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Husbands and Wives . . . A Cheer.

I’ve been witnessing young couples getting married for 37 years. At an average of say, 7 a year, that’s over 250 weddings. I really have lost count. Most of these couples have moved on in their lives, and I have no contact with them.

Sometimes they will surprise me with their children at mass or come to another wedding or baptism where we
re-acquaint ourselves. I have no idea as to the success of the marriages I’ve witnessed. I do know some of them are going strong. I also know that some have failed.

I wish I had known some things back then that the following years have taught me. Herein a list of points that I’ve come to know about marriage:

True Friendship. Your spouse needs to be your dear-est friend. You need to admire them for the good qualities they possess and feel privileged that, for all the people they know, they offered them to you.

Respect. Treating your spouse as Number 1 in your life. (Not Number 1a or 2). Allow yourself to be conquered by your spouse. Their wishes are usually your interests.

Happiness. It comes in making him/her happy.

Have some children. What else are you two going to leave behind? Children are here because you love your spouse. They will teach you how to love even more.

Trust. A basic belief that (because you know the goodness of your spouse) together you can solve the problems of life.

Faith. To truly know you are not alone. To know that God wants the two of you to love each other till the end and . . . He will give you the graces you need to be there for each other.

Forgiveness. You both are going to mess up. Be quick to acknowledge what you’ve done wrong (selfishness, impatience, rash judgement, etc.)

Caring for one another’s needs. Your spouse is not you. They have a unique way about themselves and some-times require some special TLC for something they find difficult. “What do you need dear?” is a great question.

Hard work. Sometimes marriage is like peddling up-hill. The legs can burn and the lungs hurt. Keep peddling! Something permanent is being built. Your house is set on rock.

Physical Fitness. Your spouse fell in love with all of you. Your body is a gift you give to them. Keep it well and fit.

Don’t Freak Out. There will be some scary times. You’re going to run out of gas. Yes you will. Reject the thought that it’s all been a mistake. It hasn’t. God wanted this. And you will see how the very problems that frighten you, if honestly acknowledged and courageously dealt with, can become, in time, your marriage’s “Finest Hour”.

Sooner or later you gotta have some fun. Take her dancing, watch his stupid football . . . . you’ll know what to do!

A long time ago I asked my mother, “How did you and dad make it through all these years together?” (Like every marriage they had their ups and downs). She said with great wisdom and simplicity, “It was never a matter of asking, “can” we do this. It was always the question, “how” will we do this.

In other words — “We’re going to make it. How? I don’t know . . . but we’ll figure it out.”

Wives. Husbands. Hip Hip Hooray!!

Fr. Tim


Repetition: the Heart of Education

Children love repetition. Songs (“The inky dinky spider ran up the water spout.” Rhymes (“Down in the meadow where the green grass grows . . .”, “This little piggy . . .”). Games: jump rope, hide and seek, Red Rover, all involve the element of repetition whether counting or rhyming or some repeated movement (hopscotch).

Why is that? Why is it so fascinating to children? Psychologists tell us several things are happening to make repetition a child’s playground. First off it‘s how children learn. Hearing or seeing something re-peat over and over, a child learns it quickly without the reasoning element (which develops later for more in depth learning).

Repetition is relaxing for a child. Mothers know this of course, when they unconsciously rock their child on their hip. Back and forth, back and forth. Knowing what “always comes next” creates a safety zone for a child. The world is predictable and I can count on it. A child feels safe.

Children will play with others who like repetition just as much as they do. How many times will a child crack up laughing at your silly face playing “Peek-a-Boo”?

Later on, repetition appears in a more mature form as custom or tradition. Still the repeating nature is present. I remember as a child the year our dad decided to put the Christmas Tree on the other side of the room, “just to change things up”. My sisters and I went nuts. ”Daddy!! The Christmas tree goes by the fireplace!”

Literally. . after many, many years (maybe 4!) there was only one place for the tree . .dad relented and we children rejoiced at Christmas properly celebrated.

Parents . . . so what do you do in your house that teaches your child by repetition? For example:

BEDTIME AND PRAYER. What routine does the family follow in getting the children ready for bed? How do you include “prayer” as part of that routine?

STORY TELLING. Do you tell stories to the children? Stories are great moments for parents to impart hope and dreams for their children. What are their favorites? What life lessons do your stories teach? Where do you tell these stories?
GAMES. Do you play any “homemade” games with the children? We used to play “Ready for Freddie” and “Big Bad Bear”, both of which my father would chase us all around the house. Familiar games strengthen family spirit.

