Saturday, December 29, 2012

RECAP

To recap means to recapitulate - to repeat in concise form - to restate - to make a summary - to place a cap back on. It is typically at this time of year - at year's end - that many sources will recap the events of the year - looking at where we have been - what we have done - where we are going - to summarize and finalize the current year's events - to mark as final and cap off that year. This process has value to all of us and most everyone will experience this recapping process in many different ways in their lives. Public events - work situations - personal accounting of one's life. To review the past helps us to rediscover the good and bad - the successes and failures - to give us good footing as we venture forth into a new and exciting year. Knowing what to avoid and what to continue - helps us set our aims at new and better goals and improves our chances of success. We begin with anticipation of better things to come.
When we do an annual assessment of our lives - we need to also assess our spiritual lives. Each of us has a spiritual aspect to our lives - whether we acknowledge it or not. Your spiritual life might be zero - completely void - or - completely filled up - satisfying. Wherever you stand - at the moment - is exactly where God wants you to be. In that moment - in that place - in that time - God wants you to experience that emptiness - that fullness - with or without Him. When it is time for you to change - to grow - to experience new things - He will move you - He will call you - He will reveal to you - He will touch you - to cause that change. In the meantime settle for an annual recap - and pray "Come Lord Jesus - Come".

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christian Burial

A Christian Burial involves the burial tradition of a deceased person following specific Christian rites and rituals normally in consecrated grounds. In the early Christian Church burial was most often interment of the body in the ground. Cremation was frowned upon - in recent years the Christian community has come to accept cremation as an alternate to interment of the body. The question that was often debated was the need for the body in order to share in the ressurection in the last days. Today that issue has - for the most part - been dealt with and is now accepted by all the major denominations - including Catholics. When one is laid to rest it is the dignity of the rite that celebrates the deceased's life and future ressurection. Our prayers - united with all believers - assist the deceased in that "rite of passage" in which they transition from this life into eternal life. We lose our loved ones here - only to be reunited in the life that is to come.
Jesus said  that He is the Way - the Truth - the Life. If we only believe in Him - we will have life eternal. As difficult as it is to bury a family member or friend - we must trust in Jesus' promise that "where I am you will be also" (John 14:1-3). It is with trust and faith in Jesus that we are able to say goodbye to those we love and care about.

Deacon Dale 

INFORMATION NIGHT

DeaconTravel ministries will be hosting an Information Night on Thursday - January 10, 2013 at 7:00 PM at Saint Patrick Parish to discuss their "John Paul II Journey to Mercy" scheduled for May 29, 2013 - June 7, 2013. This journey will take participants from Warsaw to Krakow Poland. They will be visiting numerous churches that were special to Pope John Paul II and to Saint Faustina who both promoted the Divine Mercy devotion. Highlights feature Holy Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica in Lichen Stary - at the Black Madonna Shrine at Jasna Gora Monastary in Czestochowa and at the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow. Visits will also include Auschwitz - Birkenau prision camps - the Salt Mines at Wieliczka -  Holy Cross Church in Warsaw where Frederick Chopin's heart is entombed - the Royal Palace on the Royal Route in Warsaw - the Church of Father Maximilian Kobe - The birth home of Blessed John Paul II - Zakopane and much more. Complete details can be viewed at www.deacontravel.org

This is the first time this customized trip is being offered and will not be repeated until possibly 2015 at the earliest. Special pricing has been arranged and an early bird discount of $250 per person is being offered. Space is limited to 50 people. Interested person may call 1.630.334.5065 or email: poland@deacontravel.org
Jesus calls us to journey with Him as we learn more about Him - Ourselves - our God.  The best journey is the one that takes us from our minds to our hearts - from knowing about Him in the Bible and books - to loving Him in our hearts.  Journey to Jesus today.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

He Reigns

Santa has to be one of the most popular personalities at this time of year - no matter what else is in the news - Santa reigns supreme. And why not - he is a jolly old elf that brings smiles and joy to so many people. It is not only children who derive so much happiness from Santa - but adults as well. Across the nation thousands of people dress up and play Santa for almost anyone and any group. From little toddlers to seniors - from school children to people in hospitals and nursing homes. It is the one time of year when people expect to be happy - whether for themselves or for others. People are more patient - more charitable - more forgiving. Everyone wishes that Christmas would last all year and along with it - the changed attitude among people - the new found politeness and kindness. 
Jesus is the reason for  the Season - Jesus is the reason for Santa - Jesus is the reason for the changed attitudes - and He is with us all year. Why is it more noticeable during the Christmas Season than at other times of the year - one wonders. Surely we cannot forget - the greatest Gift of all - God's gift to mankind of His Son. Perhaps the answer lies in the task that Jesus had to do before He rejoined His Father - perhaps it is the constant reminder that - although we view Jesus as the innocent little babe today - tomorrow we have to remember that He was also the innocent sacrifice - the One who died for our sins - the One who offers us the gift of salvation. Today and tomorrow Jesus reigns as the only true One.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Bonus

A Christmas bonus is almost a thing of the past. Years ago - most employers - gave special gifts to their employees at Christmas time - as a way to say thank you for a job well done. Many people lived and planned their lives - based on that annual gift. Some planned vacations - others special large purchases - based on the expectation of the bonus. In today's economy - the annual bonus - for many - has disappeared.  It is with pleasure that DeaconTravel Ministries - announces two special bonuses - for their 2013 Year of Faith Spiritual Journeys.  Two trips are scheduled for 2013 - one to Poland - one to Italy. For those who can make an early commitment - there is a special discount of $250 per person. This discount is time sensitive - so acting sooner - rather than later is imperative.  More information on these two trips is available on the DeaconTravel website. 
When the Shepherds saw the star in the sky - the night Jesus was born - it not only gave a special brightness to the night - but it was the sign of a special Christmas bonus. For it was to them - to us - that Jesus was revealed to the world. Jesus is God's gift to the world - a Christmas bonus - that is freely offered to all who believe in the One True God.  A Christmas bonus that is offered every day of our lives - offered to anyone who is willing - to accept His Gift.

