Fatima

Starting today, I will be taking a little break from daily posts, while I go on a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal.

I will be praying for you and for your intentions while I am there.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. You have no idea how much I appreciate it!

May God bless you today and always!

Moments Before Mass will return to daily posts on September 30.

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Open hands

(by request, my homily from Sunday)

I’d like to talk with you today about praying with open hands.

I’ve seen a lot of baseball games. And I’ve seen a lot of unusual things happen at baseball games. But whether it’s the Springfield Sliders or the St. Louis Cardinals, there’s one thing that I’ve never seen at a ball game. A catcher with closed hands.

Every catcher has their own style. But no matter how they do it, it starts with open hands. So they can grab whatever comes their way. Even if the pitcher throws something they weren’t expecting.

I bring this up, because when it comes to our prayer life, to our faith, a lot of us are praying with closed hands.

We ask God for help. But only if get it the way we think it should. We want it on our terms.

The truth is, we’re not ready to grab whatever God sends our way. We’re praying with closed hands.

We ask God for help. But we can’t see how it could ever happen. We say the words, but we don’t mean them.

The truth is, we don’t really think God will do anything. We’re praying with closed hands.

Which misses the point of today’s Gospel.

The God who rejoices when one sinner repents? This is the God of reckless, unbounded love. The God who leaves the 99 and goes after the one? This is the God of more than enough – whose provision is tamped down, fully-packed, and flowing over.

And you’re thinking, that sounds nice. But you don’t know what I’m dealing with. You don’t know about the addiction I’m struggling with, the financial problems I’ve having, the health issues I’m dealing with, the trouble my marriage is in. I’m too far gone. I’ll be lucky just to survive.

Actually, I know more than you think. And it breaks my heart to see what you’re going through. You are exactly who I pray for every week at Adoration. You are exactly who I will be praying for this week at Fatima.

You may not see a way. But God has not forgotten you.

(continued)

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Perspective

One of the hardest things to do is have a little perspective on your own problems.

It can be hard to see what’s holding you back, what’s slowing you down. Much less actually deal with it.

For most of us, it’s a lot easier (and a lot more enjoyable) to spot other people’s problems. To see what’s holding them back, what’s slowing them down.

We’re more than happy to share our perspective on their problems.

It’s an efficient way to avoid dealing with our own problems while alienating ourselves from others at the same time. And completely backwards from the perspective that Jesus wants us to have:

“Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye.”

Jesus is talking about dealing with out own problems first. But there’s more to it than that.

The splinter is wood. The beam is wood. Because what Jesus is talking about is a shared nature, a connection.

There’s a connection between the problems that we readily perceive in others, and the problems that we avoid in ourselves.

There’s a reason why we spot certain problems so easily in others. It’s that we are intimately familiar with them. Even if we don’t want to admit it.

If you and I take a closer look at the problems that we easily spot in others. Or in the world at large. All too often, they are the very problems that we are trying to avoid dealing with. Our problems.

The Times of London asked famous authors to answer the question, “What’s wrong with the world today?” G.K. Chesterton (who understood Jesus’ point all too well) responded with just two words.

“I am.”

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...and forget

Forgive and forget.

You hear it all the time. Said with the same gravitas, the same weight that lets you know (without coming out and saying it) that this is one of the sayings of Jesus. Something that might as well be the 11th Commandment.

Except it isn’t. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to forgive and forget.

Are we commanded to forgive?

Over and over.

Told to forgive that we might be forgiven?

Absolutely (it’s today’s Gospel).

Forgive and forget?

Crickets.

Jesus never said “thou shalt be a doormat, that others may wipe their feet upon thee.”

What about all that “turn the other cheek” stuff? That is in the Bible.

Turning the other cheek has nothing to with being a victim. Turning the other cheek is about not seeking revenge. The point of turning the other cheek is to not let the wrong that was done to you, the wrong that you are forgiving, do any more damage to you.

By keeping us out of the revenge business, Jesus is protecting us from the corrosive effect that “getting back” at someone always will have on us.

“Forgive and forget” is not a commandment. It’s human wisdom. “Forgive and forget” is just another way of keeping the wrong that was done to you from doing more damage to you. If it works for you, great.

But never at the cost of setting yourself up to be a victim.

If you need to remain mindful of how you got hurt to keep it from happening again, do it.