SUNDAYS. I think there should be a Sunday routine. Several moments should repeat themselves week by week. First of all, Mass on Sunday . . . how do you get the family to Mass? (This can be messy, I know!). Secondly, food. There needs to be a time, at least on Sunday, where the family sits to eat a meal together. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Even a quick plate of pancakes will do; just time together at a table with food and family conversation.

I know priests are notorious for their lack of real life experience of child raising. So why not send me your family routines of bedtime/story telling/Sundays/ and games? (I’m at:

I can put them into a bulletin sometime in the future. . . don’t worry, no names attached!.

Hope your week surprises you with joy.

Fr. Tim

Papal Visit 2015

Papal Visit

Hundreds of Thousands are expected to see Pope Francis when he visits the US. Even if you are not among those who will see the Holy Father in person, you can still make his visit a time of spiritual renewal and evangelization.

USCCB Website
World Meeting of Families

Christ on the Fringe

So where do you find Christ? I think it’s safe to say that most of us would answer that question by saying it was “in Church” that our thoughts were turned to Christ and to God the Father.

Each week we hear the actual words of Jesus in the gospel. The homily tries to help us understand his words. And then we enter into the Eucharistic Prayer which brings about Christ’s actual presence on the altar. We then eat and drink Christ into us in Holy Communion.

The Church calls this the “Source and Summit” of our relationship with Christ. The Eucharist is where we experience Jesus most clearly in our week.

But what about the rest of the week? If it’s only on Sunday, in our beautiful church, with the choir and church bells that we meet Christ, then it would seem we don’t meet him out in the world. The Eucharist becomes a private affair.

Pope Francis has the nation in great anticipation about his visit to our country this September. Since his election nearly two years ago Francis has been helping us to meet Christ in our city streets, our schools, our ghettos, our social issues.

He coined a phrase not long ago saying we need to meet “Christ on the Fringe”. He went on to clarify that it was not to go rushing about, but to basically slow down so that we can really listen . . . really be present to someone who has faltered along the way.

So in that spirit we would like to pause this year and listen to the voices and the stories of those on the fringe of our society and culture. We want to hear the voice of Christ that comes from the poor, the marginalized, the stranger.

Below you will find in rough outline 5 evening sessions where a guest speaker will help us hear the voice of Christ in various places on the fringe. (All sessions begin with a pot luck supper. Talk and discussion to follow).

** Saturday October 3, 6 pm. – “As often as you do these things to my least brethren . . . you do them to me.” Mt. 25. Seeing Christ on the Fringe. Talk by Fr. Tim.

** Saturday, November 14, 6 pm. – Christ in the City. Talk by Fr. Mickey McGrath, Pastor, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Church.

** Saturday, December 5, 6 pm.- A Christmas Carol. Theatrical presentation of Charles Dickens moving tale of the Christmas Spirit in the midst of human suffering.

** January (date to be announced). Meeting Christ in Impossible Situations: A look at the spirituality be-hind the 12 Step Fellowship and the freedom mil-lions have discovered.

** February (TBA). Finding Christ in Sickness: When the pills don’t work.

** March (TBA). Finding Christ in Emotional Suffering: Is therapy enough?

Please join us in two weeks as we begin this journey of Hope.

A blessed week.

Fr. Tim

Papal Visit 2015

Papal Visit

Hundreds of Thousands are expected to see Pope Francis when he visits the US. Even if you are not among those who will see the Holy Father in person, you can still make his visit a time of spiritual renewal and evangelization.

USCCB Website
World Meeting of Families

Worship And Adore… What’s That?

Let’s take another look at what worship and adoration is about. It’s important to understand what we’re doing and why.

The Catholic Catechism explains . . . “To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. . . to adore God is to acknowledge in absolute submission the ‘nothingness of the creature’ who would not exist but for God.”

In short, God is our all, our everything. But how do we love and serve a God we can not see or touch? God has to help us. He has to give us something to hold onto as belonging to Him or at least pointing to Him. And He has.

“What can be known about God is plain to see, for God Himself made it plain. Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made.” Romans1:20

So worship begins by acknowledging that all we see, all that is, comes from God. This is called “Natural Religion”, and it is as old as the human race. And so humans have made offerings to the “gods” of the mountains, the sun, the moon, the fields, the oceans . . .

