Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

We hear in our Gospel today (Mt 8:1-4) of the great and humble faith of a leper, as well as Jesus revealing his divinity. The leper approaches Jesus, pays him homage and says, "Lord, if you wish (or will - depending on the translation), you can make me clean." Jesus touches the leper then says, "I will; be clean." In what some might see as a foreshadowing of the Lord's prayer, the leper asks that the Lord Jesus' will be done on earth, that being, if it was Jesus' will to clean the leper, let it be so. And as only the divine could do, Jesus, through a simple touch and an act of his will, does just that. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It was Jesus' will that the leper be made clean and return to being within the community, rather than an outcast. Isn't that Jesus' will in heaven, that we be made clean from our sins to be part of his community, rather than being an outcast?

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

In our Gospel today (Mt 7:21-29) Jesus makes it pretty clear, not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven, even those who say, "Lord, Lord!" Jesus says it isn't about prophesying or driving out demons or doing mighty deeds in his name. Instead, Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is for the one who does his Father's will. Jesus continues by making the distinction between those who hear his words and act on them and those who hear his words but do not act on them. Considering Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, in the flesh, it seems logical that listening to Jesus and acting on what he says, is doing the will of God. Let us stop to listen to Jesus today and everyday and act on what he says. His instructions are good for the soul now and come judgement day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist 2020

On the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, we read in today’s Gospel (Lk 1:57-66, 80) the birth of John to Elizabeth and Zechariah. It is important to recall Luke's Gospel begins by describing Elizabeth and Zechariah as having no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now both were beyond childbearing years (cf. Lk 1:7). Also remember for nine months Zechariah is not able to speak because he doubted the angel Gabriel that he and Elizabeth would have a child. But the moment Zechariah does as Gabriel said to do, name his newborn son John, Zechariah is once again able to speak. The first thing Zechariah does is he blesses God. Compare the patience of Zechariah and Elizabeth to our "I want it now" society. Here was an elderly, childless couple during a time when being childless was seen as a form of punishment. Late into their lives, still faithful to God, they are blessed with a child. Even when Zechariah is stricken for nine months following his moment of disbelief, as his ability to speak returns he immediately blesses God. We have a few months of a loosely enforced quarantine and we start losing it. People shooting others over a simple request to wear face masks in stores, conspiracies theories being tossed about like beads at Mardi Gras, medical advice disregarded because it hinders our getting back to normal immediately. Patience is a virtue. Let us be virtuous through greater patience, like Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

In our Gospel today (Mt 7:1-5) Jesus cautions his disciples not to judge others, saying that the measure by which we judge others, we will be judged. Jesus continues, asking how we can judge others while not recognizing our own faults, using the analogy of seeing a splinter in the eye of our brother while having a wooden beam in our own eye. While we are not to judge someone's heart, we certainly can and should discern right from wrong. For example; we know someone driving 50 mph in a 25 mph school zone is violating the speed limit and that is wrong. What we don't know is the person's heart, or why this driver was speeding. Are they racing to the hospital because of a medical emergency? Or, do they believe they are above the law? We would do well to heed Jesus' instructions, particularly in these days of instant news and soundbites. What we are shown and told isn't always the full story, and rarely do we know the heart of those involved.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2020

As we celebrate the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Gospel today (Lk 2:41-51) we have the Biblical "Home Alone" story. Following the feast of Passover, unknowingly Mary and Joseph leave Jerusalem for home without Jesus. Once they realize their son isn't part of their caravan, they return to Jerusalem, searching for Jesus. Upon finding Jesus in the temple we hear Mary say, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." How often during times of crises, especially during this pandemic, have we wondered where God is in the midst of the maelstrom? How often have we searched for Jesus, with the same anxiety as Mary and Joseph? Just like Mary and Joseph, let us search for Jesus in the house of the Lord, where we will find him in his Word, and in the Eucharist.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus 2020

On the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we hear in our Gospel (Mt 11:25-30) our Lord call all who labor and are burdened. He wants us to take on his yoke and learn from him. He tells us by doing so we will find rest for ourselves because his yoke is easy and his burden light. When you envision a yoke it is usually the image of a large wooden beam that fastened around the necks of draft animals, frequently oxen. It isn't light by any means, except it is designed for two animals side by side. Instead of a single ox laboring alone, the yoke lightens the burden by sharing it between two animals. By taking on Jesus' yoke we have the Son of God laboring beside us, making our burdens light.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time 2020

