Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Going Retro

I dropped my iPad.
It has been about, well, since the beginning of Advent (more on that later)

I never really did anything productive with it.
I tried to read some books or glance at some motorcycle buyers guides.
I played some monopoly, blackjack, chess, and loved watching weather radars.
Looking back it was, for me, nothing but wasted time.
Probably more than I would ever admit.

Time I should have been praying.

So, it's broke.
I'm making no attempt at fixing it or even replacing it.
For a moment part of me wanted to fix it....because I was going to use it in a blues/rock band that my son and I are in.

One day I looked at the 1962 hammond sitting in the living room.
"Retro"  I thought.  "Time to go retro..."

It's been jumping around in my mind for some time--too connected.  And not 'too' connected to all the wrong stuff, but for me just too connected to stuff that doesn't matter.  It's easy to do in this world--to fill up our time with nothing--not even thoughts of God.  Really, do I care what the 36 hour forecast is?  I don't need to check CNN or glance at some ecclesial news portal--even if it is in passing and i'm not alienating my family.  My checking out the internet really does nothing for me.

...or my soul.

Now, don't jump down my throat...Yes I am using the internet at this very minute.  
But I have to tell you...I'm getting ready to go retro.
Or at least--quasi retro (cell phones and minimum blogging stuff)

Let's face it--I started this blog in order to continue sharing a snippet of faith wrapped in my experiences.  
Then I began a Facebook simply to help promote my book, A Lost Shepherd, and I even put together a YouTube video promotion. 
In the end however---i'm not sure why good this blogging has done or how my soul has grown because of wireless connectivity or even how many books sold.

Nope, time to go retro.

Oh, and a funny thing happened on the way through this Advent...At the beginning my prayer was simply 'Come Lord Jesus'.
Then the iPad broke.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Out of No Where

The other evening we attended a rather remarkable performance of the local junior philharmonic.  On the way out, my lovely wife struck up a conversation with a lady.  I paid little attention and went about my business of going to get the car and have it warmed up for the return home.  Where we live, during this time of year, getting in a warm car when it is cold, snowy, and dark (at 5 pm) is truly a luxury.
It's the little things.

Anyways, it turns out that the conversation my wife was having had an almost immediate affect on our living room.
The lady was looking to unload an old spinet organ.

Three days later, my son and I braved a snowstorm and brought home the gift.

Here is the cool thing.  While I was very happy to have an organ--it wasn't just any organ.  It ended up being a 1962 Hammond m-100 model (nicknamed the baby b3 for all you hammond junkies).  That's right, the old hammond tube sound/reverb/leslie/toggle switch motor--I was in heaven--and it works!!  All we need is a little oil (on the wood and in the machine!)...and a bench.
My son and I can't help but break into the 12 bar blues--you name it he brings the instrument over...sax, bari sax, clarinet, flute, even oboe and english horn (though jazz oboe (next to sax) is very cool with an old hammond!

So, the point?  Tis the Season.
What a surprise.  What a cool gift.
It is spiritually obvious...isn't it?

Out of no where---in the dark cold night--

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rise Above the Noise (or just shut up, close your eyes and pray)

I realize my last two posts where a bit of a downer.
My apologies to my faithful readers.  It is, after all Advent, and I ought to be doing more soul work than writing about my past month of just plain crappy Sunday morning homilies and experiences.
I decided to delete the second post.  One post was enough, everyone gets the picture.  No need to pile on.  Time to rise above.

I deleted the post--not because it lacked truth but because the integrity was absent.  The bite was too much.
Also, it came across as if I was on the verge of throwing in the towel.   I love the Roman Catholic Faith.  Believe me, I was excommunicated once--do you have any idea what kind of paperwork that creates when you want to clean up your soul and return?  Plus, through in an ontological change and wham!,... Roman Catholicism is in the marrow of my soul.

The last thing the internet needs in the blogosphere is another sharp tongued critic--I don't know of any real good that comes from posting a gripe.

