Who Cares?

Back in high school our senior class (250 boys) was known as lazy, shiftless, and uncooperative. We were proud of that reputation and tried mightily to resist any temptation to render a “positive influence on the school”.

We had a class motto that was short but conveyed our message. . . “Who Cares?”. It was all a put on of course. We cared a lot. We worried a lot (Viet Nam was calling many of us). We wanted our lives to be different than our parents but we didn’t know what or how.

So what’s a teenager do when he or she is scared, lost, or clueless? You get cynical. “Who Cares?” Don’t let ’em see you caring.

So this little piece is about “caring”, caring for others. (There doesn’t seem to be any lack of our caring for ourselves, as I’ll explain). Our concern is to examine what makes people care about anything other than themselves.

First off I’d say, outside immediate family and friends, nobody cares. The natural repose of the human heart is to stay at home, make oneself comfortable and shut out the world and its need. Philosophers and Psychiatrists tell us that humans are hard wired to care about others only to the degree that it will serve their own interests. This is not evil or immoral; it’s just the way we are. I think it’s one of many effects of the “survival instinct” and Original Sin. Or as we’ve said before, the “What’s in it for Me? Factor”.

There are thousands of examples of this. Here’s one.

The phone rings and it’s your brother-in-law. He’s had another bad job interview. There’ll be no second interview. As usual, he wants to talk about how he just can’t catch a break and how unfair things are.

“I’m sorry.” you say. But you’re not really. You say a few generalities (“hang in there” or “You’ll do better next time.”) to avoid saying what you really think. To do that would only cause you problems down the line.

Think about it, why are we nice (a version of “caring”)? Most times it’s because it serves our own interest.

There’s less hassles from others when you’re nice. People will like you more when you’re nice to them. You can get people to do what you want them to when they think you care.

Even our most altruistic caring hides a benefit to our- selves and is our real motivation. You see human love wants to “possess”, “To have and to hold” as the wedding vows say. God loves differently. God’s love is total giving.

Jesus came to show us God’s way of loving. Here are some of his instructions.

++ If someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat as well. Mt. 5:40

++ When you give money to someone, don’t do it in a way that people will find out and praise you. Do it cheerfully and secretly. Mt. 6:1.

++ Want to really care? Sit down and think what you would want someone to do for you in that situation. Then do it for them. Mt. 7:12

++ Want to really care? No greater love exists than when a man or woman lays down their life for their friend. Jn. 15:13 “Not my will Father, but thine be done.” Mt. 26:42

++ Try this for caring . . . “when someone strikes you on the right check, turn the other one to them as well.” Mt. 5:39

So where do we get the motivation (what’s in it for me?) to care in these selfless ways? It comes from having been loved in this way ourselves. And who has loved us this way? Hopefully our parents (but only imperfectly) and oh yeah . . . God has loved us in this way. His only motivation is what God is. And what is God? Infinite Love. . . as revealed in Jesus Christ.

Once you’ve been touched by this love, you want to give back. And suddenly you’ve entered the mystery of real love.

It takes a lifetime . . . I’m just starting to get it. God is a patient lover.

Fr. Tim

Have You Eaten?

Do you ever get going in a busy day and forget to eat at the proper time? Maybe it’s 3 pm and suddenly you feel the bottom drop out. No energy, listless, irritable, maybe even a little depressed. It feels like life turns grey and impossible.

So . . . get something to eat!! That’s right – most problems in life can be dealt with if we’ve had sufficient food. The world is a brighter place when good food is in your system.

Angels don’t have this problem of finding food for strength. They have no bodies. Being pure spirit means you don’t have to stop your angelic praising to sit for a meal. (It also means they don’t have the sloppy pleasure of a cheeseburger and fries! Poor angels.)

God has made us humans in such a way that we must pause two or three times a day to take nourishment for our bodies. What a launching pad for God to visit us!

Jesus chose this critical human experience of taking food to be the way he would come to us down through history. In the context of the ancient Jewish Passover (the meal of roasted lamb, commemorating the night God freed the Jews from slavery in Egypt), Jesus saw himself to be the “New Lamb” whose body and blood would bring life to those who receive it.

He began to teach his disciples this insight about who he was and what he must do for those who believe in him. “I am the living bread come down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate (the manna in the desert), whoever eats this bread (my body) will live forever.” John 6:58

Like the lamb that was slain at Passover, this new meal would require the death of Jesus, “the Lamb of God”. So the night before his death, gathered with the apostles, “he took the bread, said the blessing”, and says, “This is my body” and over the cup, “this is . . . my blood poured out for you.”