Jesus teaches us his prayer, the Lord's Prayer in the Gospel reading today (Mt. 6:7-15). In the lead up to the Lord' Prayer, while warning against wordy prayers, Jesus tells us, "your Father knows what you need before you ask him." If that is so, what is the purpose of praying? The purpose of prayer is to bring about a change in us, to bring us closer to God, recognizing all that we are and have are by his graces. Prayer opens us up to God's will. Prayer opens us up to God's transformative love so we grow more in love with Him.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time 2020

In our Gospel today (Mt. 6:1-6, 16-18) Jesus warns about doing and saying pious things for show and self aggrandizement. He even mentions praying in the privacy of our rooms. This isn't contrary to what Jesus teaches in Mt. 5:14-15 when he tells his disciples they are the light of the world, and that their light should not be put under bushel basket, rather light belongs on a lampstand. Why? So others may see our good deeds and give glory to God. Therein lies the difference, which is literally at the heart of this. They hypocrites act pious in public for their own recognition. The humble act such that their God is recognized in their works. God sees into our hearts. May our hearts always remain humble and contrite.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time 2020

Jesus instructs us to love our neighbor AND our enemy in today's Gospel (Mt. 5:43-48). It isn't enough to love our neighbor, though we know that to be the second greatest commandment. Jesus tells us now we are to love our enemy, and pray for those who persecute us. Stop for a moment to think of someone you absolutely hate; someone who, just the mention of their name, sets you off; someone who is humanly impossible for you to love. In this over politicized and hyper sensitive environment we are in, finding someone to hate is not difficult. Now, pray to God for the grace to love that person, because that reliance on God to help you love is really what Jesus is talking about. To be perfect like our heavenly Father is perfect is beyond our own ability. We must turn to God for the grace to do so. With God, all things are possible, even loving our enemies.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time 2020

In our Gospel today (Mt 5:38-42) Jesus takes laws from Leviticus (cf. Lv 24:20) that introduced the concept of just and equal punishment for an offense and tempers them even further. He tells his disciples that if they are struck, do not strike back, but turn the other cheek. If their tunic is taken, Jesus says to give your cloak as well. If asked to go a mile, go two miles. While these are physical examples, being slapped by the hand, or taking of property, we would do well to apply this principle of de-escalation today with what is said or written. How often in social media such as on Facebook or Twitter we see heated arguments posted, with one or the other trying to get in the last word. How much more pleasant those forums might be if more of us just turned the other cheek, let the other have the last word as if it were your cloak.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

In our Gospel today (Mt 5:27-32) Jesus gives an indication how wonderful heaven is in most dramatic teachings, as someone speaking with authority and knowledge. This glory of heaven that awaits us is revealed in the hyperbole Jesus uses - tearing out, cutting off - to stress the lengths we should take to protect ourselves from the sins that would keep us from heaven. To give some perspective, consider the grueling training an Olympic athlete endures for the opportunity to win a medal and stand atop a dais for a few minutes. If a moment of sports glory is worth thousands of hours of training, conditioning, and painful injuries, the drastic steps Jesus suggests we take to avoid sin should give us a sense of the splendor of heaven.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Memorial of Saint Barnabas, Apostle 2020

On this, the memorial of St. Barnabas, the Apostle, in our Gospel (Mt 10:7-13) we hear Jesus sending out the twelve original apostles. In doing so, Jesus instructs them what to say, what to take and not take with them, as well as the power to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons. These men went out among their fellow Jews preaching the Good News, preaching the kingdom of heaven was at hand. They would later send Barnabas out with St. Paul to spread the Good News to the Gentiles. In much the same way, our successor to the apostles, Archbishop Vigneron, has commissioned us to spread the Good News as joyful missionary disciples. Through "Unleash the Gospel" we are charged with introducing or reintroducing Jesus to those around us. Let us ask St. Barnabas to intercede for us, to ask for the graces necessary to truly be joyful missionary disciples!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

In our Gospel today (Mt. 5:13-16) Jesus tells his disciples he wants them to be a shining light for all to see, not for their own sake, but that others may glorify God our Father. This is in contrast to what Jesus says about the scribes and the Pharisees, the hypocrites that go about praying in public to be seen as righteous in the eyes of those around them. The difference is what is in our heart. Does God occupy first place in our hearts such that all we do, all that is seen by others, gives glory to him? Or do we ourselves occupy first place in our hearts such that all we do is done to draw attention to ourselves?