It's not like the 'right' people are reading my opinions and then saying "Oh, my---he's right!  I need to do what he is saying."  I don't think Pope Francis has Praylium bookmarked.  

So, my bite is a little too strong and I ought to use this space for building up the Kingdom.  I suppose that instead of taking a shot I ought to be offering a prayer--but man...that's so hard!

That isn't to say that my hope and patience and even trust isn't currently challenged--it's just that focusing on all the wrong issues  (unhealthy preaching and parish life)  does nothing for my salvation or my responsibility to live the faith as a husband, father, brother, and son.

That said, I still believe that I may be in a bit of a diaspora--that wandering for God that seems to lack a homeland.    Perhaps the title of that penned memoir a few years back has become a self serving prophecy--A Lost Shepherd.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Its Been A While (and here is why)

It has been a while since I last posted.
And here is why.

I'm losing hope.

I was trying to be up-beat, optimistic, positive.
I still am, but please understand I happen to see things a little different--having worked on both sides of the altar.

As a husband, father, son and even brother-in-law, I try to live the words I preach which basically means that I mess up and ask forgiveness ALOT.

Holy Mass is one of those special times either during the week or weekend when I lay it all on the altar.

But I have to tell you--it has become more difficult to even want to attend Holy Mass.
The main obstacle isn't traffic, or getting everyone on the same schedule and into the car and arriving on time.
Nor is the main obstacle parishioners who get upset if you're in their pew or are distracting you by their sometimes loud gossip.

No the main obstacle that has been robbing my soul of any spiritual connection has been--the priest.

Okay, okay, before you get all huffy and ultra conservative defensive on me.

Just these past two weeks I have heard preached--
1. That women are in the league with the devil (priest's words). The main concern of the homily was cleavage and satan.  In short, all sin and immoral behavior was the woman's blame.  Clearly this man has issues, but I am so very tired of hearing about them--porn, tv, computer, sin, sin sin.  Come on man, throw away your tv and computer and get over it and get on with preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

2.  Just today I witnessed a priest (different priest) tell a man who was using a cane help him up the aisle to receive Holy Communion that he was using the wrong hand to receive the Body of Christ.

Really?  Christ is concerned what hand we receive him with?  

This just after the priest encouraged people to live like Pope Francis and be a church that welcomes the estranged and marginalized (priest's words).  So this guy gets up, gets ready, drives (with a bum leg) and then is treated like crap?

This must be the New Evangelization--can't wait for more.

I am so very tired and worn out by the insensitivity of some of the priests, those standing as our mediators, as our holy examples, as the Alter Christus.

Why have Sunday Eucharistic Celebrations become so laborious for a guy that just wants to hear the Gospel preached?  That means no pulpit agendas, no self serving sermons, and no wacked out liturgies.
Where have the good priests gone?  What has happened?  Years ago guys who were sensitivity challenged and myopic were usually balanced by those who weren't--but so many have left that now, barring major scandal, there is no fraternal correction or even a brotherly challenge for a man to become a better, holier, priest.

Want to know why men don't become priests-?--just take some time, sit in the pew, and listen to a homily!

What is it going to take?  Has the so called 'Pope Francis effect' really affected the clergy or is all of this just more empty (sometimes hurtful) words and meaningless gestures?

Our Lady keeps imploring us to pray for our shepherds...imagine if we didn't!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Personal Change

After close to fourteen years out of it...I'm back in.
After trying to make a go at several other 'endeavors'...I went back to what I knew.
After working in the church off and on for forty some years...I stopped.
No hard feelings.
No excommunication (this time).
No internal angst.
Actually this time I was inspired to take this mini leap.
And I'm sure the Blessed Virgin had her hand in it.
At one point, in the midst of my discerning whether or not to take on this new position, I was observing a gathering of some people--who, suffice to say, were not connected to the church.  It is what I would be doing if I took this new job. I sat quietly and pondered as the meeting occurred.
"Come on God--just a little sign that I should be doing this..."
At that moment, I looked up and hanging on the wall behind a person who was crying hung....

a crucifix. 

