Veteran’s Day 

On Veterans Day 2016, All Saints school held an assembly to honor veterans. An Army Command Sergeant Major spoke about his experiences in the Iraqi war in 2003. He lead over 900 men into battle during that war. Because of a shortage of Catholic priests, he was assigned as a Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to carry a case of Hosts into the battle. The first 30 days of the war he met with the Catholics for Communion services during breaks in the fighting. With Easter coming up he was discouraged; it was very hard for him to plan on what he was to do. On Holy Saturday 2003 his unit was tasked to attack an area in Baghdad were Saddam Hussein was thought to be. As they arrived early Sunday morning to begin the attack they realized that Saddam Hussein was not there – in fact it was Saint Peters Catholic Church; next door was a convent and orphanage. That day instead of a battle there was an Easter Mass led by an Iraqi catholic priest with American troops and Iraqi nuns and orphans. He said it was one of the most surreal and sublime experiences of his life – going to Mass with his “enemy.”

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The Battle Ahead…is here.

To my Christian Brothers,

We are now in the thick of the battle. The world has gone mad. The war for our souls and the souls of those we hold dear is in full force.   It is so easy to be distracted by the noise of the world around us – the chattering and wailing is growing so loud. I caution you to seek silence as much as you can. The Good God is speaking, yet as always in a still quiet voice. Today is the feast of Our Lady of Victory, now known as Our Lady of the Rosary. You know, Brothers, the story of the Holy League’s miraculous defeat of the Sultan’s massive fleet, but it is another battle I would remind you of. The year is 878 and the Blessed Virgin is speaking to King Alfred, who is anxious about the outcome of the upcoming battle – From G.K.Chesterton’s epic poem of the battle of Ethandune, The Ballad of the White Horse:

The gates of heaven are lightly locked,p3
We do not guard our gold,
Men may uproot where worlds begin,
Or read the name of the nameless sin;
But if he fail or if he win
To no good man is told. The men of the East may spell the stars,
And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark. . .

The wise men know what wicked things
Are written on the sky,
They trim sad lamps, they touch sad strings,
Hearing the heavy purple wings,
Where the forgotten seraph kings
Still plot how God shall die. . .

But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?

 As in the days of King Alfred, the times are dark, and the enemy is upon us. But as those who before us have gone “gaily in the dark,” wielding our Faith and its Hope, we too will find they are great shields. And we have Our Lady’s  weapon the Rosary, a certain bane against our enemy.  Brothers, we do not know the outcome of our situation, but our duty is clear. Prayer, penance, and sacrifice done for Love of Our King are our part, for as Solomon said, The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the Victory belongs to the Lord. PV 21,31.  We are called first to be Faithful – success lies in the hands of God.

And remember … to this day the ships of the Sultan still lie on the bottom of the Ionian Sea.

Our Lady of the Rosary – Pray for us!

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No News is Good News

For almost a year I have purposely been avoiding the news of current events, avoiding all major and alternative news media outlets, and since Ash Wednesday have disengaged from almost all social media. I have learned a few things so far. First, it is hard to get away from-and not just because of the long habit of engaging it. The Media is everywhere and actively pursuing my attention. Even after the habit is broken, and any interest fleeting, I am still surrounded by it shouting at me.

Second, I found I am really not missing anything. Much like a daytime TV drama, in which you can watch one episode every six months and be all caught up, the continuous swirl of angst and ennui that is called News can be safely ignored without loss. In fact, one of the dangers of the MSM is that by consuming it you begin to believe that you are actually informed about what is going on in the world.

Third, I have much more time. Social media consumes time and numbs thought-and vise versa. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. are great for pictures of the grand babies and tips for gardening or woodworking, but other than that I am glad to heed the warning of Robot to Will Robinson…

Finally, pursuing this course has brought more peace of mind, which in turn has aided clarity of thought and sincerity of prayer. My soul is so much more quiet. It’s almost as if I know more about what’s really going on than ever. Maybe I do.

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Catholic Catechism

Great resource from the US bishops
http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/index.html

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“…Leading Men”

john

 

Today’s gospel is the story of the martyrdom of John the Baptist from Mark 6:14-29. John had justly warned Herod of his sin of taking his brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own.  She wanted John dead. This verse caught my attention:

But an opportunity came one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Mark 6:21

Who were these “leading men?” We only know of them and they are only remembered because they were invited to Herod’s party and were witnesses to Herod’s murder of The Baptist. These were the important people of the time. But now they’re long forgotten. All their plans, loves, dreams, and stratagems are no more; they only remembered now as witnesses to the martyrdom of someone who was far greater than they could ever imagine.  There is no record that anyone of them spoke up for John. Perhaps if even one of them had spoken, Herod would have spared John’s life. “Young lady, that was a beautiful dance, but is it really worth the life of a man? What evil has John done to you that justice demands such payment?” No, only silence. Likely they were afraid of Herod, as He was afraid of them.

 As years passed, these “leading men” faced their own death and judgment. It’s a sad testimony that their lives are noted only for their silence in the face of the murderous injustice done to one of the greatest Saints. They were “leading men,” yet that is their legacy.

Consider – who today are the “leading men?” Do they still refuse to speak out for the weak and helpless? Perhaps the “leading men” are vying for your attention, your money, and your vote? Or are they are plying you with useless information to the point of mind-numbing distraction? Are they too standing by in silence as innocence is slaughtered to defend evil?

Don’t be deceived. The end of all “leading men” is the same. Pray for the grace of wisdom and final perseverance.

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On Hope.

12042683_895487260501280_7661829220640811197_nThose whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before. They are now wherever we are.

Saint John Chrysostom

November is the Month of the Holy Souls. At my home parish,  All Saints Catholic Church, a scroll of all those who have died in the past year is hung all month as a memorial and reminder.  I doubt anyone on that list thought they would be there this time last year. During the All Souls’ Mass of Remembrance this evening all the names were read aloud as family members placed a flower by the altar; it was simply beautiful. Sorrowful, yet full of hope. Mass is always wonderful, but for me the November 2 Commemoration of the Faithful Departed is particularly special. Death is not the end of the story.

I visited my father’s grave at Arlington Cemetery this afternoon; he been gone 14 years and I miss him more than ever. Yet I sensed a real peace while saying prayers there for him at the graveside. At Mass tonight, in the liturgy of the Eucharist, being present with Christ, I had a profound sense of how I am also present with all those with Him. Just a glimpse of what is to come. Hope, indeed…

 

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Bucket List

My wife and I talk a lot about getting older. We married young, I was 23 she 21, and have been busy with family the last 30+ years. Many of my children are grown and gone; my youngest turns 13 next week, and our lives are in a transition. My wife recently asked me if I had anything on my bucket list. I didn’t have a ready answer; I don’t have a bucket list. Since that conversation I’ve been trying to compose one, but when I sat down to write one out it just didn’t happen. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t  have a bucket list. But, and this may sound a bit strange, what did bother me was that it didn’t bother me.

Until I thought about it some more. A long time ago, as a very young man, I wrote out a list of my life priorities, and that list has not changed. It is not a list of things to do, places to go, or achievements to make. It may not seem as such at first glance, but it is really a list of the same things. I have at the same time both fulfilled it and only yet started. So here it is:

  1. God
  2. My wife
  3. My children
  4. My family
  5. My friends
  6. My neighbors
  7. Everyone else in the world

So I’ve already been  been working on my bucket list for a long time. It’s not about what I’m doing or where I am. It’s about who I’m with and what I’m doing for them. Relationships. The one thing that I can take with me after the bucket falls over. And that doesn’t bother me at all.

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