Day 2: Storytellers

June 4, 2023

As I mentioned yesterday, I am currently at Saint Meinrad, leading a retreat for 70+ deacons of the Archdiocese of Louisville and their wives. The retreat is called God Needs Storytellers. I presented one session on Friday night and presented three yesterday. There is one more session tomorrow.

Here are the key points from Saturday’s sessions:

*Sacramental people are those that reveal the face of Christ to us. God speaks to us through these people.

*The one common denominator of all sacramental people: They are FULLY PRESENT to the needs of others.

*We should affirm the sacramental people in our lives and emulate them.

*Sacramental moments are our personal experiences (“snapshots”) of God’s active presence in our lives, times during which God reveals Himself to us.

*Proclaiming the Gospel means pointing out the truth, beauty, and goodness we see in the world and sharing our sacramental moments with others.

*Sacramental lessons are stories of vulnerability, sharing times we have failed to be the best version of ourselves. It may be difficult to share these stories, but it makes us more aware of our humanness and may steer others in the right direction.

Day 1: Storytellers

June 2, 2023

I am currently at Saint Meinrad, leading a retreat for 70+ deacons of the Archdiocese of Louisville and their wives. The retreat is called God Needs Storytellers. I presented one session last night and will present three today and one tomorrow.

Here are the key points from last night’s session:

*One of the goals of the retreat is to create a “relaxed sense of urgency” in regard to our role as evangelists. “Urgency” because the world is in such desperate need of the presence of God in their lives and “relaxed” because all of us already possess the skill set needed to get the job done.

*The baptized have a shared call to “Go into the world and (joyfully) proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) I added the word joyfully to Jesus’ directive. If we don’t have joy in our hearts, our efforts to proclaim are just words.

*Drop the excuses of “I am not worthy” and “I do not have the expertise” to evangelize. Remember who God chose as his disciples. None of us are worthy, but we’re all called.

* “In the Acts of the Apostles, we notice how often the first Christians shared the Gospel personally, heart to heart. The Gospel is the story of one soul after another meeting Jesus, and finding in him the true direction for our lives.” – Archbishop Jose Gomez

*Why should we tell stories (of how God has acted / is acting in our lives)? People like stories; people love God; stories are relational and repeatable; and because it fulfills our obligation to proclaim the gospel.

*Results of sharing our stories: It makes us more intention – we are more aware of God’s active presence; it is a sign of humility; and it plants seeds of hope in others.

*When we experience God working in our our lives, it is great that we ponder that experience in our hearts. However, that is only step one. Step two is to share that experience with others.

On to Day 2…and sessions 2, 3, and 4!

Annual Letter to the Graduates

June 2, 2023

Last night, we celebrated Commencement Exercises for the Guerin Catholic Class of 2023. The following is the letter I give to the seniors each year:

Dear Class of 2023,

You are entering a special time of your lives, preparing to transition from the high school scene to a time of much more independence. I hope you won’t get so caught up in what’s next that you fail to appreciate what you have now. Take time to acknowledge the love others have for you.

Here are some thoughts I like to share with seniors around this time each year, beginning with the time leading up to your departure for college:

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Baccalaureate Homily: Rites of Passage

June 1, 2023

Last night we celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass for the Class of 2023 at Guerin Catholic High School. The following are notes from the homily I delivered at that Mass (Feast of the Visitation):

(I began by drawing attention to this picture, which was projected on the large screen. It is my favorite picture of the Visitation because of the love and joy it radiates. I would come back to that picture later.)

I want to talk about rites of passage – major life events during which we move to a new level, to a new stage in our life. At those times, there are usually decisions that need to be made.

Over the last week, I have witnessed rites of passage for several different groups. to begin, last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday. The Apostles, who were huddled together in fear behind locked doors, experienced a rite of passage. Jesus had told the Apostles he would send them an Advocate, that he would not leave them alone. Their fear came from the feeling Jesus had failed them; they DID feel alone.

However, on Pentecost Sunday, Jesus fulfilled his promise. The Holy Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire, descended upon the Apostles. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, as well as with the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, generosity, kindness, and more.