I thought, "A disciple of Jesus would be in this room,
a disciple of Jesus would try to make a difference."

And so that is what I am trying to become...a disciple.

My work is taking me into a world I left years back.  It is a world filled with heartache, pain, suffering, neglect and abuse.  It is a world that desperately needs healing. 

 I hope Christ will have me, a lost shepherd, as His disciple in this world.

stay tuned...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ahh, the priest shortage...

Ahh the priest shortage.
It's rearing its head...
Recently, a friend and fellow blogger offered some eye-opening theological and pastoral insights and helped put some meat on the stark statistical reality facing the Roman Catholic Church.

Simply put, there aren't enough guys ordained to maintain (let alone grow) the current diocesan structure.  Parishes are being closed or merged and life seems to be on a slippery slope down down down into a future that certainly seems the juxtaposition of the era of Going My Way and good old Bing Crosby.

The priesthood has lost numbers.
The priesthood has lost credibility.
The priesthood is confused.

Okay, okay…before you get all defensive let's gain some perspective….vocation wise that is…

Marriage has lost numbers (divorce rates)
Marriage has lost credibility (it no longer means two married heterosexual people)
Marriage is confused (as it is now redefined in the political arena)

We are all in a vocation diaspora--that wandering and 'wondering' and striving to stay true to the essential call of vocation.  God is still calling it's just that we muck everything up.
And the devil sits back and smiles.
The devil needs to be cast out.
How do you cast out a devil?

So here are some preliminary thoughts;

What about prayer for vocations?  I mean real prayer--like an evening once a week in the parish.  People kneeling in the pews with their priest beside them praying for married and religious and single and priests?  Not just a one time thing---a real commitment for a designated time period (even more than advent).

What about fasting for vocations?  What about the diocesan clergy offering something up for their own?  When there is only one piece of cake and the parent really wanted it--but the child says; "Can I have a piece?"  Instead of splitting it--the parent gives the child the whole piece and goes without…a gesture of holding nothing back.  Clergy need, clergy must fast for their own!  
Give up on the 'vocation' dinners and get to vocation fasting.  Do it in a parish.

Let's simply balance the bad news with living the Good News!

How many priestly gatherings occur for the sole purpose of prayer and fasting for vocations to their ranks?  Sadly, I've never heard of one.

"…these demons can only be cast out by…"
you got it.

And…just for the record--marriage only becomes better and better with prayer and fasting!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Good and Bad Roots of Reform--(or Reform pt III)

I came across a book authored in the mid 70's.  It was written by a religious brother who was later accused of inappropriate behaviors.  It was a very popular book during its time and I recall being given the book by my high school chaplain and reading it at different times throughout high school.

The book was the result of the Church's 'newfound' marriage between religion and psychology.
     "...I am sure that the most persistent and restless desire of my life is to be fully human and fully alive."

I found it interesting that he mentions Carl Jung by name before Jesus Christ, but I digress.
Unfortunately it took years before I found my true restless desire--God (thank you for naming it--good old St. Augustine).  And, even though I have failed many (many) times in my search, it is only through the mercy of Jesus that I am drawn deeper into His love.

In my last entry I talked about humility as a root to true reform.
In the following thoughts I want to address the need to be selfless.

Often times the roots of reform are not only reactionary but narcissistic.  Books, philosophies, and even the very Gospel can and have been used to justify anything in the name of 'reform'.  How can you argue with the need to reform?  We have been lead to believe that reform is good--no matter what the cost. Of course the matter is compounded when the person who truly seeks reform is combatting narcissistic behavior.  Both 'sides' end up navel gazing and jockeying for positions using a variety of tactics like--anonymity, half truths, lack of communication and passive aggressive behaviors.
Sometimes in the midst of seeking reform, we become what we hate.
There was a time when all I yearned for was reform in the church and my distrust and dislike of whatever I didn't like sometimes consumed me.  Fortunately love prevailed.

