Friday, December 28, 2012

Feast of the Holy Innocents





Today is the Feast Day for the Holy Innocents; remembering those children who lost their lives during Herod's attempt to eliminate any rivals after the Magi's announcement of the birth of a King.

This year, the feast has renewed meaning with to the unbelievable lost of life in Newtown, Connecticut.  Children, who lost their lives in the midst of a society that promotes violence in all its forms.  A society where anything goes, except for those who have faith in God and want to live by traditional Christian principals.

May these new saints in heaven pray for peace in their families lives and a renewal of faith throughout the world.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Quote of the Day




"A simple and upright soul does not see evil in anything, 
because evil only exists in impure hearts 
and not in inanimate objects."

The Story of a Soul
St Therese of Lisieux

Monday, December 17, 2012

She Weeps


December 17



O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, 
you govern all creation with your strong yet gentle care.  
Come and show your people the way to salvation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Skyfall: James Bond and Catholicism

After seeing the new James Bond movie, I was amazed by the overt suggestion that James Bond's family was Catholic (at least it was overt to me).  So I was happy to see a video of someone I consider one the great Catholic Apologist who really breaks down that theme in this movie.

WARNING: Spoiler Alert (you may want to go see the film before watching the video).

Enjoy.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Parents vs. the State | Crisis Magazine

Good article on the need for education reform in this country.

Parents vs. the State | Crisis Magazine

Friday, November 16, 2012

Great Trip

The better half and our oldest are about to take off for the Eternal City.  You cannot go to Rome and not be moved by the history and the majesty of it all.  Lets hope they have a trip to remember for a lifetime.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Presidential Candidate Positions on Key Issues


Courtesy of the Georgia Catholic Conference






CDC: U.S. Birth Rate Hits All-Time Low; 40.7% of Babies Born to Unmarried Women | CNSNews.com

Earlier this year, I gave a homily on the importance of family because the role and importance of the family is being diminished by society.  We can see the results all around us.  Single parent households, especially mother-child families, have risen dramatically over the past 4 decades.  And the challenges are great. 
·      Major factor in long term poverty
·      More high school dropouts
·      Higher incidence of teen pregnancy.
When you diminish the family, you diminish the role of mothers and fathers.  When you diminish the roles of mother and fathers, the children are adversely affected.  When children are adversely affected, the future of a just society is at risk.
The latest news is not good.  With over 40% of children born out of wedlock, the chances of these children living in poverty rises dramatically.  Yet it has been proven time and again that the clearest path to stay out of poverty is for women to have children when they are married and for these families to stay together.

Unfortunately, it would be politically incorrect for our politicians to say this publicly because someone may get their feeling hurt.  It needs to be said.

You can read more on this troubling statistic below.

CDC: U.S. Birth Rate Hits All-Time Low; 40.7% of Babies Born to Unmarried Women | CNSNews.com

Friday, October 26, 2012

We Are Catholics/Christians Before All Else

Words of wisdom from Archbishop Chaput


Makes Me Sick to my Stomach

The provocative political ads this election cycle have been more that I can stomach, but it reached a new low as we approach Nov 6th. This ad was actually paid for by one of the presidential candidates.

WARNING: Some may be offended by this ad (I was). I share it only because I feel it is important to know the depths a campaign will sink to attract voters.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Be Happy

Great Video on how to be more successful in life.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Archdiocese of Atlanta Sues over HHS Mandate

The Archdiocese of Atlanta has filed a Federal Lawsuit against the HHS Mandate. See the press release below:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Catholic Voting Guide

This video focuses on the 5 non-negotiable moral issues and how to approach voting for Federal, State and Local candidates.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Judge Not, Lest Ye be Judged



As a Christian, one of the first things that our secular society will throw back in our face is our so-called tendency to judge others.  And in many ways, their use of this biblical scripture has been very effective in stifling criticism, especially when we are talking about social issues.  That is becuase in the current environment, judgment is associated with any opinion one my have about someones behavior.  In society's mind they are being judged, which from a biblical perspective is just not true.  That is because the concept of judgment has been skewed to try and stifle any criticism.

Judgment in the Bible is not about not being able to have an opinion about right and wrong, but rather do you think that you are better than someone.  We are not able to rate someone as better or worse than ourselves.  It was best said when someone told me that "you cannot judge someone just because they do not sin the same way you do".   We are all sinners and cannot believe we are better or worse than anyone else.

However, there is right and wrong.  You can have an opinion about the sin that is so pervasive in society.  Killing the innocent is murder (and that includes those in the womb); having an inappropriate relationship with someone who is not your spouse is adultery (whether it is intimate or not).   We have an obligation to speak out about what is destroying a just society.

