Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving gets the Shaft (Again)

Now that Veterans Day has past, the next big holiday of the year is Christmas. What, you ask? What about Thanksgiving? Oh sure, there will be a Thanksgiving holiday. Most Americans will take that Thursday and possibly the following Friday off to be with their family and eat turkey and watch the Detroit Lions lose to whoever they will be playing that day. Wait, the Lions aren't that bad of a team anymore.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is a holiday that is going by the wayside. I have already seen houses and businesses with Christmas decorations up. Bell ringers are already stationed at the local grocery stores to beg for your loose change. I even flipped through the radio dial last night and heard a station playing Christmas music already! Yes, I still listen to the radio...what's wrong with that?  Now I'm no Scrooge. I love Christmas and what it means to Christians around the world. I love seeing my kids get excited about what they hope Santa will bring them this year. But I think Thanksgiving deserves a little more recognition than just a day to get off work and eat some turkey and pie with your friends and family. We should reflect on what we as a nation are thankful for. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. Freedom to vote for whomever we choose to represent us in government.

Let's wait until after Thanksgiving to hang the decorations and do our Christmas shopping. Now stores are even open for business on Thanksgiving day!  Christmas will be here before we know it anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Poor Will Always be Among Us

The great thing a good homily or sermon does, is that it hits you with fresh ideas or thought provoking comments that hopefully, will cause you to act out in a positive way.  Today's Saint of the Day, is Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, who lived in the 13th century.  She spent much of her short life caring for the sick and the poor of her day, and was a shining example for others to follow for years and centuries to follow.

Many churches and organizations run food and clothing drives this time of year as the holidays approach.  They are all good and helpful to the needy in our local areas as winter and cold weather sets in.  But, as our priest said today during his homily at morning Mass, the poor don't just need food during November and December!  They are hungry and need our help all year round.

He was right!  While it's certainly good to give during this time of year when we pause to thank God for all He has given us and provided for us, we should also remember to take care of the poor and needy around us, all year long.  Jesus said, the poor you will always have with you, and in Deuteronomy 15 it says:  There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

So think of a way that you and your family can give back to the community and help the poor throughout the year.  One thing we do is give to the St. Vincent DePaul society on a regular basis, not just at year end.  Our church also has a Tithing for Poor offering each month.  If you are more hands on, there are many charity organizations who are looking for volunteers to help out from time to time. While there are many good organizations that work with the poor and needy worldwide, don't forget about the people and charities in your own backyard.

Everyone can and should give, even if it's just a dollar, or a few hours of our time.  Pray to God to show you how and where you should give, and He will make a way.  You will feel better and it will draw yourself closer to Him in the process.  Let Saint Elizabeth of Hungary be an example to us all.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How to Share your Faith

Yesterday, my wife and I attended a conference on Evangelization hosted by the Cardinal Regali Center and the Office of Laity & Family Life.  The featured speaker was Marcus Grodi, Host of The Journey Home program on the EWTN television network.  Mr. Grodi is a former Lutheran, who converted to Catholicism many years ago, and started his television program to encourage clergy and others to embrace the Catholic Church by sharing stories of other peoples conversion stories.  Mr. Grodi gave three talks on Evangelization that was centered on what he called the two most difficult people to reach:  Our family, and our Non-Catholic, Christian friends.  Between the talks, there were times for those in attendance to discuss questions and share thoughts at their tables, followed by a Q&A session at the end, to close the conference.  Mr. Grodi has a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on from his show which has aired on EWTN for over 20 years.  He has a passion for sharing his Catholic faith with others and teaching fellow Catholics to do the same.  One of the biggest barriers to reaching non-Catholic Christians, he said, was the fact that so many non-Catholic Christians are not even sure that Catholics are Christians themselves.  This is an urban myth that has been perpetuated over the years by Protestants who reject the Catholic Church and it's teachings.  Therefore, we have to help them see that faithful Catholics are indeed Christians, and that we know the Bible and love Jesus just like they do.  Once they understand that all true doctrines, devotions, and practices are about Jesus Christ, then they might be open to discover the fullness and beauty of the Catholic Church.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Wake Up