Monday, June 8, 2020

I Must Decrease

Why do we sometimes build grand churches and cathedrals?  There are many opinions and thoughts, but when I saw this picture, it reminds me how much bigger God is than me, his humble servant.  What came to mind was what John the Baptist said,  ""He must increase; I must decrease."" (Jn 3:30)  

Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Detroit, MI
Trinity Sunday

In the peace of Christ,

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

In our Gospel today (Mk 12:28-34) a scribe asks Jesus which is the first of the commandments. Now when we think of commandments we typically think of the Ten Commandments. But scribes were experts in Mosaic Law, made up of 613 commandments. Jesus summarizes all the laws into these two commandments, to love our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In Luke (cf Lk 10:25-37) we hear something very similar, but the question is raise, who is my neighbor. Jesus replies with the story of the Good Samaritan, in which we learn EVERYONE is our neighbor. Who do you say are your neighbors? Are they the people who look like you, act like you, think like you? Or are they the people Jesus defines as your neighbors, the people who look different from you, act differently, think differently?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Ascension of the Lord 2020

Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord at Mass open to the public for the first time since late March.  Quite the juxtaposition, wouldn't you say?  As we return to Mass, as we are able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time in nearly two months, we celebrate Jesus leaving his apostles to return to our Father in heaven.

But in doing so, in receiving the Eucharist today, we are reminded that while Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, he is with us always, as we hear in the Gospel, until the end of the age.

In the peace of Christ.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Wednesday, Fifth Week of Easter 2020

In our Gospel today (Jn 15:1-8) we hear Jesus tell his disciples how his relationship with them and the Father are like that of a vine grower, vine, and branches.  In this metaphor Jesus tells us the Father is the vine grower, he is the vine, and his disciples are the branches.  While there is reference to the Father pruning so the branches are more fruitful, the main point of the Gospel is the connection between and reliance on the three.  

As branches on the vine without pruning, our fruit would be underwhelming.  As branches without the vine, we are simply dead wood, producing nothing but fuel for a fire.  It is when we remain attached to Jesus, and allow the Father to prune the dead wood (sin) in us that we produce much fruit!   Let's get growing!

In the peace of Christ,

Dcn. Mike


Monday, May 11, 2020

Monday, Fifth Week of Easter 2020

In our Gospel today (Jn 14:21-26) Jesus shares with us many things about himself, the relationship he wants us to have with him and our Father, and the Holy Spirit.  Jesus wants us to have a loving relationship with the triune God, simply by loving Him, and keeping his word, his commandments, out of our love for Him.

The commandments Jesus wants us to follow are pretty simple, though in a world in which selfishness and self centeredness are so prevalent that we've named an entire generation the "Me Generation" and another the "Me Me Me Generation," they can be daunting.  "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 22:37-39).

In the peace of Christ,

Dcn. Mike

Friday, May 8, 2020

Friday, Fourth Week of Easter 2020

Considering all that is going on in the world these days, we might be tempted to stop after the first few sentences of our Gospel reading today (Jn. 14:1-6).  "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith in me."  But we can't stop there, because Jesus shares further insight into who he is and what else faith in him brings.  "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."

We often live in the moment because, well, it is the only thing we really know.  And at this moment, there is a lot to trouble our hearts.  But Jesus' message applies to us today as much as it did to his disciples over 2,000 years ago.  Let our hearts not be troubled.  Let us continue to put our faith in him, because he is the way, the truth, and the life.

