Thursday, December 26, 2013

Surviving Christmas

Christmas is an awesome time of year - the fellowship with family - friends - casual acquaintances - the joyful spirit that springs forth from everywhere - the increase in all kinds of activities - shopping - parties - concerts - caroling - traveling - waiting in line - unexpected surprises - good and bad - all add to what makes Christmas so special  and 
STRESSFUL

YES - Virginia there is stress. However stress does not have to be a bad thing - there is both good and bad stress - stress that energizes - stress  that debilitates - physical stress and emotional stress - real stress - perceived stress - anticipatory stress - situational stress - encounter stress - time stress. Everyone has to cope with stress - children as well as adults - singles as well as couples. Stress can cripple - bring things to a screeching halt - ruin events and projects - or - it may stimulate - challenge - create - results beyond ones wildest dreams and expectations. All of us experience stress - Santa has stress (thank God for the space time continuum - just ask Albert Einstein or Doctor Who?) - God has stress - Jesus had stress. Bottom line - it is how you manage stress and what YOU choose to do with it - that determines if it ends up being a positive or negative experience.  Christmas season is stressful - invite Jesus into your heart and let Him help you enjoy it!

Deacon Dale 



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Giving Away Christmas

Yes - I mean it - here take it - take my Christmas - take the commotion - take the last minute rush - take the songs - take the trees - take everything.......


and enjoy it! 

 Yes I want you to enjoy MY Christmas! Enjoy the gatherings - the gift exchanges - the food and drink - the festivities - and - remember the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Remember that Jesus was born to us -
 Because God Loves Us!

Jesus came to us - a gift from God - because He loves us and wants us to experience life to the fullest in all we do - at home - at work - at church - in the temple -in our minds and hearts - and mostly in our hearts.

Freely share the gift you have received with everyone you meet - freely share the gift of Christ!

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Atheists & Agnostics Observe Christmas?

Recently I watched a movie called "Switchmas" on Netflix  - a story about a young Jewish boy obsessed with Christmas - his efforts to become a part of the Christmas holiday - all the small things that make Christmas so special for people around the world. Switching identities with another young boy on his way to visit relatives at Christmas Town in Washington State - provides the opportunity to become immersed into the traditional Christmas activities. Experiencing the twist and turns of the story - happy moments as well as unhappy - the Jewish lad finally figures out how - as a Jewish person - he may become a part of the Christmas holiday. I won't reveal what he does - only to say that through the course of the movie an interesting fact was revealed to the audience - many of our popular Christmas songs were written by non-Christians! Another point that was brought up - by the actor playing the part of an adult Jewish man - who played the part of Santa Claus - who else is free on the holiday to be Santa  - if not a Jew - he exclaims. The proclamation at the end of the movie - Christmas is for everybody - not just Christians - not just believers - but everybody!


This has implications - especially for those who profess no belief or question the existence of God - Jesus - the value of religion - the value of religious holidays. Whether they want to or not - they are as involved in Christmas - Easter - Hanukkah - Yom Kippur - Ramadan - Kwanzaa - Eid-al-Adha - among others - as those of us who do observe these. The non-believer who sells items used in the observance of any of these holidays - the person who works on one of those days - so others may actively participate - all the atheists and agnostics that work - manufacture - buy - sell -service any of the thousands of products used by or in these celebrations - are themselves involved in the very things that they profess no belief or interest in. Like it or not - all of us - are involved in others observances. When we hear of a legal case involving the ACLU - we become involved. When we hear of any religious holiday - we become involved. The level of involvement will vary greatly - but even in a very small way - we become involved. Only those who are dead - or brain dead - can claim total uninvolvement - the remainder of us - share in each other's holidays and beliefs.

That is as it should be - I am not only responsible for my life - but also for how I relate and react to your life - we are more connected to each other than we realize.  Jesus said He came not for all - but for many. He knew some would reject Him - that is OK - it is your free will to accept or reject.  For me and my household - we will serve The Lord.

Deacon Dale


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Poland Pilgrimage

Yes - we are taking a group of pilgrims to Poland in 2014 and you can be one of them! This is a completely customized trip planned by Deacon Jerry and myself that will take us to Poland - starting in Warsaw and ending in Krakow. During this 10 day pilgrimage we will visit many cultural and religious sites. In Warsaw we will visit Holy Cross Church where Chopin's heart is entombed in one of the pillars and visit the Royal Palace. From Warsaw we head to Lichen Stary and on the way we visit the church of Father Maximilian Kolbe. In Lichen Stary we visit the Basilica there which is one of the largest in the world. We then head to Czestochowa - the site of the Black Madonna. Continuing on we arrive at Krakow - where we will stay for the balance of the trip. From Krakow we will visit Wawel Castle and Cathedral - St Mary Basilica - the Basilica of Divine Mercy - Wadowice - the birth home of Blessed John Paul II - Zakopane - the convent of Saint Faustina - Rynek Glowny - Auschwitz - the Salt Mines and more.


