Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I offer the following reflection on light on based St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, proclaimed on the 30th Monday of Ordinary Time, year 2.

Brothers and sisters:

Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. So do not be associated with them. For you were once darkness,

but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (Ephesians 4:32-5:8)

Light. What is so important about it? Why are we attracted to it? Why do children have a particular attraction to camp fires? Why are decorators so intrigued by lighting schemes, placement, fixtures, etc.? What difference does this all make? What purpose does light play in our lives? How are we ourselves light?

St. Paul is his letter to the Ephesians tells us to live as children of the light. We can look at this line and in an understanding sort of way, as if we truly 'get it,' say, "hmm... ok," and then having a sense of what that means and with a hint of determination - move on. But if that's all we do, then what good is that? So, if we are to live as children of light how do we strive to do that? Well, there are few ways or characteristics of light which describe how it is that we are to live as children of the light.

First, making present. One initial thing we can say about light is that it makes things present. When a lamp or another fixture illuminates a room, what is in the room becomes visible; i.e. made present. Now what is the light making present? This is the question! For example, designers strategically place lights in a room so that certain features or aspects of the room are highlighted or made present in a particular way. So it is with our spiritual lives. What are our lives making present? Things of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Are our lives making present God's presence? Or are our lives seeking to make present other things? Things of this world? Things lesser than what our God, our faith, our Church, or the image of God in which we have been made calls us to? For that matter, striving for the earthly life, is that even light? No, for darkness, blindness, and confusion can ensue. So, having said all this, to what extent are we being children of the light in that we are proclaiming God's presence with our lives?

Second, a focal point. *Seen a candle lately? Noticed the flame? Sometimes this happens when you get closer to a candle and notice the flame in a deeper way. Or have you found yourself outside gazing up to the sky on a warm, quiet, starry night and fixated on a particular star. For a moment all is still and almost perfect as you are drawn into pondering the deeper mysteries of life. In both star and candle the light changes and flickers and has its own being and at the same time we focus in on it. If another person were to focus in on our lives what would that person see? A candle burning brightly or one that is dark and cold? Do we realize that as we live out our faith that we have the potential to become, 'focal points' ? Not for others to focus on us specifically, but so that others may focus on someone who is following Christ and through that be inspired to do the same?.

Third point: the way. Ok, so have you seen your favorite flashing arrow on the road indicating a lane change due to construction today? Pleasant, right? There is a truth here. Despite our apparent appreciation for the traffic arrows we cannot argue the fact that they do tells us where to go and point us in the right direction. So to do our lives do the same thing. As beacons of light we are able to point others to Christ. Through lives of discipleship, faithfulness, love, devotion, sacrifice, hope, generosity, courage, service, etc. we point to Christ. As we point to Christ we have the potential to steer others in the right direction.

May God bless you!

*technical answer to this question: "Yes, when I was at Church on Sunday!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Congratulations & Vocations

This weekend I had the opportunity to witness two important things.

First, I concelebrated at the ordination of 5 deacons who will be journeying toward priesthood ordination on May 16, 2009. Ordained this past weekend in the Diocese of Cleveland were: classmate Deacon Sean Ralph, good friend Deacon Chris Trenta (see "The Latest Adventures of Chris" in the blog list to the left), Deacon Anthony Suso, Deacon Matt Pfeiffer, and Deacon Kevin Estabrook. Congratulations brothers!

At the ordination I remember walking in the procession and seeing the smiling faces of the guys to be ordained. It was at that moment, although I had been excited beforehand, I was even more so filled with excitement, joy, and happiness for these guys that I have had the privilege to know over the past 8 years!

This Diaconate ordination caused me to the think of two things in particular. First, I started thinking back to my own Diaconate ordination (Nov. 4, 2007) and thinking: has it really been a year already??? Reflecting upon all the graces of the past year, I am reminded once again how great this vocation is!

Second, as I witnessed the joy on the faces of my deacon brothers, I was reminded of the great mystery of God's love that we enter into more deeply as we claim our vocations - no matter what that vocation is! When we say yes to the Lord, when we begin and officially claim our vocations, there is a certain inexplicable sense of the mystery of God's love - the Holy Spirit - that you experience! That you are entering into something greater than yourself and its in this context of God's love and the faith community that all things make sense and we see the experience the deeper meaning of life. The fire within burns brighter!

The second event I experienced this weekend was the vocation witness given at our parish Masses by one of our own seminarians: Tim Roth. Tim shared his story of coming to a maturity in his faith and making the decision to enter the seminary. Tim also shared the joys and challenges of being a seminarian and working toward the priesthood. Tim's witness reminded me once again of awesomeness of saying yes to the Lord and embracing one's vocation with that yes. Tim's words also were inspiring and it is my hope that his words planted seeds in the hearts of the young people at St. Charles, to consider a vocation to priesthood or religious life.

To conclude for this round - again I'd just like to say another word of congratulations to our new deacons, Sean, Chris, Anthony, Kevin, and Matt and also thank you to Tim for his wonderful witness.

Peace be with you!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Everything you hoped for?

One of the common questions I have gotten in recent days, which I may have mentioned before, is: "Is it [priesthood] everything you hoped it would be?" Now, an easy answer to this question could be yes or no. However, I find that my response to this question is not as easy as a one word answer. As I entered priesthood and my first assignment I went in without any preconceived notions of how things 'should be' or hoping things would be like 'this' or 'that'. Rather, I entered this life just wondering and open to how the Spirit would unfold and what the lived experience of priesthood is like. I have found that any time in the past where I have anticipated, hoped, or longed for things to be a particular way I only ended up with egg on my face and found disappointment rather that fulfillment. So, I only came in with the common hopes, that this life would be fulfilling and life-giving.

I can say with certain confidence today that I look forward to how the spirit will unfold each day, what each day will bring and the challenges or joys or other interesting things that will happen. No one day is like another here and I love that about this life. Priesthood is diverse and full of variety and in the mix of all that, this life challenges you because you have to constantly be on your game.

I have been touched at how the Spirit has been unfolding at Mass, in the Confessional, and during the times I work with the youth group and witness young people strive to come to know the Lord. I have also had those times that required further discernment and I have also had those times that have struck me like, "Oh, so this is what it's like? Wow!"

So to answer to answer the original question: yes, things are going well, and the Spirit is certainly in many ways, making itself manifest and present and each day unfolding in new ways! I love what I do and I am fulfilled.

I would encourage anyone in any walk of life, to let themselves be surprised. Don't hope for many specific things but hope for the fulfillment and life sustaining Spirit of God that comes from doing His will. In addition be open and willing and attentive to the Spirit is unfolding and look forward to new adventures that can come with each passing day.

I also wish to offer the following congratulations:

Congratulations to the 2nd Year theologians at St. Mary Seminary on being installed Lectors last Friday, October 3rd. - Congratulations to Peter, Gregg, and John!

Congratulations also to the 5th Year theologians who have been officially called to Holy Orders and will be ordained deacons on Saturday, October 25th at 10am at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland! Congratulations to Chris, Kevin, Anthony, Matt, and Sean!