There are those who appear to be selfless and live for others--laity and clergy alike--but it is only an appearance.  A great deal of energy goes into living such a false life because what is really going on is that the person will keep striving to live a life of appearances--for personal gratification.  And the problem perpetuates itself--to satan's pleasure.

The quest of fulfilling that desire to be 'fully human and fully alive' does absolutely nothing but allow a person to dip their toe in the pool of relativism.  A person who justifies their 'spirituality of me' at the expense of others is nothing more than the Pharisee who passed judgement on the poor widow.  Such a spirituality isolates, contradicts the first commandment, and denies the sacrificial love of Christ.  Such a spirituality cannot become the basis of true reform.

In the 90's, while working at a spirituality/psychology institute (yes I was into it), I recall a presentation on 'dealing with difficult people.'  The reason such a conference was so well attended?  Because we had 15-20 years of navel gazing me-ness, now everyone was difficult!

Nothing like an adult who doesn't get their way, again laity and clergy notwithstanding.
And...nothing like a self proclaimed narcissistic reformer who doesn't get his/her way!
Reform cannot be rooted in 'me'
It must not be rooted in the 'self'

True reform is selfless.  The other way is not true, it is false and a lie--and we know where lies come from.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Reform and Humility

I am still thinking about the topic-- 'reform'
Like most people who read these meanderings--I have a love for Jesus.
And, like the majority of people who glance at my thoughts--I have a love for the Roman Catholic Church. ( I also have an appreciation for the Anglican Church--but that is another topic for another day)

My love for Jesus is not the same as my love for the Roman Catholic Church.
I love Holy Eucharist because it IS JESUS.
I love Confession because through it JESUS forgives.
I love all the sacraments (why not? I've experienced all of them!)
It is through the Church that I encounter my Savior
Sadly, I also encounter that which is not my Savior.
It often masks itself as 'good' and may even come across as dignified.  But the spiritual reality is--where there is good there is evil.  Prayer and fasting helps to combat such darkness.

I've been keeping tabs on a 'reform' website and there was one sentence in particular that stood out;
"These people don't need healing" (writer was referring to the reform group he/she represents)
So, let me get this straight---no, forget it. I can't even believe such a comment was made.
Sounds like they want a messiah who is going to overthrow Rome and the oppressive government.

See how they love one another?
See our Church?
Its a community of disconnected worlds--clergy and laity, bishops and priests, diocesan administration and clergy, bishops and laity.
And it is getting worse.

I wonder more and more when I hear the petitions at Holy Mass.   We've heard it for years-- "We pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life."  Sometimes the vocation of married and single life are also mentioned (like sitting at the kid's table).
Concerning the priesthood and religious life--what are we inviting the discerning soul to consider? Really?  More and more religious communities require the prospective novitiates to arrive debt free.
And what about diocesan priesthood?  What are we inviting the discerning man to consider?  Parish debts, mergers, closures, angry parishioners and some of their brother priests with personal agendas and anger?  What are we inviting them into?  It is obvious that there is a chaos--obvious to any discerning soul.

I often wonder where the church would be if it hadn't been challenged to become more 'transparent'  Would it have dealt with it's own immorality if it wasn't pressed or threatened?  Or would it have been business as usual?  Pride is elusive.

Often the argument is made that the shortage of priestly vocations is due to the Church's teaching and adherence to celibacy. I may give that a few points---but the issue isn't celibacy.

 The issue is pride--the opposing force to humility.

Christ did not found a prideful Church.  He founded a Church that was to be lead by humble holy priests and people.

If we truly want reform then humility must prevail FOR ALL--from laity to clergy to administration. 
fast with humility (no one need to know you're fasting)
pray with humility
humbly seek reconciliation
on your knees receive Eucharist
in the quiet of your heart read Holy Scripture

and...humbly walk with your God.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reform? Really?

For the past few months I have watched a website evolve and have refrained from commenting here on its' content--until now.
I comment because it is loaded with layers upon layers of spiritual stuff...

