Missing Trains

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While I have not read many of his works, the author G. K. Chesterton is one of my favorites. Not only because his writings have led some to call him the “Apostle of Common Sense,” but also because he lived in the present moment. There is no better example of this than a recurring incident in his life: 

Whenever Chesterton had to step out of the house, he used public train transportation. While he waited for his train, he would often become intrigued by a nearby bookstand and casually begin reading. Inevitably, Chesterton would become so engrossed in the book that not only would he miss his train, he would begin walking. To where? Who knows, he sure didn’t! This occurred so often that the owner of the bookstand had a running account with Chesterton, as the author would walk away having not paid for the very book in his hands.

While some could interpret his actions as irresponsible and rude to those for whom he had appointments, I admire and even desire Chesterton’s ability to live in the present moment. We live such scheduled lives, even if nothing is on the calendar. From the moment we wake up, we run from appointment to appointment and stress over the thought of missing any of these “trains.”

When I finally have a chance to catch my breath, I wonder if this is what life is all about. I doubt it, for it is often when I miss the “train” that the beauty of life reveals itself. The times when I am hurrying to the church for business only to be stopped by school kids chanting my name to play sharks and minnows. When I am rushing to that meeting and a couple asks me to bless them on their wedding anniversary numbering twice my age.

These moments that make me miss the “train” are often the moments I remember most, They remind me what life is all about, not going to one appointment after another, but the stories found along the way. The story of children whose highlight of the day is their priest playing with them at recess, the story of a couple and their many years of faithfulness to each other, the story of a good book that makes us forget where we are and need to be, all of which reminds us that sometimes it's ok if we miss a few trains along the way.

Jesus, Make Yourself at Home!

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In October of 2023, I attended the Madison Eucharistic Congress with other members from St. Dominic. I was able to see and pray with the Eucharistic Miracles from around the world on that occasion, a work that was researched and published by Blessed Carlo Acutis. How fitting that this coming week, we will have the exhibit available here at the parish for us to meditate on and be drawn into the miracles of Jesus revealed in his body and blood. Carlo died at the age of 15, and was beatified in 2020. A first class relic of Blessed Carlo will also be available for us to venerate and reflect on this young man’s life and love for Jesus. May he become one of your new favorite “saints.”

While I was in Madison and was praying in front of his relic, I was drawn to one of his prayers: “Jesus, make yourself at home! Live within me as if it were your own dwelling!”  I meditated a long time on this reality, ‘live within me as if it were your own dwelling.’ How insignificant and unworthy I felt. I found myself in tears realizing the gap of this reality. This amazing God within me. How can this God come into my life, unworthy, sinful, doubting, imperfect, weak, and broken as I am? 

Lent is the time we look back at the past year, acknowledge our brokenness, and allow our Lord into our hearts, to heal us and open ourselves to His love. His love is what we often run from because we don’t feel worthy. We don’t want to look at our flaws and sins, our failures and wrong doings. It is tough to acknowledge where we failed. Yes, it is in our brokenness that room can be made for repentance that can bring us home to His heart. It is confusing to believe that it is in our brokenness that God can work in and through our lives. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we read, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ.” (Eph. 2: 4-5).

What a great hope we have that our Lenten journey can bring us to new life by “cleaning out the crud in our lives.” Friends, let us make this Lent a new season for our souls. How can we do this? Come to Jesus in the Mass, in adoration, in silent prayer, and in the sacrament of reconciliation. When receiving Him in the Eucharist, allow Him to penetrate your heart, to change and renew you in His love. His love will transform you. Then together with Blessed Carlo, our prayer can be, “live in me as if it were your own dwelling.” Blessed Lent my friends.  Blessed to journey with you to His heart.

in Prayer

Budget Time with God

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Budget season has begun at St. Dominic. Department leaders, Finance Council, and the budget team engage in six weeks of discussion to determine how we invest your generous gifts to do what God has asked us all to do; go forth and make disciples. You can be assured we value and appreciate every dollar entrusted to us. We focus on our three strategic imperatives which are: forming and equipping disciples, a robust student ministry, and keeping Catholic education affordable.

We have many budgets in our lives. Budgets at work, family finances, and budgets of our time. We use a calendar for appointments, shuttling children, date nights, and gatherings to name a few. Wall calendars, color coded boards on the fridge, post-it notes, and phones are tools of the trade. I tell my wife, “if it isn’t in my phone, it doesn’t exist”.

The other day I looked at my Outlook calendar and knew something was missing. What have I not placed on it? Then it struck me. While I spend time in prayer, and have various roles at Mass on my calendar, I really haven’t budgeted time for God. It wasn’t in my phone. Did it not exist? Easy fix, create an appointment, make it repeat daily, and title it “spend time with God.” For me it is not a set time. Rather, it is a reminder every time I look at my calendar to do something about it.

As we approach Lent, add “time with God” to your calendar. Check in daily. Make Him exist in your life. We are ever thankful that Good Friday and Easter were on God’s calendar. Where would we be if He missed His appointed time? The least we can do is budget some time for Him.

Praying we all have a Blessed Lent.


Posted by Michael Ricci
Tags: prayer, god, time

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