Deacon Dale  

Tagless

Tags are very useful objects - they identify - explain - clarify information. Probably the most common tag that most of us use on a daily basis is the tag on the clothing and garments we use. They identify the size - how to wash - fabric content - how to provide proper care. As useful as they might be there is one common characteristic that most people do not like - they scratch - itch - cause discomfort. When a new "tagless" procedure was developed to provide the same information - without the discomfort - it was adopted-  almost immediately by garment manufacturers - to our pleasure. 
In society many people are tagged with labels  they do not deserve - labels that demean - ridicule - embarrass.  Classmates often call others - nerds - geeks - fatso - jock. Adults label each other by similar physical - intellectual - political - religious labels. To label another individual is to ignore that person as a whole and complete person - labeling them with one characteristic which cannot reflect the true person. Jesus calls us to be accepting just as He was - ignoring individual peculiarities - focusing on the complete person. He sees us as we are - as people complete in His eyes - He asks that we do no less - to forget the labels we place on each other - to go tagless.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Q TIPS

Q-tips is the name of a popular brand of cotton tipped swabs that are very effective for numerous tasks - especially around babies - but that is not the focus of this article - nor is it about Q-TIP - the popular hip hop artist from New York. Rather today I want to share with you something that I experienced last night in Chicago. After dinner with friends - my wife and I joined them for a viewing of a "work-in-progress" at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium park of the Q Brothers Christmas Carol Project. It was a retelling of that work by Charles Dickens of Ebenezer Scrooge's transformation complete with Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim - all done in rap. I was a bit skeptical at first - rap is not my number one choice in music - but I was very happy that we had a chance to share this experience with the others in attendance. The updated version of the story - done very well - with hilarious twists and turns inserted by the Q Brothers - made not only for a very pleasant evening - but a great way to prepare for the celebration of Christmas and to focus on sharing ourselves as the best presents we can give. A small production - very effective.
Jesus did not have a large group backing His ministry - He had no sound stage - no technical help - no writers or musicians - to help promote His mission. Twelve men - basically clueless about His mission - created His team - and yet He was the most effective person to ever walk this Earth. In simplicity lies Truth - and that is the beauty of Jesus and His message of love and forgiveness. This Christmas - when seeking the perfect gift - select Jesus.

Deacon Dale  



Friday, December 14, 2012

Anger

Anger - as defined by Wikipedia - is an emotion related to one's psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged or denied and a tendency to react through retaliation. The key word here is - emotion - which is a subjective and conscious experience - in which an individual is called to make a decision in how to process that emotion - and if and how to respond to it. Many people handle anger very well - processing their anger and working though it in a non violent manner. Others - unfortunately - have a lower capacity to process anger - thereby coping with their anger in violent and retaliatory ways. Many times those who respond poorly to anger end up hurting - not only those who become a target of their anger - but themselves as well. Those who go on a rampage and injure numerous individuals quite often end that rampage by injuring  themselves. When it involves death - questions go unanswered - speculation remains. Everyone experiences many emotions throughout the average day - each emotional experience demands a response - quite often no action or reaction - is the best response. It is never proper to blame anyone but yourself for whatever your response is - positive - negative or otherwise. You are responsible and accountable for your reaction - it is your emotion - your decision - your reaction.
When Jesus became upset with the buyers and sellers in the temple area ( Mark 11:15 )  He drove them out and upset their tables - responding to His emotion that they were doing something unacceptable to Him and offensive to God. His reaction could be considered drastic by some - mild by others - but it was His decision and as such He was responsible for His action. It is noteworthy - although He scattered them and upset tables - He did not harm them personally. He did not make a judgement on what they were doing - rather - where they were doing it. It was His decision to make a statement about the sanctity of the Temple - how to reverently treat space reserved for Worship. Today Jesus reminds us that the entire world is sacred to God - that special places are designed for the buyers and sellers - as well as places for adoration and worship. Each of us is called to honor those special places - to respect them - invest our time in them. We are called as His disciples to cope and process our anger in nonviolent ways - to pray before we act - to seek His guidance in all we do. 

Deacon Dale  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Humor

Humor (or humour as some spell it) is defined by Wikipedia as the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. That term was derived from the ancient Greek practice of humoral medicine - in which it was believed that there was a balance of human body fluids which controlled health and emotion. Most people - all ages - races - cultures - respond to humor with varying degrees of response - from smiles and smirks to outright hearty laughter. The Greeks must have been onto something - as laughter is often said to be the best medicine for whatever ails one. Laughter - just as the other emotions of love and hate - anger and fear - is a basic part of human life.
Many Christians have the attitude that showing signs of humor is in bad taste - a sign of being frivolous - not serious about life. Some are so obsessed with this concept that they walk around with a constant frown on  their face - projecting the idea that to be a Christian is a burden and a task. The task part is correct - all Christians are charged with the responsibility of sharing the Good News with all they meet - but the burden is a pleasant one - as serving God brings inner peace - joy - laughter. A well rounded Christian appreciates life and all that it holds - the good as well as  the bad - the sad as well as the funny. Living as a Christian means experiencing all that life holds for each of us - even those things that we would rather not experience. In doing so - Christians experience the fullness of life - the fullness of Christ - the fullness of God. The next time you feel like laughing - enjoying a humourous moment - go ahead and laugh - it just might be God who is telling the joke!