So that’s it gang. A new food for humanity – – – Jesus’ body and blood. The first hearers of this message were totally grossed out. “How can he say he will give us his flesh to eat?'” And “because of this many followers turned back and would not go with him anymore.” Jn. 6:67.

So what about you? Can you see God’s plan to get inside us with His Son? Does the image of the innocent lamb speak to you? Aren’t you aware that it takes years of eating to build a body – – – so too a Christian. Does the change from bread to “my flesh” bother you? Don’t you think that if God could come up with the idea of your little daughter and give her your smile – – – he could change bread into anything he wants?

None of us knows “how” the bread becomes Jesus’ body (we say of course “by the Holy Spirit”, which is bible talk for “He will do it.”) He said so.

What we do know is God created each of us. (We didn’t). And we experience a restless hunger to live in a state of being that is truth, love and joy (eternal life). What we know is that no one has ever gone so deeply into the human condition . . . “like us in all things but sin”. He shows us what causes us to be far from God (sin and selfishness). And he lays his life down in such a way that he be- comes our food to bring us to God who won’t rest till we are all one in the Body of Christ.

Perhaps a little prayer here……….”Dear God and Father, help me trust your divine word which came to us in Christ Jesus. And trusting that he would not trick us, let me receive his body and blood in humble faith. Let this heavenly food transform me into a person worthy to be called Christian.

Summers almost here!!

Fr. Tim

Homer (not Simpson!) and the Sirens

There’s this scene in Homer’s Odyssey where the boat of our adventurer Ulysses comes near to the island of the Sirens. He tells his men to tie him fast to the mast of the ship so that hearing the Sirens’ seductive song he will be unable to fling himself into the sea toward them.

Dangerous rocks lay all about the island and to come too near meant certain shipwreck. It’s a great story (written 3000 yrs. ago). We call it “Greek Mythology”. Did it hap- pen in actual history? No. It’s a myth.

But is it true? Of course it’s true. Is there a “song” that if you listen to it you’ll be tempted to abandon your ship? You bet. Just ask the alcoholic whose friends invite him to a bar for “a couple of cold ones”. Ask the teenager (hormones raging) who knows of a website where “you can see it all”. Imagine the hoarder who hears about “buy one, get one free”.

We all hear the Sirens’ call. They know just the song to sing to each of us to have us sail toward that rocky shore.

So what do we do? (We’re talking about temptation of course.)

The first thing to do is be aware of the power of temptation. It has the uncanny ability to get under or around our desire to do the right thing. It needs to be respected for what it can talk us into. Be smart. Know how strong temptation can be.

Next thing. Be prepared. Know where you want to go. Know where you don’t want to go. Before the Sirens start “your song” be like Ulysses; take measures that will help you resist. You don’t have to tie yourself to a mast (!) but do something to help you resist.

  • Let your friends know in advance that “you can’t go there”.
  • Use your computer in the living room where others gather.
  • Let a trusted friend know what your temptation is and ask their help (if only to listen to you and encourage you to keep up the good fight.) Ulysses asked his crew to tie him up!
  • Pray daily for help to resist the Sirens’ song. God will come to your aid. St. Paul says if all else fails, your resolve is gone, “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength: but with the trial he will also provide a way out.” 1 Cor. 10:13 (the Spirit gives you a good idea to do in that moment).
  • Lastly . . . . RUN AWAY!!! Fleeing is a great way to defeat the Siren’s song. It’s not weakness to run. It’s wisdom. Someone yells “Fire!!” It’s not cowardice to flee!

Actually Ulysses was pretty lucky. He could have messed up big time. You see he had his men put wax in their ears so they wouldn’t even hear the Sirens.

He however had heard how entrancing their song was and he wanted to hear it for himself. So no wax for him! “I want to hear them sing.” (It’s called the “near occasion of sin”. Don’t go there.)

Lucky the mast held him back and he returned to tell his amazing story.

We humans . . . . . . how patient God is with us.

Springtime blessings.

Fr. Tim

Praying for 10 Minutes. What to do.

So you’ve decided to pray (again!). What should I do? Below you will find an outline of how you might spend 10 minutes in prayer.

