Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hide and Seek

I would guess that most people in my age group played the game of hide and seek when they were young.  Typically a group of children would gather together - select one to be - it - that person - close their eyes count to ten - the remaining kids - run and hide.  At the count of ten - the one person ran all over trying to find everyone in their hiding place.  Sometimes - very easy - other times - somewhat difficult.  Once everyone was found a new person selected to be - it - the game resumed - lasting for quite some time.  At times when seeking a place to hide - very difficult - those who lived on larger property - had numerous buildings - many more places to hide. 


In Lent there are always those who would rather hide from God - rather than seek Him out. Afraid of His opinion - fearing harsh judgement - rather run away from Him.  Lent is possibly one of the best times to run towards - not away from God.  In Lent so many - praying - fasting - doing charitable deeds - seeking His forgiveness - looking everywhere they can think of - to seek - find Him.  Truth be told - He is always there - at one's side - never any father away - than the distance of our mind to our heart.  One only needs to open one's eyes - ears - mouth - to look for the signs that He is near - to hear His comforting words - to speak your desire for Him.  Jesus is there - waiting - for you to make your move.  He is not running away - hiding from you - rather - He seeks you with arms open wide.

Deacon Dale 



Friday, March 27, 2020

Just Another Friday

Yep - just another Friday - except - trapped in the house - no place to go - locked down - self isolating.  Not the first Friday for this experience - won't be the last.  From the articles I just read - it appears that we are in this virus lock down for multiple months - not weeks.  I know that many people are already getting anxious about this - however - there is no option.  If we as a nation are to survive this pandemic - then as a nation - we must stick together - cooperate with our governors - mayors - follow their guidelines.  


With Jesus - this is all possible.  Sure some changes have to be made - very limited time outside the home - running critical errands - milk and bread only good for so many days.  For us as Catholics - we need to look at this as a long Lent retreat - days in solitude - time to be alone with Jesus - walking in the desert.  For those with other family members - - need to utilize different rooms - give each person their own space - time to be alone.  Front porch - a private space - back yard - your private retreat - multiple possibilities exist.  Time with family - time alone - all gifts to be appreciated - as we isolate.  In Lent we seek Faith - in Jesus we Trust.

Deacon Dale 


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Stir Crazy

In this morning's scripture in Exodus we read how the Lord was instructing Moses to go to the people who he had led out of Egypt who had become bored - unhappy with their circumstances - making a molten calf - turning away from God.  This resonates with many of us today - especially those who are sheltering in place - quarantined in our homes - waiting for the issue with the coronavirus to calm down.  Obviously being bored - trapped - unhappy with the current situations in one's life - nothing new - exclusive for any of us.  As we stay sheltered in our homes - have we turned away from - closer to - Jesus?  Have we used any of this new found free time to talk to God - to consider our spiritual lives?


Yes boredom can be a serious issue - something to contend with - to overcome - to avoid going stir crazy - giving in to unnatural ways of thinking - acting.  We need to constantly remind ourselves that this is Lent - a time set aside - to be quiet - to reflect - to spend more time in quiet with God.  There is an abundance of live stream - online resources - available that will nurture our spirits - souls.   Daily Mass - Stations of the Cross - recorded and live Homilies - Sermons - Bible Studies - to keep our minds active - connected to God.  All are available - twenty-four hours a day - day in and day out.  This time - trapped in our homes - a gift - of sorts - a time to relax - calm down - to draw closer to the God who loves us - who heals us - who comes to us in the quiet moments of our lives.   Jesus is there - with you - seeking to stir up your spirit - to see in these days of isolation - how crazy He is for you.

Deacon Dale  

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Drowning In The Desert

One thing that most people know - water in the desert - very scarce - hard to find - mostly sand.  When we decided to buy a home in Arizona we knew it had two features that we were looking for - warmth in the winter - mountains where we could hike.  We had just completed our month long pilgrimage - walking 400 miles of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  The pilgrimage route took us literally through the back yards of Northern Spain - up into the mountains - down into valleys - across old Roman roads - bridges - challenging us most of the way - our first ultra light back packing experience.  At the end - spiritually refreshed - enthused with that hiking experience - we wanted to do more hiking.  In flat Illinois that was not possible - so we found a place in the warm Sonoran Desert in Arizona.  Once there we were able to hike and were surprised with how beautiful the desert is,  There is no water - but the plants that survive in the desert are unusual and very interesting - boring cacti that grow beautiful flowers - completely unexpected. 


Everyone will - at some time in their life - have a desert experience.  One does not have to physically be in a desert - the lonely isolation - feeling completely alone - walking in a space - barren - void of that which distracts.  In Lent we are asked to journey with Jesus - to place ourselves mentally - spiritually - in the desert with Him.  Contemplating - meditating - on our own life - the path we have been following - making decisions - to stay that path - walk a new direction.  For a few - their lives filed with so much - drowning in choices to make - unable to sort through them - lost - with out a paddle - drowning in the desert.  Others - through the power of prayer - easily cruising through the desert sands of their mind - floating on the waves of the presence of Christ in their lives - emerging - refreshed - invigorated at the time spent in solitude.  Washed ashore - into the arms of Jesus - peaceful - filled with joy - their time in the desert - bringing clarity of  thought - swimming in God's love.  If you have not entered the desert this Lent - you still have time - Jesus is waiting - you will not drown - He is your life saver.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Pool Party

Almost everyone loves a pool party - gathering with friends - enjoying - music - food - lively conversation - celebrating all the gifts that life gives us.  Sharing successes - hopes - best wishes for each other.  There is something special about water - people become energized when close to water - spirits lift - smiles grow across faces - joy bounds in hearts.  Once in the water - a feeling of comfort - surrounded by the warmth - coolness - the freedom that water provides.  Our bodies are mostly water - depending on age and gender - anywhere from 55% to 75% water.  It is the water in our bodies that facilitate so many body processes - keeping us healthy - refreshing our souls.


