Monday, April 30, 2012


I love how everyone you do business with today wants to offer you an automatic upgrade. Buying a new house - looking at 3 bedrooms - how about a "free" bonus room? All ready to sign up at the health club - pay the entire year now and get a free upgrade to 15 months instead of 12 months - no extra. Renting a standard size car - how about a free upgrade to a full size - no extra charge. No extra work - no extra anything - Enjoy your free up grade today - because tomorrow we may not be able to make the same offer.
When God revealed Himself to the Israelites and told them that He would be their God and they would be His people - He meant that they would experience the fullness of all that God is. They did not have to ask or bargain for any upgrades. They did not have to prove themselves to God first before He would give them His best - when God enters your life you get all of God - not just a part - you get all that God is - right up front - right away - no up grades needed!

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Strike Three!

Any baseball or softball fan knows those ominous words - strike three! - you are out! If you are the team at bat you really hate hearing those words - especially if it means you just scored the third out in the inning. Worse yet is when it happens during the 9th or final inning. Then again - if you are on the opposite team - those words could be music to your ears - strike three - you win! Those words primarily belong on the playing field - but very often the reference of three strikes and you are out -  translates to some kind of failure in other venues. It could be another sport or at work or even in personal relationships. It is not unusual to have friends use that phrase when involved in social events - especially when trying to meet new people - especially those of the opposite sex.  Strike three - immediate failure - the game is over.
Luckily for those who are busy working on developing a better relationship with God - they will never hear those words. It is very encouraging to know that no matter how many times we fall short of our expectations  - God watches - smiles - and says - nice try. It might be developing a better prayer life - or improving our attendance at weekly services - or trying to develop a better spiritual life. God is always  there - always encouraging - always patient  - it is we who judge ourselves as failures - God - on the other hand knows that each of us is a work in progress.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

How Am I?

"How are you doing?" is a common greeting when we meet each other. "Hello - how are you doing?" - day after day - spoken in many different tongues to many different people. When we speak those words - do we really expect an answer - do we really have the time to engage in a conversation about another person's well being? Quite often the honest answer is no - we speak a common phrase with as little thought as we do dozens of other phrases. Phrases so common that they have almost lost all usefulness. When I am approached by an individual and they ask me how I am doing - I usually will pause - look them in the eye - and then ask if they have the time to listen to me as I tell them how I am doing. Sorry to say most people decline and retract their question with a quick "sorry I just wanted to say hello". So we use words that we do not mean for what - lack of vocabulary - lack of knowledge - lack of ???. If you ask me how I am doing - stay around for the answer - please.
When Jesus comes to us and asks us how we are doing - He expects to sit down - and be with us - totally engaged in our lives. He does not ask in a casual way - He asks out of concern. He cares about us so much - that He will put the World on hold - just to hear our answer. When we come to Jesus in prayer - in conversation - we need to give Him the same time that He offers to us. We need to put our lives - the World - on hold - so that we may make ourselves completely present to Him. When you go to your prayer space - do not do it in haste - go confident that He - the author of Love - the author of Life is sitting there - waiting for you - so that He may ask "How are You doing?"

Deacon Dale 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shinning Star

Have you looked into the sky at night lately? I mean - have you allowed yourself the time to star gaze? Most of us are so busy with our lives that we go through our days and nights like mechanical men and women. Yes - we notice that it is daytime or nighttime - but do we pause long enough to see if there are clouds in the sky or stars at night? Sad, but all too many of us do not. When our lives get so busy that we do not have the time to gaze into the sky we need to ask ourselves what are we doing - why are we doing it - and who are we doing it for. All too many times that which keeps us so busy is not our personal lives - but our jobs. Isn't that sad? Is this what you thought your life was suppose to be when you became an adult? You do have the ability to take control of your life - it means you have to learn to say no - enough! You need to slow the pace - to gaze into the night sky and be amazed and inspired by the stars in the sky.
When God called us to be His special people - He did not call us to be over involved or over worked. Too many people are guilty of becoming so involved with "church" projects that they lose control of their lives - they ignore family and other obligations to the point that - although they think they are doing good helping the church - they are actually damaging their families - their lives and personal relationships. Seems selfish to say that maybe you are spending too much time at church and not enough at home - but God does not want you serving Him to the point that you upset the normal flow of family life. Just as we allow our jobs to control our lives - we may be guilty of letting our involvement with our church to do the same. Romans 12:22 tells us "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect'.  God wants us to have balance in our lives - to love Him and serve Him - and to take care of all that has been entrusted to us. If we do both well - we will have the balance that God asks from us - we will have time to look at the stars - in the sky - in our families - in our church.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nuts and Bolts

