Because He Loved Us First

   It can be easy to develop a kind of “savior complex” while in the seminary; as if we are the heroes of grace; the one’s come to save the world. One would hope that a man would enter feeling some kind of call to be of service to God and his people, some kind of call to lay aside one’s own desire and even some of one’s hopes for a life of comfort. One would also hope that a man would not enter the seminary to run away from hardships, to seek to be served, rather than to serve. But, as I have been formed over that last five years, sometimes dragged, sometimes pushed, sometimes cautiously guided closer to the priesthood, I must admit at least one of many things: I’ve focused way more on being the minister than on being ministered to.
But I can no longer deny that to be able to love, we all first need to know how to be loved.
My spiritual director has been questioning me about this for a couple years now. Do I know how to let others love me? But being formed for the priesthood, sometimes it paradoxically feels safer to say, well I’d much rather focus on loving others. Forget about me. It’s not about me. But then it’s easy to forget that love works both ways.
   God has been stripping me of a lot of pride over these last few weeks, and it goes further back than that. He’s certainly been doing this since I first entered the Sem, but I’m think back as recently as June, in Arizona, at the Lifeteen Catholic Youth Ministry Training Conference. I’m used to learning how to be a minister, that when I found myself in a place where someone else wanted to minister to me, it’s like, I don’t know what to do! Give me something to do. Give me something to be in charge of. I’m not used to just sitting back and letting others take charge.
   Well, God’s been having a little chuckle at that attitude of mine. Especially now that I’m here in Mexico, back to learning the basics of a new language. There’s been a huge stripping of pride since I’ve come down here (but don’t worry, there’s plenty more pride in me where that came from; uh-oh!). Not being able to express myself the way I want to, because there is so little English around me, was really freaking me out. Needing people to talk to me a like a little child, slowly and repeating often, certainly has taken the wind out of my supposed pride in being at least somewhat eloquent. Barely being able to order a meal at a restaurant was embarrassing enough, let alone the fear that even that simple task would allude me my whole time here. And then there’s the humility I’m being gifted with in simply accepting the love and care of my host family, who don’t love and care for me because I’ve accomplished anything, or even because of my oft celebrated “yes” to discerning God’s call in my life to the priesthood. I have to learn how to accept their love and care because they love and care for me because I’m in need of it.
   So the point is, none of us is the Savior. None of us has enough pride to get us through our lives all by ourselves, whether we may like I think we do or not. The utterly helpless Christ child needed the care of Mary and Joseph. As a man emboldened by that love and care and by the Holy Spirit and his Father, he let others minister to him. He let others show their love for him. Our pride will kill us and kill our relationships if we do not accept the love of others. It very well may be that the way we let others love us is the way that God will be moving among us. Because we cannot forget, the only reason we can love others, be of service to others, is because he loved us first. We have to accept it. We get to accept it.

-Tim(ST)

Get Out Of the Boat

Some people may think it’s been overplayed for the last year or so, but I’m not getting tired of Hillsong’s “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” any time soon. It could be because of the huge impact it had on me when I heard it for the first time during that marathon Adoration time at Steubenville last year. I remember just that morning, having read that terrifying, but tremendous story of our lives in Matthew 14, when Peter takes those tentative but trusting steps out onto the water. So when the band was half way through that, what, 15 or 20 minute version of that song, it was hitting me hard. I was starting that day with Jesus calling me out on the water, and finishing that night by taking that scared step into the wind and the waves, trusting he would grab my hand if I started sinking. 

Really, it’s just a song. But now, I feel like I’m really living in it. 

I can tell Jesus to call me out upon the water easily enough, and just keep going the way I’ve been going this whole time. Yes, I know I’ve been in the seminary for five years now, and I have plenty of people thanking me for my yes and encouraging me with prayer. Yes, there have been plenty of joys and plenty of stresses to come along with it all. But honestly, none of it has felt all that hard to control in some way. It’s been full of blessings and friends and affirmations, and I am so thankful to God for this. But you know what it’s kind of felt like for me?

Like I’ve been sitting pretty in the boat. 