In the peace of Christ,

Dcn. Mike  

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Tuesday, Fourth Week of Easter 2020

In our Gospel today (Jn 10:22-30) Jesus is tested, challenged regarding his Messianic identity.  The Jews that were around Jesus as he walked about the temple ask him to answer them directly, is he or is he not Christ, the anointed one, foretold by the prophets.  Jesus replies, saying he has told them, but they do not believe.  They don't believe because Jesus is not the Messiah they hoped he would be.  Jesus is not the powerful political figure, one who would be a future king along the lines of David, that they envisioned, that they desired.  Yet Jesus is king.  He is powerful, in otherworldly ways they do not see.  

How often do we fail to see Jesus for who he is?  How might we envision him in a certain way, maybe one dimensional, to fit our needs?  Do we see Jesus simply as merciful while overlooking he calls us to repent?  Let our faith open our eyes and minds to experience and follow Jesus for who he is, not who we make him out to be.

In the peace of Christ,

Dcn. Mike 

   

Monday, May 4, 2020

Monday, Fourth Week of Easter 2020

Our Gospel reading today (Jn 10:11-18) continues the theme of Jesus being the Good Shepherd.  We hear Jesus stress two things; first, as the Good Shepherd he is willing to lay down his life for us, and second, he is the shepherd for all, yes all.

Jesus said he was willing to lay down his life for us, and the "us" is all inclusive.  Let us pause to remember this the next time we find ourselves in a heated argument.  Jesus came to be the Good Shepherd for you, me, and the one with whom we do not see eye to eye.  

In the peace of Christ,

Dcn. Mike


Friday, May 1, 2020

Friday, Third Week of Easter 2020

Our Gospel today (Jn 6:52-59) gives us the Eucharist and the gift of eternal life that comes with it.  Jesus doesn't mix words, he is very clear, "I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life."  Jesus then affirms what we now refer to as the Real Presence in the Eucharist saying, "My flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink."

There is the old saying, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."  May our absence from the Eucharist during the stay-at-home order in response to the pandemic, draw us closer to Jesus such that when we do return we will shout "Alleluia!" like the apostles did after Jesus' resurrection.

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Let's Get Ready for Sunday - Fourth Sunday of Easter 2020

Our readings this Sunday are from Acts of the Apostles, First Peter, and the Gospel from John.

The first reading, Acts 2:14a, 36-41, shows us the new Peter, a Peter emboldened by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The same Peter who denied knowing Jesus three times in the hours before Christ's crucifixion is now standing and loudly calling out his fellow Jews for what happened.  Peter proclaims to them that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, the very person for whom the nation of Israel had been waiting!  The message strikes to their hearts and 3,000 repent and are baptized, receiving the same Holy Spirit who transformed Peter from hiding in the shadows to boldly proclaiming the truth about Jesus.

In our second reading, 1 Peter 2:20b-25, we hear directly from Peter about Jesus.  The message isn't easy to hear, but it is timely as often the living Word of God is.  Peter tells us about Jesus' suffering for us and how he was a model for our own suffering.  Jesus' suffered and sacrificed for us out of love.  We are told to do the same.  As we are asked to sacrifice a little longer by participating in Mass via livestream broadcasts rather than gather at churches where we might put people at risk, Peter's message is as important now as it was when he shared this with his contemporaries.

Finally, in our Gospel, Jn 10:1-10, Jesus gives us a glimpse of his commitment to us by his "figure of speech" describing himself as the gate to a sheepfold.  He tells us how sheep know their shepherds voice and follow him in and out of the sheepfold, an open-air circular pen with a single narrow opening.  Shepherds would lay at night in front of the opening acting as a gate, keeping their sheep safely inside while preventing anyone or anything from entering.  Jesus tells us he is the gate, committed to us so we "might have life and have it more abundantly."

Join us Sunday at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament via livestream at https://livestream.com/accounts/19963606/events/9101869.


In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Thursday, Third Week of Easter 2020

In our Gospel today (Jn. 6:44-51) Jesus tells us we come to know him through grace provided by his Father.  We can do several things with this grace; we can reject it, and not see Jesus for who he is; we can accept it with conditions, abiding by the teachings of Jesus on our own terms; or we can accept the grace unreservedly, giving ourselves completely to Jesus.