In today's Gospel Jesus comes across a man crippled - attempting to crawl into the pools at 
Bethesda near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem. As the water would stir up - those in the pools - healed of their afflictions. Not a pool party as we call it - a party of people - all seeking the same thing - a better life - healed of their infirmities.  I have been at those pools - no longer filled with water - a dried memory of the history of that place - the Spirit of God - still strong - running freely - as water flows - among those now gathered in prayer - reflection.  As we continue through these days of Lent - the Elect - those looking forward to their baptism at Easter - now a questionable reality.  With no Easter Masses scheduled - when will they be renewed in the waters of baptism - when will we be renewed in our hearts - as we observe water being washed over their bodies?  Eventually - it will happen - at a day - a time when all will be healed.  Just as Jesus told the cripple - pick up your mat and walk - He tells us - be strong in faith - cast your fears aside - pick up your head - walk into your future.  He will be at our side.

Deacon Dale 


Monday, March 23, 2020

Shelter In Place

With the current pandemic - fear - contracting the coronavirus - new terminology - words to inform us of proper activity.  The newest - Shelter in Place - to isolate one and their family - in a familiar place where they may be safe.  For most this place is their home - apartment - house - supplied with food - comfort items - bedding.  In this morning's Scripture from Isaiah 65:17-21 we read that the Lord is in the process of creating new heavens - a new earth - that things of the past shall not be remembered. It continues that there will be new joy - crying no longer.  For all of us going through this pandemic - those words are very applicable to our present situation.

Casa Del Camino "Fortress of Solitude"

Many people view Lent as a time of giving up things to be regained at Easter - no permanent sacrifice - very temporary - at best.  In Lent the true focus should be on making ourselves - new creations - discarding bad habits - sinful activity - walking away from our six week Lenten retreat - a new creation - no longer burdened with the problems - sins of our former life.  As we observe - Shelter in Place - in Arizona you may notice in the above photo that our home - as well as all  the homes here - are surrounded with cinder block walls - separating us from each other - from the community.  Once we enter the door to our home - we are completely isolated from everyone around us.  In our new - Fortress of Solitude - we spend our days of Lent - alone - reflecting on everything happening.  Lots of time for prayer - meditation - allowing ourselves to be alone with each other - with God.  When we emerge - we pray that we are better off - spiritually - emotionally - physically - learning all that God wants us to learn - experience - just as Jesus did - in His 40 Days in the desert. Praying that this Lent you Shelter in Place - with Jesus.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

All Eyes and Blind

Our eyes are one of the most interesting organs of the human body. From birth until maybe the age of 21 years our eyes continue to grow - increasing in size by only a few millimeters.  In appearance they appear to remain exactly the same size as birth - a few additional developments do occur - not visible to the naked eye.  With our eyes we can see almost all the colors of the rainbow - visual acuity - clarity - provide us with very clear vision - ability to see all of God's creation - the world around us.  Over time - issues may develop - our vision declines - the ability to see diminishes as we age.  In today's Scriptures the focus is on sight - not seeing as God sees - rather as humans tend to see - looking only on the surface - judging a book by its cover - failing to recognize the light of God - dwelling in the darkness of their sins - blaming an infirmity - blindness of an individual on their or their parent's sinfulness.


As Christians - as Children of God - Disciples of Jesus - we are called to see much deeper than our humanly vision allows us to see. We are asked to look into the hearts - souls of our fellow humans - to not judge by their outward appearance - to see in them - the person that God has created them - us - to be.  Casting aside our preconceived notions - prejudices - we are asked to see that all of us - are the same - seeking the same things - looking for that which fulfills.  On this Fourth Sunday of Lent - we are called to open our eyes to the great possibilities that exist among all people - to seek Jesus - in His Words.  This Sunday we will not find Him in Holy Eucharist - churches closed to all because of the current pandemic.  Denied meeting Him in Holy Communion - we must take in His Words - all that we see around us - to know that He - the Lord of Lords - the Author of Life - is with us.  In Faith - we see clearly - that - which we cannot see.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

How Do I Love Thee..

Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned the sonnet - How do I love thee, let me count the ways. In fourteen lines she spelled out her thoughts on how to love - ending with - if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. These first few lines are quoted very often - most not realizing that she brought God into the picture at the end.  All of us love - in various and different ways.  We love different things - people - pets - jobs - sports - music - the arts - money - God.  Sad to say when asked what they love all too many will mention those listed above - usually leaving out God.  Love is an intangible that cannot be seen - smelled - felt - touched - a feeling that evades some - a decision by most - held only in one's mind - heart. In today's scripture in Hosea 6:6 we are told - For it is love that I desire - not sacrifice.


Continuing our Lenten journey - we should all spend time meditating on these words - what  it means - God desires love - not sacrifice - especially when we are asked in Lent to give up - to sacrifice.  When we give up - do we long for that which we are depriving ourselves - more than we love God?  Are our sacrifices seen as a punishment - for what we have done wrong - or a gift to God - showering our sacrificial love upon Him - His Son - reflecting on God's gift to us in Jesus - the sacrifice He made of His Son - that we could be set free from sin - to live a life of fullness.  When God looks into your eyes - does He see sadness - the loss you feel of your sacrifice - or does He see the love that you have for Him? God alone posses agape love - a love unknown to humans - a love that forgives everything you ever did - will do wrong.  When He looks into your eyes - heart - will He see how you love Him?

Deacon Dale 
For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,

Friday, March 20, 2020

With Our Eyes

Our eyes are one of the most fantastic organs in our bodies - how they function - the intricate structure - elements - that work together to allow us to see the world around us. With our eyes we can see others near us - the blue shades of the sky - the green of the grass - the browns of the desert sands - the reds and yellows of the flowers.  As much as they allow us to see - they are also the windows to our hearts.  Looking into the eyes of another person - allows you to see into their heart.  The best example is your dog - look into a dog's eyes - all you see is love - a reflection of your love for them.  How we see - what we see is different for each of us. 