Nuts and bolts are the glue that makes many things stick together. If you ever played with an Erector Set you understand how true this is. Each item in that toy construction set would be nothing without the nuts and bolts. All the individual parts - by themselves - are useless until you connect them together with a nut and bolt. As more nuts and bolts are added to the project more beams and parts are also added until a completed structure stands before your eyes. Whenever we are working on a project we have to always start with the nuts and bolts - with the basics that will form the base upon which we build whatever it is we wish to build. Any goal that we seek to attain cannot be imagined until we first lay down the basics and build upon those basics. Any project that we undertake requires that we start at ground level - do our research - gather the materials and people to help us - and then we start on the task of creating and building and reaching the established goal. We always start with the basics - the nuts and bolts
When Jesus set out on his mission to reveal the Word of God to the people, he had to start with the basics. He sought out people who could be of help to him - people who could share the task and then he built upon the basics. He first shared his message with his disciples - his recruits. The disciples shared that message with others and eventually with the entire world. Today you and I are called to be the nuts and bolts of Jesus' mission. We are not asked to be awesome or outstanding - nor are we asked to move mountains or heal throngs of people. Today Jesus asks you and I to do the basics - to spread the truth - to be the nuts and bolts for today.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ordinary Men

Everywhere you look in life you will see ordinary men doing ordinary things for ordinary people. It may be mowing the lawn - painting a house - building a barn - and alongside them are ordinary women doing the exact same things. As a matter of fact each of us is quite ordinary in what we say and do and in how we live our lives. Teachers - police - letter carriers - laborers - wait staff - you name it and all of them are very ordinary - as it should be. Rarely you may come across an individual who stands out from the others - but in normal communities and among normal people - we are all very ordinary.
Once in a while you will come across people who are not ordinary - Jesus was one of those people. He looked like everyone else and even had a common job as a carpenter. He walked and talked just as everyone else did. His message - however - was not ordinary. He spoke about his Heavenly Father and forgiveness and the Kingdom of God and other extra-ordinary things. Today we have among us other ordinary men doing extra ordinary things just like Jesus did. All of our ordained ministers - bishops - priests and deacons are ordinary men attempting to continue Jesus' mission on Earth. Like Jesus, they try to teach and preach about God and His love for each of us. We in turn need to support them and pray for them - the task that they have been called to do is not ordinary in any imaginable way - no what they do is extra-ordinary and that makes each of them heroes. Heroes for you and heroes for me - it is through them that God is made visible to each of us. 

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

March for Babies

For the past five years my family has been involved with the March of Dimes March for Babies. This happened as a result of my grandson, Matthew, being born at 25 weeks gestation. I do not want to go into details but it was a scary trying time for his mother and father and the rest of the family. I had never seen a premature baby up until that time and even though I have over fifty years experience working in the health care field and 23 years as an ordained deacon - I had never had the chance to experience a premature birth. Since then I, and many of my family, have joined the "walk". For more information on this walk you can click this link "March for Babies". This one march is only one of many in which people ban together to walk for various charities and needs. It is heart warming to see so many people who are willing to take the time to walk many miles in an effort to raise awareness about different causes and needs. The kindness and generosity of people never fails to amaze me.
When Jesus went on a walk it was not to raise funds for a charity - it was to raise awareness about the awesome love that God has for His people. Jesus walked many rocky and sandy roads in an effort to get His message out to the people. As he traveled he was given a chance to see the kindness that people extend to a stranger as well as to experience rudeness and lack of interest. One would think that offering salvation and eternal life would interest everyone - but. many who hear the message let it slip by as easily as water pouring through the fingers. For those of us who have heard and taken His message to heart - Jesus invites us to continue our walk with Him - He will never let go of our hand!

