Monday, February 29, 2016

Quality Versus Quantity

During Lent there are many people who get caught up in how much - how much to fast - how many things to give up - what else should I deny myself -- seeking to maximize the quantity of things they sacrifice - searching for a Holy Lent.  Fasting to an extreme where they risk damaging their health - attending every extra prayer service - every Stations of the Cross - every penitential rite - as a means of trying to purify themselves. Others look only for truly meaningful events - services to attend - quality time spent in prayer - meditation - reflection. Often chastised because they only did this or that - few events.

God asks us to seek quality not quantity. He doesn't care if we say a thousand prayers - if spoken in haste - without thought - compared to one true heartfelt conversation with Him. Spending unnecessary hours in church - when the family begs for one honest hour of your time at home. It is not how much - rather how well - honest - sincere - an effort you made. This Lent make your time - your actions - count.

Deacon Dale  

Sunday, February 28, 2016


If your parish has people in the RCIA program - then at one of the Masses today - the First Scrutiny of the Elect should be celebrated and the Gospel should be about the woman at the well (John 4: 5-42) and the Hebrew Scripture should be about Moses and water. Both Scriptures form an image of peoples need for water - to drink - to wash - to bathe. Without water - nothing can survive - man - animal - plants. At our home in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona it is a rule that all homes use irrigation systems to insure that any plants will receive enough water to keep them alive - guarantee them a chance to grow - develop. We recently added some plants to our property and after digging holes in the rocky soil and adding mulch and fertilizer - the next step was adding drip lines - water source. The First Scrutiny today - with the Elect - begins that final purification process - moving them closer to the Easter Vigil - preparation for baptism - reception of the Holy Spirit - receiving the Living Water that leads to eternal life in Christ.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that the water she would get would cure her physical thirst - but what she needed was the water - that cures all thirst - Living Water. He was referring to the Holy Spirit - water that would freely flow through her life and lead to eternal life. That water is available today - to all of us - God offers - we accept - reject - His offer. Even those who have already been baptized - may receive again - and again - a fresh out pouring of Living Water - to strengthen - to fortify. No one has drunk of the Living Water so much that they will not benefit from a new outpouring. God waits - Jesus offers - a drink.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Training Day

Anyone beginning a new venture will usually experience a training day - introduction to materials - procedures - protocols - training manuals - workbooks. Training may last a few hours - many days - weeks. In that time - knowledge is shared - acquired - absorbed - formed into ones mind. Today my wife and I began our training to become volunteer instructors for ESL - English as a Second Language. Hopefully - within the next month - we will begin helping others learn English - to help them communicate - with medical personnel - employers - everyone they meet in their daily lives - opening doors to new possibilities. Lent is similar - a time of opening ourselves up to new possibilities - learning new ways to communicate with God - with ourselves. 

All the instruction we need for life is available in the Bible - how to live - how to act - how to treat others. God has inspired many to put into writing - for all generations - a road map for life. Your Bible is all the instruction manual you will ever need - open it today - see where it leads you - this Lent.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Pins and Needles

The phrase - on pins and needles - anxious - waiting for some news - high expectation of something - comes possibly from a similar Old English expression which described the feeling when numbness was leaving an extremity and feeling - sensations - were returning to the affected limb. Anyone who has experienced numbness knows that - tingling sensation - pins and needles - as  the numbness fades - feeling returns. The phrase is also used - when anticipating many different things - Lenten changes in ones life - new prayer experiences - experiencing  a moment when one comes in contact with the divine. Often expectations fall short - disappointment surfaces. We are ending our second week of Lent and yet - for some - nothing drastic has happened. Lent only follows a time table as far as how many days have passed - how many are left. Other than that - Lent has no timeline. Today we planted some new cactus plants - very careful not to touch - tonight - pins and needles  on arms - legs - still wondering why - when we did not touch. Cactus needles - not touching - Lent - not seeming to move forward - sitting on pins and needles - similar.

God acts in all our lives - every day - nobody should sit and worry - on pins and needles - when the time is right - He will manifest Himself in our lives. Until then - we trust - we believe - we wait - patiently - in silence.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Baby Steps

Everyone becomes excited when a baby is ready to take their first steps - learning to walk. With hands held high - helping baby to learn balance - coordination - moving one foot in front of the other - trying to stand erect - all without falling. Of course - the inevitable - always happens - baby falls - most often on their seat. The routine - attempted - over and over again - until finally - one day success. Two steps - then three - finally a walk across the room. Whenever we attempt anything in life - we start with baby steps - cautiously - testing the waters - making sure we have the correct technique - procedure down - to avoid issues and errors. In almost every area of life we learn to walk - before we run. The same goes with our spiritual exercises done during Lent - we begin cautiously - moving slowly - considering what it is we wish to do - hopefully by the third week we have our plan well into motion - on our way to a rewarding Lenten experience.