Society will continue to degrade unless good people speak out.  If someone tells you you are being judgmental, tell them that is a cop-out.   If someones actions are wrong and hurting those around them, they need to be called on it.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Mary

Statue of St Ann and St Mary in St Ann's Church Jerusalem

Thursday, August 23, 2012

RnR


Few posts lately because we have been enjoying a wonderful time at Edisto Island, South Carolina.  A place where reading books, playing bocci ball, good conversation and playing music into the night is about all that happens here.  It does not get much better than this.

God is Great.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Odd Life

We rarely go to see a movie at the theater but we will for this.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Diaconate, Martyrdom and Preaching the Gospel


In early Christan history, stories about the martyrdom of deacons for the Church have been widespread.  From the first century martyr, St Stephen, to St Lawrence in the 3rd century, the deacon was called to do the work of the Church in spite of risks to their welfare.

The call for the deacon today is no different than the call at the beginnings of the Church.  We are called to serve our bishop and proclaim the good news to all people.  Sometimes that news is contrary to what secular society wants to hear.  The Chic-fil-A incident  illustrates the response someone may get if they proclaim their belief in the traditional view of marriage between one man and one woman.  One will be called hate-filled, a bigot, and their livelihood may be threatened.

This extreme example of retribution recently happened to a sociologist who published research that children in homes with one father and one mother are much more likely to be well adjusted and successful in life when compared to other non-traditional family structures.  Critics of his research wanted him fired from his job; not because his research was incorrect (they were not sociologist), but because it did not support their view of the family.  For any group to attempt to take away someones ability to earn a living because of their opposing views is a reminder of a dark period in European history when the Fascist and National Socialists were in power. Could this type of persecution happen in the United States? 

Yet even if it does, deacons will be called to speak the truth and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.  And when they do so on critical issues that face society, they may be criticized, even by their own congregations. 

Let us hope that the deacons in today's Church will have the courage to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity and persecution.







Thursday, August 2, 2012

Archbishop Chaput on Building a Culture of Religious Freedom

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia gave an insightful speech this week on building a culture of religious freedom in the context of the changes we have experienced in this country.  At one point he said:

"Americans have always been a religious people. They still are. Roughly 80 percent of Americans call themselves Christians. Millions of Americans take their faith seriously. Millions act on it accordingly. Religious practice remains high. That’s the good news. But there’s also bad news. In our courts, in our lawmaking, in our popular entertainment, and even in the way many of us live our daily lives, America is steadily growing more secular. Mainline churches are losing ground. Many of our young people spurn Christianity. Many of our young adults lack any coherent moral formation. Even many Christians who do practice their religion follow a kind of easy, self-designed gospel that led author Ross Douthat to call us a “nation of heretics.”1 Taken together, these facts suggest an American future very different from anything in our nation’s past."

He does give concrete examples on how we can change the current path our country is on.  You can read the entire speech HERE.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Mandate and Small Business

As most know by now, the HHS mandate came into effect today.  That means that all companies without a direct religious affiliation must provide contraceptives, abortifacient drugs, and sterilization procedures to its employees.

A majority of the debate has been about forcing companies with a religious affiliation (hospitals, etc.) to offer these services in their insurance plans.  However, very few people are talking about the small business owners who also have an objection to this mandate, but must comply by law.

That mandate includes my company.

See, my business partner and I run a small business and have 10 employees.  We have always believed that the "moral" thing to do to was to provide all of our employees with health insurance that is paid 100% by the company.  If they have a family, we allow them to include their families for a modest fee.  This mandate now makes what we considered a "moral" responsibility  into something that is now personally "immoral". 

Our insurance comes up for renewal at the end of the year.  At that time, we must consider what is the greater sin as the owner of a small business.  Do we continue to pay for healthcare insurance that we feel is a moral obligation to our employees and their families or do we drop drop healthcare coverage all together because of the mandate.

Where is a Moral Theologian when you need one? 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

St Ignatius Feast Day






Today is the 456th anniversary of the death of St Ignatius of Loyola.  He is best know for founding the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the development of the Spiritual Exercises that is, to this day, one of the most popular methods for people of faith to reach out to God and listen.

My favorite place to get away from the busyness of life is the Ignatius House in North Metro Atlanta.  This little piece of heaven, within 20 minutes of downtown Atlanta, is open to all and full of peace and quiet.  Something that is getting more and more difficult to find.






“Lord, teach me to be generous;
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil, and not to seek for rest;
To labor, and not to ask for reward -
except to know that I am doing your will.” 
 St Ignatius of Loyola

St Ignatius, pray for us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Origins of the Universe | Crisis Magazine

I spoke about this in my homily this past weekend, using the scripture passage from Ephesians "He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world". 