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Prank

A prank is a mischievous trick or joke especially in which something is done rather than said.  It is a popular form of trickery - the key to the prank is the surprise to the victim when the prank is revealed. Most pranks are innocent - friendly teasing among friends and family. Some pranks - however - become very involved - and border on audacious or even mean spirited. These over-the-top pranks seem to be designed more to embarrass or ridicule someone. In these mean spirited pranks - the victim honestly feels like a victim - the only ones laughing are those who perpetrated the prank. Many pranks are done on the spur of the moment and not well thought out - causing the prank to fail or even backfire. In certain instances - those involved in designing the prank do not think it out enough to consider the consequences - if there will be any repercussion and to what extent and to who will be affected. Recently two Australian radio DJs pulled a prank on two nurses at King Edward VII's Hospital in London.  Their intent was not mean spirited - they simply wanted to see if they could fool the hospital staff into letting them talk to Kate - The Duchess of Cambridge - who was experiencing morning sickness. They were surprised that although they did not speak with the Duchess - information was revealed about her condition. When the prank was revealed - the first nurse - who received the call initially - felt so bad that she had been duped and thus allowed the DJs to talk with another nurse who gave out the information - committed suicide. The public and the DJs were shocked  that what they thought was an innocent and harmless prank led to the death of another person.
Very often we forget that our actions and reactions may have consequences far beyond anything that we might have conceived. Jesus knew what He was doing as He traveled through the Holy Land - proclaiming God's message of love and reconciliation. He knew - in His travels - at the Last Supper - hanging on The Cross - that His message would endure for all ages. We - on the other hand - need to realize that as His modern day disciples may have that same effect on the people we meet - the people who observe our actions - the people who hear about us through others. In our lives - what we say - what we do - how we react - speaks volumes about us - our faith - our God. Each of us needs to remember - that we may be the only Christ that some people will ever know.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

CRASH!

Crash - the sound of one automobile colliding with another - the sound of dishes cascading off the serving cart onto the floor - the draperies falling to the floor as the cat climbs for higher ground - or no sound at all. A crash that makes no sound is one of the worst events one can experience - especially when it involves a computer hard drive. Yes - my friends - my computer crashed the other day - a day I will remember for some time. I do not keep critical information on my computer - in fact - I can hardly remember what was on the computer at all. E-mail addresses - miscellaneous files I was saving for a rainy day - bit and pieces of wisdom gathered from here and there - all gone. Oh yes - I made an occasional backup - but not often enough and not frequently enough.
Jesus did not have to cope with computer issues in His day. He faced the real issues - life and death - salvation and redemption - acceptance and rejection. His issues were major ones that involved not Him but those who He came to save. His were real concerns - His were those that had to do with the eternal life of each of us. Even today Jesus comes to us in our hours of need - no crashes as far as Jesus is concerned. He is always on line - always available. **One note - if Jesus did use a computer he would never be bothered by a computer crash - are you ready - because Jesus saves!

Deacon Dale 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Festival of Lights

Festival of Lights originally referred to Hanukkah - a Jewish religious holy day. It has also been associated with Diwali - a religious festival associated with Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism and with Tazaungdaing Festival - a Buddhist festival. There are also many secular festivals associated with the name "Festival of Lights". Today as you drive around various neighborhoods - in the process of decorating for Christmas - you will see many festivals of lights. It is a growing pattern of what many would call "super" decorations - houses and property flooded with an enormous amount of Christmas lights. On one level it is inspiring to see so many large Christmas displays - on another - many question the real value of these displays. 
Jesus is the True Light - the Light that dispels darkness - reveals the truth - brings comfort. He alone is a reflection of God the Father. In Jesus you find a constant - never a flicker - never a bad bulb in the string. Jesus is - was - and always will be the One true - festival of light. 

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Training

Training is a very important part in the process of education and preparation for many tasks. Through training an individual follows a prescribed routine to achieve their goal. In canine obedience training - the process is repeated over and over until the dog has the routine memorized. Usually the trainer is more likely to give up before the dog does. Command and treat gets the task done every time. Patience on the part of the trainer and endurance in the task is what finally yields good results. Musicians have to train - practice - constantly until the music and the technique become a part of their life. I have just begun the process of training for a special pilgrimage that I hope to make next September - walking El Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.. I not only have to get my walking skills up to speed - literally - but I have to do it carrying a backpack. Presently I can do a few miles with no major effort - the goal is to be able to walk about 18 miles a day for 30 days in a row. I am confident that I will be able to walk the 18 miles with out any problem - the hard part will be repeating this task daily until I have walked some 500 miles. With God's blessing it will be accomplished. 
When an individual makes a commitment to Christ - to be an active follower and disciple - they have to train themselves so that they will be able to sustain their goal of spreading His message. It is not easy - many fall by the wayside - reverting to old habits - giving up early in the process. For those who stick it out - no matter how inconvenient it may be - the rewards are many. Through this process - serious people - are coached and encouraged by the words of Christ Himself and His early disciples. Prayer - Holy Scripture - attending Holy Mass - are some of the best tools for those attempting this task. With Jesus at your side - you will be well trained.

Deacon Dale 

Music To My Ears - Tatiana

Music to my ears is a metaphor - a metaphor is a figure of speech that describes something by asserting that it is the same - in some small way - as a completely unrelated subject. One of the most common metaphors - according to Wikipedia - is "all the world's a stage". Metaphors make it easier for people to grasp different concepts and ideas which occur in normal conversation and in literature. It is also a comment made when we hear something pleasing - as in a beautiful poem - an inspiring speech - as in actual beautiful music. Everyone has their own personal preference for what is described as beautiful music - it may be the music itself - the words of a song - a combination of both. This coming Friday - November 30th at 7:00pm at St Patrick Parish - 406 Walnut Street - Yorkville, IL - we will have the opportunity to hear beautiful music - music to my ears. Tatiana is from Croatia - a former pop music star - who gave up fame and fortune and moved to America seeking a different way of life. In America she has found her niche and now - along with her husband - travels across the USA and internationally to bring the beautiful music - God's music to the people. 
Jesus proclaimed God's love for all people - in the words he spoke - in the actions he made. It was a simple message - spoken in love - in kindness - in charity. He spoke of forgiveness - reconciliation - acceptance. Now 2000 years later - those words are spoken by His ministers and special ones - who continue to proclaim His message of love. They are true words - honest words - loving words - Music to our ears.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Resolution

