All posts by Dance Farrell

I am a work from home, homeschooling father of two beautiful daughters, as well as husband to the second most beautiful woman ever to grace the planet. I am also in formation to be a Roman Catholic Deacon.

Homily from Ordinary Time, Week 25, Cycle C, 9-18-2016

Readings for this homily can be found here.

Mortgage rates are low right now, and I desire in my old age to have my house paid off, so I recently refinanced my house to a 15 year fixed. It costs me a bit more each month, but I know I won’t mind when I have it paid off early. I put my seat belt on every time I get in the car because I don’t want a ticket, and I don’t want to die. I have life insurance to make sure my wife and children are taken care of in case something happens to me. I lock my door when I leave the house so my belongings are safe. I check my children’s grades, I go to the doctor for a check up when I’m sick, I take my car to the mechanic when I hear a funny noise, and keep jumper cables and a first aid kit in my trunk, just in case. Without my pocketknife, I feel naked.

I try to be prepared for whatever life may throw at me.

Today, Jesus challenges me, and he makes me wonder if I’m not foolish.

St. Teresa of Lisieux once said, “Remember the world is thy ship, not thy home.” We spend so much time and energy preparing for the ups, downs, ins and outs of this world, but this world is a passing thing. We put most of our thought and energy into a boat that we will abandon once we reach our destination.

The steward in our Gospel today is cunning as a fox. He knows things are about to go bad for him, so he does what any of us would have done: he tries to set himself up for his future. If you work for a company that you can obviously tell is sinking fast, would you not start handing out resumes? Of course you would, to do otherwise would be foolish. If you see a storm coming, you grab an umbrella.

So the steward does the only thing he can do, and starts to get in good graces with those who will be most likely to help him. He starts checking out the competition, he’s wheeling and dealing, he’s doing everything he can to save his skin.

He’s doing everything he can to save his skin. What are we doing? We certainly aren’t trying to save ourselves. Most of the time, when it comes to our spiritual lives, we just sit back and act like everything is fine and dandy. “Sure, I’m not perfect, I’m only human, and God is forgiving.” we say to ourselves, and we almost believe it. We are content to give little to almost no thought to our souls. We are content to worry more about the length of our neighbor’s lawn or where I’m going our to dinner than we are to meditate on the eternal fate of our souls.

This is what Jesus mean when he tells us “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

I know you might feel like I’m getting all negative, but don’t worry, Jesus offers us a cure for this problem. He says, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.”

So we start with small things. Maybe for you that means praying before meals, or adding a morning or evening devotion. Maybe for you that means adding the rosary to your evening routine. Maybe you feel the need to work on some spiritual reading. Maybe the next step for you is making daily mass once or twice a week or adoration every week. Be trustworthy in small things, and grow from there.

But do act. Do something. This is the single most important thing we can focus on in our lives, and it deserves a bit of diligence, a bit of forethought, and a bit of action. We must turn ourselves around and focus ourselves on the things that really matter. Faith, Family, Service, Community. If we are not serving that which is truly good, than what exactly are we basing our lives on? “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.”

Parish Reception – Among So Many Friends

I love my parish.

No, you don’t understand, I love my parish.

These people are the best friends I have. I don’t really have many friends outside of the Church, and my parish holds most of these people. I’m the guy who loves to hang out at RCIA and Catechism classes just to be around. I’m a member of the Knights of Columbus just because I think those guys are cool. Old, young, families, singles, these are my people.

My diocese is rather large, and most of my friends were not able to make the long drive to the seat of the diocese for my ordination. So when I was ordained, I decided I should have a little reception after I gave my first homily, a little coffee hour thing after Mass with a cake or something. I just wanted a chance to say thank you to everyone for being such a blessing to me during these long years of formation, and give everyone a chance to share in the event they could not be a part of.

Then the community got involved, and before I knew it, it had become this massive event.

Like this, just without monkeys!

The Knights couldn’t stand for mere coffee and treats, so they decided it should be a full on luncheon. One small cake turned into several that filled a table. There were tablecloths, and place settings, and all sorts of finery I would have loved to have had at my wedding. My small coffee hour turned into a gala event.

I got to give a speech. I got to bless the food. Most of the local priests came to wish me well. Lots of questions, lots of hugs, lots of blessings. Lots of kids hugging my legs. Being Catholic is awesome.

I can’t tell you how deeply thankful I was and am for such a warm welcome into my new role in parish life. It was a perfect day.

My favorite part was the cards. One of my dear friends got the idea to set up a station for people to write me cards of congratulations. They were all very sweet, but the kids cards topped the cake. Endless pictures of Jesus and Mary, pictures of me, with hand scrawled misspelled congratulations. I will keep them all forever.