Divine Mercy Basilica

We have arranged for three gateways for this trip - leaving from Chicago - LAX - San Diego. The price of the trip includes everything except for optional trip insurance and optional tips for the tour host and bus driver. All meals are included except lunches and dinner one night - when the group will be allowed to wander on their own in the Krakow Market Square. This promises to be a special trip for those who participate. We are limited to a maximum of 45 people total. A deposit of only $300 holds your space. The price from Chicago is $3338* - LAX is $3738* - San Diego is $3788*


Saint Faustina's Convent

We are taking reservations now on a first come basis. Registration is done online and the deposit of $300 may be by credit card or check. Those paying by check receive a 4 percent cash discount which is reflected in the prices quoted above.  Those using credit cards to pay the balance will be assessed a 4 percent surcharge. 


Auschwitz 

July 25, 2014 to August 3, 2014
The complete itinerary can be found here:  ITINERARY

  For registration - the host name is DeaconTravel Ministries  host # 54347

To register online click here:  REGISTER
  

If you have any questions in regards to this trip please post your question here in comments so others may also see or for private questions send an email to: poland@deacontravel.org

Deacon Jerry and I - along with our wives - made this pilgrimage in May of 2012 as a self directed retreat. We visited every church and cathedral that we could find while we were there and the ones we will visit on this pilgrimage are the most significant ones. This will be a cultural as well as a prayerful journey especially for those with special devotion to Blessed John Paul II and Saint Faustina.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks - Dzięki - Grazie - Gracias - Merci

Thanks - in any language - English - Polish - Italian - Spanish - French - is a one word statement spoken out of gratitude for anything. Depending on how it is expressed - quickly with no thought - sincerely with emphasis - reveals to the listener the level of appreciation. Many times thanks is expressed in such a quick and casual manner - the listener wonders why they bothered in the first place. Thanks expressed with a smile and joy in the voice conveys a completely positive expression of thankfulness.  We thank others for numerous things - gifts - kind words - help with tasks - expressions of caring. Thanksgiving in America is a day set aside to gather with family and friends to share the day thanking many for the blessings received in the previous year. It is not only an American holiday - variations of thanksgiving are celebrated in Canada - Liberia- The Netherlands - Norfolk Island - Grenada - Germany - Japan. Each country adds their own specific expressions of thanks. It is fitting that a period of thanksgiving be offered - if not nationally - by everyone. Each of us receives blessings - from others - from God.


God blesses each of us - directly - indirectly - through Divine intervention - through those who live with and surround us. This Thanksgiving I am very thankful for the multitude of blessings my wife and I received while walking The El Camino de Santiago in Spain - for the blessings received from my diaconate community - from my Bishop - Pastor - Associate - from the many priests and people I encountered on the pilgrimage to Italy - for daily life and the support of children and grandchildren - neighbors and friends - from complete strangers - who helped direct my life - to stay on the path - to go in the right direction. To each of you - thanks - dzięki - grazie - gracias - merci - may God Almighty bless your Thanksgiving.

Deacon Dale






    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Who Wears The Crown?

    Wearing a crown indicates that someone is more important than others around them - it does not indicate that they are better - smarter - kinder - more loving. The crown is a symbol of power and authority. In the history of mankind - the people who have worn crowns have exhibited quite different characteristics - not always good - often very evil - self serving - kings - queens - princes - princesses - monarchs of all styles have occupied the pages of history books. Many were kind and just - ruling and governing their subjects with honest care and concern for all under their authority - others - unfortunately - quite the opposite - greedy - small minded people - only interested in their own selfish desires - caring nothing for those around them - including their closest confidants. In some places - even today - this continues to be an issue for people to cope with. The majority of us do not have to contend with royalty - only those who think they - as presidents - prime ministers - elected officials - are more important than the people they govern. 


    Jesus wore a crown - not made of silver or gold - but woven out of thorns - placed on His head to ridicule Him - to mock Him - to hurt Him. Although painful - He wore that crown - not for Himself - rather - for you and me. He accepted His fate - His trials - His crucifixion - because we couldn't - we wouldn't  As the liturgical year of the Church comes to an end - as we prepare to begin the season of Advent - it is only proper and fitting that Holy Mother Church has us celebrate the ending of the liturgical year with the celebration of Our Lord Jesus Christ - King of the Universe - the only person to rightly wear a crown of any type. Jesus is your king and mine - he rules His subjects justly and right - He offers to each of us the true treasures of a world beyond reach - He offers us the keys to salvation.

    Deacon Dale 

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    When In Rome

    Well - we are in Rome - visiting the Shrines of Italy - traveling throughout Italy - Assisi - Loreto - Luciano  - San Giovanni Rotondo - Mont Sant'Angelo - Cava de Trinita - Montecassino - Pompei - The Vatican. Ten days to see a thousand years of history - ten days to experience the spirituality of the ancients - the saints and heros - the people of the Bible - the people of hundreds of books - the forefathers of our faith. It is mind boggling - so much to see - so much to absorb - in so little time. Each one of us - walking as modern day pilgrims - pellegrini - seeking a deeper knowledge of our own faith. Impossible - yet we are here attempting the impossible - each on our own level.

                                  47 Pellegrini Seeking Deeper Understanding

    Just as God has called us from darkness into light - He has called each of us to this place - to this time - to experience His presence in these buildings and in those who journey with us. It does not matter if we walk with God in Italy or elsewhere - as long as we walk with Him constantly - as long as we are willing participants in all He has to offer.

