believe in the Gospel - Gospel means Good News. We are to turn towards the truth about God’s love for us, his offer to have life with him on earth and everlasting life in heaven.
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time 3-2-03
April of 1983 found me out in the middle of the Sinai desert along with 30 other seminarians. We had previously been to such sights as the Holy Tomb of Christ, the Garden of Gethsemane, Galilee, and Mt. Tabor. All of these were profound experiences. However, the most profound of all these experiences happened in the desert. I foolishly wandered away from the group only to find myself all alone. The only thing below me or around me was red granite stone. There was no wind and virtually no sound except that of silence. Silence can be loud! It was there that God revealed to Moses his name- I AM. Never in my life have I been so aware of the ever-present and eternal creator. I prayed to him saying, “I am because you are I AM!” I realized that in God we live, and move, and have our being. This is why solitude and silence is SO important. All the distractions, activities, and things around, though often themselves pointing to God, are NOT God. For a more pure experience of God without mediation, we need to subtract all those distractions to simply rest our being with the one who is Being itself. In the first reading, the Lord calls us into the desert so that he may speak to us and “be” with us on that deep level. It can be a scary yet very fruitful place from where we come to the true meaning of our life, spared from the many empty superficialities that often plague our day. The Greek word for desert is eremos, from which we get the word hermit. Hermits were those who went out into the desert to seek God and do battle with within. We are called to enter the hermitage or desert of our heart to meet the Lord who dwells therein. By the way, I made it back to the camp safe and sound!
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2-23-03
The title of this story is: "The Tale of Two Dates."
There once lived a man who had two dates. The first woman was much like his little sister. He was roped into the date but, out of proper protocol, had to fulfill his duty. He went to pick her up. What a tense ride to the house! He pinned the boring and meaningless flower upon her, took her out to eat some kind of food that gave him indigestion, and after dancing a few dances managed to get her home by 10:30. That was that! He thanked God that the date was over. On the date with the second woman he did the same rituals, but it was different. The ride over was an exciting adventure. And the Corsage! What an elegant addition to his beautiful date’s dress! The meal was divine and they danced until closing time. The man went flying home with joy and fulfillment, already looking forward to the next time he could be with his beloved. The difference between these two dates is that he was not in love with the first, but was deeply in love with the second. These rituals can be empty or full depending upon if you are in love with the person you are with. By way of analogy, the rituals of mass can be meaningless to us and unfruitful unless we are in love with the Lord. When Jesus is real to us, when we surrender to him in faith hope and love, the sacraments, prayers, blessings, and sacramentals of our church take on rich and deep meaning. It is all about a living relationship of love with our God who comes to us whenever we call upon his name! Love Jesus. Surrender to Jesus. Turn to Jesus at all times and in every circumstance and your life will not be a bunch of empty rituals but a full, rich, and meaningful life.
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2-16-03
We guard and protect many things in our lives. What is the one thing you should guard and protect above all realities? It would stand to reason that the more personal something is, the more it should be guarded. The more permanent something is, the more it should be protected. From the moment of conception you have one personal reality that is 100% absolutely precious and unrepeatable. It is immortal, meaning that it will have no end. IT IS YOUR SOUL. At conception your entire soul or person is present. You are not half a person, ¼ of a soul. No, YOU ARE COMPLETE. This soul endowed with a free will has been designed for complete and absolute happiness in heaven with God. Because of free will however, (remember, you can not have love without free will) there is the option to say no to God and live separated from him for all of eternity. This is what is known as Hell or Gehena. The soul in hell is a living contradiction because while the entire being longs for blissful union God, that same being endowed with free will has chosen to reject God. The time that we call our life on earth is short, a mere split second of decision. Do not play games with your soul! Surrender to Love!
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2-9-03
In 1983 Pope John Paul II designated the 2nd week of February as WORLD MARRIAGE DAY. It is a day where couples renew their love for on another and Pledge to take each other in good times and bad, sickness or health, for richer or poorer. Our society is as strong and as loving as each family. The more families that are fragmented and isolated from each other, the more fragmented and isolated our society. A statistic came out several years ago that stated the following: One out of two marriages ends in divorce. One out of every 50 marriages ends in divorce where the family weekly attends a religious service together. Only One out of every 1,050 end in divorce where the couple prays together daily. What a dramatic showing! It is not trite to say that the family that prays together, stays together. This also means that each member prays separately as well. It is from prayer that we encounter God who is Love. It is his love that is the bond of our unity! So get those rosaries out, get in the car and commit yourself to mass, be people of depth and prayer!
