St. Peter Claver, Farming, and Faith

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time September 12, 2021

Is 50:5-9a; Ps 116; James 2:14-18; Mk 8:27-35

It was Columbia, South American in the year 1615.
And another ship packed full of slaves sails into the harbor
A young priest boards the ship and works his way to the “hold” where the slaves are locked up

It smells of humanity
The slaves are packed together like animals
They are sick
They are hungry
They are away from their homes and families
They are lost

The young priest enters the hold
He has food
He has water
He washes their wounds
He gives them food
He offers them drink

His name is Fr. Peter Claver
He has left his home in Spain
To minister to these people
These people without hope

He knows that before he can teach them about Christ
He must tend to their needs
He says, “We must speak to them with our hands by giving, before we try to speak to them with our lips.” (St. Peter Claver)
The Church celebrated St. Peter Claver this past week on September 9.
He is known as “the slave of the slaves”

In my mind, he is a perfect example of the reading today from James.
St. Peter Claver demonstrated his faith from his works

A farmer’s wife once told me that all farmers had faith
And that you could not be a farmer without faith
She reasoned that a farmer had to have faith to plant a seed and hope to raise a crop from it

I remember when I was a young farmer
I was talking with a man from church

He asked me if I prayed before I planted my crops
I told him “No I didn’t” 
He said, “That if it was him he would kneel down and pray before he planted his crop.”

That little conversation struck me to the heart
I had never thought about praying before planting
So… from then on I would try to remember 
And before I began to plant
I would climb down off the tractor and kneel on the field and pray for my crop

I would say...
He helped me put my faith into action
The action of prayer

Jesus asks his apostles, “Who do people say that I am?” (Mk)
The question of all questions.
Who is Jesus? 
Who is Jesus to you?

And Peter answers for us
“You are the Christ”
What an answer!
“You are the Christ”

Peter is proclaiming that Jesus is God
Jesus is the long awaited Messiah
Jesus is the savior

Do you agree with Peter? 
The Church would reply “yes”
But what do you say?
Who do you say that Jesus is? 

Have you put your trust in him? Is he your savior?
Have you put your faith in him? Is he your God? 

Do your works demonstrate your faith? 
Don’t be afraid.
The Lord God is your help
Ask him, pray to him 
That we all might increase our faith

And that we all might pick up our cross 
And follow him
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fits, Misfits, and Counterfeits

22nd Sunday Ordinary Time August 29, 2021

Deut 4:1-2,6-8; Ps 15; James 1: 17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

He was a giant of a man
He stood about 6’6”
And he talked with a deep southern Alabama accent
He was a cradle Catholic
And he cherished his faith and took it seriously
He was my father in-law

He was a storyteller
And he had short sayings, quips, and proverbs for every occasion
He was big
He was loud

When I was dating Teague and throughout my life
He tested me
He would quiz me
He would challenge me
We would talk about faith, politics, family and the news of the day
Our children called him Papoo…

“Davin, there are three types of people in this world: fits, misfits, and counterfeits....
… which one are you?”

This was one of the sayings he loved to challenge me and others with
When I would hear it, I would have to think a little
And even to this day, it gives me cause to stop…
And reflect on who I am
What kind of person I am

Fits, misfits, and counterfeits… 
I’ve thought about it a little
And I think I have been a fit, a misfit, and a counterfeit during my life

In today’s gospel, we see the Pharisees and the scribes come and question Jesus
He and his disciples are not following all the rules…
Keeping the traditions
And Jesus’ response? 

“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,...This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
Jesus was calling them out
They were hypocrites
They were phonies 
They were counterfeits…

Throughout the scriptures
Jesus confronts the “religious” many times
He is very critical of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Jewish religious leaders
Because they were just giving God lip service
They were talking the talk, 
But they weren’t walking the walk
They were worried more about keeping the rules than they were about loving God

If we are not careful, we can fall into the same trap today
We can find our faith is not in Jesus
Instead, our faith is in how well I keep the rules

We appear to be a good Catholic
We go to church every Sunday
We  pray the rosary every day
Go to confession
On the outside, we look very religious

But we don’t help the elderly
We don’t help those who are orphaned
We don’t help the widows
We honor God with our lips 
But our hearts are far from him
We are counterfeits…

Jesus can see through this facade
He can see our hearts
He knows us
And he loves us
He wants us to be what we were made to be…
A child of God

Give him your life
Love him with all your heart, soul, and mind
Trust in him and him alone
“Be doers of the word and not hearers only.” 

