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Saturday, July 4, 2020

humility

The memorable prophecy that Jesus fulfilled in his entry to Jerusalem - “Riding on a baby donkey” – was first and foremost a testament to the truth that the Messiah comes in peace, not in war. If he was riding in conquest, he would enter the city on a horse. Jesus is indeed the prince of Peace. However, it also attests to his humility, his lowliness. The Messiah didn’t need any extra praise from others. He “humbled himself even to the point of death on a cross,” Paul tells us in Philippians 2. And thus he gives us all an example to follow.

The donkey is also a good image of the ministerial priesthood and indeed of all Christians, for “we hold this treasure in earthen vessels” and the Lord wishes to use us humble beasts to do something quite extraordinary: to bear His glorious presence within us and to bring him into other people’s lives.

“We are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

“Deeds of the flesh” = sloth, gluttony, lust, hedonism (maximizing pleasure, avoiding pain) self-preservation. Also, though less obvious are the other “deadly vices” or “capital sins” of vanity, envy, pride, and wrath. All of them look at life from a perspective of the flesh: whether to please the flesh or whether to simply forget that we have a life beyond the flesh, a destiny that is eternal, for good or for ill.

And in fact, if we look at all sins, we can see that pride is center of all sin. “my will be done.”

We must love what Jesus loved from the cross, and despise whatever he despised on the cross.

Fasting and other penance. It’s a training ground for saying “no, I’m in charge and I’m going to glorify God in my body.” It prepares us for when love demands something of us.

Litany of Humilty:  

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, O Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.


Monday, May 4, 2020

4th Sunday of Easter - Repent and be Baptized, COVID edition


“Repent and be baptized”
Every single thing in our life, all the things that we used to do, and all the things we may soon be doing again - all of them need one of these two actions done to them.
Repent - turn your back on them. Do a 180, to face the right thing. Leave it in the dust. Scrap it. It is not of God or not what God asks of me specifically.
Be baptized - It needs to be consecrated to God. It is good in itself and is what God wants me to be spending myself on for one reason or another. Therefore I must do it. But I must do it for God. Given to God. Covered in prayer and discernment and guided by the wisdom of the Church.
Repent and be baptized. That is our whole life, before and after baptism.

We are called to make sacrifices for our faith, for this relationship.
But God did it first. This is one of the things Jesus is speaking of when He calls Himself the Good Shepherd. Every Good Shepherd is the first one out and the last one in. He led the way as a Good Shepherd. Jesus went through the gate of the cross. We must follow.
Sheep were kept overnight in caves. The shepherd would protect the sheep with his own life by laying down across the mouth of the cave. No wolves could come in without getting through him first. A good shepherd “lays down his life” for his sheep.
God did it first.
Now what are we going to do? Will we follow the voice of this good shepherd? Will we “repent” and “be baptized” in every single aspect of our life?
Will our new life on the other side of quarantine look identical to before? If so, we were either perfect before, or we didn’t grow. Clearly, things should be different for us.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

3rd Sunday of Easter - Witness is simple


Peter proclaims the Gospel. No special words. Just the basic message. He also shows how Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus quoting Psalm 16. That’s the fruit of reflection on facts.
Learn for yourself the basics of the Good News. I’d recommend the book: Case for Jesus - Brant Pitre. Or listen to the 1hr lecture that is in Formed.org http://watch.formed.org/the-case-for-jesus
This spiritual reading would be a great use of your free time, or even as part of your prayer and meditation time, but not replacing it. Remember, God wants not just your mind, but your heart and soul as well. Getting excited and inspired by some part of the Good News, which this book or lecture could do, is an important part of being a strong witness to Jesus.
Slowly Peter’s understanding deepens through more praying and reflecting on Scripture and sharing with the other Apostles and other followers of Jesus. Our faith is deepened only when we use it. We can’t expect it to grow on its own.
This is what happens to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Their faith is only deepened by encountering Jesus. They were open to letting God speak to them as indeed Jesus generously does even in disguise along the way. Their understanding grows through this sharing. Then when they finally realize the Lord is with them and not just a random traveler, they must run back and return to Jerusalem to bring the Good News to their brothers. They become evangelists these two disciples, Cleopas and the unnamed one. They simply tell their story. This is what God has done in my life.
All of us are called to do the same. Perhaps an easy thing is sharing how our prayer life helps us grow in love and peace each day. Or How God answers our prayers sometimes in big obvious ways. Or just sharing something that built up our faith.
It also means deepening our faith by being with each other as Christians or by sharing virtually with each other as these times require.
Finally, about this deep truth that Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. It is not a coincidence that Jesus disappeared from Cleopas and the other disciple when their “eyes were opened.” This isn’t a sign that Jesus abandoned them but rather a fulfillment of the word at the end of Matthew’s Gospel: “Behold I am with you until the end of the ages.” His presence was still there, but it is transferred into the Eucharist. nowadays when we are stripped from gathering for Mass and receiving the Eucharist, We are called to realize the same truth but in some ways in reverse: instead of realizing Jesus is among us and then having his presence vanish, we must see our hunger and longing for the Eucharist as a testament to the truth that Jesus is really here.
It was not until they recognized Jesus in the Eucharist did they realize that He had been present in all of their lives. I believe that deepening our faith and understanding of the Eucharist would be a profoundly fruitful use of our time away from the Mass. But above all, to know Jesus, alive and present in your lives, in your mess, redeeming it, restoring it. This is the primary role of the witness. And the world today needs witnesses. Let us learn from Peter and from Cleopas and the other disciple how to witness to Jesus present among us.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Divine Mercy Sunday - Tunnel Vision


