Friday, November 20, 2009

102.1 FM in Cleveland... it's too soon for Christmas music!

Ok, so everyone I'm sure has an opinion on this and you may find that you disagree with me... I'll say it anyway!

102.1FM playing Christmas music today, it's just too soon! It only further enforces an idea of celebrating Christmas now and getting it over with! It isn't even Thanksgiving yet!!! I remember the days when Christmas music and other things did not start until the day after Thanksgiving, giving us a chance to be thankful, to celebrate and give the holiday of Thanksgiving due process and time, rather than turning it into "ThanksPreChristmasgiving Day" I'm not opposed to playing Christmas music after Thanksgiving Day but I am concerned about a danger in overdoing it!

By celebrating too soon, we end-up taking the celebrating out of the celebration. What I mean by this is that when Christmas day actually rolls around, the trees and other decorations are on the front lawn by the next day and no one seems to care. In the end we treat Christmas more like a time to get through and over rather than something sacred to be treasured. There is no time to cherish the gift of the birth of Christ, to really take to heart and ponder the deeper meaning of the Feast.

I hope that we take time to really engage the deeper meaning of each holiday and feast in it's proper time; we don't want the birth of Christ, the most important thing besides Jesus' death and resurrection, to become one more thing we just 'get through' because we're sick of it by December 25th. Let us not, miss the Christmas season which starts on December 25th... not today 102.1!!!

The wise shall shine...

“But the wise shall shine brightly
like the splendor of the firmament,
and those who lead the many to justice
shall be like the stars forever." (Dn 12:3)

This verse from our scriptures this past weekend speaks of wisdom leading to justice and those who seek the wisdom of the Lord and act upon it leading may to justice and in doing so shining brightly like stars. What is necessary to do this? If anything, in a world of moral relativism and wishy-washiness, to seek the wisdom necessary to lead others to justice really requires an uncompromising conviction of faith and moral values on each of our behalves. The sort of conviction I am thinking of reminds me of the character: Walt Kowalski from the movie Gran Torino.

In Gran Torino we find Walt, a retired Ford auto worker and Korean War Veteran whose wife has just died living in a neighborhood that has gone from great prosperity to despair. The neighborhood is not what it used to be, now mostly immigrants from Asia and infested by gangs, you could say Walt was out of place. Walt is also a person that tells you how it is, or at least speaks with an unfiltered mind, even saying to the young priest in the movi
e: “The problem is I think you're an overeducated, 27-year-old virgin who knows nothing about life or death and holds the hands of superstitious old women and promises them eternity."

What we also know about Walt is that he is bitter and crusty, and nothing ticks him off more than when people do not do the right thing, do not take care of themselves, do not take of each other, and do not take care of others. The selfishness of his grandaughter and the violence of the gangs drive him crazy. Now we could easily lable this as well, crude? But! Not to justify some of Walts less than admirable language or drinking, Walt does in the end have a point. For Walt was uncompromising in his values and in his convictions about right and wrong, about doing the right thing and standing up for what you believe in. This is the lesson we should take from Walt.

If we are to be the lights, the stars, the ones burning brightly leading others to justice, then we should have that same conviction of faith and values Walt Kowalski had. Walt's firm convictions helped neighborhood boy, Tao become a man rather than get sucked into the gang his cousins were in. Walt teaches Tao the value of an honest days work and about taking care of family and neighborhood - to stand up for what is right. Walt out of his firm convictions, also stood up for Tao's sister Sue. Lastly, Walt brought justice through his convictions to Tao and Sue and also their cousins in the gang. Walt in many was is a star. If we wish to be the same for others, then we too, again must have that same sense of conviction and fight for what is right, what is just.

Ultimately then, where do we find ourselves in relationship to justice? Are we burning brightly like stars in the Book of Daniel? Or do we find we need to get going on this?

Thursday, November 12, 2009


WOW! The LORD does good work! (yeah, I know that but...)

