Monthly Archives: February 2015

Christian in a Changing World – Getting in Shape – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

“Christian in a Changing World” is a 3 night Parish Mission that was offered February 22-24, 2015 at Cathedral of Christ the King.  The presentations help us understand how we walk our spiritual journey through the ups and downs of life.

2nd Night – Getting in Shape Podcast (39 minutes)

The second presentation looks at three key areas of daily life:

  • Resources
  • People
  • Self

In each of these areas three key questions are raised:

  1. What external measures can I use to evaluate my life?
  2. What are the patterns I see?
  3. Does this help me be a better disciple of Christ?

These questions focus on our “spiritual fitness” as we seek to live as healthy and Christ centered disciples.  Our ability to journey in faith depends in some part on our conditioning: are we cultivating a healthy and holy pattern of life?


Christian in a Changing World – Finding our Way – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

“Christian in a Changing World” is a 3 night Parish Mission that was offered February 22-24, 2015 at Cathedral of Christ the King.  The presentations help us understand how we walk our spiritual journey through the ups and downs of life.

1st Night – Finding our Way Podcast (34 minutes)

The first presentation focuses on using the “Fruits of the Spirit” as a guide to keep us on track in different aspects of our lives:

  • WHAT do we do with the “stuff” in our lives?
  • WHO are the people in our lives and how do we relate?
  • HOW do we behave?
  • WHY do we do what we do?

The purpose is to find our way – making sure that we are headed in the direction that leads us closer to Christ and one another.  It’s about keeping focused on the path that heads toward Heaven, and each of these aspects can give us clear signs that either confirm or challenge our direction.


2nd Sunday of Lent – Transfiguration and Sacrifice

Transfiguration

Study:  Recall a sacrifice you have made recently.  What was it about this sacrifice that revealed your values and priorities?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the grace to serve with your whole heart.  Pay attention to anything that is holding you back.

Serve:  Is there someone in your life who is struggling with priorities right now?  How can you help them?

2nd Sunday of Lent Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

What do you think is worth a personal sacrifice?  What would you be willing to give up for someone or something you believe in?

We learn a lot about ourselves by what we are willing to sacrifice.  Our values, personal convictions, and priorities all come into focus with the simple phrase:

Can you give that up?

We make sacrifices all the time.  Some are simple, others complex; some are demanding while others are the act of a moment.  Yet sacrifices reveal the depth of our hearts and our willingness to offer up our lives for something greater, something that we hold precious or valuable.

The thought that Abraham would be willing to offer up his only son – the child of God’s blessing to Sarah in her old age – strikes the modern hearer as barbaric and horrible.  It is a crime against nature: that the innocent could suffer such atrocity sounds more like something from Hell, not Heaven.

Yet Jesus Christ, innocent and without sin, will die a brutal death on the Cross…for us.  The atrocity that confronts us at Calvary reveals the value God places on our human souls – we are loved completely, entirely, and without thinking of the cost the Lord sacrifices his life to take our place for the evil we have done.

This is the power of the transfiguration in the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus, revealed in all his glory with Moses and Elijah, is God’s “beloved Son.”  Coming down from the mountain Peter, James, and John have no idea what lies ahead – they can only marvel at the awesome sight of Jesus as he stands in Heaven…the one who is honored for the sacrifice he makes.

Perhaps then, the real question for us pertains to those things to which we still cling.  What priorities and values do we place higher than Christ?  What is holding us back from embracing the Lord with all our heart?  I suggest considering the following thoughts:

  1. How does my use of TIME reveal my priorities?
  2. How does my use of MONEY reveal my values?
  3. How do I show the PEOPLE in my life that I love them?
  4. How do I live my faith in GOD each and every day?

And if there are things that are keeping me from God & others….

Can I give that up?

**********

The Transfiguration, Raphael; 1516-1520, oil on wood, 405 cm x 278 cm, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City.


1st Sunday of Lent – Repentance and Good News

Christ in the Wilderness

Study:  Start out this Lent with a good Examination of Conscience.

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the grace to repent.

Serve:  Consider a practical way you can bring “good news” to someone in your life.

1st Sunday of Lent Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Mark’s Gospel is direct and to the point:

Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:  “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  (Mark 1: 14-15)

It’s time.  Maybe you got a late start to Lent, maybe it caught up on you before you were ready.  Maybe you’ve been ready, but you needed that little push – that extra kick – to get started and make a change.

It’s not complicated.  Is there something that’s keeping us from God or one another?  Is there something that needs to be different in our words and actions?  Does the pattern of our lives need to be altered toward the Lord’s goodness?  Two simple steps:

  • Repent
  • Believe in the Good News

In the first reading the rainbow is a sign from God that never again will the world be flooded with waters of destruction.  The covenant with Noah is a built on hope: life is worth saving, worth fighting for, worth dying for, and worthy of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.  Once we recognize God’s faithfulness, we can more easily let go of past sins and temptations – turning to the one who love’s us completely.

Is there anything holding us back from the Lord?  Now is a good time to honestly assess our lives, cast out what does not belong, and call upon the grace of Jesus Christ.

After all, he brings Good News – and once we’ve left our sins behind, we can embrace the joy that flows from Heaven.

**********

Christ in the Wilderness, Moretto da Brescia (Alessandro Bovicino); 1515-20, oil on canvas, 45.7 x 55.2 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Ash Wednesday

Ashes

Study: Reflect on a moment when sin has touched your life.  Where did you find God’s grace at work?

Pray: Take some time for personal reflection.  Make this an Examination of Conscience to recall how God continues to touch your heart and bless your life.

