Chance Meeting Was No Accident!

It has been way too long for me to not have posted. So since I just re-upped my website ownership I suppose that I should be motivated to start again! I am writing this after the 50th Annual Festival at Nativity of Our Savior Church. It was a huge success and as usual, I am flattened afterwards. This year I was fortunate to be able to head down to Florida to preside at a wedding for a young couple in Sarasota. Naturally, I was able to spend some time in DisneyWorld to visit my “Happy Place”! I also got to dine at my fav restaurant The Flying Fish on the Boardwalk. I had also hoped to have some of those yummy Chicken wings at the ESPN Sports Bar, but alas, they were undergoing renovation and their menu was limited to cold items. Nonetheless, I got to visit with my favorite bartender, Jim.

the wedding of John and Kimberly Lambert was over the top. I have never been to a more beautiful and elegant wedding in my entire life. That’s what happened when the reception is held at the Ritz-Carlton. I’m used to receiving a drink in a red solo cup but this swanky place served in glass glasses. Whoa!

But the highlight of my trip was meeting a woman and her daughter from London, England. She was in Sarasota with the hopes of getting new prosthetics for her daughter. Her daughter had meningitis when she was two years old and the disease caused her to lose her arms and legs. Now at the age of sixteen it was time for her to transition to a “newer” prosthesis. I found her daughter to be unaffected by the stares and whisperings that I saw people doing when she walked into the hotel lobby. I admit, the initial sight took me off guard. But instead of gawking at her I felt very moved at her unflaunted confidence. At a perchance conversation with her mother she shared with me about her amazing daughter. She told me how the doctors told her that her child would not survive this disease. But she firmly believed that as a woman of faith, her daughter would live. And she certainly has indeed. She gave up her career as an accountant to care for her daughter. She placed all her ownings of her accounting business into property around London and has lived very well.

She is now recognizing that her daughter is slowly transitioning away from her mothers loving care. I felt that she was telling me that she will mourn the loss of not being her main caregiver.  But it was because of her love for her daughter that she became a stronger person. I found this to be sad and celebratory. She is now looking at how she will now transition to a person who will have the time to do things for herself. Perhaps more reading, a new hobby or interest and perhaps a swank at going back to the career she left those 16 years ago.

When I departed from my hotel I was able to run into her one last time and I had to just thank her for sharing her story with me. In turn, she thanked me for listening and being able to express her feelings about her life. I found in her talks that she was a Roman Catholic. When I told her I was a priest, she seemed delighted that a member of the clergy listened to her.

In essence, what unfolded in my meeting with her was how we fed each other. I thought of the Eucharist and in the sharing of Jesus Christ, Body and Blood. Soul and divinity. We did not exchange addresses and/or emails, but, I feel the impact we had on each other will last a lifetime. Praised be to God!

New Year!

It’s snowing like crazy. It’s winter, it’s Northwest Indiana and thats what it does here. It snows! I thought I’d push out a few lines on the blog-a-rooney before I head to the church and celebrate mass. Something tells me my regulars will be here no matter what. It just worries me that my elder scholars would subject themselves to the terrible driving conditions today. I mean, who do they think they are? Well, that is the theme to this mornings Gospel. John the Baptizer gets asked this and he tells folks that he is NOT the one they’ve been waiting for! So, despite that, as I sit here I am looking out to the parking lot and three of my usuals are here. This morning as I drove to McD’s for breakfast I asked myself what was I thinking by driving to get breakfast. i have a few eggs, my new bacon bowl kit and a fridge full of tamales!

In fact, today I was going to drive to East Chicago to pick up more masa to make another 10 pounds. I had my mom call them to cancel the order because of the driving conditions. We have been very lucky with bad weather. For the past two years we’ve had the mildest winters. And it’s been decades since we’ve had a snowstorm like the much talked about Snow Storm of 67! So, lucky indeed. I only wish I had a fireplace like my last rectory. It was awesome and wonderfully toasty to sit by it when the weather was cold and snowy. The only thing I have is one of those DVD’s that has a fake fireplace.

Okay, I did my best to be interesting. I think later today I’m going to play on my blog page to figure out how to do a few things to it’s appearance. My technical aptitude is adventurous to say the least. Ciao for now! Stay warm!

So Long 2013!