First off you need to quiet your mind and emotions. You’re going to go on a little “retreat” away from the world.

Find a place away from the usual noise (away from TV, lap top, cell phone). I find a comfortable chair lends to my time in prayer . . . though it may be a quiet walk or time in your car or at your desk. It’s nice to have a crucifix nearby or a holy picture to glance at.

++ Once you’re situated, make the Sign of the Cross and tell God in your own words (in your mind) that you have come to be with Him and ask His presence for these few minutes. Something like: “Here I am Lord. Please be with me in this prayer.”

++ Three deep breaths helps to quiet the mind.

++ Now it’s time for the mind to chew on something. Two things can help here: 1. Recall a sentence from scripture (“The Lord is my Shepherd.” “I will be with you to the end of the world.” Find something that speaks to you). OR 2. Remember a time that you felt close to God . . . let it speak to you again.)

++ You’ve now begun to pray. For the next few minutes trust that God is with you as you sit there. The Holy Spirit will guide your thoughts (don’t worry if the world keeps popping into your mind, just whisper your word again . . . “Good Shepherd” OR “Lord” OR “I love you.”)

++ When you feel you’ve reached a place in your mind where things seem quiet(er), find a word or a sentence that speaks what’s in your heart. I’ll say something like, “Lord . . . be with me today . . . help me please you to- day . . . don’t let me forget what I need to remember . . . be with X, he/she needs your help . . . thank you Lord . . . and best of all for me, I love telling God, “I love you.”

These utterances should be slow and spaced with silences. Let them bubble up again and again like you’d coo to your baby. “I love you Lord.”

++ You’re on the home stretch now. When you’ve quieted yourself, spoken your bible sentence or remembrance, told God your thought for the day ……………… be quiet for about a minute. Do nothing. It’s God’s time to do whatever his grace desires for you. Just sit. He’s with you.

++ Time to finish your prayer. Perhaps to end with an Our Father/Hail Mary. Maybe you have a special need to ask of God; now’s a good time.

++ Make the Sign of the Cross and be on your way.

You may feel that nothing happened during these 10 minutes. In fact the devil wants you to feel that it’s been a total waste of time. The fact is the devil hates it when you pray. You become a sign to him that his kingdom is bankrupt. He hates being reminded of that and will try anything to get you to stop praying.

So here we go. Let’s start praying again. Start where you can. If praying every day is something that can’t happen right now how about 3 times a week? Can you do that?

Remember . . . God will help you. The Holy Spirit is already praying in you and for you!

Happy Pentecost!!

Fr. Tim

Starting to pray (again!)

(10 little hints to help you start again)

1. The very thought or desire to pray is a personal gift to you from God.

No one can say “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:13) without a grace from God. So every time your heart is lifted, however faintly, to look toward God – – – it is God actually reaching out to you. Let this be an encouragement. God loves you and wants your friendship. He’s begins the conversation.

2. Prayer is about Friendship and Trust in God.

So how do friends speak and listen to each other? Honestly, straightforward, without fear of offending, with humor, and of course with affection. Things like, “Lord, I’m sick and tired of …” or “Dear God, I did it again. Help me.” Or, “Why won’t you take this away Lord?” Or, “Show me what I need to do.” Or anything else your friendship needs to say.

3. God is invisible, so . . . images help. (hand extended, shepherd in the distance, etc.)

God made our minds to work by way of images. Pictures of loved ones keep them more clearly in our minds and hearts. But God we cannot see so – – – images help. Some- times I image God by a hand resting on my shoulder, or sometimes a person in a darkened room. Jesus said he is a Good Shepherd; picture that. Water springing forth in the desert. A calming voice, etc. Let yourself find an image that helps you to trust his presence.

4. Start where you “are” not where you “should be”.

This is very important. You don’t “get holy” and then start to pray. We start right where we are. Sinful, lazy, selfish, lustful, angry, happy, . . . whatever. Give yourself to God just the way you are. That’s what friends do. But remember . . . He’s the Lord. His will is the path to life. End your prayer by submitting to God’s will. Jesus did in the garden.

5. Be honest with God about what you REALLY are thinking and feeling.

Again, “holy” thoughts are not what God wants. God wants YOU! In all your imperfections and failures.
He’ll begin to show you a new path but it starts right where you are!

6. Warm up to prayer (a memory of sometime you know God helped you. Go back to that time, feel the help it brought you. Thank God again.)