    Deacon Dale 

    Sunday, October 27, 2013

    Welcome Home

    After being away for five weeks - walking the Camino Frances - in northern Spain - it felt good to be picked up at the airport by our nephew and welcomed home. Seeing his smiling face - as he hopped out of his car to help load our back packs into his car - giving first - my wife - a hug - then me - was a great feeling. The Camino experience in Spain was great - but after five weeks - we started missing family. While we were gone the family had held the annual family reunion and a family golf outing. Our nephew very quickly asked us if we knew he had won the golf outing this year - we had not heard - but were quick to congratulate him and ask details on his win and the event. Sitting in the car next to him - it really did feel great to be with family again - and even better when we walked into our house for the first time in thirty-five days. Sleeping in our own bed that night was a pleasure for both of us - great to be warmly welcomed and back home.


    For a lot of various reason - there are many Catholics who no longer attend weekly services - electing to occupy themselves with other activities in place of church. Over the past few years there have been changes - in the way Holy Mass is celebrated - in staff changes - in family commitments - in parish activities. For those who have been away - then return - the church is similar but different. Perhaps new people are in charge - others may have retired and relocated - others gone on to new life in the hereafter. Returning to ones roots may be exciting and scary - all at the same time - yet - in a special way - comfortable. It may be compared to seeing a favorite relative and receiving a giant big bear hug - the greeting that says - welcome - great to see you - what have you been doing with yourself - tell me - I really care what is going on in your life. Those special hugs and greetings - the smiling faces - the honest heartfelt gestures - immediately let you know you are home - you are loved - you are welcome. If you have been away from your church - perhaps it is time to make a return visit - to see what is happening with the parish family - to see what is happening in the Mass - to see Jesus - who is waiting there - with arms outstretched - waiting to give you a big bear hug - to welcome you home.

    Deacon Dale 

    Friday, October 18, 2013

    Celebrating 25 Years

    Twenty-five years seems to be a magic number that many people strive for - 25 years of life - 25 years of marriage - 25 years of work.  Recently I celebrated 25 years of ordination to the diaconate - twenty-five years of active ministry as a Roman Catholic deacon.  A ministry shared with my spouse and children - with family and friends - with my parish family.  On October 8, 1988 - twelve men were ordained as deacons by Bishop Joseph Imesch at the Cathedral of Saint Raymond in Joliet, Illinois. It was an exciting day - a terrifying day - a day of perpetual commitment - to serve the people of God - the people of the Joliet Diocese.  All twelve of us were originally assigned to our home parishes - many to be moved later to other assignments - as some relocated - as parish needs changed. We were ordained for the Church - as assistants to the Bishop - as his eyes - ears and hands - to minister faithfully to his people. Twenty-five years later - four of us have been born to eternal life - the remaining eight still in active ministry.  We have preached thousands of homilies - baptized approximately  five thousand babies - witnessed hundreds of marriages - donated over one hundred and fifty thousand hours as unpaid ministers - spent thousands of hours involved in youth ministry, RCIA, bible study, nursing homes, food pantries, bereavement, wakes and funerals, missions, retreats and dozens of other ministries - all in the names of Jesus. Many people question why any man would become a deacon - considering the investment of time and money out of our own pockets - taken away from our families - from our personal interests - without any compensation.

    Dcn Dick-Dcn Chuck-Dcn Jim-Dcn Dale-Bishop Imesch-Dcn Leon-Dcn Tom-Dcn Tom-Dcn Paul 

    To a man - all of us joyfully serve - to honor that call from God - to make our election and commitment to serve His people - as men of God - permanent - to be role models and examples of ordinary men - called to do extraordinary works - in the name of Jesus. Unlike those who serve for a time - then move on - our commitment is a life long one - serving day in and day out - not as perfect men - not as great men - but as ordinary men who listened to God and through His grace - serve him in charity and humility. Our reward is the smile on the faces of the parents and babies we baptized - the thank yous received - the heartfelt handshakes and hugs freely given. To my brother deacons - to my family and friends - I say thank you for allowing me to enter into your lives - for accepting me as I am - an ordinary man.

    God Bless
    Deacon Dale 

    Saturday, October 5, 2013

    Take It Back

    All of us have made comments - said things - that we later regretted - wished we had not said - realized that with new information - our initial comment was not accurate.  Sometimes the comment was hurtful - spoken in anger - others spoken without full knowledge of the subject - later realizing - spoken prematurely. When preparing to walk The Way of Saint James - both my wife and I said we could not understand how so many people who had walked The Camino - seemed obsessed and returned - time after time - to walk it - again and again. We stated - once is enough - when completed our thoughts will focus on other things. On our last day - walking the final 20 kilometers into Santiago - we repeated those very sentiments - nearing the target of the Camino.  We finished our Camino much earlier than anticipated - two weeks early to be exact - two weeks of downtime - two weeks of nothing to do - so we returned home early. Happy to be home - happy to see our family and dog again - happy to be sleeping in our own bed. Two days later - looking at each other - with dismay on our faces - together we spoke those words we promised we would never say - "I miss the Camino".  For five weeks walking the Camino - for eleven months preparing for that walk - we had promised we would never say those words - yet - we did. Take it back - take it back - and we did.