But God wished to elevate his beloved creature, man and woman, to a new level of knowledge and love of God. And so God did the unimaginable. He became a human being. Jesus, “the image of the invisible God”. (Col. 1:15.)

1 John 1:2 tells us, “the Word of Life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it, and proclaim to you what was with the Father was made visible to us.”

And so our worship of God becomes personal now. It focuses on the person of God who is Jesus, God become human flesh.

Yes, we worship God when we worship Christ because . . . “through him (Jesus), God created everything in heaven and earth, all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17).

Jesus sort of summarized all this when in answer to the Apostle Philips request to show him “the Father” Jesus said “Philip when you see me you see the Father.” (Jn. 14:8)

But HOW do we worship God. What do we do? In ancient times we would collect the finest fruit of the harvest and burn it, turning it to smoke which rises to God. Or we would slay a bull or ox or goat and place it on the altar of sacrifice. Basically, we would give God the best of what we have.

And here is where God absolutely astonishes us with his love. God puts in our hands the very offering he wishes us to give him . . . his only Son, Jesus.

You see, Jesus is God’s gift to us and our gift back to God. His life was lived in total dedication to the will of the Father. Jesus was the Lamb that was slain. His death on the cross, freely accepted as the way his Father was to reconcile the human race to his burning love, forever be-comes our offering of worship to God the Father.

Where does this happen? The Mass. God gives us his Son. We give him back to the Father. And Jesus wants this to happen until he comes in Glory. “Do this, in memory of me.”


Fr. Tim

Garage Sale

HOPE Ministry’s Annual Garage Sale

September 17 and 18

HOPE Ministry’s annual garage sale will be held in Murphy Hall, Wednesday, September 16, 6-8 pm.
$5 admission fee for presale Wednesday night.

Thursday, September 17 10-4 pm.
Friday, September 18 10-4 pm.
Saturday, September 19, 10- noon.
Everything is half price on Saturday.

More Information

Do you love Jesus? Really?

There’s a great scene in Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye turns to his sharp tongued wife, Golde, and asks her, “Do you love me?” She pauses over her tub of laundry for a moment, and wiping her sweaty face, she repeats his question, “Do I love you?” “What a silly thing to ask. I cook for you, I wash for you, I keep house for you, I have children with you.” Her song ends with, “If that’s not love . . . what is?” In other words, she’s living her love, not thinking about it.

How about you and Jesus? Do you love him? Think for a minute before you answer. Too many things want to jump in and give a superficial answer. We say, “Well I go to mass. I believe He’s God’s Son who died on the cross for me. I know he’s raised from the dead and has unlocked the gates of heaven for us. I say prayers before meals. I try to live a good life.”

“But do you LOVE me?” Jesus asks Peter three times (John 21:17). How do we know if we really love Jesus? Sitting in my chair in the rectory with my books and Brahms playing in the background, I find it easy to whisper, “Jesus I love you”. But do I really?

What if ISIS suddenly knocks on my door and asks if there are any Christians inside? What if the phone rings at 3 am. and the person just wants someone to talk to? What if my friend, for all his promises, is drunk and crying again? What if the young cashier makes mistake after mistake and keeps us all waiting? What if they accidentally skip over your name at the graduation ceremony? What if the doctor says, ‘there’s nothing more we can do”? What if my job is sent overseas and now I’m on the night shift at Seven/11?

Sometimes I wonder if my life were challenged as it is for thousands of people (with poverty, sickness or tragedy), would I be so quick to say “Jesus I love you”? Would I keep the faith in the face of danger, ridicule, or discrimination? Remember the Last Supper when Jesus told the apostles, “someone at this table will betray me tonight.” Each apostle would in turn nervously ask, “Certainly it is not I Lord . . . is it?” I think they each feared the “traitor” that lie within him. Not just Judas, in fact each of them betrayed him. Our love in the end is usually pretty weak.

But are there any signs that one’s love of the Lord is true and from God? I think there are. Signs my love of God is true and real:

  • I keep doing the things of faith time after time, year after year. (Going to Sunday mass, receiving the Eucharist often, confession too). And in your own way, “wanting what God wants.”
  • There is a felt desire at times to do something “Just to please the Lord.” (eg. To give alms, visiting the sick or lonely, etc.)
  • Also a felt desire to refrain from something simply because it offends against God (Fear of the Lord).
  • I ask God to help me see his will and to DO it, even when it’s hard.
  • I make a conscious effort to give my day over to God asking his help to face the new day. (Morning Offering Prayer)
  • You find a growth in charity moving you to care about someone or something that never concerned you before.
  • You willingly suffer misunderstanding, contempt, sickness and failure in union with Christ who loved us first.
  • Notice the motivation for doing these things is the love of God; not just being a “nice guy”.
  • But in the end how much I love God is really not the important thing. The main issue is to realize “not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us first.” “God proved his love for us for while we were still sinners and enemies of God Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8.

