Whenever my brother comes to town to visit, we have a traditional meal that we enjoy together. It takes place at a local Chinese buffet, and typically the conversations can become deep and meaningful. These conversations might be about the state of the family, our quest for virtue, or various things that might be going on in our lives. Inevitably, I will plead at least once for him to move back to the Midwest to be near the rest of our family.
This past Christmas was no different. As we were devouring our crab rangoon and beef with broccoli, we got to talking about faith, which is something we have both wrestled with over the years. As usual, the conversation took many twists and turns. We talked about the reasons for belief, and the reasons for lack thereof. Eventually, when it came down to it, we both found ourselves echoing C.S. Lewis’ thought in Mere Christianity: “Ever since men were able to think, they have been wondering what this universe really is and how it came to be there”. Continue reading
Monsignor Peter Dunne
“Jesus Christ is Lord!”
I can still hear the booming voice echoing through Dowd Chapel on the campus of Boys Town in Omaha, NE. The voice was unmistakable in its passion and its clarity, and for many years, was a mainstay in my experience of attending Mass.
Every once in awhile, the world is graced with a priest who is so holy, so reverent, and so in love with the Eucharist that his whole life becomes a witness to the love God has for the world.
For the last twenty years, I have had the privilege of knowing such a priest. Monsignor Peter Dunne passed away on October 8th, 2015, after serving the Archdiocese of Omaha for over seven decades. My mother was his caregiver for the final twenty years of his life, making sure that he was able to serve as a priest in the fullest capacity for as long as he could.
My memories of Monsignor Dunne go back to when I was in middle school. He said the 11:40 Mass every day over the summer at Boys Town’s Dowd Chapel. Since I enjoyed being an altar server, I approached and asked if I could serve as the daily altar server for his Masses over the summer. I considered it a great honor to be able to assist him during Mass every day. It was there that I first noticed his devotional love of the Eucharist, his passion for preaching, his unrelenting faith, and his love for the children of God. Continue reading
My wife always warns me to stay away from Facebook arguments. For the most part, I tend to heed her advice. Facebook arguments almost never lead to anything useful, and I do not typically have much trouble avoiding the temptation. The other day, however, as I was scrolling through my feed, I came across some comments that were simply too difficult to pass up.
The person in question had made a few comments regarding a friend’s pro-life post. The person was pro-abortion, and I found myself wanting to engage him in discussion. So I asked him a few questions and tried to find some common ground, as this typically is the best way to engage a person who disagrees on any given topic. However, in this case, my attempts were met with vitriol and ridicule, as well as a string of poorly drawn conclusions ascertained invalidly from my questions. Immediately seeing that my attempts were going nowhere, I respectfully backed out of the conversation and was left with him informing me that I clearly don’t understand freedom or respect, and will never win an argument ever in my life. Continue reading
I don’t listen to a lot of Christian radio, but there is one song that’s been out recently that I can’t stop listening to. Perhaps you’ve heard the song; it’s called Thrive by Casting Crowns. Besides being insanely catchy, the song is chock full of great lyrics, including this line from the chorus: “We were made for so much more than ordinary lives, it’s time for us to more than just survive…”. Yes! Sing it to me!
But the line in here that really gets me thinking is during the bridge: “joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable, love unstoppable, anything is possible…”.
Faith unsinkable? That would be nice. How do I get that? What steps do I take to acquire this so-called “faith unsinkable”? Is there a government program for it? Do I have to wait in line? How much does it cost? I need to know MORE! Continue reading
Below is a quote from Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. It’s a fictional novel in the form of letters written by the demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood who is a junior tempter. He gives him advice on how to keep people from his enemy which is God.
“I once had a patient, a sound atheist, who used to read in the British Museum. One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. The Enemy, of course, was at his elbow in a moment. Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years’ work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defence by argument I should have been undone. But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch.”
While a fiction, this book holds much wisdom, as one of the tempter’s best pieces of advice to his nephew is to distract the humans from thinking about God and that is exactly what has happened. We are distracted.
This week, I want to introduce you to a blog that has quickly become one of my favorites. Leila Miller is a wife and mother of eight children who has a penchant for writing and a passion for teaching the Catholic Faith in simple ways. This summa cum laude Boston College graduate enjoys debating secularists, and in her spare time she fancies herself a bit of a matchmaker!