In the picture above what did you see - the bright sun in the sky - a glare in your eyes - uncomfortable - painful?  Did you see the mountains in the distance - rising upwards- touching the sky - reaching into heaven - offering hope - peace?  Did you see the garbage cans lined up on the street - filled with the trash that burdens people's lives - the sins cast aside in the hope that God would send His celestial garbage crew to remove from their home?  What did you see - what did you think you saw - what was the reality of the visual captured in a picture?  In Lent we need to look with our hearts - not our eyes - we need to see the truth that is in each of us - that we are precious in the eyes of God - God who sees  into our hearts - knows us better than we know ourselves.  In Lent - we pray - for ourselves - for others - for peace - for hope - for life eternal with God.  Jesus calls each of us to open our eyes - hearts - to all that we have been given.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Sunlight

Depending where you live you may be experiencing a lot of cloudy days or as we are in Arizona - mostly sunny days.  Our time out here this year has been very different from previous years - cooler than normal - more rain days - lower activity level.  For the most part - even when temperature is lower - there is still a lot of sun.  The sun not only gives us brighter days - also adds to the comfort when outside.  Sunlight - everywhere - a gift to almost everyone - boosting one's mood.  Arizona seems to have a lot more happy people than other parts of  the country - possibly due to the fact that there is constant sun.  No seasonal affective disorder here - happiness prevails among most.  


In these days of Lent as we reflect on our lives - what we have done - things ignored - what we should have done - things we could have done - those that we might do - we pause and ask - was that selfish - sinful.  The answer depends on you - the situation - circumstances.  So many of us tend to beat ourselves up - not helping enough - not spending enough time in prayer - not fasting as often as others.  As we reflect on all these concerns - we look to the Son - the light He brings into our lives.  God did not create us so that we would be unhappy - sad.  Rather as Jesus reminds us - He came that we might have life and live it to the fullest.  Even when the days are cloudy - God sends the Light of Jesus to each of us - reminding us to rejoice - to bathe ourselves in His Son's light.

Deacon Dale

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Keeping Faith

The majority of people have various levels of faith - about different things. Faith that their favorite sports team will win the game - faith that their family is a happy unit - faith that their job is safe - faith that so many things will remain the same - improve in the future.  Faith is an intangible thing that cannot be seen - felt.  Faith may be lost - gained - in a moment. In today's scriptures we are reminded - hear - observe the statutes - decrees - teach your children - honor - keep the commandments - life will go well.


Yes we are in unprecedented times - everyone concerned about Coronavirus - completely afraid - scared - some laughing at it as if it is a fake concern.  For the first time in our lives - church services cancelled - weekend Mass - banned - large groups discouraged. In all this we are still in the early weeks of Lent.  Even though we need to be concerned about the pandemic - we also need to be concerned about our spiritual lives. We cannot allow this virus to consume our every thought - we need to pray - trust in God that we will emerge from this season of Lent - stronger in our faith - trust in God.  Jesus is the ultimate physician - we pray that through Him - this world will be healed.

Deacon Dale  

Size Matters

There is a lot of concern about many things - for those trying to observe a faith filled Lent - always the concern of what to do - when to do it - how much is enough,  Prayer - fasting - alms giving - how many times to pray - what prayers - how much to fast - what to avoid - making donations to help others - where to draw the line.  To each of the above - depends on the individual - their circumstances - wants - needs.  No two people are alike - no one situation exactly like another - to each - the answers - only apply to them - up to them to make that determination.


Jesus said if we had faith the size of a mustard seed - very tiny compared to other seeds - we could move mountains - do amazing - wonderful things.  All He asks of us during Lent is to focus on our personal relationship with Him - His Father.  The time we spend - place - completely up to us.  No right answer - no wrong answer - as long as we just do it.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, March 16, 2020

When Will This End

It is very hard this Lent to focus one's mind - spirit - on spiritual exercises - when everyone is being bombarded from all sides about the Coronavirus.  Unfortunately there is so much misinformation - guessing - experts - amateurs - selfish - greedy - people looking to scare - make a quick dollar - it makes one's head spin.  In the midst of all this - precious time wasted - better spent quietly - doing constructive things.  Reading - meditating - praying - being quiet - all better uses of time. 

Worry is not from The Lord - a tool of the devil - disrupting otherwise peaceful lives.  Right now too many worry - when will this end - will I be infected - will I survive.  We have gone through this before - survived.  Some did not make it - those same people - those who were in the process of dying anyhow.  All of us begin the dying process the day we are born.  We are born to die - no one immortal - most live fairly long lives.  When will this current virus be a thing of the pass.  The cap is just off the pen - the ink has not yet started to run.  It will be months before life returns to normal - in the meantime remain - people of Hope.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Bonus Post - Social Distancing

This new terminology - social distancing - what is the fuss?  I see a lot of people - complaining that large venues have been banned in light of the COVID19 pandemic.  The President - Governors - Mayors - all mandating - social distancing.  The outcries - unbelievable - conspiracy - government regulating our lives - our freedoms - unfair!  That is what my children would often say as mom and dad would lay down the rules - rules to protect them - keep them safe - healthy.  They were only children - did not have the knowledge - experience to know what we knew - thus the cry - unfair!  I find it unbelievable that in this day and age - knowledge readily available - adults - those who think they are adults - crying unfair.  I am no stranger to large events - most recently standing with 200,000 strangers - waiting to see Pope Francis at the Vatican.  Did I really want to be in that crowd - did I really want to find the right spot - get close to the Pope - did I really think that the other 199,999 people added to my experience - No!  My preference - one on one - nobody else around.  When we attend sporting events - how many people do we interact with - maybe a handful - why the need for a crowd? Bottom line - the need to feel involved.  If large groups were allowed right now - the spread of COVID19 would be monumental - the affect - mass deaths - all because we had to be there - to be a faceless number in the crowd.  When those deaths - many unnecessary - added up - we should stand trial as being involved in one giant mass murder.  Sure - you didn't get sick - but you got the virus - unknown - no symptoms - carried it home to your children - spouse - parents - to the neighbor recovering from surgery - immune system completely comprised - and you brought the virus to them even though they were observing social distancing. In spite of their efforts - your selfishness - caused their premature death.



