May 052018
loneliness

I have been very open about my struggles with my health and with my past. It is not always easy to be this open and it has led to hurt in the past. However, I make clear my struggles in the hope that it helps others who also struggle. One of my greatest struggles is with loneliness.

I am have this horrible curse that even when in a room full of people, I can still feel lonely. In reading Holy Scripture, I find that Jesus and even John the Baptist, may have felt this way too. I am certainly no Jesus or John the Baptist, but I can understand how they felt.

There are many reasons that people feel lonely. It could be because they have very few friends or family members. It could be because, like me, they suffer from PTSS or depression which make them feel lonely even when they are around lots of people. They might also feel inferior to those around them and thus they feel alone.

Whatever the reason, we are never truly alone. Even in the dark of night, when I tend to feel the most alone, I know that God, the saints, and even the Blessed Virgin Mary is right there with me. And for me, I know that I am not alone, but I have many brothers and sisters in the church who are there for me.

Here lies the other big issues. Despite knowing that all I have to do is pick up the phone and call one of my family members in the church, I don’t because I do not want to be a burden to them. They all work so very hard and the last thing they need is me burdening them because I am lonely. However, this is only in my own mind. They would be the first to say that I am not a burden and that I need to call anytime!

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy! When we allow ourselves to believe that we are burden to others we feed into the cycle of depression and loneliness. Instead we need to remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made! We need to remember that there are so many people that love us! And we need to be unafraid to reach out to those around us, to our biological family, church family and friends for support during our dark moments.

And if you know someone who struggles from depression or loneliness, take a moment to reaffirm to them that you are there for them. Take a moment to call them out of the blue and express how much you care. Invite them to get a cup of coffee or to go to lunch.

You never know how such those small acts will mean to someone struggling with loneliness!

Feb 162018

Thoughts and Prayers

thoughts and prayers

Positive thoughts and prayers have been the best means available, since the beginning of time, to transform darkness to light. – Cat Stevens

This week we witnessed another school shooting. This brings the number since January 1st up to 18. I chose to post that those killed and wounded are in our thoughts and prayers. Their families and friends who were grieving the huge loss of their loved one are also in our thoughts and prayers.

Someone decided to take me to task for making this statement. The poster said, “Enough with the “prayers and thoughts”. God demands we act and change this!” While I understand this person’s feelings and concerns, their tone upset me.

We are doing what we can to change this cycle of violence in our nation. We write letter, we protest, attend town halls, vote, and make phone calls. Yet, at the end of the day all we are left with is people who refuse to listen, refuse to do anything to protect people from the growing tide of violence. So we have a choice. We can allow ourselves to become depressed and give up or we can pray and continue to fight.

I choose to pray and fight. So I offer my thoughts and prayers for that reason and because it is the compassionate thing to do as well. We tend to forget that we are dealing real people in real situations. It is our instinct to get angry and upset at times like this. That is all well and good, but we must remember to extend compassion and empathy to those who are effected by these acts of violence.

You may think that thoughts and prayers is a cop out. The reality is that it is only one part of what we do in these situations. In between our work to stop the violence, we will continue to offer our thoughts and prayers. I hope you will too.

And hopefully, some day, we will be victorious!

Feb 032018

Kindness can be a life saver

kindness

We have so many opportunities in our daily lives to show the love of God to those around us. Some times it is in an act of kindness and some times it is just in a smile.

I know from my own personal experience that there are times when I am so very depressed and I will get a call from a friend that brightens up my whole day! There are times when a smile and a kind word can help me to get past feeling down. We never fully realize just how powerful a simple kind word can be. It can mean the difference between life and death for someone.

Take time this week to show the people around you love and kindness. Pick up the phone and call some one you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Your kindness could save a life!

Jan 192018
learning

As I write this I am sitting at the Hope Center helping them create a computer lab for students who cannot afford the normal routes of higher education. This process has been a huge learning experience for me.

One of the major things I learned is that even something that appears old and obsolete can be quite useful. The computers we are working with are 15 or so years old. They are considered obsolete and useless. However, we installed Linux Mint and found that these laptops have a lot of life left in them. For someone with no computer and in need of computer skills, these laptops will be a lifesaver. The same is true with those around us. No one is obsolete. Everyone has value!

Another lesson has been how a common goal can make people overlook or forget their differences. People of various religious beliefs have come together to help the less fortunate in our community. We set aside our religious or theological squabbles to help others.

This has been the goal of Saint Francis for years. We have prayed for a day when we might be able to help others with our resources. And we are finally starting to do that.