It appears to have been born out of a person's (or people') desire to question decisions that a diocese was making concerning parish/school closures, relationships with a religious community, and clergy decisions/lifestyles/communications.
"Great." I thought (no really, I was pretty cool with it).  "The pot is getting stirred, questions asked, and feelings and thoughts are being shared."  Usually when decisions are made from any administration they are abrupt and the person/people affected are left alone to pack their belongs in the box and be ushered out.  I recall one time when the CEO of the company shared the pink slips at our staff Christmas lunch!

Right--there is never an easy way to usher in the hard decisions and pending change--never.  But there are ways that can allow for healing (more on that later).

Christ brought about change--the conquering of eternal death--- through the cross and resurrection--IT IS NEVER EASY.

Back to the website--It was tackling a lot of stuff, and, on occasion I would take a glimpse, reading the letters from disaffected and hurt parishioners, teachers, and other laity.  I found myself hoping that some sort of 'healing' would be initiated by some party--but it never came.  It was a mess and it reflected a very dark time.

Now, anyone who knows me (or this little blog) is aware that I am obviously in favor of reform and renewal.  Of course I didn't expect the diocese or anyone working in the administration of the diocese to respond to the reform website's call for action and dialogue--but I would bet that a few were giving it a glance (perhaps a 'search' could be performed on all diocesan personnel's computers!)

I wanted 'reform'.  I always did and I always will.
After all, I once left the Church.  Not only because I was a priest who fell in love and left--but also because the reform I wanted wasn't happening.  And, when my wife and I began our new life together we chose not to be part of a Faith and Church that we felt had no room for us.

I left and soon incurred an excommunication.
Then, for years, I preached against the Roman Catholic Church--especially its polity.  When I was given the opportunity I shared my thoughts freely.  From bishops, to ex-brother priests, to clerical lifestyles and abuses. I calumniated.

I stood and threw stones.  It felt good.
Guess what?
Nothing changed.
My pointing out faults did nothing to bring about anything.  

As a therapist I would, on occasion, move away from a 'strength based approach' to pointing out a fault--usually out of frustration or thinking that the person just needed a dose of truth.
Whether it is true or not doesn't matter--their response usually was either defensive or denial. 

This website is pointing out the faults--probably because they have no other way to share their pain.
They have coined the term catholic watchdog.
I recall a celebrity priest a few years ago--he started a site called black sheep dog.
Sadly this website seems to be going down a path that makes me now question its credibility.

The cloak of anonymity, while it worked during pre-revolutionary America, does nothing for the credibility of the website and even diminishes those good people who offer their insights and opinions.
Recently a priest responded to the website, raising some valid points, and stirring the pot.
I've read what the website shares as information about and from him and what the priest himself shares on his website and there are discrepancies.

How unfortunate, because I really had hoped that the website would offer an unbiased approach.  I would love to see reform in the lives and lifestyles of the clergy AS WELL as the laity.  I would love for egos to diminish and selfless loving to take over.  We've all experienced the ego-centered priest tyrant AS WELL as the stubborn lay person who thwarts every effort of true faith and worship.  We've all experienced distrust in the clergy who promote their own personality cult AS WELL as gossip and rumors from the laity (by the way I use strong words for priest and laity because I, at different times behaved that way).

So, back to my standing and throwing stones--I eventually dropped the stone AFTER I was knocked down off my horse.  The Blessed Mother then picked me up and put my hand in her Son's.  It was a long road back home to the Roman Catholic Faith.  And when I returned--guess what--nothing changed!  The same stuff was still happening and satan was still attacking.

But there is a way...

 Attention reform website, laity, priests and bishops---Do you really want reform???Then do what Our Mother told us to do.

Go to CONFESSION (ALOT), RECEIVE HOLY EUCHARIST, REALLY READ HOLY SCRIPTURE, PRAY (MORE THAN YOU TEXT OR USE THE INTERNET), and FAST (don't give me this 'fasting from something'--nope true fasting--bread, water)

There is your reform.  There is your way out of the darkness and chaos....and oh, be nice.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Mission of a Parish Mission?

