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Showing posts from October, 2016

God is patient.

Yesterday in our online book study of 33 Days to Merciful Love* (which you can still join) we learned of the patience of God.  Like a loving father, he encourages us to try, even if it's something he knows we can't do on our own.  He wants us to try, he wants us to ask him for help, he is patient and never beats us down for our failures.

I thought of my own children and how they learned to walk.  Never once did I say to my toddlers, "you are such a loser, you'll never be able to walk if you keep falling down. Ho many times am I going to have to pick you back up and help you.  This is ridiculous, come get me when you can walk.  It's not that difficult!"

We laugh at how ridiculous this sounds yet isn't this what we do to ourselves or allow the enemy to do to us.  Don't we say things like, "God could never forgive me for that sin" or "this is the millionth time I've fallen into this same stupid sin, I'll never be free of it, I migh…

Mining the Riches of Scripture

This morning I woke early to do some work on another Rosary Meditation book that I am working on. While working on the topic of suffering and how it can be found in what we call The Presentation, I was struck, once again, by the depth and richness of Scripture. I was amazed that so many thoughts or ideas can come from a single passage in Scripture.

Perhaps this has happened to you when hearing the readings at Mass? You have heard them over and over your whole life, but for some reason, usually God's grace, something sticks in your heart when you hear it for the two hundred and thirtieth time.  Or while reading a passage from Scripture something finally clicks and you have an "aha!" moment.

For those of you who have never experienced this I thought I would try to give you a glimpse of how what St. John Paul II said is so true: "the simple prayer of the rosary marks the rhythm of human life."
In Rosary Meditations for Real Life I took 7 topics that most of us…

The Work of Love

A wise priest once told me that the Law of Charity supersedes all other laws.  What this means is that charity must come before any other rule or law.

Today's readings illustrate this message clearly.  Let us first replace the word "work" with "love" in the readings for today.

"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good love in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6
"Great are (is) the love of the Lord exquisite in all their delights."  "Majesty and glory are his love and his justice endures forever."  "He has made known to his people the power of  his love, giving them the inheritance of the nations."  Psalm 111:2, 3, & 6
If you doubt that this is really what is being said, go back and replace the word "work" with "labor".  I think you'll find a stark contrast in meaning.

You may say, "but the word work is not mentioned in the Gospel.&qu…

Masks and Armor

I often come home to find my youngest son dressed up like a superhero.  He has superhero pajamas complete with cape.  When we meet, I become the evil monster and he proceeds to fling me around the room like a rag doll.  He loves to pretend that he’s this other person and his strength is far superior to even the strongest man he knows.

In college a friend hosted a Halloween party and everyone dressed up in some very creative costumes.  Two of my friends wore all black and the “Van Gogh” masks from the movie Scream.  These masks are simple but disturbing.  The black mesh allowed the wearers to see the party-goers but we could not see them.  For hours they silently walked around or stood in a corner and stared at us.  They wouldn't speak, eat or drink thus continuing to conceal their identity.  It was un-nerving to say the least.

Apart from Halloween, we all have masks that we wear.  We all have costumes that we put on and we pretend to be someone we are not.  Many times these masks …

The Narrow Gate

"Someone asked him, 'Lord, will only a few people be saved?'"

I am often puzzled by the answers Jesus gives to certain questions.  In today's Gospel, he certainly could have encouraged the questioner to enter the narrow gate and left it at that but he goes on.

Jesus' answers very often give us a glimpse into the heart of the questioner and perhaps our own hearts.  The question is simple enough but the answer is rich and powerful.  He tells the questioner, those around him, and us that entrance into Heaven is not easy.  This is contrary to so many "gospels" today.

Jesus tells us that we must strive to enter.  Strive.  It will take effort.  Not only will it take effort, but "many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough."  He even goes so far as to say that even if you have eaten with him, drank with him, and listened to his teachings, it doesn't guarantee you will enter.  Why not?

Hanging out with the Lord is not …

How to Change the World

Luke 13:18-21
The Kingdom of God
starts very small
like mustard seed or yeast
yet when it grows
it changes all
the greatest from which was least

Our efforts seem
to no avail
or seem to take too long
yet when we see the good that's grown
happily we are wrong.

Your task it is
to sow the seed
to be tiny leaven
by action, deed
prayer, and thoughts
help others on to heaven.

Be not discouraged by failure
or slow inperceptable growth
it is the smallest act of love
that changes the world the most.

King Brump and the Orb

The young toad sat on the stone absorbing the warmth of the last rays of an October sun.  All about him he could hear the various sounds he was accustomed to in his little kingdom.  He watched as the humans of various sizes patrolled the borders keeping out all who might harm him.  The humans belonged to him, they were part of his kingdom.  They ran this way and that in great excitement brandishing their polished silver clubs with black handles repelling roving bands of scoundrels hunting for the Orb.

The Orb had arrived in the kingdom years ago, no one can really remember when.  It was at a time when the young toad still had a tail and his kingdom was much smaller.  The Orb was magnificent to behold with it's unnatural smooth green coat and 365 facets, each one marking a day in the long year.