Although you may miss the game - party - gathering - you will miss your mother more.  Think about it - this will pass - in a few months hopefully - all may get back to normal.  Until then - follow the guidelines - practice social distancing - stay safe - not just for yourself - for everyone else around you.

Jesus I Trust In You
Deacon Dale 

Living Water

Today's Gospel is about Jesus meeting the woman at the well - the one who had numerous husbands - the current man in the house - not her husband.  By all rights - most would condemn her - Jesus doesn't.  That should be reassuring to those of us - who sin less - commit small sins - or so we think.  As people of God - disciples of Jesus - none of us is immune to sin.  The world is a giant bowl of potato chips - each chip - a sin of a different flavor.  As the saying goes - you can't eat just one - same goes for sins.  When considering what is sinful - the list so long - it has no end.  If I sin against my wife by disrespecting her and you - is that one sin or two?  If the sinful action is the same but applied to multiple persons - how many times have I sinned. If I lose my temper and in anger shout curse words at someone - if I sneak ahead in a line - which sin is worse.  In Proverbs 24:16 we read - a righteous man sins seven times a day - so essentially we are doomed?  Tracing our roots back to the Torah - it was common knowledge that none of mankind was perfect - even a righteous person - sinful.  Recognizing that we are all imperfect versions of a perfect God - we struggle with sin everyday.

Jesus recognized the woman at the well - just as he recognizes each of us.  He knew she was sinful - he knows we are sinful - to her - to us - He offers us His healing power - to atone for what we have done wrong - to avoid the temptation to continue to sin.  As we remove one sin from our lives - another appears - another to be reconciled with - to be healed - to move on - like a powerful stream of water - flowing over us - cleansing us of our imperfections - His Holy Spirit - the Living Water of the Gospel - constantly being poured upon each of us - washing us free - to New Life in Christ.  Today thank Jesus for seeing your sins for what they are - imperfections in your life - that need to be washed away - to purify all of us - leading all to the Joy of Easter Resurrection - new life in Christ.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

A First Time For Everything

Never in my lifetime - yours - did we ever think the Catholic Church would cancel Holy Masses - especially on the weekend - a staple for all involved.  When I read that Italy was closing everything - except pharmacies - grocery stores - during this pandemic - I never thought that would happen in America.  In large cities on the east coast - in the midwest - churches closed - this weekend.  In the Chicago area - hundreds of churches closed.  It is understandable - wise - difficult - decision by the bishops - seeking to help stem the spread of the Coronavirus COVID19.  Better to miss church services - than irresponsibly - assist in the early death of parishioners - neighbors - friends - family. 


As Christians - we claim to be people of Faith - people who trust in God - people who believe Jesus' words - that He came that we might have Life - live it to the fullest.  Missing a church service - will not kill us - figuratively - literally.  God is much larger than that - He commands us to Love Him - Worship Him - Serve Him - never said it had to be in a church building - never said it had to be in a crowd - never said that we had to put our own health at risk - to Honor Him.  As committed Catholics - Christians - the Temple where we first worship Him - in our Hearts - Minds.  If we can't - don't worship Him - in the Temples of our Bodies - then all other worship - meaningless.  Jesus told us to Worship - with our whole - Mind - Heart - Soul - in the Temple that we call our body.  First and foremost - worship - begins at Home - in our bodies.  Worship continued in community - in buildings - churches - secondary.  Gathering each weekend - Sunday - as the Body of Christ - a reminder to all of us - we are not alone - we - as disciples of Christ - a visible witness to Him - the Author of Life.  Even when not in the parish church - our visible witness remains.  For  those without a church this weekend - there are many services televised - live streamed via computers - phones - tablets.  You will miss Holy Eucharist - something that many take for granted - for those who really understand - a very special sacrifice - this Lent.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Rolling With The Times

There are always a ton of distractions during Lent that get in the way of our best intentions - work - family - illness - emergencies - helping others.  It is inevitable - if it can go wrong - it will.  In spite of all this - doing Lent properly - still possible.  All it takes is minutes - not hours.  Prayer time does not have to be hours - minutes count - seconds matter.  What is important - prayer period.  The Sign of the Cross - a prayer. A quick Hail Mary - Glory Be - Our Father - prayers that carry more power than hours of words.  Jesus I Trust In You - speaks volumes.  


Life is filled with so many challenges - making time for faith matters - one of them.  Avoiding panic buying during virus pandemic - another.  If people would hoard up prayers as much as they hoard toilet paper - world would be in better shape than currently is.  This too - will pass - Heaven - will not.  Faith in self - others - Jesus - worth more than all the toilet paper in the world.  There are options to toilet paper - not to Jesus 

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Trust In The Lord

It is printed on our money - In God We Trust - but do we really?  Trust is something that does not happen immediately - it is earned - gained - from experience.  Many people have difficulty trusting in God - past disappointments - ignored prayers - paradise gained - lost.  It is understandable why some have this feeling - losing loved ones - jobs - financial security.  Life is filled with so many variables - at any moment things can change from good to bad - vice versa.  God has blessed us with this Earth and all that is in it - He does not micro manage.  With His gift of Free Will - we affect many of the changes in our lives.  Taking the high road or the low - up to us - God blesses whichever route we take - up to us to make the most of the route we chose to follow.  If we choose wrongly - can always go back - make a new decision - follow a different route. When we think God failed us - vice versa - we failed ourselves.  Ignoring His clues - things placed before our eyes - our fault - not His.  When analyzing our failures - not because He wasn't trust worthy - rather the World - not God failed us.