Marriage: A Path to Prosperity

My homily on Fathers Day this year touched on the changing demographics in the United States, especially in the number of single parent homes.  The changes in the last 40 years have been dramatic and devastating for children.

An article in the New York Times really hits the nail on the head and worth the read.

Pass it on to some young people you know, especially young ladies.  They need to hear this story.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Faces of Mary

Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel

Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Stella Maris, or the Star of the Sea:  This ancient term for Mary is the name given to the Monestary on Mt Carmel.  The name denotes her role as a guide for all people to her son and as protector of those who travel or make their living on the sea.  It is also home to Elijah's cave.

 
 
Did Elijah have a good view or what? 

Founded in the 12th Century, it has one of the most beautiful views in all of Israel.
 
Mt Carmel Monastery Church
In the great Catholic Tradition, the main altar is immediately above the cave of Elijah.  It was also on Mt Carmel that Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Another Sporting Metaphor

The Four Last Things and the Tour de France:

Austin Ruse compares the Tour de France to the journey we all make towards heaven: up- and downhill, pulling along others as others pull along us.

The Olympics Are Coming Soon

I have always enjoyed the Olympics.  Although professional athletes are involved,  it still is different because they are competing, not for money, but for glory and for country.  The games say something about hardwork, discipline and working through adversity.  All of these traits can be seen in the video clip below, when one man defeats the odds after a long race; when most would have counted him out.



This race is a microcosm of this runners life.  Billy Mills, a Lakota Sioux Indian, was born into poverty and orphaned at the age of 12.  He is the only Amercian to win this event.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eric Metaxas: 2012 Prayer Breakfast



Right now, I am finishing Eric Metaxas book on Bonhoeffer (one of my favorite theologians).  This year he spoke at the 2012 National Prayer breakfast. 

This speech is worth watching. 

Stand up for Freedom

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pray for Peace in the Holy Land

Muslim Brotherhood wins in Egypt

John the Baptist's Birthday

Birthplace of John the Baptist
While in the Holy Land, Karen and I visited the birthplace of John the Baptist.  This site is a tradition (i.e. not know if it is the exact spot but certainly nearby) of the Church.


Hill Country, Judea
 The site is in the Hill Country of Judea, which is just outside Jerusalem (to the south) and is very close to the site of the Visitation.  This area must have been a place for second homes; a place to escape the heat and busyness of city life. 


It is now six months before Christmas and after the summer solstice (the longest day of the year).  Our days will now become a little shorter, reflecting the belief the Johns ministry will begin to wane,  to make way for the Christ.    

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dress Code

Taken from Taylor Marshall
Found this on the Canterbury Tales blog by Taylor Marshall.  He went on on to discuss the specifics of the dress code before entering St Peters.

The dress code forbids:

  • hats for lay men inside the basilica
  • shorts/skirts above the knees
  • sleeveless shirts
  • shirts exposing the navel
  • shirts for women that expose cleavage
  • shirts which contain profanity
  • excessive jewelry
  • The use of mobile phones is also prohibited, as is smoking.
 What is good enough for St Peters should be good enough for the local parish, no? 



A Day Late



To all of those fathers out there. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

D-Day + 2

Normandy American Cemetery
After a bicycle trip through Normandy in 2003,  I have always made a point to remember the sacrifice of those brave young men who gave the "last full measure" for their country.  Walking amongst these graves, one is struck by how many there are and how young they were. 

18-18-17-18-19-20-18-25-17-18.  

It goes on and on and on; over 9,000 in all, in just one cemetery.

The cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach where there were more than 6,500  US casualties on one day alone.

Never Forget.

Eucharistic Congress Atlanta






It begins this evening with a Mass and Healing Service.  A full day of activities tomorrow.

It is truly a wonderful event. 

You can learn more about it HERE.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Man in the Mirror

Not sure what you may have thought of Michael Jackson, but I have always had a soft spot for him in my heart.  He was about my age.

And he wrote great tunes!

Are You at RIsk for Diabetes?

 I know more and more people who are now dealing with diabetes.  I one acts in time, they may be able to avoid this difficult disease and new research has just been release into some of the warning signs. 

Are you at risk?

Take a look.

Waist size alone may predict diabetes risk  | ajc.com

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Three Temptations of the Church | Crisis Magazine

I enjoyed this article on the temptations of Christ and its analogy to the Church.  It is worth a read.


The Three Temptations of the Church | Crisis Magazine

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

One family, two deacons

Congratulations for the Dorner family. 


