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

Acceptance

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 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/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

The Signature

Today’s Guest blogger is our daughter Leigh Anne

My oldest brother Ryan and I were home with my parents during the first part of the pandemic for about five and a half months. During that time he pushed me to do something productive every day–along with gently pestering me to do more than one thing…which was good for me but I would never admit it at the time. He and my dad kept telling me to read a book…specifically “The Story of a Soul” about St. Therese of Lisieux. I said no multiple times–mind you I did start a book, just not that one. The day before I was leaving to come back to Denison, they were telling me how she would leave roses for people as her signature. Both of them said jokingly (but not so much) that I would see roses all the way back on my drive. You better believe I looked for them roses but didn’t see a damn one. I was SO disappointed. 

Last week, was her patron saint day and you better believe both my dad and brother told me about it–my dad twice (good thing too). My dad texted me early that morning and told me about it, my brother had told me the night before, and my dad told me again that afternoon when I was Facetiming him and my mom. I said blah blah blah when he told me again…then…he asked me if I had seen any roses. 

So my hair. My hair is kind of my thing. It has been since high school. It’s long; it’s pretty, and I love that it’s naturally straight–and no, I’m not trying to be vain; I just feel like Samsom but thank god I don’t have to cut it off. I decided for the first time in about…oh two years that it was time to get a haircut. I happen to have an old friend who has a hair salon in the area so I made an appointment with her and went to get my haircut on the patron saint day of St. Therese…MISTAKE, just kidding. It was really good to see my old friend and catch up with her. I was sitting there getting my hair cut and noticed a beautiful dozen roses she had sitting in her station. I told her they were pretty and she said her boyfriend had sent them for no reason–just because.

I told my dad no, I hadn’t seen any ros…OH SHIT WAIT! YES I DID SEE ROSES OH MY GOD. And her boyfriend sent them for no reason…YUP that’s about how my life goes. 

FYI I had started reading the book already (and hate it for the most part) but I guess I’ll finish it. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Heart of the Matter

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time September 13, 2020
Sir 27:30-28:7; Ps 103; Rom 14:7-9; Mt 18:21-35

These times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined
And people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
The trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
They're the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us
You know it doesn't keep me warm

I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again

[Chorus 2]
I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

This is from a song called “The Heart of the Matter” by Don Henly of the Eagles
I think the lyrics are appropriate for today’s uncertain time and the age we are living

Forgiveness…
It seems to me that is the heart of today’s scripture readings
And Peter is the one to ask Jesus… the question
How many times? How many times do we forgive? 

And Jesus’ answer is hard
Our forgiveness should be unlimited.
And Jesus tells a story
I get so angry at this wicked servant 
He is forgiven of a great debt
But he will not forgive a small one.
And then I have to ask myself
Am I this servant? 
I confess
It is hard for me to forgive
“Wrath and anger are hateful things, 
yet the sinner hugs them tight.” (Sir 27:30)

How do we learn to forgive?
We will begin CCD, religious education soon
But religious education for our children should be year round
Because the first place for religious education is the home.

Listen to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Thus the home is the first school fo Christian life and ‘a school for human enrichment’. Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous-- even repeated-- forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and offering of one’s life.” (CCC 1657)

Fathers… it should begin with you.
You are to be the spiritual head of the household
Lead your family in prayer
Love your wife
Love your children
Forgive them when they sin against you
And ask for forgiveness, when you have wronged them

Forgiveness leads to reconciliation and healing
We cannot be healed of our hurt until we can forgive

But you might say, “I can’t. I hurt to bad”
Ask Jesus to help you 
Ask Him to help you forgive

Forgiveness, forgiveness
It’s the heart of the matter


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Gift keeps on giving

22734_1231302461229_1360471_n

Today marks 37 years of marriage for Teague and me. What can I say? She has blessed me greatly.

 

 

 

God gave me a Gift many years ago.

The Gift I did not know,

Would always with me grow.

As I have traveled through life,

the Gift is by me day and night.

I have no fear when my Gift is near.

The Gift does not just sit idle,

but watches out for the family in this daily battle.

At times I have thrown this Gift aside,

And many times It has not gotten the care.

Those are the times that God has showered It from above

with things like Grace, Mercy, and Love.

When God gives His care the Gift blooms like flowers that She loves.

I thank God for this Gift, and hope to do as He does.

So that is what I shall strive to do.

Give to the Gift and watch Her grow.

Give to the Gift and see Her glow.

The Gift is my friend, confidante, and mate.

God has given me far more than I deserve to this date.

He gave me a Gift that loved me back.

Now tell me how cool is that!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment