7.31.2007

Me STRESSED? You Can't Be Serious!

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned.... and finally, I am getting stressed out a lot lately and I need some advice."
In light of the fast paced society that we live in these days, I thought I might present a post on stress and how to deal with it. Millions of people suffer the effects of stress in their daily routines and there doesn't seem to be any let up. If not treated professionally or with medicine the results on the person and the family can be grave. Learning to keep stress and the elements to stress in check are essential to a healthier you. Check out these helpful eight solutions to regulating stress:
  • Prayer. Try to come to the realization that it is better to "let go and let God."
  • Adequate Sleep. It has long been known that 8 - 10 hours a night is best.
  • Meditation. Start slow or you will give up too fast. Perhaps just a couple of minutes at first. Working toward a goal of 20 minutes will be great.
  • Exercise. Resistance Training and a moderate aertobic workout, such as walking or bicycling for thirty to forty minutes, three times a week, is also effective.
  • A Balanced Diet. A healthy diet containing B vitamins and magnesium helps to relieve chronic tension. B vitamins are essential for stress management.
  • Laughter. Go to a good comedy show or rent a wholesome video. As well as reducing stress, laughter has healing properties.
  • Attitude. When looking at a situation, break it down into manageable components. Instead of making sweeping negative statements, look at the situation realistically and create steps for resolving it.
  • Be social. Set up a network of friends and family who are listeners. When you feel stressed, call someone in your network to talk or set up a date to do something fun. Allow your friends to be supportive.

Try one or more of these solutions to reduce stress in your life. Any one of these will aid you in reducing stress levels. Then, "Go in peace and stress out no more."

Why Are You Catholic?

7.30.2007

Why Are You Catholic? (Part 2)

Check out the Survey to the top right. You can choose more than one answer.

7.25.2007

Why?


This morning I was informed that a member of my family took their life. Times like this cause us to question God's presence in our lives. When tragic events such as this happen, people of faith run to God for strength, help and support. But then there are those who run away from Him, blaming Him. So, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on suicide and the Catholic Church.

First, we must start with the fact that we are created by a merciful God. The Church states that suicide, while against the commandment "Thou Shall Not Kill", is committed by a person who is not in control of their mental faculties. God does not condemn those who are ill and do not know what they are doing. Second, we must pray for the true victims of suicide, the family. Often, those left behind feel guilty because of something they did or did not do.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives"(2283). Some might argue that the taking of life is a sin of grave matter, mortal sin. However, one must be mentally healthy to commit sin. It is an inborn part of our human nature to protect our lives. To go against that natural tendency, the mind has to be “unbalanced”, not able to reason, or so clouded by confusion and despair that the conclusion to the reasoning is faulty.

The Catholic Church offers and allows Christian burial to the victims of suicide. God alone can be the judge of an individual’s actions. We cannot stand as the judge of a person’s soul. We do not know their final thoughts, desires, regrets, or prayers.

Lord, you know his/her soul, you made them,
they are Yours.
Lord, in a moment of desperation blinded by despair
they departed from us.
Please, Lord by the merit of Your cross and resurrection,
humbly we ask for Your mercy.
Have mercy on their soul, and help their family and friends.
Heal them from this deep wound and sorrow.
Only You, the Healer,
can restore them and make them whole again.
Amen.

7.24.2007

The "Real" Separation Of Church And State

If there is one phase that is overused and misunderstood in our political society it has to be "the separation of church and state." Contrary to many politicians today, our founding fathers did not seek to remove religion from our society. Rather, a great number of those who signed the Declaration of Independence counted them-selves as men of faith. Nowhere in the Constitution do the words "separation of church and state" appear. Thomas Jefferson's idea of church/state separation was to protect religious liberties from an intrusive government! In no way did Jefferson or any of the other framers of the U.S. Con-stitution seek to restrict Americans’ religious activities, un-like the courts have done and will probably continue do in the future.

In 1864, Pope Pius IX issued a document entitled "Syllabus of Errors". This document listed 80 specific assertions which it declared erroneous. Number 55 in this list, in the section headed "Errors about civil society, considered both in itself and in its relation to the Church", reads: "The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church."