Taken by Fr Vic



Dennis Dorner Sr is a Permanent Deacon in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and his son was ordained a Transitional Deacon this morning. 

Archbishop interviewed

Archbishop interviewed

Friday, May 25, 2012

An Untold Story

Few people are aware that the Mexican government waged a war against the Catholic Church in the first half of the 20th Century.   That war is a reason many Mexican priest still do not wear the Roman Collar in public.

A new movie will tell that story.

Test of FIre

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Embrace: A Ministry of Healing



One of the ministries that I have been involved in since I began formation to the Diaconate and now lead at my parish is the Bereavement Ministry.  This ministry reaches out to those who have lost loved ones and trying to put their life back together; to have meaning in their life.

But I recently went to a workshop that is taking this ministry to a new place; one that has been largely hidden in society but has wounds that do not heal.  Wounds that last a lifetime.

This is the loss of a prenatal child or one that leaves this world soon after taking their first breath.  The pain is real; the pain does not go away.  The loss affects more people than anyone can imagine and is ignored by society and in large part by many in the Church.

The need to address this issue was brought to the attention of our wonderful Archbishop Wilton Gregory.  When he heard the stories, he said something needed to be done.  He was quoted after hearing of this need that (and I am paraphrasing) that if we are truly a pro-life Church, we must acknowledge these lives and treat them with the dignity that they deserve.   And the Archbishop is doing something about it.

The Archdiocese now has a support ministry (EMBRACE) for those who have lost a child, whether it is but due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or sudden infant death.  They are providing a wide range of opportunities to address the loss.  When I mention the ministry, I have seen more tears come than I could have ever imagined.  It is obviously hitting on a need that has been ignored for too long.

At the end of this month, Archbishop Gregory will be the principal celebrant for a Memorial Mass (see below). 



This Mass will be to celebrate those lives; that they do matter; that your loss is real; and that the Church cares.

If you, or someone you know, has lost a child before you could say hello, consider attending this wonderful event.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Homily Video



 One of my homilies from Mass was placed on the St Thomas website for  viewing.  The homily begins at minute 19:35. 

Constructive criticism is welcome (and yes I know I was pacing :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Favorite Places: Bavaria

Marienplatz, Munich, Germany


Nice to see a City Center named after Our Lady.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Childhood Memories

Ten years old.

Sunday Night.

Disney had just finished for the evening (i.e.bedtime).

Begging, begging, and more begging.

Dad finally says yes; we can stay up and see the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I will never forget that night..





Mother Mary is here for us.

She loves you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Baby is Graduating




Later this spring my baby will graduate from the University of Georgia with a degree in Fine Arts - Painting and Drawing.  Of course, I am very proud of her and looking forward to her exit show at the beginning of May.  She is now worried about what she will do in the future (graduate school, get a job, etc.), which all young people do in these transitional periods of their lives.  Although it is not helpful to her right now, I know she will be fine as long as she is open to what God created her to do.  When she finds it, the worry will dissipate and she will let herself enjoy life. 

However, in this process of growing up, I pray is that she does not lose that child-like innocence to enjoy life and sometimes put on a funny hat for no other reason than because it is fun.  

Holy Land with Fr James Martin



Great video from Fr Martin and really expresses the power of a trip to the Holy Land.  It is worth a watch. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lumen Christi

The Tomb of Christ
Tonight is the most holy night of the Church where we will conduct a ritual that is almost as old as the Faith.  I have been told by many priest that if we could only celebrate the Mass once per year, this would be it.

If you can find one, go.

It is a beautiful thing.




Sunday, April 1, 2012

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem


Before entering Jerusalem, Christ wept for the temple He knew would be destroyed for its lack of faith.  A chapel, Dominus Flevit, was built in the area where this event occurred.  The photo above is the view Christ would have had of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  The temple was where the Golden Dome is now.  The Church of the Holy Sepulche (blue domes) can be seen immediately above the Golden Dome.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Georgia lawmakers pass abortion bill

The Georgia State Legislature passed its "Fetal Pain" bill after it was thought to be dead after changes were made to the House bill by the Senate.  This bill prevents abortion after 20 weeks except in cases where there are congenital or chromosomal defects.  Although the compromise is difficult to support, the bill is expected to save ~1,500 babies every year in Georgia.  I call that a move in the right direction.

You can read the entire story HERE

Monday, March 26, 2012

1st Century Christian Ossuary

 A lot has been made about the Discovery Channel show about finding the Tomb of Jesus.  This tomb, located over 2 kilometers from the old City of Jerusalem, has for the most part been discredited.  However, the story has recently been resurrected (pun intended) because other tombs have been discovered int he immediate vicinity of this tomb and these new 1st tombs have ossuaries that have christian inscriptions on them.  Of course, to promote the discovery, some are promoting this as proof of the "Jesus Tomb".

