Living for the Lord

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"None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and we die for the Lord; so then whether we live or die, we are the Lord's."

I cannot think of a more fitting scriptural reading as we honor the diaconate gifts given to us in the ordination of Kurt Peot and the farewell to Deacon Jim Matthias. both are great gifts to us and our larger church. Before I go further, I ask you to keep both of them in your prayers. Which brings me to the idea of prayers themselves. We often are told to pray for one another, we pray for those who are sick in the community, we pray for the "poor souls" in purgatory, we pray for the unborn.

Prayer is our communication thread with God and all the community of saints. Recently, I have emphasized we must see the world with one eye on earth and one in heaven. It is the only way our fractured society will  ever heal. With that in mind, we have those who specifically dedicated themselves to be examples of "living for the Lord." Let us remember that ordained deacons serve in a special way, as heralds of the gospel: to bring good news to the sick and poor, to preach words of life to our family of faith. When we join with them in prayer, we too are living for the Lord and with the Lord.

When a deacon is ordained, he is ordained to serve. What this means is that a deacon is willing to open his heart to those who he serves. This is a calling, this is a gift. We at St. Dominic Catholic Parish have been graced not only with many deacon vocations, but with men of extraordinary character and willingness to serve. May God bless our deacons and all deacons of our archdiocese.

Love Your Neighbor As Yourserlf

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“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Gosh, like so many things Jesus says, at first glance, it sounds so easy, so straightforward. However, for people who struggle to love themselves, to truly see worth in themselves in the way God does, this verse can be particularly baffling. I have always found it easier to pour out myself for others who I care about, to compliment them, to see their value, their worth, than to see my own. I often find my worth in my ability to be useful to others. In doing this, I fail to see the fullness of my worth through God’s eyes, and in so doing fail to see the full complexity of my neighbor.  Loving our neighbor means more than what we refrain from doing to them, in living the commandments, but what we actively do for them in positive service projects. Loving our neighbor means meeting them where they are, by loving their complexity, their positive and negative traits, not for what they can and cannot do for us or even for themselves, but just for who they are. I think this is hard to do for many of us, because we don’t love ourselves in this complexity. We see ourselves as our career, our accomplishments, or our ability to raise a family. God is calling us to love our neighbor as we love our self, but this presumes loving our self. So I challenge you to get to know and love yourself, your faults and failings especially, as this will better prepare you to love your neighbor in a way that gives God joy, but also remember to give yourself grace along the way, it’s not as easy as it sounds. 

Catholic Hall of Fame

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Over the past months, we have been doing reflections on the readings of the day. I found that when it was my turn to write, the day frequently fell on the feast day of a Saint. I always tried to include something about that Saint before getting into the reading or the reflection. I have to admit, I enjoyed finding out about each Saint. Their stories are rich in faith and inspiration. Often the story includes a change of heart and/or direction that changes ordinary sinners into extraordinary servants of God.

We are blessed to have so many Saints represented in the stained glass windows surrounding our church. We don’t worship saints - we admire them for their witness and virtue. It’s like our Catholic Hall of Fame. We keep pictures of our family members - even some who are no longer with us. We have images of saints to remind us of their testimony as to how Jesus Christ changed their lives.

People receiving the sacrament of Confirmation are still asked to adopt a new name, usually a saint or biblical character. It gives them another patron saint as protector and also a guide. We don’t pray to the saints but we can ask the saints to pray with us and for us. We might ask our fellow Christians to pray with/for us. Why not ask those Christians already in heaven?

Saints are amazing examples of God’s ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Saints are living examples of how God’s love and grace are available to all who are willing to accept it. We are all called to be saints, and we have hundreds of examples to show us the way.

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