    When many people first come to accept Jesus into their lives - they are filled with excitement - hope - joy - pleasure. When they realize that being a Christian takes commitment - offers challenges to worldly things - is difficult at times - they want to say - take it back.  Making a commitment to be a disciple of Christ is a serious decision - that everyone has to contemplate - make - honor.  When faced with frustration trying to honor the Christian lifestyle - they want to give up - reject their new found faith. In those moments Jesus comes to each of us - to remind - to encourage - to strengthen - He offers His love and constant help. For those who have become weak in their faith He says - I am here for you - please - take it back.

    Deacon Dale 

    Friday, October 4, 2013

    I'm A Believer

    It is obvious - as a Roman Catholic Deacon - I am a believer. I believe in God Almighty - I believe in Jesus Christ His son - I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus - I believe in the Holy Trinity.  I also believe in people - people of God - who are believers - people of God - who are not believers. On my recent adventure in Spain - walking The Way of Saint James - with my wife - Arlene - we had the opportunity to meet and talk with many different people - who were very quick - to tell us - they were not religious - as if it was a bad thing if they were. Most claimed to be spiritual - acknowledging - a higher power - a force of the universe - something mystical.  We detected in those conversations that many were not completely truthful - that they were religious - but were compelled to deny it - as if walking The Camino as a religious person made you a religious fanatic or worse.  In everyday life - many people do the exact same thing - deny their religious life - their affiliation with organized religion - their spiritual side. It is a shame that in this day and age - belonging to a church is seen as a sign of weakness - or fanaticism.

    Finisterre, Spain - "The End of the World"

    Jesus came into this world that we might experience life to the fullest - He places no restriction on how we accomplish that.  As a true believer - we are called to stand firm in our faith - in the face of those who would ridicule or belittle us for believeing. Jesus died - for you - for me - the least we can do is confess our belief in Him - just as He believes in us.

    Deacon Dale 

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    Eres Mia

    Eres Mia - You are Mine.  It doesn't matter what language it is spoken in - when God tells us that we are His - we feel loved and accepted. Last night we attended the pilgrims Holy Mass in the Chapel of Saint Tecla at the Cathedral in Burgos, Spain. Of course the Mass was entirely in Spanish so we didn't understand a lot of what was said. I did pickup up enough to know the priest was referring to Saint Augustine and to pilgrims. I could also tell from his facial expressions and delivery and smile that he was encouraging each of us on our walk to Santiago. Mass ended with a special pilgrims blessing - the crowded chapel dismissed with the simple form - "Go - in peace".


    Walking in peace is not always an easy thing to do - too many distractions - too many things to do - too many things on our mind. To walk in peace means to step back - to walk away - to a place of solitude - where you can empty your mind and open it up to God. In that time of quiet He will speak to you and you will hear - Eres Mia - You Are mine.

    Deacon Dale 




    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Waiting

    Waiting for anything can be an ordeal - the anticipation of what is to come - will it be on time or late - will there be any obstacles - will I experience or receive all that I expect - what if I don't? All of us have gone through a period of waiting - waiting in line - waiting to be selected - waiting to be served - waiting to arrive. It is normal for us to experience the full range of emotions as we wait. It is only a few days before we leave for our Camino walk in Spain. There are so many parts of this adventure that the waiting game will get every opportunity to surface. The airport - the flights - the connection mid-way - the arrival in Spain - waiting for the train - arriving at the starting point - all involve periods of waiting.
    When we first made the adult decision to commit our lives to Christ - we waited.  Waited to see what would happen - waited to see if our lives would change - waited to see Jesus reveal Himself to us in a new and wondrous way. We waited - and waited - and then He acted - often in ways we didn't expect. Jesus is there for all of us - we only have to ask Him into our lives and wait - He will come.

    Deacon Dale 

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Mustard Seeds

    In Luke 17:6 Jesus declared that if one had the faith the size of a mustard seed they could perform miracles - tiny faith - small faith - minuscule faith.  Not faith on a grand scale - not faith that would burst seams - nor tip the scales of a balance.  Just everyday day - old - small faith. How would this be possible - how can a little faith have such drastic affects?  Simple - faith is faith no matter how large or small.  It comes down to what one really believes - is your faith wishy - washy - feeble - weak - of little substance - or does your faith have "legs" - does it move you and others - to a true deep belief  that God will definitely hear and answer your prayers? Do you speak or pray your intention and "hope" that God will act - or do you know - without a doubt - that He listens to you - hears what you say - and acts on it - with true - unyielding faith.


    True faith is knowing that God really listens - really hears - really acts in your life. The secret is patience - because the answer is not always - or rarely - immediate. One has to simply believe - and trust that God will act in His way - in His time - according to His will - not ours. Jesus promised that He would be with us until the end of time - and sitting right next to Jesus is God - the Father - acting in all matters of faith.