Yet the conclusion of the following:
What we apparently have is a family connected to the Jesus movement who reaches beyond the standard burial norms of the Jewish culture of the period to express itself individually in these unique ways (University of North Carolina at Charlotte (2012, February 28). Tomb exploration reveals first archaeological evidence of Christianity from the time of Jesus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 26, 2012)
 Forget the hype going around about the claim about it being associated with the Tomb of Jesus (that does not bear repeating).  The important discovery here is that archeological science has found the first definitive proof of a Christian presence in the vicinity of 1st century Jerusalem.  The Church was growing and the followers were more than happy to share their beliefs on the 1st century equivalent of a tombstone.  That, my friends, is a wonderful discuvery.

You can read more at:


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Theotokos

Morgan Mitchell 2012

Christmas is 9 months away.

Painting was done by my baby girl.  It will be a part of her exit show from the University of Georgia Art School.  And yes, I am very proud of her.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Music That Matters

Jewish Shroud Expert Teaches at Pontifical University


 During our visit to Jerusalem, we stayed at the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.  A nice hotel, with good food and a beautiful chapel.  One of the most interesting aspects of the center is the museum that is dedicated to the Shroud of Turin.  Although it is not very large, is covers the most recent scientific discoveries concerning the shroud.  As a scientist, I was convinced by the quality of the science done and became the basis for believing that it is authentic. 

Just recently I read an article on Zenit about one of the scientist involved in the research.  At one point, he said:
 For me, once I came to the conclusion from the science that it was authentic, I came to understand how meaningful it is. This is like a forensic document of the Passion, and for Christians around the world this has got to be the most significant relic because it accurately documents everything that is told in the Gospels of what was done to Jesus.
 Read the entire article using the link below.

ZENIT - Jewish Shroud Expert Teaches at Pontifical University

If you ever make it to Jerusalem, the Center would be a wonderful addition to your pilgrimage.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First "Regular Season" At-Bat

I learned on Sunday evening that I will be preaching on Sunday and this is the first opportunity since the Mass of Thanksgiving on February 12th.  In many ways, I felt that was part of the honeymoon; everyone was so supportive.  But now I get my opportunity as a deacon of the Church; no more practice homilies in class, no more feedback from classmates; this one is for real (although I will rely on my wife for input). 

I began preparations on Sunday evening with a quick look at the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.  It was during that process that I began to realize the gift I have been given.  By the mere fact that I was to prepare a homily, I was provided an opportunity to dive deep into scripture.  Questions like:

  • What do the Words say to me?
  • What was the perspective of the writer?
  • How does this passage differ from the other Gospels?
  • What do these Words mean to us today?
 After I went back through the readings yesterday, I unearthed more topics than I could have imagined.  The number of homilies that can be written for these Words are endless.  Each phrase has something to say to us.  I now see how it is possible to go too long; to try and say too much.  I have already focused my message to one portion of the Gospel (with a little help from the Epistle).

Even with that, there is so much to say.

So now I must put my thoughts into words; words that hopefully touch people where they are right now.  

It may not go as well as I would like (I still have a lot to learn) but I now know that this process is a gift to better understand the Words of scripture.  That, in itself, is a blessing I did not anticipate.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

HHS is Hurting Women

Got this for "The Anchoress":




Well said



Friday, March 9, 2012

Der Dom

Another picture of my favorite Cathedral.

Cologne Dom

The Church of the Nativity

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was one of the most crowded sites we visited during our trip to the Holy Land.  It is controlled by three Churches so gaining access can sometimes take a while.  It took a long time to enter the crypt, where there is a cave.  This cave, tradition holds, is the birthplace of Christ. 

I was not sure what to expect and was a little surprised.  A little taste of it is shown in the video.



Needless to say, the atmosphere was not very conducive to quiet contemplation on the significance of where we were and why we were there.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jesus Clearing the Temple

Triple Gate - Jerusalem

Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

 The beginning of this Sundays Gospel reading tells us about Jesus entering Jerusalem for the passover.  This gate, the triple gate, is thought by many scholars to be the entrance that Christ would have used to enter the city and the temple.  It is also in this area the many people believe that Christ cleared the temple area of the money-changers.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Must-watch video of the day

Saw this over at the Deacons Bench. Worth a look.



