Thursday, March 31, 2022

Opening minds

Open ears - open hearts - open minds - what gives?  We have previously discussed opening our ears - hearts to Jesus - isn't that enough - now - why our minds?  Truth be told - we need to be one hundred percent open - available - to God.  As an instrument - as a disciple - we need to allow God to use our entire being - to minister to others.  Even thought we may have an awesome - fantastic - relationship with Jesus - His Father - The Holy Spirit - that is not where it ends - nor should it be.  When we came to Faith - when our lives became truly devoted to Him - that was not the end - rather the beginning.  For many - their relationship is theirs alone - not to be shared with others.  Once committed to Christ - any further development - change - stopped.  Honestly - we are not for ourselves - the real mission - to help spread the Gospel message of Jesus - to draw others to Christ.  It is not about church attendance - adding donations of money - time - to the parish coffers.  It is all about community - gathering believers - to go to  the four corners of  the world to spread His message.

It has been over two thousand years since Jesus walked this Earth.  One would think that was plenty of time to tell everyone about the Gospel - about God's Divine Mercy - His forgiveness - His acceptance of all - no matter what they have done - what they will do.  People die - are born - every year - who never know the love of God.  They walk among us - those who have heard - but not listened - have seen - but not seen - have witnessed from afar other's faith - but have never experienced it for themselves.  As we journey through Lent - in addition to drawing ourselves closer to Christ - we need to bring others along - to share our experience with them - that they - for themselves - may hear - see - feel - open their hearts to Jesus.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Opening hearts

Hearts can be soft fleshy organs that pump blood throughout our bodies - filled with love for mankind - life - God.  Some hearts - cold - stony - diseased - not with biological issues - rather unemotional - hardened by the tests of time.  Too often - beaten up - beaten down - individuals lose the ability to love - be loved - conditioned by unfortunate events in life.  Most people confuse their biological heart with their emotional heart - that center where we store love - hate - pleasure.  The place that we call our "heart" - actually a spot in our minds - where we process all sorts of memories - happy - sad - fun - tragic - good - bad.  Majority of people have open hearts - freely sharing - what makes them - special - different from others.  A smaller number - closed hearts - difficult to get inside with them - where they live.  

Jesus calls us to be lovers - to have open hearts - freely sharing ourselves with others.  In doing so - we benefit from good relationships with others - life takes on a better meaning - problems openly  shared - experienced with each other.  When we made the decision to become Jesus' disciple - we made a commitment to trust in Him - to openly share all that we are with others - opening our hearts to their concerns - worries - needs.  In freely sharing our self with others - we open the door to the Divine - to touching the hearts of many - with God.  Jesus knocks at the door to your heart - is it open to Him?

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Ears to Hear

God calls all of us - not all hear His voice - some expecting to hear an audible sound - others refusing to accept His words flowing from the mouths of others - not His.  When God tries to get our attention - not always in big - grand - explosive moments - more often - in the quiet - whisper of the winds.  To hear God - one has to place themselves in a place where there are no distractions - where one is open to hearing His call - that would be normal.  In some instances - amidst the clamor - noise - of chaos - there are those who will hear His call.  It is in exceptional times - quiet - noisy - when He speaks our name.

As we wander throughout the days of Lent - busy in all our devotions - it is imperative that we open our minds - hearts - ears - to the sound of His voice.  It may be in a bird song - the rustlings of leaves - branches - in the wind - the cry of a baby - the mewing of a cat - bark of a dog - rarely - in the spoken voice.  In meditation - contemplation - quiet of our hearts - we might just hear what He has to say to us.  For those who have ears - let them hear.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, March 28, 2022


This past Friday - March 25, 2022 - the Pope consecrated Russia - Ukraine - all of humanity to Mary.  This was not the first time this consecration was done.  From Wikipedia -the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary by a specific act of a reigning Pope along with all the other Catholic bishops of the world was allegedly ordered in a Marian apparition by Our Lady of Fatima on July 13, 1917. Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three visionaries publicly stated that at different times the Blessed Virgin Mary had given her a message of promise, that the consecration of Russia (as a country) would usher in a period of world peace.  Pope Pius XII, Paul VI, Pope John Paul II have consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart, albeit without directly referencing Russia or the USSR.  Some have felt that the request made by the Blessed Mother had never been properly done - thus the reason why the area commonly known as Russia continues to be an area of unrest.  Some question why Pope Francis included Ukraine in the recent consecration - failing to realize that Mary's request spoken in 1917 included that area called Russia - including all the regions of the U.S.S.R. - The United Socialist Soviet Republic which consisted of not only Russia but also - Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia to name the majority.  Thus when Pope Francis consecrated Russia AND Ukraine - he was doing EXACTLY what the Blessed Mother had asked and intended.  

Holy Mass Fatima Shrine 

When anyone is consecrated to Mary - the understanding is that they are making a commitment to Jesus - through Mary. Anyone may consecrate their self to Mary - assuming they have a special devotion to Jesus - through - with - His Mother. When I was in formation - prior to ordination - we had some classmates who held a deep devotion to Mary - the Rosary - thus when we met for classes - whoever was available - joined in the chapel to pray the Rosary before class. In approximately our second year of formation - it was proposed by a few of our class - that we as a group of future Catholic deacons consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Thus - our next time together we did just that - setting a precedent - the only class in the Joliet Diocese - since the restoration of the diaconate in 1968 - to be consecrated to Mary - almost twenty years after the restoration in the United States. As mentioned - any person - group may be consecrated - all it takes is a desire to make an honest sincere commitment to Jesus. Jesus calls all of us - different paths for different people - where is He calling you?

