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“Grace Invasion” (h/t to my friend, Bryan K. Watson)

It is easy to become skeptical of one’s fellow-man, if you watch or listen to too much news.  I try not to, and I try hard; every once in a while, however, God kind of jump-slaps me on the back of the head with the reason I’m in this thing.  And He does it in some of the most interesting places…

So, this morning, after I talked with a surgeon about something I am hoping he’ll do Monday, I stop at Krispy Kreme (confession to my wife:  Yes, sweetheart, I went to Krispy Kreme and had donuts this morning. I am still stressing a little bit…).  There’s only one Krispy Kreme in town; it was next door to the hospital I visited.  And, the Krispy Kreme donut being an eighth day creation of Almighty GOD…well, you know why I stopped.

Anyway, so this guy walks into Krispy Kreme right behind me, and since I was on the phone, he walked around to wait to be helped.  As I got off the phone, I heard him ask, “How much is a cup of coffee? I have a coupon for a free donut with a cup of coffee.”  THe lady tells him the price of a small coffee, and I could see his shoulders drop a little as he quietly uttered “Oh…” and started to feel around in his pockets.  So I stepped up to the counter and said, “I’ll get your coffee, bruh.  What donut do you want?” (This is NOT the cool part of the story.)  SO he thanks me, and gets his donut ordered, as do I.

So we walk around the counter to the register, and as I’m getting ready to pay, the man (whose name was John) looks me dead in the eye and says, “Thank you for reflecting God this morning..  I haven’t seen a lot of that lately.” (this is NOT the cool part of the story.)  THEN, as I’m swiping my debit card to pay, the lady manning the drive-through window walks over, palming a bill of unknown denomination, and puts it in his hand, saying “The lady at the drive-through window asked me to give this to you.”  He steps around me and waves across the counter and out the window, and yells, “Thank you, ma’am!” and comes back to get his stuff. (This is NOT the cool part of the story…”

So, we walk over to the end of the counter to the cream and sugar, and we talk a little more as we make our coffee drinkable.  It turns out that today , January 31, is his father’s birthday, just as it is my oldest daughter’s birthday.  THEN, an older African-American lady walks over to him, and holds out coupons for a free donut, no purchase required, that expire today.  There were like fourteen of them!  He takes them, thanks her profusely, then turns to me, takes two off the strip, and holds out the rest, and tells me, “There’s no way I could eat all these donuts today.  Is there someone you can take donuts home to?  I hate to see them go to waste.”  (Now we are getting to the cool part of the story.)

There was nothing I could do with that many donuts (I love my family, and I would NEVER take a box full of donuts home to a house full of women. Just wouldn’t go well.)  so there are three guys standing there waiting to order; I turn to them and ask them if they could use the coupons, since they hadn’t ordered yet.  I gave away the twelve to those three guys, and left with my coffee.

So, what was the cool part, exactly?  Just this:  the face of Christ kept popping up, over and over, in that Krispy Kreme!  Christ was there in John, who was just trying to get some breakfast and a little coffee.  Christ went through the drive-through, feeding the hungry.  Christ was there again in John, (loosely) paraphrasing Matthew 25:31 ff. And He was present in the little lady with the coupons, pulling off a mini-feeding of the five thousand!

And all this in South Memphis, down the street from Graceland, where the more genteel among us here in Memphis might fear to tread!

We are accused of a lot of things here in Memphis, many of them unflattering.  But I am here to tell you that I saw Christ, over and over again, this morning, down the street from Graceland (how appropriate!)!  And I saw total strangers reach out to each other, recognizing each others’ dignity as human persons, and acknowledging the presence of Christ in one another!  And it all happened anonymously, and quietly, and over the course of about seven minutes.

That was…cool!

“…how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.”
 Romans 5:15 NABre

“Are You Proud of Yourself?” (Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

My latest homiletic effort is published here.  I hope you find it useful.

If you’re Catholic, please consider why you don’t frequent the confessional.

If you aren’t, heck, I’m happy to have a conversation about the Sacrament of Reconciliation if you like; it will be fun.

God bless y’all; have a great week!

Time to Get Back To Business…

For all five of you who pay attention at all to this blog…

I’ve been away on an extended absence; let’s say I was wandering the desert for a while.

But I hope to be back, now.  So you will see more frequent posts here on matters of faith and its connection to the lives we lead everyday.  Sometimes those connections will be tenuous, but I promise there will be one!

Please pray for me (if you’re a person of faith) or wish me luck (if you aren’t).

Scorpions? What scorpions? (Homily for the14th Sunday in OT, 2013)

The audio for this homily is available here; it varies a bit, as usual, from the written text, which is available here.

I know that some folks may have been put off by some of what I said.  But let me be clear:  Just because the Church would propose that someone you love dearly is participating in a lifestyle that the Church considers sinful doesn’t mean that the Church, or anyone in the Church, hates anyone.  Just because I tell you you’re doing something wrong doesn’t mean I don’t love you, and accept you as you are.

Here’s a funny question:  What do contracepting, missing Mass without good reason, and (homo- or hetero-) sexual expression outside of the sacrament of Matrimony, for example, all have in common?  They are all mortal sins (meaning, they are all actions that separate us from God in a way that threatens our immortal souls).  Does that mean that the people who commit any of those sins are base, evil, and hateful people?  No; they might be, but it isn’t just because they sin. And funny enough, none of those sins is any more “mortal” than any other.  Everyone sins. Most people commit the occasional mortal sin.  And when they do, there’s a way to deal with that.

