Saturday, December 31, 2016

In Memoriam

As the end of the year approaches, it is common for people to reflect on those that have passed away or who have died during the year.  No matter if their deaths were due to accident or tragedy, cancer or long illness, or if they simply died of old age or "normal causes", their lives are remembered briefly with the help of a few pictures or video clips and an appropriate soundtrack in the background.  These memorial videos are typically put out by the major news media outlets and are shared by many as we fondly look through the list of well known movie stars, actors, actresses, musicians, athletes, politicians, and other celebrities of note.  Many times, one might be surprised to see a name on the list that they didn't realize has passed away that year, or perhaps had simply forgotten about already.

While it is important to remember the lives of the "important" people, those who changed the world in some way through their artistic, literary, or athletic accomplishments, one must not forget about all the other people that have died in the past year.  The common folk.  Regular people.  Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives of all the rest of us.  Their lives were important too.  Even though they were not well known or a celebrity, they were an important part of the lives of the families they left behind.  The memoriam of these people will not be shown on TV or shared on social media, their memoriam will take place every time a friend or family member gets together for a family gathering or social event during the holidays or at birthday parties or weddings in the future.  Stories will be shared and jokes will be told of the dear loved ones that we remember from the past, however recent or distant in our memories.  People that mattered to us because they shaped our lives in some way and changed us.  We are who we are today, partly because of them.  We still miss them and remember them and thank them for touching our lives.  The world is a better place because of them too!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The meaning of Christmas

St. John's Meaning of Christmas

Alleluia! Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate son
of God.  We hear at Mass one of the most magnificent passages in the Scriptures, indeed one of the gems of the Western literary tradition: the prologue to the Gospel of John. In many ways, the essential meaning of Christmas is contained in these elegantly crafted lines.

John commences: “In the beginning was the Word…” No first century 
Jew would have missed the significance of that opening phrase, for the first word of the Hebrew Scriptures, bereshit, means precisely “beginning.”  The evangelist is signaling that the story he will unfold is the tale of a new creation, a new beginning. The Word, he tells us, was not only with God from the beginning, but indeed was God.

The entire prologue comes then builds to its climax with the magnificent phrase, “the Word was made flesh and lived among us.” The gnostic temptation has tugged at the Church, on and off, for nearly the past two thousand years. This is the suggestion, common to all forms of puritanism, that the spiritual is attained through a negation of the material. But authentic Christianity, inspired by this stunning claim of St. John, has consistently held off gnosticism, for it knows that the Word of God took to himself a human nature and thereby elevated all of matter and made it a sacrament of the divine presence.

The Greek phrase behind “lived among us” is literally translated as “tabernacled among us” or “pitched his tent among us.” No Jew of John’s time would have missed the wonderful connection implied between Jesus and the temple. According to the book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant—the embodiment of Yahweh’s presence—was originally housed in a tent or tabernacle. The evangelist is telling us that now, in the flesh of Jesus, Yahweh has established his definitive tabernacle among us.

All of this sublime theology is John the Evangelist’s great Christmas sermon. I would invite you to return to it often this Christmas season in prayer and meditation.

Bishop Robert Barron

The Light of the World

Thursday, December 22, 2016


By far, the most important Advent figure is Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God, for Mary sums up in her person the whole of the people Israel, the nation whose whole purpose was to prepare for the coming of the Lord. In the face of the evil, injustice, stupidity, and sin that were marring his beautiful creation, God resolved to choose a people and to form them according to his heart so that they could be the vehicle of his presence to the world. From this people would come, as a sort of flowering, the Messiah.

Thus, Mary recapitulates the story of Israel, the story of redemption. We can, as it were, read the whole Old Testament in her. As the true Israel, she knows what to do and she does it with enthusiasm. No dawdling, back-pedaling, straying or complaining: she moves, she goes. And she goes upon the heights, which is exactly where God had always summoned Israel, so that it could be a light to the nations.

Bishop Robert Barron

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Beauty of Silence

In silence we hear so much that is beautiful. The other day I saw a young mother who said, "The happiest hour of the day is that early morning hour when I lie and listen to the baby practicing sounds and words. She has such a gentle little voice."