    Deacon Dale 

    Sunday, August 18, 2013

    17 on 17th

    Today was an interesting day for the Diaconate Community in the Joliet Diocese.  This morning at the Cathedral of Saint Raymond - Bishop R. Daniel Conlon ordained seventeen men to the order of deacon.  The ceremony took two hours - praising God for His gift of life and ordained ministry.  I find it interesting that 17 men were ordained on the 17th day of the month.  Perhaps something special will come from this new group of deacons.  Watching this ceremony reminded me of my own ordination - almost 25 years ago. 


    I remember lying face down on the cold tile floor during the Litany - wondering what I was doing - how I had gotten to that place - if I really was the right man for the job.  Twenty-five years later I still ask myself - am I the right man.  I may never know.  I left the Cathedral and went home and later in the day celebrated the validation of a marriage with a young couple - I shared this privilege with a brother deacon - it was solemn - it was enjoyable - it was fun.  Maybe I am doing something right - only God knows for sure.

    Deacon Dale 


    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Martha Martha

    We heard that phrase this Sunday at Holy Mass - in the Gospel - when Jesus was trying to get Martha to relax and not be so concerned about Mary sitting at His feet - rather than helping prepare the meal.  For the most part - Martha has been portrayed as a bad person - ignoring the fact that Jesus was in her house - tending to mundane activities of preparing a meal.  Upon closer inspection - one has to realize that Martha had her hands full - in more ways than one. Most likely Martha was the head of the house - the leader in the family - the one expected to see that things ran well as expected. She is the one who ran out to meet Jesus when he first came to see what had happened to her brother Lazarus - and today - she is the one focused on treating her guest properly - seeing that preparations are being made to see to His comfort. She is also the one - who like Peter - called Jesus to task - "why didn't you come sooner and save my brother from death" - and - "tell Mary to get up and help me" - a bold action - one expected from the person in a position of responsibility. It was not only Jesus who she was concerned with - He did travel with His disciples and some women - Martha had a house full - about twenty people to feed and make comfortable. Her house had to be packed - room and seating stretched to their limits - and Martha attempting this huge task alone. Placing ourselves in her situation - we can easily see her concern.
    Jesus was well aware of what was going on in Martha's mind - He knew the issues at hand - still His first thought was that Martha should not worry about earthly needs - rather that she should stop to focus - on that which was really important - allowing her to place herself in His presence - to allow Him to feed her - with His words - His love. He knew - as Mary had realized - the concerns of the world would take care of themselves - that worrying about what to wear - what to eat - who to invite - when to meet - how to do - would all be taken care of in due time. To be aware that you are in the presence of the Divine - to recognize a "God moment" when it is happening - to bathe yourself in all that God has to offer - is far better than anything else. God calls each of us to be both Martha and Mary - to see to the needs of others - to offer ourselves when needed - to stop what we are doing - when those God moments happen - to allow ourselves to touch the Divine. Those moments happen often - Jesus calls us constantly - it is up to us to stop and hear His call.

    Deacon Dale 

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    Shrink Wrap

    Shrink Wrap according to wikipedia - is a product made of a polymer plastic film that has many uses in industry.  The most common form of shrink wrap that most of us would encounter is that used in the food industry - to protect and preserve food items.  It is flexible and durable and conforms to almost any shape you desire. Depending on the thickness - it can be easily pierced or pierced only by sharp instruments. One of its best characteristics - is that it is transparent which makes it desirable for the food industry. Numerous food items are safely displayed - and on open display for all to see and touch.
    Not everything in life is transparent or easy to see through. People are not transparent - many hide their real selves behind masks or identities that defy detection.  Many prowl about among the population looking for easy "marks" - those gullible enough to fall for scams and schemes that quickly separate them from their money and valuables.  Luckily for us - most people are honest - and transparent - in who they are - what they do.  Jesus was that way - what He said -He meant - what He did - was real - what He proposed - was life. There was no masking Him or His intentions.  He was open and honest - completely transparent - in all His actions.  He said that He came that we might have life - He meant it.  He said He forgave sinners - He did.  He promised to be with us always - He is. Jesus is not shrink wrapped - He is approachable and touchable - He waits for you - for your touch - your embrace - to experience for yourself - His divine presence.

    Deacon Dale 

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Forty!

    Forty years ago we welcomed our first born son into our family - it was a very special day for us - first time parents - first time fears - first time joys. In what feels like only a few years - our son has grown into a fine young man - educated - well liked - honest - straight forward - a pleasure to be with.  With time - many changes have taken place in our lives and in his - learning - growing - understanding - coping with issues - rising above disappointments - succeeding. As parents we are very pleased with our son - and he pleased with our growth as well. We are friends - as well as parents - not always the case in some families. We are separated by miles - but connected by our mutual love for each other. Our relationship best described as steadfast.
    When God sent His Son to us - he knew that there would be times of trials - times of separation between His people and His Son. In time His people grew to understand just who Jesus is. As in any family - the love steadfast - pure - true.  For all people - for all ages - Jesus is the best birthday present you will ever receive.