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Take a paper towel tube or a toilet paper one (if you can find it) and place it over your eye like a telescope. This simple toy really changes your perspective. In some ways it’s the definition of tunnel vision.
The apostles had Tunnel-vision. They were staring at one thing way too long, and that’s what got them locked up in the upper room as they were locked in their own minds. Just like the conclave that elected Pope Francis and every pope before him, the key was safely kept in the room that was locked to keep everything else (and everyone else) on the outside.
Their tunnel-vision was very understandable in many ways. They were following a rabbi who was publicly executed. And if it’s true today, it was true even more back then: who you hang out with can do a lot of good or can do a lot of harm. Thus, they saw themselves as next on the list for the cross, or perhaps some other minor punishments. Fear of public shame is a powerful thing. Fear of death even more powerful. Hence the tunnel vision.
Perhaps we could also say they had stone-vision or tomb-vision. All they could think of was that Jesus was dead. It was over. Like all of us today, any of their plans for the future were thrown out. They had to re –evaluate everything and say goodbye to so many things they enjoyed either for a month or two, or perhaps for the rest of their lives. Their vision was focused on the finality of death, on the immovability of that stone over the tomb, on the coldness and darkness of the tomb.
That’s the problem with a problem as big as a crisis. The shock gives you tunnel-vision, gives you stone-vision, tomb-vision. That new and debilitating thing becomes the only part of reality that you can see. Your mind gets locked-up on it. You get stuck inside your head as much as the Apostles were stuck inside that upper room.
But the truth is that life is bigger than the apparent finality of death. The truth is that reality is much broader than a stone or a tomb or a locked door. Tunnel-vision is a sort of lie. It looks at something as if its everything. The stone and the tomb were important parts of reality, but not the most important parts. When faced with a crisis, we end up narrowing our vision to the point that we forget the most important things.
The Apostles had forgotten that God was God. They had forgotten that Jesus had said this was going to happen. They had stopped thinking about the miracles. Their minds were blocked from considering that Jesus said “this is my body given up for you” just the past week in the same upper room. They forgot how God turned tragedy into glory for their ancestors at the Red Sea or with Abraham or with Joshua or Isaiah and Jeremiah.
If they could only take off their blinders and see the whole of reality, especially the reality of God’s providential care and his irrevocable claim on His chosen people, then perhaps they wouldn’t have been so locked-up in their own heads, their own fears, their stone-and-tomb-vision.
Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t wait for them, or for any of us, to get it all straightened out first. He breaks into the room. He reveals Himself, alive. He rips the paper towel tube right away from their faces so their vision is immediately broadened. As much as His death blinded them from so much of reality, so now His risen body, His presence re-open their minds and unlock the doors.  The stone is now rolled away from their hearts. They are coming out of their own self-made tombs. They have once again found hope, hope that God can bring good even out of the horrible tragedy that is their lives, or that their tunnel-vision said was their lives.
In our current crisis, we need the same transformation. If our eyes are too focused on the problem, then we forget that reality is much broader than just the problem. We don’t see the importance of human freedom, and the fact that if we use our freedom to love, to choose the good again and again (which is to choose God again and again) then we are changing so much around the problem, this crisis, that we may in fact even end up changing the crisis from the “disaster” that it can at times seem to be, downgrading it perhaps to what we might call a “hot mess” or even down to just a “situation.” Love can do such things, because God is love. And He is real. And He is here.
And that, my friends, is the most important truth we need to learn from the Apostles and from Thomas today. When He sees that Jesus is real, that He is here, he’s done. He’s not afraid. He’s at peace. All he has to do is worship, say “My Lord and my God,” and place Himself in the Lord’s hands. When the most important part of reality is that God is still God and still involved in all of my life, then why am I afraid? When Jesus’ wounds show the merciful love of God that is greater than my sin, that is greater than death itself, why would I be afraid? I may die, but I’ve already died in baptism. I already have one foot in heaven and one foot in this world. Now I can really live because I am not afraid. Now I can really love. Now God can change the world through me, and save others from their own tunnel-vision.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday homily


The Lord saves us according to the manner of our fall.
The fall of Adam and Eve is reprised in every human heart. We echo, we harmonize on that dreadful song with every fall of our own.
That tree of which Adam and Eve ate is called “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Perhaps we can say the tree of the knowledge of good mixed with evil. This tree was beside the tree of life in the middle of the garden. Adam and Eve were then temped to eat from this tree, as we know, and they saw that it was pleasing to the eye, and good for food, and then Eve took and ate it and gave it to her husband who was with her, and he did the same.
Knowing evil is not just a matter of information. For the Jews, knowledge means a type of union. This is why Mary can say “I have not known man” when she speaks of her virginity. On this tree, evil and good are intermingled, and when we know good mixed with evil, we thus unite ourselves with that evil.
This is the horror of sin. And if you want to look at it more clearly, in its fullness, look at a crucifix. It is there on the wood of calvary, on a new tree in a new garden, that we see what sin really looks like. “Surely you will not die” the snake told Eve.  Indeed they do not die immediately, but death comes later as a punishment for us and a limit for the evil of this world. But for sin someone does indeed die, but it is God Himself who takes that punishment.
But this horror of the reality of sin, this image that stings our eyes and our consciences to look upon, is also a tree of good mixed with evil. And here, the good absorbs the evil, the infinite God absorbs human misery. For in the Cross we not only see how disgusting our sin is. Here we also are made to see the depth of God’s love. Here we see the lamb without blemish that truly can save us from our sins.
Thus we can hear, as we did a few nights ago in our parish mission, the words of the ancient homily where Jesus speaks to Adam in these powerfully dramatic words of salvation:
For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
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 has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
This is why we can call today “Good” Friday. Good because of who God is, not because of anything we have done. And now, as we thank the Lord’s merciful love that is poured out in blood upon the earth, we beg Him the grace to respond in love as we should, to show his mercy to our neighbor, especially those closest to us in these days, so that the light of His love will scatter the darkness of sin.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Anointing