But what is the purpose of being drawn to Jesus?  The purpose is to be raised up into eternal life on the last day.  This is what Jesus wants for us; to know him, to love him, to be fed by him, to live our lives in communion with him, so we may spend all eternity with him.  

Let us continually ask for the grace to know Jesus, and for the grace to accept that grace unconditionally.

In the peace of Christ,

Dcn. Mike

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena - April 29, 2020

On the memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, we read in our Gospel (Mt. 11:25-30) Jesus praising his Father for giving insight to the childlike, keeping the deeper meaning of the deeds performed by Jesus from the learned and wise.  Jesus is more fully revealed to those who are humble, while those who think they know it all, like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus time, often miss the the point.  It isn't because the followers are less intelligent, but have received the graces from the Father, as Jesus tells us, to be willing to accept the mystery of Christ.

How often do we pray for intellect when studying the Word of God?  How much more effective might our efforts be if we pray for the grace of humility and a childlike openness to the Word?

In the peace of Christ,

Dcn. Mike

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter 2020

In our Gospel today (Jn 6:30-35) the crowd, that was part of the 5,000 fed with five barley loaves and two fish (cf. Jn 6:23), challenges Jesus, asking for a sign of his greatness that they might believe.  What they think they hear is Jesus saying he is a prophet greater than Moses, so they demand Jesus to do something greater than providing manna from heaven.  What they are not hearing, what they are not seeing, is the deeper sense of Jesus, the Son of the Father.   

Jesus says, "For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."   The crowd asks for this bread as if it were like the manna their ancestors lived off of in the desert.  What Jesus offers is even greater when he tells them, "I am the bread of life."

During a crisis, be it personal or global as we are now experiencing, it is natural to pray for the temporal just as the crowd was asking for a sign.  We shouldn't lose sight of the fact Jesus, and his love for us, offers that and much more.

In the peace of Christ,

Dcn. Mike

Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday within the Octave of Easter 2020

In our Gospel today (Jn 21:1-14) we hear of several apostles and disciples spending the night fishing. We don't know if this was just something to do to fill idle time or possibly a return to their old way of life following the death of Jesus, even though they had multiple encounters with the resurrected Christ. But we do know that on their own they caught nothing. Only until they heard Jesus and did as he instructed were their efforts fruitful. When things aren't going the way we hoped it is tempting to fall back into old familiar ways, return to old relationships that might not be what is best for us. It is during these times when we need to continue to pray, listen, and respond to what Jesus is calling us to do.

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Monday, April 6, 2020

Monday of Holy Week - 2020

In our Gospel today (Jn 12:1-11) we have the story of Jesus dining with Lazarus, served by Martha while her sister Mary anoints Jesus's feet with a costly perfumed oil. It is such a simple scene, yet it represents many aspects of the loving relationship Jesus wants with us.

Mary anoints Jesus' feet, which foreshadows Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper out of love for them. Martha prepares and serves the meal to Jesus, symbolic of our call to feed the hungry, and in doing so, feed Jesus. Finally, we have Lazarus joining Jesus at the banquet, this after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This is reflective of our own eternal life after earthly death because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us out of love for us. During these days of Holy Week let us spend time reflecting on our relationship with Jesus.

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Wednesday - Fifth Week of Lent 2020

In our Gospel reading today (Jn 8:31-42) Jesus tells Jews that believe in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Much later in John's Gospel we hear Jesus say, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (cf. Jn 14:6). Our popular culture would have us believe there is no real truth, that the truth is subjective, it is a matter of perspective. Maybe this is a defense mechanism because, to steal a line from a movie, "We can't handle the truth!" Yet, to be set free from the slavery of sin we must know the truth - Jesus - for it is the truth - Jesus - that/who will set us free. We too must remain in his word, must be his disciples, for with his grace we can handle the truth!

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tuesday - Fifth Week of Lent 2020

In our Gospel reading today (Jn 8:21-30) Jesus warns the elders and the Pharisees of the consequences of their actions, and in doing so, warns us as well. If we are tied to the possessions of the world we run the risk of dying in our sin. While the reading may seem to be doom and gloom, Jesus still has a message of hope though a bit obscure. Jesus says, "If you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins”. Conversely, if we do believe Jesus is I AM, and act accordingly, then we won't die in our sins. As we approach the end of this most unusual Lent nearly everywhere we turn the news is doom and gloom. Yet there are also signs of hope as communities and businesses work together out of love of neighbor - because we do believe Jesus is I AM.