Deacon Dale 

Monday, April 23, 2012

- = +

Can't read the title?  - = minus (or less) + = add (or more) so when translated it means "less is more". How often have you heard that phrase? Probably when mom was cutting you a piece of her delicious chocolate cake and you kept urging her "bigger - bigger" and she kept trying to convenience you that should should not be a glutton and to be happy with a smaller piece and enjoy her great cooking.  Maybe it was a philosophy teacher that tried to impart a little wisdom on you to explain that cluttering your life or mind with an excess could be a burden, whereas less possessions and thoughts freed you up so that life could actually offer you more. 
Jesus is like that too. Having an abundance of earthly possessions very often takes our minds and hearts off God and onto ourselves. As we work to develop our spiritual life the first thing that we need to do is to empty ourselves of everything that is not necessary - then after emptying ourselves - we slowly add into our lives only that which is important and has true value. Jesus calls us to come to him as we are - He does the cleansing and rebuilding - we place ourselves before Him - the One - and in His time He enters our life and makes it whole.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Read My Lips

How many times have you been involved in a conversation when the other person looks you in the eyes and says "read my lips".  Usually when you get to that point you are either disagreeing with each other or the other person thinks that they have not made their point clear enough to you so they pause and then say those famous words - read my lips. 
When we are struggling with the subject of forgiveness and finding it hard to believe that God could or would forgive us we need to open our eyes and look into the face of Jesus. In His eyes we will see His awesome love for us and know in an instant that He does forgive us. No matter what it is that we have done to fear his disapproval - He will always be there with a smile holding his hand out for us to grasp - to touch Him - to seize the moment - to touch the Divine.

Deacon Dale

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Moving On

Whenever we experience a drastic change in our life we become emotional about having to deal with and accept those changes - especially when we did not want the change to happen and we were unable to avoid that change. We fight our emotions - we try to cope - then we move on. How we move on is a test of our character and the strength of yourself. Some people cope very poorly and become emotionally stalled - unable to make decisions - unable to get to the next stage of their life. Others - although just as severely challenged - keep moving forward - as painful as it may be - and slowly cope and accept the changes in their life. Not easy - but a better way to deal with painful changes. They keep moving on - if only by baby steps - to a promising future.
When Jesus was wandering through the various villages and towns - he was often met with disapproval and derision. Not exactly what you think the Messiah would have experienced  - even in his own home town where he was rejected. But Jesus had a mission and a purpose set down by his Father and so he kept moving on. As modern day disciples - Jesus calls us to keep moving -  no matter how well we are accepted or treated. He expects us to cope well with the difficulties that we will experience - He knows that with His Holy Spirit - we can move on and succeed - because He walks with us.

Deacon Dale

Friday, April 20, 2012


Regifting - which is also known in some areas as regiving - is the practice of taking a gift that you received - but do not want - and giving it to another person. Perhaps it was a tie from your sister two thousand miles away who will never know that you never wore her gift tie - but instead gave it to somebody else. Some people see nothing wrong with this practice as it takes an unused or unwanted gift and places it into the hands of another who is more likely to make use of the item. Others see this practice as rude because - in a way - you are telling the person who gave you the gift - that you really didn't appreciate their act of kindness. In reality - once you receive a gift - it is yours and what you chose to do with it is your business - giving to another who can and will make use of the item makes more sense. Just because you chose to give your gift away - may actually be seen a sacrificial act and an act of charity and kindness.
When we made an adult decision to make Jesus the Lord of our life - we made a commitment that was intended for a lifetime. When we recognized the gift that God gave us in Jesus and the gift of salvation that he offered us - we were so happy that we knew that we could not keep quiet. Our lives changed and we were compelled by the Holy Spirit to take the gifts we had received and share them with anyone we met. Jesus received the Holy Spirit from His father and then gave it to us so that we in turn would pass it on to others.. Jesus - the original regifter!

Deacon Dale

Task Force

The term task force was originally introduced by the United States Navy to designate a unit or team created to focus on a single defined activity. It is now a standard term used by NATO. Non-military organizations now have adopted the task force concept to work on any focused activity. Giant corporations, small businesses, schools and social organizations form task forces to address and solve specified issues and achieve specific goals. A task force is usually limited to a smaller number of individuals to help facilitate decisions and accomplish stated goals in a timely manner.
When Jesus recruited his twelve disciples, he was creating the original task force. Their goal was simple - share His Gospel message with anyone they met. Simple enough - open your mouth - speak the Truth - the truth about God's awesome love - about His forgiveness - about reconciliation. Tell everyone that His rules were simple rules - His love available to anyone. Today we have all been called to be His modern day disciples - to share His message - to be His task force.

