We have just celebrated Easter. This year when I preached, I called Easter: “All In Sunday.” Allow me to explain. I was about seven-years-old when my family got our first TV. There were not a lot of programs on then. My two brothers and I loved the Cowboy Shows. Gene Audrey, Roy Rogers, Hop-a-long Cassidy were our heroes to name a few. Often during one of the shows, there was a scene in a Western Saloon where a poker game was taking place. The game would be very tense because the cowboys were playing for high stakes. Usually there was a moment when one of the players would push all his chips into the middle of the table and say: “I’m all in!” It was a very dramatic moment.
When my brothers and I learned to play poker, our father bought us poker chips for Christmas one year. We felt like we were real cowboys. When we played, one of us would always be looking for the chance to say: “I’m all in.” When it happened the other two had to figure out if he was bluffing or not.
Easter Sunday is really “All in Sunday“. We either believe that Jesus rose from the dead, or we don’t. If we do believe, we have to be all in when it comes to living our belief. Being all in must affect every decision we make. St. Paul said that if Jesus did not rise from the dead then we are the most pitiable of people because we were lied to. Consider the following:
Why have your child baptized if Jesus did not rise?
Why get confirmed if Jesus did not rise?
Why go to religious education classes or youth group if Jesus did not rise?
Why get married in the church if Jesus did not rise?
Why take religious vows if Jesus did not rise?
Why become a priest if Jesus did not rise?
Why spread the Good News if Jesus did not rise?
Why put your life on the line for other people if Jesus did not rise?
We either believe or we are faking it. It is either all in or you are bluffing. Just like a poker game, Jesus will call our bluff when we say we are all in.
The Easter Season lasts 50 days.
Take every opportunity to fortify your all in and you will be blessed.
Happy All In Season, and remember: TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.
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For forty-seven years of priesthood I have been preaching during Lent. This Lent I have a full schedule of preaching. I have found when preaching, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I believe that this is true in our relationship with God. To appreciate all of the readings of Lent about following God’s laws and commandments, and to want to follow them, we need to know how much God cares for us. Of course, Good Friday gives us the most powerful sign of God’s love for us as we witness Jesus laying down His life for us.
You may have read or heard of the beautiful poem: “Footprints in the Sand.” It describes God and a person walking along the seashore. All of the person’s life flashes before him. He notices that during the most difficult moments of his life there is only one set of footprints.The person says to God, “How could you leave me during the most difficult moments of my life.” God tells the person that He would never leave him. He says: “When you only see one set of footprints, it was then that I was carrying you.”
Many people have received great comfort from this poem. We all want to believe that God will never leave us or forsake us. When we do believe this, then we should want to respond to such love. Lent challenges us to return to God with all our hearts. We hear time and again in the readings: “These people worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Our response to God’s love must involve concrete action.
Many years after reading the poem, “Footprints in the Sand,” I came across another version that I think you might enjoy. It describes the efforts we must make to become better people.
Here is the poem:
One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen.
the footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
Those prints are large and round and neat,
“But Lord, they are too big for feet.”
“My child,” He said in somber tones,
“For miles, I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith.
But you refused and made me wait.”
“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt.”
Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight and one must climb.
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand. (Author Unknown)
May the rest of Lent be a time of many blessings!
And remember: “TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.”
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For most people, the emphasis of Lent is about giving up. They are encouraged to give up something they like. People are told that they must fast and abstain. The Church urges them to give up a pattern of sin in their lives by making a good confession and a firm purpose of amendment.
Although all of these are a part of what Lent means, I think the real meaning of Lent is not about giving up, but about giving in. Giving into our God who says: “Come back to me with all your heart.” There are many ways to describe this giving in. For example: “To let go and let God.” Then there is the reflection of St. Augustine who wrote: “We were made for God and our hearts are restless until we rest in Him.” St. Paul wrote: “May you come to know the height and depth, the breadth and the length until knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all understanding, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.” Finally, Jesus said: “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”
I would suggest that giving in is much more difficult than giving up. It involves a great risk because we are asked to surrender ourselves to God. To give up control of my life is never easy. After all self-preservation is the strongest human instinct.