Sure, the boat’s been rocking at times. The waves have been a little bigger than I hoped they would be a times (I always did like the little waves when I was surfing). The wind certainly blew me in different directions at times. 

But I’ve never felt as “out upon the water” as I have over the last six days. These next two months, I’m finding, may very well be the most important during my whole time in the seminary in shaping who I can be as a priest.

Part of my yes to being in the seminary and studying to be a priest is learning holy obedience. Learning not just some kind of obedience where we accept absolutely everything without questioning, but learning how to find those times when God is indeed calling us out upon the water, especially when we now in our hearts that we’d rather stay right in that boat, when we’re sure that the best place for us may even be back on the shore. 

But here I am, right in the middle of Mexico, here to practice, and for all intents and purposes, re-learn Spanish. My host family speaks almost no English and my classes are entirely in Spanish. I know I could have done a much better job of getting ready, so when I came flying into Querétaro, I noticed how beautiful were the green, rolling hills and the almost constant rain pregnant storm clouds, but I couldn’t get out of my heart just how much I was already missing home, being around the ones I love, missing out on everything great happening up there this summer: Camp, Steubenville, Fr. Bruce and Fr. James on their way to their new adventures. Honestly, I was near tears, knowing how much I didn’t want to be here.

So as important as it is to be obedient and to go where the seminary and the Archbishop want me to be, the biggest struggle so far has been feeling so far out of my comfort zone, so far away from where I want to be. I can’t imagine Peter was so sure about what was going on when he stepped out onto the water. I wonder if he felt a little like I felt when I came flying into my new home for the next two months: “This is scary as hell, but I’m going to trust you on this one Jesus.” Sure, this is probably the nicest city in Mexico, and I’ve got a ton of very caring people around me (not to mention patient with my broken Spanish), and everyday I come across two or three simply stunning little churches to pray in. 

What’s hardest for me right now is that I simply can’t express myself the way I want to, and I’m so impatient with myself that I fear I won’t ever be able to while I’m here. And so the spiritual battle is real, my friends. Maybe every spiritual battle feeds on those two feelings: feeling alone and not knowing if it’s going to end. No, physically I am doing just fine, but the spiritual battle is real: get back in the boat, run back home; get back in the boat, just hide in your room and don’t talk to anyone; get back in the boat, you’re never going to learn what you’ve come here to learn. 

I am not perfectly comfortable with being out of the boat and out upon the water quite yet. But it’s getting a little better day by day. I’m finding more and more, day by day, that as much as I don’t really want to be here, as far away as I feel from all the things that usually bring me to God, God is working harder and more desperately than ever to bring me closer to him. God is calling me out louder and louder, clearer and clearer, out onto the water and that I don’t need to be afraid. I’m afraid that God is going to strip me of so many things I am attached to back home. But this can only mean that my load will be lighter, and it’ll be that much easier to walk out upon the water. 

 

-Tim(ST)

Really Real

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Every once in a while I have this moment where I am so blown away by the possibility that everything I believe and everything I at least say I believe is real. Really real.

During XLT here in Arizona at the LifeTeen Catholic Youth Ministry Training Conference, God would’t let me go without having to face him eye to eye and challenge him on how really real he is. Mark Hart was giving such powerful witness to the giants we have to face in youth ministry, in our daily lives, and the ways we just kind of cower down beneath them when we don’t trust that God is quite real enough. He challenged us to trust like David trusted when he stood in the shadow of Goliath, facing his taunts as if they were the tantrums of a spoiled child. 

So there I am, standing right at the bottom of the winding stairs leading into our worship space, all fancied up in my liturgical garb, getting ready to process with the priest bringing in the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration. Incense in hand and the right path for procession in mind, Mark’s words in my ears and the giants facing me back home in my heart: one of the teens who I’ve been praying deeply for all week, as her own struggles are a burden of my own; my dear friend who’s carrying a cross that’s starting to get too heavy for her to carry on her own; my own serious nervousness about heading to Mexico for two months next week. I find myself bringing these weights, these crosses, these burdens as a youth minister, as a friend, as a seminarian, all into this night.

And then I realize I’m staring at God face to face, eye to eye.