Do you have a morning routine?  I think most people probably do.  People tend to do the same things each and every day to get their day started.  Maybe you walk the dog or feed the cats.  If you're like me, the first stop is getting the coffee made!  I really can't function without a cup of coffee in the morning.  Ok, I probably could, but I wouldn't like it.  There have been a few times, few and far between thank goodness, when I realize that we are out of coffee.  Now that is a scary situation.  I hate when that happens.  So once you get the basics down, then what?  Many people read the newspaper, or check their e-mail.  Some people read the Bible or do some kind of a daily devotional. Many Catholics will pray the Rosary or the Devine Mercy Chaplet.  These are all good things.  This past summer, once school ended for the kids, I started going to the 6:30 AM morning Mass.  This has become my new "day starter".  It really gets me centered on God and Jesus for the beginning of the day.  Hearing and responding to the Word of the Lord (The Bible), praying and reflecting on God's Word, and of course, receiving the Eucharist (Holy Communion).  I really enjoy the simplicity and the solitude of the morning Mass.  It has become part of my morning routine (right after my first cup of coffee).  I even continued to go when school started again in the fall.  Yes, I still manage to get all my kids off to school on time.  I know that not everyone can attend a morning Mass because of their work schedules.  Most parishes in our area have two options, 6:30 and 8 AM.  If you can fit it into your schedule, please try and go, you'll be amazed how you feel afterwards.  So make God a part of your day, after all, who's more important than God?  You'll be glad you did, and so will He.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What are your gifts?

In the book of Romans, in chapter 12, Paul talks about how we all have different gifts, according to the grace given to us by God.  As a new Catholic, I became interested and fascinated by the Mass.  What was going on?  Standing, sitting, bowing, kneeling.  How do you know what to do or what to say?  Like anything, it takes practice.  I started going to the 6:30 AM morning Mass, which was even a little different in that some things were added and some were omitted.  When my son wanted to become a server, or alter boy, I asked myself...what about me?  What can I do in and for the church?  It's kind of hard to get kids to serve for the 6:30 Mass so they have adults do it.  I felt like this was something that I could do to help me learn more about the Mass and serve the church.  What a great experience it is!  I just got back from serving in this morning's Mass.  You really feel a part of the Mass and experience it first hand when you are a server.  Setting the alter for communion, bringing the prayer book for the priest to read, and of course, ringing the bells during the prayer of consecration.  I felt so close to God. What about you?  Do you feel close to God?  Why or why not?  What can you do to draw yourself closer to Him?  Read chapter 12 of Romans and pray to God to ask Him what you can do you utilize your gifts from God.  God bless you as you use your gifts to serve The Lord!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Time for another change

It's fitting that I write this post today, November 3rd.  Exactly 6 years ago, I wrote my first blog post.  It was called "Day before the election", which is also where we are today.  Originally, I did write a little about politics.  Thoughts about gas prices, daylight savings time, shopping, facebook, discount stores, fast food, holidays, really a little bit about everything.  That's why I called it Thoughts from Scott.  There was no real theme or purpose.  Over time, I started writing about financial matters, because that's what I do, I'm a financial advisor.  But financial firms don't like people like me writing about things that are not "approved".  Anything that I wrote needed to be approved by the Compliance Department!  What a headache!  That takes all the fun and spontaneity out of it.  So I started writing about motorcycles.  No one has to approve that.  After all, I rode motorcycles and like most people who do, I like to talk about it and share my thoughts on riding and such.

Well, now I've decided to make another change.  Get ready...  I'm going to talk about religion.  Not just any religion, but Catholicism!  Why?  Well, why not?  This past year, in April, April 14th to be exact.  I became a Catholic.  On the Easter Vigil, that is, the evening before Easter, I became a Catholic!  I had already been baptized as a child, so I did not need to be re-baptized, but I was confirmed and accepted into the Holy Catholic Church as a child of God, one of their own.  I took the Holy Eucharist (Communion) for the first time and it was awesome!  I love being Catholic.  So this morning, as I was praying and thinking about my day ahead, I decided that I would make this change to my blog.

Thoughts from Scott will now mainly focus on my life as a new Catholic believer and member of a local parish in St. Louis, Missouri.  I will share my thoughts, struggles, confusion, and joy about my experiences as a Catholic.  Now, I don't want people to think that I know it all, I just want to share my thoughts and if it helps someone else understand what it means to be Catholic or what Catholics believe, then that will be a good thing.  Feel welcome to share your thoughts and ask me questions.  If I don't know the answer, I will do some research, and/or ask my priest for help.  So may God bless you and me as I start this new venture!