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, January 23, 2016

Same Guy, Different Year

I don’t know about you, but 2016 caught me off guard. The new year leapt from behind our Christmas tree in the early morning darkness to find me unprepared and unresolved, the same shuffling sinner as last year, stumbling to the kitchen, rubbing my eyes and searching for coffee.

And now I notice Lent and Easter creeping up. Ash Wednesday, February 10, is less than three weeks away. In past years I would have broken multiple resolutions by this point and would be tempted to use Lent to get back on the horse—fasting, for example, in order to lose weight rather than gain perspective.

Since I’ve made no resolutions, however, I’m headed toward Lent with no agenda other than the humbling realization that this year’s Jim is much the same as last year’s. And in recent weeks I’ve noticed two sins within myself that, in the past, I have failed to confront and that need to be uprooted.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Seed Is...Me?

I've had a handful of conversations lately about our faith formation programs at St. Michael: what we've done differently this year, what's working and what's not, and what more I wish we'd done. I am tempted to sudden actions and grand gestures at times, and midway through the faith formation year is no exception: I am tempted to blow up what we're doing in our parish and start over. So many people need to know that God is real, that Christ is present in the church...and I'm stewing over videos, Powerpoints, and the Catechism.

Then a good friend shares this with me, from something he is reading these days. He knows where my head has been lately, and thinks this might be helpful. He's right.

Friday, January 1, 2016


Lord, you call us to new life, to rebirth in the Spirit. How can I be holy for You unless I am wholly for You?

"If anyone remembers my name
If I’m ever known for anything
Let it be I ran into the night
Running with a firelight, firelight
Cause I don’t wanna stroll the streets of gold
While there’s still a soul to love
Let me run into the night
Running with a firelight, firelight
Burning with a firelight, firelight"

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reliving My Childhood

Yeah, that's the look!
I have a confession to make: I have spent the last few weeks with a goofy grin on my face, reliving my childhood. It began back in November when, for the first time in many year, I finished J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and decided against my original intentions to begin The Lord of the Rings trilogy immediately. These were my favorite books as a child and teen, and indeed, I still have the Special Silver Jubilee Edition paperbacks I grew up with -- tattered, torn, and taped back together again. I have meant to turn back to them for some time now, considering that the the last time I read and loved them I was less than half the age I am now and neither Catholic nor even Christian in any meaningful way.

Consider this as well: for the past 14 years, the only substantive interaction I've had with the peoples and history of Middle Earth has been through the hit movies (and an occasional comment from my older two sons, who have read them in the interim). Truly I underestimated the impact of regular exposure to the films without reading the books. I had forgotten just how wonderful these stories really are!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Don’t Lose Your Sense of Wonder

I sometimes think of life as a high sledding hill with God at the top, giving us a push. It’s left to us to steer, but like any good father, He knows our tendencies to close our eyes or overcorrect better than we do, and so He can see every curve we’ll negotiate, every bump that will bounce us airborne, every tree we’ll hit. He sees the trajectories of other sledders and knows their tendencies, as well—He knows whose paths we’ll cross, for good or for ill, and when we’ll be blindsided. He alone has the long view, the Big Picture. We must persist with less—a glimpse of heaven through the treetops as we slip away, faster, faster...

Friday, December 25, 2015

Greetings from the North Pole, Part XIII

Blogger's Note: For several years now, we have received a Christmas letter from an Elfin correspondent, Siberius Quill. This is the 2015 installment.

Christmas 2015

My dearest children!

Greetings to you—and Sincere Prayers that neither this grey and muddy Winter nor the toppling of your tree as you were decorating has dampened your Christmas Spirit! Though your Father and eldest Brother had a time wrestling the Prickly Thing into a new stand, the old spruce looks Splendid and is holding its needles as well as can be expected given the Strain! Well done!