If you need to be alert to danger to protect yourself from someone, do it.

Forgive. It’s okay if you can’t “and forget.”

Depending on what you’re forgiving, not forgetting may be absolutely essential.

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The backside

Driving through road construction, there’s always someone there with a sign. To let you know when to stop, and when it’s safe to drive.

You and I usually only see one side of the sign at a time. But there are messages on both sides of the sign. So that people going in both directions know what to do.

Even though it’s the backside of the sign, it’s just as important as the front.

Today’s Gospel is the Beatitudes. Jesus’ “Blessed are you…” sayings. Sayings that are signs for living the faith. Just like the road construction signs, each of those signs has a backside. Each “blessed are you” has a warning.

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.”

In danger are you who are rich, for pride has a ready path to your heart.

“Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.”

In danger are you who want for nothing, for comfort can lead you to rely on yourself instead of God.

“Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.”

In danger are you who haven’t stumbled yet, for you don’t know how to come back from failure.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.”

In danger are you who are well-loved by all, for it’s easy to mistake popularity for God.

We may not hear much about those dangers. But they are always there, waiting for the unwary. Which is why the backside of the sign is just as important as the front.

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Toxic People, Part 2

Think about who you have around you. The people that you interact with regularly. You took that job, and they’re the other people that work there. You went to school, and that’s who you saw every day. You moved in, and they were living next door.

Most of the time, you are surrounded by people who just kind of happened to you. Some of whom are toxic for you.

Since some of them are toxic for you, what can you do about it?

It starts by being intentional. Stop letting people just kind of happen to you. Part of dealing with toxic people is being intentional about who gets close to you.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus does just that. Jesus looks over His disciples. All of the people who follow Him for whatever reason. Or none.

Jesus looks at all the people who just kind of happened to Him. Jesus decides to be intentional about who gets close to Him. No one has a right to be close to Him. That’s His gift to give.

Jesus looks for people who understand who He is. People who are willing to help Him. People who will support and encourage Him. That’s who Jesus chooses.

Be like Jesus.

Stop letting people just kind of happen to you. Be intentional about who gets close to you. No one has a right to be close to you. That’s your gift to give.

Look for the people who understand who you are. People who are willing to help you. People who will support and encourage you. That’s who you choose.

The more you choose who gets close to you, the less room you’ll have for toxic people.

But that’s only part of it. Being intentional also means protecting who God made you to be. By separating yourself from toxic people.

Separating yourself from toxic people doesn’t mean that you have to have a big confrontation with them. You don’t have to tell them that they’re toxic. You don’t owe them an explanation. If they truly are toxic, you’d just be wasting your time anyway.

Sometimes separating yourself from toxic people can be as simple as ghosting them. Disappearing from their lives. Completely.

Sometimes separating yourself from toxic people isn’t simple. Especially if there are connections you just can’t break. Maybe you’ve got a child with them. Maybe they’re your parent. Maybe they work at the same place.

How do you separate yourself when ghosting them isn’t an option?

Step away. Little by little, start distancing yourself from them. Gradually spend less and less time with them.

They may try to draw you back in. They may hit you with a bunch of “shoulds.” They may try to appear less toxic when they feel you slipping away.

Don’t fall for any of it.

Keep stepping away. Be less and less available.

That shared connection doesn’t give them a right to be close to you. That’s your gift to give.

Interact with them when you have to. But do it on your terms.

Protect who God made you to be.

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Toxic People, Part I

Disagreements are part of life.

No matter how much you have in common with someone, there will be things that you differ on. No matter how close you are to someone, there will be things between you that don’t click. No matter how much you love someone, and they love you, there will be disagreements.

That’s life. Part of having a healthy relationship is learning to deal with disagreements in a respectful, constructive way.

But there are some people that you literally cannot have a healthy relationship with.

No matter how nice you are to them, no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do for them – those people are toxic for you.

They may be toxic to everyone. Or it may be just the specific mix of you and them that brings out their worst. I don’t really care which it is. How they got to be toxic doesn’t matter.

Because this isn’t about them. This is about you. And people who are toxic for you.

Sometimes it’s easy to tell who the toxic people are.

Their anger, their resentment towards you is obvious. They’re happy to work against you, to tear you down every chance they get. And they don’t care who knows it.

Sometimes it’s not so easy to tell who the toxic people are.