St. James says, "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man." And how much more women need this gift of silence. It is something to be prayed for. Our Lady certainly had it. How little of her there is in the Gospel, and yet all generations have called her blessed.

"Behold, how small a fire, how great a forest it kindles. And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity. The tongue is placed among our members, defiling the whole body, and setting on fire the course of our life, being itself set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird and serpent and the rest is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But the tongue no man can tame--it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With it we bless God the Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the image and likeness of God." (James 3:5-9)

To love with understanding and without understanding. To love blindly, and to folly. To see only what is lovable. To think only on these things. To see the best in everyone, their virtues rather than their faults. To see Christ in them.

Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage (Eerdman's)

Fourth Week of Advent

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Advent Reflection

The Bible frequently employs the desert as the setting for the discovery of bold and simple truths. Advent is, for us, a desert time. It brings us back to the basics. Now what does John say in the desert? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That wonderful word, “repent,” implies a change of mind and vision. John is telling his audience (and us) to wake up and be ready to see something. What does he want us to see? The Kingdom, the new order, God’s way of doing things. There is a cleaning and a scouring, a rearranging and a renovation that is going to happen. And we have to be ready for it.
Bishop Robert Barron

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gaudete Sunday

The third Sunday of Advent is referred to as “Gaudete” Sunday. In Latin, Gaudete is a positive command that means, “Rejoice!" We Christians are a joyful people. In fact, St. Paul tells the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always!" 
Bishop Robert Barron

Third Week of Advent

Saturday, December 10, 2016

An Advent Reflection

If there is no cross in the manger,
there is no Christmas.
If the Babe doesn't become an Adult,
there is no Bethlehem star.
If there is no commitment in us,
there are no Wise Men searching.
If we offer no cup of water,
there is no gold, no frankincense, no myrrh.
If there is no praising God's name,
there are no angels singing.
If there is no spirit of alleluia,
there are no shepherds watching.
If there is no standing up, no speaking out, no risk,
there is no Herod, no flight into Egypt.
If there is no room in our inn,
then "Merry Christmas" mocks the Christ Child.
and the Holy Family is just a holiday card,
and God will loathe our feats and festivals.

Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem (Westminster John Knox Press)

Second Week of Advent

Getting caught up on Advent

Like a lot of things, I realized that I was behind on my preparations for Christmas.  For Catholics and many other Christians, this is the season of Advent.  It is the time that we prepare for Christmas. One way is to light Advent candles and reflect on the coming of the Messiah by yourself or with your family.  Here is another way to think about Advent:

Advent is a time to wonder and to anticipate again and to remember the magic that is in Christmas.  Christine Simpson

First Week of Advent

Sunday, November 20, 2016

When you don't get the outcome you expected

Sometimes in life things don't go your way.  When I was growing up, I was told that this is how life works sometimes and you just have to get used to it and accept it.  After all, there will always be people who are smarter than you, faster than you, stronger than you, luckier than you, and so on.  As long as you did your best you should be able to handle the results.  Oh sure, it might hurt or make you upset that something didn't go your way, but if you made an honest effort, then hey, move on and try again next time.  We can learn from our mistakes or shortcomings.  Was there something I could have done differently to produce a better outcome?  What can I learn from my opponent?  What did he or she do different than I that helped them win or succeed?  How can I improve in order to make a better showing next time?  So rather than blame anyone and try to find reasons why something didn't go my way, we should always strive to find no fault with anyone but ourselves and learn from our mistakes so we can be better or do better next time.  That is really the best approach.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Spanish Mass