When God created mankind - He knew that we would have to learn through trial and error - false starts - failed attempts - trying to do too much in the beginning - regrouping - taking baby steps. With God there is no need to rush - no need to run - moving slowly forward is always better than rushing into disappointment - failure. God is much more patient that most would believe - He waits - day after day - looking forward to your first spiritual baby step.

Deacon Dale  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

There Is An App For That

In this age of smart phones - iPad - tablets - almost everything has an application - app - developed to make it easier to become involved with specific products - services. Prayer is no different. Often during Lent we are asked - what should I read - what prayers should I pray - where are good meditations. Today - if you are so equipped - inclined to electronic aids - there is an app for that. ECHO  - PrayerMate - Instapray - PrayWithMe - IBreviary are all apps available for installation on your smartphone or tablet. For Roman Catholics the iBreviary app helps you to pray the official hours of the church as well as many other options.

Already stated numerous times - prayer is the number one tool to help us in our Lenten experience. God is always available and now in modern times - electronic aids to help us in our pursuit of a healthy prayer life. Prayer with God is always free - real time - instantly available - try it - today 

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mercy - Divine Mercy

As we journey through Lent - we need to realize that it is all about Mercy - Divine Mercy - God's Divine Mercy. Because of God's great love for all of us - He makes so many things possible for each of us. The cleansing process - the remodeling - the rearranging - the elimination - addition - of what we really need - is all make available through God. It is up to us as we pray - reflect - meditate - on those changes - that we are guided by God to the point that He wants us to be. 

If God did not care for us as much as He does - He would never have sent Jesus - to teach us - inspire us - die for us. Most people have no idea just how merciful God is. Where we judge harshly - God does not. It is because of His awesome mercy - His Divine Mercy - that we are forgiven - healed - renewed - into better people. Trusting in His Divine Mercy - we know that our Lenten journey will be fruitful.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, February 22, 2016

I Want It Now!

A common sign of the times - I want it now! - impatient - seeking immediate gratification - answers - changes - cures. Younger people - afflicted more than seasoned older ones - older adults still affected. In the past 50 years we have moved from a society - willing to wait - understanding that certain things take time - delayed answers - pleasure - to today's attitude - instant results - wanting it to materialize yesterday - no effort invested - something owed to us. All things take time - period. In that time we are expected - to work - earn - discover - appreciate - the value of all we receive. Instant does not happen - every time - instant is not reality - a poor measure. As we seek different things in our lives - we need to learn patience - value of waiting - value of hard work - serious effort - invested into whatever we are working - praying - seeking. Our transformation during Lent will take time - a stark reality - a necessity - if we are to learn - understand - what is - will happen.
Only God is capable of instant responses - actions. So many times people become frustrated because they feel God is not working fast enough - hard enough - to bring them comfort - assistance - healing. We need to realize that it is our perception - expectations - that affect what God is doing in our lives. God may not micro manage - He does manage - He has set things into motion - for our benefit. At the right time - in His own way - we will see that which we seek. Faith in God - faith that He hears - faith that He acts - teaches us the lesson of patience. Do you still want it now..........

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Lent is about transformation - changing ourselves from what we are - to the promise of God - what He expects us to be. Jesus gave us the imagery of transformation as we hear in today's Gospel - with His disciples - transfigured into His glorified body. His change so outwardly obvious - they dumbfounded - not knowing what to say - to do. Our change - not so obvious - much more interior - only seen by God. Our friends - associates - completely unaware of any change in us at all - unless we act - speak - start living a different life. That is as it is intended - hopefully our change will not be so drastic that others take notice. For most - the changes that happen during Lent - more subtle - slight changes in our prayer life - perhaps more involvement with others - not an extreme difference - rather a renewed vigor - for ourselves - others. We might attend extra church services - offer more time as a volunteer - spend more time in Adoration or such. 