There was a time I was in a real pickle. I tried and tried to get myself out of it but nothing worked. This thing just wouldn’t leave me. I remember asking God about a hundred times to take it away and guess what? It took a while but He did!!

So it helps me to begin my prayer remembering that in the past he freed me from some messes of my own making. What has God done for you that you can thank Him for at the beginning of your prayer? (It takes about 10 minutes to shake off the noise of the world and get down to business with God.)

7. Find YOUR way of praying not someone else’s.

Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Each of us brings a unique way of talking and feeling. Don’t be phony. Talk to God as you would a friend who knows all your gifts and your quirks.

8. We learn to pray by praying.

No one ever learned to play the piano by reading about it or seeing a video. You learn by putting fingers to the keys. So too with praying . . . just do it. There’s no one there to grade you. God will take whatever you offer him and magnify it. Remember the Mustard Seed? (Mt. 4:31)

9. Listen to your heart.

After you’ve read scripture or spoken your feelings to God, it’s time to listen. How does God speak? God speaks to us by touching our minds with thoughts and memories and our affections with sentiments that move our will to want what God wants. Often times it’s only later in the day (or week!) we realize what God has done in our prayer.

10. Don’t get discouraged. Stay at it!

Just know that the smallest of gestures toward God brings his blessing. God loves you. You are his child. Keep on trusting, keep on asking, keep on looking for signs of his hand. “Seek and you shall find.” (Mt. 7:7)

Prayer. Just do it. It’s what love does.

Fr. Tim

Ps. Next week. Ten minutes of praying . . . what to do.


I’m sure you know people (good people) who have opted to leave organized religion or see the teachings of the Church as irrelevant. “I believe in God, just not all the things we read in the Bible or that gets taught in church. Science is my guide to what’s real in the universe. God is a spiritual feeling no one can explain.”

Reflecting on God and science, it seems they describe two different worlds. The world of science and nature is the one that roots us in our daily lives. Religion on the other hand is about a world we cannot see.

When discussing religion we often feel our knowledge of this world (astronomy, for example) gets placed on the shelf. Religion describes a different world. For example, the Creed says Jesus “came down from heaven”, “he suffered death and was buried . . . and rose again”, then he “ascended into heaven”, and “is seated at the right hand of the Father.”

The words seem to indicate a heaven situated a few miles above us, from which he “came down” and then “ascended” back. It’s like a palace in the air with two chairs set side by side. One chair is for God the Father (he’s the older looking one with the silver hair); the other for the Son (who’s a youngish man (33) wearing sandals and a beard. This is Heaven.

Add to this Jesus saying, “in my Father’s house there are many mansions. . . I am going to prepare a place for you.” Jn. 14:2, and one can imagine a place not unlike Candy- land. There’s the Candy Castle and there on his throne is King Candy.

I’m not trying to be a smart aleck here. This is what the words of the bible can cause us to imagine about God and Jesus and heaven. And these imaginings can seem childish next to the hard and scary facts about the limitless cosmos. Many rightfully reject the Candy Castle Religion, see religion as irrelevant and trust their own instincts to show them the way.

What can we say to help here? I think the first thing to remember is the difference between believing and imagining. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” This is a statement of faith . . . there is one God, and all that is, comes from God.

But then we imagine. “What did making the earth look like?” Michelangelo tried his brilliant best in the Sistine Chapel. Remember that painting of God the Father on the cloud reaching out with his divine finger to touch the finger of the sleeping Adam? Did it really look like that? No. But does it convey a truth? Of course. God created us.

Or the story of Adam and Eve, the Serpent and the Apple. Did the “Fall of humanity” look like that? No. But is it true? Was there a moment, when, by the actions of the first human couple, we have become strangers to God and to ourselves? Absolutely true!! (Read St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans Ch. 7). Think about it the next time you feel life is some huge accident or you are anxious to lock your door at night.

*** The WHAT? . . . God the Eternal has come into our world from outside time and space to become one with the human race in the man Jesus.

*** The IMAGINING? . . . the Nativity scene or most any Christmas card.

The church wants us to know what is true; then artists and poets imagine the visuals. Some are helpful and inspiring. Some are silly and wrong.

There’s lot’s more to talk about here. Another time perhaps.

Bless your summer days.