 There are three types of people in this world: fits, misfits, and counterfeits....
… which one are you?”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Do not be Amazed!

The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night, April 3, 2021

Gen 1:26-31a, Exodus 14:15-15:1, Is 55:1-11, Ez 36:16-17a, 18-28, Rom 6:3-11, Mk 16:1-17

It was so dark
They could hardly see
The enemy was coming after them
They were trapped 
They were between the sea and their enemy
They were afraid they were going to die

They had witnessed death
The death of the first born
The first born of the animals and the first born of their masters, their oppressors
The people who had owned them and used them as slaves

The Lord had delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians 
They had been freed from the bondage of slavery
But the Egyptians had second thoughts 
And the mighty Egyptian army of chariots and soldiers was bearing down on the people of God
They had them trapped by the Red Sea

It was so dark 
They could hardly see
But they could feel the wind
They could hear the water 
And they could feel the dry land as they walked through the midst of the sea
With a wall of water on their right and their left

They watched as their enemy raced after them
And the witnessed the might and power of the Lord
As he fought for them against the Egyptians
They heard the sea as it crashed down upon the charioteers 
And they saw their enemies dead bodies wash upon the shore

“Then Moses and the Isrealites sang this song to the Lord
I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant;
Horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.” (Ex 15:1)

The Exodus of the people of Israel was a watershed event in the history of the people of God
The plagues, the Passover, the crossing of the Red Sea, the forty years in the desert are all important events in the history of the people of God.

The crossing of the Red Sea prefigures salvation by Baptism (CCC 1094)
Just as the children of Abraham were freed from the bondage of slavery
Tonight, we will remember our baptism 
Which frees us from the bondage of sin and death

Easter Vigil was a watershed event in my life
Twenty years ago
I sat there, in the second row
Twenty years ago, I was received into the Catholic Church

“Do not be amazed” he told them.

“On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, ‘Do not be amazed...’” (Mk 16)

How could the women not be amazed? 
The stone had been rolled away
The tomb was empty!
How can I not be amazed? 

How can I not be amazed, when I hear the cry of a baby in church?
How can I not be amazed, when I watch a young couple patiently wrestle with their toddler every time they come to mass? 
And yet they still come

How can I not be amazed, when I hear children singing with joy in the choir loft, in the church, and as servers on the altar? 
How can I not be amazed, when I watch a teenager act like he doesn’t care, and tries to sleep during mass, and then become a seminarian? 

How can I not be amazed, when children come to mass on their own? 
How can I not be amazed, when I see grandfathers and grandmothers live the faith for the younger generations to witness? 
How can I not be amazed, as I witness the joy of the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe or the fun of a fish fry?

How can I not be amazed, when I see a priest, who was ordained 13 years ago halfway across the world in India, celebrate the Eucharist in Spearman, Texas? 
How can I not be amazed, when I sat right there twenty years ago, and today I stand here? 

“This is the night 
that with pillar of fire
	banished the darkness of sin.
This is the night that even now,
	throughout the world,
	sets Christian believers apart…
This is the night,
	when Christ broke the prison-bars
	of death…” (excerpts from the Exultant)

“We call this night ‘the most desired of the year.” (misslet)

This is the night Jesus defeated death
This is the night Christ has risen

Tonight is the night of nights
Tonight is a watershed event in the history of salvation
Tonight is a watershed event in history of the Church
Tonight is a watershed event for the world.

“Lord send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth” (Ps 104)

Do not be amazed, when the Lord “gives you a new heart and places a new spirit within you…” (Ez 36)

You are special and you are loved
God created you in his image (Gen 1)

As St. Paul writes:
“We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom)

Do not be amazed
Christ is risen!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1st Sunday of Lent

1st Sunday of Lent February 21, 2021

Gen 9:8-15; Ps 25; 1 Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15

“I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant with me and the earth.” (Gen)

It was at least twenty-five years ago
I was driving tractor
I was plowing
And I was thinking
About the mystery of life

When I turned the tractor back to the west
There it was…
The most beautiful rainbow.
It was a full rainbow, and it was like I was driving right down the center of it

I remember thinking “Wow!”
I remember thinking about God
It seemed like God had sent that rainbow just for me.

It wasn’t long after that I went on a retreat
The name of the retreat was “Walk to Emmaus” 
The retreat was Catholic in origin 
It came from the Cursillo movement

While I was on the retreat
I saw the colors of the rainbow everywhere
One of the greetings for the retreat was “De Colores!” 