God works in strange - wonderful ways. He is the gentle lover - constantly making so much available to us - in simple actions - quiet breezes - moments of silence - grace. It is not often that He needs to hit us over the head - most will notice - eventually - His gentle presence. When He desires a change - He will make it known. It is up to us to make ourselves present to Him - as He is to us. We need to pause - sit quietly - listen. In that quiet - He will speak.

Deacon Dale   

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Prayer Room

What is a prayer room and where is it located? In simple terms a prayer room - is a place to be alone with God - with your thoughts - your prayers. Finding a time and place where you can be allowed to be alone is not always the easiest thing to do. Often just when you think you are alone with your thoughts - prayers - somebody walks in - speaks up - destroys the silence you were seeking. Many years ago we were teaching young children about prayer rooms - space to be alone. One creative girl found that she could squeeze behind her dresser that was placed in the corner of a room - just enough space to sit and be quiet with her prayers. A couple we knew found a large unused space in the back of a triangular shaped closet in their apartment. That space - when lit with a flashlight - provided enough room for one to read - journal - pray. My best prayer room is alone inside a car - nobody to interrupt thoughts - a few minutes gathered here and there - also sitting on my lawn tractor - cutting grass - me - God - the sky - together.

God meets us as we are - where we are. He does not demand visits only in church - He is always there - by our side - waiting for us to acknowledge Him. He is there in the quiet of the night - the busy times of the day - constantly - vigilant - waiting to talk with us. In that quiet - we receive answers - inspiration - guidance. Find yourself a prayer space - use it often - He waits for you.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tool Time

Now that we have come to the point of remodeling our lives to be more like that of Christ's - to create a special place in our heart for God - to construct the room addition mentioned yesterday - we need to gather our spiritual tools. For our project - I suggest the following - Prayer - Spiritual Reading - Faith - Strength - Love - Meditation.  In addition you could also add in the following if they seem to fit into your own life - Wisdom - Imagination - Order - Zeal - Power - Flexibility. Bottom line - no single spiritual tool is enough - nor are too many - excessive. As individuals we will have different needs - similar goals - different ways of accomplishing our goal. Our first and most important tool is prayer. Before we begin - before we draw out our plans - we pray - ask for guidance - listen. After we pray - we read - the Bible - spiritual books - for ideas on how to develop our plan - learning what others have found useful. Meditating on answers received in prayer - suggestions from our other research - being strong willed - firm in our faith that God is with us - we move forward in love - to create that special space in our heart for God. Each of us needs a prayer room - first in our heart - secondly in our lives. A place to go to be alone with God.
God always has time for us - so in Lent we need to make time for God. Time to slip away from the world - to go to that special room in our heart - to visit with God. In prayer - meditation - in quiet moments - minutes - we ask for His help - as we remodel our lives.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Room Addition

At some point in almost everyone's life they discover that the place where they dwell is no longer big enough for them. Many people rush to or maybe to start hunting for a new home. Others will turn to or or perhaps Pinterest for ideas on remodeling - suggestions on how to make an existing home work better for them. For those of us who watch any of the home remodeling and house hunting shows like Love It or List It and Property Brothers - we know that often the best solution is a simple remodeling project. Basically that is what we have been doing with ourselves this Lent. We knew that as we entered Lent we had to make changes in our lives - to remodel and rearrange our spiritual homes - to make room for God. As we started this process we wanted to remodel - to make our lives over in the model of Jesus - to rearrange the things in our lives - to discard that which prevented us from moving forwards in our relationship with God. We did some spiritual house cleaning - rearranged our spiritual furniture and now are at a point where we can replace - add good things into our spiritual home.

God is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. God never changes - our understanding of Him and what He asks of us does. As we grow in our relationship to Jesus - we draw ourselves closer to the spiritual being that we were created to be. We are not only flesh and bone - a spirit has been placed inside each of us - a spirit that yearns and seeks a much closer relationship with God. We are the carpenters - the craftspeople - the ones to refashion - remodel our lives to be more like what God wants. Time to pick up the tools..

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Now that we have finished our search and destroy mission - identified and removed things from our lives that should not have been there - an emptiness results. For many that emptiness will leave a light comfortable feeling of freedom - others uncomfortable - uneasy - with a desire to fill up those empty spaces. One must be cautious - resist the urge - to add things back into their life too quickly - to cure that empty feeling. Acting in haste may lead to putting things in your life that will be counter productive. Rather - this is a time for patience - prayer - listening to God. In silence - He will speak to your heart - lead you to that which will give you the fullness you seek.