Maybe it’s not so obvious. Whether they’re just really good at hiding it. Or you’re numb to the signs because it’s been going on for so long. Or they’re too close to you for you to see it.

Which makes you very vulnerable.

This is exactly what Jesus is dealing with in today’s Gospel. People who should have been Jesus’ friends and allies. Scribes and Pharisees. People who looked and sounded just like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

Only they weren’t loyal like Joseph of Arimathea, who risked his life to give Jesus a proper burial. They didn’t love like Nicodemus, who poured his heart out to Jesus.

They looked and sounded like friend and allies, but they were toxic for Jesus.

How could Jesus tell they were toxic? Jesus saw past their appearances, past their words. Jesus saw their intentions. And their intentions were nothing but toxic.

Intentions always give them away. And you don’t have to be God’s son to look past words and appearances, to see someone’s intentions.

Seeing someone’s intentions is a gift from God (St. John called it discerning spirits). But it’s a gift that God freely gives, just for the asking.

When you do see their intentions, you’ll know who is toxic. It may even be some of the people closest to you.

Knowing who’s toxic for you, what can you do about it?

More on this tomorrow.

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Beauty

When someone does something we don’t like. Or just is someone we don’t like. It’s easy to draw lines.

There’s a certain comfort in marking them off as different. In pushing them away.

The thing is, however comforting it might be to push them away, that comfort comes at a cost.

There’s a cost to us to push them away and keep them there, because pushing them away requires us to close ourselves off from something intrinsic in our natures. Something that’s the better part of us.

Something that we share with them, because it’s part of how God made us. And them.

That connection, that similarity that comes from the better part of our natures, gets called a lot of different things. Some people call it spirit or humanity.

Anthony of Sourozh saw it as a spark of God’s grace. A spark that God puts in each of His creations. And called it beauty.

“Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, what is ugly, what is distorted. Christ looked at everyone He met, at the prostitute, at the thief, and saw the beauty hidden there. Perhaps it was distorted, perhaps damaged, but it was beauty none the less, and what He did was to call out this beauty.”

It’s the best cure I know, whenever I feel the urge to push someone away.

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Past tense

Someone asks you to pray for them. You say yes.

Maybe they tell you some details about their request. Maybe they tell you the whole story. Maybe they don’t tell you much of anything.

Now what? How do you pray for them?

Today’s first reading has the answer. Just like Jesus gives us the model for praying for ourselves, St. Paul gives us the model for praying for others.

Here’s how I like to pray Colossians 1:10-12:

God, fill [name] with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding
to walk in a manner worthy of You,
so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit
and growing in the knowledge of You,
strengthened with every power, in accord with Your glorious might,
for all endurance and patience,
with joy giving thanks to You, who has made [him/her] fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.

It’s a powerful prayer, to lift someone up, to strengthen them, to entrust them to God’s grace.

The best part? The last part. Giving thanks to God. In the past tense.

St. Paul points us to this truth – when we really entrust someone to God, we can give thanks for the resolution. Right now.

We can trust that God has already provided for their needs. Because He has.

We may not see it just yet with our human eyes. But St. Paul is calling us to see things with our eyes of faith. When we do, thanking God in the past tense makes perfect sense.

Because God has already taken care of things.

If you want peace in your heart, pray from this truth.

The truth that we can let go of things, because God has already taken care of them.

Thank God in the past tense. Even if you don’t see it just yet.

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Balance

Appearances can be deceiving.

Today’s Gospel is a great example of just that. Three seemingly random scenes. Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus heals sick people. Jesus goes off by Himself.

At first glance, it’s like three small things were thrown together to make one reading.

Which misses the point. These three scenes are together, because they are actually parts of a single thing. So what are the parts?

Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law – taking care of those closest to you.

Jesus heals sick people – taking care of others in need.

Jesus goes off by Himself – taking care of you.

With God as the one thread, one constant running through it all.

Start with God. Stay with God. Each day. In each part.

Together, the parts make a single thing. A balanced, healthy life.

The thing is, the parts don’t work on their own. And they don’t work outside of the balance of the lived example of Jesus.

Leave out any one of them, and life might work for a season. But in the end, things will go horribly wrong.

Neglecting those closest to you – will lead to isolation and loneliness.

Neglecting others in need – is a short road to greed and envy.