There are three things God does during Lent. He bugs us. He tugs us. He hugs us. God bugs us during Lent so that we don’t settle for cheap substitutes, or false gods. He bugs us through our conscience, through our prayer, through scripture and definitely through a good confession. He bugs us not to listen to the lies that the devil throws at us. He wants us to think that he is more powerful than God. He lies when he says that we are too weak to overcome temptations. When Jesus was tempted He told the devil to go away, and we must do the same.
God tugs us when we become complacent. He has us on a short lease. And as long as we don’t break the connection between us and God, He is able to pull us back to His heart, pull us back to sanity; pull us back to the realization that without God in our lives, we would make a mess out of our lives.
Finally, God hugs us. Sometimes the hug is given through a loved one or friend, especially in moments of discouragement or pain. Other times God gently hugs us when we are alone in prayer or in front of the Blessed Sacrament when there is adoration.
L.E.N.T. When I preach during Lent, I tell the congregation that Lent means: Let’s Eliminate Negative Thinking. It is not meant to be a time when we beat ourselves up. It is meant to be a time of rebirth, a time to come to our senses and realize that our lives would have no meaning, if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead. So prepare yourselves for the great feast of Easter, when death, darkness and evil have no hold on us because our Savior has conquered them.
Have a great Lent and remember: TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.
I begin this blog by quoting something that St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians: “Fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is good, noble and holy.” He also wrote in Philippians: “Have that mind in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Our minds have great power over us. One of the ways of becoming a friend of Jesus is to control our thinking. I came across a list of principles of positive thinking that I would like to share with you.
Our thoughts have power over our feelings and attitudes.
You can change yourself by changing your thoughts.
Positive thinkers use faith to gain control of their problems.
Fear and worry are conquered by practical, spiritual methods. Meditation and prayer increase vitality and peace of mind.
A positive mind leads to improved health and well-being.
Positive thinkers overcome mistakes, forgiving themselves and others.
The practice of positive imaging instills the courage and confidence to achieve your goals.
Enthusiasm leads to action.
Positive attitudes create more enduring and fulfilling relationships.
Positive thinking is achievable by all people.
No matter what our age, positive thinking is an asset that will serve us well. Parents need to encourage their children to do positive thinking and imagining, especially children who manifest fears about going to school, making friends, playing sports, and life in general.
Young adults who are hyper-sensitive about their bodies, the way they laugh, their giftedness, need to do positive thinking as they begin to date and seek a future spouse.
Older people need to do positive thinking as they face the changes that come with aging. As I often say in my preaching: “You don’t stop laughing because you have grown old, you have grown old because you stopped laughing.”
All of us have to wake up each morning and immediately say: “God, with you on my side, I can handle whatever today brings.” The healthiest people I know live in an air tight compartment called today. To spend time agonizing over the past or fretting about the future robs us of the peace and joy that each day can bring. True, each day brings challenges, but they won’t overwhelm a person who does positive thinking. When life serves up a particular challenge, we can say to life: “Is this the best you got? Well, bring it on! Jesus, my Guardian Angel and I will deal with it, learn from it and overcome it.”
There is one more principle of positive thinking that I would add: TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.
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Christians, in defense of their faith and their country, find themselves battling the forces of evil with one arm tied behind their back. What I mean is that our faith does not allow us to use the same tactics that our opponents use. Here is a list of the things that Jesus would never want us to do, but our opponents have no qualms doing.
Start untrue rumors.
Stir up people’s emotions with half-truths.
Encourage people to riot and destroy property.
Stop freedom of speech on college campuses.
Ridicule a person’s values.
Threaten a person’s life and family.
Take away freedom of religion.
Although a Christian might be tempted to do one of the above in the heat of the battle, one may not because no victory should ever be achieved that is not according to the Will of God.
It would be very easy for a Christian to become discouraged having to fight evil with one arm tied behind the back. However, there are many examples from the Bible where God’s people were greatly outnumbered and yet achieved a victory. Here is one example from the Book of Judges.
“The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, `Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised–look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew–a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time, make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, `Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ “So, twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, `This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, `This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.”
Trusting in the Lord, Gideon’s small force defeated a much larger army.