Jesus had no choice but to trust in God - His Father.  There must have been times when He paused - questioned - placed His trust in His Father - who knows all.  His trust paid off - just as ours will. Trust in God is golden - a link between Him - us. In these days of Lent - in these days of concerns of the coronavirus - we place our trust completely in God.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Giving Up

Now that is something I hear frequently during Lent - giving up - giving up candy - giving up cakes - giving up ice cream - giving up television - giving up Facebook - giving up a hundred other - things. During Lent - we are asked to focus - focus on what really matters - our interior life - that which brings us closer to holiness - closer to Jesus.  In today's Gospel - Jesus tells his disciples that he will be giving up His life - for all.  There is a discussion about who will share in His Kingdom - finally warned that all will share His fate - in the end.


The hardest thing about Lent is time. Time to pray - time to meditate - time to focus on helping others.  Lent can become tedious - difficult - stressful.  Giving up - quitting - not an option.  When Jesus faced obstacles - He did not give up - instead - prayed more.  Like HIm - we need to be faithful to this journey - faithful to Jesus - faithful to God - faithful to ourselves.  Giving up - not an option.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Wash Yourselves Clean!

In today's Holy Scriptures we read in Isaiah 1:10, 16-20 - WASH YOURSELVES CLEAN!  We can take that literally in view of the current Coronavirus issue.  Yes - it is always smart to keep yourself - surroundings - clean - free from dirt that you can see - free from germs that you cannot see.  It is imperative - not an option - that people keep their senses about them. There are a lot of ridiculous things being published almost everywhere promoting crazy things people are doing - afraid that they will get sick - die.  Drinking pure alcohol not meant for human consumption - drinking bleach which will burn their throat and stomach - all will cause death - not from the virus - rather from idiotic actions.  If you find yourself in one of the higher risk groups - do the simple things that make sense - are proven ways to avoid the virus.  Number one - wash your hands - do not touch your mouth - face.  Next - avoid crowds - it is Lent so a great time to sacrifice - avoid public events - stay away from the movies - sporting events - even church.  Yes - if you are at high risk - better to stay home and watch services on TV or online - than risk sitting for an hour or more among those who may be carriers of the virus without their knowledge.  Thousands of people each year are exposed to the seasonal flu - get a few sniffles - maybe a runny nose - without it getting worse.  They will say they had a cold - that is a virus also - not realizing they had a mild case of the flu - now a carrier of that virus which they innocently spread to others - even just by their breath - talking with others while making no physical contact.  Viruses spread in the air as a primary means of transmission.  You will never see it coming.  For myself and wife - since we are in that older group - limiting our excursions outside the house - keeping active by ourselves - mostly in isolation.  Cycling in the desert with no body around except for a few snakes - coyotes.  Our house is like a walled in isolation chamber - our entire living space isolated even from the neighbors.  If we elect to stay home from church - remember Arizona is filled with the demographic most likely to get the virus - we will attend church via our home parish streaming service.  To view - visit Saint Patrick Church  and scroll down the welcome page to "Live Stream".  We may miss receiving Holy Eucharist but that is a sacrifice we can make this Lent - to protect ourselves and those around us.  As you can see in the photos below we already live in a cloistered environment.  Notice all the walls.

  

 

Isaiah's proclamation to wash clean was targeted at the people of Sodom and Gomorrah but still applies to each of us today.  It is not only our hands - body - homes - that need to be washed clean - also our spirit - the thoughts that we think - the doubts - fears - lack of trust - that we carry in our minds - hearts.  As we walk these days of trials during Lent - we must remove all that from ourselves that create a roadblock to holiness.  We worship God first in our minds - hearts - secondly in the way we live.  As Christians we walk each day trusting that Jesus - God will carry us safely to Easter.  

Deacon Dale 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Fear

Everyday we are told to fear something - be afraid - of the sun - the rain - the humidity - the flu - germs - violence - war - poverty - famine - God.  In the USA we are a people of fear - everyday we are warned about politicians who want to ruin this country - medical specialists who tell us to fear the newest virus - fear the loss of jobs - the decline in the economy.  All these do require that we pay attention - be informed - learn how to cope - roll with the punches - take preventative actions - to avoid bad situations.  Most of these are within our control - if we act wisely.  A few such as flu epidemics - the current COVID19 virus spreading around the world - out of our control - still within our own power to take action - to avoid - minimize effects.  
Fear of God is totally different - He only wants what is best for us.  In the old world use of the word fear it should replaced with the word - respect.  Respect the Lord God - His commands - respect what He asks - tells us.  Respect His Name - the name of Jesus - the Name above all Names.  We have the power to control all our fears - somethings we should fear - never - fear God - always - respect.  As we continue our walk through Lent - we continue to grow in our respect of the Lord Our God.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Beloved Sons and Daughters

Most parents will proudly say that their sons - daughters - highly loved - very happy with the people they have grown to be.  The constant sharing of photographs - stories - about this accomplishment or another - flowing freely from their mouths in an endless stream of praise.  As parents - that is what we do - boast about our offspring - their accomplishments become ours - rightly so - as we are the first teachers of our children.  When asked many years ago - a group of high school youth asked to say who their favorite hero was - a few mentioned Michael Jordan - others mentioned other favorite actors - athletes.  Surprisingly - the majority mentioned - their parents.  