Deacon Dale

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Road Trip

When you get together with your friends and declare that it is time for a road trip - you are not talking about going on vacation or a quick run to the store for drinks and snacks. A road trip indicates that their is an agenda and some goal that needs to be achieved. Perhaps it a trip to see all the major league ball parks in a specified area - or a trip to visit another group of friends or college buddies for a weekend together to reconnect and party. Whatever the reason - it has a focus and it gets you away from the ordinary routine of life.
As we continue our journey with Jesus, we often will walk into places unfamiliar to us. It may be an actual physical location or a spiritual place. Wherever it is that God calls us towards - we can be at peace knowing that Jesus is there holding our hand - leading us out of the ordinary into His mystical presence.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Have you noticed that whenever you want to pack anything you almost always find out that you either have too many items to pack or not enough space. It doesn't matter if you are storing items such as Christmas decorations. old memorabilia or getting ready for a trip out of town. You always find out that you have much more than you thought you did and not enough containers to put them into or space to store them. It gets frustrating and then you either dispose of items or you stand or sit on your storage container in an effort to squeeze everything in.
Many Christians treat their faith journey much like they would a vacation trip. They see and hear so much about Jesus that they want to know everything immediately and pack that knowledge into their minds and hearts. When they realize that they have crammed too much into their lives that their faith becomes confusing they begin to lose faith in themselves as a Christian. They see it as a failure. That is when they need to stop - take a breath - and put their priorities in order. Satan is the author of confusion and worry. Turning to Jesus in prayer and asking guidance for what needs to be the first on their list is the way to solve their dilemma. Prayer is always the first place to start and the last place to stop. If your faith is confusing - go to your prayer closet and ask Jesus for help - He is there waiting for you.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Red Shirt

If you are an athlete you know what it means to be "redshirted". It is a way to join a team - to practice and workout with the team in a year of preparation before actual play on the team. In this year of the redshirt - the future team mate can bulk up - fine tune their skills and learn the team plays in preparation for the big moment when they actually enter the playing field and compete. Red is also the color of blood and many competitors in various sports will spill blood - either their own or a competitors - during the competition. It is considered part of the price that a person has to pay in order to give their best effort to winning the crown of victory. 
Like an athlete - Jesus had to compete - not with another individual - but with Satan - to win the souls of all who had died or who would die because of sin and evil. Jesus wasn't competing for a gold crown - but rather a crown of thorns. He knew He would not be lifted up on shoulders of cheering spectators - but rather on a cross. He knew that no matter how much He prepared Himself - He would spill His Precious Blood - to win the victory of life over death and sin. His clothes would be stained with blood - He would die - but in the end - be the Victor. It is through His Precious Blood that all of us have been redeemed - Jesus paid the price so that each of us may stand beside Him and wave the flag of victory over death and sin. Praise God!

Deacon Dale 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baby Steps

One of the great things about being a parent is watching your children grow from infants to toddlers and beyond. At every age there are accomplishments that a parent looks for to make sure their child is developing properly. One of these markers is progressing from crawling to baby's first steps which seems to very rapidly progress to running. You remember the day when you wondered if baby would ever learn to walk and then it seems that the next thing you are asking yourself is when will they slow down? It is funny and as you age yourself - you look back on those early memories of child development and just smile. 
Our growth as a spiritual person tends to follow a similar progress. At first we are filled with questions and hesitations. Are these facts really true and more importantly am I willing to accept them? If you learn these spiritual truths as a child - you accept them completely on face value because mom and dad told you they were true. No questions - no arguments. However as we mature we begin to question - to ask - to try to comprehend. Most young adults go through a period of questioning the faith they first accepted as children. Education does that to people - we are taught to seek and question - to challenge - to read and study - and in the process we are either drawn closer or away from those spiritual beliefs we so readily accepted as children. For some the journey to a final spiritual home is short - for others - the journey never ends. For those of us who only had to endure a brief time of wandering - we praise and thank God for that blessing. For those who are still searching - those who are growing by baby steps - tiny levels of acceptance - we offer our prayers that they will soon discover the Truth that is Jesus. The Truth that is Love - The Truth that goes beyond all understanding.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Bridge