I have sat in almost every seat in the church.
As a child, a teen, a musician, a priest, a husband, and a dad.
I've listened to many terrible homilies
and I've given worse.
I've fallen asleep and I've been moved.
Yesterday I looked around and noticed the empty pews.

My next thought was--what does a parish usually do in order to 'jump start' attendance?
You got it.....
A Parish Mission.
A time to refocus and recommit and reconcile.  Yep same approach for---ever.

I recall when I was in high school of attending a parish mission at my home church.
They put all the high school kids in one room.
I don't remember what we talked about.
I do remember that there were a lot of kids. (Then again, that was when the church still commanded a presence in the community and life in the scandals had yet become public knowledge.)
I wondered if we were on the verge of some kind of 'renewal'
Months later nothing really seemed to change other than we had a phone chain to call and remind kids of a meeting.

Years later I attended another mission at the same church.
I still don't remember what the topic was.
I do remember holding hands to say the Our Father.
Lots of people--then months later the same.

Then as an assistant priest I recall hosting a mission at the parish.
I vaguely remember one talk on the Prodigal Son and the response of the Father.
I recall having some hope that something really cool with the Holy Spirit would happen in the parish.
I think there were some good confessions.
Months later the numbers remained the same and the liturgical routine continued.

We had a few attempts at evening 'mission-type' approaches to parish ministry in the Episcopal Church.
Same story--excitement then eventual status quo.

I remember attending a parish mission just a few years back--I watched these two guys offer prayers of healing and then rub vaseline intensive care into the palms of the people.
The church had people in it every evening--which goes to show you that people really don't care even if you spread hand cream on them.
But then the eventual norm took over--same routine.

A wealth of parish programs and missions are available and even marketed.
Even speakers and retreat masters are marketed today. 

So...there must still be a desire.
But for what?
for who?

And the ultimate question...What good is it?

Sure the argument could be made for that 'one' soul that comes to Christ.  But I am not asking for a reason, I'm just wondering why there doesn't seem to be a staying power with parish missions and faith programs.  

I like the approach St James parish (Medjugorje) uses which is basically to get out of the way and allow the Blessed Mother to take your hand and put it in her Son's.
Their approach?
Fasting, Rosary, Eucharist, Scripture, Confession.  Nothing new.
What if a parish simply did that?

Michael Ripple is author of A Lost Shepherd, An Ex-Priest's Journey from Sin to Salvation
New Hope Press 2013.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cello Jokes and the Spiritual Life

Yes, I have heard a bunch of cello jokes since my last entry.
By far the shortest and best one was---"There is always room for cello"

True humor is intrinsic and the truth it shares needs to peek through just a little.
For me, the fewer the words--the better.

My father is in his 90's and is an old violinist.
After scratching and getting hand, neck, arm, and finger cramps--I will usually bring the cello over to his room, set it down, and go about some other business.  Eventually I will hear a beautiful sound.
It's Dad--using his old horsehair bow.  
Perhaps I won't ever be able to sound like him--but it isn't about that is it?
It's about memories.
All because of a cello.
All because of a gift from my wife and my desire to learn something new.

So I began to think...Often we go through the spiritual life (or not go through it) doing and saying and performing the same disciplines and it can become mundane.  
The fact is--there are many spiritual 'gifts' out there.  We need only to have the desire to accept and try it.
Try a 'new' spiritual practice, shake it up a bit.
Maybe begin to journal.
Or say a different prayer.
Maybe change the spiritual routine--throw in a true bread and water fast, or read a different book, or do a consecration.  

Often times the fruits aren't what we expect.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Cello

My lovely wife bought me a cello.
I received a cello, a bow, some rosin, and a beginner's book (plus a cool t-shirt and a notepad)
Yesterday I played 'crunching cookies' on the open strings of A D G & C.

I am learning something new--well into middle age--and it sounds awful (no really, it does sound awful)

I love it.

