Category Archives: Spirituality

Transit of Venus

I just love astronomy. I’m sure it’s the childhood geek in me just screaming to get out and fly in a spaceship to planet where the plants can talk.

But whenever I get the chance to see something truly spectacular, something that truly takes the imagination away, and makes me look at the real majesty of our universe head on, I always lose my breath. I will not have an opportunity to see this again in my lifetime, and that makes it all the more special.

So as you take a look at this video of the transit of Venus, remember that is another freakin planet, just slightly smaller than our own. It’s a mighty big universe out there, and God’s game of celestial pinball reminds me so clearly of just how big God is, and how small I am.

Lord, What Shirt Should I Wear Today?

You might think I’m being humorous, but I really do ask that question. I know it’s not a big deal, but it’s an easy question to ask. I’ll tell you why it’s so easy, I get dressed right after my morning prayer.

Yup, I don’t even get out of bed, I just wake up and start talking. God must think I’m worse then a pack of thirteen year old girls with how much I blabber. I don’t really have anything formal, I just decided a long time ago that the first person I should address each morning should be God, and so I’ve made a habit of it. At first it did not come easy though, it was a serious struggle. You see, there is a fundamental problem we face when we begin to learn to pray.

To really begin praying, you have to pretend like you are praying.

I swear, I’m not making this up, I’m just telling you how it worked for me. At first, you really don’t know what praying is, and you just feel silly. I felt like I was just talking to myself, like one of those nuts who walks around the grocery store with their Bluetooth in. I tried reading the bible, but in honesty, I got bored. I tried reading rote morning prayers, but that was no better. You see, I just didn’t feel like anything was really going on. I remember being asked when I first came into the Church by a buddy of mine,

“What does it feel like to pray? Do you hear God or anything?”

To which I replied, “Well, as best I can tell so far, I just sit there feeling like an idiot.”

You see, I was trying so dang hard to talk to this God I didn’t really know, but He just wouldn’t talk back. I might as well have been talking to a wall. All the fancy words in the bible and in these rote prayers just made it harder for me because I was so distracted by the readings themselves. I just didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. I still feel this way at times.

It was Brother Lawrence that fixed me up. If you have never read “The Practice of the Presence of God”, I totally recommend that you do. It is so short that you could read the whole thing while waiting for the doctor to call you at your next visit, by which I mean about an hour and a half.

Brother Lawrence taught me to pretend. He taught me to just chat with God as if He were there, paying attention to every moment in my life. At first, I still felt silly, but at least I wasn’t distracted. I could just focus on the pretending, and that was enough to do the trick.

This is why kids are awesome at praying. They don’t really try to over think it, they just go for it and see what happens. They are great at pretending, and therefore learn to pray super easy.

Now I won’t lie, I have never been able to keep this up for more than fifteen minutes without losing my train of thought, but it broke the barrier for me. After a while, I really began to know that there was something going on that was more than I was putting in. I can’t really quantify it in any way, but in the pretending, I learned some shadow of the real thing, and it has made all the difference.

Here is the kicker. At some point, I really knew this presence was, well, present. I learned what it felt like, and then I was able to access that feeling during other prayers, even those really complicated ones like bible reading. Whenever I start getting lost, I just pause, and focus on that presence that is always there. He still doesn’t chat back with me, but instead of the echo I used to get from the wall, I hear silence. I can’t really explain it, but it is very different then what I heard and felt before. It’s bigger, stronger, and quieter.

If you have ever had trouble with prayer, and I think we all have, I really recommend you look into this. I’m not really all that smart a guy, so I really like simple ideas and short words. Brother Lawrence is my man. And guess what! You can have it FREE! Click here, pick your format, and read it now or print it out later for while you are waiting for the kids to get out of baseball practice.

So yes, every morning I discuss my wardrobe for the day with the Lord. I’m there, I’m paying attention, and thank goodness he has never picked out that pink sweater my grandmother bought me that I should just throw away. Well, he never actually seems to have an opinion, but I suspect that’s because I have such great taste.

Spy Wednesday

Tomorrow we celebrate betrayal. Sounds funny doesn’t it, to “celebrate” betrayal?

Tomorrow we remember Judas going out to the chief priests to sell out Jesus.

Guess what? All the apostles sold Him out. You and I have also sold Him out. There is so much betrayal here that there is no way I could put it all down in one post.

The apostles who just celebrated the first Mass with our Lord all bailed on Him.

“Surely not I Lord?”

Peter who seemed so faithful and committed will deny he even knows Jesus at the threat of a lowly servant.

You and I deny Him again and again every time we sin.

Betrayal.