Yesterday our family decided to visit another parish and see how they do Mass.  My wife came up with the idea earlier this summer as a way to see the other churches in the local area and note the differences in architecture and style.  We found a local parish in Arnold that was having a 12:30 pm Mass.  Our family typically goes to the 12 noon Mass at our church because we like the music and it lets the kids sleep in on Sunday which they like to do.  Well to our surprise, the 12:30 Mass at the church in Arnold was a Spanish speaking Mass.  Rather than leave, we decided to stay and experience the Spanish Mass.  While we didn't understand the language and what was being said, we did understand what was happening because we know the order of the Mass.  The people were very friendly, many came up to us to shake hands during the Sign of Peace, even the priest!  The music was great, they had such a good choir with many percussion instruments accompanying the organ.  The priest even gave a 5 minute version of his homily in English after he finished his Spanish version.  It was a very neat experience.  What we all found out was that while we didn't understand every word, we knew what was happening because all Catholic Masses are basically the same.  The order of the Mass is the same.  That's the beauty of Catholicism.  At every Catholic church in the world, people are celebrating the Mass in the same way, just in different languages and with difference styles of music.  And we all receive the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  How cool is that?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Today's blog is a guest post by John Fischer:

Everybody loves a parade.
Part of our Fourth of July celebration yesterday included attending a local, small town Fourth of July parade. The star of this show, especially for us, was a young girl playing in a beginning youth orchestra including little kids with violins almost as big as they were. Our young friend played a cello, and that was a bit of a challenge for a parade, calling on Dad to pull a wagon that she could set her instrument in. About every couple hundred feet of "marching" (they were actually just walking along), they would stop, put their cellos and bases on the ground and play one verse of "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

What is it about these small town parades that is so compelling? There were hundreds of people lining the parade route on Main Street, and huge traffic jams in and out of town for a funky little parade that didn't have one band (not with school out), had only three horses, and mostly people walking along representing various groups such as Vegans, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, a color guard, a group of veterans, a couple motorcycle clubs, two fire trucks, a half a dozen Ford Mustangs revving their engines and a few town officials. What's the big deal?

Well it's simple. The big deal is us. For a moment in time, whoever wants to be a star, is one. We, and our children, and our friends are on parade. After watching most of the parade go by, we walked alongside the youth orchestra and cheered wildly every time they completed their song. The little five-year-olds were overcome with pride.

In 2 Corinthians 2:14, Paul teaches us that you and I are on parade like this all the time. "But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere." "Christ's triumphal procession" is the parade you and I are in today. You are on display, and this parade is going on all the time, even when you are unaware of it. That's because the whole point of this parade is to spread around the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere we go.

This fragrance does not take effort, nor is it something we put on. We have it already, and it's growing in us. It is the knowledge of Christ. We're not memorizing anything; we're not reciting anything; we're simply being who we are, and the presence of Christ in us puts off an aroma in this parade we call life. God does the rest.

So whether you know it or not, or whether you like it or not, you're in a parade today. Might as well go along with it. Enjoy it, in fact, because everybody loves a parade.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


When does summer begin?  Or should I rephrase the question:  when does summer begin for you?  For my children, summer begins when school lets out at the end of the 2nd semester, which was on May 23rd this year.  For many people, Memorial Day weekend is thought of as the beginning of summer.  That was May 30th this year.  For some people it doesn't seem like summer until that first 90 degree day.  That was yesterday, June 10th.  For the purists, summer doesn't begin until the solstice, which will be June 20th this year.  When I was growing up, I was taught that summer begins on June 21st and ends on September 21st.  Now it seems to change from year to year as we are more exact in our measurements of time.  For a few, summer doesn't begin until you take your vacation from work and go on a trip out of town.  I guess it really doesn't matter, unless you make calendars.  Enjoy the warm weather and time off of work.  Slow down and enjoy the enjoyment!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day thoughts

This post was originally published on Memorial Day 2015:

