Recent ArticlesMarch 25, 2018 - Spirituality & Theology
The words we choose are tremendously important. It is so easy for our meaning to get lost because we don’t put enough thought into our words. The most obvious negative result of this is that we hurt others. But another, subtler, but perhaps more potent effect of poorly-chosen words is that we misunderstand something that is extremely important. When I say “something extremely important”, I mean divine things, things of God. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mt 24:35). How dangerous could it be if we misunderstand the things of heaven? Or at least, how much benefit are we missing if we do not truly understand a matter of great worth? I’m afraid that we’ve done this. We use words over and over again, and I’m afraid that in doing so, these words are losing their power and their effect. I’d like to start this afternoon by considering just one of these words, to revisit it, rebrand it, and hopefully restore its potency. And maybe, in the…March 1, 2017 - Spirituality & Theology
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart.
This, to me, gets to the very heart of the Lenten season. Return to me with your whole heart. Return to me, the Lord says, but not just partly. Return to me fully, with your entire being. Christ tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Come to me, He says, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest. And we are all heavy-burdened indeed, for all of us are sinners. We constantly turn away from love and kindness itself in preference to a sinful life. The world tempts us with worldly, temporal pleasures. We are constantly enticed on all sides by things that only bring temporary happiness, and the happiness that it brings is hardly true. It is a cheap imitation of that which only Christ Himself can offer us. The way of the world that offers us an easy path, filled with pleasures, is a lie. It is empty when we compare it to Christ, who Himself is the very Way we are to follow.
And we have nothing to…November 18, 2016 - Spirituality & Theology
I recently read a book by a man named Father Jean Pierre de Caussade, and it has been one of the most incredible books I have ever read. It was a work that was quite challenging to get through, but the ideas shared by Father Caussade to me, were quite impactful. They are ideas by which I aim to live every day of my life, and I wish to share with you some of these ideas, in the hope that to you, they may be similarly impactful.
The name of this book was Abandonment to Divine Providence, or simply Abandonment. It speaks of the need for all the faithful to completely and totally abandon themselves to God’s Providence.
The edition that I read, which is freely available online since it is out of copyright, begins with an introduction by Rev. Ramière, a Jesuit priest. At the beginning of this introduction, in which Ramière attempts to defend the ideas laid down by Father Caussade, the Jesuit Father gives us two principles.
The first principle is that “nothing is done, nothing…September 18, 2016 - Spirituality & Theology
The world loves comfort. Our society promotes countless “virtues” and “values” which have the clear goal of granting to the individual comfortable living. Abundant material goods allow us to live in physical comfort. An unhealthy obsession with moral freedom allows us to do what we want, regardless of the implications.
Christianity is not about comfort. It is, in fact, about discomfort. It’s main symbol is an instrument of torture. It was the death of God that gained us our salvation. The mystery of the cross is beyond our comprehension. We cannot rationalize it, but yet thousands upon thousands of Christians have accepted persecution and even the crown of martyrdom simply for professing its reality. Nowhere in the Gospel does Christ proclaim that his disciples would be comfortable in following him. It is quite the opposite. He warns us of persecution, revilement, ridicule, and death. He requires his disciples to leave themselves behind and abandon everything to Him,…September 11, 2016 - Spirituality & Theology
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells three parables, about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. The last of these is more often known as the parable of the Prodigal Son. I once heard a priest say in his homily that he disliked the title that scholars have given this parable, as it draws our focus away from the most important figure in the story. What is far more incredible and wonderful than the sinfulness of the prodigal son is the tremendous mercy of the father.
This father is much like the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep to find the one lost one, or the woman who furiously looks for her lost coin. The merciful father was constantly watching for the return of his son, and when he saw him a long ways off, he “was filled with compassion…ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20). With these three parables, Jesus explains to us that God is much like the shepherd, the woman, and the father. He seeks us out with great love and compassion, and will not rest…September 4, 2016 - Spirituality & Theology
Jesus’ address in today’s Gospel opens with a difficult declaration: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26). What exactly is Christ asking? What does it mean for us to hate our family, to hate ourselves, to carry our crosses, and to renounce our possessions? With these statements, our Lord is simply asking us to trust Him. He likely will not ask us to hate, or carry physical crosses, or own no material possessions, but He is explaining to us the way we must trust in God.
Trusting God is difficult. It is challenging to completely abandon ourselves to a Being that we think we cannot see, hear, or touch until we come to know that he is truly present at Holy Mass, when we receive him in the Eucharist and the sacraments and in those we meet when we reach out to help others. This childlike trust and faith which God requires of His disciples is of paramount…August 27, 2016 - Spirituality & Theology
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus tells us a parable about a wedding feast. In this parable, He describes right conduct at the wedding to demonstrate how we should live out every moment of our lives: with humility. To be humble is incredibly difficult, for even humble actions can be motivated by pride, and we can be proud of “being humble.”
In his famous summary of the Christian faith, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis tells us that “according to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
How then, are we to live lives of true humility? In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren writes: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.” This is the key to a humble life….August 16, 2016 - Spirituality & Theology
Take a moment and imagine this scene: You’re a young teenager in the 1940’s. It’s a Sunday morning, and you’re in your Sunday best. You haven’t had breakfast yet, and you’re starving. You pile up into the family car with your parents and siblings and drives off to Church. This is before Vatican II, so the Mass is in Latin and you understand next to nothing. Despite this, you come to Mass week in and week out. Most of your neighbors, friends, and relatives do the same. Everyone who professes their faith in the beliefs outlined by the Catholic Church attend Mass. It’s an important and regular part of their lives.
During this time, Churches were filled regularly, not just on Christmas and Easter. Parishes worked hard to help parishioners grow in their faith. Since much of the American public was Catholic, or at least Christian, the parish’s main goal was to take care of it’s flock. It was primarily concerned with maintaining and sustaining the faith and devotion of the…