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, April 16, 2016

Book Break: The Great Divorce

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had a profound Good Friday, but that was only half the story. The other half of the story is that, early that Friday morning, I sought out some spiritual reading for the day, and wound up with a new top-five favorite book: C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce.

Of course, when reading spiritually, the Bible is always a good place to start, and I'm also making slow but steady progress through Dante's Divine Comedy a canto or two a day. But I wanted something fresh, something I could possibly read in a day, and something related to the penitential character of Good Friday and the great saving act of our Lord.

On a hunch, I took C.S, Lewis's The Great Divorce from the bookshelf. I have great regard for Lewis as a writer and had heard good things about the book, particularly from my good friend Angie at Take Time for Him.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Movie Review: Batman Versus Superman

Maybe it's because I heard almost nothing except how bad the movie was, so my expectations were quite low. Maybe it's because we paid matinee prices and didn't buy snacks or drinks. Maybe it's because I watched with a Batman superfan and had read one tentatively positive review from another superfan whose views I generally trust.

Whatever the reason, I saw Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice this weekend, and was pleasantly surprised. It was far better than I expected.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Rise and Walk: Looking Ahead to Next Year’s Program

This past week we completed our family faith formation sessions for the year, and this weekend our LIFT first communicants will receive the Blessed Sacrament for the first time. The past year has flown by, and I suspect the summer planning season will pass even faster. We have lots of great for next year, but one of more significant changes has to do with the age of Confirmation. After extensive discussion in recent years, including our priests, committee members, catechists, and staff members at St. Michael and St. Albert parishes, we have decided to gradually shift the age of Confirmation to 8th grade for all our students.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

20 Years a Fool: A Resurrection Story

One of the things I gave up for Lent this year was the last word. It might seem an odd thing from which to fast, but on the home front I crave the last word, savor it, seek it with such reckless abandon that I scatter piles of lesser words about the house until at last I have it. In the past I have recognized this fault in myself: that I want to be right, or at very least, heard and understood, in all things. I manage to tamp down this tendency in public, but in private, in flourishes.

Jodi knew of my sacrifice, and just prior to Holy Week, I asked for her honest assessment as to how much progress I had made. She hesitated a long moment, so I said, "It's alright -- I need you to be straight with me."

She said, "Honestly, I haven't noticed much of a difference."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Eucharist Pep Talk for Parents

[Blogger's Note: This is roughly the "pep talk"I gave to First Communion parents at the Wednesday, March 16, class -- I am posting it here to share it with those who missed.]
The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day.” -- John 6:22-40
One of the striking things about this passage is that this conversation happens right after Jesus feeds 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish -- and already the people are asking Him for another sign, so that they can believe in Him: "What can you do?" Time and again, Jesus does incredible things, and time and again, the people doubt and ask for another sign.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Slaves No More

I can’t possibly afford to be here.

Two years ago, I was working in communications at the University of Minnesota. I had spent six years as the president’s speechwriter and enjoyed a solid salary, stellar benefits, and the respect and friendship of several wonderful colleagues.

Nevertheless I felt adrift. The U hired a new president, and I changed jobs three times in two years—with each one less and less to my liking. I knew I needed to make a change. I thought about working for the Church, but communications positions were few and far between; most other positions required a theology or professional degree I didn’t have, and the pay and benefits couldn’t compete with a large public university.

Plus, like too many couples, Jodi and I were not smart with our money in our younger days. We never had a budget and ran up debt almost without thinking. So when the faith formation job opened up here in our home parish, my first thought was: We can’t afford it.