I will say it but to no avail! This was not the best year and this was a great year. Every year I have been alive there have always been ups and downs. I think that is a pretty general statement and I would say that it is accurate too. Not just for me but for many good folks out there in internet land. I made some painful decisions that affected lives. But I also made some good friends and connections that I’m hoping will  enliven my life and the lives of my parish family. But something weird happened this morning that brought me to my blog today. Not so much that it was the end of the year but to a realization that I’m still trying to piece together. My calendar reminder mentioned that my little dog Kerry of eleven years died three years ago early in the morning. He was not in the best health when I moved here to Nativity. He was diabetic, blind and severely underweight. But as troubled as he was with his health, he still gave me that unconditional love that so many of my fur kids have given me. Even to the day he died he was still the most loving dog I ever had. When he died in his sleep it was a sadness but also a relief. I had decided that I would have to put him down the next day but God gave me a break and sent Kerry on his journey over the elusive Rainbow Bridge. I have his ashes in my little house Chapel next to another beloved pet, Gus.

But I also called to mind all the people whom I buried this year. I said farewell to some really wonderful folks and for some I had the privilege of officiating at their funerals. So I now sheepishly join on the bandwagon of saying Good Riddance 2013 and look forward with new hope for a prosperous year. My wish is to see a ministerial growth in my parish community. I want to see people take ownership of their parish and watch it flourish. I want to meet new people who share my vision of rebuilding a church community into a great community. So I graciously and humbly ask God to bless me and my family. To give peace and hope to my congregation and for them to be willing to open their hearts and minds to a God who truly loves us. Pray for me my friends because I am praying for you!  Happy New Year!

He is Near!

On this third Sunday of Advent it is commonly referred to as “Gaudete Sunday.” it signals the closeness of the coming of the Christ Child. The Rose colored candle is lit and, if possible, Rose colored vestments are worn by the presider. I can liken it to a flare being shot up into the night sky to call attention to those around that help is needed or help is on the way. Indeed, with the coming of Christ as the infant we are reminded that he came to us as one like us! Flesh and blood, hungry for his mother’s milk and needing all the loving care that any newborn child would require. It is so awesome to reflect on the knowledge that our God loved us so much he sent us his son to be among us. All with the knowledge that this child would come to change the world for all time.

Each week I post the daily mass readings. I do not do this to fill space but rather I do it with the hope that we will take the time to read scripture each day. Having said this I’m sure people will want to ask me which bible do we read. That is a very good question because there are so many versions of the bible it can be confusing. Let me help you by telling you the official version of the Catholic Church is the New American Version (NAB). Study bibles with notes are an excellent source of delving into certain phrases that we may not be familiar with. I would also suggest that you do not necessarily buy a hardbound edition. The St. Joseph Edition by Catholic Publishing is highly recommended and they have them in large print.

Every Catholic home should have one and not to place on the coffee table in the living room for everyone to see. Make a prayer corner for yourself somewhere in your home where you can read scripture and pray. Only when we practice our faith and belief can we truly enjoy the fruits of the sacrifice we make each day when we offer thanks and praise.

We owe it to ourselves and to God to take a break each day and give thanks. We are so distracted by the noisy world. We can get lost, lonely, confused, angry, hurt along with so many other emotions. The one thing that will never let us down in is in our time with Him. I strongly encourage you to begin feeding your heart and mind to strengthen your inner spirit.

Rejoice, for He is near!

Get me to the boat!

I am hoping to write about Alaska and send back beautiful pictures! I leave in the morning. So tired from packing!

The Truth!

I’ll be honest…..I’m a terrible blogger!

But, I’m also one busy dude. I’m finding how bored I am getting with Facebook and how it can really hurt relationships   or expose them for what they were or were not. Being in the public eye has suppressed what I would really like to scream out at times but discretion is vital. It’s hard to be silent in a culture that is so expulsive. And many times repulsive.

I am angry about our government on all levels with no party excluded. All these whiny babies on Capitol Hill who are messing with countless fabrications to make a point. I just wish everyone would work together and get something done.

The only positive thing I can say is that I am returning to something that I have been lacking and that is more private prayer time. I have a little chapel in my rectory that I find myself more and more relaxing in the presence of the Lord. It is there that I can really unload and leave there with a sense of peace. My critters all sit around me during prayer time and it is a mystery how even they can sense the presence of something good before them.

I am reclaiming the world around me and sometimes it is painful. There are so many lost, lonely and wandering folks that surround me and they look up to me to lead them to those “quiet waters!” At times it is overwhelming hence, back to the Chapel where I can lead on the Almighty for some guidance.