Friday, March 2, 2012

My Inner (Geologist) Nerd Appears in Israel

During our trip to Israel, not only was I totally overwhelmed by the spiritual nature of the trip, but by the local geology as well (oops, I probably just lost my audience).  I was struck by the fact that in Capharnaum, much of the millstones were made of basalt (a black deep ocean igneous rock) while everything else I had seen on the trip was sedimentary (light colored limestone and sandstone).  So I asked myself the question; where did this stone come from?


I soon got my answer on the way to the sight where Christ cast the demons into pigs, which is on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.  At a point, we left the limestone and sandstone and entered an area full of the dark basalt rock from the deep sea.  As we continued to cross the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, the rock turned back into the limestone and sandstone.  You could tell that the dark basalt had split the sedimentary rocks in two.

For the first time in my life I saw evidence of a plate tectonic rift zone. 


This area is part of the Great Rift Valley, which is one of the only new spreading centers in the world. 

If you draw a line from the Sea of Galilee through the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, you would have just drawn a fault that goes through the entire length of the Holy Land.  Eventually, the Arabian plate will continue to move north and away from the African plate.  Eventually, the Dead Sea will become part of the Red Sea (the Dead Seas is ~1,000 below sea level) and eventually connect the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean.

It all reminds me of Psalm 114 when we hear the Psalmist say:

The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back; the mountains leaped like rams, the hills like lambs. Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back? Why, mountains, did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs?

 God was using nature to make His point.  It is a beautiful thing.

OK, I feel better. 

Ga. abortion bill adds 
to national debate  | ajc.com

The Georgia House passed a bill yesterday reducing the time-frame from receiving an abortion from 26 to 20 weeks. The bill now goes to the State Senate for consideration. You can read more on this story on the link below.


Ga. abortion bill adds 
to national debate | ajc.com

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Holy Sepulchre

I found this interesting cross section of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with a depiction of what was there during the time of Christ and how the Church was constructed (early 4th Century) to incorporate both the tomb and Golgatha. 


It was interesting to see that an intact tomb (called the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea) is still present at the rear of the Church.  This tomb was all hewn out of the rock with both an outer and inner chambers.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Unrest is Now Personal



For years we have heard about the unrest in the Holy Land and how it affects the people who live there.  Of course it is something that we know is real but it is difficult to become emotionally attached to the issues.

That changed with the trip to Israel and the West Bank.  We met people; we made friends; we now care about their lives.  One of our favorite people was the driver of our bus.  A Palestinian, living in the West Bank, who struggles to make a life for a family he dearly loves.  In Bethany, we met his little girl and saw the love he has for her.  All he wants is peace and the ability to have a secure future.  They deserve it.

Please pray for peace in the Holy Land.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Tomb of Christ, Church of Holy Sepulchre
The trip to the Holy Land was literally like being thrown into the deep end when learning to swim.  I experienced things that I never dreamed would be possible in my life much less within a week of ordination.  The first news was that, as a deacon, I would be assisting at Mass with a Bishop from Louisiana who was also on the pilgrimage.  Fortunately, my deacon mentor was on the trip with us so he was able to help out with my questions on assisting the Bishop.  

One of the great memories was serving at Mass at the Tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  The church is shared by the Latin, Orthodox and Armenian Churches.  As such, there is a specific rotation on who is in control of the Tomb and when.  The day before we got to Jerusalem, we were told that our group would celebrate a High Mass at the Tomb of Christ at 6:30am.  Needless to say I did not sleep very well that night.

Once we got to the Church we were lead to the sacristy where we met with the Franciscan who would act as Master of Ceremonies (MC).  Since there were two deacons, I was to be the deacon of the Word.  The Mass included our group and the Franciscans who live at the Church.  The Liturgy of the Word was completed just outside of the Tomb and the Liturgy of the Eucharist was celebrated on the altar inside of the Tomb over the place where Christ was laid in the Tomb.

The Liturgy of the Word was beautiful and after the proclamation of the Gospel, I glanced over to my wife, who had tears in her eyes.  It was a very emotional moment.

Once this was completed, I was told to remain outside of the tomb while the Bishop and my deacon mentor went into the Tomb to prepare for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  At that point, I thought that I would remain where I was for the remainder of Mass.  However, they soon returned and the MC asked that I incense the clergy and the laity in the congregation.  Once that was finished, he asked us to follow him into the Tomb.



Before I knew it, I was inside the Tomb with the Bishop and my deacon mentor (there is really only room for 3 people).  Much of the liturgy now is a bit fuzzy because I was so overwhelmed by where I was and what I was experiencing.  To be present at the consecration immediately above where Jesus laid and where the resurrection occurred was beyond belief.  During communion, the Bishop left to distribute to those outside the Tomb so my deacon mentor and I were left alone in the Tomb.  It was a wonderful 5 minutes of relishing the experience.  


