The King’s Men

Teague and I just finished praying Morning Prayer with Ryan and his fellow seminarians. I’m guessing there were over one hundred men in the room. Incense filled the room and rose up to the Lord along with our prayers. The Morning Prayer was chanted, and the room full of male voices filled the room as the sunrise came through the windows of the chapel. This is a Holy place.

As I prayed, I thought about how blessed I was to be in such a place, and the places I have been because of Him. How many years ago, I cannot remember. I was sitting at our kitchen table reading my Bible and praying. In my prayers, I prayed a verse from Isaiah, “Here I am Lord, send me.” Little did I realize that I would go places like Camp Alphie and Panhandle State University, or worship in cathedrals at Santa Fe, Baltimore, St. Louis, Denver, and Ft. Worth. I could never have dreamed of going to Mexico to learn Spanish and experience the richness of the Mexican culture. I certainly would have never even thought thatI would be serving at mass at Cristo Redentor across from Allsups in Gruver. 

And today, we are here at St. Meinrad Seminary visiting Ryan. It is here that men are preparing to become priests. In today’s world, I’m certain they will face ridicule and persecution. The path they have been called to is not for the feint of heart. To be a priest requires a strong will and courageous heart. These men are being prepared to go out into the world. A world filled with sin and pain.

But today, they are on top of a hill. Surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. Today, they are with like-minded people. Each has heard and is in the process of answering the call of the Lord. Each one has in a sense prayed the verse from Isaiah, “Here I am Lord, send me.” They are here to serve the King of Kings.

They are the King’s men.54437142_10215705665013174_5691668945304551424_n

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Another Exciting Round of Hansford Manor Bingo

One of the requirements of deacon formation is to participate in a social justice and charitable ministries. Since this past May, I have been volunteering at Hansford Manor. I play bingo with the residents, play games like Skip Bo, visit, and try and help where I’m needed. Helping at the manor is out of my comfort zone. It was like pulling teeth for Teague to get me to go with her when she wanted to visit someone, but this seemed to be where God was calling me to serve, and so… I went.

I’ve made some new friends and renewed some old acquaintances at the manor, and the blessing has been mine. A few weeks ago I was asked to be the bingo caller. The pressure was on. Bingo is taken mighty seriously at Hansford Manor. There is a quarter riding on every game. I like joking around with the residents, and they enjoy teasing me back. I started announcing each new round with the line, “Clear your cards. It’s time for another exciting round of Hansford Manor BINGO!” The first few times they all laughed. Now most everyone smiles and nods and puts up with my silliness.

Last night after Bingo, the sweetest lady rolled up to me in her wheelchair. She said that I reminded her of a young man that used to live with her and her husband when he was a boy. She said that she loved Jesse. I asked her where he was now, and she said that he was in Oregon. She missed him, but she took great pleasure in my laugh, my voice, and my looks because I reminded her of him. I thanked her, and she rolled off.

All I could think of was, “Wow!”

I wonder how many people Jesus blesses with our lives just because we show up?

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A Cowboy

From Scott’s FB page

I wrote this a few years ago when I was writing an agricultural blog for The Journal Record. You can find it here. I read on Facebook that Harv died this afternoon.

Living in the panhandle has given me the opportunity to know quite a few cowboys. They are a breed unto themselves. A cowboy hates to farm, and hates to be stuck indoors. He loves his horse, and likes to ride. A cowboy is his own man.

I had times in my life that I went through a “cowboy” phase, but I never was a real cowboy. I always said that, “I farmed like a cowboy, and cowboyed like a farmer.”

When I think of a cowboy, Harv comes to mind. He wore a hat and boots, and he walked and talked like a cowboy. His language was laced, and his gate had a gimp from too many days in the saddle.

Harv used to do day work for us. (Day work is when a cowboy hires himself and his horse out for the day to help work cattle.) One day, Harv was helping us move some calves. The boys, Harv, and I were riding to the back of the pasture beside an electric fence. As we were riding along, Reid’s horse brushed up against the fence, and he started bucking. Reid wasn’t very old; I’m guessing about ten. His horse was bucking pretty hard, but Reid was hanging on. As quickly as the bucking started, it stopped. I jumped off my horse, and grabbed Reid’s horse by the bridle. Reid had that frightful look on his face that said, “I want off this horse now!”