    Deacon Dale 

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    Trekking Buddies

    As my wife and I prepare to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain - we are learning many things.  Camino "buddies" is one topic that comes up in many conversations that I read in the various camino forums and Facebook pilgrim groups.  The comments vary from the negative - snoring that interrupts your sleep - to the positive - great conversations and sharing of stories.  These "buddies" are those people who walk with you - either sharing their stories - or in silence - those who bandage others injuries and care for another pilgrim's blisters.  Some "buddies" share their trekking poles in difficult terrain - others share clothes - food - supplies.  Strangers when they started - friends for life - when their trek ends. Even here at home - "buddies" make the training more bearable - more friendly - less boring.  Our newest "buddy" is Dana - a friend from Poland who is visiting for a few months.  Little did she know that most of her time with us will be on the road ways and in the fields training for our Camino walk. Another person to share - to contemplate life with - to endure the many hours of training.

    Arlene and Dana

    As each of us walks our own "camino" - there will be many challenges and accomplishments - moments of sadness - times of joy.  Experiencing these moments alone can be a big burden - having someone to share them with - a joy.  In our spiritual lives - the same is true.  For those who have accepted Jesus as their personal saviour - no problem - He is always there - waiting - smiling - helping - consoling - for those who have yet to make a personal commitment to God - they walk alone. It makes no difference if one walks the Camino in Spain - or their own personal Camino - doing so alone can be very difficult - for many impossible.  Asking Jesus to be your trekking "buddy" throughout life - will lighten the burden immensely. If you need a "buddy" - ask Jesus - He is available.

    Deacon Dale

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Pond Skimmer

    Last summer I redesigned my fish pond - tore it down to the dirt - rebuilt it from the ground up. One of the new features - in addition to a much bigger waterfall - the skimmer.  The skimmer is a device that draws pond water into a holding area where dirt and debris are filtered out of the water before the water is pumped back into the pond. I also have an oak tree by the pond.  This spring the oak tree dropped tons of flowers - called catkins - onto the ground and into the pond. These catkinds can create a mess and in the pond they did exactly that.  My skimmer has been working overtime just to filter all  those particles and tiny stems out of the water.  The fish do not seem to mind - but I do.  All these dropping end up on the filter inside the skimmer and guess who gets to clean the filter - me.  Last summer- after I installed the skimmer - I had to clean the filter two or three times until the winter - when I cleaned it once.  Now this year - so far - I have cleaned it a dozen times or so - sometimes as often as every three days. If I am diligent and keep up with this task - the fish will be able to live in a clean pond.

    Pond Skimmer

    When Catholics go to confession in the Rite of Reconciliation with their priest - the priest acts in a similar way as the skimmer. Through prayerful discussion - the "dirt" clouding a person's life is removed and handed over to Jesus - who deals with it.  After reconciliation - the penitent is returned back into the mainstream of life - purified - cleansed.  Jesus is there waiting for all of us - to realize that He can and will cope with any issue that dirties the waters of our lives.  It only takes a few minutes - for miracles to happen - for loads to be lifted - sins removed - healing begun.  If you are wading in murky waters - if your life is not as pure as you would like - seek Jesus - the ultimate healer of hearts and souls.

    Deacon Dale 


    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    To Walk Far - Carry Less

    To Walk Far, Carry Less is the title of a book dealing with the issue of ultralight backpacking - specifically for those considering walking the 500 mile El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. In this book the author provides insight to her experience planning and walking the Camino.  She shares how she selected the lightest weight items to put into her backpack and other weight saving tips. The most drastic tip - suggesting cutting off size tags and manufacturer labels - once you made the decision to keep the item - and carry in the pack.  In her original book - published in November 2011 - she calculated that with all the tags removed she was able to trim almost one pound of weight. That translates into a lot of items with tags. Since that time many manufacturers have stopped sewing tags onto their clothing - using a new imprint method to eliminate tags.  Still - as my wife and I continue our training and selecting items for our backpack - we have noticed that only four or five items actually have tags - cutting them off would save us a very small amount of weight - but we did it anyhow.  Where weight on the Camino is important - we eliminate any unnecessary weight where we can.
    In our personal lives and on our spiritual journeys - we need to follow the same mantra - To walk far - carry less.  Too many of us are carrying burdens that we should have given up ages ago. Old arguments - family squabbles - issues with work - things we have been unable to change - worries about our health - things we wished we had never done - sins committed - sins never confessed - to ourselves - to God.  All these things - are like "dust bunnies" - that we accumulate when we crawl under the bed and through dusty closets - we emerge covered with the "lint of life".  Unfortunately - too many - allow these issues to cling to their spirit - to weigh them down - to make life look worse than it is.  In confession - we are allowed to take this excess baggage and hand it over to Jesus - to give to Him - all our concerns - all our worries - all our sins - that we may be freed from this "lint of life" - to walk lighter - to walk refreshed - to walk anew in the Spirit.   Trust Jesus - He is there - waiting for you to unburden your life - to leave your baggage at the foot of His Cross - where He alone will deal with it.

    Deacon Dale 

    Monday, June 3, 2013

    One Day Camino - Training Event

    Previosuly I posted about walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  As a training tool - my wife and I have designed a one day Camino - here in Illinois.  Rather than walk this alone - we are inviting adventurous individuals to join us on this trek.

