Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Coming of the Spirit

Friends of Faith:
Appropriately for our family the next two weekends of celebrating the Ascension and Pentecost bring to fulfillment the Easter season and the gift Jesus left us here on earth – the Holy Spirit, His guidance and Our protector.

Jesus said to his disciples: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. Jn 14: 15-21

While a greater majority may seek success, fame and fortune of this world, we forget or don’t yet know or understand, that it is not anything of THIS world that will give the greatest reward, but rather it is seeking to be Holy in God’s world that will give us the greatest reward, eternal life.

But the world does not willingly accept that it is not its own creator and boss. And reliance on God and resting in the Spirit are mostly foreign in our culture.

And yet, we are, more than ever, in this world, in need of the guidance of the Spirit and a renewed commitment to listen to and follow His commands.

Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. 1 Pt 3: 15-18

And while speaking the truth and striving to bring others closer to Him may mean that our character may be insulted by those who say we are “do gooders,” or “know it alls.” Or we may suffer the consequences, rudeness and chastisement of slander and character defamation despite our good intentions. It is still better to suffer for doing what is right, if it is the will of God, than to give in to worldly causes and/or political correctness.

If we look at what divides us as humans today: being called a Christian, seeking to protect human life and the dignity of marital love between one man and one woman, even the sanctity of keeping Holy the Sabbath – these are exactly the truth of God which are under the most attack and create much of the mental anguish and physical suffering we as His baptized faithful feel in our world today.

There is so much noise, there are so many lies, that it is extremely difficult to sort one from another, regardless of our human strength or perseverance.

So it becomes all that much more important to rely on the Spirit to guide us, console us, and protect us in EVERY decision we make. And It is these very graces that our family looks forward to on Andy’s ordination this week and as we lead up to Stan’s ordination in July.

Come Holy Spirit, Come. Fill us with Your grace and Your power. Anoint us with Your love. And may we be gifted with Your hope, joy and peace. Amen.

Let the Spirit guide you and may you be blessed with an ever more abundant Spirit. Thank you all for your prayers for those being ordained this Easter season.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Deacons and Mothers

Friends of Faith:

As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, "It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them
. Acts 6: 1-7

I am constantly amazed at the timeliness of Scripture as today I write to invite you to celebrate with us Andy & Stan’s upcoming ordinations.

Andy will be ordained for service in the Order of the Diaconate on Friday, May 26th at 7:00 p.m. in St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque. While for him this is yet another step (Transitional Deacon) on his path to the vocation of Priesthood (next year on May 26th, 2018) it is an extremely important step as he will make his promises of obedience and celibacy. He will be assigned to St. Mary’s Parish in Marshalltown for the summer and return to Mundelein Seminary for his final year of formal formation.

Stan will be ordained as a Permanent Deacon on July 15th (more details to follow). For us this has been a 4 ½ year journey taken together to be culminated with a new, more formal call, for Him to service and obedience to the Church. As he has been reminding me all weekend – “Do you realize we just went to our last formation class?” I don’t think I’ll fully realize that we won’t be sitting in a classroom at Covenant Hospital most Saturday’s until we don’t have to return to class in August.

So what does the call to diaconate have to do with mothers – and why was it so timely?

Yesterday’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles was the first call and ordination to diaconate in the formation of the Church for the very reason of taking care of widows and children – serving mother’s in their role as mother’s.

Many people don’t want to acknowledge this today, but men and women ARE really very different. Not only did God create us different in the human (biological) form, but He also created us for very different social and spiritual roles in the world and the Church. Men were given the role to be protectors and providers; women the role of the womb from which all are formed and then nurtured (biologically and/or spiritually).

And yet neither, male or female, are we, will we, or can we, be truly complete without the other AND without God. Every person has a mother AND a father for this very reason – no child can biologically be born without both. And ALL (men & women) are called to help all others become Holy and to take care of and serve each other.

The servant role is the role the Deacon of the Church has been called to and it’s not a coincidence, but rather by design that it is connected to mothers; both serving with an unselfish desire and dedication to build the Kingdom of God – His children.

God promised that He would take care of our every need – and if we connect the dots, and observe how mothers and deacons serve we are being very well taken care of within the wisdom of His Church.

The similarities and unity of the mother and deacon don’t stop in this one Scriptural passage. Deacons and mothers both have: many years of intense formal training; ongoing, informal, on the job training; jobs never quite completed; duties never fully realized; jobs that are ever-changing, and neither can possibly be thanked or appreciated enough. Most importantly both survive when and because they are guided by prayer!

Heavenly Father: Your creation is most perfect. Thank you for creating Mothers and Deacons to serve each other and for their constant work in serving so that others may come to know holiness. Continue to guide the Church to protect their roles and to form us as willing servants in their reflection. And please bless Andy, Stan and their classmates who will be ordained in the coming weeks. Amen.

You are all invited to attend either or both of the Ordination Masses. Please contact us if you have any questions.

May we all serve each other as unconditionally as our mothers and the deacons serve us.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Hidden Riches

Friends of Faith:

Yesterday’s Scripture spoke a message to me that is both difficult and yet an important reminder of why being at Mass, celebrating the Eucharist and being in Communion with our Christian family EVERY week is so important.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Lk 24: 13-25 (The Road to Emmaus, where Jesus was not recognized until the breaking of the bread)

How many times has something been taken away from us before we realized how we were loved or blessed by the richness or beauty of the person, place or thing taken away? How often is Christ in our presence and we don’t realize it is He who is giving us the blessings (the fulfillment) we receive?

God put Christ in our midst to bless us, to save us and to ransom us from sin, death, and the chains of this world. And He promises us that He will always be present and He will never be taken away. HE is the ultimate gift!

However, we who are of this world, regardless of our age, continue to seek pleasure, richness and fame in good food (things), good jobs (money) and trophies of winning (anything that pats us on the back).

Beloved: If you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one's works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb. 1 Pt 1: 17-21

So I was reminded, once again that I won’t ever be completely satisfied by anything I receive that is of this world – love, richness or fame unless it is a true gift of God – and one I am truly willing and ready to give back to God, as he wills it for me, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, even, and especially, when it means I have to suffer what it is I have lost by giving it back to him, whether it is health or personal satisfaction or gain.

So, before it is too late, I once again vowed to honor Christ by being truly present to Him in the Eucharist, in receiving His body and blood whenever possible; to seek to understand Christ through prayer and by constant study; and to be ready and willing to give away whatever worldly goods I have been given, even if it causes me to suffer, emotionally or physically.

I vowed to open my eyes to what I am deliberately hiding, or what may be hidden in the love and beauty God has placed in my life that I am too busy or unwilling to see.

I invite you to be present with me at the Eucharistic table. I invite you to study the Church teachings passed down through the ages. And I ask you to become more aware of Christ’s presence in the people that you love and those that are placed in your path each day – being ready and willing to lend a helping hand even if it causes you to have less of this world (time or money). And reminding you to hug those you love.

May you uncover what is hidden and be blessed by the riches of His gifts to you!