We are also starting to grow! For years I have stood by the door of the church waiting for someone to show up to worship with us. Many times I stood there with tears in my eyes as no one came. But now, we are starting to see visitors and new members!

God has blessed us with growth and an increase of skills and talents. Rather than sit back and rejoice in our good fortune, we turn to the community and find ways to help the least, the lost, and the forgotten around us. It is our hope that we will become a resource for people who are marginalized and forgotten by churches and society.

It is also our prayer that you will come and be part of this exciting adventure.

Come and put your faith into action!

Jan 052018

Step out in faith

faith

I watched the Saint and the Sultan last week. One of the things that struck me was the willingness of Saint Francis to go against everyone in an effort to bring peace. His faith was monumental in the face of overwhelming odds.

Saint Francis was not worried about his own safety or well-being. He braved the battlefields to get to the Sultan and then risked not even getting a chance to speak to the Sultan. The soldiers could have killed Saint Francis before he even got to the camp.

Regardless, Saint Francis had faith that he was on a mission that was worthwhile. He wanted to see peace and to get the chance to show the Sultan the love of God. The Sultan in turn showed Saint Francis the love of God as well. Together, they discovered that they worshiped the same God. In that realization, they were able to find common ground and have productive dialog. This act by Francis may well have prevented thousands of deaths.

If Francis had listened to the voices of the naysayers, this transformative experience for him and the Sultan would have never occurred. War would have continued and would have been extremely brutal. Also, the vision that Francis had about the nativity of Christ, which led to our modern creche scene, would have never occurred. That vision happened on the way back to Assisi from Francis’ visit with the Sultan.

That is why we have to be willing to see beyond the negative messages around us. While others are predicting failure and bad things, we need to allow room for God to be God and to work miracles in our daily lives. Only then will we experience the great grace and love of God in the most unlikely places and situations.

Be willing to step out on faith. Take time to help those naysayers see the great power of God to overcome even the most outrageous of odds. And remember to give God all the glory when he works those miracles in your daily life.

Step out in faith and join us today to experience a different way to be Catholic!

Dec 292017

Our Human Family

Family

Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. This has me thinking about family a lot. As many of you know, growing up, I had a very dysfunctional family. I have used these experiences as an example of what a family should not be.

As I ponder family, I also see the work the evil one is doing to divide all of us. This is not just a divide in society, but also in our families. We spend so much time looking at all the things that divide us rather than considering the vast amount of things that bind us together. This is the greatest weapon the evil one has today.

We allow him to use this weapon against us rather than stopping him by working to look beyond those differences and working together toward our common goals. I really doubt that any of us want to see people homeless, cold, poor, hungry, sick, and dying. Only a person with no conscience, no soul would find pleasure in the suffering of others. Rather than seeing these people as fellow human beings who need our help, we have allowed the evil one to whisper in our ears that these people do not deserve our help. He uses the message that they deserve their lot in life because they are lazy or unmotivated.

The reality is that they are part of our human family. Yes, they are family. And they are hurting. They need our help and rather than judging them, we need to stop and help them. I don’t care what led them to where they are today. It is not my place to pass judgement on them. No, it is my place to help them. It is my place to show them the love of God.

It takes little to nothing to help someone in need. We only need to a take a moment to change their life. It only takes a moment to make them part of our family. Are we so divided that we cannot help those who are in most need? If the government is going to turn their backs on these people, which is deplorable in and of itself, then it is up to us to help them. Are we so jaded and cold that we are willing to look the other way than to reach out a hand to help them?

They are family. They are Christ. Scripture tells us that we will be judged by how we treat those in most need among us. When we help them, we are really helping Christ who sits as the beggar at our door. Saint Miriam in Flourtown, PA has a wonderful statue at the church door of a beggar. You have to almost lay down on the ground to see under the beggar’s hood. And when you do, you see that they beggar is Jesus.

As we continue this Christmas Season, it is not too late to show the love of God to those who need it most. We need to stop and reach out a helping hand to the beggar on the street. It is up to use to help the single and abandoned mother. Our calling tells us to hug the leaper, the AIDS sufferer, the person with cancer, and bring the love of Christ to them.

Today be the hands and arms of Christ to the members of our human family who need our love and help most.

Nov 182017

Depression and walking on water

depression

I will admit that I allowed my depression to get the better of me this week. It is hard not to at this time of year. Reflecting on the past year has reminded me that 2017 has been a very difficult year. However, I know that I am not alone. So many others have it far worse than I do.