Resolution refers to the act of coming to a definite decision about something. It also means to reduce or break into small parts as in disintegrating in order to convert or transform one object into another. When a group of people come together to discuss an issue in which a decision must be made - we say that they come to a resolution - or final decision about that issue.  When a complex chemical is processed in order to break down into smaller less complex parts it is said to have been resolved - a final product which is now clearer and more refined. In photography resolution refers to how many pixels are involved in the photograph and how clear the resulting image will be. Poor resolution - low pixel count results in a blurry or grainy picture - good resolution - high pixel count and a sharp and clear image results.
When we come to faith - we seek truth - we seek knowledge - we seek information. For many people this is a long and difficult process. Too often the mind tries to resolve faith issues with logic - very often there is no logic to making faith decisions. An individual either believes or does not believe based on what feels correct to them. This is the point of faith - making a resolution to believe that which logic defies. Once a person takes that step into the arena of faith - interesting things begin to happen. Resolving to commit your life to God - to serve Him - to serve His people - to love - to share - is a very good resolution.

Deacon Dale 




Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a very special time of year for most people. It is a national holiday primarily celebrated in North America and Canada. In North America its origin was based in a religious celebration of blessing which has evolved into a more secular tradition. In the early formation days of North America - some Puritans - the radical reformers of their day - wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays - which had become almost excessive in the English tradition (some 95 Church holidays plus 52 Sundays) - including Christmas and Easter. In place of those holidays they proposed days of fasting and thanksgiving. Obviously that is not what happened. In 1621 a poorly documented day of Thanksgiving was celebrated in present day Massachusetts when pilgrims celebrated a good harvest. Today that day is observed on the fourth Thursday of November - on December 26, 1941 President Franklin D Roosevelt signed a resolution permanently fixing that date. Thanksgivings around the world are typically held in observance of special blessings.  In Canada - Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October. The Canadian holiday is traced back to 1578 and an explorer - Martin Frobisher - in thanks for surviving the long journey from England through the dangers of storms and icebergs. Other countries that celebrate a day of thanksgiving are Germany, Grenada, Korea, Japan, Liberia, The Netherlands and Norfolk Islands. People everywhere pause to celebrate blessings in one form or another.
Most celebrations of thanksgiving were first conducted by the spiritual leaders of the community - then as the idea of thanksgiving grew it was absorbed into the daily lives of all peoples. As people of God - each of us thanks God for the many blessings He gives us daily - especially for the blessings that we fail to recognize in the hustle and rush of daily living. On this special day we make it a point to change our routine - to pause - to reflect - to give thanks in special ways. Thank God that He never tires of blessing us - we should be so mindful to thank Him always!

Deacon Dale 

Evidence

Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Evidence is used to prove or disprove innocence in court and legal matters. It is also used to document decisions in many other matters - drug trials - purchase decisions - anything in which important decisions are based. All of us use evidence in one form or another to help us make decisions about many things in our daily lives. We check the temperature and weather report before deciding if we need an umbrella or raincoat - we read food labels to determine the fat and sugar content before we buy - we listen to explanations from our children in conflict situations before we determine what action to take. In almost everything involving a decision we use evidence.
Jesus professed to be the Son of God - He healed people - He made people walk - He made people hear - He raised them from the dead - the evidence is recorded in Holy Scripture - this is fact. Jesus also loves you and cares for you - that is also in Holy Scripture - many people believe this - many do not. If you need more evidence - stop looking and start praying - He will reveal Himself to you - no evidence required.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Obsession


Obsession is defined by the Free Dictionary as the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea - image - desire - feeling. Obsessions may be either healthy or unhealthy. A person who becomes crippled by an obsession - such as a fear of going out in public - would find themselves never leaving their home - as in agoraphobia. On the other hand - an obsession involving exercising every day would be seen as healthy - as long as that individual was able to function normally - merely including their exercise routine as a part of daily life. In this case the action might not truly be considered obsessive - since exercising daily would not occupy every minute in a day. If it did come to the point that exercising was all a person did or think about - then it would be unhealthy. A routine that is followed day in and day out - but does not occupy every moment of one's life would actually be considered religious.  To be religious means that a person is faithfully devoted to an ideal or action. It does not specifically have to do with the practice of or following a religion. A person who stops by Starbucks every morning for a morning coffee could be considered as being religious about their morning routine which involves coffee and Starbucks.
Attending Holy Mass every morning to start your day would be considered religious since your mind would be involved with other things during the day - it would dot your day and give you an excellent start to your day - but not mean that you were unable to do or think about anything else - if it did - it would stop being religious and instead become an obsession. Since learning about the Camino de Santiago de Compostela I have joked about it being an obsession of mine - however - it is not-  as I do not dwell or spend every minute of my day thinking about walking "The Way". I am very interested in the pilgrimage aspect of The Camino and find it intriguing and has become a goal to accomplish at some time in the future. At times obsession and being religious become intertwined - it is important for each of us that we keep our thoughts and actions in focus and in perspective so we do not confuse the two. God calls us to be focused about life - to live it actively and fully - to experience His presence in every waking moment of our lives - to be religious - not obsessive.