"Jesus I Trust In You" - Is a phrase recited daily by thousands of believers as they fill their day with the prayers of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Although the prayers originated in the 1930's, many Christians are still not familiar with those words. In 2000 - when Blessed John Paul II declared the second Sunday of Easter "Divine Mercy Sunday" and cannonized Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska - the message of God's Divine Mercy was revealed to the entire world on a mass scale. Even so, many Catholic churches still do not actively promote the devotion to the Divine Mercy. This deacon and his wife was introduced to this special devotion by Father Edward Vitchkoski, MIC in 1980 and this is one devotion that has been a staple in our prayer lives ever since.
In the Divine Mercy - Jesus presents Himself to us as a bridge between His Heavenly Father and the world that we live in. It is through the bridge of Jesus that we are brought to God and our salvation. On this Divine Mercy Sunday we feverently pray to Jesus and ask Him to hear our prayers and draw each of us deeper into His most Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy of God. Jesus lives! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Deacon Dale

Saturday, April 14, 2012


100! For those who follow this blog regularly - I wrote my 100th blog yesterday. That is a small feat for me - not that I ever doubted that I was able to write a daily article - but more that I would find the time to actually accomplish that. So this is a personal landmark - a sign to me that there is life after retirement and at my age that I can still contribute to society. My entire life and work career has always been focused on helping and serving the needs of people. It started with delivering newspapers, then caddying at the golf club, then cooking at a local restaurant chain, and finally working as a pharmacist and in pharmacy for over 50 years and at the same time serving my faith community as an ordained Catholic deacon for the last 23+ years. Although working with people can create many challenging moments - the rewards are immeasurable or as MasterCard would say "priceless".
The Master servant of all is of course Jesus Christ. The one who came to serve - not to be served. The one who worked as a carpenter - an unlikely candidate - one who never would have been picked out of a line up as the Savior of the World. An ordinary man who did very extraordinary thing - dying on the Cross - for you and me. I have written 100 blog entries in electronic characters - Jesus wrote His story in Blood.  I have loved my family and friends - Jesus loves the World. His is a record - a testimony that no Landmark can ever surpass. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Deacon Dale 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Superstitious? Then today must have been a nightmare for you - I mean what could be worse than having to live through an entire day of bad luck. How many mirrors did you break or how many black cats crossed your path? Did you forget and open an umbrella while inside and so on etc etc. Not all superstitions have to do with bad luck. Most are based on poor explanations of unusual occurrences.  Many come from old folk lore and from ages gone bye when our knowledge base was not as good as it is today.
To the uninformed many things like magic, miracles, prophecy, and religious philosophies are no more  than superstitions. Religions not practiced in the local area may appear to be based on weird or unlikely events. Christianity was once considered a cult based on superstition. When you think about it - believing that a man was killed and then rose from the dead - sounds very much out of the ordinary - and it is. So why is it that so many Christians exist and why do they profess belief in Jesus the man who died and rose? Testimony - eye witness accounts - and two thousand years of a miracle story that cannot be refuted - leaves one with only one answer - the story is true. In this Easter season when we continue our celebration of Jesus' victory over death and sin we do not hesitate - even on Friday the 13th - to put our faith firmly on our Lord and Savior.  He is Alive - Jesus Lives! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Deacon Dale

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Taking Out The Trash

Garbage night - an American tradition - that day of the week when we go through the house and gather up everything that we want to dispose of - to eliminate from our lives. It might be the stack of daily newspapers or the kitchen garbage or maybe the pile of tin cans and bottles that we no longer need or want. Whatever it is - we remove it from our homes and take it out to the street to be hauled away the next morning. Whomever removes our trash is one person that we really appreciate. That person takes old and smelly and used things out of our lives and takes them to a place far away from our lives and homes.
Going to confession and spending time with your priest confessor is very much like taking out the garbage - only in confession you are disposing of spiritual garbage. Things that impede our spiritual development - things that we do not need - guilt - fear - worry - issues not our own - anything that separates us from God.  In confession, with the help of our confessor, we use spiritual tools to sweep our lives clean of all sorts of spiritual garbage. Then when it has all been gathered up our confessor - like the garbage collector - delivers all of it to Jesus. He lays it at the foot of Christ's cross where Jesus alone deals with it. Thank God for the gift of confession - for reconciliation - for forgiveness - for Jesus who loves us in spite of our spiritual garbage. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waste Not