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The word anoint shows up in our first reading, our psalm, and our Gospel. The blind man testifies that Jesus "anointed" him. This word choice is rather interesting for what really happened: mud was smeared on his eyes. Not nearly as attractive and easily-received as the traditional pouring of oil upon the head of the priest or king, as David is anointed today in the first reading.
King David himself wrote psalm 23, the most famous psalm of all, where God is seen as a shepherd. I can only wonder if David came up with this song during those countless hours of solitude in the fields and deserted places tending his own flocks, and realizing how much he felt like a little sheep being led and protected by God.  Not very long, this psalm deserves to be read aloud:
The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
You set a table before me
in front of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me
all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the LORD
for endless days.

Near the end of the psalm, David has clearly not  forgotten his anointing, perhaps awaiting for the day it will find its fulfillment as king, and then for his years as king, remembering the promise of his "heavenly shepherd."
ANOINTING is a prominent symbol of the Holy Spirit, and this passage is one of the most clear accounts for why that is so: "and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David."
We all have an anointing in our lives, too. At Baptism, we were anointed on the crown of our head with Sacred Chrism, right where David's head would have first received the oil from Samuel's horn. At Confirmation, that same sacred chrism is placed on our foreheads as we are told: "be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit." When I was ordained, the chrism was placed on the palms of my hands.

At all these moments, the Spirit of the Lord rushes upon us, and he enlightens the eyes of our minds.
Thus we, like the blind man, are able to see by the power of the Spirit rushing upon us.  Spiritual sight is more important than physical. Thus the theme of sight and blindness, as you read the Gospel, goes much further and deeper than the physical reality.
That is the trick with John's Gospel - it sounds so simple and basic that it may be hard to see the fulness of what lies beneath the surface.
So when the man is "anointed" with mud, it was not just a medical procedure, but really a symbol or foreshadowing of the sacraments of initiation (baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist) wherein the new believer has the power to see for the first time! In Jesus, when we let Him anoint us in the sacraments, we can see reality more fully, not less fully. Spiritual sight is true sight, truer than this world's shadows and deceptions.
The grace of baptism and Confirmation which we all received, perhaps years and years ago, is still waiting to be unpacked for us during these especially unique days of our "super-Lent". We must ask Jesus to open our eyes to see for the first time what life is really about. Pray for the anointing once again.
O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Feeling (spiritually) thirsty?



This meditation (click the address) is part of this homily. It is worth reading in its entirety, two pages. Use it to start prayer/quiet time! https://avemariaradio.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Jesus-I-Thirst.pdf


The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously at the forefront of people’s minds, as so many things are shutting down temporarily, including schools, and groups larger than 250 are discouraged in the state of Indiana.

We are tempted to draw back in fear from others entirely, instead of balancing that fear with the courage and love we are called to as Christians. If we are attentive to proper hygiene and following the advice of medical professionals, we are doing well.

This period of “social distancing” is in fact a great opportunity for a really powerful Lent. In fact, see if the circumstances in the Gospel today match up with what’s going on in our society right now: The woman at the well today encounters Christ at a time of day when no one else is out and about. It’s so hot outside that no one is coming to the well at that time. People are probably taking their afternoon siesta or busy in their homes. The outside world is rather quiet. It is there that the Samaritan woman is out, alone, pushed to the edge of society by others (and perhaps by herself) due to her past. Now it is there, in that quiet space of feeling alone, that Jesus meets her. It is there she can have an extended conversation, a long and deeply personal encounter with Christ.

Brothers and sisters, during these weeks ahead, it is almost as if God is slowing us down, quieting us down, so that He can speak to our hearts about His thirst for us.  But we need to make sure that we don’t fill it with all kinds of useless noise. Use the opportunity well, for real growth.

1 Pet. 2:16 Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God.
Gal. 5:13 For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.

If this pandemic has made drastic changes to your life for the next weeks, It might be time for a serious re-thinking of what Lent should look like. So how are you going to live the rest of your Lent? Don’t hide from the invitation by the Lord Jesus.

CCC 2560: The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.

NOW LISTEN TO THESE WORDS FROM A MEDITATION BY MOTHER TERESA, WHERE JESUS IS SPEAKING TO YOU... (read from the end of the meditation linked at the top of this article)

Monday, March 9, 2020

Who are we listening to?



Audio: Click here!


"Listen to him."
"Don’t be afraid."
Two types of listening.
1 - hearing. (Too many distractions in our lives; or we are focused on the wrong things; or we are talking too much when we pray)
2 - following their advice/guidance. (We trust the wrong people or wrong ideas. Do I listen to Dr. Popular more than I do God about any part of my life? This can include the ways we view the world contrary to how God does, whether consciously or not. Everything is about economics, or everything is about politics, or entertainment, or self-comfort, or success, or popularity.)
Abram chooses to listen to God at great sacrifice.
Who are we listening to?