The monstrance was right there. And if that’s really God there in front of me; if he really really has so humbled himself and made himself so clear to us that he has made himself as vulnerable as a piece of bread blessed and broken and now adored by us; then who am I not to be in wonder?

Who am I to stare God in the face and not bring these things to him? How can I act, in that brief whisper of a moment before walking with our Lord into a room of seven hundred other youth ministers, as if he doesn’t care to stand there with me in all the garbage of sin and treasure of grace, daily life and the extraordinary moments of life? Who am I to ignore a God who placed himself right smack in front of me?

It was shocking, even if it only lasted a moment. It certainly affected the next hour of Adoration and praise and worship. But I’ll never forget that pause, that moment I froze, that encounter with the Holy, made so simple, so visible, so vulnerable.

So what did I say to God?

Nothing. I couldn’t say anything. Actually, by the time we seminarians and the priest made it up to the altar, I was practically laughing to myself. Somehow, in the midst of all the struggles I was facing in praying for those I love and care for, in all the garbage of their fears and my worries for them, all I could do was laugh. I wasn’t laughing at their problems, expecting them to just forget about what was troubling them. It was just this feeling of realizing that God knows what it all means. And I do not.

So all I could do was laugh a little. And just stare at him. And thank him. And praise him. And question him. And challenge him a little bit. And be angry that my friends were hurting. 

But mostly laugh a little. And just stare at him. Because he knows what we’re going through. And he enters right into it. 

 

-Tim(ST)

Where Were You, God?

When Jesus told us that we serve him when we serve the least of our brothers and sisters, he wasn’t telling us that we weren’t going to see poor, naked, hungry people. He wasn’t telling us that everyone would have everything they ever needed and that even the sick and dying would be perfectly content with their pain and loneliness. No, he looks us in the face and says, In the middle of all that pain and loneliness, I am there. And when you find some way to love in the middle of that, you love ME. Because that is where I AM. 

Listen, I know I’m not up there as much as I want to be. I’ve always been weary of Isla Vista and the kind of lifestyle it’s known for. And I know I’ve never had family and friends that I knew intimately and cared dearly for gunned down. But I’m compelled to say something I’m not exactly hearing come out of all of this madness. 

Where is God in all of this if not in forgiveness?

Can we find a place in our hearts to forgive this young man for tearing our hearts out and doing what he’s done? Are we going to put the limit on God’s mercy and forgiveness here?

I’m not saying here to forget what has happened. I’m not saying that we even need to accept it and simply go about saying, It must have been God’s will, or, At least he got what was coming to him. I’m saying, what if we missed Jesus in this young man, in his loneliness and anger and misunderstandings? What if there is more we can do for young people like him, before this explodes again?

Let’s just take a step back from our judgments, even from our anger and fear, and let ourselves be overwhelmed and challenged by God’s forgiveness and mercy.

We don’t let ourselves face God’s judgement enough, I think. So it must be said, here and now, in the face of something so ugly and painful. I wanted this young man to face what he deserves for what he has done. But am I the one to say what he deserved? What do we wish for him after what he has done? Do we wish his condemnation? Do we wish his eternal separation from a God he probably never really knew intimately? Do we wish hell upon his soul?

We need to ask ourselves this, please, honestly: 

If our heads and our hearts have been as overwhelmed and challenged by God’s mercy and forgiveness and love as we sometimes claim, shouldn’t we still desire that this young man somehow find his way back to God, especially after what he has done? Especially since there is nothing more we can do for him, now that his own life has been cut so hideously short, his soul burdened by the lives he has taken. 

As I write this, I don’t know who any of his victims are. I don’t know if I’ve met these people before, or if they were in serious need of some encounter with God before they own lives were taken. There is so much I simply don’t know. 

What I’m pretty sure about, though, is that we can’t simply leave our reactions to all of this at the level of anger and frustrations and fear and pain. Sure, start there. We should feel those things. Yell at God. Ask God why he abandoned us that night. Jesus wasn’t afraid to ask the question himself while he was on the Cross. But it does not, it cannot end there. I don’t feel like I’m close enough to the whole situation to simply forgive that young man. And I absolutely cannot say I know how the victims’ families and friends feel, and that they should simply forgive.