Deacon Dale 



Thursday, November 15, 2012

In Concert

According to the Free Dictionary - "in concert" means "with a common plan - as to act in concert - together." When  we hear "in concert" our first thought is usually a musical production of some sort. My granddaughter appears in concert at her college where she participates in various musical productions. On November 30th - at St Patrick - in Yorkville, IL - Tatiana will be in concert. There are other times when people come together - not for musical reasons - to gather to work on community projects. Last night I attended the local Knights of Columbus meeting where 42 Knights gathered together to work on one of many of their annual Christmas projects - in concert. In fact everything the Knights do - is in concert. Their projects are never the result of one person - always the result of many volunteers - working together - in concert.
Jesus recruited His disciples because He knew that He would be more effective working with other men to spread the Good News. In concert - He and His followers went to the public - ministering to all they met. Today you and I also work - in concert - to continue the works started by Jesus. Even when I pray the Breviary - alone by myself - I am - in concert - with other deacons and priests - also alone - but in concert - with each other as we say our prayers for our Holy Church. Ordained or lay - all of us are called to unite our prayers and works with each other - that Jesus may be brought to those who need Him the most - we act - in concert.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Watch Dog

Literally spoken - a watchdog is a dog that has been trained or is bred to be a lookout for people and animals approaching a specified area. Our dog 'Bene" is a Keeshond - one breed that naturally guards its owners property. Originally keeshond were used by Dutch barge owners because they liked water and would bark when anybody approached the barge - warning the owner that a possible thief was lurking nearby. Our dog does not warn us about thieves - rather he barks at anyone and anything that approaches our property. Bene is a great watchdog. People train themselves to be watchdogs - observing and looking for activities that they do not approve of.  Many neighborhoods have watchdog programs - looking out for each other's property and well being.  
Mom & Dad with "Bene"
In today's world there are many people who have become spiritual watchdogs - looking out for the spiritual well being of others. Some people appreciate this - not knowing where to look for guidance - others resent those who offer unsolicited advice. Those who disapprove do so because they assume that those offering advice are making a negative statement that their spiritual lives are not developed enough - the truth is that they do so - because they know that they have a good spiritual life - and they only want to help make it better. Many times different people will ask me if I am aware of certain programs that they feel I would like to know about. - not because I am not a good enough deacon - but because they know I am always on the lookout for opportunities that I can suggest to others to help them grow in their relationship with God. For each of us - as disciples of Christ - we are the new evangelists - we are the spiritual watchdogs - seeking to help others - watching for Jesus - wherever He appears.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tatiana in Concert

Today I have to pause and promote an awesome Christian performer - Tatiana Cameron also known as Tajci.  She is a former rock star from Croatia who came to America when she was 21 years old - learned English fluently - met her husband to be - and now travels around the world sharing her message of God's love mixed in with stories about her life and how God helped her.  Along with Matthew - her husband - she is accompanied with her three boys and crew members. I have heard her numerous times and I never get tired of her voice or music.  I recently received an e-mail from Matthew that she had an opening in her current tour so I jumped at the opportunity and by the grace of God she will be performing at St. Patrick Parish in Yorkville, IL on Friday - November 30, 2012 at 7:00pm.  Doors will open at 6:30pm. There is no charge to attend - but we will have a free will collection to help support their ministry. If you would like a sneak preview you can click here:     PREVIEW                    
God reaches people through various ways - Holy Scripture - Homilies - Sermons - Pictures - Music - other people - good & bad events - just to mention a few.  In art and music especially - He is visible to many who would not encounter him otherwise.  As people of God - it is our mission to not only be aware of God's presence in our lives - but to point Him out to others so they may share in that same awareness and come to know Him as we do - that one day -they like us - will proclaim - "I Do Believe"

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Poverty

According to Wikipedia Poverty is the deprivation of food, shelter, money and clothing that occurs when people cannot satisfy their basic needs. Poverty can be understood simply as a lack of money, or more broadly in terms of barriers to everyday life. Absolute poverty or destitution refers to the state of severe deprivation of basic human needs. Because a person lives in poverty - does not mean that they have absolutely nothing - rather they have a greatly diminished supply of basic needs. As poor as they may be - there are people who do manage to live and exist in the face of poverty. In this day and age - many people who think they are living in poverty are actually not. These may feel like they are because they cannot afford extras in life which many others can afford - cell phones - cable television - designer labels - high end items.  They may be poor compared to their neighbors and friends - but they are not necessarily impoverished. To possess anything means to not be in poverty
.In Mark 12:44 Jesus points out to His disciples that the poor widow gave from her poverty - not from her treasure. He compared her temple offering to others who gave large amounts - but could well afford to. You can consider two different concepts - the first and most obvious is about sharing your money with others - no matter how little you have. The second - and less obvious - is the concept of unburdening yourself of earthly possessions - money - property - material things. In disposing of these material things - you free yourself from the burden of managing them. You are no longer possessed by that which you possess - and being freed - you are now open to new experiences and options. When you become free - you are now open to God and what He wants you to do with your life. In your new found poverty - you have gained the world and all that God intends for you.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Inspiration

Inspiration is defined in various ways - as a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify them to receive and communicate sacred revelation - as an act of influencing or suggesting opinions - the action of drawing in such as breathing - or the state of being inspired.  Inspire is taken from the Latin - to breathe or take in.  In its most common use - inspiration suggests that an individual develops and idea from an outside force or stimulus. Perhaps when working on a project - a person who is unable to find a solution or answer finds themselves at a stalemate - a road block. They are unable to move forward - experience great difficulty in attaining their goal. Then in a sudden moment - the answer is given to them - revealed to them by a word or action unrelated to the project which helps them see the solution to the problem. We say that they were inspired by this outside force - the problem solved - the project completed. All of us rely on inspiring moments in our lives to keep us moving forward.
When a person moves forward in their spiritual development - we say that they were inspired by God - that they "breathed in the Holy Spirit". It is not unusual for ordinary people to suddenly become more fervent in their faith - it happens all the time. Through concentrated prayer - fasting - meditation - they are able to empty themselves of worldly concerns and open themselves to the presence of God in their lives.  Each of us is called by God to a deeper relationship with Him - the author of life. We are asked to not only acknowledge His existence but to develop a relationship with Him - a relationship that grows daily as we seek meaning and purpose in our life. For everyone this is possible - it is not reserved only for spiritual leaders - but for followers as well. Prayer is the answer - in prayer you will be inspired.

