Why Do We Need to Pray?

June 22, 2017

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-15)

Jesus is responding to the disciples, who have requested that He teach them to pray. Before teaching them to pray the Our Father, He tells them, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” If I were a disciple, I might be thinking to myself, “Well, if He already knows what I need, why do I even need to pray?”

So…why do we need to pray? We need to pray because…

…prayer helps us to establish and maintain a relationship with God. It is an ongoing dialogue with Him. We wouldn’t think of going several days without talking to our best friend, why would we not talk to God every day?

…prayer allows us to feel the presence of God in our lives.

…prayer is communal. As we pray, we know that people all over the world are praying as well.

…regular prayer builds good habits. Prayer and our connection to God become a real part of who we are.

…prayer offers us a safe place to turn for help or support. We know when we are down, depressed, stressed, worried, or sad we will always have a loving ear to listen to us. When we are happy, excited, or just want to share some good news, we know we will always have someone who will be excited with us. When we have a tough decision to make, we know God will help us sort it out. We know we have someone who will listen to whatever it is we have to say and still love us unconditionally.

…prayer calms us and energizes us at the same time. It gives us inner strength and resolve.

How many times did Jesus go off by Himself to pray? There must be something to it.

Whatever is holding you back from regular prayer, get over it. The pay-off is worth it. Not sure how to start? Maybe you should pray about it…

Motivated by Love

June 21, 2017

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others…when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners, so that others may see them.” (Matthew 6:1-6)

Today’s Gospel addresses “half-hearted” believers. There were many who liked the idea of being members of the Jewish faith, and the privileges that came along with it, but so much of what they did was for show. Pope Francis once referred to this as “having one foot out the door.”

He said: “Those who insist others pray and believe exactly like they do, those who have alternatives to every Church teaching, and benefactors who use the Church as a cover for business connections may call themselves Catholics, but they have one foot out the door. For these people, the Church is not home.”

He finished by saying: “If one wants to belong to the Church, he must be motivated by love and enter with his whole heart.”




Pride in Doing the Minimum

June 20, 2017

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same? (Matthew 5:43-48)

One of the guys on my college dorm floor would do the same thing each time he  started a new class. He would study the syllabus in order to determine the minimum he would need to do in order to pass the course.

If attendance requirements said he could miss up to six classes and still pass the course, he would definitely miss six classes. If a paper needed to be three to five pages in length, it would be three pages (barely). If he needed to log a minimum of two hours of lab time per week, his time in the lab would not be a minute over two hours.

You get the idea – he had doing the minimum down to a science. Actually, he took great pride in doing the minimum.

When God watches how we approach our faith life, what does He see?

Attend Mass on Sunday. Check.

Put your envelope in the collection basket. Check.

Pray before meals. Check.

You might want to look at God’s syllabus again…


Father’s Day: Blessed to Be a Dad

June 19, 2017

Yesterday was Father’s Day and I was reminded of something I wrote several years ago regarding this special day:

It would be easy enough, on this Father’s Day, to let the day come to me. Just sit back and let my kids visit, call, text, or e-mail me to wish me a “Happy Father’s Day!” Maybe they will even bring a gift, like the awesome lawnmower they all chipped in on a few years back.

But I wake up on this Father’s Day feeling blessed to be a father. I thank God for the gift of fatherhood, and I thank my four children (Mary, Rick, Laura, and Robby) for the gift they have been to me.    Continue reading

Homily: Am I a Pretender?

June 18, 2017 – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

I delivered the following homily at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis, IN this weekend: 

Let me begin with a heartfelt Father’s Day story:

A few years back, I was scheduled to give a talk at a parish and was sitting at our dining room table working on it. My son, Robby, came up behind me, put his hand on my shoulder and asked what I was working on.

When I told him a had a presentation I was preparing for, he asked, “What’s the topic?”

I told him, “It’s a talk on effective parenting.”

Any one of my other three children would have said something kind and encouraging such as, “That’s great!” or “You’d be good at that!”

Not Robby. He laughed and said, “And they want you to talk about that?”

Happy Father’s Day. Continue reading

Homily: Live Your “Amen!”

June 17, 2017

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and I will be preaching. I have given the homily on this same feast day three times in the last four years. Yesterday I shared the homily I delivered in 2015. The following is the Corpus Christi homily I delivered last year at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis: 

Today is the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We use white altar cloths and wear our celebratory vestments.

We remember the passion and death of Jesus at every Mass, but today we celebrate in a special way the gift He gave us — the gift of Himself, the gift of His Body and Blood. It is the Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

On this feast day we focus on the beauty of this gift and on the ways we show our gratitude. After all, the word Eucharist, means thanksgiving.

Each time we receive the gift of the Body and Blood, we give thanks by saying “Amen.” Amen – I believe. We are stating publicly our belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

You may be wondering why the gospel reading chosen for today’s feast was that of the feeding of the 5,000. The well-known story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is certainly an impactful gospel, but why not focus on the Last Supper? Why wouldn’t the Church choose the story of the Institution of the Eucharist to mark this feast? Continue reading

Homily: Would You Camp Out to See Jesus?

June 16, 2017

Sunday is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and I will be preaching. I have given the homily on this same feast day three times in the last four years. Yesterday I shared the homily I delivered in June of 2013. The following is the Corpus Christi homily I delivered in 2015 at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis: 

During my freshmen year of college, it was announced that Billy Joel would be coming to campus to perform. For those who are not familiar with Billy Joel, he is, in my humble opinion, the greatest musical artist of all time.

I was, and obviously still am, a big Billy Joel fan, so there was no doubt that I was going to do whatever it took to get tickets.

The promoters announced that tickets would go on sale beginning at 10:00 a.m. the following Tuesday. We were told that students would be allowed to line up to buy tickets beginning at 12:00 noon on Monday. I was at the arena, with my lawn chair, at 12:00 noon on that Monday. I am happy to report I was the eleventh person in line.

In order to execute this 22-hour vigil, I needed to miss two classes on Monday afternoon and another on Tuesday morning. As an educator, I am not condoning my behavior, but it was, after all, Billy Joel. This type of decision-making may explain why it took me 5-1/2 years to get my 4-year degree. Continue reading