Of course my cello event reminds me of the spiritual journey.
Receiving the cello was very exciting--just like receiving any gift.  Alone and untouched the cello propped in the middle of my little room held promise and possibility.  Beautiful pieces of music lay in the wood and strings.
I had some chores and duties to take care of before I could devote the time to my first official practice and I couldn't finish them quick enough.  During those hours I imagined myself picking up the instrument with ease and it would only be six months or so before I could play some nice pieces and audition as a chamber musician.
I closed my door, rosined the bow, opened the book (adjusted the angle of the book several times due to bifocals), positioned the instrument and.......

I know what I want to hear, but my hand cramped before I could even get each string to play by itself.

A force in the spiritual life is one's will.  The goal being a total uniting of one's will to God's will--spiritual union, a marriage of the soul to Christ.  Such a journey involves moments when the soul is initially attracted to its final purpose as well as times when the soul feels abandoned by the very Love it seeks.

I clearly desire to learn how to play the cello.  It enticed me for years with the beauty of its music and the promise that I could learn how to play.

The difference between the journey of the cello and the journey of the spirit?  There is more hope for the soul's union.

I have my first official lesson this Saturday

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Getting There

I recently spent some time at a Catholic Marketing Network Conference--via the hospitality of New Hope Press publishers of my book, A Lost Shepherd.

I was a fish out of water.  I had no idea that there was such a thing as 'catholic marketing' let alone an annual conference.
In the middle of the garden state convention center was a gathering of publishers, vendors, and authors.  It was a home show for anything 'catholic'.  There were little light up ornaments, and thousand dollar icons, there were books and pamphlets and even a promotion for fasting bread (which, by the way was incredible).  I spent two days standing at a booth and taking an occasional meander through the center--amazed at the amount of stuff that is, in the end, supposed to bring us closer to God. 

Ah, the soul's journey to its Creator.
That's, after all, what it is all about, isn't it?

And all the stuff is supposed to help us get 'there'. 

I wonder if one of the disciples like John or Peter would have walked through the convention--what would they have been attracted to?  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Feast of the Assumption 2013

Perhaps there is more of a spiritual coordination to the timing of this post.  It is, after all, The Feast of the Assumption.
I've decided to offer an occasional muse on this blog, Praylium (still one of the coolest blog titles--but I am a little biased)

I stopped writing, months back partly out of having no 'material' but more so because I was becoming a bit too cynical.  Sure humor can have a bite--but I wasn't charitable.  In addition I found myself rather too melancholic and at times depressed--especially when it came to ecclesial issues.   In a nutshell I had nothing constructive to write and I needed to take a break.
Enough explaining--here's some thoughts I had today at Mass.

That first reading, boy!  The dragon in the sky, the woman suffering the pangs of birth, that dragon waiting, throwing a tantrum, hurling stars.
That dragon--destroying.
That dragon--overbearing, huge, other worldly
That hideous creature--chaos in the ordered universe
That dragon's concern?--a woman and her baby.
Really?  It can alter the stars in the sky and it is concerned over an infant?
Tell me there isn't a sacredness in the womb, in the woman, in the child, in creation of human life?

Isn't that what it is like when we find ourselves up against evil? There seems to be no way out, no hope, destruction and despair, fear and trembling, loud chaos and world altering movements attack us---evil.

And yet, that woman and her baby--She gives birth to the one who will conquer sin and death.
She intercedes, She intervenes, She puts herself in the pursuit of the devil in order to bring her Son into the world--into my world, your world, our world.

Find yourself in a predicament?  Find yourself combatting evil?  Find yourself without hope?

Find our Lady and let her hold you and shelter you.

Happy Feast of the Assumption!

It's good to be back.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Goodbye Praylium (for now)

The other day I received a note concerning this blog.
In particular, the sender thanked me for my recent thoughts on Pope Benedict's leaving.
I didn't think I said anything except that it was time to pray..but thanks anyway!
In fact, before I received that note I was giving serious consideration to shutting down the Praylium blog.
I still am.