Deacon Dale 






Saturday, November 3, 2012

Meet & Greet

A "meet & greet" session is a meeting in which people are gathered together to meet for the first time and become acquainted with each other. There are many reasons for these types of meetings - parents of school children - scouting groups - travel groups. I recently held a travel meet & greet for a group of people who will be traveling together on a pilgrimage to Italy. My wife and I made sure the meeting room was properly arranged and decorated to give an ethnic feel to the room - complete with Italian colors - glasses of red wine - international flags. It was a great success and in a very short time everyone felt as if they had been a group and friends for years. The pilgrimage will be very pleasant and a rewarding adventure for all of them since they are no longer traveling with complete strangers.
An important consideration in Jesus' ministry was the fact that He met people where they lived. Very often they met and shared their lives over a glass of wine and a piece of cheese or bread. Jesus knew that He had to make people comfortable with Him before He could have an effect on their lives. Following in His footsteps - many successful ministries today still follow the meet & greet format combined with shared food and drink. The next time you want to share your personal relationship with Jesus with others - stop - invite - share - food and drink first - then evangelize.  It worked for Jesus - it will work for you.

Deacon Dale  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pacing

Pacing has to do with the pace or gait established by a person, animal or team when moving forward - as in a race or march.  Horses are trained to run, trot or pace - marching bands train for hours developing marching and playing skills - athletes train endlessly to develop their best pace for endurance and stamina. The goal in all three examples - to do the best - to maximize performance - to accomplish their goal. In our own lives we establish a pace - a rhythm - to how we live out our daily lives. We wake - prepare for the day - experience the day - end the day with rest. Even those whose lives are filled with numerous activities - fall into a rhythm.
As a good Jew - Jesus also had a rhythm to His life - daily functions and needs - daily prayers - religious observances - living life to the fullest. As He lived - so He asks us to live - as faithful people - observing God's commands - listening to Him who nurtures - breathing in the Spirit of Life - seeking balance in a world of confusion. In God's hands - we can have a normal pace - a normal pattern - a normal stream of a life lived well - in God's hands we experience Him - Father - Son - Holy Spirit. We live Life!

Deacon Dale 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Validation

A validation is the act or process of making something valid - legal - official. It is common for people to validate all types of things - parking stubs - concert tickets - appointment times - test dates - relationships - friends on social networks. When something is validated it tells us that everything is in order and on schedule. As people of order - we are comforted when we validate these different things.  In the Roman Catholic Church we frequently process marriages that were contracted outside the Church.  Many people refer to this process as "blessing a marriage" - the correct term is a validation ceremony. In this ceremony vows are repeated and men and women recommit themselves - validate their relationship - in the presence of a priest or deacon - the marriage is validated - made legal in the Church.
In Mark 9:2-9 Jesus was transfigured before his disciples - that action by God validated His divinity and revealed to the disciples that Jesus was no ordinary person. Most of Jesus' ministry was validating the worth of people - to their friends - to their neighbors - to themselves. Today - just as in the past - Jesus reassures us and reminds us that we are worth more than we realize - that as modern day disciples we have a valid ministry - a valid challenge - to do as Jesus did - to validate the worth of each other.

Deacon Dale 







Thursday, October 25, 2012

Providence

Providence is a middle English word which comes from provident and is translated from the Latin pro = for  and videre = to see.  Therefore, providence means the action of being provident or seeing to the future - to prepare - to be prudent - as watching for future events. When one is being provident they might store up food for the winter - money for unforeseen expenses - time for future activities and the like.  Years ago my wife was in a Christian praise band called Providence - their goal was to spread the Word of God to all who would listen - to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven - here and now - to encourage people sitting on the sides to become active Christians. It is not only singers and musicians who have the opportunity to touch the minds and hearts of the common person - all of us have the potential to spread the Gospel message of Jesus through our actions and words.  Although doubted as an authentic quote of Saint Francis - he is accredited with the phrase "preach the Gospel constantly - when necessary use words".  Futureyes was the name of a local youth group who were challenged by their youth minister to see the future and their potential to effect change for the good - to spread Jesus' Gospel as teens.
Jesus lived His life proclaiming His Father's message of love - forgiveness - healing - redemption - in what He said and did. Many times it was a touch or embrace - an admonition - words of encouragement.  He was the Word that became flesh for the "life of the world". Jesus gave His all so that even today - 2000 years later - His words might heal and save souls. Each of us needs to pause and reflect on His awesome gift of life - life for today - life for eternity. Today we - like Jesus - need to proclaim His message to all we meet - we all should have futureyes.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Servant

Merriam-Webster defines servant as one that serves others - a public servant - especially one that performs duties about the person or home of a master or personal employer.  A servant may be an employee or a slave.  Employees have the ability to leave - if treated poorly - a slave does not have that option.  Servants are used to perform tasks that their master does not want to do themselves - cooking family meals - doing the laundry - maintaining the property - landscaping - handling repairs - being a nanny - or any other task you might think of.  Servants in general who are employed - do so willingly.  Slaves perform their obligations because they are forced into service against their will.  To willingly be a slave of another person is not the norm and highly unusual.
In Isaiah 53 we are introduced to The "Suffering Servant" - a proclamation some 700 years before the birth of Jesus.  While the original Hebrew text clearly refers to the Jewish people as the “Suffering Servant” - over the centuries Isaiah 53 has become a cornerstone of the Christian claim that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus was the One who came to serve - rather than be served. He did not see Himself as royalty - One to be waited upon - He was to be the One who waited upon all.  In boldness and humility - He proclaimed a new vision of Heaven on Earth - a new way of thinking - a new way of serving - a new way of life for all.  As a disciple of Jesus - we are called to share with Him - the service of others. We are called to be last - among those who seek to be first. We are called to quietly continue the work - first begun by our savior - as servants - as slaves.  We are called.