Summer is almost upon us and I look forward to being able to enjoy the summer heat and enjoy the nature around me. My parish is really doing so much better after being here four years. Looking back at all the drama and where I am today I can honestly sit back and give myself a tiny pat on the back. But the work isn’t over. And when it becomes difficult, the Lord is waiting for me to come and sit and enjoy the dialogue of hearts in the quietness of the moment.

Spring….where are you?

Last week I was feeling very blue. I want warm weather. Who doesn’t? I look out my back kitchen window everyday imagining that it’s all set up for summer. The next big event at the parish is our summer festival which is from July 11 – 14th. It is a fun and busy time for all of us here as we hope to do another festival with a large bottom line. My focus will be to get more people involved and have them volunteer. Volunteering is one of the greatest gifts we can give and I do so appreciate all my folks who faithfully offer their stewardship to their parish.

With the approaching 50th Anniversary of our parish around the corner we would like to see a few things happen, such as re-doing the floor in the foyer, new seat pad cushions and ripping out the carpet in the church with something a little richer looking.

Our parish really needs to have a financial windfall hit us! If someone were to drop a couple of million dollars on us that would be terrific. I am also hoping to have a parish hall built with additional side rooms for conferences and for smaller events such as funeral luncheons and baby and/or bridal showers. the conference rooms would also double as classrooms for adult faith formation and community rooms for possible ministries such as Rainbows for All God’s Children, bereavement ministries or some 12 Step groups.

Sometimes my zeal gets the best of me. I only want what the parish really needs. I am asking you to continue your prayers for me and I will do likewise in kind!

Preparing to Journey

It is just a little over a week before Lent begins. I have always enjoyed this season more than any other liturgical time. I guess it’s because the mood of the season that is so rich in tradition reminds me of when I was a little boy. I was fortunate to have lived during the time when the mass was still in Latin and we had all sorts of other traditions such as coving all the statues with purple. last March when I was in New York City I visited the St. Malachi’s which is also called the Actors Chapel. It is definitely one of those old churches before Vatican II. There was an attempt to make it a little of contemporary and old world. For some reason, it clashes. Not severely but enough to say that their was probably some turmoil as to how it should be done. Many times I think we need to preserve these churches the way they were.

Lent reminds me of growing up in Gary and attending church at Holy Rosary in the Brunswick neighborhood of Gary. Fr. Joseph Smith and Fr. Ambrose McGinnity were the priests I grew up with there. I am always moved to be a bit more reflective during this season too. That is a good thing because I believe it allows me to preach very well too. I do not see Lent as the time to put on a sorrowful face but rather a face that is seeking! It is, indeed, a time to journey. May you journey well.

Lent 2013

Lent 2013

A New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

Transitions

It’s the last day of November 2012 and it is the Feast of St. Andrew. Being that this is Friday I have been given some leeway to make the transition from Ordinary time to Advent. For my non-religious, non-Catholic friends, our liturgical season of Ordinary Time is green but Advent becomes deep blue & purple. For Christmas, we transition to white and then for a short while back to green and then purple in Lent. Did I confuse you? Sorry!

This morning as I presided at mass, one of my prayers was to ask people to use this time in Advent to prepare their hearts and minds for our Savior, Jesus Christ. I always want to elevate people’s attention to the fact that this season can bring about bad behavior. Most of it comes from the clutter of the secular world which pulls us away from the very heart of what we celebrate. The joy of Christmas is a circle of love, peace and joy that fills us with each yearly Christmas celebration, and sadly, it can be a terrible time for some who do not know the Lord and who suffer quietly.

I believe we need to mix our holiday cheer by extending ourselves to the lost, lonely and marginalized. We have an Angel tree in the foyer of our church. I get a little frustrated when I see people carefully looking for a little girl or a little baby on their Angel. If I happen to walk by and see this I will pull a tag off the tree and hand it to the person and tell them God told me to give this to them. Yes, it brings about a startled look but the point is that God has no favorites and that sometimes we need to walk blindly into something that will bring about the most good.

I believe we should have Christmas parties, bake cookies, sing Carols and do modest shopping. It is in these simple acts that we may gladden our hearts and let the Light of Christ enter into our hearts. So, Merry Christmas to all of you. There is so much activity going on in our parish community. It is exciting!