I would say that attending that retreat
Was an important step for me 
A big step to my joining the Catholic Church

I remember thinking afterwards 
About the rainbow I had seen while driving a tractor
And then how one of the themes of the retreat was the colors of the rainbow
“De Colores”

Today is the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion
Today, the candidates and catechumens will meet in Amarillo at the cathedral
Today, they will be presented to Bishop Zurek
Twenty years ago on the 1st Sunday of Lent, I was in Amarillo at the cathedral
I felt called to the Catholic faith, and I was being presented to the bishop

I remember after the service
We were driving to a restaurant to eat
I was lost in thought
I was having doubts
I was wondering “What have I gotten myself into?”

And then from the back seat…
Came the voice of one of my children
“Look dad! A rainbow!”

I looked up into the sky
And there it was peaking through the clouds 
A rainbow
A sign
The Lord was with me

We have begun the season of Lent
Forty days…
Forty days to prepare for Easter
Forty days to prepare for the Resurrection

The Lord has called you
He has called us all to be with Him
He loves us
And the Lord has called us to love Him 

And the Lord loves us... 
Even when we are unlovable 

At the end of Lent
We will remember our baptism, which saves us now

As we begin this Lenten season
May we quieten ourselves 
And listen
And watch for signs from the Lord... the rainbows in our lives
--Listen to Jesus… Repent, and believe in the Gospel--

When we quieten ourselves before God
We can hear
When we listen to the Lord
We can see
When we see the Lord in our life
We can give thanks… De Colores!  

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The big bad rat by Leigh Anne

For over a month now, I have been dealing with what I thought was a small field mouse. I set sticky traps,vpre baited traps, and put out the old school wooden traps under the sink--where I thought he was hiding. Nothing worked. I would hear him at night roaming around the house and cringed every time. I knew the mouse was harmless but it just bothered me, irked me, and by god I wanted to catch him. 

Night before last I heard a squeaking under my couch. I got an old wooden trap and put some cheese on it and sat it under the couch next to the wall. The cheese was stolen almost immediately so I knew at least I was on the right track. I baited the trap again and not thirty minutes later, I heard it snap! I waited until the trap got quiet and then went over to the couch to find that the trap was gone. First the mouse stole my cheese, then he stole my trap, what a stinker. I pulled the couch out from the wall and nothing. No mouse, no trap. I went to get another trap and was baiting it in my room and I heard a movement over by my shoes and there was the mou....RAT! He was huge, disgusting, and not something I wanted to deal with. But I did what I had to and got him and threw him in the garbage outside. 

I tell you this story because I felt so triumphant catching what I thought was a mouse. Recently, I have been battling some issues with my mental health. I'm very private about my mental health and don't often share anything with people other than my family. I had fallen into a deep depression that I thought I could just catch myself out of--just like I could catch that little field mouse. Turns out what I thought was a couple of bad days turned into a month or more and before I knew it, was a rat. 

Going into this lenten season I think we all have to evaluate what in our life is a mouse and what is a rat and allow God to help us distinguish between the two. What I thought was the size of a mouse was actually a big bad rat...WITH A LONG TAIL. Just like I felt when I caught the rat, overcoming my depression makes me feel triumphant. Though it's not like the rat that I can just throw out, and is a day to day struggle, I still feel that victory when I make it through a day and at the end knowing I had a good day. Day by day, I'm getting rid of the rats. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Ps 147; 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23; Mk 1:29-39

“In the land of Uz there was a blameless and upright man named Job, who feared God and avoided evil.” (Job 1:1)

He had 7 sons and 3 daughters
He was rich, 7000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys and many more work animals.
He was the richest man in the area.
He looked after his children and prayed and offered sacrifices to God for them.

“One day, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “Whence do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, From roaming the earth and patrolling it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job, and that there is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?” But Satan answered the Lord and said, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing? Have you not surrounded him and his family and all that he has with your protection? You have blessed the work of his hands and his livestock are spread over the land…(Job 1:6-11)

Satan went on to say that if Job didn’t have all this… if it was taken away, that Job would blaspheme (talk bad against) the Lord

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand upon his person.” (Job 1:12)

And one day..
His animals were all stolen
And a house fell on his sons and daughters and they all died.
But even after all this “Job did not sin or say anything disrespectful of God” (Job 1:22)

After this God allowed Satan to do anything to Job, he just couldn’t kill him.