1. Make sure you are giving time to listen to the one that matters.
2. Make sure you are following the one that matters.

*** In the end, it will be worth it. ***
Byzantine Liturgy: You were transfigured on the mountain, and your disciples, as much as they were capable of it, beheld your glory, O Christ our God, so that when they should see you crucified they would understand that your Passion was voluntary, and proclaim to the world that you truly are the splendor of the Father.299 

Augustine: Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: "Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?"303

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Basic training: Origins and Destiny




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There's a lot of excitement about DNA tests nowadays, especially the new mail-in tests that you are able to do yourself and get results back regarding your ancestral heritage.  I've heard of many people being surprised to learn that their genetic makeup shows them to be connected with areas of the world they would not have guessed. In fact, our locally-produced Catholic medical radio show "Doctor, Doctor" just dedicated an episode to this topic that I found very enlightening.  The question of why this was so popular was presented to the guest by the two doctor hosts, and the priest-doctor's response was simple: people like to know about where they are from, to discover more about themselves. There is a sense that knowing where you are from gives your life today some meaning, purpose, direction. It grounds you in a story bigger than yourself.
For us today, at the first Sunday of this Lent, we sort of do the same. We look at where we came from in the first reading, and in a certain way, from the other readings as well.
The story of Genesis chapters two and three helps us to understand our own lives. Instead of being a history or science book, this reading today outlines the important theological truths about the human person: we are created in God's image and likeness; sin is not natural to us; our human nature is disordered by sin and the deceptive lies of the devil; and the world is good but fallen from the same cause.

The father of lies wishes to do anything he can to corrupt our sense of reality.  He wants to confuse us about the world, about ourselves, and above all, about who God is. One of Lent's goals is to get back to the basics, uproot any of those lies, and let the truth of God's goodness seep into us as water into tilled soil in the Spring.

Today the Church throughout the world begins the period of preparation for those entering the Church at Easter known as "Election," and those Catechumens who are on the road toward baptism are to be the "elect" when they go through the process of enrollment of names with Bishop Rhodes on Sunday afternoon.
In this beautiful moment for our Catechumens, we all stop and reflect on this core truth of our own identity: We are created by God for a relationship with Him. He "elects" or "chooses" every one of us to be His own.  He chooses us all to exist, and our existence is most importantly so that he can shine the light of His love upon us.
Relationships require time.  Prayer is that giving time for God, as well as obedience to His commands, fasting from the good things of this world, and almsgiving - which are all prayer put into action.
CS Lewis' Weight of Glory - a beautiful sermon given at the end of term in Oxford, 1942.
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare.

All day long we are in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. ...
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.


If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
This is the point, then, of the season of Lent: to redirect our desires to the things that we really should be desiring.  Not to destroy desire itself, but to set it on the proper object: God alone. Thus Jesus spends 40 days in the desert, not for himself to re-orient, but to be an example for us of how important this must be in our lives.  Everything it less important. Nothing else matters, not even food, when compared to the great "weight of glory" that God wishes to share with us. In the desert, we connect with our true identity in God and discover where we really come from.  At the same time, we are called forward to where we are really headed. May we follow Our Lord's example this Lent and draw close to the Lord, our true origin, and our ultimate destiny.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ash Wednesday

How to do Lent wrong:
As a self-help program (weight loss, self-perfection)   *no reference to God*
From a perspective that enjoying things of earth is bad  (Buddhism and Stoicism) *not ordered*
“hold my breath” penances
doing too much.  (not sustainable)
doing too little  (no growth)  (e.g. push-ups, not 1/day, not 500/day)
“winging it” (no plan)
telling no one (no accountability, easy to slack off; no chance to help others)
telling everyone  (Pharisees)
LOSING THE CENTER  - GOD IS THE CENTER


CCC 1428 Christ's call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, “follows constantly the path of penance and renewal." This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a "contrite heart," drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.  St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, "there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.”

1432Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: "Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!"26 God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him.

1434 The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving,31 which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity "which covers a multitude of sins."32

1439 The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father.

Focus is relationship.  Prodigal Son.
Prayer and Mass have a priority.  From this flows the other two practices of fasting and almsgiving.  Encountering God helps us to realize that these things of the world will not satisfy, and almsgiving is to be like God who is generous, self-giving love.  So God must be at the center.

Deification -  GOD WANTS TO MAKE YOU LIKE HIMSELF.  He created you that way, but our sins have covered over it, just like the ashes on our forehead will be a small sign of the mess we have thrown over our souls. Lent is a time of taking that stuff away.

How do you make and shape glass? How do you make steel armor or a sword?  You place it in a fire. And it becomes like that fire: it becomes hot and it gives light.
God is the fire, and prayer is drawing close to him. The fire burns away our imperfections, but only if we put our selves into it, just like the glass and steel will never be purified, strengthened, and transformed unless it is put in the fire and becomes that fire.
From afar, a blazing fire is only a light that shines on us, and we are “safe” but unchanged when we keep our distance, left out in the cold. Draw near to the fire of God’s love this Lent, and you will lose your false “safety” but gain your true self and become the fulness of what you were always made to be as a son and daughter of God.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Identity - from God alone



Audio - click here!