It is no surprise that God would be so proud of Jesus - His Beloved Son - the Savior of the World.  In today's Gospel we heard about the transfiguration of Jesus before Peter - James - John - up on the mountain top. I have been at that very location numerous times now - each visit - one of wonder and awe.  Although we could not experience what Peter - James - John experienced - we could put ourselves in their place - physically - even for a few minutes.  In those minutes feeling in a similar way what God felt about Jesus - the way we feel about Jesus - as Lord - of all.  In Lent - we seek these same feelings - through prayer - meditation - sharing with others.  Through all of Lent we seek to become - His beloved children.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Drive Time

For most drive time usually refers to the time it takes on ones daily commute from home to work.  Including the number of stops - amount of vehicles on the road - the time of day - road conditions - construction delays - that time will vary for most.  Unless one works from home - drive time always a factor to ones daily routine. When we think about Lent - all that we should be doing - to make it a fruitful experience - there is a drive time even with this. When to start - how to start - where to start - home - church - in nature - alone - with others - all decisions that increase our Lenten drive time.


Once we get over that hurdle - we are able to format some solid plans on how to spend our time in Lent.  The secret - no wrong way - no correct way.  What ever - however - you choose - it is your Lenten experience and none others.  Now is the time to get into gear and begin.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 6, 2020

The Engine of Lent

Behind any project - program - there is always a driving force - the engine that gets it off the ground - sustains it for the length of the journey - safely brings it home.  Our home in Arizona is fairly close to Luke Air force Base.  It is not unusual to hear the F-35 jets from the base flying over head as they do routine practice runs. A few complain about the noise - the majority - thank those in charge for keeping this country safe.  In Lent the engine behind it all - prayer - prayer that gets you started - prayer that sustains - prayer that safely brings you home at night.


As I open my eyes each morning I say a brief prayer to God - to thank Him for another day to try. To try harder - to try more often - to try for more endurance - to try for peace.  As large as an F-35 is - as powerful a machine as it is - that power pales in comparison to the power of prayer.  With more than 40,000 pounds of thrust, it can propel the F-35 to speeds of about Mach 1.6 (1,200 mph; 2,000 kph).  Prayers to God fly so fast they are impossible to measure - faster than any F-35.  Prayers so powerful they have the thrust to propel an entire world closer to God than any machine can.  Prayers so gentle - they can soothe any broken heart.  Prayer is the engine that makes Lent happen - unleash the power of your prayers this Lent - you will not be disappointed.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Signals

You can find signals all around us - stop and go signal lights - roadway flashing lights signaling caution ahead - hand signals between people - gestures to aide communication when audible conversation is not possible - facial expressions - signs of approval - disapproval - panting - animal sounds by our pets - all designed to improve understanding between others.  When communication is accomplished - many things happen.
In Lent we receive signals to help us through this special season.  The Sign of the Cross - a signal that prayer is beginning or ending - pausing to kneel - indicating that one is setting oneself aside for personal quiet time - closing our eyes - pushing out the signals of the world - allowing time for God.  Often we are sent signals from God - in our haste - signals missed.  In Lent we need to learn to distinguish from all the signals that our eyes - ears -  minds receive - to learn to recognize those sent by God - once learned - then to follow them - closer to Him - closer to His Son Jesus.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

And Again...

Interruptions - can't live with them - can't live without them.  Best plans of mice - men - adults - children - shattered by the smallest details.  My plan for Lent - daily blogs - awesome plan - bested by a bitty bug - down - out of commission - for three days.  Now trying to get back into the daily stream.  It is the little things that mess up so much.  Urgent Care - ER - Doctor visit - start one drug - change it - change it again - but the dance goes on.  As usual - distraction after distraction in this game of life.  Spring Training just started for all the pro baseball teams - they too - making adjustments - altering plans - perfecting what they hope will be a winning team during this six week period.  For Christians everywhere - Lent is our Spring Training.   Similar to baseball - Lent gives us six weeks to prepare for the big game - the Paschal Triduum - the three holiest days of the Christian calendar.


Train we must - daily prayers - time away from distractions to meditate - altering plans to make space for giving alms - assistance to others. This is Lent - we do it one day at a time - not always a daily event when stuff happens - but - still - we do Lent.  NO ifs or buts - we do Lent.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Fast and Furious

No I am not referring to the "Fast and Furious" Movies that focused primarily on street racing.  Today I wish to discuss the subject of today's Scriptures.  Specifically - eating the forbidden fruit - being tempted by the Devil - learning how to willing give up - on food - temptation.  One of the most frustrating aspects of Lent that is mentioned to me time and again - why we have to fast - why we have to avoid meat on Fridays.  What is gained by giving up chocolates - sweets - other food items - smoking and more - just to return to them a short six weeks later - at Easter - jumping for baskets filled with all the goodies that we deprived ourselves of during Lent.  Is holiness really gained or lost because we did or did not give up something - does this deprivation in some magical way make us better people - holier people -  more attentive to the needs - concerns of others?  


First and foremost -  there is nothing fast about fasting - depriving oneself of food or drink.  The majority of most people in this country have access to a lot more food and drink than they really need.  Giving up a meal here and there - passing up that extra drink - barely noticeable to many Americans.  The thought - of not being able to eat - drink - when and where you want it - not because you need it - rather because you want it - causes many to be furious.  There is a big difference between - want - and - need - unfortunately many do not understand this.  During Lent the Church asks each of us to practice - discipline.  To avoid something readily available that we want - and at the time of this recognition - ask ourselves why i am doing this - how can I make this sacrifice meaningful.  In those brief - fast - minutes - a short prayer - in place of food entering our mouths - our lips free to praise Our Lord - to ask help to improve ourselves.  When we willing make this sacrifice - to not be tempted by our wants - we stifle the feeling of being furious at Church's Lenten rules - instead understand that we only should be furious at our own selfishness - desires - to yield to the temptation of seeking - that which we can easily do without.  Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation to fill their bellies with the forbidden fruit - not because it was Lent - rather because God asked them to avoid that one single tree - planted in a field of many other tress loaded with other fruit that would sustain their lives.  We blame the snake for telling Eve it would be OK - the snake was not at fault - he only validated Eve's desire to ignore God's warning - before he spoke to her - she had already desired - given into temptation - waiting for anyone - even a snake - to validate her selfish desire.  We all need validation - for good - not evil - for the community -not for self.  As we celebrate this First Sunday of Lent - we are filled with the food that strengthen us - gives us all that we need - as we nourish ourselves at the table of God - as we receive Holy Eucharist - the Bread of Life.
The rest will be easy - with this Holy Bread inside us. 