When I was growing up as a child I was constantly reminded to "waste not - want not" and when it came to food we were always reminded about the starving children in Third World countries. It may seem old and contrite but actually it was good advice. My parents taught us that it was not wise to be a wasteful person - spend too much money on things being wasted meant less money that could be spent on other things - like toys or fun food. Most people tend to follow the same rules in regards to food and other consumable material items. I have even been told that it is sinful to be wasteful - maybe yes - maybe no - it depends on the circumstances.
Being careful of how we spend our free time - what we do or fail to do with those idle hours may have an affect on our lives. Hours and hours in front of the television is not really the best use of our free time. Devoting some of that free time to God - to talking with God in prayer would be a good substitute. Sitting in the Adoration Chapel and spending an hour in total quiet in front of the Blessed Sacrament would be consider a waste of good free time by some. But for myself and many of my friends - we could think of nothing better than wasting an hour of quiet with the Lord. In this Easter Season in which we focus on the gift of Salvation offered to all - why not waste some time with Jesus in prayer and thank Him for wasting His time on the cross for you - truly it was not time wasted at all! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Flow

Have you ever noticed that nature has a natural rhythm? One season - no matter how brief - always flows after another. The weather shifts from winter to spring to summer to fall and back to winter in an uncontrollable but natural flow. Plants follow this same natural flow as do all the various species of animals. That includes us - we start as babies and as we mature, our life cycle naturally flows from one stage of development to another. Many other biological fuunctions follow a natural or circadian cycle. Our body temperature naturally raises and lowers during the day as does our blood pressure among others. Life flows and follows a natural pattern of progression.
Our spiritual life also seems to follow a flow similar to nature - the difference between that flow and biological is that we have the ability to change and modify our spiritual development. We can chose to make it better or worse - God's gift of free will allows us to do that. We chose to stay away from church or we elect to attend weekly - and for those who keep church attendance on a very low priority - even they feel the natural urge to attend - at a minimum - the High Holy Days of the Church year. We notice this particularly at Easter and Christmas. My Jewish friends note that the same thing happens in their congregations as well - so it would seem that even though all of us have that gift of free will - we also have been blessed with an innate sense of the Divine and it is that sense that calls us back to our respective congregations to gather as a spiritual family and worship God at least at the most important times of the year. Praise God for that hidden gift and for all the other gifts that we may not be aware of - and most importantly that He sent His son to us - Jesus who walked among the Jewish families of Israel - to share with them God's hope and love for each of us - to live in peace among strangers and to spread that message to the peoples of the World. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Deacon Dale 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mundane Monday

The day after Easter - the day life returns to normal - the day after the big celebration - the day when churches, homes, restaurants get back to normal - OR - the day when mundane and boring have disappeared and something new has entered your life. Many people woke up this morning to something quite different from their normal mornings. They saw things in a different light - the world looked different - people acted different - and what was the change - what happened to change all these things? Maybe others have not changed at all - maybe it was them!
If you are one of the lucky ones - you walked away from and woke up this morning to a new perspective that has entered your life because during the celebration of Easter - you experienced something quite special - so special that your life has been re-created into something different and beautiful. Perhaps in celebrating Jesus' resurrection - Christ was born newly in your heart - just maybe - perhaps for the first time today - you see life just as God intended it.  Just maybe - Alleluia! Alleluia!

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

This Is The Day!

This is the day the Lord has made - let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) And what a day it was - Morning Mass with over flowing crowds - lots of smiling faces - happy faces and happy families - the joy of Resurrection and a celebration of new life in Christ. Our casual Christians who made an extra effort to attend Church on this special day - gathered with the parish family in this joyful time. In some places our casual Christian friends are treated like a burden - but in my life I see them as family who have been unable to gather on other occasions - but on this day - finally, the whole family is together. Although we have to move around the furniture and make an effort to create enough space so that everybody may be comfortable - it is a task of joy and love. 

The act of remembering or re-membering i.e. putting all the members back together into one complete family is an exciting and happy chore. As we gathered in one very large group - we sang the praises of God and for that hour were united in the love of Christ that goes beyond understanding.  As we gathered later with family in our homes we celebrated the Easter rituals so common in all families. The theme of this day was joy and for all of us - we need to keep this joy alive in our hearts and minds as we celebrate the entire season of Easter. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Deacon Dale 