Frequently, the phrase of "separation of Church and State" is used by the government and the media to suggest that there are times when the Church forces itself into the affairs of the government. While it is true that the government cannot establish any one form of religion upon its people, one cannot ignore that the term originally was intended for the protection of the Church. That would have been Jefferson's thought.

In more recent times, the Church has maintained that the relationship between Church and State can be one of mutual co-existence. For example, the Code of Canon Law (1983) urges Catholic parents of public school students to make sure that religious and moral education should be secured in the public school system: "Christ's faithful are to strive to secure that in the civil society the laws which regulate the formation of the young also provide a religious and moral education in the schools that is in accord with the conscience of the parents" (canon 799).

7.23.2007

Life, A Beautiful Gift!

Today, I was out and about with a friend and we passed a mother pushing a stroller. I have done this so often before in my life, but there was something different this time. It was like I was noticing something for the first time in my life. I couldn't help but focus on the child's tiny hands and fingers. As adults we go about our everyday existence and fail to recognize God's most precious gifts to us. Life -- has got to be the ultimate!

I thought that it might be a great time to consider this gift of life that so many people disregard. Since I was in college, I have been active in pro-life activities. I have attended national conventions in Miami and Omaha. I have been involved in parish Respect Life Committees. In one parish, I even initiated and organized a Respect Life Ad published yearly in the secular newspaper on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Janice, a wonderful parishioner at the parish where it all started, has enhanced it to include some 20 parishes and other organizations, with hundreds (if not, thousands) of names claiming their belief in God's gift of life. Truly awesome! I urge you to stand up and get involved in pro-life activities, whether in your parish or community.

Focus, if you will at the photo in this post. This is a CHILD at 16 weeks! How can one say a life is not present? To be Catholic is to be pro-life. If you are Catholic, you MUST be pro-life. Thanks Mother and Dad for having me. Congratulations to Cindy and Michael, who informed me today that they are expecting their first child. Congratulations to Elyse and Matthew who gave life to Sebastian Thomas born a month ago today and will welcome him into the family of the Lord on the first wedding anniversary of his parents in August!

7.21.2007

Are You A "Mary" Or A "Martha"?

Every time I hear this story of these two sisters, I cannot help but reflect on how it relates to my life. It is no secret that most of us consider ourselves to be busy people today. We want to see our dreams fulfilled, so we strive to make our lives perfect, at least as perfect as we humans can make them. However, we cannot lose sight of putting ourselves into the presence of the Lord.

"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things." Boy, that sure sounds like me. I am certain that many of you can relate to me when I say that. By nature, I am a busy person. I like to see the fruits of my labor. I like to be complimented on a task well done. But, who do I do the task for? I am afraid that if I am honest, I would have to say that many times it is me. Often, I bring that question from the Baltimore Catechecism to my mind and to the reflection of the faithful. You know the one, "Why did God make you?" The answer is, “God made me to know him, to love him and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next.” God DID NOT make me to know myself, to love myself, and to serve myself.

I remember growing up in the 70's and seeing a TV commercial which asserted "BE YOURSELF." While I do not have any problem with being happy with whom God made us to be individually, I think the message was misinterpreted in many respects to mean that I am the most important. Look around, what kind of world do we live in today? Is our society one that is thankful for the blessings that are bestowed on us by God? Frankly, I am amazed at how little Church attendance there is on Thanksgiving Day. Like many national holidays, people can not wait to take time off and relax. Do we need to be reminded what that day is for in the first place?

All in all, I would have to agree with Jesus (surprise, surprise) when He says "Mary has chosen the better part." Mary was not lazy -- she was focused on the important part of life in the Lord. Truth be told, the Lord calls us to be both Martha and Mary at different times in our lives to enhance the world in which we live. It is up to us to prioritize which person we are and when.

7.16.2007

Boy, This One Was A Squeaker!

Thanks to some kind Blogger friends, I thought I'd take the challenge. Here are my results:

You scored as Roman Catholic, You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic

100%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

86%

Neo orthodox

57%

Emergent/Postmodern

57%

Classical Liberal

43%

Fundamentalist

29%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

29%

Modern Liberal

29%

Reformed Evangelical

14%


created with QuizFarm.com


Check out your Theological Viewpoint at:
http://quizfarm.com/run.php/Quiz?quiz_id=7095

7.14.2007

Can I Have Your Attention, PLEEEEEASE?!