Her affinity for engaging her secular readers with compassion, love and truth is certainly one of the highlights of her blog, which she aptly calls Little Catholic Bubble. I was immediately drawn to this blog for the simplicity and the clarity with which Leila writes. The following post appeared recently on her blog, and I hope you find it as spiritually enriching as I did!
This post is going to be pretty stream-of-consciousness, because it’s the stuff that has been, well, streaming through my consciousness for many months now. So hard to put it down in words when so many spiritual lessons are pouring down. It’s all so amazing and I want to talk to everyone about it all the time, but that is simply not possible. I do think it’s easier to talk to people about it one-on-one, rather than write about it. But I will try to write something coherent.
First: If you are full of fear, cede control. Actually, even if you are not full of fear, cede control! Give it up. You are not in control. The only thing you can control is your will. That is all. Nothing else. Nothing else. You certainly cannot control other people, you cannot control circumstances, you cannot end suffering, sickness, disaster, and death. The illusion of control is a detriment to your spiritual life, to your interior peace, and to your relationship with God. Continue reading
Worried_People_1.jpg: Pedro Ribeiro Simões from Lisboa, Portugal (derivative)
My wife will be the first to tell you that I don’t worry a whole lot about things. There’s a number of reasons for this, and they are mostly unimportant. But I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day, and I came across this Bible verse:
“Do not be anxious about your life”. It’s Matthew 6:25, part of the Sermon on the Mount, and it got me thinking.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that almost one in five adults in the United States suffers from a diagnosable anxiety disorder. This is an incredibly high number and, in my opinion, serves to indicate that we have an epidemic of anxiety on our hands. It also indicates that we are not heeding Jesus’ instruction from the aforementioned verse. One in five. Add to that the number of us who walk around every day worrying about this or worrying about that. We worry about our jobs, our kids, our money, our homes, our cars, our image, what other people think about us, meeting this deadline or having that done on time, and the list goes on and on. It’s clear that there is no shortage of anxiety anywhere in today’s world. Continue reading
My husband was raised Catholic but like I, he fell out of the faith at a very young age. When we and our children joined the Church in our area, he did go to Mass with us for a couple years but he eventually stopped as he struggles with believing. This was really difficult. I tried my hardest to figure out why by prying into his life before we met. I read books arguing for the existence of God. I even took him to a Christian retreat. I tried to convince him that there is a God … but my “convincing” usually ended up an argument. As the saying goes, to one without faith no explanation will suffice. I mean, really, why would he believe what I say about God when he doesn’t even believe I’m right about how to load the dishwasher?
I prayed about this for a lot time and eventually came to the conclusion that I had to trust in the Lord’s plan for my husband. My job isn’t to convince him but to pray for him and to live my life in a way that allows him to see Christ in me. Praying is sometimes the easier of the two!
Have you ever run into someone that is just not pleasant to be around? If you’re a living person there’s a good chance that it’s happened a time or two. Maybe even sometimes, that person is you. I’ve been on both sides and will probably be there again.
I struggle with my reactions to negative or angry emotions. I do. I always have. I get upset and sometimes I say things I don’t really mean which, in turn … turns me into someone not pleasant or honorable to be around.
For years I tried to reel in this bad habit. I vowed to be nicer. I discussed my struggles. I read a couple of self-help books and they got me really inspired but it didn’t last long. I even made myself a necklace with the word “patience” on it as a reminder to myself! At the end of the day, only one thing helped. God.
I was discussing a recent tragedy in the news with someone the other day when this person said something like, “Did God want that to happen?!” I fumbled, trying to explain free will and the fact that when people are at their lowest or face unimaginable losses they often turn to God who turns their tragedy into something beautiful that can help others, etc. However, it was for naught, as I was speaking to someone that clearly didn’t want an explanation, wasn’t listening (as far as I know) and was only commenting to make a jab at my faith.
So, I started to think about suffering. I know it’s been explained by theologians and I am not one, but I thought I’d write a little about it anyway. There’s obviously too much to write about in one post so I wanted to focus on what God has done to stop it. Besides the fact that miracles happen every day (people are healed, people convert, etc.), He has given the world you. Once you realize that, you can change the world!