Neglecting yourself – is a recipe for burnout. Or worse.

Doing any of them, or even all of them, without God? Is just setting yourself up to fail.  

If you have ever asked yourself what God wants of you, this is it.

Start with God. Stay with God.

And do a little of all three. Each day.

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Plant

If you want corn, you know what to plant. If you want apples, you know what to plant. It’s how things work.

The thing is, it’s not just plants that work that way.

Maybe you call it karma. My grandfather liked to say that “it all comes back by return mail.” St. Paul said “as ye sow, so shall ye also reap.”

Whatever you call it, it’s how life works.

And it’s why St. Paul tells us that our duty as Christians is to “encourage one another and build each other up.”

When you really put the effort in to do something well. Or to make something to the best of your ability.

You know how great it feels when someone tells you how impressed they are with it. It only took them a moment. But you feel 10 feet tall.

When you get hit with bad news. Or something goes horribly wrong. Or maybe you’re just having a having a bad day.

You know what a blessing it is for someone to have a kind word for you. It may seem like the smallest thing to them. But to you it means the world.

If you and I want to live where that happens. Where encouragement is the norm. Where support comes when needed. Then we need to be the ones who start it.

So how do you start it? By grounding yourself in gratitude, gratitude to God for all that God has done for you.

Do it by thanking God for each thing that God has given to you. List out each thing. Start small, and thank God for each one. You won’t be able to do it for more than a minute or two before God will change your whole perspective.

If you keep it up, you will find that – even in the middle of life’s hardest things, death, illness, divorce, job loss – God will ground you in this quiet joy. A joy that overflows. A joy you cannot contain.

That is what you start with. That is where the support and encouragement that you can give will come from, the joy that comes from grounding yourself in gratitude for all that God has done for you.

That is what you plant. And it will change the world.

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Coffee

I have a friend who is very particular. He wants things just so. If something doesn’t meet his standards, he will complain about it. Endlessly.

He has yet to have a decent cup of coffee.

I learned this going to all of the big-name coffee places with him. Then, when none of those measured up, going to all of the most micro-batch, one-off, exclusive coffee roasters you could think of.

It was an amazing tour of the coffee of Chicago. And it was that tour, accompanied by his endless soundtrack of complaints, that showed me what was wrong with the coffee.

Him. He was what was wrong with the coffee.

It wasn’t that he had exquisite taste. It was that he was exquisitely skilled at finding fault.

Because he was busy finding fault, he missed out on some of the best coffee I’ve ever had.

I know this, because I went back to some of those places without him. When I didn’t have someone telling me how awful they were, it turns out they were great.

It easy to laugh at someone who does this to themselves. Piling up preconceived notions and finding fault, until they keep themselves from enjoying…pretty much anything.

But it’s a trap that all too many of us fall into with our relationship with God.

We miss out on God’s best for our lives, because it doesn’t meet our preconceived notions. We keep ourselves from being able to enjoy all that God has given us, because we’re too busy finding fault.

It’s not that God isn’t pouring out His grace upon us. It’s that we are so wrapped up in our ideas about God, about how things have to be, that we aren’t able to receive what God is giving.

When we get stuck like that, it’s easy to blame God. Even though we’re what’s wrong with the coffee.

When we get stuck like that, the only cure is God’s grace. To ask God to take away our love of fault-finding. To ask God to give us a desire for Him, not our ideas about Him.

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What are you looking for?

What are you looking for?

I ask, because what you’re looking for matters. Because you will find what you expect to find.

If you expect to find failure, you will find it. If you expect to find loss, you will find it. If you expect to find the worst in people, the worst in life, you will find it.

But it’s also true, that if you expect to find the best in people, the best in life, you will find it. If you expect to find God’s grace, you will find it. If you expect to find God, you will find Him.

When we expect to find something, we don’t just look for it. We focus on it. We prepare for it, so we are ready for it when it comes.

Just like the wise virgins in today’s Gospel. As they well knew, it’s only when you are prepared for something that you can receive the fullness of that thing. That you can truly enjoy it.

So what are you preparing for? What is it that you want to receive the fullness of, so that you can truly enjoy it?

Be honest with yourself. Answer not with words, but with your life. What answer are you giving with the way you live your life?

If you say you’re looking for God’s grace, if you say you’re looking for God, but you live like you’re expecting to find the worst, don’t kid yourself.