But I will say this: the Church, and God himself, will always challenge us to reach deeper and deeper into our pain and anger to find mercy and forgiveness. This time is no different. Let’s go searching for it together, why don’t we. It won’t be easy, but it’s what we’re here for. 

 

-Tim(ST)

A Little Recognition Would Be Nice, Right?

It can be so hard to keep doing good things when it seems like no one cares, right? Well, that might just be when the good that we do most needs to be done. Right when we think that no one cares about how much hard work we’re doing, or maybe they just don’t notice, that’s when we’ve got to just keep right on doing it anyway. Because, you see, what makes the good things we do so valuable is not the thanks we get for doing them.

Instead, our acts of love, I think, might be more valuable when they’re ignored, unseen, or even rejected. Jesus on the Cross might be a good example. 

Having just wrapped up our year of formation down here at the Seminary, I’ve gotten a good chance to reflect on the ways I’ve been able to serve. At the end of each year here at the Sem, we’ve got a service award that goes out to the three seminarians voted by each of us to be recognized as exemplary servant leaders. 

Now, I’ve got to be honest here, and have a good chuckle at my own expense. I’ve put a whole lot of work into trying to be of service here at the Sem. A lot of it might have to do with taking on too much, not being able to say “no,” or getting a little overly excited about doing as much as I possibly could. Either way, I figured I’d probably be nominated for this award, having clearly taken on way too much in the community, from being in charge of the dishwashers, to getting the student payroll prepared, to being the head Sacristan, to leading a choir, to heading the charge in preparing our class Masses, to everything else that comes along with being a 2nd Year Theology student. 

Perhaps one could say that I deserved some kind of recognition for overworking myself. 

But as I heard the three names (all very deserving, all very hardworking) called up on our last community get together before we all scattered to the four winds, I was left sitting at my table, part of me wondering: what more would I have to do to be recognized?

Oh Pride, how often you get the best of me! It’s like the lie was trying to plant itself in me: you haven’t done enough, they’re rejecting you, they don’t care how much work you’ve done. But I quickly knew that all to be just one huge lie. 

Ok, before judging me (I’m too good at doing that to myself), it’s not like I really wanted the recognition. I had just steeled myself for it and almost expected it. It’s not like I took on all my responsibilities so that I might get any kind of recognition either, but I don’t think any of us would be honest if we tried to say that a little affirmation doesn’t feel pretty darn good sometimes. 

So it’s had me thinking, the question we’ve got to ask ourselves is: why do we love? Why do we put our feelings and hopes and fears on the line for someone else? Why do we risk our comfort and our trust on being rejected or ignored? Again, why do we love? 

We love because God loved us first (1 John 4:19). 

When we’re at our best, when we’re loving at our best, it’s not just because it gives us some warm feeling inside. It’s not just because we’ll get something out of it. It’s certainly not about making someone owe something back to us. Nope, we love another person, face-to-face, heart-to-heart, because God has loved that person first. And there is no one we will ever meet, EVER, that was not loved by God first. Go ahead and let that sink in… That person I met today and ignored or was short with or rejected, was put into my life by God because he loves that person. Are we rejecting that love? Are we ignoring God’s invitation?

So in my silly moment of feeling like I didn’t get some of the recognition I may have deserved, God was really giving me such great gift. God keeps on reminding me that our love and our service are not about what we can do and what we can be recognized for, but about Him, and drawing others to Him alone. And with that in mind, no kind of recognition, no kind of reward, nothing else matters. 

 

-Tim(ST)

The Day that True Love Died

I was astounded on Good Friday how powerful the day seemed to become. As I moved throughout the day, it just hit me over and over, “It’s the day that God died for me. It’s the day that true love died.”

Fortunately for us, death didn’t have the last word. Love had the last Word. The Eternal Word.

Here’s a great song that was constantly coming to my mind throughout Holy Week.

Now He Is Alive…

He Washes Feet

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Sorry, definitely the cutest picture I’ve ever been a part of. But that’s Foot Washing for you.