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2020

In the first reading today (Ez 37:12-14), we hear a message of hope for the people of Israel. God will create a new Israel and calls His people back from exile, promises to put his spirit into them that they may come to life. How easy it is to see this promise of God's infinite love and hope is applicable today. It doesn't take much of an imagination to think of being "stuck" at home as being our graves, and once the Stay Home, Stay Safe order is lifted, we may come out of those graves. God is putting his spirit in us now and in many ways we are coming to life. Neighbors are checking on neighbors. Families are doing things together as families. In many places, the world is coming together in prayer. When we are able to settle in our land again, let us pray that we keep God's spirit in us.

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday - Fourth Week of Lent 2020

We do not hear from Jesus directly in our Gospel reading today (Jn 7:40-53), rather, we hear from those who have just listened to Jesus teaching during the seven days of the feast of Tabernacles, a great feast held in Jerusalem after the fall harvest. There is division among those who heard Jesus; some believe he is a prophet, others believe he is the Christ, while others want to arrest him. Our current state of Stay Home, Stay Safe has created a physical division among us, the mystical body of Christ. This division has left many of us feeling disoriented, maybe wondering how God allowed this to happen, or asking where is God in all of this. God remains with us as always. Jesus remains the living water for all who thirst, the Messiah who suffered, died, and rose again out of his infinite love for us. Our social distancing has not and will not change that.

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Is this Hell?


As I was laying in bed this morning, pondering what has been going on, what continues to play out before us, especially being cut off from Mass and the Eucharist, it occurred to me, this is a bit like Hell.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines Hell as “The state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed, reserved for those who refuse by their own free choice to believe and be converted from sin, even to the end of their lives.”  Granted, our exclusion is not by our free choice.  However, through the suspension of public Mass, we are excluded from communion with God in a real way.  We are not able to be in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. 

As painful as this exclusion is, it is still only partial exclusion.  We can watch a Mass being broadcast in some fashion which allows us to hear the word of God being proclaimed and broken open to us in the minster’s homily.  We can use that hour to praise God, to worship Him and his son Jesus our Christ.  Every day we can, and should - pandemic or not - pause and pray privately.  But we are still excluded from the Eucharist, from full communion with God.

The pain from this exclusion is real for me, and judging by the reaction of Catholics on Facebook, the pain is real for others too.  So, if a partial exclusion from communion with God is painful just two weeks into the suspension of Mass, I can’t fathom what full exclusion from God… for eternity… would be like!  I pray that I don’t do something that would self-exclude me from God.  And without a doubt, I pray for everyone, especially during this global medical crisis.  While I don’t believe God did this to punish us, our loving father certainly will use this pandemic to bring about something good. 

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Goodbye to a Friend

Back in August 2006 my wife and I took into our home a Chocolate Lab puppy.  For a year we were to be his foster puppy raisers for Paws With a Cause to, hopefully, one day go on to be a service dog.  I had been sensing a calling to the diaconate, but I also put up hurdles to responding to the calling.  I was aware that the diaconate was a service ministry.  With that in mind, when we were given the opportunity to name our Paws puppy, I suggested the name Deacon. 

Our primary responsibility as foster puppy raisers was to provide the basic training and socialization.  This meant, of course, housebreaking, but included taking Deacon with us virtually everywhere we went.  After all, service dogs go everywhere with their "client" as the recipient of a service dog is often called.  Deacon accompanied us to Petoskey, Michigan for a Thanksgiving weekend.  He went with us to work.  He was with us to frequent training trips to malls and stores.  Deacon even joined us for Sunday Mass at the former St. Colman Catholic Church in Farmington Hills.

As our year with Deacon was nearing its end, not knowing how much more time we had before returning him to Paws, we made one more trip to Petoskey.  I snapped this picture while Juanita sat with him on the breakwater.  I thought the sunset was apropos as our time with Deacon was coming to an end.  

