During my formation over the past two years to become a spiritual director, Fr. Albert Haase, the noted Franciscan author, spent a weekend at Cedar Brake with our group. We had begun doing practicums on the art of spiritual direction, working with staged scripts, and it wasn’t going well.
Saint Benedict insisted that each man or woman joining the community would hold rank according to their date of entry. Whether born into slavery or into royalty, peasant or priest—all came in at the bottom and rose as the years went by.
There’s this thing I really want to happen. Actually, I would really like it to happen right now. But it isn’t happening now. And no matter how much I’d like to make it happen, it isn’t happening. So, I say, “I’m years away.”
Dreams are hands-down one of the greatest gifts that we all have received from God. They are so incredibly integral to the achievements He calls us to achieve. Note: Here, we define “dream” as a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal, not thoughts in sleep.
As we chatted about all the things filling up our days, I mentioned a Theology of the Body series I was teaching along with our seminarian to the 8th-grade class at St. Louis School. She responded half-jokingly that she thought it would be a great idea to get all the kids from our great big group of friends together and for me to give the same session.
“Remember who you are.” It’s my grandpa’s favorite one-liner, and it’s always the last thing he says to me when I leave family gatherings. When he says it to me, grips my hand tightly and looks me in the eye, a goofy grin on his face and the deepest integrity glinting in his eyes.
As I lit it and inhaled, something happened and I became aware of a Presence surrounding me. I saw nothing, but somehow the Presence allowed me to understand the impact compulsive smoking was having on my still relatively young and healthy body.
We talk about holiness a lot at St. Louis parish. Theosis—it’s the process by which we become more like God. I think we know that holiness should be the goal for our lives, but I often think we’re unsure of how the journey toward holiness should look.
On June 16, 2016, after almost 24 hours of travel, I arrived in Burgos, Spain at 2:35 a.m. After years of dreaming and months of planning, I was here, about to start a journey of 13 days and 300 miles along the Camino de Santiago with my best friend and my 17-pound backpack.
Pope Francis visited San Paolo della Croce, a parish on the outskirts of Rome. As part of his visit, he heard confessions, ministered to the elderly and the sick, and spent time answering questions from the parish’s youngest members. Our Holy Father has had some remarkable interactions with children of all kinds during his pontificate (here, here, and here), but there was one at San Paolo that struck me deeply.
The message of Divine Mercy was given to a young Polish nun, Helena Kowalska, known as St. Faustina. At the age of twenty, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy where she spent thirteen years of her life performing the duties of cook, gardener, and doorkeeper.
This year’s candle is specific to our church, our community, and will accompany us throughout the liturgical year. It will be lit at every baptism and every funeral. The 2017 Paschal candle was lit in the celebration of 171 baptisms. This year it was even more personal as we were a part of that staggering statistic.