If you’ve got  a Bible close to you, check out John 13:3. Just read that verse, try not to go past it. Or try to ignore what comes after it. Get this image of Jesus in all his glory, coming on the clouds of heaven, as promised. Imagine the glory of God coming to his people as a man, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus Christ, the eternal one, shining in his splendor, high above all of creation, in control, letting his love command all things. 

Ok. Now read verses 4 and 5. Do you sense some disconnect? Well, maybe we should. 

I think we’ve forgotten how shocking the Washing of the Feet was for the disciples. I mean, the Gospel tells us that Jesus was fully aware of where he came from and where he was going and that all the power of God, the Creator, had been given to him. And what does he do with that glory and that power?

He Washes Feet.

It doesn’t make sense. He could have walked into Jerusalem, summoned his followers who had just made a big ruckus on Palm Sunday, demanded the throne of Israel, and become a god among men. Or so some of his disciples thought. Instead, Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, indeed God among men, took off even his humblest of robes, got on his knees and became a slave. And it’s even worse than that. At that time, slaves didn’t even do the actual foot washing themselves. They may have brought the water, but it would have been completely inappropriate for the slave to actually touch the feet of the guests. So maybe Peter was justified in not wanting to get his feet washed.

What Jesus did was completely inappropriate.

But the Washing of the Feet needed to happen. The Betrayal in the Garden needed to happen. The Crucifixion, alone and embarrassed, needed to happen. It all needed to happen, because the glory of our God is not by lording our wealth, our power, our being right all the time, our talent, our knowledge, our anything, over any one. It’s about getting on our hands and knees and loving someone more than they thought they were worth. 

So with all the beautiful madness that made up the last week of our life as a Church, from when we celebrated Christ’s giving himself to us in the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, to his awful and terrible and brutal death on Good Friday, when we could lay down our own embarrassments and shames and sins and let him nail them to the Cross, to the Easter Vigil, when we sang the song of Victory all night long and witnessed so many new brothers and sisters join us in that victory of Baptism, to Easter Sunday itself, when we walked away from that dark, empty tomb, to meet Christ on the road, I want to share that one moment of Foot Washing that changed the way I saw it all. 

Now, there’s all kinds of debate over who should get their Feet Washed on Holy Thursday: 12 men only by the priest; or only 12 people, men or women; or just bring every one up and let everyone do the Foot Washing. I don’t care much for the debate (there are good points on all sides), so I won’t get into it. But I will say this: at my home parish of St. Monica’s, we Wash everyone’s Feet, and there is nothing like it all year long in any Mass any where I have ever been. 

This year, I was able to Wash some Feet, but what struck me the most was when I was able to assist one of our priests as he Washed the Feet of people he knew and people he didn’t know. Some of them were close friends. Some were people he had heard the Confessions of, knowing their greatest failures, but also their greatest hopes. Some were people he was meeting for the first time. But he was their servant: he asked them their name; he Kissed their Feet; he took his time; he let it be an encounter with Christ, both ways. They were sometimes driven to tears by his care and their need for such an act of love; he met Jesus in their need, and served “the least of his brothers and sisters.” I may have learned more about what it means to be a Foot Washer by watching this priest love his people in the simplest, most humbling of acts we perform all year long in Mass. 

The Foot Washing does not, cannot end when Holy Thursday ends. Remember, Jesus’s act of glory and kingship was an act of service. And his glory and his kingship do not, cannot end. So even when the towels and pitchers and water bowls are put away until next year’s Holy Thursday Mass, we’ve got to find different ways to Wash Feet. It’s in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those who’ve got no one else to talk to, it’s forgiving those who’ve hurt us the most, it’s doing all the dirty work we keep asking God to not put into our lives, it’s doing those acts of humility we’ve thought ourselves better than. The point is, we never run out of Feet to Wash as Christians. 

And we are never above Washing Feet. 

Sorry, it’s not really up to us. 

God did it first.

 

-Tim(ST)

Written On Our Hearts

I had a pretty awesome marathon weekend of ministry and preaching down here in LA. I was running all over the place (OK, so I drove everywhere), and at one point I was giving a talk on Scripture for a young adult group called Catholic Central, down in Camarillo. As Easter is quickly coming up on us, I thought I’d share some of what I shared that night with you too. 

