Tuesday, November 13, 2018

2018 Holy Land Pilgrimage Recap - Day #1

The first day of any pilgrimage is all about travel - gathering the group together - bus to the airport - flights to the destination - meeting the tour guide - checking into your first hotel.  Depending on the destination - anywhere from half a day or more.  In the case of our group traveling from our home parish near Chicago to Tel Aviv in Israel - approximately twenty-two hours.  Travel was uneventful - everyone met on time - after attending an impromptu Holy Mass with Father Matt - receiving a Pilgrims Blessing from Father Gabriel - no delays in flights or with bus travel.  We arrived in Tel Aviv - tired but excited - to meet up with additional pilgrims who had been added to our group.  Our first evening activity - a simple welcome dinner - meeting the other pilgrims and tour guide - time for relaxation and sleep.

 Holy Mass Deacon Doug - Deacon Dale - Father Matt

 Pilgrims Blessing on Bus - Father Gabriel

Surprise Seatmate for Hector (left) - Matthew Faraci (right) 

The only out of the ordinary experience on our first day was meeting Hector's seatmate for the international flight.  Matthew Faraci - Host of Frankly Faraci  (on Dove Channel) - Executive Producer of The Chosen - a new project focusing on the Life of Jesus.  For complete information on this very interesting project click this link.  The Chosen

Personally I do not believe this was a coincidence that Matthew was seated next to one of our pilgrims - rather a God incident.

Arriving in Tiberias - Safe and Sound - 37 Pilgrims

Holy Mass - Mass of Thanksgiving and Sending

Welcome Dinner

Pilgrimage - Day #1 - Meeting New People - Interesting Meetup

Praying Our Way Through Israel
Deacon Dale 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Each One Reach One

As long as we are discussing pilgrimages - in general - what is the point - in the first place?  Contrary to popular opinion - it is not about travel - not about vacations - not about exotic locations.  The goal of all pilgrimages - local - national - international - is making an attempt to help others take the very short journey of twelve inches from their mind to their heart.  All pilgrimages are designed to help individuals become aware of how much God loves them - cares for them - wants them to share the Good News - with all they meet.  

Recently I did a bit of math - with some rough figures - estimated the number of people that have directly or indirectly been touched through the various ministries that my wife and I have been involved in.  Through our ministries as chaplain - deacon - in hospital visits - baptisms - weddings - wakes - funerals - preaching - teaching - numerous presentations - youth ministry - pilgrimages - evenings of reflections - retreats - over the course of some forty years - together we have had an influence - impact - affect - on the lives of no less than 500,000 individuals - if those people each in turned shared their experience with just one other person - that estimate jumps to one million individuals. I share these numbers not to pat ourselves on the back - rather to show what one couple - committed to sharing their faith - can accomplish in their lifetimes. So often - when we ask people to become involved in sharing their faith - the common response - what affect can I have as a single individual.  As shown by the numbers above - our individual impact is much more than any of us would have guessed. As a group of committed Christians - freely sharing our faith experiences - we can reach hundreds of millions.  We can - do - have a much greater impact on people around us - than we would ever realize. 

Standing in the Sea of Galilee

Each of us - as a result of our baptisms - has been called to share in the ministry of Christ - to be priest - prophet - king - of our own domains - to proclaim the Gospel message to all whom we  come in contact with - each one reaching one.  When an individual says who are they - what effect can they expect - only has to look at the numbers above to see what possibilities really exist.  Each of us walks a journey - camino - pilgrimage - seeking to draw closer to God.  On that path we need to invite others to travel with us. 

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Pilgrimages Don't Just Happen

Pilgrimages do not just happen - there is a lot of work that goes into planning and arranging one.  Once the final arrangements have been finalized - air carrier - flights - bus transportation - hotels - meals - itinerary - tour guide - and more - then and only then can the pilgrimage be advertised and people recruited to participate.  All said and done - the ones who participate - the pilgrims - are the one and only reason a pilgrimage happens.  Without pilgrims - there is no pilgrimage.  It doesn't matter if it is a one day event - overnight - week long - people are the fuel that makes a pilgrimage come alive.  Those who participate in a pilgrimage come from all walks of life - all ethnicities - all faiths.  On every Catholic based pilgrimage that my wife and I have organized - we have always had non-Catholics who participate. Our most recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land in Israel completely showed that.

In the photos below - taken from our October 24 - November 2, 2018 pilgrimage - you can clearly see the physical makeup of the group.  What none of these photos can reveal - is the spirituality of each person - the basic religion practiced.  This specific group represented Roman Catholics - Pentecostal - Palestinian Christian - Muslim - faiths - all blended together in a single effort to draw each person closer to God. 

