26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today's Gospel we hear of the rich man and Lazarus both before then after their deaths; after death, Lazarus find himself in the bosom of Abraham (i.e. heaven) while the rich man is in the netherworld (i.e. hell). What sin did the rich man commit? There are two kinds of sin in Scripture, and in our culture we tend to consider one kind of sin much more than the other: sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins are choices that we make - in our thoughts, words and/or actions - where we put distance between us and God. Those can be choices of commission (where we actively do something that puts distance between us and God), or choices of omission (where we choose NOT to do things that will maintain our relationship with God and draw us closer to Him). God is alive and at work in this world! God is on the move! If we put our relationship with God on hold, standing statically in one place, we don't pick up right where we left off; since God is on the move, when we pick up again it means that we've allowed distance to grow between us and the God who is always moving and yet always beckoning to us, "Come, follow me!" The rich man is not cited for sins of commission, today, but sins of omission - complacency - all those choices that he made NOT to make God the priority in his life. As disciples of Jesus Christ, where are areas that we have become complacent? How can we recommit to continual growth in a life lived with the Lord?
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend I officially took over the sacramental and administrative duties for three more parishes in our area after the retirement of Fr. Greg Hopefl, a long-time and honored priest of our diocese. This was my first weekend preaching at St. Philip in Stone Lake, St. Francis Solanus on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reserve, and St. Ignatius in New Post. These three parishes, along with St. Joseph in Hayward and St. Ann in Cable make up the new five parish Hayward cluster, of which I am the pastor and Fr. Karun from India is my associate. Please pray for us - priests, people and communities - during this time of transition. I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the future!
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend is the kickoff for our annual diocesan Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). The CSA provides incredible opportunities to spread the faith of Jesus Christ in northwestern Wisconsin - for our seminarians, for our youth, for our schools, for our parishes - opportunities that I witness and see the fruits of firsthand! I'm challenging you this year to stretch yourself in prayerful generosity to all of your favorite organizations and non-profits. I challenge you particularly this week to think what you might be able to sacrifice monetarily to support the CSA for your parish this coming year. Jesus Christ practiced prayer and generosity to the point of death; let's act more like Christ in this life, so as to become more of who we are called to be in the next!
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
As disciples, we are called to be salt of the earth people. Not too salty (we've all had bad experiences of that), but also not non-salty...because that's just not being true to who we are as Christians. We're called to be healthily salty, normally salty. Disciples of Jesus Christ ought to be ordinary, fun, prayerful, genuine, striving, faithful, real people - normal human people. That is what I envision when I imagine a disciple of Jesus Christ: someone that others are slightly intrigued by, for whatever the reasons, someone that others want to spend a little time with!
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our response during this Apostolic Time starts with something we already know very well: relationships. We have been rescued by Jesus and sent to bring others to relationship with Him so that He can rescue them, too! The whole reason the Catholic Church exists is to bring people to Jesus. "Bringing people to Jesus" doesn't mean shouting on the street corner or annoyingly and oppressively forcing the topic of faith into every conversation you have. "Bringing people to Jesus" means that there are 3-5 people in your life right now, people that you already know and have some sort of relationship with, whom Jesus is sending you to to simply start a conversation with. Witnessing to Jesus isn’t rocket science or deep theology, it’s simply relationship and natural conversation (and if you think it’s more complicated than that, then you’ve got the wrong idea).
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Part II: a taste of where we're headed in the upcoming weeks and months!
You ever wonder why you brought your kids up going to Church and educated them in Catholic schools…and yet most of them don’t go to Church anymore? You ever worry about why, even though you tell your kids and grandkids that they should go to church and pray, and even though you tell them that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, they still don’t come and don’t believe? I mean, that’s how you were raised, and you’re here, right? So that’s how you raised your kids…so why aren’t they here?! Christendom times vs. Apostolic times - that's the reason! We have gone from Christendom times to Apostolic times, but we're still trying the tactics that used to work but don't anymore. The good news: the Catholic Church thrives in Apostolic times - we just need to remember anew how to live in them!
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Last summer I challenged everyone to Meet 6, to meet six people from church. This summer I'm asking you to take the next step. Christian community isn't simply meeting or knowing people or getting together; that's a first step...but Christian community involves Jesus Christ! Christian community is about Christ-informed relationships, faith-filled friendships and interactions. The next step in the process, whether it's someone you know well or someone you don't know at all, is to ask a very simple, yet a very powerful, question once you've met them: “Is there something I can pray for you for?” “How can I pray for you?”
This summer, Ask 6! Step out of your comfort zone to ask six people, “Is there something I can pray for you for?” Then bring that intention to prayer before God on that person's behalf. We all know our world needs the light of Christ, and you, O Christian, have the power to bring that light into our world with an extremely simple and inviting question: “Is there something I can pray for you for?” “How can I pray for you?” Then pray!
Third Sunday of Easter
God wants to do great things in our lives and in our parishes! But we're also short on priests (and, in our diocese, short on American priests) which means that more and more is expected of our current priests. So how will God do great things in us and through us and around us if the priest doesn't have time to do it? It has to happen through you, O Christian! God wants to and will do great things in our world when individuals, when the lay faithful, step up and step into their baptismal calling to use the gifts and talents they've been given to build up God's kingdom here and now! God wants to do great things in our lives and in our parishes...through YOU!
4th Sunday of Lent
Do you ever get distracted in prayer? It’s normal, it’s human; sometimes focus is within our control, sometimes it is not. There are, however, better and worse ways to respond to distraction, better and worse ways to enter back into prayer and time with our God. Want to know what some are? Then listen to this weekend’s homily!
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This Lent I don't want you to give up chocolate, I don't want you to give up sweets (we'll focus on the topic of fasting next year). This Lent I want all of us, as the parish family of St. Joseph and St. Ann, to focus on prayer! I'd like us all to focus on growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ through daily prayer. One percent of our day is 14 minutes and 24 seconds - this Lent the challenge is to spend one more percent of your day, each day, in prayer. If you aren't praying every day yet, this is the time to start! If you are praying regularly, then it's time to add an extra 14 minutes and 24 seconds of intentional prayer with the Lord. Try any and all prayer resources available and find the ones that help you to row the most in your relationship with the Lord!
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
As Christians we are proclaiming ourselves to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ, followers of Christ. Our Christian life is built on this relationship with the Lord out of which everything else flows. Daily talking with God is not an achievement in the Christian life, it's the foundation and the minimum, the beginning of the Christian life! Christians pray every day.
This Lent, our focus as parishioners of the cluster of St. Joseph and St. Ann parishes will be on prayer - on personally taking one step deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ, no matter where we are currently at in our life and habits of prayer, taking one step deeper, together.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
We will be starting a journey as the parishes of St. Joseph and St. Ann beginning this Lent, starting a journey in the direction God is truly calling us as His disciples! Some things, like the Israelites in our first reading, we will discover to be different than we were originally told or taught, even by those in the Church. We are going to be hitting the "reset" button on what Jesus truly calls us to as Christians in this beautiful Catholic faith, which will involve detoxing from misunderstanding and false notions. Step One (and our focus during Lent this year) will be focusing on growing in prayer and our relationship with God. Step Two, which grows out of our relationship with God in prayer, is uncovering and living out our specific roles in the Body of Christ, which Paul describes in our second reading this weekend. I'm excited to lead us on down this path which may seem new to us, but is in fact old, very old - it's the way Jesus Christ Himself called us to live!