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Running on fumes

Anything worth doing involves physical - mental - energy.  Even when all the plans have been  made - schedules planned - team gathered - tools ready - energy - the key ingredient.  Without energy - a fuel source - back up reserves - failure almost guaranteed.  It doesn't matter if you are adding a garden feature - addition onto the house - publishing a book - novel - short story - leading a prayer service - helping with a youth group - all take considerable - time - energy.  Heading into any project when one is already feeling exhausted - failure looming on the horizon.  To be properly prepared - start with a full tank - energy reserves - close at hand. 

To many - Lent is very tiring - an exhaustive process - spread over a long time.  To some - six weeks a drop in the bucket - to others - anything beyond twenty-four hours - a long burdensome trek.  In those times when you feel like you are - running on fumes - no reserves available - the tank rapidly becoming empty - time to push the pause button - stop - seek respite.  No one in their right mind should ever criticize one for taking a break - putting a project on hold.  For some - a feeling that they are disappointing God - good news - He has all the time in the world - for you - for any effort you might make.  God is very patient - He created you to be Good - not perfect - so give it a rest.  If you need time - Jesus - always - will wait for you.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Walking On Dry Land..

When we read Holy Scripture - often the recognition of walking - on dry land.  The significance - not walking in water - crossing from one side to the other - on dry land - God making the path - easier - safer.  So it was with the Israelites when Joshua led the people over the Jordan River.  In Hebrew Jordan is translated Yarden or יַרדֵן which means to descend - go down.  It was given this name because  the river physically descends downwards to the Dead Sea which is the lowest point on Earth - significant to us spiritually - after we have descended to the lowest point - we move forward with our lives - we ascend - go up on a path closer to Jesus - to God.  Recalling the baptism in the Jordan when Jesus was baptized by John - He first descended downwards as an act of humility - at which point the dove appeared above Him as He ascended upwards to the start of His ministry.  As we were cooling off in the pool at the Arizona house today - escaping the 94 degree temperature - we descended down into the water.  After splashing around a few minutes - I spied a tiny winged creature - a bee - a hornet - struggling in the water - having made a bad decision - seeking dry land.  I gently lifted it up on the back of my hand and carefully set him on the concrete decking surrounding the pool.  I watched for a few minutes - wondering if it was alright - then swam away - leaving Him in His creator's hand.  Later on as we were placing the solar blanket back on the pool - I looked for it - nowhere to be found - hopefully restored to good health.

So many times in our lives we feel like we are lost in a sea of troubles - floating in an ocean of worries - emotions - fearful - looking for some sort of help.  In Lent - not unusual to have that same lost feeling - wondering how we can escape our current feeling of loss - failure.  In those moments - when we need to allow ourselves to descend - give up our self sufficient ideas - admit that we are not a god - that we need help.  Looking upwards to Heaven - we seek the hand of God - Jesus - standing there on the shore of our lives - hand outstretched - saying - Come to Me - All who are weak and tired - I am here for you.  Like my little - bee - hornet - your life has value - meaning - He will help you to ascend to a higher place.  If only - you will ask Him.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 25, 2022


What would Fridays during Lent be without - Stations of the Cross - a prayerful Journey of thirty minutes or so in which we are led through the meditation of the Stations Jesus endured on His Journey.  The practice of Stations origins vary depending on who you ask.  Originally when people came to realize who Jesus was - The Son of God - The God who came to Earth - the Author of Life - only then - did people wish to pay respect to Him - what He did - what He experienced.  In the very early days - people travelled to the Holy Land - to visit - see - the significant places where Jesus walked - ministered. Specific sites were visited - Calvary - Pilate's House - a few others.  Eventually - The Via Dolorosa - the path that the Roman soldiers would have taken Jesus from Pilate's to the place of Crucifixion.  Starting at the Antonia Fortress to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher - a distance of about two thousand feet - with nine specific stations - stopping places - with five additional stations inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  The Via Dolorosa is not one specific street - rather a route involving multiple streets as it winds through Jerusalem. I can personally share - walking the Via Dolorosa - on three different pilgrimages - is a very - spiritual - emotional - experience.  When it became apparent to Church leaders - the majority of Christians would never be able to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem - the concept of building Stations in places other than Jerusalem developed.  Over the years the numbers have varied - finally being set by Pope Benedict XIV in 1742 at fourteen when he exhorted all priests to erect Stations in parish churches and grounds- in order that all the faithful could experience walking the Stations.  More recently Saint Pope John Paul II rewrote some of the Station prayers and added a fifteenth Station. 

Stations in the Sonoran Desert 

It does not matter if one walks the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem - the route has been modified over the years - or if one prays the Stations hanging in their parish church.  What is important is that one acknowledges - meditates - prays the Stations - as a spiritual exercise to draw them deeper into the mystery of Faith. Stations may be prayed any day - week of the year - not just during Lent.  It is there for the faithful to take advantage of - to help - bring Jesus closer to their - mind - heart.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Prayer Time...