    Click link above to read flier

    There are two forms that are required to participate on this Camino.
    Registration Deadline July 3, 2013
    You must click the links provided below and print out each page. 
    Your completed "Participation Form" should be mailed to:
     DeaconTravel Ministries  
    PO Box 124   
    Bristol, IL 60512
     OR
    You may Sign and Scan your Form and send as an email attachment


    If you want a commemorative Camino t-shirt, then indicate your shirt
    size on the Participation Form and enclose your donation of $20 (if mailing)
    otherwise your donation will be collected the day of the Camino.
    Checks should be made out to:  St Gianna Molla Shrine Fund

    Camino Participation Form (pdf)

    Camino Participants Information Form (pdf)

    Any questions?  Ask!

    Deacon Dale 

    Thursday, May 30, 2013

    Bargins

    Today we began the estate sale I mentioned in a previous post - it was interesting - to say the least.  I enjoy meeting different people - observing how they act and react. At an estate sale   everything is priced to move - no desire to hold onto things that never belonged to you - goal to dispose of assets and clear the property - so everything priced very low. Even that being done - almost everyone wanted to barter. In this country there are very few places left for anyone to actually try bartering.  It is like a game - with money the playing pieces.  In Europe - in many countries - bartering is a way of life - and an insult to the seller if you don't want to play the game.  Everyone loves getting a good deal - or at least thinking they got one. So at the estate sale we bartered on everything - when neither party would budge on the price - an incentive was offered - a free item. - a promise to return and buy more.  On the selling end - we felt good letting people walk away with a good deal - the buyers all left with smiles and handshakes - a good day to barter and get some bargains.

      


    With Jesus there is no need to barter - to try for a bargain.  Everything He has to give - love - forgiveness - understanding - healing - His Holy Spirit - salvation - is free!   Now that is a bargain!

    Deacon Dale

    Tuesday, May 28, 2013

    Estate Sale

    A friend of ours was born to eternal life a few weeks ago - now we are helping clear his house and get ready for an "estate sale".  In this process we are learning how much stuff people can collect over the years.  Some 40 bags of clothing was donated to charity - 40 bags for one person - many of them never worn?  I have half of one closet and a dresser - maybe my stuff could fill 4 bags?  I wonder what I am missing out on - maybe that is why I never can find anything to wear - yet - I do have enough - or so it seems.  Clothing is not the only thing our friend had in excess - collectibles - comforters - dishes - tools - a lot of stuff that he has no use for anymore.  My wife and I are in the process of decluttering our home - disposing of "things" that our children will not want or need.  When our time comes to be born to eternal life - our hope is that we do not leave our family with an eternal mess.  Sweet and clean and easy - if that were only possible.

    When Jesus was preparing his disciples for His ascension - they were fearful of being abandoned - being left with nothing. Although He had no earthly possessions to leave - He did leave them the gift of the Holy Spirit - The Advocate - the One who would teach and help them in His absence.  Jesus did not need an "estate sale" when He left - but He did leave all of us the greatest inheritance we could ever receive - His Holy Spirit.

    Deacon Dale

    Monday, May 27, 2013

    Trinity

    The word trinity describes anything that is a combination of three parts. Three friends form a fellowship of three - a trinity of likes - yet different from each other.  A combination of three vehicles form a trinity - yet one may be a truck - convertible - coupe. Other trinities might be three identical object or persons - more commonly called a threesome.  Although there are three of each - there is nothing special about a group of three.
    The Holy Trinity - on the other hand is quite unique.  The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons - the Father - the Son - the Holy Spirit - One God in three persons. The three persons are distinct - yet one - substance - essence - nature.  The Trinity is considered to be a Mystery - unable to be understood. . Each person is God - whole and entire - distinct from one another in their relations of origin - the Father who generates - the Son who is begotten - the Holy Spirit who proceeds - distinct in their relations with one another - they are one in all else.  It was the Holy Trinity that we honored this past Sunday - a reality - a mystery. Each day we acknowledge the Trinity as we begin and end our prayers - in this One Holy Trinity - we live our lives as commited Christians.

    Deacon Dale 

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Flame Thrower

    A flamethrower is a mechanical incendiary device  - designed to project a long controllable stream of fire. They were first used during World War I  and widely used in World War II.  Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid -  some project a long gas flame. Most military flamethrowers use liquids - commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and natural gas - which is considered safer. They are used by the military and by people needing controlled burning capacity - as in agriculture  or other land management tasks. They can be designed to either be carried by the operator or mounted on a vehicle.  Flame throwing devices have made their way into modern movies - creating dramatic effects. All demand respect and careful use.
    On the Day of Pentecost - God became the original flame thrower. That flame - commonly known as the Holy Spirit - did not terrify as much as confuse.  The disciples and those with them did not know what to think - visual disturbances - strange languages - speaking in foreign tongues - did not make it easier to understand what was happening. In retrospect - we today - understand what was occurring - are impressed - our faith strengthened.  Many ask why the Holy Spirit does not come down upon believers as it did on that first Pentecost - yet - it does.  In Baptism - Holy Communion - Confirmation - God still sends His Holy Spirit among believers. Each of us has received the fullness of God's Holy Spirit - if we do not see it in our lives - we have to ask ourselves - why not?  Do we live lives truly in the Spirit - or have we allowed ourselves to become spiritual couch potatoes?  If you are missing this important part of your spiritual life - then immediately pray - Come Holy Spirit Come - and watch for the flames!