Saint Peter understood this tendency to focus on the wrong thing. When the disciples were in the boat on the Sea of Galilee and a storm came up, they found themselves worried that they might die. Jesus was not with them. Then they saw him walking on the water toward their boat! And Saint Peter, being the one always willing to put his foot in his mouth or show off his lack of humility, asked to walk on the water toward Jesus.

His first few steps were fine. He was doing it! He was walking on water! However, he allowed his human nature to get the best of him. He took his eyes off of Jesus and looked down at the water and immediately started to sink. Jesus grabbed his hand, pulled him up and helped him back into the boat.

For me, especially this week, I took my eyes off of Jesus and started looking at the world around me. I started looking at all the things I wanted to do, the things I wanted to get, the things that I thought should be done differently. And when I did, I got depressed. I took my eyes off what mattered most.

As we draw closer to the Christmas season, it becomes more and more of a challenge for those of us with chronic depression. However, we as Christians also have the great advantage that we can turn to Jesus and ask for his help. We can focus on him and find new purpose. He can guide us to those things that will help us battle our depression. Jesus may not take away our cross of depression, but focusing on him can help make it a little easier to carry.

So look to Jesus today and find the strength you need to keep walking on water!

Nov 022017

Make time to visit our Lord

time

Over the past 24 hours I have been working hard to come up with a start to my NaNoWriMo project. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000 word “fiction novel” in the 30 days of the month of November. For the last 5 or 6 years, I have tried to meet this goal with little success. Finding time to write has also been a great challenge.

As I sit here today, I find myself without a clue what to write or even what type of novel I want to write. The ideas escape me. I feel hollow and empty as I contemplate what I should write.

In this moment, I find myself realizing that this is how many of us feel everyday. We feel that we are missing something important. It is a feeling of despair or hopelessness. A disconnected feeling overwhelms us. But what we are missing is not words. It is a connection to the Divine that we lack.

I saw the posting from Saint Miriam Parish and Friary, our sister parish in Flourtown, PA for their service of Adoration tonight. I found myself longing to sit with our Lord and just to be present in His presence. And I have the great opportunity to do just that any time I want. The problem is not the ability to spend time before our Lord, but rather it is allowing everything else to push that time out of the picture.

I was lamenting the fact that I was alone last night at All Saint’s Mass. Deacon Dana and Subdeacon Thomas were unable to attend last night and so I was alone at Mass. No one else came. As I sat there contemplating putting everything away, I realized that I had everything set up for Mass and I had the time. So I said Mass. Alone. With only the Angels and Saints looking on.

In a way it was a real moment of spiritual enlightenment. It was the realization that I can say Mass whenever I want. I can spend time with our Lord any time I choose. It is all about making that choice to spend time with Him. Unfortunately, I forget that and allow everything else in my life to take priority over my spiritual life. I suspect many of you do the same thing too.

Now is the time to change our priorities. As we prepare to enter Advent and Christmas, as we wait and prepare for the coming of the Christ-Child, we have the great opportunity to spend time in prayer and mediation. We should make time to come to Mass and celebrate the great gifts God has given us. The gift of grace is freely available to those who would take the time to come and receive it.

Resolve with me to make the time to come worship our Lord. Make time to sit silently before Christ and to listen for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. And be transformed by this great gift of being in His presence.

Come and experience the difference one hour can make!

Sep 082017

Kindness cost nothing

Kindness

There is an old adage that says kindness cost you nothing. In the past two week, I have seen both sides of this saying first hand.

When my mother-in-law passed away last Tuesday, I saw an outpouring of kindness from people around the world. People who are part of our church and people who have never stepped foot in a church came together to help us raise money for her funeral expenses.

However, when I was out getting things ready for the concessions stand at the high school, I saw many examples of a great lack of kindness. People shoving each other and cussing each other out. It was a spectacle to behold.

This later group thinks that being kind to another human being is one of the most expensive things that can be asked of them. They feel as though they are owed kindness, but that they are not required to show kindness to others. They easily forget the Golden Rule.

You remember the Golden Rule don’t you? “Do unto others as you would have done to you.” (Luke 6:31) It is one of Jesus’ teachings during the famous Sermon on the Mount. However, it has its basis in old Jewish traditions.

I know that this is a hard teaching. It is easier to ignore people or to be indifferent to them. However, we are called to treat them as we want to be treated. We do not like the idea of being ignored. And we certainly do not want to be treated with indifference. Yet, we do this to others on a regular basis.

As we go about our daily lives, let us try to show each other kindness without counting the cost.

After all, kindness cost us nothing!