There is an important lesson for all Christians in this story of Gideon. If we do not learn this lesson we will live in constant anxiety and begin to doubt God’s love and protection. God, the Father, wants us to trust that He will never abandon us even when we are faced with overwhelming odds. He will guide us, strengthen us, and fight on our side against the powers of darkness. Jesus told us that the gates of hell will not prevail against us. He said that we should take heart because He has overcome the world. God will never allow us to think that any victory we might achieve was done by our own efforts. He will test our faith and stretch us, not to hurt us or scare us but to make us dependent on His power and His protection.
So although we may be fighting against the forces of evil with one arm tied behind our backs, with God on our right side, we have more than an arm. We have a champion. Psalm 46 reminds us: “Be still and know that I am God.”
May I also remind you that TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD!
http://fatherscott.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/fatherscott-logo.jpg00Father Scotthttp://fatherscott.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/fatherscott-logo.jpgFather Scott2017-02-06 11:29:292017-02-06 11:29:29The God Problem, Part II
Perhaps you have heard the phrase: “The elephant on the room”. It refers to an issue that people don’t want to deal with, but if they don’t, they will never reach the right conclusion or have peace in their lives. “The God problem” is the modern day “elephant in the room” for our country and much of Western Europe.
Many of the intellectuals at our universities, controllers of our media, movie stars and music idols do not believe there is a God. This is demonstrated by their promoting atheistic evolution, uncontrolled pleasure seeking, multiple sexual partners, denying any sexual identity that is determined at birth, and promoting these causes by calling those who oppose them bigots; and by trying to impose their agenda by using the federal courts.
Those who believe there is a God, especially Christians, find themselves more and more on the defense. Words like bigot and phobic are used so that Christians will cower and not oppose the militant atheists in the public arena of school board meetings, local or national legislative hearings, and even family gatherings.
Allow me to give a personal example. Twice in the second part of 2016 I was reported to the bishop of my diocese for asking people, during a talk I gave and a Mass I celebrated, to sing the song God Bless America. They wrote that I was promoting my political agenda in asking people to sing the song. I had no political agenda, I just wanted the people to join me in praying for our country by using the song. If you read the words of this song you will not find anything that comes near to being a political statement. It is simply a request for God to bless our country.
Perhaps their problem was due to the fact that the word God was used. Is that a stretch on my part? Have you noticed how many people now say to someone who has sneezed “bless you”? Fewer people are responding to a sneeze by saying “God Bless You!” Why are they afraid to use the word God? This is just one example of how God is being driven from our day to day lives.
All of us must do our part to remind our country that we are “One Nation under God”. We will be called many things including religious fanatics. We will need great courage and make great sacrifices to save our world from slipping back into the “Dark Ages”, where the culture of death prevailed and human life had no value. Fortunately, history tells us that the Dark Ages were brought into the light of Christ by the preaching of the Gospel. Though the preachers suffered a great deal for their efforts, their message touched the hearts and showed the people that the emptiness they felt could only be filled by God.
I will be writing more about this issue in coming weeks. In the meantime remember: “TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD”
http://fatherscott.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/fatherscott-logo.jpg00Father Scotthttp://fatherscott.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/fatherscott-logo.jpgFather Scott2017-01-18 21:58:432017-01-18 21:58:43The God Problem
During the week between Christmas and the New Year, nutritionists, psychologists, social workers, athletic trainers and talk show hosts give their suggestions on how to have a healthy New Year. Although I appreciate all their ideas, the ones that really speak to me come from Saint Pope John XXIII. I hope you find them helpful.
Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
Only for today, I will dress modestly, I will not raise my voice, I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
Only for today, I will devote ten minutes to some good reading, for good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing, and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.
Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness.
Dear Readers, the only thing I would like to add to that list is: Only for today, I will remember that: “TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.”
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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It’s not like there isn’t already enough stress around Christmas but we also have to deal with the Politically Correct Police or the atheists who challenge our right to celebrate Christmas in public. Each year there are more and more reports of how the atheists and their allies want to take away our religious freedom. Of course they will tell you that they are simply trying to protect the State from Church interference, which is really a bogus idea because when Thomas Jefferson first wrote about Separation of Church and State it was in a letter to a Christian Church in which he stated that the Church must always be protected from State interference. The atheists and politically correct people love to re-write history.
