Contagious Charitable Service

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The morning of ordination to the diaconate I woke to my heart full of peaceful anticipation. As I buttoned the top button on my cleric shirt, my son Zak walked quietly into my room.  Zak asked with enthusiasm if he could put my collar on for me. Of course I agreed and he slipped in the collar, carefully centering it left and right.  Immediately after he was finished, he wrapped his arms around me tightly and gave me one of his best hugs and told me he loved me. After a moment, he stepped back a few steps to take a better look. Zak then burst out laughing in joyful excitement and when he was finished returned to hugging me.

I can remember back four years ago attending the ordination of the class of 2018 as an aspirant and feeling terrified of the thought of being one of the men ordained a deacon; proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, and baptizing. Yikes! As I attended the ordination of the class of 2020, but as a candidate this time, things were transforming inside me. Throughout formation, I had discovered how service done in charity resulted in God pouring affirmations of joy and peace into my heart.

Anyone who prays the Liturgy of the Hours is very familiar with Psalm 100 for Lauds on the Fridays of the first and third weeks of Psalter (Psalm 100:2); Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before him with joyful song. The morning of ordination I discovered that charitable service is also contagious and that God used ordination to pour his joy and peace into my family too. May God make service contagious in our families, our parishes, our communities, and in our world so that people of all nations may sing to the Lord a joyful hymn. May God bless your Sunday!


The Holy Name of Jesus

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The act of saying Jesus’s name is a prayer in and of itself. This simple prayer brings Him directly to you. An intentional disciple is conscious of the power of saying Jesus’s name. Invoking the Most Holy Name of Jesus is not something to be done lightly or irreverently, but unfortunately, it happens all the time. When you catch yourself invoking His Most Holy Name, take it as a prayer opportunity.   Do you really want Jesus there? Do you really need Jesus there? Probably yes, as many will shout out His name in anger or frustration. Changing this habit of absentmindedly shouting out His name to an act of humility will require awareness and discipline, for prayer is a discipline. Disciple is part of the word discipline. Turn your focus back to God by simply being more aware of your words and the power they carry, especially in the Holy Name of Jesus.

There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved. – Acts 4:12 (New American Bible, revised edition, 2011)

Miracles of the Cross

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Many of you know one of my favorite saints is Padre Pio. Just recently I finished a book about this fascinating man. He is a modern saint who died in 1968 and many miracles were attributed to him during his life. People would travel from across the globe to seek and beg for his intercession while hundreds of letters arrived each day with the same hope.  

One particular day, after meeting with yet another person asking for his intercession, he turned to the friar standing next to him and said, “Son, you’ve seen everybody asking Padre Pio to help them with this and that. I wish somebody would say, ‘Padre Pio, pray that the Lord might help me to bear the cross.’”  

Each one of us carry crosses we would rather not, and we often wish that these crosses would just go away. I know I do. I have prayed or wished many times for my crosses to be taken away and I am sure you have too. How many times have we wished that a particular coworker would simply leave the company? How many times have we prayed that an illness would just go away? How many times have we begged God to take away a particular weakness we have?  

These are not bad things to pray or wish for, even Jesus prayed that God might take his cross away if it be His Will (Luke 22:42). However, Jesus also prayed that if this cross should not be taken, he would have the grace to carry it well, and carry well he did.  

Padre Pio reminds you and I that sometimes there are crosses we are invited to carry and never get rid of. We can get so caught up in the miracles, the times when the cross is taken away, that perhaps we miss the subtle, more impressive miracles. The miracle of someone who has gone through the worst and whose heart is still able to love, the miracle of seeing a Simon come forth to help carry our cross, the miracle to love those who push our buttons and even hurt us. Maybe these are the miracles to pray for, to pray to God for the miracle to bear our cross well. We may be surprised at just how many miracles we see. 

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