If you remember, last week we spoke about the importance of seeing beyond the rules of our faith to their full meaning, and their true goal: which is holiness, human perfection, the ability to love in a way that is powerful and transforms the world around us. This truth is continued in today’s readings, as we get at a “rule” that is so essential for making both the old law of Judaism and the New Law of Christ Jesus: love of neighbor.
As we do this, it might be good to start with a simple reminder: You are not the center of the universe.  I’m sorry if this comes as a shock to you, but rest assured, it’s gonna be okay. You will make it through this.
Now if that wasn’t shocking to you, perhaps this truth is more so: You are not even the center of yourself, of your own life. The more you make yourself the center, the more you fall apart, and the less yourself you become.  You end up just an empty shell.
I’ve talked about identity before, and it ultimately boils down to this: our true center is found in God.  If He’s at the center of our lives, we are full. We become what we were made to be.
You discover who you are by discovering whose you are.
The 2nd Vatican Council (1963) described this beautifully when the bishops promulgated the document on the Church in the Modern World entitled Gaudium et Spes.  It says in article 22 - In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come, Christ the Lord. Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals humanity to itself and brings to light its very high calling.
This is why in our 1st reading today we hear the phrase
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.  And we end with the phrase …I am the Lord. In fact, as the law is given in Leviticus almost every paragraph ends with that phrase   …I am the Lord. …I am the Lord. …I am the Lord.  It’s as if God is showing us who we are by showing us who He is.  And that indeed is what He means to “Be holy because He is Holy” a phrase Jesus also reprises with his conclusion today: So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

God slowly reveals Himself to us. God slowly reveals ourselves to us.
“Self help” vs. Christian identity à Become a fool so as to become wise.
You discover who you are by discovering whose you are. A life of worship of God, of gazing at Him and His love, is how you discover your true identity.
As you live from this identity, you will be able to help others also discover their true selves. Go and be that light.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

homily - why rules?



Audio: click here!


As far as rules go, Christianity needs to graduate to a higher understanding. Christianity is much more than a list of ‘no’s. 
G.K. Chesterton uses the image of a what rules are for:  Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism. We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff's edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased.
Jesus raises the bar here, because he wants the people to see the true meaning of all the prescriptions of the Law.  The purpose of the Law is to work its way inwards to the heart of the person.  Sinful human nature, with its tendency towards sin, needs to be worked on, and the easiest place to start that work of untwisting the lies of the devil is in our actions. The law is all about external actions, things that can be measured.  These almost always take time to think about and take a real conscious decision to enact. When we begin to control our behavior, it should strengthen us for the next step, the mind, our thoughts, and then finally the passions, which are certainly much more difficult to overcome but can be healed by God’s grace.
So Jesus raises the bar from the Old Law today in all kinds of ways for this reason: that there is something more out there for us.  The rules Jesus gives are not ends in themselves. They have a goal that we cannot forget.  When we forget the goal of human perfection, holiness, the ability to love at such a high pitch that our lives become the salt of the earth and the light of the world, - when we forget that, Christianity looks like a bunch of silly rules.  Like my family’s rule that shoes had to go upstairs.  Why, dad? I don’t wear shoes upstairs… “Because your mother and I are the parents and you are the kids, and we said so.” In just the same way, Christianity because rather unattractive when we don’t see the point of the rules.
 It can happen in many different parts of life where we get caught up in the rules and forget that there is a reason for them that goes beyond them.
Soccer, basketball, baseball, any sport they all have lots of rules. But the rules have a higher purpose: the beauty of the game played well.
Music too has rules.  Playing piano or guitar or another musical instrument has all kinds of things that say: do it this way, not this way. But the rules have a higher purpose: the beauty of music performed well.
Was Michael Jordan breaking the rules all the time? No. But did he play for something more than the rules? Definitely.
Did Mozart or Beethoven have to learn the rules of music and how to play piano? Certainly. But did they stay focused on the rules forever? No way!
So too for us as Christians: we must learn the rules in our head, but more importantly live them so well that they become part of us – automatic so to speak.  Then we can really get more and more free into the beauty of the Christian life.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bearing Fruit



Audio: click here!


Witnesses to Jesus are most important. Most important. Broken Christians are the worst thing for Christianity.  Broken Catholics are the worst thing for Catholicism.

When my microwave broke, what was the good of keeping it?  I couldn't pull it off the wall and use it as a decorative piece, and had no way of incorporating it into my Christmas decorations.
Even worse if this happens more than once.
My sister Katie (in high school) with her hair straighteners.  She bought two in a row that both failed soon after purchase.  She eventually wrote a letter to the company that ended with quite a powerful line, "Could you please let me know I can stop wasting my money?" They got the message and sent her two new hair curlers, and maybe other stuff, to make up for it.  The point is, if it ain't doing its job, it's a waste.

Paul VI (Evangelii Nuntiandi 41): "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses."[67] St. Peter expressed this well when he held up the example of a reverent and chaste life that wins over even without a word those who refuse to obey the word.[68] It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus- the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity.

To put it one other way before we move on, I will use an example from one of the books given away at Christmas:  Jesus Shock (below)

God has required that witness to be concrete for thousands of years, even before Christianity.  Isaiah makes it clear today that we must live the command of the Lord to “be holy, as He is holy” especially through living justice as we heard today in the first reading:

So the challenge today is: how are we witnessing? What are we doing to bear fruit? How is Jesus working through us?  What is the evidence that shows we are alive?
It could happen in a thousand ways, but the Church invites us to get disturbingly concrete.
Ask God to show you ONE way that you can get concrete in one way of being salt and light in our world. To show others that there's more to Christianity than broken, zombie Christians.



Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft, referenced Socrates meets Jesus by Peter Kreeft

Socrates: “Rather, I must ask another question. I fear it will be misunderstood and prove embarrassing, so please be patient with me and try very hard not to misunderstand my motives in asking it.
Class: Sure, Socrates. [Accommodating, open, inviting looks.]
Bertha [impatient, interested]: What's the question?
Socrates: Where are the Christians? [Whole class looks shocked and puzzled.]
Bertha: What do you mean? They're all over the place.
Socrates: This place?
Bertha: Of course this place, and many other places too.
Socrates: Then there is something I do not understand.
 Bertha: What's that?
Socrates: If you are all Christians, if some of you are Christians, if any of you are Christians-how could your life be the same? How could you look the same, talk the same, think the same? How could the born child so closely resemble the unborn child? How could your life be so ... so bland, if this incredible thing is true?
Molly: Socrates, are you putting us down?
Socrates: Alas, that is what I feared you would think. That's why the question is so embarrassing. Look here, I am certainly no expert in this Christianity thing; I have only discovered it in the last few days, so far be it from me to tell you or anyone what it all really amounts to. But this book of yours does tell us-all of us, me as well as you-what it all amounts to. And if everything thing in this book is true, then what it amounts to compared to everything else I have ever known is like a whale compared to minnows.
Fesser: It's nice of you to take the New Testament so seriously, Socrates, but ... Socrates: Nice? Did you say nice?”

------------------------------------------------------

“Fesser [annoyed yet interested]: Exactly what do you find missing, Socrates?
Socrates: Everything!
Fesser: Surely you of all people could explain a bit more clearly.
Socrates: I shall certainly try. See here, if I understand this book, it claims that the supreme Creator-God became a man so that men and women could become gods and goddesses. "Partakers in the divine nature," it says. How could anything be the same after that, if it really happens?
Fesser: Oh, well, now, that is something of a bone of contention. Should we interpret the metaphor of participating in the divine nature to refer to a literal, historical event, or is it instead a mythological expression, not to be taken literally?
Socrates: A myth? Do you think it is a myth?
Fesser: Some do, some don't.
Socrates: And you? What do you think?
Fesser [uncomfortable]: That is not the issue here. This is an academic classroom, not a revival meeting. [Some giggle.]
Bertha [trying to bail Fesser out]: Socrates, are you asking why we aren't all saints?
Socrates: No, not if you mean heroes of perfection. The people in your Bible were not that. All of them had flaws-unlike the heroes and heroines of the fiction of my culture. That is one of the reasons your book seems to be factual, by the way. No, I'm asking about something else, something that's hard to define but easy to recognize, I think, though the only place I have recognized nized it so far is in this book. Let me put it this way. When I read about this man Jesus and about his disciples and about his "called-out-ones" (that's what church means, doesn't it?)-when I read this, I find something so unmistakable, so distinctive, so strong and full of life and joy, that it's like the noonday sun. If all these things really happened, then it's no wonder that the whole world was turned upside down, as your book says, even the hard-nosed Roman world. It's no wonder the people who met Christ either worshiped him or crucified him. And it's no wonder the people who met his disciples either believed them and worshiped him, or didn't believe them and persecuted them for telling this abominable, insane he. It's got to be all or nothing, either-or.
Fesser: Are you defending fanaticism, Socrates?
Socrates: No.
Fesser: What, then?
Socrates: Something more like marriage. In-loveness. Fidelity.
Fesser: And what do you think you see around you instead?
Socrates: Scholarship. Teachers and students playing at a game, like children playing safari while there is a real lion lurking in their own front yard. You think you are studying a dead man, don't you? - a man like myself as I was until a few days ago, rather than someone alive, and present, and active, as I am now. Isn't that how you see it?
Bertha: But Socrates, Jesus isn't here as you are here.
Socrates: Your book says that he is. His disciples believed and acted as if he was. He himself promised to be. If it's not a myth, if he really rose from the dead, then he's not dead, but alive, like an animal-at least as alive as an animal.”

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Homily - Presentation



Audio: click here!

40 days since Christmas.  Old end of the Christmas season. “Circumcision”. The covenant with Abraham is brought to its fulfillment in Christ.  Also the promise of Ezekiel that the Lord’s presence will return to the temple after the Lord’s glory had abandoned the temple due to sacrileges practiced by His priests (a fitting message for our times as well).
Two words from Simeon today really point us forward to the Paschal Mystery, especially Good Friday: “A sword will pierce your heart.” “A sign that will be contradicted.”
“A sign that will be contradicted.”  It seems that whenever we stand up for Christ, we will receive some opposition.  First, we need to discern well if we are really standing with Jesus or standing with some ideology that seems to fit Christ when looked at from a specific lens.  Secondly, this doesn’t mean that we should be provoking opposition, but that we shouldn’t be shocked when it comes.  Jesus didn’t provoke. Even His coming as a child and his years of hidden life show that He was not trying to bring about separation and division, but truly tried to draw people to himself.
“A sword will pierce your heart.” Nothing hurts more than when that separation is from those you love the most.  Family and friends at times will not share our faith or our enthusiasm for being Christian.  This may cause grief and a type of “death” but should not rob our hope in Christ, nor should it destroy our love for them. We must pray, witness, and love them as they make their way through the five steps of conversion we spoke of last week: initial trust, curiosity, openness, seeking/pursuing, and discipleship.
The God of infinite power returns to His temple in this way.  What a surprise.
Babies need parents.  You only exist today because you were loved day after day by someone.  My little nephew with his floppy head and hilarious arm skills is proof that we couldn’t survive on our own.  God chose to make himself one of us, and thus chose to make himself “need” us for a little bit, just as we really do need God for every moment of our existence, for every breath.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Homily - Fishers of Men.