    Deacon Dale 

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    Concrete

    Concrete is a composite construction material made primarily with aggregate - cement - water.  There are many formulations of concrete - providing varied properties - the most used man-made product in the world.  Everywhere you look you will see concrete - walkways - streets - man-made displays - yard ornaments - religious shrines.  Even some houses have been constructed of concrete.  It is used so extensively because it is durable and reliable.  Concrete is also used to describe intangible things - like thoughts and decisions - commitments to self - to others.  People who refuse to change their minds - who refused to be swayed by popular opinion are said to have set their minds - thoughts - in stone - are concrete in their decisions. 
    Jesus is constant - always the same - never changing - like concrete. He is the aggregate - the collection of all that is good - the cement - the force that binds everything together - the water - that one substance that no living creature can live without.  He is firm - set in place - locked in forever - into the hearts of all who call Him Lord and Saviour.  Jesus wants to be the concrete in your life - open your hearts - that He may flow in - ever so gently - to set you in a firm and loving place with God.

    Deacon Dale

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    Progress

    Progress is defined as advancing towards a goal - growth in a positive direction - movement - steady improvement. When we start a project we seek progress - signs that something has been done - is being done to accomplish the goal laid before us. We plan - we research - we recruit - we devise - we scheme - none showing positive action - until finally - something is put down on paper - until a plan is created - until volunteers and team members are recruited and assigned. Once a team is firmly established - progress begins to move forward - at faster paces. Most projects take far too long in the planning stages - even longer in the implementation stage. Most projects tend to run longer than planned - over budget - under funded - missing critical deadlines. It takes one individual with vision - energy - determination - to see any project - successfully brought in - on time and on budget. 

    Spiritual progress in an individual's life takes even longer than ordinary projects. Although a seemingly simple task - projects dealing with the spiritual side of a person are among the most complex and confusing imaginable. Unforeseen obstacles lurk around almost every corner - past events seem to destine future growth to a stand still.  Yet - if one is truly faithful - if one dares to place even this - into the hands of Jesus - growth will happen. If your spiritual growth has come to a halt - is not where you want it to be - give it over to Jesus - He alone will make things happen -in a positive way.

    Deacon Dale 

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Umbrella

    According to Wikipedia - aumbrella or parasol - also called a brolly - parapluie - rainshade - sunshade - gamp - bumbershoot - umbrolly - is a canopy designed to protect against rain or sunlight. The word parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun - umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain. Often the difference is the material - some parasols are not waterproof  - therefore useless for rain. Umbrellas come in all sorts of sizes and colors - designed specifically for men - women - children. Typically most are black in color - with women's and children's - available in bright and fun colors and decorations. All are useful to help protect one from wind - rain - sun. As a protective device they are rated high on the scale of objects needed to help make the outdoors more bearable - especially in poor and bad weather. They are small and easily carried - ready in a moments notice to place into use. On long walks and excursions into strange places - they are very valuable walking aids. On occasion some even are usable as a walking stick or cane. 

    In our spiritual lives we seek knowledge and comfort - God's presence - actively surrounding us as we walk throughout our lives. On that journey we encounter many different situations - some pleasant - some uncomfortable. Quite often as we walk our journeys - we find that we need protection as we are assaulted and attacked by evil spiritual forces. In seeking protection from those forces we turn to Jesus - as our umbrella of protection.  In Jesus we not only have  a friend - teacher - leader - but also a protector. When you find your life filled with confusion - stress - anxiety - ask Jesus and He will provide the protection you need to cope with all of life's issues.

    Deacon Dale 

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    Spring Cleaning

    Its here - it's here - that wonderful time of year - or so the song says. Yes it is finally spring - the days are starting to get longer with more daylight - warmer weather - and spring cleaning! Now is the time to work outdoors on the good days and indoors on the rainy. Picking up fallen branches - cleaning the flower beds - planting new plants - fertilizing - moving things around - time to clean behind the refrigerator - rearrange the closets - bring out the summer clothes and store away the winter ones - an annual task looked forward to by many - dreaded by others. It is a labor of love for most - everyone loves better weather - getting out of the confines of the house and being outside in the fresh air and sun. The sun warms us - makes us feel more alive - like the plants - we too need sunshine - more sun on our skin means more vitamin D production by our bodies - our melanin granules are stimulated and we start the tanning process - our eyes learn to adjust to the brightness of the sun and most of us - feel more alive. Cleaning the inside of our homes - moving furniture - applying a fresh coat of paint and similar activities - brings new life to dreariness - endured during the winter.


    As we go through our spring cleaning rituals - we need to also look at the interior of our souls - what have we allowed to clutter up our spiritual houses - have our hearts become stony and dark - do we need a new influx of the Holy Spirit in our lives to bring joy and peace to ourselves - are we more alive this spring than last - have we experienced Easter with true peace - are we comfortable in our own skin.  Jesus is here - arms opened wide - waiting to help you cleanse your soul - He is the Son - that lightens up your life. As you work around your house - allow Jesus to work in your heart - that your spring cleaning may be complete.

    Deacon Dale