When my wife and I walked the Camino de Santiago - majority of our waking hours - focused on the trail - where we were - where we wanted to be - the path - the obstacles.  Our number one priority - our well being - staying safe in a foreign country - following our guide book - staying on a well marked trail - speaking a foreign language that we were not fluent in.  In the large cities - English readily spoken - in the villages - hamlets - no hablo ingles.  Walking in the mountains - valleys - through - the backyard of Northern Spain - in between the thousands of steps - our time dotted with - prayer.  We prayed so many - Rosaries - Divine Mercy Chaplets - free form prayers - that we lost count.  When you have been married to your trekking partner for forty-four years - not a lot to talk about - so prayers flowed like water.  Our basic day - from eight o'clock in the morning until four o'clock in the afternoon - eight hours daily - on the trail.  At a minimum we spent six hours daily in prayer.  In that time as we drew closer to - Jesus - God - we also drew closer to each other.  One giant prayer experience that lasted over thirty days.

Praying Hands & Trekking Poles 

In Lent - if we are very diligent - most may be able to accumulate some one hundred twenty hours of prayer time - over the course of forty days. On the Camino in ten days less - some eighteen hundred hours.  The goal in Lent is to find ways to add more prayer time into our lives.  In truth the goal in Lent - more prayer time - not the number of hours spent in prayer.  All of us are busy - have obligations that fill the hours of our days - prayer time - a luxury.  Adding additional time in prayer - a win - a successful accomplishment.  In those prayers - for ourselves - for others - for specific needs - all excellent.  In prayer - we immerse our minds - link our thoughts - with God.  In those minutes - hours - we connect with the Creator of Life - we make our Lenten experience - meaningful.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Game On..

If you are a fan of baseball - very happy that the extended negotiations between owners - players - finally over.  Games are finally being played again - able to go to the ballpark - enjoy an afternoon - evening - of baseball.  It is unfortunate - millionaires - arguing with millionaires - at the expense of fans - majority who will never be a millionaire themselves.  This is an issue that all of us have to contend with - those with money - too often make their wealth at the expense of those with much less.  Unfortunately - many aspects of life that are not fair - majority - coping as best they can do - accepting - what they cannot change.  Better to move on - concentrate on the really important things in life that are within ones control.  


Bottom line - our personal happiness - taking care of self - family - friends - the things that really matter in life - where we focus our energies.  Rather than waste - time - on things we cannot change - focus on those we can.  The Serenity Prayer comes to mind - 

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can,  and wisdom to know the difference. 

In life we can focus on our health - physical - spiritual - our occupations - our relationships - family - friends - God.   It is imperative that we do not let things beyond our control occupy our thoughts - actions.  Instead - the truly important things - especially our personal relationship with Jesus - must be our number one priority.  As we continue our Lenten journey - we need to be consistent - diligent - in our efforts to improve as much as we can.  Our focus - not on  the games played around us - rather that which leads us to our eternal life with God - Game on.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


It is so easy today for everyone to join in - I am here - I want to be counted - I am standing up for all that is right - correct - hear me roar - I am not lying.  Then - almost as soon as the commitment proclaimed - gone - disappeared - cannot be found - lost in the dust of time.  Yes - so many - making proclamations of commitment - gone almost as quickly as their vow professed.  Quickly - loudly - shouting for all to hear - in the next instance - gone.  Fifteen seconds of fame - done - over with.  Best intentions - already in the toilet.  What to do.

In reality - not unusual - so many - best intentions - the busyness of life - getting in the way.  Does  that make one a total loser - sinner - fallen off the path of life - leading to Christ?  God - as mentioned previously - does not expect perfection.  So you have not been able to do as  you intended - all that means is that you did not do all that was intended - nothing more - nothing less.  It does not mean you are bad - just easily distracted - perhaps a little weak in your commitment.  Time to calm down - admit your are - human - normal - easily distracted. Developing a strong faith life does not happen over night.  Even clergy - with many years of experience - stumble fall - on occasion.  It may mean one is down - not necessarily out.  Jesus - constantly at your side - offering a hand - up - helping one back onto the path. Remember you belong to God.  He is your Father - always there - waiting - offering - accepting - no matter what happens.  His commitment to each of us - one hundred percent - even when our commitment is less than perfect.  In these moments - pray - pray again - seek strength - recommit your self to a good Lenten experience.  It is possible - still.

P.S.  Want to get these updates in your email in-box?  Simply click the "subscribe" button on the upper right side of this post and also click the "follow" button to automatically receive updates.  All free - please share with family and friends.  The library here holds over 1000 posts for your reading pleasure. 

Deacon Dale 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Paying Tribute

The other night my wife and I attended a performance at the neighborhood high school performance center presented by UPTOWN - a tribute singing group.  Tribute groups typically select a single performer or group - learn their history - songs - all they can - when they perform - usually very similar to the original - very often - as good as the original.  

