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

Friday, November 20, 2015

A God-Size Space

This morning’s thought comes courtesy of St. John of the Cross via Deacon Ralph Poyo, whom our parish staff had the pleasure of following on retreat yesterday, and who never actually mentioned St. John of the Cross by name.

Jesus tells us throughout the Scriptures that we must leave everything behind to follow him. Certain of these passages seem particularly harsh: “Let the dead bury the dead;” “No one who sets his hand to the plow and looks to what is left behind is worthy of the kingdom of God.” I have struggled with these passages over the years, but in the wee hours this morning, lying in the dark, I had a brief moment of clarity.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Our Faith Is Not Genetic

Last month I wrote about the power of family— in particular, parents—in keeping their children Catholic.  It’s sobering, then, to learn that the Catholic Church in the U.S. is losing members faster than it is gaining them, and that, for today’s teens, religious identity is no longer reliably inherited. In other words, Millenials aren’t likely to stay Catholic simply because their parents and grandparents were Catholic.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Power of Family

The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society. 
– from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2207

As I type, bishops from around the world are gathered in Rome discussing how best to preserve, strengthen, and encourage Christian families. With so many families suffering or broken, such confusion over the nature and purpose of marriage, and the constant cultural tension between anti-child forces (for reasons of overpopulation, so-called social responsibility, or personal choice and comfort) and  “child worship” (treating each child as the center of the world, deserving of the very best of everything), it’s easy to feel underappreciated and overwhelmed. It’s also easy to get caught up in the everyday hustle of school, work, sports, and recreation and lose sight of the true power of the family as a domestic church: an apprenticeship in love of God and neighbor.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

We’re Not Meant to Go It Alone

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
– John 20:19

Imagine yourself as a follower of Jesus before His crucifixion. Imagine the excitement of coming to know the Messiah intimately and waking up each morning in his company, anticipating the day and wondering what profound teaching or miraculous sign awaits.

Now imagine that this man, whom you loved and believed to be the savior of your people, ripped from your midst and publicly tried, punished, tortured, humiliated, and put to death like a common criminal. Imagine the fear: if the Roman authorities and Jewish religious leaders could do this to such a man as Jesus, what could they do to me, a poor sinner?

What would you do?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Break: In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall

One of the many things I meant to do in the past year was to explore and review several books on the Catholic view of creation and evolution, in order to help parish parents and grandparents answer their questions on the topic and those of their children. My hope was to find a book or two that might be helpful to inquiring minds of all ages.

As usual, I bit off more than I could possibly chew and have completed only one such book. On a positive note, it was excellent.

'In the Beginning...' A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall is an edited compilation of four Lenten homilies given by Pope Benedict XVI in 1981, when he was still Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich and Freising. His goal was to develop a catechesis of Creation for adults. The four homilies build, one upon the other, to present a clear case for what the Genesis accounts of Creation and the Fall mean and why they continue to matter:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

These Least Brothers of Mine...

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Sit here, please," while you say to the poor one, "Stand there," or "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? -- James 2:1-4 
Last night Jodi, Brendan, and I joined a friends of Brendan's and his parents at Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis to celebrate their senior year, their acceptance into the college(s) of their choice, and a backlog of birthdays. Fogo is a carnivore's paradise, with such an abundance and variety of fire-roasted meats that I kept thinking of Scripture's forgiving father ordering the slaughter of the fatted calf to celebrate the prodigal son's return. Server after server stopped by our table with skewer after skewer of beef, pork, chicken, and lamb, carving portions for us until we flipped our green coasters to red to signal, "No mas!" (or "não mais," I supposed, in Portuguese).

We had a great time with the boys, and ate a delicious meal the likes of which we are unlikely to enjoy again any time soon, given the price. All the way home, however, and all through last night and today, I've been haunted by a man I do not know. I saw him only in passing as we looked for a place to park, but the impression he made is indelible.