They had to decide at that point how best to use that gift: Stay behind locked doors and keep the Holy Spirit to themselves, or venture out and share it with others. They made their decision. They unlocked their door and the fruits of the Holy Spirit spilled out into the streets with them. The Church was born.

Last Saturday, I baptized Baby Helen. During the baptismal rite, I prayed that the gift of the Holy Spirit would come down on the water of the baptismal font. Then, in baptizing Helen, she received the gift of the Holy Spirit, along with the previously mentioned fruits.

The child did make a decision, but the parents decided for her. They wanted to share their faith with their child. And so, Helen experienced a rite of passage.

Last Wednesday, 32 sophomores from my parish participated in the Sacrament of Confirmation. They had already received the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism. Their parents had made the decision for them at baptism, but now THEY were making the decision to accept the faith as their own, to commit to that faith. When the Archbishop anointed them, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the fruits that come along with it, were sealed in them; the Holy Spirit was a part of them.

Tonight begins YOUR rite of passage: leaving Guerin Catholic and moving onto the next stage of your life. You have already made a number of decisions – what college to attend, what to study, who will be your roommate, etc. However, you still need to make some decisions in regard to your faith.

You have already received the gift of the Holy Spirit. What will you do with that gift?

We have done our best here to share our fruits of the Holy Spirit with you. We have showed you love, joy, patience, and kindness. Maybe not all day every day…but we did our best. It was our intent; it was in our hearts to do so.

When you move on from here, how will you share your faith, use your gift of the Holy Spirit? Will you stayed behind locked doors, too afraid to venture out? Will you keep the gift to yourself? Or will you go out and share the fruits of the Holy Spirit with others? If so, you will be fulfilling the call of the baptized to “go out and preach the gospel to every living creature.”

This is especially true of the fruits of love and joy. When you share love and joy with others, they will be drawn to you. They will want to know where from where that love and joy came.

Which brings me back to the picture projected on the screen. We have two women, both pregnant, sharing their love and joy with one another. Each has experienced the awesome power of God; Elizabeth had thought she was too old to bear a child, but God intervened. Mary received a message from an angel, learning she had been chosen to be mother to the Son of God.

How did each respond? With fear? With hesitation? No – each responded with love and joy. They embraced the gifts they had been given. We are told in the gospel Elizabeth “spoke with the power of the Holy Spirit.” We even hear that the child in Elizabeth’s womb “leaped for joy.”

That should be our response to God’s gift of the Holy Spirit – unbridled joy and love.

I challenge you to do this: When you pack to leave home, be sure to pack your faith, along with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. When you get to your destination, unpack it and share it with a world that desperately needs it.

If you do, people will be drawn to you and you can share your story – your experience of the Holy Spirit and the power of God in your life.

Blessed Are You Among Women

May 31, 2023 – Feast of the Visitation

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Luke 1:39-45)

BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN: Mary is the ultimate example of one who understood how precious it was to receive a gift from God, and responded accordingly.

Can you even imagine what Mary must have been thinking, how she must have felt, when the angel appeared to her, and revealed the gift she was receiving from God? A 13 or 14-year-old girl, being told that she had been chosen to carry and give birth to the Christ child?

She could have rejected this gift. She could have given the angel any number of valid excuses: “It’s too overwhelming. I’m not prepared. I’m too young. Choose someone else.”

But she did not. Instead, Mary honored God by showing sincere gratitude.

She recognized that being chosen for this responsibility was a gift. She was open to the gift and accepted it lovingly, which took incredible faith. She believed what she was told and embraced the unique gift. “Blessed are you who believed what was spoken to you,” Elizabeth told her.

Finally, she shared this gift with the world. Knowing the heartache it would ultimately bring her, she still shared this gift by sending Jesus out into the world to do His work.

Generous Spirit

May 30, 2023

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

In a generous spirit pay homage to the Lord… (Sirach 35:1-12)

GENEROUS SPIRIT: Scripture reminds us today to “Do it like you mean it!”

Pray with an open heart, with gratitude, and with conviction. Serve others with love, with humility, and with pure intentions. Approach the Eucharist not only with reverence, but also with joy and excitement.