UPTOWN - A Tribute to Motown

When a person or group of people make the decision to form a tribute group - takes a lot of research - work - practice - before they are able to appear in public.  The goal is not only to provide entertainment - also to honor the person - group - their music - showing honor - respect - for their accomplishments.  When one makes the decision to become a disciple of Christ - requires learning all about Him - The Son - The Savior - The Lord - of Life.  One does not - should not make this decision lightly - committing oneself to living a life - honoring - glorifying - The Christ.  In Lent - we ask our self - do I truly reflect the values proclaimed by Jesus - do my words - actions - thoughts - honor Him - if not - why not.  We have begun week three of Lent - now is the time to get serious - to finalize our plans for a great Lenten experience - to jump in - both feet - mouth open wide - singing praises to God - now - paying Him the Tribute - He deserves - one that we know will surely honor Him.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Digging in..

All those who have grown any type of plant knows that one has to get down into the dirt - getting hands - fingers - dirty.  So many times - plants needing fertilizer - additional nutrients - time - to be given the best chance to blossom.  Getting deep into the project - planting - creating - all success - comes only after serious effort.  In Today's Gospel - a fig tree - barren - no fruit - about to be destroyed - the gardener - asks for more time - to fertilize - add nutrients - give it another chance. 

As we reflect on our lives this Lent - as many challenge us - judge us harshly - failures - weak  - ready to throw us aside - ourselves included - need to remember God does not make junk.  All of us - pearls - sometimes hidden in the soil of life - buried under - sick minds - sick hearts - disillusionment - beat up - beat down - seeking to be fertilized - given that spiritual boost - set back on the path to fullness of life.  As we honestly consider what we have done - what we have failed to do - where our successes lay - we need to realize - understand - in our weakest moments - that is when we need to ask Jesus for help.  On bent knees - hearts in hand - we look up - offer up to Him - our lives.  Take us Lord - as weak as we are - as incomplete as we may be - mold us - make us - into your Divine image.  Jesus we trust in you - Bless us this day and all days - Amen.

Deacon Dale  

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Too Weak

From my experience working with people - one comment often spoken - unable to accomplish a task - project - just too weak - unable to get it done.  I am fairly certain that many of us have been in that same boat - get to a point when you feel completely exhausted - mentally - physically.  Nobody can ever blame anyone for having that happen.  There are times - hopefully few and far between - that it is used as an excuse - to stop where they are - being bored - unfulfilled - more attractive option available - just wanting to quit.  

We are now at the end of week two - hopefully not - weak too.  For some - Lent too long - too trying - too demanding.  For those whose faith is strong - just getting energized - excited by the options - possibilities - awaiting them.  Always at our side - Jesus - always ready to step in - help us - with our endeavors.  One has to remember in those times of trials - weakness - when our battery feels run down - somewhat similar to what Jesus experienced Himself during His forty days - in the desert.  He never gave up - ignored the temptations laid before Him by the Devil - as a model for all of those who would follow Him - as disciples.  Jesus - our role model - Our Lord - even today - walking in the desert - at our side - in these forty days of Lent.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Meet Less

Avoiding meat on certain days of Lent - Ash Wednesday - Good Friday - Fridays between these days - routine.  Fridays during Lent takes on a very different aspect from the other days - stricter regulations - typically Stations of the Cross - avoiding eating meat.  Forced sacrifice - more time required for devotions - dietary restrictions - makes one think - why - what is gained - lost.  End of the work week - normally means end of job stress - bedtime brings an end to all weekday obligations.  

During the week - many distractions - obligations - deadlines - fill our schedules.  Our response - to reduce - stress - lighten our load - schedule fewer obligations - meet less.  It has become second nature for Catholics to avoid meat on Fridays - now time to also - avoid unnecessary meetings - gatherings.  In Lent as we try to become holier - draw closer to Jesus - Our Savior - important to put some things on hold - make more time for - our self - God.  Fridays new agenda - meet less.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Rock of Ages

In the desert - lots of things to explore - plants - animals - rocks - many things to contemplate when walking through the Sonoran Desert.  As we hiked through the desert yesterday - flat land - hills - mountainous areas - up - downs - twists - turns - hiking on paths created for mountain bikers - created by mankind - on ground created by God.  Various ways that mountains are created - in very simple terms - rock pushed upwards through the crust of the earth - above ground level - forming mountains.  Most believe this process - estimated - occurred some 450 million years ago - long before people walked the earth. My favorite comment coined by me 25 years ago - flying with family to Arizona - "Mountains are a wrinkle in the fabric of the Earth" - "when God reached down from Heaven - pinched the fabric to create mountains" (©Deacon Dale Metcalfe - August 1994) The rock formations one sees - brings to mind the power of God - the power of Creation - the power of His Love - the power of His Forgiveness.

Sonoran Desert

Jesus told the people - come to Him - all who were tired - weak - worn out from life - stressed - afraid - confused.  He continues that call - even today - especially during Lent.  Jesus reminds us that we are loved - no matter what we have done - have not done.  During Lent we often are drawn to admit - we have sinned - are sinners - guilty on all charges.  Recognizing our sins - need to ask forgiveness.  One of the greatest sacraments available in the Church - Confession - available to anyone.  Some fear their sins - unforgiveable - too serious for even God to forgive.  Reality - no matter how big - grand - serious - the sin - God can - will forgive.  Many fail to acknowledge - God's Divine Mercy - His Love - Forgiveness - Ability to forgive the worst sinner - as long as they approach Him - honestly - with a repentant mind - heart - intention to not repeat that sin in the future.  Jesus calls all to healing - wholeness - holiness - is He calling you?