God has placed so many things in this world for us to use - enjoy - respect. The Earth is filled with the beauty of all God's creation. People - listening to God - have added to creation through art - music - science. So much exists for us to discover -  one day - one step - one moment - in time. Proceeding slowly - following God's lead - will show us what we need to make our lives fuller. Lent is a time to reflect - meditate - on what is best for us - to help us become - all that God wants us to be.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Search and Destroy

As we become serious about our Lenten journey we are urged to look deep into ourselves to see what needs improvement - what needs to be changed. Going through our search and destroy mission - we will find things that are in fair shape - need some minor changes to make better. Digging deeper - honestly - we may also find things that have entered our lives that are dangerous - bad for anyone seeking greater holiness. In those instances when we discover the bad - we need to destroy - remove completely from our lives. Many defects are easy to remove once we acknowledge them - others much more difficult. In time - with due diligence - hard work - prayer - even the very difficult may be removed. The good thing about Lent lasting 40 days - enough time for even the worst defects to be corrected.

With God - one day is as if a thousand years and a thousand years as if one day (2 Peter 3:8) - bottom line - with God all things are possible - He is the one in control - when you give your life over to God He becomes the commander in charge - the one who leads the search and destroy mission. He leads you to discover - then does the cleansing process. An impossible task made possible - in His time. This Lent - as you proceed through these days - turn the entire process over to God and all will be fine.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, February 15, 2016

How Do I Love Thee?

The first one we hate - the last one we love - is ourselves. It is far easier to love others - than ourselves. Forgiving - forgetting - letting go - consoling - accepting - the shortcomings of others - is always so much easier than ourselves. How we love others - we can count the many ways - for others we are able to list one positive characteristic after another. When it comes to seeing our good qualities - the list - much shorter. The reality is that for the majority - we are fairly nice - good people. Where we find faults - others see virtues - strengths. Our greatest fault - not seeing the goodness that resides in each of us - failing to see the holy person that God made us. 

Hate the sin - love the sinner - pretty much sums up God's feelings for each of us. We know that His love is a love that we ourselves are not capable of expressing. He alone exhibits agape love - a love that is hard to define - a love that never stops - a love that humans are unable to express. As we journey through these weeks of Lent - as we walk through the interior hallways of our heart - as we take time to pause and reflect - the first thing we need to do is to decide to love ourselves - no matter where we are - no matter what we have done - no matter how unlovable we think we are. We need to learn to love ourselves - in spite of ourselves - if we are to ever truly love anyone else. Love will carry us through these 40 days of Lent - God's love - our love for self - to carry us forward to live in a life of love. 

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Va-LENT-ine's Day

Valentine's Day - a day of shared love - spending time with those who are special to you - spouses - children - significant others - gathering with family - friends - heart shaped boxes of candy - red roses - blood red decorations. As we also celebrate this First Sunday of Lent - we pause on this special rare Va-LENT-ine's day - not often when the two significant days fall on the exact same day. Today on the First Sunday of Lent - when we seriously begin our reflections on our personal lives - we are asked to focus on two hearts - our own - the sacred heart of Jesus - on our relationship with our self - with God - on the value of red blood flowing through our heart - the red blood that flowed from the heart of Jesus as He hung on the cross. In Today's gospel - Jesus reminds us - "Man does not live by bread alone" - there is more to life than eating and drinking - more to life than the past - present. Our vision is to the future - to our place with God in His heavenly kingdom - how we may or may not attain that goal.

In every life rain must fall - even in times of drought - when the air and soil become unbelievably dry - rain will fall. Every day God rains His love - His Holy Spirit - down - upon each of us. Many will soak in - basque in His love - some will reject - ignore - His blessings. Today we are asked to be aware of God's constant presence in our lives - to acknowledge Him for all He has - will do for us. On this First Sunday of Lent - know that He sends you a Valentine's gift - all that you really need - His love.

Deacon Dale  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

What Is Holiness and WHO Can Be Holy?