I serve two parishes, as clergy are in short supply in my diocese, so imagine my surprise when I went to give my first homily at my (new) parish to find they too had set up a celebration in my honor. More cake, more sweets, more congratulations and even more smiles. They made me feel right at home, and welcomed me with open arms.

What a blessing it is to serve God’s people.

My First Homily!

My pastor scheduled me to preach my very first weekend as a deacon, to go along with a celebration of my ordination. I worked on my first homily all summer long. I really wanted to get it all right, I wanted to start off good. It was a finely crafted work of art.

I then scraped the whole thing and rewrote it the night before.

It was such a great joy to serve my parish for the first time, I was so deeply honored. Ill talk more about the reception in another post.

So without further ado, for your reading pleasure…

Readings for the day can be found here…

As I stand here today, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to this parish, this family who have given so much to support me over these last five and a half years. In preparing to become a deacon, I have many times wanted to quit, to give up. You see, I know that I am in no way worthy to serve you.

How blessed am I that the one piece of scripture that sustained me, is the scripture we read from Paul today. He is telling my story. He says, “I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated.” This is me. But the grace of our Lord is indeed abundant, and like Paul, somehow God in his grace has found me trustworthy.

In my life, I have not been the best of men. In my foolishness and ignorance, I have denied him, I have hurt people, and I have hurt myself. Christ came to save people just like me, sinners. Like Paul, I cannot help but think that the main reason Christ has chosen me in this way, to serve you as deacon, is to show you the endless mercy and patience he has. If he can bring a sinner like me home, there is no one he cannot save.

I know you too are not perfect. Maybe your sins are different then mine, but to be human is to have that natural tendency towards sin, so I know it is there for you too. It was there for Israel in the desert as they built the molten calf, and it is with us still. But God’s mercy is enough for us.

Jesus is not afraid of our weakness, he is not afraid of our sin. It is we who live in fear, fear of not being good enough, fear of judgement, fear of the future and fear of being alone. Jesus is not afraid to walk right through all of that to walk beside us. He is not afraid to leave all and come searching for us, to risk all to bring us home, and there is no greater celebration for him than finding you and I, his lost sheep, his missing coin.

We must move towards him always, we must have faith that he is there to catch us when we fall, and to guide our steps along the ever narrowing path. We must take every step of our lives in this faith, we must walk this faith in our work, in our dealings with our families and friends, in our meeting strangers, and in our sufferings and sorrows. If we instead choose to live in fear, we will never find the happiness we seek.

Faith is not a blind thing. Faith is not trying to force yourself to believe something that doesn’t make sense. Faith is like a glass bridge stretching over the Grand Canyon. You have seen people walk across it, you know it has been engineered well, but when it comes time for you to walk over it yourself, you can’t help but be afraid. You see nothing but glass and sky beneath you, and your heart rises in your chest, and you can hardly breathe.

Faith is knowing what is true, and acting on it even when it doesn’t FEEL true. We may desire sinful things, but we must fight it, because we know it will not bring us joy, will not make us whole, and will leave us empty. Instead we must in faith move towards the good things that come from God, Friendship, Loyalty, Charity, Compassion, Kindness, and Fortitude. These are the things that will bring us lasting joy. Joy is what we seek, and to live a life in Christ is to turn away from the sin and the fear that plagues us, and to grab that joy our Lord offers with both hands.

Today as I begin my ministry to you, I remember the words of a dear friend of yours and mine, Fr. Eric Freed, that I hold deep in my heart and in my thoughts. “To be happy, be thankful. To be thankful, have faith. Faith is understanding that all is God’s.”

Ordination! Two impressions…

Satan tried to bring me down. I know it was him, I felt it.

I was in the hotel room getting ready, and I had a brand new alb my beloved priest had bought for me. It was beautiful: Long, White, Clean, Crisp, …just beautiful. I had never worn it, and it was wrinkled.

We aren’t rich, and this whole process had been expensive, so we were staying in an inexpensive (can I say, crappy?) motel, and they didn’t have an iron in room, so I had to go get one from the office along with this cheap little tabletop ironing board. Seriously, how does one iron this huge alb on a squishy bed with a little tabletop ironing board? I was laughing at the mere idea. But I was a boy scout, and I can make anything work, so I just turned on the iron, and got ready to make it happen.

The second the iron touched the fabric, I wanted to cry. It was hotter than the setting said, and began to melt my beautiful polyester.

I wanted to scream, yell, and hit things. I wanted to cry, weep and moan. I had no backup. I had ruined it. I was to be ordained in hours.

God bless my family. They are so smart, and so wise. They all left the room while I just vented. Then, they came back in and my daughter said, “Don’t let Satan take this from you.”

Out of the mouth of babes.