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Journey Continues...

Distracted or not - our journey continues - issues with vehicle - switch vehicles - alternate transportation - back to the basics - walking. Today's adventure - back to the desert - this time not just looking - walking to its core. As mentioned before - we are staying in the Sonoran desert - homes - businesses - built in Arizona's desert - surrounded by the blank canvas of God's creation - desert living.  Not as barren as one might think.

When we started Lent - majority of people had no idea what they would do - what they would give up - sacrifice - how they might spend more time thinking about their life.  A few - fully prepared - plans in hand - ready to jump in even before Ash Wednesday.  The rest - trying to remember the previous Lent - what they did - if it was rewarding - beneficial - what to repeat - what to avoid.  A few - still have yet to start - no clue what to do.  When Jesus calls us to walk with Him in  the desert - bags packed - walking stick in hand - water supply arranged - waiting not an option.  Many are called - not everyone responds.  Some waiting for the next call - hoping for another chance - others - knowing this invitation may be their one and only call - act now.  The desert may be barren - surprisingly filled with beauty - wonders of nature - placed there by God for us to explore.  Faith is one of the gifts the Lord has blessed us with - a gift to be picked up - experienced - to the fullness.  Today - His Gift - your opportunity - to find out just who He is - who You are - how deep His love for you goes.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Best-Laid Plans...

 Yes - we have heard it time and again - the best-laid plans of mice and men - very often go sideways - not as planned.  So yesterday we took our car in to have a recall taken care of - arrived early - all set - surprise - part need to correct the defect - not available yet - the waiting game continues. This happens frequently in Lent - extensive plans - time made for prayer - reflection - Adoration - then it all falls apart - plans stalled.  

God's plan is perfect - in His time - according to His Will.  Unfortunately nobody knows His plan - one can only guess.  We walk in Faith - taking our cues from His Holy Spirit.  Even when our plans for Lent get side tracked - another road is always available to follow.  When one door is closed - another opens up.  As we spend time seeking a deeper relationship with God - we plan - make adjustments - change our route - open a new door - allow ourselves - to follow the promptings of His Holy Spirit.  We are now well into our second week - plan changes or not - we continue - one step after another.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, March 14, 2022


This morning we are taking our car in for yet another recall - something about it might possibly burst into flames - not ignoring this one.  The car is a 2017 so three recalls in five years not so bad?  I say even one recall is one to many - however - better that they learned about the issue(s) - willing to pay for it - only cost to us - some time at the dealer.  Only Jesus was - is - perfect - everything else flawed.  That is the number one reason for Lent - admitting our flaws - identifying them - dealing with them.  We just have to admit - we are a flawed people - God never intended any of us to be perfect.  Oh - He does expect us to come close - with His help - flaws built into our DNR - a reminder that we need to actively participate in our search for Holiness - not automatically guaranteed.

Jesus - even though He was perfect - had to struggle with many issues that we struggle with - making friends - building community - building trust - coping with negativity from others.  Even though Jesus was perfect - did not live a perfect life.  In Lent we follow Jesus as a model - strength - humility - focusing on His goal.  His goal - proclaiming the Gospel - leading people to His Father - our  goal - draw closer to God - become a holy person.  Perfection never a goal for anyone - accepting that we are flawed - need God's help.  No matter how often God calls us - issues a recall - we accept our flaws - take it in stride - continue on the path laid before us. In God we do trust - Jesus we trust in You - for all the days of our life.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Some Days Don't Count

If ones does the math - more than forty days between Ash Wednesday and the Triduum when Lent officially ends.  Why the extra days?  The period of Lent was originally much shorter - a special time for those preparing to enter the Church at Easter - expanded to forty days of - prayer - fasting - sacrifice - to reflect the forty days Jesus spent in the desert.  Those forty days - along with Sundays - always considered - Little Easter - celebration of New Life - for a complete Lenten experience.  Because Sundays are not viewed as penance days they are not included in the forty days - adding six more days to the period of time.  This explains why some who have sworn to give up certain things - candy - alcohol - will consume these things on Sundays since they are not technically days of Lent.  One can argue that a promise of abstinence applies to every single day from Ash Wednesday to Easter - others taking advantage of the reality that Sundays are not Lenten days - enjoy those things they have given up for the other six days of the week. 

Jesus spent His forty days in the desert - did not break His fast because of Shabbat - the Sabbath - during that time.  In His time - the Holy Day - always a day of rest - avoiding work - not the same as Sundays celebrated by Christians.  Christianity did not evolve until after His death and resurrection - no comparison to how we observe the forty days of Lent.  As faithful Christians - observing Lent - all days - including Sundays - should take on a more serious practice of our faith.  Celebrating the Sundays of Lent should take us deeper into our Lenten experience - not remove the deeper level of devotion observed during the other days of the week.  As Christians - as faithful disciples - we should never say - some days don't count - rather every day of our life should count more - every day - drawing ourselves - deeper into our relationship with Jesus - God - Our Father.  No vacation days ever - from God.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, March 12, 2022


For those who hold religious beliefs - it takes a certain amount of courage to openly share their faith.  In these days when so many deny their faith - the faithful - ridiculed for believing.  Too many feel that belief in God - a sign of weakness - electing to claim their accomplishment - success - on their abilities alone - completely forgetting where those abilities - skills - came from in the first place.  Giving credit to good genes - education - life experiences - above those given freely by a Higher Power.  For those who freely give the credit to God - living in boldness - acknowledging God - the grantor - of all they possess - numerous blessings.