So Job became very sick. 
He had sores all over his body.
But even through all this Job did nothing sinful.

Why do bad things happen to good people? 
Why do good people suffer? 
It is the question of the ages.
It is sometimes referred to as “The problem of evil”

The book of Job addresses this problem of pain and suffering
Job was a good person, but he suffered greatly
His wife and friends tried to help him
They try to explain his suffering 
They think that he must be suffering because he has committed some kind of wrong

Job does not curse God
But he wants to hear from God
He wants God to tell him the cause of his suffering.

The Lord answers Job.
The Lord’s speech begins in the Chapter 38 of Job.
“The Lord addressed Job out of the storm…
The Lord does not answer Job’s question
But instead questions Job.. The Lord begins…

“Gird up your loins now, like a man; I will question you, and you tell me the answers!”
Where were you when I founded the earth?...
And who shut within the doors the sea…
Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place…
Have you an arm like that of God, or can your thunder with a voice like his? 

The Lord answered Job with His might, His omniscience, His almighty power
The Lord alone is the answer to pain and suffering

In today’s Gospel, we see the Lord Jesus leave the synagogue (a Jewish church)
And go stay with his friends Peter, Andrew, James and John.
Peter’s mother in-law was sick and Jesus heals her
Later that evening many people came to the house to be healed.

“The whole town gathered at the door.” (Mk)
Like Job, they were suffering
They were searching for an answer
They were searching for a cure

We can’t understand why bad things happen to good people
We can’t understand why good people suffer, from disease, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, or pandemics and the list goes on...
We can’t understand or really explain the problem of evil

But we do have the answer
And the answer is God
Our Lord Jesus is the answer to pain and suffering

He alone is our hope

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Pope Francis has declared this the year of St. Joseph in celebrating 150 years of St. Joseph being proclaimed as Patron of the Universal Church. On December 8, 2020, Pope Francis issued the Apostolic Letter Patris Corde.

St. Joseph is my patron saint, and I was excited when I heard about this, and I was excited to read Patris Corde. It is a beautiful tribute to Jospeh, the earthly Father of Jesus. The letter opens.

With a Father’s heart: that is how Joseph loved Jesus, whom all four Gospels refer to as “the son of Joseph.” (Patris Corde)

Joseph was an accepting father. Just think of all the things that we know of that happened to Joseph. Do we hear him question? Do we see him complain? Do we every see him ask why?

The spiritual path that Joseph traces for us is not one that explains, but accepts. (Patris Corde)

Joseph hears the Word of God many times through a dream. He doesn’t question. He doesn’t ask why. He doesn’t ask for an explanation. Instead, he accepts. He accepts the Word and acts on it.

I see many parallels to Joseph the son of Jacob in the book of Genesis. He too was a dreamer. He had many dreams, and he was known as an interpreter of dreams. He found himself in the “pit” sometimes literally, but he always accepted his circumstance. He also found himself as leader of Egypt, only behind Pharaoh, and the Lord was with him both in the good and bad times of his life. Joseph is a true example of seeing the low of lows and the high of highs in his life.

It is only when his brothers come to Egypt in search of food because of the great famine over all the land that Joseph realizes the hand of God, the Providence of God, in his and his family’s life.

The Lord is with you. He is with me during the good times and the bad. I pray that I can have a spirituality of acceptance when I can’t understand.

Only as a result of this acceptance, this reconciliation, can we begin to glimpse a broader history, a deeper meaning. We can almost hear an echo of the impassioned reply of Job to his wife, who had urged him to rebel against the evil he endured. “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” (Job 2:10) (Patris Corde)

It seems to me that each of us has a broader history, a deeper meaning than we are capable of understanding.

The Lord is with us.

I pray that I can be like Joseph, the earthly Father of Jesus, and like Joseph, the son of Jacob, and accept all that the Lord has in store for me.

Gabriel Sozzi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Promise Card

As I walked into the church on New Year’s Eve, I met Fr. Anthony carrying a couple of trays. The trays were filled with, what looked like business cards. I asked Fr. what they were, and he said they were, “Promise cards.” Each card had a scripture or a spiritual quote on it.

We were all directed to pick up a promise card when we left mass, and reflect on it. The card was the Lord’s promise to us. I thought it was a great idea!

Until I read my card…

“Divine grace is needed at the beginning, divine grace at every step of advance, and divine grace alone can complete the work. There is no place for us to rest in a careless attitude… We may have had a measure of the Spirit of God, but by prayer and faith we are continually to seek more of the Spirit” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 507, 508)

As soon as I read it, I thought, “Great… God wants me to grow more…” now this was not an enthusiastic thought, but rather, a “conscience-stricken” thought.