You’re not being “realistic.” Or managing your expectations. Or any other of a thousand rationalizations.

You’re focusing on something that isn’t God. Which means that you’re setting yourself up to miss all that God wants to do in your life. To miss God’s grace.

You’re preparing yourself to miss God. And you will succeed.

You’re preparing yourself to find the worst. And you will succeed.

You will find what you expect to find. Because what you’re looking for matters.

So what are you looking for?

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Pray

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”

There’s a lot of confusion about who said this. With different people attributing it to St. Augustine, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and even John Wesley. Whoever said it, there is so much that is right about it.

As the Benedictines in my life will be quick to remind me, prayer and work are inseparable. Just what you would expect from a bunch whose motto is “ora et labora.” Literally “pray and work.”

The most important part of that? It’s the “and.”

Work is critical, but prayer is no afterthought. Whether it’s the Benedictine motto or the famous saying, there’s another part that matters. Prayer comes before work. Because it must come before work.

Prayer ensures that the work we do will be the work God has called us to.

Prayer ensures that the work we do will be done in reliance on God, not ourselves.

Prayer ensures that the work we do will be an instrument of God’s grace.

And, as St. Paul shows us in today’s first reading, that includes praying for each other.

I’m praying for you. You are part of my mass intentions, my daily prayers, and my Holy Hour.

Tonight is my regular Holy Hour of Adoration. If there’s an intention of yours that I can pray for tonight, please let me know in the comments.

And know that you are always in my prayers.

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Drop the filter

Frank was a friend, and the pastor of a small Baptist church.

God made Frank with deep compassion for others. Zero fashion sense. And absolutely no filter.

If Frank thought it, he said it.

We used to have lunch when he was in town. One time he told me about regularly bumping into a Catholic bishop back home. It turns out the two of them made hospital visits on a similar schedule.

Frank had never known a stranger. Since he didn’t know much about Catholic stuff, he just called the bishop “pastor.” Every time their paths crossed at the hospital, Frank smiled and said “Hi, pastor.”

Frank told me that the first few times, the bishop was uncertain how to respond to him. But Frank just kept smiling and saying “Hi, pastor.” And as Frank became part of the bishop’s normal, the bishop warmed up to him and started smiling and saying “hi” back.

Until one day, the bishop wasn’t smiling.

So Frank asked if he was okay. The bishop stopped, and basically unraveled.

Frank told me that what came tumbling out of the bishop was an account of all of the different ways that people dealt with him. To some he was a manager, to others a fundraiser, to some an obstacle to overcome, to others a way to get what they wanted. The bishop went on until, on the verge of tears, he told Frank that he couldn’t remember the last time someone asked if he was okay.

I’m sure that passersby thought they were seeing a kindly bishop praying for an odd little man in a mismatched shirt and tie. But what was really going on, was exactly the opposite.

Today, take time to be a Frank.

Notice people. But notice them from God’s perspective – look past their outsides. Notice what’s going on, on their insides.

And when the Holy Spirit moves you to speak with them, to pray for them, to love them.

Drop the filter.

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Today

There’s something that you and I often lose sight of. That whether we want it or not, each of us gets an eternity.

No matter how large today may loom before us, no matter how lost in our busyness we might be, this life will come to an end. But you and I will not.

This is something that we cannot think of too often.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that today isn’t important. It absolutely is.

What I am saying is that today is doubly important. That today must serve both the needs of today, and the needs of eternity.

Whether that eternity is with God or in a place that no human was ever meant to be is entirely up to us. And it all hangs on how we use the only thing that we ever truly own. Today.

This is why we must make sure that we have a double perspective on everything that we do today. So that what we do actually does serve both the needs of today, and the needs of eternity.

The thing is, we’re not alone in this. Everyone you and I will meet today is on this same path. Everyone you and I will meet today gets an eternity.

And everything that you and I do today, great and small, will be helping those people to one or the other of those eternities. This is the point that Jesus is making in today’s Gospel.

What you and I do today does not stay put in the narrow box of today. What you and I do today echoes into eternity. Not just our own eternity, but each other’s as well.

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God is looking for you

(by request, my homily from Sunday)

I want to talk with you today about how God is looking for you.

All of us come into the world knowing who we are, and knowing whose we are. Knowing that God loves us. That we are His beloved children.

