Monthly Archives: June 2015

14th Sunday of the Year – Hearing the Prophets Among Us

Communication barriers

Study:  Reflect on a time when someone told you a truth that you did not want to hear.  What caused you to want to resist?

Pray:  Are there any tough decisions or actions facing you right now?  Ask the Lord for guidance, courage, and strength.

Serve:  Is there someone in your life who needs to hear an important message?  How can you help them receive it?

14th Sunday of the Year Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Have you ever been angry because someone told you what you needed to hear when you didn’t want to hear it?  Who wants to be told they’re wrong, that something needs to change, that they have work to do?  In our best moments we can accept constructive criticism with a tentative openness, but if we are vulnerable, defensive, doubtful, or in any sort of tough spot – we often will dig our heels in and resist.

Perhaps it’s just plain human nature – our free will comes with a liberty to choose any number of possibilities.  Sometimes, however, we simply do not choose what is best…

This is the situation which confronts Ezekiel and Jesus in the Scriptures today.  Sent to proclaim a message, they both encounter resistance.  Ezekiel is told by God that the people will not want to hear him; Jesus is rejected by the community that knows his extended family.  While both will fulfill their mission, the response of those addressed remains one of resistance.

Sound familiar?  Consider the times in life when you’ve resisted a message.  What was the issue?  Ego?  A relationship?  Personal pride?  Control?  Sometimes the best thing we can do is discover what are the obstacles that keep us from the goodness of God.

Here’s a simple test: when was the last time you turned away from something important?  What held you back?  What was the road block that kept you from joy?  Remember, the Lord longs to fill us with love; our job is to be open and receptive to what needs to be heard.

Maybe today we haul the obstacle out of the way…so God’s grace can transform and renew our hearts.


13th Sunday of the Year – Healing for Ourselves and One Another – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

Fr. Andrew’s 13th Sunday of the Year Homily Podcast

Jesus defines much of his ministry with clear examples of healing others, and the Gospel today gives us an insight about how we draw near the Lord.  We have all had experiences where we long for healing.  We have seen loved ones suffer, and many of us know first hand the presence of pain in our lives.  May the example of Jairus and the unnamed woman inspire us to seek the healing grace of Christ!


13th Sunday of the Year – Life & Death

God heals

Study:  Consider people you know who are suffering right now.  What is the nature of their struggle?

Pray:  Keep a list of those who are sick nearby when you pray.  Remember them often.

Serve:  How can you help someone today who suffers?  How can you be an instrument of healing and comfort?

13th Sunday of the Year Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Consider for a moment someone you love who is seriously sick.  Perhaps it’s a disease, an upcoming surgery, and undiagnosed circumstance, or the relentless experience of pain...we all know loved ones who suffer – and we would do anything to help.

Now imagine that you have heard about a miracle worker who cures the sick and resuscitates the dead.  I know that if I discovered that Jesus of Nazareth was even remotely in the area I would rent a bus and bundle in everyone I could fit just for the chance that he would lay hands on them.

This is the situation we encounter in the Gospel today.  People are crushing in on Christ; they have heard of his power and they are are desperate for healing.  The double miracles in the reading point out a number of key concepts:

  • Our longing for healing
  • The desperation of those who suffer
  • The depth and breadth of emotions around illness
  • How we all have experience with sickness and death
  • God’s profound gift of healing & life

Simply put, an encounter with Jesus Christ is a healing encounter.  In the face of sickness and disease, the Lord draws near – bringing grace and power – to restore life to those who suffer.

As his disciples, we are part of this healing mission.

  1. Who is suffering in our lives right now?
  2. How can we help through prayer or service?
  3. How do we promote comprehensive healing – in Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul?

Jesus comes to bring life; may our lives – guided in faith – be directed toward healing the wounds we witness.


12th Sunday of the Year – God’s Beauty in Creation – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

Fr. Andrew’s 12th Sunday of the Year Homily Podcast

We get to live in this beautiful part of the country!  From the wonder of creation we can get some insights into the power and love of God.  May these insights inspire us:

  • to recognize the Lord’s presence in our lives
  • to respond with grateful hearts to our blessings

With open eyes and willing hearts…may our love for the Creator be inspired by the creation we enjoy!


