The past and present thoughts of a Catholic husband, father, and fledgling faith formation director at St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael, Minnesota

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Outcasts Among Us

This parish has a wonderful reputation in the archdiocese. We have good and holy priests, deep roots, a beautiful church filled with Catholic families, and numerous vocations to the priesthood and religious life. When I tell practicing Catholics outside “the Bubble” of St. Michael where I work and worship, they know this place and tell me I am blessed.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Break: The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde

A little more than a year ago, I wrote a brief review of Oscar Wilde's play, The Importance of Being Earnest. I was quite disappointed in it, given how much I loved his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray when I read it in 2009, and I said so.

My bride's soon-to-be sister-in-law -- who is as smart and well-read as they come, and who loves Wilde -- suggested that there might be more to the play than I thought. A short while later, I ran across Joseph Pearce's book The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde. I knew only a hint about Wilde's life and thought perhaps the finding of the this biography was providential. When I saw that it was published by the Catholic publishing house Ignatius Press, I was still more intrigued and vowed to read it. I started it this summer, and finished it last week. It is a thought-provoking, page-turning biography of a fascinating and tragic man.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Camp Lebanon Scripture Reflection

Blogger's Note: This past Sunday I was blessed to offer a brief morning scripture reflection at Camp Lebanon 2015, the summer outing parish families have undertaken for the past several years. This is a write-up of roughly what I think I said.

Since yesterday was the Solemnity of the Assumption, I want to focus on a small portion of that gospel reading. The passage is called the Canticle of Mary, her song of joy to God. I want to share this because this is something I often struggle with: being a joy-filled Christian. I get caught up in all the problems of this world -- the persecution of Christians around the world, the whole abortion scandal in the news right now, the decline of our culture, the upcoming election -- and I become a very somber Christian. I get wrapped around the axle about all these things that I can't do anything about (except pray), and I lose the joy of our Blessed Mother.

Friday, July 31, 2015

LIFT Links for Late Summer

We're headed into August, and summer is, for better or worse, winding down. If you're like us, in the flurry of summer and back-to-school activities, it can be hard to find quality time to spend with God, or even with the entire family. To that end, here are a few ideas for a late summer day or weekend:
  • Lakeside Fellowship. Camp Lebanon is coming quickly, but if your summer isn't plum full already, consider joining other St. Michael and St. Albert families the weekend of Aug. 14-16 for great food, fellowship, and lakeside fun. Details can be found here, and the registration form is here -- we still need families in order to hold the entire camp for our two parishes!
  • Family Movie Night. A few years back I watched and recommend the beautiful animated movie, The Secret of Kells. Both Kells and a newer movie in the same style (which I haven't seen), Song of the Sea, are available for unlimited streaming on Amazon Prime. Ignatius Press recently published this review of Song of the Sea -- should be well worth watching. We will definitely be checking it out! (The Secret of Kells is also available on Netflix.)

  • Spaghetti Dinner. Sometimes just having a family meal together that you don't have to cook is the ticket to reconnecting with family. If so, you can eat for a great cause at the upcoming Kunzman Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser hosted by Knights of Columbus Council 4174 at the St. Albert Parish Center. The dinner is Sunday, Aug. 23, from 4:30 to 8 p.m., with free-will offerings to support Brother Knight Erich Kunzman and family. Erich has suffered some complications due to a significant surgery and copuld use our prayers and support!
Have a great rest of your summer!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Movie Break: Three Days to Kill

Last night, I watched the recent Kevin Costner flick, Three Days to Kill. It's the story of a CIA lifer with a broken family who may be dying of cancer, but can earn a chance to try an experimental cure for the proverbial one last job.

I've never been a Costner hater, and in fact, I've enjoyed him in a number of roles over the years, though he does bring a solidly predictable Costner vibe to most every character he plays. I guess that's what motivated me to write a post on this movie. It's not great by any means, and I flat didn't like a few of aspects of it -- but I really enjoyed Costner's world-weary, worn-out spy. Early in the movie, his diagnosis is delivered matter-of-factly, punctuated flatly with, "You should get your affairs in order. The CIA thanks you for your service." Now that he's out of time, he realizes how much he's lost being away from his wife and daughter doing awful work for an organization that is ready to move on, and his gruff Pittsburgh persona is endearing as he tries to relate to his family again.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Our Hope Demands Change

I don’t know about you, but I avoid the news like the plague. No matter the source, the media today is a place of constant conflict, and it’s easy to get caught in the ceaseless spin cycle and feel as though everything is falling apart around us. It’s easy to lose the perspective that we are in this world, but not of it. And once we lose that perspective, it’s easy to lose hope.

But as Catholics, our hope is in God and transcends this world. Specifically, our hope is in a personal God, who loves each of us enough to become like the least of us: wriggling and helpless in a Bethlehem stable; hungry and homeless on the road to Egypt; hard-working and cash-strapped in the wood shop in Nazareth; hounded and criticized by His own people; persecuted and abandoned by those who should have known and loved Him best. Jesus’s perfect and total Yes to the Father finally silenced the steady drumbeat of Nos that had echoed through the ages since the fall of Adam and Eve. He lived, He died, He rose again—we know this through the words of the prophets, the witness of the apostles, and the blood of martyrs. Never before have so many sacrificed everything—their very lives!—for so outlandish a claim as a God-Man who let himself be humiliated and slaughtered only to rise again from the dead. Who would die for such a thing? If you had any doubt in your mind, would you give your life?