 2018 Pilgrimage Group at Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem

 2018 Group at Mount Tabor in Lower Galilee

2018 Pilgrimage Group in the Upper Room at David's Tomb Compound in Jerusalem

Pilgrimage is always a blessing to those who participate - many blessings - in many different forms - always a gift from God - drawing each individual closer to their personal relationship with their Lord.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Israel - Awesome Pilgrimage

We are back!  It has been a few days since our return from our pilgrimage to Israel and we are still readjusting our internal clocks and trying to get back to our normal schedules.  Waking at 3:00 AM is not what most of us would call normal - but it is what it is.

Quickly - in a nutshell - the entire pilgrimage far exceeded our expectations.  Our original group numbered twenty-six people and prior to departure we were informed that a smaller group of six would meet us in Tel Aviv.  I was very surprised - on arrival - to learn that number had increased to eleven.  Larger groups are great to work with - especially when you have advance notice - unfortunately - the addition of five extra people meant that the extra supplies I had purchased were not enough and some ended up having to share.  That is no big deal - but at DeaconTravel/CaminoWakers Ministries we are known for being all inclusive and well prepared - this did not help to sustain our reputation.  In spite of this - we did manage to pull a  few rabbits out of the hat and hopefully - helped to remove that error on the part of our travel partner.  As my friend George always says - it will be alright - and as usual - it was.  Our tour guide was over the top and provided us with excellent information and local color which helped us to experience so much more than expected.  

Our 2018 Group of Pilgrims Outside Holy Sepulcher Church

Over the course of the next week I intend on doing a complete review of our ten day pilgrimage and share more of the 2000 photos I took.  Until then - remember Jesus - God - the Holy Spirit - is with you wherever you are.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Israel Bound

Great News - Our pilgrim group departs for Israel in just a few more days.  We have a few long flights to endure - but in the end it is definitely worth it.  We will be posting some photos and comments as we travel throughout Israel - but I will do a detailed report on our return.

If you are on Facebook look for us here> DeaconTravel/CaminoWalkers Ministries

We will also being using Instagram>  Instagram.com/deacontravelcaminowalkers/

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Who Is The "I" of God?

Who is the "I" of God? - You - Me - Him - Her - Everyone!  Each of us is the twinkle in God's Eye. There is no one more special that you - me - all of us. As a group - as an individual - we are the special children of God. When He created the World - He knew we would exist - in His World. Everything that He created - He created for Us. It is because of His Love - that we came to be. We are all special - all very different - we speak different languages - worship in different communities - in different styles - In Churches - Temples - Mosques - all the same - all different. We have different theologies - understand God in different and various ways - yet He is the One God.  Sad to say - unfortunate for us - our differences which color us as individuals - communities - should move us away from each other - instead of drawing us closer - to celebrate all those God given differences.  The World today is a different World from even ten years ago - in that time we have come to understand that our different genders - skin color - language - theology - intellect - are what should bind us together - as the One Family of God - yet - we hang onto old teachings - thoughts that have long outlived their usefulness.

Jesus - Moses - Allah - all Men of God - all trying to open our eyes - to help us understand our relationship to God. Let those who have ears - hear - those who have eyes - see - those who have hearts - feel - the presence of God - in all of us.  Together - we are the "I" of God.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Feeling Positive

In spite of the recent reports about clergy abuse - there is a positive side.  Long overdue changes are finally being made.  Rather than argue about cover ups and extremely poor management of these cases - much better to focus on positive changes now being implemented. Unfortunately there is very little anyone can do about events that happened some fifty to seventy years ago.  Anyone guilty -  who is still alive - deserves to be prosecuted and if still in active ministry - immediately removed and stripped of their faculties to function as a priest or bishop.  It is not the first time that the Church - founded by Jesus - has failed the very people it was created to help and protect. None of this was designed or ordained by God.  Ministers are ordinary men - not gods - asked to perform extraordinary duties.  By their nature - men are not perfect - so no surprise that a small percent of them failed the very people they were called to serve.

As people of God - we believe in forgiveness and redemption.  Forgiving these failed men - very difficult for all of us.  Forgiving ourselves for not being more diligent - asking more questions - not blindly trusting men just because they were ordained -  still a fault of ours - but easier to forgive.  The positive side - mentioned above - a new awareness by all - the ordinary people of God now enabled to take control they should have exercised years ago.  The majority of priests - bishops - some 95% - are good - honorable men. Although innocent of these charges - now carrying the guilt on their shoulders - undeserved.  Rather than walk away from the Church - time to walk into the Church - to become even more engaged - not just in weekend Mass - also the daily life of the Church.  Ordinary people taking control - lifting the burden off the shoulders of priests everywhere - working side by side to rebuild - recreate the Hose of God. Modern priests welcome more involvement by their parishioners - welcome the oversight - sharing the obligation to provide a positive environment for all people - young and old.  Throughout the ages people have learned from their errors - now is the time to reinvent - remake the House of God.  Jesus stands at the door - waiting for your knock.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Next Step