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Saturday Bonus Day

This day only exists once every four years - Leap Years Day - a bonus day for everyone who follows this calendar.  On this first Saturday of Lent most are still asking themselves - really - Lent already?  Yes - Lent is earlier than last year - two years ago it was on Valentines Day which posed special issues.  Most of us are never ready for Lent - a season that very few await - celebrations - feasting - joyful gathering are more the norm.  It is true that Lent is difficult for some - the beauty of Lent - the gift that this season is - lost on most.  As Christians - those seeking to constantly better themselves - Lent a welcome period - a retreat from the hustle - hassle of daily life. 
One only needs to stop - come to a full halt - to take a few minutes to consider their life's  situation - to realize that improvements can - should be made. For the majority - changes are minor - nothing drastic - for others - serious work needs to be done.  For everyone - that work - individualized - just for them.  One cannot - should not - compare their work with others.  God does not compare us to others - why should we?  The focus is our personal relationship with Jesus - His Father - nothing more - nothing less.  We still have 36 days to get this done - with His help - we will. 

Deacon Dale 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Friday Friday

The First Friday of Lent - Day #3 - still not quite ready to start.  It's normal - very few jump in immediately when considering what is involved in Lent.  Today the first meatless day - unless you forgot - changing habits - dietary - schedules - giving up - discarding the unnecessary for the necessary.  This is not easy - old habits die hard - so very true.  How does anyone immediately stop - change direction - walk a new path - without a few hiccups along the way.  Reality - it happens to the best - not unusual at all.

My blogging days have been fewer than in previous years - life gets in the way of everything - my Lenten resolution - daily blogging.  No long dissertation- no doctoral thesis - just a few simple words shared with  those who read - to inspire - encourage - to motivate - both myself - others.  We are not in this spiritual exercise along - there are hundreds of thousands sharing this same experience.  In the end - we will persevere.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Mama Mia

Here we go again - another Lent season - upon us yet again - try try as we must - every year - ashes to dust - our hearts - our spirits - renewed at best.  As we get older so many ask - why again - wasn't one time enough?  Truth - all of us - clergy included - need to constantly pause - evaluate - what we are doing - what we have failed to do - where are we going - are we heading in the right direction.  Sadly - all have fallen short of the Glory of God - some further than others - but all have slipped - lost footing.  We can all do better - we know it - hard to act on it.  In Lent we are reminded for 40 days - repent - change - forgive - improve - get better - time to act.


Thank God that He is all forgiving - always wiping away our tears - arm around our shoulder - encouraging us to be - all that He expects us to be - despite our short comings - failures.  Only God - Jesus - can stand next to us - time after time - as we sin - fall short - fail - disappoint.  The Good News - He will always be there - no matter how long it takes - be it 40 days or even longer - Jesus - standing waiting.  Now is a great time to start - ask what needs to be done to improve - make a plan - then implement.  Start slow - take deep breaths - step forward into the future - one step at a time.  Mama Mia - Here We Go Again.

Deacon Dale  

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

From Ashes to New Life

Like the mythical Phoenix who obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor today - ASH WEDNESDAY - the day in churches around the world - when ashes are placed on the foreheads of believers of all ages.  Ashes from the palms waived last year on Palm Sunday - celebrating Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem - now burned and imposed on foreheads - reminding everyone that all is not lost - that new life awaits those with hope.  


As we see those ashes - blessed - imposed on foreheads - smudges of many shapes and forms - one form seen in most - the shape of the cross - the Cross of Christ - heavier at the top or head of the sign - the cross beams in various shapes - many resembling wings - at the sides - all signs of hope.  Hope that this Lent we will do it right - that we will honestly devote more time to prayer - meditation - reflection - on ourselves - our personal relationship with Jesus - His Father - the Holy Spirit.  Lent is very private - a personal time - observed in community - as we consider how we - as an individual - fit into God's plan for ourselves - those around us.  We Fast - We Pray - We Offer to others - that in our sharing - we are able to feel the touch of the Divine - in our life.

In Lent - we arise from the ashes of our past - to New Life

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Getting Fat on Tuesday

Today - FAT Tuesday - so what is the deal with today - why is it fat?  Very quickly we will begin the season of Lent - that time of year when we step back - reflect on our lives - what we are doing - walking the straight and narrow - fallen off the path - where are we heading.  In this season of Lent we are asked to FAST - PRAY - GIVE ALMS.  Lent is the season when we are asked to GIVE UP - GO WITHOUT.  Therefore - TODAY - we fill our lives with the excesses that we cannot enjoy during Lent.  Today we get - FAT - drink a lot - eat a lot - gather with friends - family - put as much as we can into today because today - is all we have.  No guarantee of tomorrow - or the next day.


Although FOOD that we eat is the focus of today - especially that which we tend to avoid due to its high fat and sugar content - it is all symbolic of the goodness of the lives we lead.  Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday - the beginning of Lent - a time when we turn our attention away from the earthly pleasures of food - things.  In Lent we turn to our relationship with God - His Son - Jesus - how they fit into our lives.  It is a solemn time of year to re-focus our attention on what really matters.

