Monday, August 8, 2016

I Told You So

Yes - I did - in my last post I mentioned that I would be slowing down in the frequency of my posts - summer here has been very busy - no time to sit on the computer to blog. Since my last post I have been very busy - mainly refurbishing our deck - or I should say deck system. You see our "deck" is a system of decks and bridges - five decks and two bridges - almost 1300 square feet of decking - plus built in seating. Luckily the 16 ft x 16 ft deck has a gazebo on it to provide protection for our hot tub so that deck requires very little maintenance. The other 1000 square feet is another story. This year the maintenance included power washing - sanding - water proofing. Power washing takes a few hours - sanding a few days - staining another two days when the weather cooperates. As my wife says - "i'd rather have a root canal than do this again" - and I can't blame her. All total the project took us some 60 hours spread over 8 days. In addition - I have been coping with a leg issue - five doctors visits - two x-rays - three MRIs - still no conclusive answer - now into my third week of physical therapy - the leg still hurts. With the slow results - we have cancelled our plans to return to Spain to continue our Camino adventure. I also spent over sixty hours producing a video on The Holy Land - for a presentation I made at St. Mary's Church in Bristol, Indiana at the end of July. Link to the video is below> 

Part of Deck System

All these distractions from enjoying the summer has only slightly interfered with our summer plans - we still have had time to socialize - enjoy time with family - friends - attend to deacon duties at church - prepare homilies for Holy Mass - attend to God's business. As in other seasons of our lives - God still remains our primary focus - sharing the gift that He so freely gave us. We have been blessed indeed - hopefully sharing with all the joy of our personal relationship with Jesus - encouraging others to keep their focus - even when very busy - on the real reason for our lives.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lazy Hazy Days

Yes summer is here and with it lazy hazy days - days when you feel like doing nothing - relaxing - lying on a beach - by the pool - sipping your favorite brew. After coping with the winter and spring chores - summer calls us to relax - if possible - to a state of nothing. Sure the lawn needs to be mowed - every 4 days - the weeds need to be pulled - repairs to the outside of the house and deck are calling your name. These are the days when everyone needs to decompress - come down to a normal level of activity - walk away from the daily stress of life - jobs - obligations. No harm in taking respite - relaxing - for the sake of relaxing. For myself that means less blogging - more time on other things - enjoying the gifts God has placed around me. Spending all day pulling weeds means no time to appreciate the beauty of nature around you - fingers in the dirt - less time for eyes in the sky. 

As we enjoy all the gifts of God we have to remember that taking time to be quiet - alone with our thoughts - with our God - is our highest priority. Failing to relax in the beautiful nature around us - our  loss. Take courage - those tasks will always be with us - these beautiful summer days will pass all too swiftly. Enjoy them now.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Poland Pilgrimage Video Recap

You are invited to view the video recap of our recent Pilgrimage to Poland - Enjoy!

What better way to showcase this with a picture of my beautiful Polish wife!

Deacon Dale 

Friday, July 1, 2016

POLAND Pilgrimage

The pilgrimage to Poland is now completed - in all we had twelve modern day disciples - The Other Twelve - who journeyed throughout Poland seeking - God's Divine Mercy.

The journey began in America at our respective airports - San Diego - Phoenix Sky Harbor - Chicago O'Hare. From there we flew thousands of miles to Warsaw, Poland - the Capital of Poland. Arriving on a free day - nothing planned except a welcome dinner - the majority ventured into the Old Town area of Warsaw to visit the Royal Palace and the Stare Miasto - Old town square - to browse and enjoy the Polish culture.

Royal Palace

Gathering together in the evening with our tour guide - Marta - we toasted the safe arrival of everyone and the beginning of our pilgrimage. Beginning the next day - we ventured on a tour of Old Warsaw - viewing Lazienki Park/Museum - Lazienki Palace - the Warsaw Ghetto and monument dedicated to the Polish Jews - wandered into the Stare Miasto in Warsaw viewing Sigismund's Column near the Royal Palace - visiting the Warsaw Cathedral - lunch in the square with the Warsaw Mermaid - ending the day at the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy where Saint Faustina entered the convent. After celebrating Holy Mass we retired for the day.

Lazienki Museum & Park 

Lazienki Palace 

Warsaw Memorial for Jews

Sigismund's Column - Old Town - Stare Miasto 

Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy Chapel 

The second day of our pilgrimage saw us leaving Warsaw and heading to Niepokalanow to visit one of the largest Franciscian monasteries in the world founded by Saint Maximillian Kolbe. There we listened to a lecture about Saint Kolbe - visited his museum - viewed the basilica there with time for a prayer then left for Czestochowa - the spiritual capital of Poland.