Waiting at Night

The Easter Vigil Mass which must begin after dark - started at 8:00pm last evening and ended at 11:20pm Saturday. Not enough time to blog about it and get it posted on Holy Saturday - so I write about that service on Easter Sunday morning. In our parish too many people stay away from this Mass because of the length - but in doing so they are depriving themselves of attending the Holiest Mass of the liturgical year. It is at this Mass when we bless Fire and light a New Paschal Candle which will be used throughout this liturgical year. We also bless water, baptize, receive Christians from other faith expressions into the Cathodic Church, Confirm and give Holy Eucharist (communion) to the new received and confirmed. It is a night of firsts - in which we listen to seven readings from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) about God and His selection of the Jewish people as His chosen Ones - about their struggle and escape from Egypt into the Promised Land - about God's manifold blessings. In the Gospel we are united with our Jewish ancestors as we too become people of Hope - Hope in Christ's Resurrection and our eventual Resurrection as we look forward to a New Life in Christ - here in the present and later in Eternity with God Almighty.

From the Cross and the grave in the Garden - to Resurrection and New Life - that is the Gift of Easter - when Jesus, who took our sins upon Himself, died and rose - that we might have everlasting life with God. Alleluia! He is Risen!

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blessing of Baskets

This day in churches around the world the faithful bring baskets filled with food which they will share on Easter Sunday as they gather with family and friends to end the Lenten and Triduum fasts and join in celebrating the victory that Jesus won over death.  The Old World custom of the traditional blessing of  foods to be shared on Easter Sunday is observed by many Eastern European countries such as Poland, Croatia and Ukraine and is kept alive in America in many local parishes. The foods to be blessed as well as the baskets are very symbolic.  Baskets are selected to reflect the dignity and importance of this special occasion. The white linen cloth embellished with lace that lines the basket reminds us of the shroud of Christ and it is this cloth that will hold other significant symbols. The bread represents the bread of life given by God. The small lamb made of butter, sugar or dough reminds us of Jesus the Paschal Lamb.  The hard boiled eggs and colored eggs reminds us of new life and Jesus rising from  the tomb. Horseradish symbolizes accepting the bitter with the sweet in life.  The vinegar represents the sour wine given to Jesus on the cross. The ham, bacon and sausages represent the resurrected Christ . Salt is to add zest to life and preserve us from corruption.  Sweets suggest the promise of eternal life and the good things to come. The candle represents Jesus the Light of  the World and the optional bottle of wine the product of a bountiful harvest and blessing of God. Optional sprigs of green are also added by some people.  The baskets are blessed by the parish priest or deacon in a ceremony typicaly held on Holy Saturday. 
This year in our parish I was privileged to share the task of this annual blessing with Deacon Jerry and about one hundred parishioners. This is very meaningful for us as Catholics and especially those of us with family in Europe. Now that the baskets have been blessed - we set them aside and continue our preparation for celebration of tonight's Vigil Mass in which we start in darkness and the Light of Christ is revealed as the evening progresses.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Is So Good About Friday?

Why do Christians call it Good Friday if we remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus in such somber tones?  At first you have to ask yourself what is so good about this day. Then when you stop to reflect on the events of that day and what that means to us - you begin to understand that the suffering and death of Jesus opened the gates of heaven for all mankind.  Without that sacrificial gift - none of us would have any chance of attaining heaven. 

So as we pray and mourn and wipe tears from our eyes - we have to allow joy to enter our minds and hearts as we celebrate the awesome sacrificial act that Jesus did for you and me. "Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped..." Philippians 2:6-11

Jesus - the humble servant - obedient to God even to His death - not for His good but for ours -now that makes a Good Friday!

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Nights of Firsts

Holy Thursday - No Morning Mass is allowed this day - the only Mass to be celebrated is in the evening when we celebrate the Mass of the Last Supper.  At this Mass we do three very important things 1) we wash feet 2) we celebrate the institution of the Priesthood and 3) we celebrate the institution of the most Holy Eucharist. 

Just as Jesus did - Reverend Father will remove his priestly garment - the chasuble - and in an act of humility - will wash the feet of twelve men - modern day disciples - as a sign of our universal call to share in the Royal Priesthood of Christ. As our spiritual Father - Reverend Pastor acts as a role model for each of us to be an active - yet humble - servant of God.

In his homily this evening Reverend Pastor will remember the Last Supper at which Jesus did two special things. First he took bread and proclaimed that it was his body and then the cup of wine and proclaimed it his blood and in doing so performed the first consecration of unleavened bread and ordinary wine and - through the mystery of transubstantiation - made them into His Most Holy Body and Precious Blood. 