My whole attitude changed in a second. I wore it as is, and wear it still. It seems silly now, but how easily the Liar can fool us and try to steal what is beautiful from us.


I didn’t know how I would feel as we went through ordination. So often we have a hard time paying attention during these big moments in our lives, and can only see the grace when looking backwards. In the midst of all the travel, the meeting with family and friends who came to share the day with me, in the sheer busyness of it all, I expected this to be much the same.

I was all business as we walked in. We had rehearsed everything, and I wasn’t going to be the idiot who screwed up and looked stupid, so I was totally focused on trying to be in the right place at the right time. We were processing in to begin the Mass, my wife beside me holding the luxurious vestments I would soon be dressed in, my beloved family and so many of my dearest friends to my left, my friends the Marian Sisters to my right; it was truly almost a royal feeling.

I’m still just walking in, I haven’t even sat down yet, and I look up and there is this giant, larger than life crucifix of our Lord hanging above the altar. The first thought that pops in my mind is:

“Here I stand, surrounded by love in all my finery, and there You are with nothing but a loincloth as vestments, and all but a few have left you to suffer. Why would you bless me so?”

The rest was an emotional rollercoaster. I remember crying, and not being able to cry any more. I remember lying on the cold stone tile offering everything I have, I remember the moment the bishop’s hands rested on my head, I remember feeling the weight of the Gospel in my hands, and the deep sense of change as my wife and my mentor dressed me. I felt every moment with clarity, I felt transformed.

I still do. It’s calmer now, but I know I am not the same as I was. I am a different man, no longer my own. My independence is gone, but it has been replaced with this unyielding desire to be there for everyone God puts into my life. I am learning I can’t do it all, that I don’t have the time for everyone, and that actually hurts.

In the end, the Catechism has it right, we are given the grace to live out the Sacrament we have received. I pray I am able to allow that grace to continue to transform me as the years pass on that I may serve Him ever more.

More than all this, I am still shocked that our Lord would be so gracious to me who deserve that grace so little.

Thank you to all my brother deacons who walked this path with me. May God bless you continuously in your ministry.

Plan Your Work – Work Your Plan

We are now fully into the penance of the holy season of Lent.

I’ve already messed it all up.

This to me, is the beauty of Lent. It reminds me every year of just how hard it is to be the person I really want to be, the person I think God is calling me to be. It sets me up to fail, to remind me that without God, I truly am powerless.

Every year, I use Lent almost like New Years Day, a time to reset my life to what I think it should be if only I were a better person. I have in my mind the idea that if I can just create the habits of being good, that somehow that will fix most of my problems. Lent teaches me again and again, year after year, that it is just more complicated than that. It reminds me of my fundamental laziness, my sloth, my pride.

It’s not that I don’t really want to be a good person, I truly do. I truly wish to become a saint, as holy as I am able in this transitory life. The problem is wanting to be a saint right now. I have this constant vision of what I think holiness looks like, and want to somehow reach it, but in the moment, I think, “I’m tired, I know I should pray my rosary, but I really just want to lie on the couch and watch some Netflix.” Then one show becomes three, and I’ve blown my whole evening. I can’t help but feel so defeated, and I feel like just giving up.

The first Sunday of Lent, we heard the story of Jesus in the desert, being tempted by Satan. Again and again Satan tries to trick Jesus, and he does it in the most devious way possible. He uses scripture! He tries to present sin to Jesus as if it is a good thing, as if God would really want him to do these things. Jesus is not fooled, but I am fooled almost every time. “Come on Dance, you know you are tired, I know God wants you to have some free time to yourself,” the serpent whispers. Yes, of course he does, but not at the expense of leaving Him or my commitments I’ve made to Him! And I certainly don’t need THAT much rest!

How does Jesus fight back? He has a plan. A real plan, and a good plan. Jesus knows he is going to be tempted, and he is prepared. For Jesus, he has prepared by knowing his scripture, and he’s ready to fight the devil head on.

Satan will attack us this Lent as well, every day of it, and if we too don’t have a plan, we will fall victim to his lies.

This is NOT a good plan! Sadly though, this is often the only plan we have.

You know what your main sins are. I certainly know mine, I confess them over and over again every time I seek Reconciliation. Do you have a plan for how you are going to deal with the temptation that most affects you? When you have the temptation to gossip, what is your plan? When you have the temptation to be rude, what is your plan? When you have the temptation to be lazy, what is your plan? When you have the temptation to consume too much, what is your plan?

Take your spiritual life seriously this Lent, treat it as you would any other enterprise. You would not build a business without a plan, neither can you build a strong spiritual life without one. Take notice of your weaknesses, and careful decide how you will defeat the sin that have plagued you. That way, like Jesus, you will be prepared when the tempter comes.

Then, this will be a Holy Lent indeed.