Soon, we were back outside of the Tomb for the conclusion of Mass.


This experience, of course, was one of the high points of our trip.  I am still amazed that it happened.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Home From Pilgrimage

Karen and I returned from our pilgrimage to the Holy Land yesterday afternoon.  I am still trying to process the trip because it was filled with so many moments.  From the initial stress of serving with a bishop so soon after ordination to the awe of being the deacon of the Word for a High Mass at the Tomb of our Lord in Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it was an unbelievable experience.

Once I recover from the jet lag, I hope to post some reflections on the trip.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Three Days and Counting



Today is probably the last day that it will be relatively quiet (at least from a "ordination" standpoint).  As usual, work is very busy, which always happens when you need to get away for a while. 

But tomorrow it really begins to pick up.  First, family will begin to arrive in the early afternoon.  Soon thereafter, Karen and I will go to the Cathedral for the ordination practice.   It will be surreal not to be getting briefed on the duties as an usher for the Mass (my job for the last few years) and actually getting ready for our own ordination.  After practice, we head home to meet up with extended family for dinner. 

Hopefully I will be able to get all of my work done at the office on Friday because the remainder of family and out of town friends begin to arrive Friday afternoon.  We will be having a small gathering at the house for dinner but hopefully it will not go very late.

Saturday morning we are to be at the Cathedral by 8:30.  The service begins at 10:30.    From there it just gets busy: from the open house, the Mass of thanksgiving on Sunday morning, a parish reception and another Mass in the evening. 

On Monday, I may need to go back into the office to finish off the last few bits of work.

On Tuesday, it is off to Israel where we will spend 10 days on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.


Needless to say, it is an exciting time in our lives.  It is hard to think that it is finally here; that it is really happening.

So, thanks to all for reading this blog and I hope to get back to it after we return.

As an aside, I am thinking that I will need to change the name of the blog since I guess I will no longer be considered an "apprentice".  If anybody has any ideas for a good name,  just let me know.

God Bless  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

St Thomas More

St Thomas More by Hans Holbein

Today is the birthday of St Thomas More (he would have been 534 years old today:) 

I think St Thomas is a great example today, especially with our governments current assault on religious freedom in this country.  He teaches us that we must stand firm in our beliefs and defend our faith.

And this strength is most needed by our leaders.  Before his death, Francis Cardinal George of Chicago said that “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr.”  Will this prediction become a reality?  Will our leaders stand firm, like St Thomas More, come what may?

King Henry VIII certainly wanted to make the Church and its leaders bow to his will and St Thomas More lost his life for not compromising his conscience.  This is no different than what the curent administration is asking of our Bishops.

We need to pray for our Bishops; to give them wisdom and strength; to emulate St Thomas.


St Thomas More, pray for us.






Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Administration and Religious Liberty Part Deux

Do you think that the most recent assault on religious liberty is the first? Think again. To find out more, read the linked article below.

A Setback for the Secularists?

First Bill to Introduced to Restore Religious Liberty

Today, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, a bill to repeal a new HHS requirement for religious institutions to provide health care coverage that violated thier religious beliefs.

A copy of the bill can be found HERE

What Should the Catholic Response Be?

Below, you can link to an interesting article on what the Cathloic response should be to President Obama's recent decision to require Catholic Institutions to purchase healthcare that violates Church teaching.

I truly believe that Obama thinks that this issue will not get any press, and he has every reason to believe so. Come on, if 500,000 people can show up in Washington DC to support "Life" for our most vulnerable citizens, and get no press coverage, why should this issue see the light of day.

But this message can be delivered to the faithful, in the pews. Let us pray that our Bishops and Pastors will keep up the pressure and not let go of this assault on religious liberty until things have changed.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Message from Archbishop Gregory on the Recent HHS Ruling



Letter from Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory

To Be Read at all Masses in Parishes in the Archdiocese of Atlanta During the Weekend of January 28 – 29, 2012

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing to you on a matter of grave moral concern -- freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies. In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply. I stand in unity with Catholic bishops throughout the United States and other religious leaders vowing to fight this mandate. Along with my brother bishops and other religious leaders, I insist that this is a direct attack on our religious freedom and our First Amendment rights. I will work with the bishops, other religious leaders and our fellow Americans to remove this unjust regulation. If the administration will not rescind this violation of our First Amendment rights, we must call on our elected leaders to do so. I ask you to pray that wisdom and justice may prevail, and work together to restore our religious liberty. Please join me in continuing to follow the development of this important issue and contacting our elected representatives to seek a just resolution. Through our Georgia Bulletin, archdiocesan and Georgia Catholic Conference websites and other media, I will keep you up to date on the progress of this important issue. 