After Jesus had completed this act of mystery he told his disciples to do the same and in that action he commissioned them and gave them the power and authority to perform this action over and over again as they gathered and remembered - thus was the first ordination and creation of Holy Priesthood.

As we sit and stand and kneel during this very special Holy Mass this evening we are allowed the privilege of remembering and recreating that very special Last Supper. This is the beginning of The Paschal Triduum - the three Most Holy days of the Church year - and our time to be united with Jesus in His pain and suffering - His Passion and crucifixion - His resurrection and victory over Death - as we pray in vigilant fervor for His rising at Easter.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sticks and Stones

"Sticks and stones may break my bones..... "   Remember how you would say that when you were much younger and somebody was taunting you and making fun of you? Usually there were too many for you to fight back or they were too big to take on yourself or you had been taught that it was not proper for you to retaliate.  So you  said this if you had enough courage to say it or you just closed your mouth and said nothing.  How we handle trauma such as this varies among all of us - and for many silence is the only way to cope. The prisons of our fears binds us to a loneliness.

It is not surprising that Jesus made the decision to remain silent as He was being beaten and abused by the soldiers. He could have spoken out or made threats against His attackers - He could have offered all sorts of information - but at that point He had already spoken the truth time after time. At some point in time it is always better to not say anything at all. Jesus became silent and so today as we walk the Stations of the Cross it is we who should speak out - about unjust treatment of others - about discrimination - about poor living conditions - about unfair treatment of workers - about mandates by government that go against religious beliefs - about anything that does not come from God. Today - with the strength of God - we break free from the bars of our fears as we face the Passion of Christ.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday's Child

Have you ever heard the poem Tuesday's Child ?  The actual title was Monday's Child but for some odd reason the poem became better known under the title Tuesday's Child. In the poem it goes through the days of the week and describes different attributes of a child. It was not written to glorify children or any child in particular - the reality is that it was written as a way to remember the days of the week! According to my sources the poem was written as a way to help children remember the names and the order of the days of the week. Learn the poem and you not only learned the names of each day but also the correct order.

So on this Tuesday in Holy Week we consider the order of this special week and the events that happened this past Sunday and those coming up later in the week. We reflect on Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Sunday - we joined the Bishop on Monday as he blessed the Holy Oils - today we celebrated the Mass of Resurrection for our former director of the diaconate program for the diocese - Wednesday night we celebrate Stations as walked in the Holy Land - Thursday we celebrate the institution of the Priesthood and Holy Eucharist - Friday we commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus and then we wait - we wait in silence - we wait patiently - we wait in hope.

Deacon Dale  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Smells and Bells

Today in the Joliet Diocese we will celebrate the annual Chrism Mass when the Bishop consecrates the three Holy Oils that are used throughout the year in various sacraments. He will bless the Oil of Catechumens (Oil of Salvation) , the Oil of the Sick (Oil of Infirm) and Holy Chrism (Sacred Chrism).  This special Mass which normally would be celebrated on Holy Thursday is moved to Monday of Holy Week for pastoral reasons - so that the priests and deacons of the diocese may be in their home parishes to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in the evening with their own congregation. Tonight the Bishop will not only bless the three oils but he will also ask his priests to recommit themselves to their ordination promises to serve the people of God in charity and humility.

As for the rest of the faithful - we are asked to be vigilant in our prayers and to assist our parish priests as they make their best efforts to minister to their flocks. While we watch and observe our parish leaders - as we listen to the bells of the church and smell the sweet perfume of Chrism -  we need to also ask ourselves what it is that we can bring to the table - to the Holy Altar of God as we begin our personal preparation for the Holy Triduum and Easter. In these last days before we can approach the Altar at Easter and wave the banner of victory of Christ - we first have to journey through the three Holy days of Triduum - to the Cross and Christ's death before we pick up our flags of victory.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday - A day of triumphant entry - a celebration of the coming of the King. Today we stood with palms in hand and listened to the annual reading of the longest Gospel of the year. We celebrated Jesus' entry and welcome into Jerusalem and listened as joy and celebration turned into deception - lies and treachery. Our joyful hearts light with pregnant expectation turned heavy with sadness as we recounted the betrayal of Jesus by Judas.
How does a triumphant entry on one day turn so wrong in a matter of a few days? Today the entry and later in the week celebration of Passover. As this week unfolds allow yourself to take in each day the events of each day so that you may fully experience the awesomeness of Holy Week.

Deacon Dale