Running the race of life: February 2006

Running the race of life

Monday, February 27, 2006

Paper-writing prayers please

Don't you just love alliteration! I've got to write a paper for Catholic Social Ethics and another for a Ministry Seminar. Pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit, I need an infusion of energy and the ability to write somewhat articulately! Thanks.

Two blogs to check out

I just added David and Don's blogs to my list. David is a talented artist giving glory to God and his blog is really worth checking out.

Don is a fellow Franciscan and he offers some interesting insights.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Last Samurai and reflections on War

Surprisingly, I watched the movie, "The Last Samurai" last night. I say surprisingly because I'm not much of a Tom Cruise fan and am not usually apt to watch violent movies. But, I'm glad I watched it, because it included some very powerful scenes and made me think. I'll try not to ruin it by letting out any plot lines for those who haven't seen it and might want to.

What stood out for me was the War scenes. I was struck by the mixture of noble virtue and absolute lack of respect for human dignity in these scenes. The occasion of war drew out the virtues of loyalty and courage and yet the scenes showed how absolutely horrid war is for humanity.

It made me think of Iraq and other places of the world. It boggles my mind that human beings can kill one another. Now, its easier than ever to because (pardon the gruesome image) you don't find your brother humans blood on you, you kill them without ever having drawn close to them.

I am grateful for the men and women who are called to serve in the armed forces but I pray that we can find other ways than killing to solve our problems.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Very interesting ideas on the Divorce Culture

Divorce is very sad. I have not experienced it but I'm thinking a lot about it today because I'm reading a great book on the topic for a paper. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead's book, "The Divorce Culture" is excellent. Its balanced and its arguments are fascinating.

In the excerpt here, Whitehead speaks about the goal of rediscovering a new consciousness about the meaning of committment itself:

A first step toward that goal will involve recapturing a sense of the purposes of marriage that extend beyond the self. This will require a philosophy and language that offer a richer and more challenging conception of marriage than the one that now dominates our discourse. Our contemporary secular thinking about marriage is a blend of psychotherapy and politics, and its language is one of rights and needs. As the personal ads suggest, the task of finding a partner involves finding someone who will both meet your emotional needs and refrain from infringing on your individual rights...A marital partnership founded on such terms is likely to be both tense and unstable. More centrally, the notion of protecting the essential properties of the self from incursions by another is antithetical to marital commitment in which one must desireand accept as a matter of faith the giving over of oneself to another.

I'm not married but this makes a lot of sense to me even in terms of my own vocation to Franciscan life. When we are too protective and desiring of our own well-being and "fulfillment" (see Noel's homily from the Transfiguration) our commitments fall apart.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What gifts has the Lord given me?

Erin asked me this question the other day and I've been thinking a lot about it because I'm actually sharing my testimony today about it at an info session for our upcoming Life in the Spirit Seminar.

First a Scripture:
"There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit."

Paul goes on to describe different gifts the Spirit gives to us: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits, varieties of tongues, interpretation of tongues.

And then he closes by saying: "But one and the same spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes."

What is my gift for the service of others?

My freshmen year of University, I was a good guy who had a heart for God and yet I struggled to feel that I had gifts from the Holy Spirit. I was very shy (not just around girls!) and was afraid to speak up in class or talk in front of people. My confidence was low.

I heard about this thing called the Life in the Spirit Seminar and decided to go on it. The team told us that at the end of the weekend they would be praying for us for a fuller release of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Sounded good to me! What I didn't know at first was that the team was really praying for the Lord to help them sense the gifts that would be poured out on individuals.

The night we were prayed over, I was shocked when it was revealed to me by the people praying for me that they had discerned that the Lord wanted to give me the gift of Mighty Deeds! Mighty Deeds?! My reaction- "What does that mean? How could that be? I can hardly stand up straight and you're telling me God wants to work Mighty deeds through me?!"

Lets just say that I kind of dismissed the possibility that this might be a gift the Holy Spirit would wish to give me... Until, things started happening... No, I didn't wake up the next day as a great miracle worker... but something was different... I felt a new power in speaking to people and began to take on leadership positions as a student at Franciscan University. I found myself speaking to larger groups and my fear subsiding. After graduating, I volunteered with a group called the National Evangelization Team and sometimes gave talks to hundreds of young people in one shot. And then the Lord called me to check out being a Franciscan and I found myself ministering to people in incredible ways. Even in the last year, the Lord has allowed me to have a special prayer ministry with people, calling them to freedom from past experiences and healing. And I'm going to be ordained a Franciscan Priest within the year!

This is my testimony. Please don't confuse it. Its not about me. I share of these things because its about the gift of Mighty Deeds that I now believe God has given me for the sake of his people.

But its not just for me... its for you. The Lord has given you gifts and you are called to live in and exercise these gifts. Gifts may seem ordinary, but all are extraordinary when they build up the Body of Christ.

So I kind of got excited and wrote a lot. To God be the Glory. Come Holy Spirit, let us live in and practice the gifts you have poured upon us.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Lord I believe, Help my unbelief!"