Fr. Tim

Art of Marriage

The Art of Marriage:

Guiding Children in a Complicated Culture
The Importance of Raising a Well-Balanced Child

Does it seem like:

  • The cell phone you gave your child is the source of a continuous argument?
  • Keeping faith at the top of the list of family priorities is too difficult?
  • The travel team is running your life?
  • The children are tense and in tears and they don’t know why?
  • Your spouse and you are arguing about discipline (strict or lenient)?
  • Sue Thompson, a Social Worker for the Webster Central School District, will be discussing the increase in anxiety and depression plaguing our school age children. She will share with parents the importance of working together in raising their children and positive parenting techniques in these complicated times. Informed parents are able to make better decisions that will ultimately affect young lives; therefore, all adults responsible for guiding our children are encouraged to attend.

    There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation.

    Sunday, May 21, 2017
    1:00 PM
    Gathering Space

    Light refreshments will be served.

“When you see me, you see the Father.”

Certainly you’ve watched young families, parents and children, shopping or going to church or in a restaurant. Sometimes it’s hard to see the physical resemblance be- tween parent and child. The hair or eyes or coloring don’t seem to match (must be the mail man! The joke goes).

But more often than not the children bear a striking resemblance to one or both of the parents. My sisters have many of my father’s features while it’s easy to see I’m my mother’s child. I think it’s safe to say Jesus (who received his body from Mary, not Joseph) must have looked just like her. Who do you most resemble?

Anyway, in today’s gospel Philip the Apostle, seemingly frustrated with Jesus’ constant reference to his Father, blurts out, “show us the father and that will explain every- thing.”

This brings an amazing statement from Jesus. “Philip, you’ve been with me all this time and you still do not know me? When you see me, you see the Father.”

Something very important is being revealed to us here. Jesus is saying, “Do you want to enter the Kingdom of God, and there possess Eternal Life? Do you want to meet my Father from whom I draw my life? Do you want to find the source of all goodness, love and truth?”

“Then believe me. I am the way to the Father. No one comes to the Father except through me. The Father is in me and I in him.” John 14: 1-12

There you have it friends. In a nutshell . . . if we want to know who God is and what he is like, follow Jesus Christ. He is the visible, human expression of God his Father.

So every word he speaks in the gospels, every time he touches someone sick or tormented, every time he cries out on our behalf . . . this is God leading us to God.

“Believe me . . . that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or (if that doesn’t move you) believe because of the works I do.”

What works? His teaching (love thy enemy), his care for the poor, his love for the sinner and lost sheep, his constant welcome to all (“come to me all you who are heavy burdened”). And most amazing, was laying his life out on the cross in an act of fidelity to his Father’s command (“The Father who dwells in me is doing his works” v. 10). This was the way it had to be in order to show the Father’s divine love for us.

So I guess the question is – – – do you believe this? Just a simple “yes Lord”, way deep in our heart. “Yes Lord. I believe.”

  • Do I understand how and why all this happened? No.
  • Do I perfectly obey his words and instructions? Nope.
  • Do I always remember to pray and give thanks to God for his Son? No.
  • Do I always resist the very things that I know are against God’s will? No.

I just believe. I see signs all around me that Jesus is alive. I see him in people who try and fail and try again (and keep trying; Jesus fell three times). I see him in women and men who daily spend their lives giving to others. I see him in the refugees waiting in food lines far far from their homes. I see him in people who do the right thing in spite of ridicule and taunting.

There’s too many wonderful things in this world because of him and what he did for me to not believe.

Now, it’s time to give back. It’s time to “follow”. It’s time to stop being afraid of everything, and holding on to everything. Because he said, “I will come back and take you to myself. So that where I am you also may be.”

Lord we believe. Help our unbelief.

Fr. Tim

Art of Marriage

The Art of Marriage:

Guiding Children in a Complicated Culture
The Importance of Raising a Well-Balanced Child

Does it seem like:

  • The cell phone you gave your child is the source of a continuous argument?
  • Keeping faith at the top of the list of family priorities is too difficult?
  • The travel team is running your life?
  • The children are tense and in tears and they don’t know why?
  • Your spouse and you are arguing about discipline (strict or lenient)?
  • Sue Thompson, a Social Worker for the Webster Central School District, will be discussing the increase in anxiety and depression plaguing our school age children. She will share with parents the importance of working together in raising their children and positive parenting techniques in these complicated times. Informed parents are able to make better decisions that will ultimately affect young lives; therefore, all adults responsible for guiding our children are encouraged to attend.