I want to take a look at two betrayals here today though, and contrast them, the betrayal of Peter vs the betrayal of Judas. They both screwed up. They both made a very serious mistake. Maybe Judas was upset because Jesus was not the Messiah he had hoped for, one that would kick out the Romans and bring Israel to the forefront of nations, maybe he was in it for the cash, I just don’t know. I think at the heart of the matter was that Judas just wanted something different from Jesus.

You and I do this all the time. You and I pray not with thanksgiving, but with petition. Lord, if you could just take care of my weight / debt / mother in law then everything will be just right, and I can go on and be holy. We know what Jesus should do, and gosh darnit, we are going to tell Him. This is betrayal.

Peter said he loved Jesus. Said he would die for Him. Said they could rip off his arms and he wouldn’t budge, only to run away crying because he couldn’t tell a little girl the truth. How many times have you denied being a Christian? How many times have you not made the sign of the cross before eating because you were at a business lunch? How many times have you kept silent because you knew your friend might be insulted that you think abortion is evil?

We are both Judas and Peter. I pray for them both. There is however a great difference, so what is it?

I want you to stop right here. Really think, what is the difference? Why is Peter a big capital lettered Saint, and Judas not? Stop, and figure it out.

Yes, Peter sinned, but he got back up again. He knew he could not do right, and that the Lord would have to teach him. I have no doubt that he cringed every time he heard a chicken for the rest of his life, but that did not deter him. He continued to move forward in hope that Jesus could fix his deficiencies.

Judas gave in to despair. Judas thought he was so bad that there was no saving him, and hung himself.

Something to think about.

Another thing to think about, who was the first person to leave Mass early?

Just saying, maybe that last hymn is worth listening to.

Lent’s Last Push

We are at the home stretch. The finish line is in sight.

This is not the time to slow down, this is the time to give it all you got.

As we push through this last few days of Lent, it is so easy for us to just sit back and focus on the upcoming Easter, rather then really hone in on the last few days of Lent. Something in us can see ahead to the celebration, so we almost start celebrating early, just because it’s so exciting.

Don’t do it! Persevere!

If we really want to get into the spirit of Easter, this is our chance to really make our Lent count. I know, it’s been a long road. We have fallen in our Lenten penances, we have let it slide a little too much, we have not prayed as much or the way we intended. I know this, and that is really okay, but let’s not let Lent end with a fizzle.

Let us let Lent end with the resurrection!

So go out and give all your extra cash to a food bank to help them pay for Easter brunch for the homeless. (Extra cash guys, not your mortgage or the Easter ham!) Get down on your knees and pray from dawn to dusk. Get back on those Lenten penances and add a couple more for this last week. Get that house sparkling clean.

You can do this, it’s only five more days. You can do anything for five days, right?

It may be in this life you may be called to be a martyr, but you probably won’t. This is your chance to martyr yourself, to humble yourself before Him who is the source of all humility.

As a last thought, I want you to imagine an Olympic race. You know when they get to the end, they give it everything they’ve got. They are pushing so hard they don’t have the energy to sweat. You practically expect the winner to just fall down at the end, completely spent, but that is never what actually happens.

Instead, they shout with joy and exhilaration, they run an extra lap in victory, and smile like the sun.

“For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Church Bells

I live about 5 blocks from my parish church. This has always been nice, as I’m able to walk to Mass most days. That is, when it’s not raining like crazy, which here is most of the time. There is something so very organic able walking to Mass, it just feels so very natural.

The daily Mass I attend is at 12:15, a perfect time for my schedule, so we usually get out of the door at about noon. one thing I just love about this walk is hearing the noon Angelus ring, bright and clear, as if calling me to Mass.

It reminds me of a short time I stayed in Germany, in a very small town. The church there was massive for such a small town, and the bells would ring on the hour, reverberating through the town, keeping the whole community in beat. It was so very calming, pastoral, and the bells still deeply move me.

The sad thing is, we can’t usually hear the bells over the repressing din on modern day life. Between the traffic, the sirens, the tv advertisements and our iPods, we have all but drowned out the bells. I wonder what else we have drowned out. Have the rhythms that have replaced their slow methodical beat brought us more happiness and joy? I don’t really know, but I do think we have lost something.

I wanted to share this painting. It shows a couple, working their land in brief prayer. Why do you think they suddenly decided to stop what they were doing and spend a moment with God almighty? Well, if you look deep in the background, you will see a church. To make a long story short, they just heard the bells. It’s time to pray that age old prayer, the Angelus. It traditionally is prayed at noon, and at 6:00 in the evening.

The Angelus

V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the power of Holy Spirit.


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your Word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Let us pray: 

Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

If you feel inclined, I would highly recommend you add this most beautiful prayer to your daily life. As you do, feel your prayer linking with your brothers and sisters through the centuries, united by the sound of the bells.