If you do a Goggle search you will find "Holiness is the state of being holy or sacred. Holiness may also refer to: Holiness movement, a specific tradition within evangelicalism. His Holiness, an official style of address in reference to the leaders of several religious groups". So what does it mean to be "Holy"? According to holy is defined as: (1) specially recognized as or declared sacred by religious use or authority; consecrated; (2) dedicated or devoted to the service of God, the church, or religion; (3) saintly, godly, pious, devout; (4) having a spiritually pure quality; (5) entitled to worship or veneration as or as if sacred; (6) religious; and (7) inspiring fear or awe. Reading this many - perhaps all - may make a claim to being holy. Remembering that each of us was created by God - with the cooperation of our parents - and  that all that God creates is good - that we are all children of God - makes us holy. Most of us live out our lives in some form or manner of holiness - each to their own level according to their circumstances.  Not all live holy lives - unfortunately - for they have made wrong decisions - drawing them to the "dark side of the force".  Those who live holy lives share in the light of Christ - the "light or bright side of  the force". How brightly our lives shine is a direct reflection on our level of holiness. It is up to us - as individuals - to recognize how bright or dim our light shines. Spending all day on knees - bent in prayer - does not guarantee that our life shines brighter than one who prays little. Rather our individual brightness is more than prayer - more than donations - more than being busy about things. The brightness - the holiness - that we radiate is a direct reflection of how well Jesus lives in our thoughts and actions. How we live our lives is what we need to reflect on during Lent. We need to ask (1) does our light shine? (2) how well does my life -  actions - reactions - reflect the love of God?

Jesus came for all but all did not accept Him - many rejected Him - chose the "dark side". In baptism you were filled with the Holy Spirit - In confirmation - the Holy Spirit was again poured freshly into your life - in Holy Eucharist - Jesus comes to you in the form of His Blessed Body and Blood to again give you His Holy Spirit. Daily God rains His love upon you - to guide you - to help you - to keep you on the correct path - to holiness. 

Deacon Dale 

Friday, February 12, 2016

It's All About Sin - Isn't It?

Lent - it is all about sin - right?  Actually - no.  Rather Lent calls us to focus - not on sin - but on Holiness. It asks us to take a personal inventory of our lives - how we live - what we do - how we react - our goals in life and beyond. Of course - sin is involved in the evaluation process - and if we are burdened with sin - eliminating it and what causes us to sin is good - as we seek greater holiness in our life. Committing our self to a period of quiet and reflection - looking deep into who we are - what we do - leads us to that goal of holiness.

When God created the world and mankind - He saw that it was good. Not just O.K. - rather He saw good. Each of us has to remember that one truth - we are all created good. How we live our life has an effect on our goodness.  In Lent - we reflect - we pray to correct faults - to regain any goodness that we have lost.

Deacon Dale  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

El Segundo Día

Lent - The Second Day.  Ashes gone - face washed clean - all visible signs of Ash Wednesday gone until next year. The homily from yesterday's Mass - still faintly lingering in the mind. Time to get more deeply involved in some sort of Lenten exercise. Today we look into our lives - what needs to be fixed - maybe too many things - better to start simple - otherwise failure is guaranteed.  Giving up unnecessary time wasters - making that wasted time available for better things. Say an extra prayer - or if not normally praying - start to pray. Looking at the sky - the vast expanse of possibilities - an ocean of opportunities - needing to make a decision - to focus. 

God makes all things possible - a Lent that is meaningful to everyone is a distinct possibility. It may take a little time to focus on that one or two things that will make our personal life better - but that decision will happen soon. Right now - just realizing that we need to make some decisions-  is a great jumping off point. Knowing we have to start is the first step to an awesome journey. Tomorrow we map out our course.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Smudge - A Stroke - An Ash

Ash Wednesday - observed today around the world - different nations - different continents - different cultures. A day of acknowledgement - the beginning of a Holy Season - a Season of repentance - Repentance for what we have done - have not done. A time of deep reflection - where we have been - where we are going - unless a change is made. A Season made for all mankind - religious - or not. Today we received ashes imposed on our foreheads - ashes from the burnt palms from lasts year's Palm Sunday celebration. Palms once waved in joyful expectation and remembrance of Christ's entrance into Jerusalem. From Celebration to Repentance - Joy to Sorrow - Hope to Renewed Hope.

Jesus came that each of us might experience life to the fullest - to all He came - not everyone accepted Him - the same exists today - many believe - many others do not. It is not up to us to worry about the non-believers - that is God's business - that is Christ's concern. Our focus -this Lent - is on ourselves - on our own salvation - on the direction that our individual life is going. It will be hard enough for each of us to straighten the path we walk - the life we live - hard enough that Holy Roman Church gives us the gift of this Season - to pause - pray - to reflect - on our own life.  You have 40 days....

Deacon Dale