There have been plenty of times in my life when I thought I was growing spiritually, and I have even felt “proud” of “my growth in the Spirit”. (Not sure how I like writing about my “spiritual pride”). But I have come to know through the years that I might not always be growing when I think I’m growing. I’ve also come to believe that when we grow spiritually, many times we are accompanied by things like pain, sorrow, and suffering.

I just recorded day 301 that we have been enduring the pandemic in my journal . The world has experienced much pain, sorrow, and suffering in these past 300 days, and the Lord has given us “divine grace at every step of advance”.

The Lord has given us a promise. He will always be with us. He will never forsake us. He loves us.

May we all “seek more of the Spirit” that He has in store for us, and hold His promise close to the heart.

Sidewalk Art at Oklahoma Panhandle State University

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Year of the Mask

It’s hot, and it makes it hard to breathe. My glasses fog up, and I can’t see. I’m really sick and tired of wearing “the mask.”

But we have been wearing masks since our childhood. Our mask is what we wear, so we can be accepted by others. My mask helps me cover up the poor self image that I have of myself. Some examples of masks that people wear are the Class Clown, Super Mom, The Calm, Cool Collected Person, Mr.or Mrs. Clean, Mother Hen, The Insecure Person, and the list could go on.

I have this need to be accepted. Don’t we all? I’ve worn my share of different masks in the past sixty years, and as I look at myself, I ask, “What am I doing to cover up what I think is bad about myself? What is the mask that I am wearing today?” Knowing yourself isn’t ever easy. I can lie to myself, and believe my own lies with ease.

Today I read from Saint Hippolytus,

“The saying ‘Know yourself’ means therefore that we should recognize and acknowledge in ourselves the God who made us in his own image, for if we do this, we in turn will be recognized and acknowledged by our Maker.”

God made me, and as the saying goes, “God does not make junk.” I know it’s kind of corny, but it gets the point across. You are made in the image of God. You are special. You are loved.

It is a huge blessing when I receive encouragement, acknowledgment, and confirmation of the love that God has for me. I am convinced that we are all receiving these blessings from the Lord. We just have to stop and listen.

It’s hot, and it makes it hard to breathe. My glasses fog up, and I can’t see. I’m really sick and tired of wearing “the mask.” It is my prayer that we won’t have to wear it much longer. In the meantime, maybe “the mask” can help me to “know myself” better, and come closer to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Signature (Pt 2)

One of the Saints that I think about often is Saint Therese of Lisieux.  She has a special place in my heart for many reasons.   A few of these reasons I will describe below.

Three years ago in February, I began an adventure.  I started reading a book, got a spiritual director, and began discerning if I should go to seminary or not.  This book gave me lots of things to think about and consider but one thing that particularly sticks out from the book is St. Therese.  The “Little Flower” as she is known, was described as being a Saint that has made it her mission to constantly pray for priests.  Many priests, and seminarians, have asked St. Therese to send them a rose to signify she was praying for them.  I remember thinking how cool it would be to get a rose from St. Therese.  I thought about it and forgot about it because things like that just don’t happen all the time.  The next week as I walked in the office of my spiritual director and set down, I noticed a small box on his desk.  There, on the top of that box was carved a rose.  I saw it and later said a little prayer of thanks to God for St. Therese.  It was only a few months later that I left for seminary and I have kept this story of the rose close to my heart ever since.  

Last week the feast day of St. Therese fell on Thursday, October 1st.  It is a favorite here at the seminary and is celebrated with much cheer by staff and seminarians alike.  That day I went to the chapel to pray.  In my prayer time, I constantly pray for the many people in my life.  However, I always pray for my family and my friend Chris.  On this day I specifically remember offering special prayers for Reid, Leigh Anne, and Chris.  I also remember thinking about St. Therese, asking her to pray for me and thinking how cool it would be to get another rose.  I was once again surprised to hear about a rose that St. Therese had sent, not to me, but to my sister.  My heart was filled with joy when I heard, and later read, the story of how my sister got a rose.  St. Therese had sent me a rose, just not in the way I expected.  I said a prayer of thanks to God for St. Therese.  

I smile when I think about these stories and wonder who will be next to get a rose from St. Therese “The Little Flower.”

Posted in Catholic, Family, Friends, Prayer, Uncategorized | Leave a comment