Deacon Dale 



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Compulsion

A compulsion is a strong - usually irresistible - impulse to perform an act - especially one that is irrational or contrary to one's will.  Compulsions take many different forms - perhaps eating excessive amounts of food for fear of starvation - practicing an athletic skill such as hitting a 1000 practice balls for fear of losing a golf match - anything that a normal person would not do.  Compulsions may be either damaging or beneficial - depending on the focus and the eventual outcome.  After watching the movie The Way - both my wife and I have become engrossed in the idea of going to Spain and doing the 800 Km walk ourselves. In a way we feel compelled to do this - a walking pilgrimage of great distance - a compulsion.
Jesus was compelled to fulfill His mission on Earth. He could not deny who He was or why He had been born.  His was not a desire to merely do His Father's will - He was compelled to the point that He gave His life willingly - He could do nothing else.  So great is His love for each of us - He would do it all over again if He had to.  If you have never made a commitment to Him - now would be a good time.

Deacon Dale 


Thursday, October 18, 2012

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela was the focus of "The Way" - a movie that I viewed recently written by Emilio Estevez and starring actor Martin Sheen. It is a moving story of a father and son and of a very special journey. As a deacon whose primary ministry these days is promoting pilgrimages - this movie - opened my eyes to what I would consider one of the ultimate pilgrimage experiences.  While the normal pilgrimages I promote involve traveling to distant lands - Israel and the Holy Land - Italy and The Vatican - involving ten or eleven days - The Way - promotes a walking pilgrimage of some 800 Kilometers (497 miles) that takes anywhere from a minimum of two weeks up to a month or more to complete. It does not feature air-conditioned buses and four-star hotels - rather, gravel paths and inexpensive hostels. It is a pilgrimage walked by some two hundred thousand or so pilgrims yearly - for the past thousand years. It is a journey - not into impressive cathedrals and basilicas - but rather into one's own heart - and the hearts of fellow pilgrims on the way.  It requires special preparation - good hiking boots - stamina - to complete the journey.
Jesus was not unfamiliar with walking - visiting places outside of His home town.  He walked with a purpose - His mission - to spread the Good News to anyone who would listen. He traveled light - He traveled with companions. His walks brought Him to many places and peoples - into the hearts of those who met Him - and even today - into the hearts of people who He never saw. As we walk our own journeys - we need to walk with intent - with conviction - with honesty - with God. Wherever our travels take us - The Holy Land - The Vatican - The local shopping mall - we walk as modern day disciples - we carry Jesus in our hearts - we share the Good News - we show what modern day disciples look like. May our paths meet one day - on The Way.

Deacon Dale   

Recipe

A recipe is a list of ingredients and directions which are used to assemble and create a product. That product might be a dish for eating or it might be a formula for producing something completely different such as a political campaign. All recipes list the ingredients required in the production process and the manner in which those ingredients are combined - in what proportions and at specific times and intervals for the desired product to be realized or completed.  With a food recipe it is important to follow the list and quantities of ingredients and the instructions for mixing and heating or cooling in order to create an edible food item that tastes good and may be reproduced in the future. In a political campaign - the main ingredient is a support staff that provides the candidate with reliable and true information so that when assembled and delivered to the voting population helps the candidate to win the election. Unfortunately - many recipes - both food and otherwise - are not followed accurately or truthfully and the outcome usually leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
In John 14:6 Jesus proclaimed to His followers that He was - The Truth - The Way - The Life - the ingredients needed to attain Heaven - to be able to see the Father face to face. His recipe -shared with His disciples - guaranteed the product of meeting His Father - God in Heaven - as long as His recipe was followed.  Believe in Him - Believe in His Words - Believe in His promises and Eternity in Heaven was possible - His recipe for an eternal life of peace and joy.  That recipe still exists today - for you - for me.  All we have to do is follow it accurately and truthfully and we will see Him in heaven!

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Myths

According to Wikipedia In folkloristics, a myth is a sacred narrative usually explaining how the world or humankind came to be in its present form, although, in a very broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional story. Myths were typically promoted by rulers or priests in order to make a significant point or to teach a lesson. In many myths ordinary people were turned into superheros in order to dramatize a teaching point or to justify a ritual.  The study of myths is known as mythology - in which the various forms and origins are learned. The most common myths that most people know are ones in which ordinary people or ordinary events were elaborated by the storytellers to make either or both more significant than they originally were.  On a local level - common myths abound in regards to stories which are spread about people and events in which the storyteller is misinformed and uneducated about the very thing they are speaking. One very common myth involves religion - specifically the Catholic religion - in which the false myth is spread that Catholics treat and worship Saint Mary as a god. Nothing could be further from the truth - yet that myth just does not want to go away. In cases such as this - a person who has a negative view of another person or group - spreads myths that are plausible - but not true - to the effect that they actually become believed by the uninformed.  
In faith matters - it is always best to go to the source to verify the validity of such myths that make unsubstantiated claims. Too often it is discovered that many of these myths are outright lies - perpetuated by others seeking to destroy the faith of those followers. In the Catholic Church - our beliefs are found in Holy Scripture and in Tradition - as laid down by the Church's Fathers. Anything not found in these two sources lends itself to myths and lies. It is unfortunate that some - seeking to promote their own beliefs - try to destroy the beliefs of others.  Before one speaks in matters of faith - one needs to be informed - so they do not spread myths in place of the truth. Jesus is the Truth - that sets all people free.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Destiny