God does not want lip service. Prayer and worship are more than recited words. They are an attitude, a way of life. They should reflect a generous spirit.

Memorial Day Prayer

May 29, 2023 – Memorial Day

Heavenly Father,

On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom.  May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace. In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Homily: Joyful Apostles

May 28, 2023 – Pentecost Sunday

It is Pentecost! Happy Birthday to the Church! Pentecost is my favorite liturgical feast. “Why is that?” you might ask.

I admit it is for selfish reasons. I love that all of us, the modern-day apostles, are now the main characters in the ongoing drama that is the life of the Church.

First, there were the prophets. God spoke to the prophets, sharing with them the messages he wanted the people to hear. They were the voice of the Church God desired for us.

Those efforts showed little progress, so God sent his Son to show the people, in person, how to build up the Church. In his human nature, Jesus displayed the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. He showed by example how we are called to live our lives. If we followed his example, he said, the Church – the Body of Christ – would grow. It was the first time the theory of “build it and they will come” was tested.

When Jesus’ time on earth came to an end, and after ascending to heaven, he handed off the keys to the Apostles at Pentecost, marking the birth of the Church as we know it.

By virtue of our baptism, the responsibility for the Church has been passed on to us. Today’s celebration reminds us that we are apostles. The word “Apostle” comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means “person sent.” Like it or not, we are front and center in the life of the Church.

Let’s go back in time to the locked room of the Apostles.

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Without Hindrance

May 27, 2023

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:31)

WITHOUT HINDRANCE: The scripture passage above is referring to Paul, the most prolific messenger of all of the Apostles. Take a moment to consider the conditions under which Paul worked:

*Many people feared him. The fear was well-founded, as Paul’s (Saul’s) prior occupation involved persecuting, arresting, and putting to death followers of Jesus Christ. He pushed forward despite the fear he saw in their eyes. He spoke of love and compassion and gave witness to his own conversion.

*Many did not trust him; they may not have feared him because of their faith, but they most certainly did not trust him. He continued to preach God’s mercy and shared how he, too, lacked trust at one time.

*He was arrested and imprisoned multiple times, beaten and chained. Yet, he continued. He wrote letters from prison to churches he had established on his journey. While sitting in prison, he encouraged others. He even proclaimed the Kingdom of God to his captors.

*He had no modern transportation, no email or social media. He walked from town to town and preached the gospel message face-to-face, in both word and deed.

So many things to hinder him, yet Paul operated without hindrance.

With Paul in mind, I am embarrassed by how many things hinder me. Feeling a little under the weather, being in a bad mood, selfishness, opting for the easy path, or holding a grudge against God for prayers I perceive as unanswered — I allow even these minor inconveniences to hold me back. Paul was beaten and imprisoned and yet he persevered.

Think of the hurdle event in track and field. Paul was an Olympic-level hurdler. He raced forward, gliding over each hurdle / obstacle that stood in his way, determined to finish the race.

We can’t all be Olympic-level hurdlers. We can, however, see the finish line and work toward it one hurdle at a time. Some days a hurdle may stop us and even cause us to fall. We will be tempted to step around the hurdle, but that will take us off-course.

We need to allow Jesus to be both our coach and our biggest fan. He will dust us off, set the hurdle back back in place, and encourage us to try again.

“Without hindrance” does not mean obstacles don’t exist, it means we don’t allow those obstacles to keep us from pushing toward the finish line.

Tend My Sheep

May 26, 2023

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Tend my sheep…(John 21:15-19)

TEND MY SHEEP: Today we see some of the first signs of the passing of the torch from Jesus to Peter and the disciples. Jesus had been hinting that He will not be with them much longer. There was still much work to be done. His post-resurrection time on earth was nearing an end, so it was clear that others would need to continue His work.

Jesus was clear. He asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” When Peter replied in the affirmative, Jesus gave His command: “Tend my sheep.”

Jesus’ message: If you love me, you will continue my work.

As faith-filled people, we do many things to strengthen our relationship with Jesus. However, nothing we do is as important as continuing the work He started while here on earth.

If we love Him, we will tend His sheep.