    Why do we love God? Because he has first loved us; creating us, letting us be called his children, giving us his Son to be our Savior, showing us the way to eternal life. Dear God you know how small my heart is. Please make it bigger for you and for my neighbor.

    I don’t care what they say . . . it’s still summer!!

    Fr. Tim

Food for Thought

I Found this article by Seth Adam Smith and wanted to share his words on marriage.

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided we no longer wanted to be just friends. I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy; you marry to make someone else happy.

More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself; you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you.

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy – to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love-their wants, their needs, their hopes and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?” While Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous, I was selfish.

But, instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did some-thing beyond wonderful–she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and anguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul. I realized that I had forgotten my Dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article-married, almost married, single or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette-I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

Blessings, Fr. Tim

While you were sleeping . . .

One of the attitudes that marks our Western culture is the notion that we are in control of our lives and our future. The powerful tools of science and technology enable us to live lives expecting results that will please and comfort us.

Let’s see . . . today I’ll take my car to the mall where I’ll buy an Ipod which has an app that, with two touches, books a room in a snazzy hotel and tells me the water temperature in the hotel pool. My doctor will fix my bad hip. The micro will heat my pasta. And tonight, I’ll watch the Yankees play Boston in high def. I’m pretty set. Life is good.

So pervasive is our confidence that these machines will (pardon me Webster) make my “life worth living” that we begin to expect life to be what we command it to be. We forget that we are mere creatures made by God.

But who needs God when life can be controlled and self-directed all by ourselves?

But, you and I know it’s not that simple. Life is bigger than that. “Things happen”. Sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way we planned. The comfort and convenience we get from our machines just doesn’t satisfy the hunger we have in our hearts.

You see, we were made for something greater than high def TV, and Ipods, and even the Yankees.

In short we were made for God. We were made in the likeness of God. Scripture says we, unlike any other creature in this universe, are God’s Children! How can this be? Because God became one of us when He was born a human being. And this human being, Jesus, God’s Son, has asked that we allow him to enter our lives and “live in us”.

How? By the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a Divine Person who we cannot see and, unlike our Ipod, we cannot control. On Pentecost Sunday we heard again about the strong driving wind which first blew over the waters of creation now blowing over the apostles making them “born again” in the life of Christ.

The fondest longing of the human heart is realized today. We belong to God and one day “we will become like Him”.

Again this is not because of anything we have done to cause it. We can’t make ourselves children of anybody . . . it has to be given to us. Today we are God’s Children by adoption. The Holy Spirit places in us the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and with that spirit a new life is begun. A life of Faith, Hope and Love.

Like a baby!! While we sleep. The Holy Spirit is working in us to bring us to the Kingdom of God where we, in union with Christ, will be with God forever.

How wonderful is that?!

Dear God, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit.

Peace. All will be well.

Fr. Tim



Food, Fun and lots of Friendship!!!

OH Mary . . . Late Have I Loved You.

We learn some things more quickly than others. Walking, talking, the alphabet, times tables, and riding a bike come to us in the first years of life. Other things take longer – things of “character” (honesty, courage, patience, generosity).

So too, in matters of Faith, some things come to us quickly. “I believe in God the Father, creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son . . . born of the Virgin Mary.” (Apostles Creed). The Christmas Story, Heaven, Holy Communion, sin and sorrow for sin and God’s forgiveness all come relatively early.

But something, for me at least, has taken a long time to realize – Mary, the mother of our Lord. Please don’t be shocked. We each have a unique path in finding our way to the Kingdom. What comes quickly for some takes longer for others.

So what about Mary? We know several things about her from the Scriptures. She was married to Joseph, yet bore her miraculous son as a virgin. She followed her son throughout his ministry and was present at the foot of the cross when all but John had abandoned the Lord. She was present in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended on her and the apostles. And this weekend we celebrated her Assumption into heaven.

The glorious titles given to Mary by the Church: Mother of God in Christ, Mother of the Church, and Mother of all the Faithful, (along with the hundreds of holy cards showing Mary floating on a cloud) have somehow hidden her from me . . . “OUR MOTHER in the order of grace.” Universal Catechism 966.