Distractions. They are all around us. The television mentality is here. Most of us live our lives in segments or should I say snipits. It is like we can not focus on anything more than seven to ten minutes. However, while multi-tasking is the in thing -- it isn't always appropriate.

Unfortunately, such is true today at the sacred liturgy. Each week I see people coming to "attend" Mass. They fulfill their duty, but miss the true meaning of why they are there. Often, I tell my congregation that if they are there simply because of obligation, then don't come. This may sound harsh, I understand. But come on -- the reason we are there is to give glory and praise to God, right? Living in one's own world, apart from the community, not responding to prayer or singing with emotion, what good is it?

People usually tell me the reason that they don't sing is because they can't. Okay, who gave you the voice you have? Apparently, He does not find it offensive. So who are we to judge. I mean we aren't trying out for American Idol. God gave you the voice you have, give it back to Him. But maybe, you have to do it not quite so loud.

Recently, I had a conversation with a parishioner from another parish who came to my Mass. They lamented that their priests are boring and have no life. I asked why they thought that was the case. Frankly, they had no idea. So I said, "How much life do you bring to the liturgy?" The person was taken back and responded, "Me? That's not my job!" So let's get this right. I, as a priest, am the leader of prayer and the cheerleader as well. Wow! Seminary did not prepare me for the "Rah, Rah, Rah!!!" part. See, to me looking out at a bored and non-responsive assembly does not give me anything to collect energy from, especially doing multiple Masses in one day.

Of course, the real reason for going to Mass is to receive the Lord in Word and Sacrament, but with awareness and awe. Paying attention me be difficult, but highly beneficial.

7.11.2007

Healing Old Wounds

In recent weeks there has been some active Catholic chatter regarding the Pope's "Summorum Pontificum." Many believe that the pope is getting rid of the Mass in the vernacular which has been offered for the last four decades. Such is not farther from the truth. The letter states that while the new Roman Missal, introduced in 1970, remains the ordinary way of Catholic worship, the 1962 missal should be considered "the extraordinary expression of the same law of prayer."

What, then does this mean? Frankly, very little to the average Person In the Pew (PIP). Since the promulgation of the 1962 version, there has not been a great outcry to bring the Latin Mass back. Yes, there has been the occasional dissident group calling for the reinstatement of the Roman liturgy, but not significant numbers. Why won't this new letter return the liturgy to the former state? There are several reasons:
First, most people who want the Latin Mass returned do it out nostalgia. They romanticize that past without an ideal appreciation for the present and future. Time and time again, I have heard Catholics longing for the "old Mass". When pressed to answer the question "Why?", they do not really know. Because of the Latin, they say. But did they understand it? No. I suppose there was a mystery that they miss.


Second, if we revert how would this include those under the age of 45 and those brought into the Catholic Church via RCIA? This may be hard to comprehend, but coming out of the Latin into the vernacular is definitely easier that the other way around.

Third, priests for the most part in active ministry were not trained in the Latin Mass. Those who had such experience are retired or will retire in the next couple of years. While seminaries require Latin in the college level, they do little on the graduate level. As a second career vocation, I had no Latin at all in the seminary. Most vocations today are second career as well, which means that most active priests today do not know the ancient language.

In short, the reason for Pope Benedict XVI's letter is to reach out to those who have alienated themselves from the Roman Church -- an olive branch that perhaps will be accepted (or not).

7.08.2007

The First Installment

Less than a week ago if someone had asked me to do a blog I would have never considered it. In fact, there might be a good chance that I might regret this. However, I had dinner at the home of a beautiful couple in my parish and was amazed at how this all works. I thought for a while asking myself if I had something to say, prayed, of course, and came to the conclusion that the Lord's message might get a hearing using this vehicle of modern technology. So here goes!

You will find this will not be a place of hard hitting theology, but rather a straight look at the faith of the Roman Catholic Church. I pray that this will not be a Catholic bashing opportunity for those who have fallen-away or have a grudge against the institution. But rather, a place to search, reflect and live.