Serve: Consider a simple and practical way that you can care for another this Lent.  Something personal…something real.

Ash Wednesday Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

“Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

These are the words we hear today as we come forward to begin a new Lent.  We physically mark our foreheads – smudge them with grimy ashes – to recall the simple fact that we are all sinners and stand in need of God’s mercy.

And what great mercy it is!  Perhaps that’s why we pause.  We need mercy.  We crave forgiveness.  We hunger to be loved simply and gently, no strings attached, no conditions required.

These ashes remind us that we need….God.

Pause today.  We reflect on what is broken or wounded in our lives – to discover where we are hurting.

Then look outward.  This is our opportunity to consider how we have broken or wounded others – recognizing that perhaps another has suffered through our thoughts, words, or deeds.

Ashes.

Repentance.

God’s Grace.

Have a blessed and holy Lent.

 


Preparations for Lent

Cross

NOTE:  This post was first published on February 26, 2014.  I share it once again because I know that if we take a little time now to prepare our hearts then this holy season comes alive with grace and power.  May this podcast and the ideas listed below help us all make this Lent the best ever!

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast – Preparing for our Best Lent!

Web Resources from the US Bishops 

Study:  Looking back in my life, are there any activities, people, or situations that have helped me to grow?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the wisdom to recognize the Fruits of the Spirit and the courage to embrace them.

Serve:  Look for an opportunity this Lent to offer a part of your life to helping another – especially someone who has no way to pay you back.

The season of Lent offers a powerful opportunity for conversion, spiritual growth, and developing our relationships with the Lord and one another.  However, I also know that this season has a way of sneaking up on us.  Life moves fast, and we can get caught up in any number of tasks – missing the necessary preparation and perspective to get the most out of these 40 Days.

As a guide, I suggest starting with the “Fruits of the Spirit” that St. Paul writes about in his letter to the Galatians (5:22-23).  They are:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

First, do we see these in our lives?  Are there people, situations, interactions, locations (home, work, school, community) where we see consistent evidence of their presence?  If so, then how can we help them flourish and grow?  How can we create more opportunities to allow the Spirit to work in our lives?

Second, are these absent in our lives?  Or worse, are their opposites present?  Is hatred, despair, turmoil, and the like alive in our hearts?  If so, how can we make the necessary changes to allow the Spirit into our lives?

Now here’s how this gets practical.  It is often customary during Lent to “do” something or “give up” something for these 40 days.  How about this…

  1. “Do” something that fosters the Fruits of the Spirit in my life.
  2. “Give up” something that is in conflict with the Fruits of the Spirit.

Where do we look?  Try this for starters…

  1. WHAT we do – the Activity
  2. WHO we do it with – the People
  3. WHERE we do it – the Location

“Doing” can include any number of things:

  • Helping a neighbor, family member or friend – in a spirit of kindness and gentleness
  • Drawing near to people who are spiritually good – who make us more loving and peaceful
  • Spending time on activities that help us use God’s talents in a good and holy way
  • Concentrating our efforts on opportunities where we know that God is present
  • Being in locations and situations that foster a strong and healthy life

“Giving up” can look like this:

  • Is there anything destructive, harmful, unholy, or evil that needs to be removed?
  • Are there people who are leading us to harm or destruction?
  • Are there locations, situations, or circumstances that are unholy for us?

Using the “Fruits of the Spirit” as a measurement, we can quickly reveal the pattern of our lives.  If it is spiritually fruitful, then we can strengthen this.  If it is spiritually destructive, then perhaps this season of Lent gives us an opportunity to give it up and start directing our lives in better ways.

Furthermore, Lent has classic opportunities for Study, Prayer, and Service:

Study: Scripture, the Catechism, a Devotional, Spiritual Reading

Prayer: Mass, Confession, Rosary, Scripture, Devotions, Stations of the Cross

Service: at home, the neighborhood, the community, the Church

God keeps inviting, keeps forgiving, and keeps extending grace and mercy to all who seek it.  Now is the time to get ready for a powerful Lent – where we turn to Jesus and allow His grace to transform our hearts.  Give serious thought to what you can do to make this season special, and open your to heart to Jesus Christ.

What will you do?  What will you give up?  Make it a great Lent!


Eucharist: Why We Do What We Do – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

Would you like to learn a little more about the Eucharist?   Why we do what we do as Catholics?  How to get more out of Mass?  How to let the power of Eucharist shine through your life?  This Parish Mission was given at St. Dominic Church in Frederic, WI on March 8, 2014.

Eucharist Podcast #1 – “Why We Do What We Do”  (45 minutes)

Eucharist Podcast #2 – “Getting the Most out of Mass”  (49 minutes)

Eucharist Podcast #3 – “Eucharist as a Way of Life” (28 minutes)

The first talk draws on the Gospel story of Emmaus (Luke 24:1-35) and the writing of St. Justin Martyr.  It then outlines the teaching and command of Jesus to receive the Body of Christ so that we become the Body of Christ.

The second talk offers a series of practical points on how to prepare and participate in the Mass so that its power can direct our lives.

The third talk discusses how Eucharist and Adoration can nourish our spiritual lives and then goes on to connect with a reflection from Pope Francis (given on February 21, 2014) that shows three distinct ways that the Eucharist inspires a Catholic Way of Life.

Each talk stands alone.  While they are all interconnected you may listen to them as a group or individually.  Either way, may the Eucharist – the source and summit of our prayer life – renew our hearts with the grace of Jesus Christ!