    There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation.

    Sunday, May 21, 2017
    1:00 PM
    Gathering Space

    Light refreshments will be served.

Vocation: Spiritual Sky Diving.

This front bulletin article has often dealt with the marriage vocation and its joys and challenges. So I’m feeling free this Sunday (World Day of Prayer for Vocations) to write to you specifically about the vocation to the priesthood and religious life (sisterhood).

Over the years of vocation work I’ve come to see some common interior experiences in young men thinking about the priesthood. Let me share them with you.

***These same points apply to a young woman considering a vocation to the sisterhood (change #4 to fit the life of a sister)***

  1. A persistent fascination with the idea of becoming a priest. It’s hard to explain but the thought of being a priest just keeps buzzing around in a fellows head. While others are looking for that “special girl” or saving for that hot car – – this guy is imagining wearing a collar!!
  2. A strong experience of God and the truth that is in the Catholic Faith. This young man has felt God in his life (sometimes in church, sometimes on the sport field, sometimes in moments of crisis). He’s sure that God is helping him in life and the Catholic Church is the place to find Him.
  3. A vague desire to do something extreme for God. (It’s kinda like the “Spiritual X-Games!”) There’s a certain recklessness about this way of life; like bungee jumping or sky diving, you’re all in. But it’s for God!
  4. A habit of observing priests. Listening to a homily for example, this young man says to himself, “I could have done better than that. That priest never really got to me. Here’s what I would have said . . .
  5. If not me . . . then who? Look, we all agree “someone needs to step up here. We need priests.” Okay. But who should it be? “Not me!”, most say. Okay then who? After all YOU saw the need. YOU want a priest for your parish. Then why shouldn’t it be . . . YOU?!
  6. People keep telling me (some people I don’t even know) that I’d make a good priest. Go figure eh? They must see something in you that reminds them of what a good priest looks like.

These six experiences (there are others of course) come as a gift of God’s grace. In other words these young people don’t create them. They just happen. They come as a surprise.

I remember a priest coming up to me after college saying, “When are you going to stop talking about life and start living it the way God has called you?” I knew he was talking about the priesthood and getting myself started in the seminary.

I was very angry when he said this. “Who are you to tell me what to do?” (He wasn’t of course. He was challenging me to put my actions where my mouth was.) With time to look back I see it now as a grace from God making me look more deeply into what were other signs of priesthood.

So what can we do to help young people discover their vocation? Ask them what they feel God (not their guidance counselor) may be calling them to do. Tell them the gifts you see in them – gifts God gave them to make this a better world. Tell them you pray for them. You pray they find God’s special path. (Jesus specifically asked that we pray for this. Mt. 9:38)

God bless our young men and women with the grace to hear His call.

Easter blessings still.

Fr. Tim

Art of Marriage

The Art of Marriage:

Guiding Children in a Complicated Culture
The Importance of Raising a Well-Balanced Child

Does it seem like:

  • The cell phone you gave your child is the source of a continuous argument?
  • Keeping faith at the top of the list of family priorities is too difficult?
  • The travel team is running your life?
  • The children are tense and in tears and they don’t know why?
  • Your spouse and you are arguing about discipline (strict or lenient)?
  • Sue Thompson, a Social Worker for the Webster Central School District, will be discussing the increase in anxiety and depression plaguing our school age children. She will share with parents the importance of working together in raising their children and positive parenting techniques in these complicated times. Informed parents are able to make better decisions that will ultimately affect young lives; therefore, all adults responsible for guiding our children are encouraged to attend.

    There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation.

    Sunday, May 21, 2017
    1:00 PM
    Gathering Space

    Light refreshments will be served.


Voices are like finger prints. Each is as unique as the person who speaks with it. You can be walking down a crowded concourse at an airport and hear your brother/sister/friend calling you and immediately you know who it is that’s calling you.

It’s not so easy to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. The reason for this is that he speaks in a whisper. It’s a low, brief, quiet speech that we can easily miss if we aren’t paying attention. The second reason it can be hard to hear is because it often sounds just like MY voice. And so sometimes I think I’m hearing God’s will for me when really I’m just hearing myself wanting what I want.

But every once in awhile you hear deep in your heart “a feeling that has a voice like yours” telling you something you need to hear. It goes like this for me: it starts with a feeling, let’s say frustration. “I’m sick and tired of being the one who makes the peace —- let someone else get everybody together.” This is MY voice expressing a very familiar frustration with having to put aside MY feelings for the sake of the good.