A Gospel reflection for the day-

In today’s Gospel story of healing, I’m struck by the Father of the boy possessed by a demon
Imagine being in this Father’s shoes
Your son has suffered tremendously from childhood with an affliction that has so overtaken him that it makes him hurt himself, you watch your son burn himself with fire and try to drown himself in water
This father is desperate for the compassion of Jesus, for his son’s sake and for the sake of his own family, and he asks for it

And this is where, the Father and Jesus have a conversation that speaks beyond them to us about the reality of faith
In response to the man’s desperate request for help, Jesus reminds him of the power of faith- “Everything is possible to one who has faith!”
Jesus does not require this Father’s faith in order to heal his Son, and yet he emphasizes the need for faith, the need to put faith in his person

And we hear a beautiful expression of the Father’s faith, honest and humble,
“I do believe, help my unbelief!”
It is as if he is saying, “Lord, I have faith but my faith is weak”
How can the Lord not bless this honest desire for a greater faith?!

I think that we’re more often like this Father than his Son
In our families and our ministries, we bring people to Jesus, and we try to bring them with faith; I think of my own experience of so desiring the Lord’s healing… for my sister Janine
There were times in the past few months, where all I could see was how much Janine was suffering, how much she had regressed, my faith in God’s power to heal and restore her has been a struggle
And those were and are the times, when I’m thankful that I can be like the Father of this story- vulnerable, lacking in faith, desiring faith
“Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief”

The good news is that Jesus does heal, in spite of our weak faith
The good news is that Jesus strengthens our faith and takes the little we have and transforms it!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your hearts desire.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust that God will act
Psalm 37:4-5

Preparing for a Life in the Spirit Seminar

Its been a busy week! One of the reasons I haven't posted much is that I've been busily preparing for a spiritual venture soon to happen. I thought I'd share a little about it.

I haven't written a lot about it but I'm one of those "charismatic" Christians (please, don't run away in terror! :) Being charismatic is not about barking like a dog or an overemotional faith. We are all filled with charisms; gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit at our baptism and strengthened through the sacraments of initiation. These gifts are for the service of the Body of Christ! What we don't often realize is that we're called to live an abundant life through the exercise of those gifts!

In about three weeks, I'll be helping to coordinate a Life in the Spirit Seminar at our seminary. Its a six week seminar that focuses on a fuller release of these gifts of the Holy Spirit. We'll have talks, personal witnesses, praise and worship and small group sharing.

Just thought I'd share a little bit about what is exciting for me right now. Please pray for the seminar, we need the prayer support. I'd love to share more about this spirituality because I am truly convicted that we're all called to a fuller life in the Holy Spirit. If you'd like to learn more about this spirituality here's a good link.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Inspiration from the losing team

I haven't been able to watch much of the Olympics (although I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the 80's American Pop music playing as the various countries came out during the opening ceremonies).

I did catch a few minutes of Women's Hockey yesterday. Powerhouse Canada as Goliath versus the Italians as David- this time the giant won... by a landslide 16-0.

Perhaps what most caught my attention was the loyalty of the Italians for their team. As the AP article reported,

"The lopsided result did not deter a crowd of 8,399 from chanting "I-tal-ia! I-tal-ia!" early in the game, cheering whenever the puck was cleared from the Italian end and singing the national anthem and waving the flag in the final minute. 'That was fantastic. I cried,' Montanari said."

Its refreshing to hear about loyalty that endures through any outcome.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Busy week!

I haven't posted in a few days because its been super busy! You know that feeling where it seems there's more to get done than there is time to do it? And I find myself trying to keep a balance by not letting the important things slide... time in prayer, time with the brothers, exercise. We can only study so much right??

I'm about to go shopping for the friary- my turn for the month of February. Its funny to see the look on the checkout cashier's face when I bring two carts full of stuff up. I usually assure them that I live with a lot of people! Here we go....

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Rock Star speaks on Justice

A friend sent me the link to Bono's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Yes, Bono, of U2 fame was the main speaker.

I enjoy the music of U2 and have been growing in fascination with this man who has used his notoriety to really help people.

What I think is especially interesting about his words is his call to look beyond our domestic interests to consider the needs of our brothers and sisters around the world. His concept of tithing from our domestic resources is very interesting and one I've never considered. It was also interesting to me that he experienced conversion through the jubilee call; the call of the modern Church modeled after the Old Testament notion.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Kids say the darndest things

This week happens to be "Catholic Schools Week" in the U.S. and so this friar got to visit some schools to tell about life as a Franciscan!

I just have to relate some of the funny things that came straight from the mouths of kids.
Their humor totally blessed me!

Here's a few zingers that really were spoken.

Kid responses are in italics:

"What's a Franciscan?"- A person from France?

"What do these three knots on my cord stand for?" The Three Wise Men.

(Showing a statue of St. Francis) "Who is this?" Jesus.... Joseph.... Herod... Satan?
(I thought the teacher was going to jump out the window after the last response.
I was trying not to laugh)

"Do I look anything like St. Francis?" Yeah, but you don't have a halo.
Yeah, you have a bald spot too.

The kids really blessed me. We encouraged them to ask God what he wanted them to do with their lives. I pray that indeed the Lord will be with them as they grow.