Most of you are probably familiar with the Serenity Prayer. This prayer has become a source of consolation and strength to Christians and non-Christians alike for the simple reason that it gives voice to our human experience and it resonates deeply in our hearts: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot [...]
12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous have helped countless people around the world to win the battle over addiction. The 12 Step program, which is really a lived spirituality, helps people to see their Goliath, to name their Goliath, and, with God’s help, to overcome their Goliath. I call it a Goliath because most people in the grip of addiction feel that the giant is just too big, that they can’t defeat it. And the truth is that they can’t defeat it, not with their own will power. But more on that point in a moment. You need not have a serious addiction to benefit from the 12-Step program. We all have Goliaths in our lives: things that keep us down, that we feel are too big to be defeated. So what does this biblical story (1 Samuel 17) teach us about defeating the Goliath in our lives?
On Sunday, September 16, 2001, churches and other places of worship across the country were filled to overflowing. I’ll never forget that day. Masses were standing room at St. Philip’s parish where I was serving. As I looked out on the congregation, serious and sorrowful faces stared back at me. Some had tears in their [...]
Happy New Year! I just returned from a wonderful retreat, pilgrimage, and vacation all in one. I spent about a week and a half in France with four of my brother priests. We had a prayerful and wonderful time. The highlight of the trip was spending four days in Ars, the small town where St. [...]
Please note that I’ll be on retreat and then a little vacation until January 9. On my retreat I will pray for all of you who read my blog. I may not be posting again until mid-January. My new post is right below this disclaimer! ___________________________________________________________________________________________ “Make yourself a capacity and I will make myself [...]
“A God who became so small could only be mercy and love” (St. Therese of Lisieux). Last Monday evening I was blessed to visit Amy and Paul and their newborn baby boy, Joseph, at the hospital. It was last April when I celebrated Amy and Paul’s wedding, and it’s been a joy seeing them eagerly [...]
I had missed my tenth shot in a row and I was deeply frustrated. I simply couldn’t do it. As much as I tried, I couldn’t put the ball in the basket with my left hand. After all, I’m right-handed, and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why my father was putting me [...]
On this blog I have not made it a habit to venture into the world of current affairs, but if you haven’t noticed Tiger Woods has been in the news quite a bit lately, and it’s not because he won another big tournament. In fact, he experienced one of the biggest losses of his career: his pristine reputation. On a deeper level, however, it’s more than a loss of his reputation; it’s an utter failure to live his marriage vows and to be the father and man he’s supposed to be.
I think it’s safe to say that most of us wish that our spiritual lives were always filled with consolations. We enjoy the experience of feeling God’s presence and the peace and joy it brings. On the other hand, we instinctively dislike feeling interiorly desolate, like a desert. We know from experience, however, that the spiritual life is filled with consolation and desolation, peaks and valleys, light and darkness.
The following is an actual conversation—with some embellishment—between my conscience and me as I stared into the open refrigerator one evening last week. ME: That piece of vanilla cake looks really good. I really want it. Conscience: But you don’t need it. ME: I know I don’t need it, but I want it. Conscience: But [...]
Sometimes when I pray I find myself pondering moments in my life that are deeply etched in my memory. These moments are unforgettable because the experience touched my heart so profoundly that it changed the way I see life. And what initially seems to be a distraction in my prayer actually ends as a consolation because the Spirit brings the grace of that moment back to me in a time when I need to relearn the lesson. The other day when I was praying I found myself in Peru in 1998. I’ll never forget that life-changing trip. I was a seminarian and I traveled with a group of seminarians and priests to visit the good work that the St. James Society does in that country.
Early in our lives we learn the importance of having good role models. The same is true when it comes to living in holiness: we must look to people who have lived the Christian life to a heroic degree so that we can learn from them. This is one of the reasons in the Catholic tradition that we honor the saints. The saints comprise the Holiness Hall of Fame. They inspire us. Among the saints, however, there is one woman whom every saint looked to for inspiration: the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yet Mary is more than just another good Christian role model. She is the embodiment of Christian holiness. Therefore, it is important that we give her the proper honor due to her, for God chose her to be the Mother of our Savior. That’s a really big deal!
"I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life. Am I living it right?" - John Mayer God uses nature and the seasons to teach us many lessons about life. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I like to write about autumn simply because I think it is the most poetic season (at least in New England), a season that teaches us many lessons. Last week I found myself contemplating how the colors of the leaves become more beautiful the closer they come to death.
I think it’s safe to say that most of the readers of this blog greatly admire the saints. We look to them as our role models for living the fullness of the Christian life. “They inspire us by their heroic lives.” “Their glory fills us with joy, and their communion with us…gives us inspiration and strength…”  We know some of their stories. Some spent hours in deep prayer every day (Teresa of Avila), with little sleep to boot (John Vianney); others spent their days in selfless service to the poor and homeless (Mother Teresa); still others worked tirelessly in hospitals ministering to the sick (Elizabeth of Hungary), or built orphanages (John Bosco), or schools (Elizabeth Ann Seton). And then we look at our own lives and think, I just don’t have what it takes to be like that; I don’t have what it takes to be a saint.
The movie Romero is based on the true story of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the political unrest in El Salvador during the 1970s. The movie depicts the horrendous human rights violations that the government was committing against the Salvadoran people. Women were being raped and killed; everyday laborers were sometimes slaughtered at random; and priests, too, were being murdered. Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, became a voice for the voiceless speaking out against the abuses, and he paid the ultimate price. On March 24, 1980, he was shot to death while celebrating Mass.