When Jesus called our name to become His disciple - He not only gave us His Holy Spirit - also the gift of Boldness - the ability to live our faith openly - free from fear that we would become a target for others to ridicule.  As we invest our time - energy - in these forty days of Lent - freely sharing our experiences with others - we boldly journey where many fear to go.  As we continue - we are encouraged by others who walk a similar journey - share the experience - in communal worship time - community events.  Together - as brothers - sisters - in faith - we continue towards that golden ring - Holiness.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Signs and Wonders

So many people have difficulty accepting the Word of God as valid - real - unless they are accompanied by - Signs and Wonders.  Too many fail to accept Holy Scripture based solely on reading - hearing it proclaimed.  All too often we hear - yes - I heard - but I doubt it is real.  Just because it is written on paper - appears in Holy Scripture - does not make it real.  For some - not real - unless some supernatural event accompanies the Word.  Although the Bible is filled with miracles - we often hear - but that was back then - at the time of Jesus - never hear that these still happen in our time.  Sadly - this is a modern day myth perpetuated even by some clergy.  For those who are more open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit - miracles - signs - wonders - seen very frequently.  What many claim to be coincidences - over looked natural occurrences - really are modern day miracles.  For  those who close their eyes to the signs around them - missing out on special blessings God sends every day.

Camino Sign Post - Northern Spain 

When my wife and I walked the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage route in Spain - our eyes focused not only on the goal at the end - also on Camino sign posts - pointing the correct path to follow.  Most noticeable - concrete pillars like the one above - the historical sun shaped arrow with radiating rays - the modern arrow - always in yellow - on pillars - painted on walls - roadways - directing us on the Way.  Jesus very often pointed people in His day to the Way - not with yellow arrows - rather by using the miracles He performed.  Through numerous signs - wonders - Jesus got the peoples' attention - stopped them in their tracks - made them rethink things they thought they knew - corrected errors taught by others.  Even now in this day - in this Lent - Jesus constantly pointing us in the right direction - along the correct path - to His Father - to Holiness.  Blessed are we who see - believe - His Signs - Wonders.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

A Moment In Time

When we take time to meditate - consider - awesome events in the course of history - it all comes down to a single moment.  A moment - a fraction of a minute - smaller than a single second - a time so small - insignificant - yet - very eventful.  Everyone has had those moments - minutes - hours - days - spent considering the pros - cons - about a decision you had to make.  Education - job selection - commitment to something - someone - marriage - a final decision.  No matter how much time was spent - lingering over the decision - the final yay - nay - made in a split second.  


When God decided to create the world - inhabitants - animals - people - made in a split second.  The time for that decision to become reality - to materialize - much longer - in our way of counting time - years - thousands - millions - of years.  Even those who are not religious - agree that the creation of the world began with a single spark - wherever that came from - an energy surge - some celestial event - the mind - will of God.  In a micro-second that spark happened - what followed over time - creation of all life.  When we reflect on our life during Lent - very often we are inspired by a thought - in a moment in time - in a micro-second - what we have done - good - bad.  It is in that moment our spirit touches - the Divine.  In that very tiny space of time we - understand.  Although that moment lasts for such a short time - it does happen - an opening - a doorway - window - into our hearts.  When that happens we pause - contemplate - reflect - invite Jesus into our hearts to investigate that thought. In those moments - Jesus is with us - encouraging us to go deeper - leading us to His Father - to Holiness.  In that special - moment in time - some - not all - accept that invitation - choose to make their Lenten experience - significant. 

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Give It Up!

One of the biggest focuses during Lent - by clergy - parishioners - bystanders - giving up things for Lent.  There are numerous thoughts on these sacrificial actions - the value of what was given up - the reasons behind them.  I remember one youngster - years ago - very proudly telling me they had given up watching their favorite television show - not television itself - just one particular show - replaced it with another show.  To them - a sacrifice - to many - no sacrifice at all - just an altered habit.  For adults - similar to a smoker who quits during Lent - not intending to quit permanently - resuming that habit once Lent ends.  For myself - nothing material given up - rather - make a point to focus my free time - on others needs - increasing prayer time - spiritual writing - thus the increase in blog posts.  Spending additional time on this blog - very helpful for me to focus my thoughts - say more prayers for guidance - benefits me - those who read my posts.  One of the most important things in my life - my personal time - how I spend it - alone - with others - what I do - what I don't do.