Sincerely yours in Christ, 
╬ Wilton D. Gregory Archbishop of Atlanta

He is my hero.

mdm

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ordination Holy Card





It is a tradition in the Archdiocese of Atlanta for those being ordained to the Permanent Diaconate to have holy cards made up for the occasion.  For my card, I wanted to use the scene from the "Road to Emmaus"; however, I wanted to find one that represented what I had believed in my heart for a very long time.  That belief is that a man and a woman (or husband and wife) encountered Christ during that journey.  It surprised me to find out how rare it is to find such a depiction in art. 

But thanks for my dear wife, she found an icon written by a nun (Sister Marie-Paul) in the Holy Land.   Its perfect.

A Song to Our Lady

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Love: Use the Word Properly!





To say that our pre-ordination retreat was more than I could have expected is an understatement (I may have already said that [sorry]).  One example of this experience was one of Bishops Zarama's homilies during daily Mass.  It was all about Love. 

In particular it is the abuse of the word in our culture.  We love our cars; we love our home; we love our new suit.  It goes on and on; we cannot escape it.

Bishop Zarama said that the word should be reserved for God and people alone.  He believes that using the word for things that really do not matter diminishes the power of the word.  He is correct.  Society has taken that word and made it nothing more than a description of something that gives us pleasure.  That type emotion literally takes from something or someone and therefore cannot be love.

Love is sacrificial.  Love may mean giving up something so that someone else may get what they need. Love is about how we treat each other; what we can do for them and not what they do for us.  As such, it is one of the most powerful words in the English language.

At the end of his homily Bishop Zarama made a very specific point to each one of us.  He said he had better not ever hear any of us use that word outside of the context of God or a person (not even our animals).  If he did, it would not be pretty. 

I took his words to heart.  I want that word to mean something and that attitude needs to start somewhere. 

However, I do have a slight problem.  My affection for our family dogs is real and not using the "L" word in the description of my affection for them will be difficult (or maybe I just better not talk about them in certain company:)

“Why are beliefs of Catholics and others dismissed?”

“Why are beliefs of Catholics and others dismissed?”

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Deacon's Homily

When was the last time you heard a homily like this?

A sound idea: a recording of this week’s homily

Friday, January 20, 2012

President at War with Religious Liberty



The President of the United States is officially waging a war on religious liberty.  Today, the President of the United States stood behind Kathleen Sebelius' (Secretary of Health and Human Services) decision that religious organizations MUST provide health insurance coverage for drugs and procedures that are contrary to the teachings of those churches.  The only compromise was to allow these organizations a few more months to comply.

You can read the Catholic Church's response to this announcement HERE.


UPDATE:

I also find it interesting the the President does this just before a major "Right to Life" march that is scheduled for today.


Yahweh

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Busy TIme

I have got to finish the last bit of paperwork, etc.  before ordination.  It was more than I anticipated but necessary.  Things like:

  • Written permission for the Archdiocese to conduct another background check;
  • Review and certify completion of "Safe Environments" program ( a program to identify, prevent and report the abuse of vulnerable populations [i.e. children, etc.]);
  • Letter to the Archbishop requesting assignment to my home parish;
  • Meetings with my pastor to:
    • Develop a parish contract (i.e. what my ministerial assignments will be at the Church);
    • Coordinate the submittal of a letter from my pastor to the Archbishop requesting that I be assigned to my home parish (hope this is a gimme!);
  • Sending out tickets to the ordination (these are hard to come by);
  • Finalizing and practicing my first homily; and
  • Helping with plans for the pre-ordination family dinner, post-ordination open house and first Mass.
I know I am forgetting something

Karen and I will need to find some time to spend with our Lord.

M

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Are Back

To say that our retreat was inspiring would be an understatement.  I am still processing the week and glad I have the weekend to slowly return to the world.  Going back to work immediately after a week like this would have been difficult.

So much to do, and so little time.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Retreat Time




In a few hours, I will leave with one of my classmates to our pre-ordination retreat in Cullman, Alabama.  A lot of people ask the question Cullman, Alabama?  What's there?  That was probably my first thought when we made our first retreat there almost 5 years ago.  It is a beautiful Benedictine monastery and school that was founded in the 19th Century.  The location has truly been a blessing because it allows you to step back and quiet yourself.

And that is what we will be doing on this 5-day silent retreat.  To quiet ourselves; to listen to what our Lord is asking of us; to gain strength for the coming weeks, months and years; and to pray for His guidance. 

So please pray for us.

God Bless You.