12th Sunday of the Year – Who’s in Charge?

Lake Superior Shoreline

Study:  Recall a place in nature that you find particularly calming.  What is it about this location that touches your heart?

Pray:  Take some time to enjoy the opportunities of nature near you.

Serve:  How can you take care of the beauty of creation?  What can you do right now for the care of the earth?

12th Sunday of the Year Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

There are many beautiful places in the world, and I get to live in one of them.  The forests of northern Wisconsin reveal color and majesty; the water in our streams, rivers, lakes and Great Lakes offer serenity and grandeur; the rolling hills of lush farmland exude the glory of life.

And I call this home.

Nature teaches many lessons: beauty, truth, life, death, change, growth, immensity, and wonder – to name just a few.  Yet nature also reveals through its design and form some clues about the Author who created it all.  Simply put, in the creation we see the signs of the Creator.

The first reading reminds us that the Lord fashioned the world.  God speaks to Job, driving home the point that the power and significance of the planet derives from the the goodness of the Almighty.  From the throne of Heaven God rules his creation far above the scope and understanding of the human heart.

In the Gospel today Jesus calms a stormy sea with a single word.  The Lord who made the universe as power over it; at his command the earth obeys.   Jesus, the Son of God, holds the world in his hands.

From these readings we might rightly assume the transcendent power of God.  But there is more: Jesus Christ – the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords – reaches out from the awesome power of divine supremacy to enter our world and be known by the human heart.  The Lord bridges the distance between Heaven and Earth, allowing us to come to know the one who made us; the Creator allows his creation to draw near.

Take some time this week and immerse yourself in the beauty of creation.  Open your eyes to the wonder and glory that God lavishes upon us.  Offer a prayer of thanksgiving and count your blessings – there is much in the world that soothes and calms our souls!

And remember this fact: the Divine Master who made all creation, died and rose for his creatures – so that we might be united with him forever in Heaven.


11th Sunday of the Year – Growth & Change – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Nature teaches us that little seeds lead to big things.  Life is a process of growth and change, and from the Gospel reading we can consider two points:

  • Do we choose to grow every day?
  • Do we face challenges with God’s help?

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a seed – it starts small but keeps growing!  May we do the same, as individuals and united together, to grow in faith, hope, and love.


11th Sunday of the Year – Little Seeds Become Big Trees

tree

Study:  Recall a time of profound change and growth in your life.  What helped you become better?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the grace to face difficult challenges and embrace them.

Serve:  Who in your life is confronting change right now?  How can you help them?

11th Sunday of the Year Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Now that June is in full swing the color green is flourishing across the upper Midwest.  Summer delights the eye with growth and life, and from my view along the shore of Lake Superior this is most evident in the beauty of trees.

I have walked Wisconsin forests my entire life, and I find a peace and serenity among the grandeur and power of trees.  They anchor the soil, provide habitat for wildlife, shade for the weary, and a renewable resource for humanity’s handiwork.

Yet for the majesty of trees, they all start small – from a pine cone or an acorn, a “helicopter” seed or a shoot – massive trees have humble, tender beginnings.

Just like our faith.

We know from our own experience that all good things take time and effort to develop; growth and change occur through new encounters.  The process reminds us of two key points:

  • We have daily opportunities to grow.  Every day provides new ways for us to develop the gifts and talents God has given.
  • We are works in progress.  While we might lament that we are not where we want to be, we can face the challenges before us with the grace of Christ

In the first point we recognize opportunity and growth; in the second point we face obstacles with hope that these challenges will teach us new insights.  Growth and change are part of life.  What’s more, this change almost always begins from a small and humble beginning.

Where in your life do you have opportunities to grow?  Where do you see challenges that will require new ways of thought and action?  Take time to seek the Lord – to start small like a little seed – and grow in these moments into a new creation, guided and empowered to become more fully alive.

Now matter where we are in the journey of faith, may we open our hearts to God’s grace as we grow in faith, hope, and love as disciples of Jesus Christ!