But brothers and sisters, things don’t become “good” just because we can’t imagine that God would think that the thing is bad.  God, for better or worse, isn’t limited by our imagination.  He designed us a certain way; His intent has been frustrated in individual lives by the presence of sin and by our free will; and God is both merciful and just.  Can someone who lives a clearly sinful life get into Heaven?  Who knows for sure about any individual? Nobody can say for sure who is NOT in Heaven (even if we can’t imagine God letting a particular person in!). At the same time, us wishing that someone is in Heaven doesn’t make it so, either.

And the really sad thing is this:  it isn’t about what punishment might or might not come if a person continues to do whatever it is we say is so wrong.  It’s more (much more) that the person committing those acts misses out on the good, the peace, the happiness in this life that comes from walking with God.  We are all looking for God.  When we find Him, when we embrace Him, we are at our happiest.  When we turn away from Him, we are less happy.

I like the image Christopher West often uses when discussing Theology of the Body.  It’s like we are invited to this sumptuous banquet, with great food and choice wines…and because we don’t want to be told what to do, we eat from the dumpster out back instead.  Can we get nourishment from what we get out of the dumpster?  Sure.  But we have to pick through a lot of crappy stuff to find the nourishment, and occasionally, we will get sick.  We might even run across something that will kill us.

So enough of that.

My wife, Ann Marie, pointed out something about my homily yesterday.  As she observed, I do a good job, calling out the demons that afflict us.  But I spend ever so little time actually trying to help uncover strategies to actually do the junk I say I think people ought to do.  So let me rectify that.

What are some ways to help our families becomes saints?  Here’s a short list; not meant to be exhaustive:

  • Pray with your family. Daily.  Even if it’s only an “Our Father”, everyone in the family needs to acknowledge that there is Someone bigger than themselves to whom they owe their lives.
  • Pray with your spouse.  Men, (especially Catholic men!), don’t think that your wife cares how articulate and complex your prayer is.  She cares more that you have it in your heart to lead her spiritually. Pray.  Real Men do it. Ladies, if your husband is reluctant, don’t beat him up.  You lead the prayers for a while.
  • Pray for your spouse.  Especially if one or the other is reluctant to do all this God stuff, enlist the power of the Holy Spirit, and the intercession of the Saints in heaven, to help change your spouse’s heart.  If you’re praying for someone, it’s hard to be angry at them, too!
  • Take your family to Mass.  At least every Sunday.  Not only is it a requirement for Catholics (in line with keeping holy the Sabbath day, and emulating the Apostles and the early Church), but it’s good for you.  See bullet point #1 above.
  • Have at least one meal with the entire family gathered, every day.  It’s hard to do, and with the tempo of life we impose on ourselves, it sometimes isn’t possible.  But if your goal is to eat together every day, you’ll do it most of the time.
  • Turn off the TV.  And the BluRay player.  And the XBox/PS3/Wii/other gaming device.  Take a walk.  Play a board game. Heck, play poker and win back your kids’ allowance money.  But spend some time together unmediated by media that don’t care about you and your family.
  • If you’re married, here’s one final recommendation:  Just give Church’s proposition about the proper order of sexual expression in marriage a try.  Yes, it’s a risk.  But…just suppose for a moment…that the Church is correct.  Just suppose, for a moment, that what we’ve had force-fed to us by the culture since 1965…is completely and utterly false.  Go audit the first part of a Natural Family Planning class.  Or if that’s too much, talk with a friend who practices Natural Family Planning.  But get informed.  And then give it a try.

God bless everybody!  I’m always interested in hearing what you are thinking.  feel free to comment on the blog, on Facebook, or via Twitter.  And thanks for reading!

Homily for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Speak Life!

Readings for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time are posted here.

The homily is accessible here, or at the link near the bottom of the parish website home page.

I have been doing some reading as the summer starts; the main theme of this homily is inspired by one title:  Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter.  If you read the book, you will recognize the connection.

At its heart, though, this homily addresses a need that I believe every church experiences sometime in its life cycle:  the need to basically figure out what’s Most Important for its people, and then to Do That Thing.  I believe that, when a parish figures out what That Thing is, everything starts to come together.  And I believe that Fr. White’s/Tom Corcoran’s book lays out a blueprint for finding That Thing.  For what it’s worth.

Anyway, enjoy; comments are always welcome at the blog, or on Facebook/Twitter, or on the parish website.  God bless!

I love it when they make my point for me…

I love this…:

The attached video is from Powerful stuff, IMHO. So powerful, I had to get somewhere and post about it *right now*.

The reason pro-abortion folks refuse to follow the logic of the beginning of life is exactly this: If you acknowledge that life begins at conception (and when else would a human being come into being…implantation doesn’t add anything to the developing person at all; it just gives him/her the ability to grow (kind of like Mom serving breakfast and dinner to a five-year-old…), this is where you end up.

President Obama articulated the pro-life message more eloquently than most of us ever manage. and you don’t even have to substitute words! Just listen, and assume for a moment that those of us with science on our side are actually correct, and life really *does* begin at conception. But don’t think about it too long; you may find yourself suffering cognitive dissonance.

Black people, you’re particularly at risk. We trot off to the “clinic” to solve the racists’ problem *for* them. They don’t want y’all breeding, producing more inferior humans to be cared for by the State. There isn’t any need for them to do anything; all they have to do is convince you that a) sex is recreation, and b) a baby is a “choice”; you’ll kill the next generation off all by your lonesome.

W A K E   U P, dang it!

I hated statistics when I studied it in college…

…but I’m liking it now. With a h/t to Aggie Catholic, this is pretty cool.

Lies, @$&%ed lies, and statistics. Proof of the axiom, right here.

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