Niepokalanow Basilica 

Inside the Basilica

Czestocohwa - Jasna Gora Monastery 

At Jasna Gora - Czestochowa - we were introduced to Father Szymon one of the Pauline monks who leads English tours. He is quite the character and filled with a treasury of knowledge about Jasna Gora Monastery - the Black Madona icon - Czestochowa in general. After an in depth tour he celebrated Holy Mass with us - then sent us on our way to rest for the evening.

The Black Madonna

Karen & Joe with Christ The King 

Holy Mass with Deacon Dale and Father Symon 

Our next day we left heading to Wadowice - the hometown of Saint John Paul II - visiting the basilica there where he served as an altar server - celebrated Holy Mass with Father Mirek - minus this deacon who was under the weather - then ate some Kremowka made famous by the Pope. .

Basilica of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary 

Father Mirek at Holy Mass 

Leaving Wadowice we headed to Krakow where we met our local guide Mikal who took us to Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral - then walked to the Market Square to visit St. Mary's Church - housing the world's largest altar. The evening was free to explore on our own.


Wawel Castle 

The Courtyard 

Hot & Tired Pilgrims 

Wawel Cathedral

Saint Mary's Church

Sukiennice - Cloth Market - Market Square 

Our next day found us at Auschwitz-Birkenau - an emotionally draining experience - viewing both the camp at Auschwitz and the remains of the Birkenau location. According to our guide - revised - more accurate numbers - now corrected for early misinformation - place the number of those killed at 1.5 million persons - the majority - perhaps 80% - Jewish men - women - children.

Auschwitz Entrance Barrier 

Firing Squad Wall Memorial - Joe & Arlene Placing Flowers 

The Ovens - Destroying the Evidence

Entrance to Birkenau

Marta Laying A Flower On The Tracks That Brought Death To So Many 

Death Camp Arrival Station - The Selection Process 

Leaving there and taking a breather to come down from that visit and eat some lunch - we headed to the Shrine of Divine Mercy. The tower at the Shrine greeted us as we approached and walked to the church in time to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 PM - the Hour of Mercy. After a short break we entered the chapel area below the main sanctuary where we listened to a short lecture by one of the sisters regarding Saint Faustina and the Divine Mercy. Immediately after we celebrated Holy Mass with Father Mirek a local English speaking Polish priest. At this Mass I was able to encourage our pilgrims and a group of women who joined us for Holy Mass on the responsibility of living a productive Catholic Christian life. The tour continued with a visit to the convent where Saint Faustina lived and died.

The Divine Mercy Basilica

Entrance To the Basilica

The Altar in the Basilica

View of the Convent from the Tower

View of the Sisters' Grave Site From Tower

Sister Teaching About Saint Faustina and the Divine Mercy 

Holy Mass with Deacon Dale and Father Mirek 

Deacon Dale Homily on Divine Mercy and Call To Discipleship 

The next morning came very early as we left for a visit to the Salt Mines at Wieliczka where we we able to avoid the 358 steps down into the mines via special arrangements to use the miners' elevator. Once below in the mines we were guided through many passageways viewing small chapels - artwork carved out of salt - and entering huge rooms hewn out of salt where today you find space for hundreds for Holy Mass - wedding receptions and other functions. The most impressive things about the salt mines is the lack of dust and how clean and polished all the surfaces are. Return to the surface was a quick 20 second ride in a modern elevator.

Entrance to Salt Mine

Welcome Banner

Going Down - Miner's Elevator 

Saint Kinga's Chapel 

We then headed to Zakopane to visit the area of Poland made popular by Saint John Paul II and his love of skiing in the mountains there. Unlike the majority of Poland - where the homes are brick and stucco - the homes in Zakopane are more like Swiss chalets cut from timber. The ride was relaxing and once there we viewed The Church of the Holy Family and spent some time shopping for local crafts.




Church Of The Holy Family 

Zakopane Market Area

The ride back to Krakow was restful - a peaceful end to our pilgrimage. Leaving early the next morning we boarded our flights to return to our homes.

The Other Twelve - Poland Pilgrims - Wadowice

Pilgrimage whether at home or in a foreign land always draws one closer to God - closer to Jesus - closer to understanding your personal relationship with the Divine. Being open to the possibilities - of the moment - of your potential - of others - reinforces the beliefs shared by many. As an evangelization tool - pilgrimage is a great way to further experience your faith.