There is a story about three little boys who were sent to the principal’s office. As they were seated outside of the office, they asked each other why they were there. The first boy said, “I’m here because I called one of the kids in my class a bad name.” The second boy said he was there because he drew a funny picture of the teacher on the blackboard and was caught. The third boy said he was there because he wished a kid in the hallway MERRY CHRISTMAS!
In order to have the merriest of Christmases, I offer you these ten suggestions:
From now until January 6th, stop watching or listening to any stories that are filled with ugly arguing or painful pictures of suffering people. I am not asking you to become insensitive. I am just suggesting that a short sabbatical from these pictures will bless you and your family with cheerful, hopeful hearts. After all, isn’t that what the Christmas Season is meant to be, a break from depressing news?
Whenever your family or friends gather, immediately say: “We must agree not to talk politics.” If someone breaks the rule, immediately walk away from that person.
Laugh with gusto often. This is especially important if you are around children. They love to laugh and they become more secure when they hear adults laughing. Never argue in front of your children. Agree to disagree agreeably.
Fill your homes with wonderful smells. If you aren’t much of a baker, there are other ways of creating wonderful smells that won’t affect people’s allergies. Again this is very important when you have small children. Some of the happiest memories they will take into adulthood will be memories of wonderful smells at Christmas.
Buy a sign or make a sign for your lawn or front window that declares: JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.
Sing religious carols every chance you get. Sing them near public property just to infuriate the scrooges that want to steal your Merry Christmas.
Make time in your busy Christmas schedule to say extra prayers of thanksgiving.
Have each family member, whether young or old, put some of their money in a jar near Jesus in your manger scene and when you are ready to take down your Christmas decorations, (hopefully only after the Feast of the Three Wise Men) decide to whom you will give the money.
If you see a person in the military, walk up and thank him or her for their service.
Always remember: “TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.”
http://fatherscott.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/fatherscott-logo.jpg00Father Scotthttp://fatherscott.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/fatherscott-logo.jpgFather Scott2016-12-16 17:20:072016-12-16 17:20:44DO NOT LET THE “NAY-SAYERS” STEAL YOUR MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Sometimes our dreams are squashed by people telling us that we will never achieve them. They say things like: “You should wake up and realize your limitations.” “You are not smart enough.” “You are bothering people and you should stay in your social or economic class.” I share these thoughts with you as an introduction to a true story written by Evangelist Charles Swindoll.
“Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous composer-pianist was scheduled to perform at a great concert hall in America.it was an evening to remember—black tuxedos and long evening dresses, a high-society extravaganza.
Present in the audience that evening was a mother with her fidgety nine-year-old son. Weary of waiting, he squirmed constantly in his seat. His mother was in hopes that her son would be encouraged to practice the piano if he could just hear the immortal Paderewski at the keyboard. So, even though he didn’t want to go, she made him.
As she turned to talk with friends, her son could stay seated no longer. He slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the ebony concert grand Steinway and its leather tufted stool on the huge stage flooded with blinding lights. Without much notice from the sophisticated audience, the boy sat down at the stool, staring wide-eyed at the black and white keys. He placed his small, trembling fingers in the right location and began to play “Chopsticks.” The roar of the crowd was hushed as hundreds of frowning faces pointed in his direction. Irritated and embarrassed, they began to shout: “Get that boy away from there!” “Who’d bring a kid that young here?” “Where’s his mother?” “Somebody stop him!”
Backstage the master overheard the sounds out front and quickly put together in his mind what was happening. Hurriedly, he grabbed his coat and rushed toward the stage. Without one word of announcement he stooped over behind the boy, reached around both sides, and began to improvise a counter melody to harmonize with and enhance “Chopsticks.”
As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy’s ear:
“Keep going. Don’t quit. Keep on playing….don’t stop….don’t quit.”
There is a message in that story for all of us. No matter how ridiculous our dreams may seem to other people, no matter how overwhelming they may seem at times, the Master (Jesus) keeps saying: “Don’t quit, don’t give up!”
We would be very wise to begin each day by saying: “With God on my side, I can handle whatever this day brings.”
Until next time, God bless you and remember: “TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.”
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