Audio: click here!

Fishers of men.  Nice short-film about priesthood.  Inspiring.  Everyone should give it a look.  It’s definitely worth replacing 15 minutes of TV or video games or cat videos.

One problem with the great video is that we might think only the priesthood is meant to be like this.  That Jesus only calls priests to be “fishers of men.”  But rather, this is meant for all of us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Pope John Paul II called a sure norm for teaching the faith, takes two quotes from the second Vatican Council when it speaks about the role of the laity in the work of evangelization:
CCC 905 - Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, "that is, the proclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life." For lay people, "this evangelization . . . acquires a specific property and peculiar efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world." LG 35
This witness of life, however, is not the sole element in the apostolate; the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful. AA 6 (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity. approved by vote of 2,340 to 2)
This shouldn’t be a surprise, but I have to say that not all non-Christians or non-Catholics are the same.  They are at different degrees of connection with God or the Church. And for all of them, they are going to travel through a process of drawing closer to Jesus.  And the truth of the matter is, many of us in the Church today might find ourselves at different stages of this journey to full discipleship with Christ.  But if we are going to be of help to others on their journey, we as fishers of men need to know what stage the other person is at.
The five stages of discipleship are from a book by Sherry Weddell called FORMING INTENTIONAL DISCIPLES, and she actually got them from a campus minister who did a study of college students on their process of conversion throughout a school year and realized that Every person must go through a series of questions one by one. Conversion isn’t magic and doesn’t happen in an instant. So here they are. One more thing before I get started: think of a few people you see every week who aren’t active disciples and try to figure out where they fall on this list. That is how you will know how to help them make it to the next step.  

1. Initial trust: Can I trust God and His Church? (They need a connection of trust)
2. Spiritual Curiosity: Is this worth looking into?  (They are intrigued by Christian way of life)
3. Spiritual Openness: Am I willing to be changed? (not committing to change; just open to it; not closed off)
4. Spiritual Seeking: Is this the life for me? (dating with a purpose; pursuing God / Church)
5. Intentional Discipleship: Am I all in? Will I give myself to this? This is it.  I’m doing it.  I’m giving my life.  I’m all in. The decision may take some time to ripple through one’s life and lifestyle but The personal relationship with Jesus has now begun in earnest.
This last step is what we tend to focus on. This is what we tell stories about, but we can’t forget the entirety of the process that led up to it. It is indeed the fruit of a series of ever-deeper choices and commitments: trust, curiosity, openness, seeking/pursuing, following/discipleship.
We have to really try hard to imagine where the non-believer or non-Catholic is coming from. These questions may seem simple to us, trusting God or the Church for example, but to the person you run into randomly at a store who was not raised in a Catholic family or go to a Catholic school, it can be a real test and cause of concern to trust.
The work of sharing Christ with others is really something that is done best through love and not through facts.  Sometimes people need facts.  Sometimes they need examples.  Every time and at all times they need to be loved.  That is one thing that we can always be confident of. One man’s testimony in the book shows this perfectly: “I am not a Christian because it ‘makes sense’ or because someone sat down and diagrammed it for me.  I am a Christian because I have been loved deeply and unconditionally by Christians.  Some of them … troubled me with hard questions.  But all of them loved me when I did not love them… Reason is a wonderful tool, but it is a weak force for deep change in human beings.  Faith, hope, and love are not tools; they are virtues, powerful and exceedingly difficult to embody, and much more efficacious than reason for changing lives.”
Jesus wants you to follow Him. To give him everything.  If you have never really dropped your nets and let him transform your life, do so.  But then, Jesus wants more.  He wants you to help others to know him, to be fishers of men.  This is what you are meant to be by baptism.  Become what you are. Take the next step.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

John the Baptist and Us




Audio: click here!