But then I hear way down in my mind . . . “Tim” (this voice knows me by name). . . and usually a few seconds later . . . “You know what is needed here; don’t you?” Then MY voice speaks, “Yes. I guess so.” Then the Spirit speaks . . . “Well?”

Something not to be missed is that there are actually TWO graces happening here. The first is the grace to hear the voice of your conscience (“you know what is needed here”). The second is to know the source of what you are hearing – – – “Hey, this is your con-
science speaking to you. Listen up.”

So how can we tell which voice we’re hearing, our own or the Holy Spirit? Here are some pointers to hearing God’s voice.

+ God’s voice usually invites us to put our self second to someone or something that needs help.

+ When we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit there is a feeling of “being reminded of something we already know deep in our heart.”

+ God’s voice carries with it a personal note. What I’m hearing has a feeling of “being meant for me” in this time, in this place.

+ God’s voice is persistent. It keeps coming back even when we may flee. It can feel like it’s pursuing us.

+ If what we are about to do (or have done) is good and virtuous, God’s voice is usually quiet and peaceful. “Good” it says. If however we are contemplating something sinful, the voice is generally loud and insistent. “Stop this!” or “No, this is wrong!”

+ God’s voice generally asks me to “surrender” to “give in”. It must have been what Jesus heard in the Garden that night, “But not my will Lord, thine be done.”

+ There is generally a peace that comes over us that tells us what we’re hearing or feeling comes from a place (person) that loves us and speaks goodness to us.

So Lord . . . Give us the ears to hear your voice deep in our hearts. And thank you for this beautiful spring. What a great idea you had!

Continued Easter joy to you.

Fr. Tim

God: Co-weaver of our Life

A talent that comes so naturally to a child but one that sometimes fades as we get older is the ability to be surprised or delighted. I’m dangerously close to that.

But something happened awhile back at a vocation conference I was attending. Talking about how we find God’s way and plan for our life, a young priest presented an image that surprised and delighted us. He gave us a picture of how life gets pieced together in partnership with God.

He used this image. See what you think.

Picture you’re weaving a cloth with various shuttles and yarns attached to them. The cloth is suspended over your head much like an umbrella. The garment you’re weaving is of course “your life”.

You view your cloth from the bottom and see several openings which could receive your shuttle. So seeing the pattern you’ve already begun, you choose an opening that seems to best add to your cloth. You push the shuttle through and wait for its return.

Meanwhile God is there above to receive your choice. He takes his time in returning the shuttle. He’s partnering with you as co-weaver! Finally He drops the shuttle back down to you but not exactly where you thought He would. It’s “over there”.

“Oh,” we think. “That changes things. Now what? Where do I send my shuttle back to Him?”

And up and down the shuttle of life goes. Each time we make the best judgment we can about life’s choices . . . Is this the person I should marry? Do I work or stay home with the children?

Do I apply for the new opening at work? Where do we send the children to school? What should I say about recent developments in the family? How do I handle this new problem? Etc.

Get the picture? It’s really a nice meditation on the partnership God has with us in guiding us through our lives.

Two points seem critical to me in this process.

1. When we ponder where to send up our choices (the shuttle) there needs to be some sort of prayer. “Oh Lord please guide me, enlighten me. Show me where to send this choice in life. I give it to you. Help me.” Then act with the confidence that God will indeed help your choices. He loves you!

2. When God drops the shuttle back down to you, no mat- ter how unexpected its placement— trust that it is God’s answer to your prayer. The events of our life that follow our prayerful action is what we call God’s Providence (His loving grace given to us His children) Trust that He has heard you and has answered your prayers.

Case in point: We prayed for months that God would guide the selection of our president and government officials in the recent election. When I went to the poll that day I pushed the shuttle through (to continue the analogy) for a different candidate. What came back to me (and to you!) was Donald Trump as our next president.

Following the points mentioned above, I now regard President Trump as God’s will for America at this present time. (Remember, I said God is Co-weaver. “We the people” are the other partner.)

My responsibility as a citizen is to support him wherever I can and speak up when government policies violate matters of social justice.

Bless you. Happy Easter.

Fr. Tim

PS. God is waiting for your next prayer as together you weave the pattern of your life. Make your garment breathtaking!