Before I could say a word a voice shouted loud and clear behind me, “Wow! You sure cowboyed up and rode him, by god!” It was Harv. He bragged on Reid for a couple of minutes; talking about how hard the horse bucked, and how well Reid rode him. The frightened look disappeared from Reid’s face, and was replaced with a look of confidence.

I got to see a little bit of cowboy wisdom first hand, and Reid got praised by a bona fide  bronc bustin cowboy.

May God Bless you Harv.


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Are you comfortable?

Photo by Susan Newbauer

He is risen! Alleluia!

The season of Lent is behind us, and the celebration of the Easter season has begun. I want to thank you for accompanying me on this Lenten reflection journey. Many times, I had to make myself sit down at the keyboard. Many times, I felt like I didn’t have anything to say, nevertheless it was good for me. Your many comments and kind words of encouragement are always a great blessing to me.

Lent is a time to shake us out of the normalness of life. Many of the Lenten practices make me uncomfortable, such as fasting, abstaining from meat on Fridays, and making a Lenten promise. The Church just finished celebrating the Easter Triduum. The celebration begins on Holy Thursday and concludes at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. There are many things about the Triduum that make me uncomfortable. Things like washing of the feet, venerating the Cross, the reading of the Passion, a service that begins and ends in silence, the priest prostrating on the floor, the many times we kneel and stand in the prayers of intersession, being clothed in darkness at the beginning of the Vigil, the many readings at the Vigil (and they’re long too), and for our parish the Triduum is bilingual. I’m uncomfortable with it all.

But if I listen to the readings, the psalms, and the prayers, I hear of a people of God that is not comfortable either, from the Israelites exodus and wandering in the desert to the fear that overcame the followers during the Passion of Christ and the Resurrection. Following Jesus is not about being comfortable. In fact, if I am feeling comfortable in my faith, maybe I should ask myself, “Why”?

May the Lord bless you during this Easter season, and may we all get uncomfortable together.

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Jesus loves you

Photograph by: Sailko

The intervention of God, in the man of Jesus, was the ultimate participation of God in His creation, for God became a man. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Through Jesus, God showed man the definitive action of love by humbling Himself to death in a most humiliating way, the cross.

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Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the same night,

One turns Jesus over to the authorities, and the other denies Him.

They both betray Him.

One humbles himself, and seeks repentance and forgiveness.

The other dies in his anguish.

One is buried with dogs. The other is buried in Rome.

Judas the betrayer,

Peter the rock.

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We’re closer than we think we are

I heard a news story about some of the Boston Marathon bombing survivors and victims. It talked about how they are coping with the tragedy. How they are helping one another, and receiving help from friends. During the story an observation was made that some of the families had connections before the bombing that they hadn’t realized, and one of the men made the statement, “We’re closer than we think we are.”

Last night was the Chrism Mass in the Amarillo Diocese. All of the priests, deacons, religious, and laity came together to show support for the priests. The priests renew their baptism vows and a vow to the bishop, and the bishop blesses the oils that will be used at all the parishes in the diocese. It is a beautiful ceremony that has happened for centuries.

A woman sat down beside me, and we greeted one another. She was visiting Amarillo on retreat, and she was Santa Fe, New Mexico. Teague leaned over and told me that she recognized her. On drive home, we decided that we must have seen her at mass in Santa Fe sometime.

St. Mary’s Cathedral was full. There were many people that we knew, and many we didn’t know. As we drove home late last night, I thought, “Why do we go? Why do we make this drive right after work and celebrate a two hour mass, and turn around and drive back home?” I’m tired this morning, and I have a full day ahead.

As we walked out of the cathedral, Teague asked if I had got to talk to everyone that I wanted to. I told her that was impossible, but I did get to see them even if from afar. That alone was enough. You see the Chrism Mass as is every mass is also about unity. The people united in Christ. Just our presence was a sign of that unity.

We are closer than we think we are.


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