This year of readings will overall have a greater focus on the Gospel of Matthew, but today we hear from John’s Gospel about the person and role of John the Baptist.  In this Gospel, we hear John the Baptist stressing the divinity of Christ Jesus, his cousin, who he refers to as one “I did not know” – using that word “know” in a different sense from what we normally mean.  Earlier in John’s prologue which is read on the Mass during Christmas Day, it speaks of the Word made flesh using these words in verse ten: He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. This sense that God is something totally other, something the world cannot control or get a full grasp on, is what John is referring to.  Obviously they were cousins, they knew each other, even though John the Baptist might not have seen Jesus for many years if we are right in thinking he lived by the Jordan river with the Essene community and eventually lived as a sort of hermit-monk before his preaching of repentance.
John’s testimony is important.  He had a strong following of people.  They wanted him to be the Messiah.  He could have easily let all that go to his head.  However, he was faithful to his vocation, to what God had revealed to him: ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God. This is a beautiful witness. BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD.  This phrase is packed full of meaning for the Jewish people, who twice a day offered sacrifice of a lamb in the temple, and every year at Passover the same offering was required of every single family.  In fact, they might not have ever understood it at the time.  Why would God need a lamb?  What does he have to offer sacrifice for?  And why would God offer sacrifice to Himself?
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him.  Indeed this is how it is with all of us.  Jesus comes towards us and seeks us out.  As He pursues us, John the Baptist tells us: This is the Lamb of God.
To his disciples who have followed his message of repentance, John the Baptist now points the way forward and offers the possibility of learning more about Jesus.  They must discover Him, must ponder the mystery of who this Lamb of God is.  They must follow him.  “He must increase; I must decrease.”
We find ourselves in two places in today’s Gospel.  First, we are like John’s disciples.  We must submit ourselves to following Jesus wherever He goes, and this begins with confession of our sins – the Lamb of God is here to take away the sins of the world.
But secondly, we see ourselves in John the Baptist.  The role of all the baptized is to point to Christ Jesus, to point the way forward for others toward the one who must increase in their lives, the one who can take away their sins.  They must follow him.
Let us pray for the grace to be followers of Jesus, but also to never be only followers.  Let us pray to be messengers who prepare others to draw close to Christ, who is always seeking them.  May our heart burn with the heart of the lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, who seeks to save what was lost.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Baptism - Identity



Audio: click here! (8pm Mass)

Many stories, whether movies or books, are focused on the question of identity: Who am I?  The answer should be God’s beloved. His adopted son or daughter.
The source of your value should come from your Baptism.  Your identity is found in Christ.  Colossians 3: You are hidden in Christ. When Christ, your life, appears, then you will appear with him in glory. Not in what you do – a common mistake in American culture that values everything by $, by output and how it fits into the economic realm.
When you believe a lie, you empower the liar.  You give them power over your life.  That lie affects the way you live.
I’m a jock.  I’m a comedian. I’m a nice-guy. I’m reliable. I’m a hard worker. I’m a family man. I’m loyal.  I’m smart. I’m caring. I’m productive. I’m successful. I’m talented. I’m special. I’m irreplaceable. I’m blah blah blah.  And to flip it on its head there are other lies that can be sown in our hearts, especially when we find that we don’t measure up: I’m a mess. I’m broken. I’m damaged goods. I can’t love. I’m not worthy of God. I don’t deserve friends. I always mess things up. I’ll never get it straight.
All of these can be ways for the lies of identity to take root in something other than God.  And if those lies grow, you live differently, and your life and those you touch will be worse off, perhaps drastically worse for those lies.
Our identity does not come from what we do, but from who we are as created in God’s image and likeness, and above all recreated through Baptism.  Our identity is from who God says we are, not what the world says about us.
Christ emptied himself into the world in its entirety, in order that the world might be reconciled with the Father… Christ entered into every aspect of being human, with its temptations, its fears, its joys and aspirations, even its sin (without of course sinning himself), in order that all of humanity, every aspect of us, might be liberated from slavery to sin, to those lies that we have given power over us, and be reconciled into full communion with God.  To be brought into God’s family. (Heart of the World, Center of the Church, p. 312).
This is what the fathers of the church (early bishops and other preachers) called a “Mirabile commercium”: wondrous exchange.
In Jesus, God wants to strike a deal with us.  He basically is saying to us: You give me all of yourself, and I’ll give you all of myself.
Jesus Christ enters us, so that we might enter into Christ. (ibid)
What’s the catch?  We have to be all in.  We have to hand it all over.  We will receive it back, but in a new way.  It won’t be the same after we hand it all over to Jesus, because it will actually be better.  It will in fact be free of all the things that actually sucked life from us.  This is what it means to give your entire self to Jesus so that he gives His entire self to you.
And this great trade begins in baptism, and its fullness is made present here in the Eucharist, for this is indeed the future within the present, heaven breaking into our time.  Pope Benedict: The divine Child whom we adore in the crib is the Emmanuel, God-with-us, who is really present in the sacrament of the Altar. The wonderful exchange, the "mirabile commercium", that takes place in Bethlehem between God and humanity becomes constantly present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, which for this reason is the source of the Church's life and holiness. (Pope B. XVI. Address to Roman Curia 2004-12-21).
St. Paul tells us: “Christ became poor though he was rich, so that by his poverty we might become rich.” Let us live the beauty of this identity that we have in our Baptism by giving ourselves anew to our Eucharistic Lord, so that we may receive His fullness.

Monday, January 6, 2020

“Reading the signs” in our life is what makes it an adventure.



Audio - 11:30am Click Here



“Reading the signs” in our life is what makes it an adventure.
Life is meant to be an adventure.  A journey toward something.  I many ways, it is a “coming home.”
If we do not spend some attention on our life, then we will miss God speaking to us.
We need time to process life, to wonder at beauty, and to see the signs that God is trying to send us in our life.  Solitude is almost gone.  We never get a chance to turn on our own brains because we are too busy taking in information (videos, news, advertisements, radio, or the task at hand).  Our “free time” isn’t “free” from all this input, and this is a dangerous thing, because Silence is a key way to hear God’s voice. Unfortunately our world has been saturated by “Noise.”  C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters on “noise”.
The “Noise” that we encounter today is not always audible, but it has also taken the shape of constant advertising, and numerous images and media vying for our attention.
We need to set boundaries and be intentional about how we live, so that we can see God’s hand at work in our lives.  We need time to pray.  We also need other periods of time to think about what just happened, about what God might be trying to tell us.