Here are my reasons.
1. I've nothing more to say.
2. The internet world is full of blog opinions and I'm done clogging it up.
3. Back in college I had to read a book--Man's Search for Meaning.  Remember 'ditto' machines?  Well this 8.5 x 11 book consisted of nothing more than 100 or pages of glued ditto pages, single spaced done on a typewriter.  It was my introduction to philosophy.  None-the-less I concluded that Man's Search for Meaning could only be completed when he surrendered totally to God's will and that even the pagan philosophers were onto that
There is no other "way" especially for a Christian.

Now, I am sure the above statement has ecumenical ramifications--of which do not concern me at this moment.
Come to think of it Man's Search....also has some gender issues.  If the book were published today I'm sure the title would be different--this also doesn't concern me at this moment.  Besides, I can't stand the plight of political and gender correctness that grips the Roman Catholic Church.
Many clergy and laity focus on all the wrong words simply because it's easier to do that than fast and pray and confess.

Here IS what concerns me--man's search for meaning--YOUR search for meaning comes only with a complete surrender to God's will.  The 'meaning' of the cross came through Christ's complete surrender.  


Nay, even some in the Church STILL DON'T GET IT and in recent days we are realizing the results of such actions.  
What a mess.

4.   My last reason is simply that I don't think there really is anything more I can write that hasn't been previously said or written.

So for now--Do what the Mother of God said:
1. Fast
2. Pray with the Heart, Pray your Rosary
3. Go to Confession
4. Receive Holy Eucharist
5. Read Holy Scripture

With the release of A Lost Shepherd I will continue to post occasional updates on that website concerning pilgrimages, speakings engagements, retreats, and--the possibility of a new book.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book of the Year Nomination

A Lost Shepherd was recently nominated to receive Book of the Year in Christian Small Publishing.

Your vote would be most appreciated.   Please clicked here to vote and God bless!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Poem of the Man God

The more I read the book The Poem of the Man God (Maria Valtorta)--the more I want to read it
This book will change you.
It will change not only the way you understand and visualize the Gospel accounts but maybe even live the Christian life. 
This book just makes sense and the church needs to work with this grace filled account.
In my life, the reading of this has been long overdue.
If you don't here from me for a while--you'll understand--I've got some reading to do.

God Bless

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book of the Year

A Lost Shepherd was recently nominated to receive Book of the Year in Christian Small Publishing.

Your vote would be most appreciated.   Please clicked here to vote and God bless!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Peace be with you

A lot has been written and shared concerning the recent apparition at Medjugorje.  For the past thirty some years Mary appeared on Christmas carrying the new born Christ child.  This year she did once again--but the Child spoke--with authority--asking all to follow His commandments and extending His peace to us.  
One need only to do a quick search on the internet and he will find the commentary world abuzz with this unprecedented event.
And in that search one may find other commentaries that do a great disservice and join the recent apparition with world events, weather patterns, climate change, the recent Vatican commission studying Medjugorje, and even asteroids.
It's apparently time to get the lamps trimmed and stocked with oil.

We have a knack for complicating the obvious.

Sometimes when we don't want to do the work necessary for spiritual renewal we just wait for something 'big' to happen that will somehow propel our will to act with more fervor.
Here's an idea--Why not just do what Jesus said?
Peace be with you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Family Trees

Almost two months ago, my lovely wife, son, sister-in-law and her two children, along with two dogs boarded the pick-up and headed south on a road trip.  The destination was a Healing of the Family Tree Mass.  I've been on several pilgrimages and this trip, in many ways, reminded me of such an endeavor.

A few weeks went by and then it began.
This past weekend I witnessed some of that healing.

I liken a family tree to the living and the dead.
And, not to be crass but it really is like a tree---on top of the ground are the living members and under the ground--those gone before us (not that roots are dead...but you get my point)  We are all connected.

Chances are you have prayed for a family member today.  And if not--you should.
Whether they be living or dead--pray.
And throw in a fast.
And a confession.
And offer a Mass.