Is this the final straw that breaks the camel's back - the recent report on yet more clergy abuse?  It is not surprising that many are completely sick and tired of these disclosures.  We do have to remember that the majority of these are over 50 years ago.  That does not mean they aren't important - yes they matter - however - the majority of abusers as well as their victims are either very old now - or dead. Although this report is very disturbing - the important thing is to make sure that this does not repeat itself. None of us can sit by and ignore the reality that abuse has happened and possibly could happen again - unless we open our eyes and ears - and take positive action ourselves. Evil will enter our lives unless we act now to keep it at bay and help to eliminate it.  We may not hold the keys to the kingdom - we do not have to hold the door open for evil to enter.  The leaders of the Church have failed - now is the time for all members to accept responsibility to open our eyes and be on watch for any and all warning signs.  Those who do not belong need to be removed as quickly as possible - those who deserve our support must be encouraged to stay firm even though their credibility has been called into question. 
As unhappy as we are about this situation - God is even more upset.  This is not what Jesus planned when He began the Church - peace - harmony - trust - truth.  All of us need to stay firm in our faith - we have endured trials before and in the end God will provide.  Leaving is not an option - the Church needs its people to remain faithful - in spite of a few bad apples - God will make all things right. 

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

If It's Not Broke - Why Fix It?

We all know the saying - if it is not broke - why fix it?  The issue here is that with many things in life - too often - people have no idea that something is broke.  Too often we hear the title of this post - why bother - nobody is complaining.  The issue here is that many are complaining - on deaf ears.  Those in control too happy - too comfortable with the status quo.  Even when those in control recognize that something is wrong - unwilling to invest the time and energy to fix the issue.  Those who try - too often run into constant roadblocks - usually those who either are clueless or too tired to care. When trying to implement change - almost always a struggle - confronting challenges along the way.  For the few who work at change - who accept the struggle - stay the course - eventual success will finally happen.  The church is not immune to this issue - across denominational lines - different beliefs - all share in a spiritual lethargy - loss of  parishioners - members - who really understand what their faith is about - who have committed  themselves one-hundred percent to the daily practice of their faith.  It is not unusual - when talking with people -to hear - that is my parent's faith - not mine.  Sadly too many young adults who were baptized into the Christian faith - Catholic or Protestant - are noticeably absent from the weekend liturgies - services. One no longer has to worry about not finding a space in the pews - what was once precious real estate - now freely available - as attendance dwindles.  As society evolves and changes - so must the churches.  Young adults - those who are the absent ones - have new ideas of church - what it should be - what they need to hear.  Luckily at our parish - this trend has been acknowledged - action has been taken to adjust - modify - to make comfortable what was previously perceived as uncomfortable. We are still Roman Catholic - we follow the liturgical rubrics prescribed by the Bishops.  The difference - primarily - making it a point to talk with the shy - lonely - unchurched - to deliver homilies that not only teach but inspire - to help all understand that church matters and is relevant to life.  

When God sent His Only Son - Jesus - He did not want it to be a one time experience.  He laid the plans for the life of the world - for all times.  When Jesus ascended - He sent us His Holy Spirit - to remain with us forever - to help us - guide us -inspire us - to become one-hundred percent committed to loving - serving - worshiping Him - by the way we live our lives - how we help each other - the actions we take.  Weekly attendance at church - one of the primary ways we observe God's commandments - being open and honest - freely sharing our faith with others - inviting them into the community of believers where miracles can and do happen.  Developing a personal relationship with Jesus - God - to live a faith filled life - the goal.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

City City Bang Bang

City City Bang Bang is my version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  a 1968 British musical fantasy adventure film. Last week my wife and I took a  road trip to the Denver, Colorado area to participate in the wedding of a young lady we have known from birth.  The adventure during the trip - in many different cities - provided by the various states we drove through and their departments of transportation - easily translated as - road construction.  The best diversion provided by the State of Illinois and the 113 mile construction zone on I-88 which restricted travel to 45mph.  An inconvenience to be sure - thankfully nothing more than extended travel time.  With that thought it brings to mind many who have various types of road blocks that appear in their lives as they attempt to negotiate their way from one issue to another.  For some the journey through life is a veritable breeze - never experiencing any problems or issues with which to cope - others - just the opposite.  We all know people like that - one problem after another - issue upon issue - forcing them to take their attention away from living to constantly coping - coping with illness - money issues - relation problems - job concerns.  

Many blame God for the problems in their lives - refusing to accept the fact that often things just have a way of happening - unfortunately - more to some than others.  It is in those times of problems - distractions - that we should turn towards God - not away from Him. God does not play games with our lives - although He does not micro manage - rather allows things to happen and watches how we cope.  He is always there - waiting to help - if we ask for it.  When faced with the various issues of life - God is only a prayer away - ready to step in when invited.  The next time you are facing any issue - rather than complaining - turn to God in prayer - He is waiting to hear from you.

Deacon Dale