 

I don’t think we quite get how utterly terrifying Jesus’ resurrection was.

When Mark was writing his Gospel and telling about when Jesus defeated death, he originally finished it with this line: “Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Well, he might as well have finished with something like, “And they rolled a stone across the tomb…” Not exactly the cheeriness that we’re used to on Easter, now is it? 

There are all kinds of reasons given for why Mark would have done this, but here is my favorite (at least I think this would be the coolest reason): Perhaps whoever was reading the Gospel to the earliest gatherings in the Church would read that line and then roll up the scroll and say, “And now let me tell you what happened when we walked away from that hole in the ground where we thought we’d find our best friend’s decaying body, our God, dead and buried, and we found him alive. Alive!”

And this Holy Week, it’s time we start doing the same.

Because, you see, we can read the Bible all we want (or we can not read it at all, but that’s not exactly what I’m going for here!). We can get to know all the obscure names of Palestinian cities and what happened to whomever, whenever. But unless we read the story to the finish, to the point where the tomb is empty and there is no hope, and then we set aside the book, and tell the rest of our story, it doesn’t matter how much Bible trivia we know. It doesn’t matter if we can quote chapter and verse, until we realize that the story is written on our hearts. That all the awful stuff happening in our life is no worse than an empty tomb where we thought our God was going to be. Until we read to the end and roll up the scroll and finish the story, the Bible is just another book on the shelf.

Any time we break open the Scriptures, we’re trying to find our place in the story, so we can finish the story. So we can tell others what we found in the empty tomb, and then what we found when we finally left it behind. So we can give to others what we’ve gotten out of it. So we can roll up the scroll and say, this is what God has done in my life since he came crashing into my life, totally not where I expected him to be.

 -Tim(ST)

Holy Week Survival Guide 101

Ok, so can you guys believe that Lent is almost over?! Time went by so fast! So this just means two, super awesome things: Firstly, that Easter is right around the corner. Second, that Holy Week is right next door. So what’s Holy Week? Sure you’ve heard it before, maybe in your religion or CCD class. Maybe you’ve heard a priest mention it in his homily. Well in case you’re still a little confused about this whole Holy Week excitement, here’s a little 411 on what you as a Catholic should know and why you should be preparing for it!

Holy week is the last week of lent, marking the days leading up to Easter Sunday. I like to call it the “Home Stretch” of Lent. Holy Week is so important because it’s when we as Christians celebrate and honor the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us on the Cross at Calvary. 

The final days of Lent are called the Easter Triduum. It begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the Evening of Holy Thursday, it continues through Good Friday and Holy Saturday and ends with evening prayers on Easter Sunday. These are three days of heartfelt reflection of our salvation through Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, as well as the ultimate celebration that Jesus conquered death on Easter through His resurrection!  Here’s a breakdown of these days and how you can make this upcoming Holy Week a meaningful one in your life:

Holy Thursday: Holy Thursday marks the day Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His 12 apostles. During this time Jesus washed the feet of his apostles (a sign of priestly ordination) and most importantly He instituted the Eucharist! So Awesome!!! On Holy Thursday there is an evening mass, in which there is a washing of the feet. I encourage all of you to attend this mass at one of our Catholic parishes. If you’re unable to attend this mass, maybe you can pray the rosary, say a Divine Mercy chaplet. Maybe you can spend some quiet time reflecting on the importance of the Eucharist in our lives. Reading the bible is also a great way to reflect on the meaning of this holy day. Try reading the Mark 14, Luke 22, John 13. 

Good Friday: Good Friday is one of the most important days EVER! It is the day Jesus paid the ultimate price for us and died for us ALL, so we could be saved! It is customary on Good Friday that one be silent from 12pm-3pm (the hour of Jesus’ death). This is a day of fasting. On Good Friday Catholic parishes don’t have mass, but do have a Communion service, followed by the Veneration of the Cross. The Veneration of the Cross is when we are given an opportunity to pray in front of a cross as a sign of reverence for our Savior who took on the Cross for our salvation. This service is usually followed by the Stations of the Cross. So what can you do to observe Good Friday? For starters, try to attend one of the Communion Services and the Veneration of the Cross at one of the local Catholic Parishes. If you cannot make it to one because you’re in school, there are other things you can do to observe this day. You can fast (remember NO meat), it’s customary to wear black on this day, don’t listen to music or watch tv, you can also commit to being silent from noon- 3pm. 