My wife and I went to Mass on Memorial Day and our priest told a story in his homily about a man he knew that grew up without parents.  The man's name was Matt.  Matt led a lonely life and it seemed that everything he did or tried was met with a closed door.  He joined the military and eventually was deployed into active service in Afghanistan.  On return home to the US while on leave, he seemed bitter and distant to the priest and others who knew him.  His demeanor had changed now that he had been exposed to the brutality of war.  Upon his return to Afghanistan for another tour of duty, he fought bravely for his country, but this time he was killed by enemy fire and returned home to the US again, but this time he returned in a flag draped coffin.  He was given a proper funeral Mass and burial service, and this time he went through an open door, a door which led to heaven.  At this point the priest got choked up and everyone could see that he was very moved by this story.  The story of a person he knew personally, who had fought and died for his freedom as an American.  A person who was not loved by many people on this earth, but was loved tremendously by God.  We often don't think of the thousands of people, real people, real human beings, who lost their lives for this country, when we think of Memorial Day.  We tend to think of the patriotism and the flags, but we quickly turn to thoughts of summer time, BBQ's and time off from our jobs to be with our families and enjoy a day off.  When you think about people who were touched by a soldier who gave his life, it gets personal.  We live in a great country because of people like Matt.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Opening Day

They say the opening day of the baseball season in St. Louis is an unofficial holiday.  Many baseball fans plan special activities surrounding the day's events.  Even if they can't get tickets to the game, thousands of Cardinals fans flock to the downtown area surrounding the stadium for pregame pep rallies and to get a good seat or spot in front of the big screen TV's and monitors at Ballpark Village and other bars and restaurants, to watch the pregame ceremonies.  Some call baseball a religion in St. Louis because the fans are so deeply devoted to their team and to the sport itself.  The reverence that they have for the players and the history of the team, and it's former players and hall of famers, is legendary.  It's not uncommon for parents to pull their kids out of school to attend a day game.  Many fans follow the team on the road, especially to the cities of their rivals, like Chicago, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh.  Yes, opening day is great in any major league town in America, but in St. Louis, it is truly special.  This is why they call the game, the national pastime.  So we welcome the new season and the new players, returning players and veterans to a new quest for the World Series, to be the best team, to be champions!  Play ball!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Celebrate Easter

Today as we celebrate Easter, I share with you the Gospel reading for today in the Catholic church.  This passage will be read by either a priest or deacon, during the Easter Mass that is celebrated during the day, throughout the world.  It comes from the Gospel of John, chapter 20, verses 1-9:

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, 
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter 
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, 
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, 
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter 
and arrived at the tomb first; 
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, 
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 
and the cloth that had covered his head, 
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, 
the one who had arrived at the tomb first, 
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture 
that he had to rise from the dead.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Holy Saturday

The following is an ancient homily written by an anonymous source, but one which sums up what today means for Christians around the world as we approach Easter:

What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

The Lord goes into them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: "My Lord be with you all." And Christ in reply says to Adam: "And with your spirit." And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying:

"Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lent update

How's your Lent going so far?  Is it your best Lent ever?  Are you having trouble fasting and giving up something?  Do you feel any closer to God?  Have you spent any additional time in prayer and/or service or ministry to God?  Are you reading the Bible or any other spiritual or theological books to draw you into a more deeper understanding of God's purpose and direction for your life?  Lent is a time for spiritual exercises to help you make your walk with God a better and more fulfilling one.  Use these weeks before Easter to draw closer to Jesus and walk with Him as the Holy Spirit leads you.  God is good...all the time!

Sunday, February 7, 2016


This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the Lenten season.  Traditionally, many people choose to give up something like chocolate or desserts, in order to draw themselves closer to God during the 40 days of Lent.  Others choose to do something extra, like go to morning Mass or say the Rosary every day, as a way to draw themselves closer to Christ.  Whatever you choose to do, prayerfully consider how you might use the 40 days of Lent to make you a better person, a better Christian, a better parent, sibling, or friend.  Use this Lent to make a difference.  Let's make this the best Lent ever!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year in 2016.  I hope this is your best year ever.  It can be if you choose to do things which will improve yourself and make a better version of you.  January is always a great time to reflect on things that you can do to make your life easier, and more productive. The key is to write down your goals and start a plan to make it happen.  Another idea is to write down things that you can cut out of your life or get rid of.  Things that are non-productive or time wasting activities. Of course, down't make your goals too lofty.  They need to be challenging but should also be attainable.  Are you really going to lose 30 pounds or run 10 miles a day?  Most people fail with their new year's resolutions either because they make them too hard or they don't write them down. Don't make that mistake.  So good luck and make this new year the one that counts!