When Jesus walked in the desert - as we walk alongside Him this Lent - lots of time to consider the important - compared to the non important.  It is important for us to know why we sacrifice - give up things - especially in Lent.  When we give up one thing - it is usually to make room for something else - more important.  Denying one self - food - smokes - time - creates an opportunity for other things - prayer - meditation - worship - connecting with the Divine. As we journey closer to Jesus during this Lenten experience - take time to seriously consider what you have given up - will give up - what will be gained in return.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Deliver Us From Evil

Whenever we pray The Lord's Prayer - we always ask to be delivered from evil.  Just the fact that we are constantly surrounded - tempted by evil - should be enough to make anyone live an honest - honorable - holy - life.  That is not how it happens.  For many - evil is the food that they thrive on - being evil - doing evil - enjoying evil.  That fact makes one ask - why?  Why is evil so attractive - so seductive - even when the majority shun - go to extreme ends to avoid.  The answer - it is easier to do evil - be evil - than be good - holy.  That is what Lent asks us to focus on - not on how many sins we commit - rather that we sin in the first place. In Lent we need to re-evaluate our lives - what we do that is good - what is bad and why.  In these forty days we reflect - take spiritual inventory of ourselves - leave others to themselves.  The life we ought to focus on - ours alone - it is not our responsibility to focus on others - that belongs to them alone. 

Looking at self 

Jesus has told us - your sins are forgiven - go and sin no more - yet we do.  Avoiding sin - harder than losing weight.  Unfortunately in the world that we live - it is so easy to mess up - do - say - the wrong things - not necessarily evil - still wrong.  One exercise now - ask why we slip - allow these to be a part of our life.  Identify the fault - why it happens - correct whatever it is that makes it so easy to do - then - concentrate on eliminating it from your life.  It takes time - very possible.  Then when you have solved that one - move on to the next - yes - we all have more than one fault to correct.  In  these forty days - Jesus - always at our side - working with us - to seek - holiness.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, March 7, 2022

Tool Chest

When a person is given a task to accomplish - the first thing to do - assess one's tool chest.  What tools are available - are there enough - proper tools - how well can one use those available .  After all the tools are gathered - time to begin the task at hand.  As we start our Lenten experience all of us should also look at what is available to help us have the best experience we can.  Books - writing materials - time schedule - Rosaries - Mass times - availability of Adoration - Confession - Stations schedule - Days of Reflection - Retreats.  With six weeks of Lent - plenty of time to make use of everything available.  

In Lent there is no wrong way to experience the bountiful blessings - no wrong way to use the tools available - pick as few - as many - as one wishes. All efforts are rewarded - praiseworthy.  The goal - the golden ring - holiness - available to all - at different degrees of effort.  As long as ones tries - the attempt will be rewarded.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Eyes On The Prize

Ten years ago when my wife and I made the decision to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain the first thing we did - research.  We looked for the who - what - why - where - everything we could learn about the Camino.  We learned that many others who made the decision to walk this 500 mile pilgrimage - primarily on foot - jumped into it both feet first - no research - no preparation - often resulted in early failure.  No planning - bad planning - in a rush to reach the goal - ended their pilgrimage after only two or three days.  We did not want to be those pilgrims - spending time and money to fly to Spain - only to return home four days later.  Our preparation time involved research - selection of equipment - testing - returning - new selections - multiple times - as the pilgrimage had multiple variables.  Once we had settled on the equipment - actual training for walking began.  Our decision had been made in the late fall of 2012 - outside training delayed until spring 2013.  Finally - August of 2013 - we left for Spain - our focus on walking daily - through what I referred to as - the back yards of Spain.  Flat - hilly - mountainous trails through Northern Spain - Madrid to Santiago - to Finisterre - the end of the world. From the very beginning in the fall of 2012 through a long month of walking - through blisters - very hot days - our eyes firmly focused on the Cathedral at Santiago - to the sacred bones of St. James.

    Sonoran Desert Arizona

Jesus calls us to walk with Him - eyes on the prize - that golden ring of - holiness - never wavering - never losing sight of what is truly important.  The world is filled with distractions - some important - unavoidable - others frivolous.  In Lent we are asked to make a few decisions - choosing what is important versus unnecessary.  So often what we think is very important - not important after all.  One's eternal life - the most important to many - not all.  The individual is the only one who can honestly make that decision.  All have been called by God - not all with answer that call.  Because of the Gift of Free Will - that decision is up to the individual.  In Lent - we are called to choose - what prize do we seek - will we keep - our eyes on the true prize.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, March 5, 2022

And Left And Right And....

When anyone decides to take on a new challenge - the hardest part - starting.  One can think - plan - schedule - calculate time required - barriers - all sorts of variables - hardest part - actually starting.  Once that first effort is made - the first step taken - it is simply a matter of continuing the motion.  One foot after the other - left - right - until the goal is reached - project completed.  That is exactly how we should approach Lent.  There are many ways to observe Lent - silently alone - vocally in groups - sitting in church - Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament - Bible Study - attending Holy Mass - Stations of the Cross - meditation - reading inspirational articles - sitting on the back porch - making oneself present to God.  In the quiet - in the noise - in the peaceful moments - times of chaos - God is there.  It is important for everyone who has made a decision to participate fully in the Lenten experience to understand that quality not quantity is what is important.  When my wife and I walk through the desert - the greatest effort is not always the climb - rather the length of the journey.  A short hike up the mountains at a slower pace often is very relaxing compared to the temptation to walk quickly over flat terrain.