Deacon Dale 


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Building Temples

In today's scriptures it is very clear that each of us has a very special place in God's plan.  The world may tell us different stories - fill us full of falsehoods - lies - tell us stories that fills our head with ideas of greatness - grandeur.  Unfortunately - the world has its own agenda - one that does not agree with God's plan for us.  The world tells us that we are number one - we are more important than any one else - that our wants - desires - are what  counts - nothing else.  The needs of others are not our concern.  Those who believe these lies -  often led far away from God.  


For those who reject the lure of the world - who see those lies for exactly what they are - who listen to the voice of God - know - they are loved - forgiven - called to be Holy as God is Holy.  As disciples we need to realize that we are temples - temples for the Spirit of God - that God not only lives around us - also in us.  We know that God is with us and gives us the strength to cope with the ordeals - challenges of life.  In our search for holiness - we are called to seek perfection - not as God is perfect - rather a purity of life - how we live - act - react to those around us.   God calls each of us to become strong faithful temples in which HIs Holy Spirit lives and grows 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Cluless

Clueless refers to those who just seem to be unaware - not informed - speaking without thinking. Most people luckily do not fall into this category - unfortunately - there are those who just do not get it - always one step behind - lost in thought - thinking about anything else not pertinent to the subject at hand.  Harmless but irritating at worse.  When given the opportunity to rise above themselves - usually disappoint due to inability to thoroughly think through an issue - stopping halfway - failing to complete the task - often misled by others who are self professed experts.  A sad situation - one that can be overcome with thoughtful intervention. 
Jesus had to cope with this issue in His time - those who failed to listen to what He said - listening instead to false prophets - those who were inventing their own story - about God - life - salvation.  To those who were wise - He words would take root - grow in their minds - hearts - lead to the truth - to salvation.  Today this issue still exists - many following false prophets - reinventing the truth to their advantage - telling their story - not God's - reinventing the Gospel - to their benefit -  preaching their plan - not God's.  We are all called to be wise - to listen well with our ears - to see with our eyes - the glory - the truth - revealed only by Jesus.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Salt Shakers

In today's Holy Scriptures we are instructed to take care of those around us - to feed - to  clothe - to be healers and doers - to be activists - to minister to all around us.  In the Gospel we are reminded that salt not used goes to waste - good for nothing more than to be thrown on the road - to melt ice - to be cast aside.  Even those with less - still often have more than those with none - those with little faith - still possess much more than those with no faith at all.  Each - though poor - often have things - skills - that may benefit - others.



We have been called - as disciples of Christ to be the salt that adds flavor - meaning - spice - to others lives.  Sharing the faith - hope - that we possess - even though little - has the possibility to make a large difference in the lives of even those who appear to have much. Those with lots of money - possessions - are sometimes the poorest when discussing faith matters.  It is not at all unusual to meet people who appear very wealthy - who feel naked - empty - of true meaning in their lives.  To those - we are called to be that inspiration - the salt - to bring true meaning into their life - to bring  God and His gift of Jesus - the One who heals and nourishes - who fills that void that so many experience in their lives. We are called to be the salt - to shake up others lives - to be spiritual salt shakers - to bring the light of Christ into their lives. 

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Presentation

Today the Church celebrates The Presentation of The Lord - that time when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple - for Mary's purification rite after giving birth - Jesus's presentation as the First Born child.  It was the old people - Simeon - a High Priest of the Second Temple - the God Receiver - and Anna - the Prophetess who was near 84 years old.  Simeon's age is not mentioned but viewed as very old - awaiting the presence of the Christ Child.  Both Simeon and Anna strong in their faith - very firm in their beliefs - Temple dwellers - providing guidance to the younger members of the Temple community.   Staying strong in the face of adversity - weathering the changes of time - being faithful - excellent models for the younger - youthful members.  Proving time and again the value of age - sharing wisdom gained only from experiencing life itself - not gained from books - from first had knowledge itself.

That model - seeking wisdom - knowledge - from the senior members of society - still valuable today.  Unfortunately - all too many - reinventing the wheel - trying to improve on a model that has stood the test of time.  Rather than utilizing the tools already in place - expending so much energy seeking answers to questions that have already been answered.  What is being missed - properly utilizing existing tools cast aside.  Granted there are new ways to implement - approach the issues - in the end it comes down to effective - efficient utilization of resources already in place.  The most effective tool available - the very people themselves - making them understand that they are the answer - they have the power - to accomplish these tasks.  Recognizing the value of what you have - giving your best to the Lord - offering oneself in service - solves almost every issue.  Today - every day - each of us needs to stop - take stock of what we have to offer - to step up - stand up - step away from the crowd - to go to the altar and present ourselves.  Today the Presentation we should be celebrating is our own Presentation to God.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Casting Nets

It seems to be common knowledge when one is looking for something - anything - more than one pair of eyes is very beneficial  Loose something at home - best to ask another to help in the search  Loose something outside - best if additional persons become involved in the search.  Loose someone outside in bad weather - best to call a search party - many pair of eyes and ears - searching.  In desperate times when discovery required to be sooner as compared to later - cast a symbolic wide net - cover as large an area as possible - to minimize time and effort. The same goes when fishing in a pond- lake - river.  A single line will at best - catch one fish.  To catch more - a net is required - to catch as many as possible - a very large net - mandating the use of multiple people - to manage the net and eventual catch.  Using nets produces better results.


When Jesus began His ministry - fishing for men - fishing for people's souls - many hands - mouths - needed to spread the Gospel.  His initial twelve recruits - learning what His mission was all about - much more effective - after the Crucifixion.  Empowered by the Holy Spirit -  empowered by their shock at His death - empowered by their desire to serve their Lord - produced results not previously attained.  Today - you and I are fishermen - for Christ.  You and I are fishing for souls - leading people to a new- better relationship with God.  Today we no longer use nets - rather - we network - involve all the tools available - with as many people as available - to reach the masses.  Today as modern disciples of Christ - each of us is called to go out - to spread the Gospel - to Cast Nets.

Deacon Dale