Destiny or fate is a predetermined course of events. It may be thought of as a future that has been predetermined, whether in general or of an individual. It is a concept based on the belief that there is a fixed or logical order of nature. Fate defines events as inevitable or "ordered" and unavoidable.  Destiny - on the other hand - deals with regard to events that have worked themselves out.  Many people believe that their lives - their complete lives - have been predetermined by God or nature.  Many believe that no matter what they do - or what God may do - will ever change the course of their lives.  Who they will marry - what type of work they will do - when they will die - is all determined by their personal destiny.  To live a life under this concept of predetermination traps a person to a life of fear - anxiety - disappointment  Whenever anything happens that is not pleasant  they assume that it was their destiny and accept it as is. Trapped by this mentality - one has a sad life to look forward to - blaming all events on destiny.
Jesus told His disciples and He tells us that our one destiny is to become like Him - to become Christ like in all we do.  If we believe in His promises - we will realize that we have the power - the ability to change our lives for the better.  God blesses each of us with talents and skills and knowledge. He expects us to use those gifts to help others - to help ourselves. No matter what anyone's future looks like - it can be changed - it takes effort on our part - with God - all things are possible.

Deacon Dale 

Needle's Eye

The needle's eye or more commonly the "eye of the needle" is the small oval opening at the head of a needle through which the thread or material being threaded will pass to facilitate the sewing process. Needles may be very small and thus difficult to thread or they may be large enough that actual cord is used as the threading material. The most common needles are those used to sew clothing and - from experience - are often very difficult to thread. Many times as a youngster I was asked by my mother to thread a needle for her. That I could do - the actual sewing - was always better left up to mother's hands. In Holy Scripture - in Jewish - Christian and Islam religions - scripture relates to impossible objects being passed through a needle's eye. The Babylonian Talmud refers to an elephant passing through a needle's eye. In both the Bible and Quran - reference is made to a camel passing through the eye of a needle. 
In Mark 10:24-25 Jesus tells His disciples that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. At first glance one might think Jesus is being highly critical of those with wealth - but upon deeper inspection we find that it is not the wealth that is the problem - rather how men handle their wealth and how many allow wealth to become their god.  To be wealthy does not necessarily mean to have a lot of money - anything that we might possess in great abundance - may be considered wealth - excess clothing - 100 pairs of shoes - hours upon hours of free time that goes wasted - may all divert our attention from God and those around us who need our help. Jesus warns us that following the law - knowing the rules - staying safely in our own space - does not guarantee anyone a place in heaven. Knowledge is one thing - putting that knowledge into action - freely serving God and His people - are what counts.  Today we all need to look at our wealth and ask ourselves - what are we doing with it - does it distract us from our commitment to God - or are we using our excess to meet the needs of those around us?

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Officiant

An officiant is a person who officiates at a service or ceremony such as a wedding, baptism or funeral. At weddings and baptisms the officiant normally is required to be ordained in a specific denomination in order to perform their duties.  At funerals - the officiant is not required to be ordained - but rather one who is trained and has experience conducting funeral services. In this day and age - it is not unusual for persons who have no affiliation with a religious community or organization to be buried without the assistance of a trained officiant. Very often people who are cremated have their ashes spread by a family member with no official service.  While this may be expedient - it often leaves family members with an uneasy feeling that their loved one was not given a dignified and proper goodbye. In light of this - my wife who is a hospital chaplain and I have recently begun a new ministry we call "Final Journey".  Through this new ministry we are offering funeral officiant services.  Our web site is located at www.yourofficiant.org - where we describe the services offered and to whom. It is sad that this type of service is needed - but rather than ignore the issue - we are extending ourselves in a Christian manner to help others.
Jesus came because of the Love that He and the Father have for all mankind. He came to save us from ourselves - from the sins we would commit - from the evil that poisons the hearts of people. He came for everyone - but everyone did not accept Him - He came for His own people - but even some of His own people rejected Him - and today people still reject Him - and search for other answers - to questions that will never be answered without Him. Although He was saddened when people rejected His Gospel - He still extended Himself to everyone who needed Him - He cannot deny Himself - nor will He deny you - if you only ask.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Me Worry?

According to Wikipedia - worry - is thoughts, images and emotions of a negative nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats.  Worry may be experienced by an individual about a real or imagined situation.  A small amount of worry is considered good - double checking on things - buckling your seat belt - avoiding risky ventures - may help to protect from unfortunate or bad outcomes. Excessive worry - on the other hand - may become crippling and prevent an individual from experiencing the fullness of life.  Being terrified of flying in an airplane - being afraid of water - avoiding situations based on rumors - may cause an individual to become excessively worried - to the point that they never fly in an airplane - never learn how to swim - never vote in an election.  I am saddened - when inviting people to travel with me on pilgrimages - that their only reason not to experience the awe and wonder of The Holy Land or the beauty of Italy - is because the are worried about flying - or going to a strange country - or eating different food.  Because of those worries - they miss experiences that contain great joy and pleasure - the possibility of experiencing God in new ways and in new places.

In Matthew 6: 25-34 and Luke 12: 22-25 Jesus told his disciples not to worry - especially about the little things - like what to eat or what to wear - worry has no place in anyone's life.  A small amount of concern about current issues is fine as long as it does not become a worry. It is said that worry is a tool of the devil - used to distract us from the numerous blessing that each of us receives daily from God. When we focus on worries - we take our eyes off God and that opens us to the dark side - where loneliness and self concern takes over.  The answer to being at peace in your own life - is prayer - not worry.  Prayer keeps us connected to God - to Jesus.  Through prayer we get to know ourselves better and in knowing ourselves better we know God better - we become more Christ like - we stop worrying and instead thank and praise Him - Our Lord!

Deacon Dale