Sonoran Desert Arizona

As mentioned before - God is looking for quality - not quantity.  Better to spend fifteen minutes in deep meditation - rather than an an hour of distracted prayers.  As pilgrims on a journey - better to walk sure footed than run on a slippery slope.  Lent is forty days long - plenty of time for everyone to draw closer to Our Lord.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Happy Trails

If you are old enough - you might remember the theme song of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans - the popular western acting and singing stars of the 1950s and 60s.  They would end their show with the song "Happy Trails" written by Dale Evans.  It was a nice way to end each episode wishing all their viewers "Happy Trails to You'.  All of us are on a journey - following various paths - trails as we navigate the way through our lives. For some the trail is very smooth - very few barriers with which to cope - for others - a rocky road - barriers at every twist and turn.  There are those who would proclaim that those who had few difficulties in their lives were more blessed by God - others - with a different perspective - would say that those who had to cope with the many struggles - barriers - difficulties - were more blessed.  The concept - that by allowing people to cope - learn - from their experiences gave them a better education - understanding of life and the issues with which many learn to rise above.  

Sonoran Desert Arizona 

As we begin our Lenten journey - many will stumble - fall - get side tracked - distracted by things of the world. Some will give up quickly - many will continue for a long time - eventually drifting away from their goal - finally those who are faithful to their selves - will continue to the end where they may reach their intended goal. That goal - what is hoped to achieve - will be different for different people. No two people are identical - and for each their goal very personalized. When Jesus walked in the desert - when my wife and I hike through the Sonoran Desert - although we walk a similar path - never identical - never the same goal. Jesus calls each of us to walk aside Him - not in His footsteps - rather our own - as only He can travel that path set out for Him by His Father - just as our steps are our own. For each of us - we pray for a meaningful encounter this Lent - with Our Lord - "Happy Trails"

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Walking In The Desert

Imagine walking in the desert with Jesus - 40 days in a very dry climate - sand - rocks - dust - little to no water - is this even possible?  In the time of Jesus - difficult to say the least.  Today - some two thousand years later - very possible.  Truth be told - my wife and I have spent the last eight years living in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona for the majority of the winter months or more - avoiding the winters in Illinois.  What was once thought to be complete wasteland - now a booming community.  Modern homes - farmers - abundance of crops - growing in the desert.  And yet - the desert is still there - undeveloped areas - thousands of acres - interestingly Arizona the only state in the USA that has four different deserts.  We spend the winter in the Sierra Estrella Mountains located in the Sonoran Desert with a lot of undeveloped desert areas.  While we are in Arizona we spend most of our free time cycling and hiking in and around the desert areas.  The southern most point of our community is located immediately adjacent to open desert land.  It is at that point the bike trails end and where we located what we refer to as our - Prayer Rock.  Sitting here - on the rocks - we look East - a tradition established by early religious communities who associated praying while facing the East - the Eastern sun rise - looking towards the Second Coming of Christ and more.  However in modern Christian theology - in the belief that God is omnipresent - the majority of Christians pray facing whatever directions they wish since being omnipresent means that God is everywhere - constantly around us - every which way we turn.  Our reason for facing the East - we look into the desert at the mountains - looking West - we would see a housing development.  Obviously when placing our minds and bodies in the presence of God - the fewer distractions the better. 

Sonoran Desert Arizona

Whenever we pray - we seek the place - time - with as few distractions as possible - to be able to focus our hearts - minds - thoughts - on God.  With words - in silence - just allowing oneself to - be - to sit - in His Presence - one of the best ways to communicate with God.  In Lent we focus on - prayers - fasting - almsgiving.  The best gift one can give during Lent - your presence to God.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

It Doesn't Look Good

It doesn't look good - often heard after a task has been completed - a critique of one's craftsmanship - quality of almost any task.  Most often this criticism means the task needs to be repeated - done over - a second attempt required to complete the task - project.  In life there are numerous opportunities for a do-over - an opportunity to improve upon ones efforts.  In some things - only one chance to get it correct - to do it right the first time.  Ash Wednesday presents us with a once in a year opportunity to - get it right.  For those who minister during Ash Wednesday services - serving at the altar - imposing blessed ashes on the foreheads of the faithful - one chance to get it correct.  In theory - blessed ashes - gently placed on the foreheads of those who approach the minister- ashes in hand - says a few words then - with their thumb - traces a cross on the penitent's forehead.  In more instances than one will admit - the cross appears more like a blob - a smudge.  

God does not expect perfection - never asked us to be perfect - never expected it.  What he does look for - faithfulness.  Ashes too dry - too damp - applied too quickly - does not matter.  The fact that one approached the altar - admitting they are a sinner - seeking help - on their journey to holiness - speaks volumes - especially to God.  The one who applied ashes - an imperfect result -  nothing to do with perfection - failure.  The real goal - place ashes on the forehead - no matter what it looks like.  One approached on their way to holiness - another there - in the moment - helping their fellow pilgrim - to achieve that goal.  In God's eye - a definite win - win situation.  As we join together over the next 40 days - all of us - by ourselves - with our community - walking our own journey - on our own path - aiming for the same goal - the golden ring of holiness.

Deacon Dale