But somewhere along the way, most of us lose sight of that. It’s understandable. There are lot of things in life that can make it hard to hold on to that.

Maybe we did it to ourselves. Maybe we made mistakes that took us way off course. Maybe we did things without thinking, and ended up someplace that we never meant to be.

Maybe someone else did something to us. Maybe they did something truly horrible to us, the kind of trauma that is life-altering – in the worst possible way. Maybe it was the slow drip of someone’s negativity, slowly corroding us into their toxic mindset.

Or maybe it just happened.

One of the most important things that I learned, growing up farming, is that sometimes bad things just happen.

(Continued)

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First things first

First things first.

It’s a cliché. Because it’s true.

First things first.

It’s so fundamental, that we just assume it. Because it’s the formula for doing anything well, from welding to baking, from winning a game to losing weight.

First things first.

When we say “first things first,” we’re usually calling someone out, for blowing something super basic. Something so foundational that there’s no way to do what they’re doing, without first mastering those basics.

The thing is, that same principle, the absolute necessity of mastering the basics, doesn’t just apply to skills and success, to all of the things we do. The absolute necessity of mastering the basics applies to our very lives.

Just as we can’t expect to do something well without first mastering the basics, we can’t expect to do life well without first mastering the basics.

The most basic thing to be mastered? Putting God first.

The simple truth is this - when you put God first, your life will change. Because you’ll start to see things from God’s perspective.

You’ll see the things that really matter, and you’ll hold them close.

You’ll see the things that don’t matter, and you’ll let them go.

The more you put God first, the more everything else falls into place.

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Yes

Hospital visits are a big part of my ministry. But it wasn’t always that way.

It was at one of my parish internships, during formation, that I first got asked to visit people in the hospital. The person who was doing it was overwhelmed. And they asked if I could help.

I was taken aback by the request. I’d never done that before. I’d visited family and friends in the hospital. But I’d never gone to see someone I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to say, what to do.  

So I made some excuse about being too busy. And spent the rest of the day replaying my “no” in my mind.

The more I thought about it, the more my “no” bothered me.

It finally figured out why. I wanted to do it. I had a “yes” in my heart to that question. But something was holding back my “yes.” I also had doubts, fears, and uncertainty.

When I got blindsided by the question, it was like my “yes,” my doubts, my fears, and my uncertainty were four people trying to get through the same door at the same time. And whichever one made it out of the scrum first, well, it wasn’t the “yes.”

So I told myself that next time, I would be ready with my “yes.”

When I did get asked again, I still had all the same doubts, fears, and uncertainty. But I was also determined to say “yes.” So I did.

It turns out that this is what God really wants. And it’s the point of today’s Gospel.

God wants us to say “yes.”

To say “yes” to Him. To say “yes” to what He’s calling us to.

Not just to show up. But to say “yes.” And to be willing to act on that “yes.”

The thing is, when we say “yes” to God, we don’t have to have it all figured out.

It’s okay to struggle with doubts, fears, and uncertainty about what God is calling you to. Or about God. God knows our doubts, our fears, our uncertainty. And loves us anyway.

When we say “yes,” God always gives us the grace to respond to Him. And the grace to do what He’s calling us to do.

Don’t be afraid to say “yes.”

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Denying Communion

B is a recovering alcoholic.

I met B at my one of my parish internships, during formation. After mass one Saturday, B’s sponsor (an old friend) told me that B was trying again.

And that B was three days sober.

At the first mass that Sunday, I had one of the chalices of the Precious Blood. B was in my line.

When he got to me, I did something I had never done before. I put my hand over the chalice. I denied him Communion.

Before B could say anything, I said “It’s been three days.”

With tears in his eyes, he corrected me. “No. Today is four.”

I choked up. And could barely sputter “God bless you,” as he headed back to the pews.

 

I bring this up, because today’s Gospel is all about things that come between us and God.

And the call of God, for us to help each other.

When someone has decided to deal with whatever has come between them and God, God will always help them.

Part of that help? You and me. God will reach out and use you and me to help them. Even if our own lives aren’t perfect. Even if you and I are also struggling with something that’s come between us and God.

Be open to God’s call. Let the Holy Spirit move you.

Even if it seems weird in the moment.

Even if you don’t know what to say.

Even if you’ve never done it before.

Be the hands that help.

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