As we often say - Come Journey With Us 

Deacon Dale

Monday, June 20, 2016

Safety Recall

I think almost everyone is familiar with the concept of a safety recall - merchandise or product - deemed to have an inherent flaw - dangerous to the well being of the public in general. My sister frequently sends me notices about food recalls - contamination with bacteria - foreign material - unhealthy for even animals to consume. The food recalls are unbelievably common - more common that we would like to think.  Other products - toys - contaminated with lead paint - toxic plastics - harmful vapors - harmful to anyone who uses them. Possibly the biggest and most well known - automobile recalls - failed brakes - steering systems - faulty air bags - and on and on - all defects - discovered after the fact. At the time of manufacture - production - safety tested - only to fail ongoing testing at a later date - after it has landed in the hands of the final consumer. Thankfully - few are harmed - because of the due diligence by these companies.

When God sent Jesus - no need for safety testing - no need to follow up with additional testing - rather - follow up only to see how effective His Word - actions were. God is the original - Jesus - the real deal - no prototype - no future model. God gives us His best - first and foremost - no need for a second or third edition. What we see - what we get - day after day - hour after hour - minute after minute. Unlike the rest of the world - we get the best first and forever. In these summer days we tend to relax - let up on our spiritual observances - take the low road - ignore the high road - skip a Mass here and there - let our relationship with God slide into a lower place - possibly - no place at all. Instead of allowing this to happen - insert God moments - times when you may touch the Divine - into your summer activities. Had a great golf game - thank God - experience an awesome camp out  - praise the Lord - enjoy an well deserved vacation - sing your praise to the God who loves you. The only recall you should have with God - is recalling that He loved you - first.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

It's A Crazy Life

Yes we are not alone - too many of us -  experiencing crazy times. Now that we are back in the Midwest - life has taken on a whole new aspect. After enjoying a relatively relaxing five months - the hectic stuff has quickly crept back into our lives. I have been so busy I haven't been able to take the time to blog - time to correct that. We have figured out that five months was too long to be away - we lost connections with many - fell out of the loop - left by the wayside.  Illinois is more challenging - lots of grass to mow - lawn tractors that break down when you want to use them - weeds to pull - flower gardens to spruce up - not to mention just getting back in touch with everyone we left behind - reconnecting - gathering - getting crazy. Add to these issues - coping with life's daily issues - the political scene - social media - humidity - lots of bugs - fixing things around the house. Slowly getting back to deacon duties at church - in two weeks have served three Masses - baptized three children - signed some witness affidavits - reached out to a young lady about an annulment - just for starters. In four days we leave for a nine day pilgrimage to Poland. Yes life is getting crazy.

God looks over every thing that is going on - not only in my life - but all of our lives - and smiles. Smiles because we are experiencing life to the fullest - with ordinary events - extra ordinary - happy - sad - frustrating - fun - stressful - relaxing. Just as He wanted - exactly why Jesus came - that all might experience life to the fullest. Often people will complain about the unpleasant things in life - why do we have to have those off moments - yet - if we think about it - the rough times - make the good times better - makes us appreciate little things - like peace - quiet - blue skies - white puffy clouds - handshakes - hugs - moments sharing with others. Like my friend Tom said last night - keeping in touch - looking to the future. God is present in everyone - everything we experience. Crazy or not - God is always there - smiling - calling us to touch the Divine.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, May 23, 2016

A La Derecha

A la derecha - Spanish for - to the right - turn here - on your right side - go the correct way. In English we often confuse - not only non English speaking persons - often ourselves - when we use the word right. Taken out of context - not written down - we are unsure if the speaker is talking about a direction - an attitude - the act of inscribing a word. To clearly understand which word the speaker is attempting to use we need to hear it spoken in a sentence. Much of everyday conversation - in many languages - incorporates the use of slang - idioms - phrases - as a normal form of communicating with others. It is not until confusion arises - errors made - that we realize that we should have spoken in a more formal manner - complete with all the adjectives - adverbs - word modifiers - to express ourselves in a clear and precise manner. Good communication requires good communication skills.

When speaking to God - in prayer - we should be as concise as possible - elaborate sentences - long stories - not necessary. God knows our minds - hearts - our needs - our desires. Even before we open our mouths - He knows what we will say. Many question if this is true then why does He wait before He acts in our lives. Sometimes He does - often He waits to hear it from our lips - from our minds - from our hearts. This process is how we communicate with God - humbly - personally - with sincerity. Every day - Jesus - Our Lord - Our Savior - waits to hear from each of us. Long conversations - not necessary - daily conversation - even very brief ones - the rule. Try it today - He waits for you.

Deacon Dale