It was about 1979. I had just finished a marvelous retreat at New Melleray Abbey, covering the works of Saint John of the Cross. Blissfully filled with the peace and joy of the Lord, I proceeded to an Iowa City hospital with a friend for his appointment with the doctor. As we filled our plates in the cafeteria, I was so happy because I was good and hungry. Then, without warning my appetite totally dropped. I saw a woman who had a disease that made her body look as if it was covered with jagged pebbles. She was truly repulsive to look at! Then I heard the Lord speak to me in my heart, "David, so you want to be a priest? Could you anoint her? Could you hold her hand?" The question deeply challenged me and made me aware of the charity and love that Christ was calling me to in my life of ministry. As she walked by our table, I forced myself to look at her. Her eyes didn't have bumps on them. They were actually beautiful. I saw Christ in her. I then knew that if called to it, I could hold her hand. I could anoint her. On the feast of the presentation, we remember when Joseph and Mary presented Jesus to God the Father, thus allowing the entire world to be presented to the Father by Jesus. Let us look beyond the mere externals of people and she that when we love them, when we present them to God, that we are presenting Christ himself as a gift to the Father. May Christ then present us to the Father in all the people we meet.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 1-26-03
Jesus came proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand. The church then proclaimed Jesus, because it is Jesus who brings the kingdom. Jesus IS the KING! We are Christians because we profess that Jesus Christ is God. We profess that he is God because of the many signs and wonders he did while on earth, but MOSTLY because he ROSE FROM THE DEAD on the third day. His closest friends fearlessly and to the point of shedding their blood proclaimed to the world that Jesus Christ is RISEN from the dead and that we who die believing in him will also rise with him. Now life has meaning! Alleluia! We hear today from Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians that the world as we know it is passing away. Therefore, do not be concerned about so many things that the people of this world are concerned about. Live with your heart set on the eternal kingdom of God, which will never pass away or fade. We are called to abandon our boats and nets in order to follow Jesus through the cross of this life to the Resurrection in Eternal Life!
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 1-19-03
My dad's brother, Alfred, once brought me a cotton pod saying, "If you put this in water and wait patiently, it will open up into a beautiful blossom of cotton." Being only 7 years old, I couldn't wait. So I went out in the back yard and started picking the still green pod open and apart. I ended up with a mess of fibers that failed miserably to live up to the potential blossom. As I sat there, I felt sad and guilty. I KNEW that I had done something wrong. I interfered with the natural work of God and was so ashamed to admit to my Uncle that I destroyed his gift. What a small thing, yet how significant! How much more precious and infinitely valuable is the unrepeatable reality of each person or soul! January 22, 2003 marks the 30th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, thirty years of legalized killing in all 50 states of America, truly a terrorism of the womb! Human value and dignity is an essential and intrinsic gift of God by the mere fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God. It is a dignity that is bestowed by God, not by other persons, society, or the state. As Catholics, abortion is not a morally acceptable option in any case. We simply do not have the authority to approve or encourage this. What is the will of God? LIFE! Our duty then is to choose life. After choosing life may we continue to love these lives after birth with the greatest of respect and love until they are caught up in the eternal life From Whom and For Whom they have been created.
Baptism of the Lord 1-12-03
What was the greatest day of your life? When you got that job you applied for? When you finished school after 20 grueling years? Perhaps your wedding day or ordination day was your greatest day. If you are like Pope John Paul II you would say that the greatest day of your life was when you were baptized. Now don't get me wrong... God loved you from eternity past and in fact, loved you into existence. God does not love you because you exist. Rather, you exist because God loves you. However, at your baptism, God's creation culminates in the crowning glory. You become a dwelling place of the very presence of God the Holy Spirit, become a son or daughter of God in the fullest sense, become a member of the body of Christ, and become an heir to heaven. After baptism, everything else is just frosting on the cake. To be baptized means to be immersed, immersed in the life of God and filled with Sanctifying Grace.
Epiphany of the Lord 1-5-03
Epiphany means to "SHINE LIGHT UPON" something, hence the first reading, Rise up in splendor Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. The star shed it's light upon the infant Jesus revealing him to the world as the true light of all peoples. There is a natural progression in the liturgies. We begin the Christmas season with the Birth of Christ. After Christ is born we celebrate the Holy Family. Since the Holy Family was there for the world, we celebrate Epiphany where Christ is revealed to the world. Finally, we will end the Christmas season at the Baptism of the Lord. Since we have been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, we too are called to be "epiphanies" or manifestations of Christ to the world. When people look at you, do they see the Light of Christ?