Corpus Christi – The Miracle of the Mass – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

Fr. Andrew’s Corpus Christi Homily Podcast

The miracle of the Mass touches our lives in a number of crucial ways:  We hear the Word of God; we receive the Sacrament of Christ’s Body & Blood; we unite as the Lord’s disciples and pray together.  Below are three key words that can help us experience this miracle more fully:

  • Preparation
  • Focus
  • Engagement

What happens before, during and after each Mass can transform our hearts and change our lives.  May our communion with Jesus Christ nourish us for service in the world!


Corpus Christi – The Body and Blood of Christ

Última_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5

Study:  Reflect on the Mass.  What parts do you find most helpful?

Pray:  Consider making a list of prayer needs for your use at Mass.  Keep this list near you for reference when you go to Church.

Serve:  Perhaps you know others who have been away from Mass for awhile.  Consider making the effort to invite them to join you at Mass.

The Body and Blood of Christ Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

The celebration of the Eucharist is the highest form of Christian prayer.  Jesus defines the bread and wine and his body and blood, and then he commands his disciples to “take and eat…take and drink” in his memory.  Besides the readings we will hear at Mass, some other crucial Scripture passages testify to this essential element of our faith:

  • Matthew 26:26-29
  • Mark 14:22-26
  • Luke 22: 14-23
  • John 6:51-58
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

What happens when we go to Mass?  What do we encounter when we open our hearts to this hour long prayer?  Here are few key points:

  • We hear a good selection of the Word of God
  • We receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion
  • We unite in prayer with others
  • We pray for the sick, those who have died, and our special needs
  • We have a few moments for silence and reflection

Of course in our fast paced, entertain-me-so-I-won’t-be-bored world, we can look upon the central prayer of the Church and wonder why the Mass doesn’t “get modern.”  The reality is that the Mass continues to adapt to the culture and times.  The real question is this: Do I come to the Mass with an open heart to encounter the Lord and his disciples?  Do I come with a focus to offer my life to be renewed by Christ?

Here are seven ideas for getting the most out of Mass:

  1. Read the Sunday Scriptures ahead of time.  This way you can get a sense of the key themes and be better prepared to follow the homily.
  2. Come prepared to pray.  This seems obvious, but many people often don’t come with their “list” of intentions and needs.  Take some time before Mass to consider who or what in your life could use a prayer.
  3. Pray before Mass starts.  Sometimes we can rush into church, drop into a pew, and try to follow along with the Mass.  Give yourself 5-10 minutes to reflect on the past week, look to the next, and ask the Lord for guidance and strength.  It really helps!
  4. Receive Holy Communion with heightened awareness.  This is Jesus Christ who offered his life on a Cross for the salvation of our souls.  It’s his blood that was poured out for the forgiveness of our sins.  Make that moment of receiving Him intentional and reverent; let the “Amen” come from your heart!
  5. Pray after receiving Holy Communion.  You have just received the Lord Jesus into your body – you have become a living Tabernacle – there is no better time to offer the deepest, most important issues on your plate to the one who loves you.
  6. Consider one takeaway that you experienced from every Mass.  Name one thing (just one is perfectly fine) that struck you at every Mass.  Perhaps it was a point in the homily, a line from a hymn, someone you prayed for, something you experienced, or an insight that came to you in silence.  By naming one takeaway you actively participate in the prayer and engage your faith as you live your life.
  7. Use a resource to get the most out of Mass.  Some people like a devotional, missal, or prayer booklet – something that can be used both in and out of church.  Others prefer an online resource where they can follow up at a website, video, or podcast.  Still others favor their smartphones for handheld resources that they can take anywhere.  Find what works for you…the only true measure is the resource that helps you engage your faith each and every day.

Jesus Christ gives us the gift of himself in every Mass.  He defines what we do and commanded us to do it.  Every time we come to Mass we encounter the Lord and allow his grace to transform our lives.  May his Body strengthen our bodies; may his Blood flow through our veins.

After all, as his disciples, we have his work to do.

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The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci; 1494-1499, tempera on gesso, pitch and mastic, 460 cm x 880 cm, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy.


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