Holy Saturday: Holy Saturday is a day of silence in which we are awaiting the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you have something to do with your family that day and have to go out, make sure you set aside a time for quiet prayer. Thank Jesus for dying for you on the cross. Maybe you can pray the rosary, a Divine Mercy Chaplet or go to the Communion Service at your Catholic parish.

Easter Sunday: Time to CELEBRATE!!!!! Easter Sunday is much more than a bunny and eggs. Easter is the day Our Lord Jesus rose from the dead!!! It’s a day to rejoice that we have a God who was willing to conquer death on our behalf and save us all. Be happy!! Go to Sunday Mass and continue to Thank God for dying and rising for us!!! 

Remember, Lent is a time of transformation. It’s a time to sacrifice and become the person God has called us to be. As we prepare ourselves for Holy Week I pray that you will continue to reflect on the Love God has for us in sending us His only Son to die for us. In doing this may you commit yourselves to observe the Easter Triduum the best you can and to walk with Jesus on His way to calvary and rejoice with Him on the day He rose from the dead.

Remember, God’s not asking us to be perfect, He’s asking us for our whole hearts, that we may serve and love Him!

Praying for you!!!

God Bless,

      Christie

 

Any Questions?

Preaching can be a funny thing. In my homiletics class (yup, we have a class for giving homilies), we learn the proper techniques of public speaking. We learn about proper eye-contact, about projecting our voice, about sticking to one point and keeping it under seven minutes. Then we get to watch ourselves over and over again on video and critique ourselves. But in the end, these are all just tools to get us ready. The real most important part of preaching is praying our way through Scripture and every day life, and pulling them together. Its about making what was real, so very real, to the people who wrote the Bible, even more real, so very real, in our own lives. 

That’s a lot to ask in seven minutes or less.

Just last week I had a fun eye-opening moment to what a homily could be. And the point is that seven minutes or less simply is not enough. At my Field Education assignment, where I get to go teach at a high school every Friday, I was helping to lead a prayer service for the first four periods of the day. By the end of it, I had read the Lazarus story and preached on it four times in two hours. Just how deep that story is, how much it can change our lives just by reading it out loud and hearing the anguish in Martha and Mary’s voices, the power in Christ’s command, and the surprise of the people as the dead man comes walking out of the tomb; honestly it was a little tiring. 

About half way into my third time through the same preaching, one of the girls I could tell wanted to ask a question. Funnily enough they don’t really teach us how to take random questions in the middle of our homilies, so I just kept going. When I finished, she kind of sheepishly asked if it was ok to ask a question. I thought it was adorable: her curiosity was coming face to face with my preparation (or lack thereof!) and my willfulness to just get through the preaching yet again.

It also made perfect sense. It’s not like I’ll ever be able to say everything I want to say. And to think I could ever preach to the point where no one had any questions is ridiculous. Finally, someone was willing to ask a question. And it made the whole prayer service so much more real. So much more than me preaching at them, and much more our getting to explore God together. 

What if homilies at Mass were more like that? What if we felt less like we were being talked at, and more like we were in this together? Now, I’m not necessarily saying our priests need to change the way they’re preaching, or that they’re just “talking at us,” but I think we all need to change the way we’re listening. I also don’t want to put our priests on the spot, during Mass or after, but what if we listened, realized we still had questions, and then asked our priests more about it afterward? 

I can’t speak for all the preachers out there, but that’s kind of an exciting prospect for me. So next time you catch me talking at you for any reason, don’t be afraid to stop me and ask me what I mean. It’s not like any of us are called to simply talk at others about God for our own benefit. I think any homily, any kind of preaching, has got to be the beginning of a conversation. I know I don’t have all the answers, and I know no homily I can give will pretend to answer even most of them. But if we have more questions after a homily, maybe that means we were listening just right. 

Don’t dare stop asking questions. And we’ll keep looking for the answers together. 

 

-Tm(ST)