Sure enough, upon our return home, in the mail was an envelope from Paws with the paperwork for returning Deacon.  I don't recall how long after submitting the paperwork that we received a call from a woman at Paws headquarters.  They were "career changing" Deacon because his medical records showed he had signs of allergies.   As his puppy raisers, we were given first opportunity to adopt Deacon.  Without hesitation, we said yes!

This evening, after more than 13 years of being part of our home, our lives, and in our hearts, we returned Deacon to God.  Deacon had slowed down considerably.  Walking was visibly painful for him in spite of ours and his vet's efforts to ease the pain.  Any attempt to run was brief, involving a stride or two at most.  Even though we know his time had come, parting was heartbreaking.  Our home is noticeably empty tonight without Deacon's presence, without his spirit being among us.  We felt it almost immediately as our vet listened for and confirmed Deacon's heart had stopped.  

Our God is a loving God, the creator of all that is good.  Tears aside, I take comfort knowing that an all loving God never abandons what he creates.  While what that might mean exactly for Deacon remains a mystery, my faith in God assures me it is far better than even the most loving care we could provide him.  

So, this evening we thank God for entrusting us with caring for one of his creatures, and with heavy hearts, we return Deacon to his care.

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Do You Not Have Faith?

"Do you not have faith?" A powerful, punch to the gut, question from Jesus in the Gospel reading today (Mk 4:35-41). Even though his disciples had already seen Jesus perform numerous miracles, they were still fearful they may drown during a storm.
Are our responses to the issues in the world, in the country, in the Church, ones that would prompt Jesus to ask us, "Do you not have faith?"

In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Lampstand

Jesus asks in our Gospel reading today (Mk 4:21-25) the rhetorical question about one putting a lamp under a bushel basket or under a bed rather than on a lampstand. Of course you put a lamp on a lampstand so it casts its light further. And what comes about in the light, things that are hidden in the dark are revealed.

We believe Jesus is the light of the world. In that case, was Jesus referring to himself, that his mission wasn't to be hidden, but to be set up high to shine light in our darkness. And if so, does that make his cross a lampstand?


In the peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Baptism of the Lord


Deacons are frequently asked what are some of the things we can do.  Liturgically speaking, the big three are baptisms, and outside of Mass, weddings and funerals.  My first baptism as a deacon is coming up in about a month, and it is starting to weigh on my thoughts.  Mind you, I have assisted priests and deacons at many baptisms over the years as an acolyte during formation, fetching towels, handing them the correct oils, lighting candles, and so forth.  I have even had some hands-on experience during a class at the Seminary.  But being the presider, rather than assisting the presider, or pouring water over an infant, rather than a doll, is, I suspect, going to be very different on so many levels.  Rest assured, I’ll prepare as much as possible, rehearsing at home repeatedly the night before.  Even so, I will turn to the Holy Spirit to steady the nerves come the big day.

As nerve-wracking as this first baptism might seem to me, I can only imagine what John the Baptist was thinking when Jesus came to him to be baptized!  Don’t forget, John knew who Jesus was.  The Baptist had been telling anyone who would listen to him that one greater than he was to come, so great that he, John, was unworthy to loosen his sandal straps.  After all, that was John’s mission from conception, to announce the coming of the Messiah!  That, in and of itself, is an awesome responsibility.  But now Jesus presents himself to be baptized.  To put that in perspective, think how you might feel if the Pope personally asked you to pray for him?

If knowledge of Jesus wasn’t enough to leave John the Baptist in awe, certainly what happened afterwards would.  No sooner does Jesus rise from the water than the heavens open, a dove settles on him, and God, yes GOD, is heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

My first baptism will be nothing like this, with one exception.  While not visible in the form of a dove, the same Holy Spirit that descended upon Jesus will leave an indelible mark on the infant being baptized, just as he has on all the baptized.  This child will become an adopted son of God with the stain of original sin washed away.  And as I imagine John the Baptist standing in awe of what he witnessed, humbled that the Lord worked through him in that way, so too will I, his humble servant, stand in awe at the power of the Holy Spirit and the waters of baptism.

In the Peace of Christ,

Deacon Mike