I have always known these things “about” Mary. I believe them. But I watch and hear others who seemed to know and love Mary personally. I’ve been almost jealous of those I see place such trust in her, turning to her as they would their own mother.

So here’s what God is doing in me regarding Mary, my adoptive mother. (It’s a new thing that’s not done yet.)

  • I’m letting Mary be a real person. A woman, a wife and mother, with all the joys and sorrows that go with that.
  • I’m reflecting on Mary’s greatest moments: her “Fiat” (“let it be done” to Gabriel’s message, her standing at the foot of the cross watching her son’s crucifixion and saying, as did her son, “Thy will be done”. It doesn’t get any harder than that). These were human acts of faith that make this tough little woman . . . approachable..
  • I can go to her now, knowing that she looked into the abyss of her son’s murder and kept the faith.
  • I can watch her admire her son as a loving mother. “Tim, isn’t he beautiful! I wish you could know him like I know him.”
  • Her voice is different than her son’s. (Jesus is sometimes demanding and matter of fact; setting his Father’s Kingdom in stark relief he says, “Repent”, “take up your cross”, “enter through the narrow way, etc.)

    She has a woman’s voice, deferring to the power of Her son who is the “Truth”, she has that tender concern for us, saying softly, “How are you doing with this? Are you okay? Are you getting what my son is saying?”

  • I used to resist thinking of myself as “her child”, fearing being “childish”. It feels more like my mother trying to get me to understand my older brother – – – Jesus. “Tim, my son is your brother. Listen to him.”
  • Mary knows her son like no one else. She knows what is in his heart for each of her adopted children. “He loves you, Tim, she says. Trust me, I’m his mother!”
  • Sometimes you just can’t talk to a man, however wonderful they might be. Their judgements we can’t bear. We need someone to whom we can pour out our hearts. Our fears (as men), our weaknesses and failures, our moments of shame . . . all find a place of confidence in her loving embrace. My mother.
  • But she’s no pushover either. All her kindness is directed toward getting us moving toward her son. “To Jesus through Mary”. I’m just starting to get it.

Summer blessings.

Fr. Tim

“I’m Spiritual but Not Religious.”

Have you heard someone say that to you? It seems to be a common phrase these days. Many feel it best expresses their view of life. Let’s take a minute to see what they mean by that. Let’s try to see the good thing they are pointing to because they feel it’s a thoughtful, virtuous way to live life. And it is.

“I’m spiritual”. It means a person is aware that there is “something” in this world beyond what we can see and touch. There is something that can’t be spotted by our microscopes or telescopes or chemical analysis. It’s a spirit that has a meaning and beauty that makes human life worth living. It seems very active in those “peak” moments of life . . . falling in love, the birth of a child. One gets the sense of being connected to something bigger than themselves, something kind and beautiful.

The phrase, “I’m spiritual”, is a non-technical term trying to describe a feeling or an intuition. When I am aware of it, I experience myself fitting into a universal, spiritual plan. The plan is good and benevolent, and I feel happy that I could connect with it.

That’s not bad, eh? Really. It sensitizes people to the beauty around us. It’s like a melody playing in the back-ground. When we feel this “good spirit” we say, “I don’t go to church. My church is a walk in the woods.” I think we’ve all found the beauty of nature touching us and leading us to the Creator. We’re all “spiritual” in this sense.

So what’s the problem with this? It doesn’t hurt anybody. There have been no wars fought over being “spiritual”.

My only thought at this point is there’s no one to thank. It’s a painting without a painter; a symphony without a composer. We’re still ALONE. Ultimately what good is that?

What happens when life turns ugly? What happens when I don’t feel my spiritual side; when sorrow or sickness or tragedy strikes? When my walk in the woods is scary and lonely? When life and its demands feel overwhelming? Being “spiritual” somehow doesn’t get to the depth of the human experience.

OK, so what about “religion” and how is it different from that “spiritual” feeling? What follows are words from someone who “believes in God”.

The Christian religion says that God has actually revealed himself to us in the history of the human race. There was a 5000 year old process of recording God’s actions in human history called the Bible (the creation of the heavens and earth, calling a people to a special relationship with him (the Jews), and finally coming to live among us in human form (Jesus Christ)).

In this process we are given a pretty specific description of who God is and how God acts. Time and again Jesus would say, “the Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .” and there would follow a picture of some aspect of God, right down to his name – – “Father”. One of his stories describes heaven to a king who has a banquet and we humans are invited guests.

So, Christians can’t walk away from this Revealed Word. We are tied to this belief about God and human existence. The word “religion” itself has the notion of being “tied to” something (religare – Latin meaning “to bind together”).

“Being tied to” what has been revealed is really important because it gives us the knowledge to know who God is. The people who hold this knowledge and act according to its instructions have what we call “religion”.

But, aren’t there many religions? Yes, there are many religions. So, then it doesn’t matter which one I practice, right? It does if you want to know the truth. They all might have something of the truth, but they can’t all be right. (The Resurrection of the Dead for Christians is to-tally different than the Re-incarnation for Bhuddists).

It’s here I think we go back to two things. True religion, unlike “being spiritual” has to deal with, 1. the staggering beauty of human life in both its joys and sorrows – – – what best explains who we are? What is love? How can there be suffering and yet still a God we can honestly worship? 2. How does one come to the knowledge and love of such a Being?

Answers to these questions are beyond our ability to fathom. God has to help us. He has to give us something that will touch the deepest recesses of the human heart and open us to His Mystery. It’s called the gift of Faith, and it was delivered to us in actual words by another human being, Jesus Christ .

“This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” Luke 9:35.

Blessings to you. Fr. Tim

I can’t hear you Lord.

Sometimes it happens, try as we might to hear God, we just don’t feel that God is speaking to us. We can pray all we want, but it just seems to go on a big pile of unanswered prayers. God is silent.

Mother Teresa’s memoirs tell us of God’s silence in her life for over twenty years. Unfortunately, many give up on praying. We don’t stop believing in God and trying to do the right thing. We just stop turning to God in prayer.

Jesus said, “Pray to your Father in secret and your Father who sees you in secret will repay you . . . he knows what you need even before you ask him.” Mt. 6: 6-8. And “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find.

Knock and it will be opened to you.” Mt. 7:7 Jesus could have just as well said,”you’ll hear back I promise”.

So, why does it seem at times we don’t hear back from God? Maybe the problem is with us. Somehow we”re not “dialed in” to God’s frequency. He’s speaking, but we don’t have the receptors to hear him. Or, perhaps some-thing is blocking our hearing.

Below is a list of things that people do or experience that make hearing God’s whisper unlikely. It’s hard to hear you Lord because…

  • There is no silence in my life. I fill my every moment with gadgets that make noise, give useless information, or provide distraction. God speaks in the quiet of our heart. “Be still and know that I am God.”
  • My image of God is one that keeps me from wanting to meet him. (It can be an unhappy image of “father” because my own father was absent or angry or stern). Jesus the Good Shepherd is our image of God.
  • Sin. I’m living a life in which I consciously turn to sinful actions. I cling to an evil behavior that gives me comfort. Gradually it keeps me from feeling God’s “quickening” impulses in my heart.
  • Resentment. Perhaps I’ve been holding a grudge or a prejudice or a hatred because of some wrong done to me. Get rid of it. Ask God for the grace to let go of it. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Resentment in the heart is too loud for us to hear God.
  • Shame. There’s something in my life that makes me ashamed of myself. I feel there’s something in me that God hates me for, and I can’t bear to have that touched or exposed. That’s why I keep the TV on all the time. Stop hiding from God like Adam and Eve in the Garden. Let him see you. Warts and all. Confession is a healing balm for shame.
  • Sometimes God can appear to be silent because He’s weaning us from our feelings. You see early on in our relationship with God there can be moments, wonderful moments of insight, or emotional consolation. God gives us these to encourage us on the path to a relationship with him. Not only do we “know about” God, but now we are “in Love” with him.

God can withdraw these consolations leaving us feeling alone, like he has forgotten us. Not so! It’s important to recognize this “silence of God” as a way of purifying our prayer. We can become attached to the warm feelings about God and our love for him . . . so much so that our hunger is for these feelings . . . not for God. This silence must be seen as a great step forward – an invitation to draw closer to him with purified hearts. The psalm captures this when it says, “like a weaned child on its mother’s breast, so my soul rests in you oh Lord.”

Whatever may be happening to make you feel as if God is not speaking to you, there is one sure way to proceed. Be patient, keep praying. God knows your need even before you ask – – trust this. THEN you will hear, in time, God’s word to you.

Summer blessings.

Fr. Tim



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