Last weekend, St. Charles had it's annual high school youth group retreat and it's them was: Your Grace is Enough and of course, the awesome song by the same title by Matt Maher was our theme song! The talks were designed around using the word grace as an acronym as follows: G = growth, R = relationships, A = attitude, C = chastity, and E = empowerment. The idea is to see God's grace working through all these aspects of our lives.

As I may have mentioned in previous posts, leading up to the retreat Sr. Denise, myself, and the team encountered many hurdles and challenges right up to getting to the retreat. However, once the retreat started, it was quite evident just how much God's grace is indeed flowing in our lives. In a word, everything was: "perfect"! The witnesses really hit home, the video presentations really worked well, and the participation with the teens in singing, small group time, and prayer especially Confession and Adoration were amazing!!! Sr. Denise and I were and still are totally blown away!!! From start to finish I found myself marveling at the beauty of God's grace unfolding! When all was said and done, Sr. and I were quite tired but it was a good tired one of satisfaction and thankfulness.

I'm thankful God used all of us on the team in the way He did! Even in our brokeness and challengedness going into the retreat, God took what we had and with it, His will was done! I can't wait until the reunion this Sunday to hear how people's lives were changed! There were about 100 teens on the retreat and you can tell that everyone left with something and were changed in some way I'm sure of it!!!

Thank you God!

Monday, November 2, 2009

TRUSTING in the Holy Spirit

This week I, along with the nun I work with, Sr. Denise Marie :), find ourselves just a few days away from our annual High School Youth Group Retreat. It always amazes me when this time comes around, how much work we have done and how much is yet to be done. Overall, in these sorts of times, I am reminded of how much we are called to trust in the Lord. Yeah, I know in some ways its simple, and I'm sure you and I hear this all the time, "just trust in the Lord." However, how seriously do we do this? It's easy for us to say this but to do it ourselves is another thing.

I am taking this time to renew my trust in God. This year for the retreat there still so much to do and we've faced new obstacles. However, I know that this retreat will happen the way God wants it to happen. I know the work that needs will get done. The goal is to remind myself in the moments I feel weak or faint in terms of trust, that I need to dig a little deeper and trust a little harder because ultimately God is in charge, I am not. I am an instrument of God's grace, not God's grace itself. It is trust in God and God working through us by way of the Holy Spirit that allows us to rely upon his grace and do the work we are called to do. This trust also allows us to be reassured that everything is going to not only work-out, but will happen the way God intended it to happen, not the way I or anybody else intended. I know if I do my part as a priest, God will indeed do His part, the Holy Spirit will flow through me, and use me to do what God wants.

How often do we take the opportunity to renew this trust in the Lord that we have? Keeping in mind of course, that to trust in the Lord implies we are also open to how God wants things to unfold, and we shouldn't be disappointed if the end product is different from our original vision.

So yes, trust in the Lord, allow God to use you, and do not be afraid to let God be in the driver's seat.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saints, a summary of my Solemnity of All Saints homily

There are so many ways, so many things we can say about the saints. By and large though, who are the saints? First, we can say they are people in heaven. But! To be more relatable, they are people like you and I who sought to live out their faith to the best of their ability. They are people who took their faith seriously, even those whose histories were at times somewhat checkered. As the saints took their faith seriously, they listened to what God called them to do with their lives and they made God's will theirs. Sort of like Bartimeus in the Gospel last week who when Jesus said to him, "Go on your way," chose to make his way, the way of Christ as Bartimeus with his new found sight, followed the Lord. For us in this day and age, faced with the fact that we are the saints of today, we are called to claim our own sense of sainthood in our lives. Contrary to the casual laxidaisical comment: I'm not worthy; nothing could be further from the truth. What makes us saints is if we, like those before us, seek to live out our faith to the best of our ability everyday in every way and follow where the Lord calls us to be. It is possible for each and everyone of us to do this, it simply comes down to a choice to do so. Dear Lord, who calls us to be the saints of today, help us be unwaivering witnesses to you, now and forever more. Amen!