On Arrival Day each year, that is the day that King Brump emerges from his deep sleep, he ventures out through the kingdom summoning the humans and searching for the Orb.  It is never where…

In Conversation with God


Me: Jesus, can we talk?

Jesus:Sure, we can talk anytime. What's up?

Me: What's up? What's up? Today's Gospel is "what's up." I can't make heads or tails of the whole thing. Just when I think I know You, everything changes!

Jesus:What? What did I say?

Me: Okay look, over and over I have been told things like Jesus is the Prince of Peace and the Devil is the author of division. Every "You" lover shouts "peace!" Heck, sorry, I've even heard You say things like, "blessed are the peace makers." Then there are the songs, "Peace is flowing like a river", "Make me a channel of your peace", and on and on.

Jesus:So what was your question?

Me: Are you the Prince of Peace or a divider?


Me: I thought you might say that. What does it mean? This whole scripture passage today is filled with contradictions - fire/baptism, peace/division, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law/mother-in-law get…

Responsibility for Souls

My post yesterday included a story of a school teacher and her class in an attempt to illustrate how easily we can be distracted from what is truly important. I thought that today we could revisit this story briefly with a small twist. Let us suppose that the teacher didn't expect the clown to arrive that day and that it was the teacher's job to keep the children focused on the alarm clock until it rang. Let us further suppose that this task was given to her by her superior and that she would be held accountable if the children were not focused when the bell rang.

When we look at this same story through this lens we have an inclination as to the weighty responsibility of those charged with the care and custody of souls. This could include parents who promise at their child's baptism to raise them according to the teachings of the Church. It could include parish priests charged with tending the flock of the bishop and leading them closer to Christ or at the very least keepi…

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Waiting is the Hardest Part

The 4th grade teacher gathered her class in a circle in the middle of the room. In their midst she placed an old-fashioned alarm clock with a face and bells. She then proceeded to make a deal with the class. If they could sit silent in the circle for 30 minutes, until the alarm rang, she would give them a free day and provide them with pizza, drinks, and candy. The students eagerly agreed. What the students didn't know was that outside the classroom door stood her husband. He was dressed in a clown suit and was carrying a few dozen balloons in one hand and in the other two leashes attached to two golden retrievers.

After ten minutes had passed the teacher opened the door and invited the clown and all his trappings into the room. The circle held fast for a little while. The children looked at the dogs and then back to the clock slowly ticking away. The pressure was too much and finally one student stood up and began playing with the dogs. The clown handed the child a balloon or two…

New Retreat Begins Wednesday!

Wednesday will mark the beginning of our 3rd online retreat with over 160 members participating.  This retreat will begin on October 19th and end on the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, November 21st.  
We'll be using the book by Fr. Michael Gaitley, 33 Days to Merciful Love.  You may purchase the book at any Catholic bookstore or here.  
Consider joining us on these 33 Days and if you are able, join us online in our Facebook group where we will be sharing spiritual insights and graces throughout the preparation.
May God bless you and yours!
Jim & Nicole Hahn and Family

Are You Possessed by Your Possessions?

A Story As the young novice knelt in his cell he prayed for detachment.  After years of having many possessions and living a worldly life, he asked for the grace to be able to detach himself from the desire to have or keep worldly things.

He was off to a good start.  His cell was located in a courtyard near the old stables behind the monastery.  The room was basic.  A small cell with a door and in the door a window the size of a man’s face allowed him to look out over the snow-covered courtyard.  There were simple, modest furnishings in the room.  Along one wall stood an old rickety desk and chair with a few sheets of paper and a dull pencil sitting on top.  Beside the paper was a dog-eared Bible that had been left by the ancient priest who had previously lived in the cell for forty years before his glorious departure to be with the Lord.  Across the cell from the desk on the floor was a thin straw-filled mattress and above the mattress hung a simple wooden crucifix.

As the young man …

Should I fear the Lord?

"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more.  Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna, yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one."

So, who is "that one"?  For years I thought that Jesus was referring to Satan as the one whom we should fear.  However, I no longer believe that to be the case.  
Jesus is referring to God the Father.  Only he has the power to cast us into Gehenna.  Only he has the power to release us from our sentence.  Only God knows what we speak in secret.  He alone knows what we have said and done behind closed doors.  Only God knows the hairs on our head, or in my case the lack thereof!
What does it mean to fear God?  When I was younger I understood it to mean cowering, waiting for the hammer to fall.  It meant walking around on eggshells just waiting to be smote for something I did wrong.
As I've grown and experienced more of life, I've come to a differe…

Stop Attending Mass!!

Over the course of the past year* many Catholic individuals and groups who have been calling for change in the Church have suggested the idea of the faithful refraining from attending Mass. Their intention is to show the Church they want change by dropping attendance, which in turn will hurt the Church financially. I must echo this call. I too ask all Catholics to stop attending Mass. It is my dream that every Catholic in the world would no longer attend Mass. However, my reason for this lofty dream is far removed from the ideology of those now calling for change. The universal Catechism states that the first precept of the Church is that, “the faithful should attend mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation.” I know what this statement means. However, if one specific word is changed there could be a world of difference. The Baltimore Catechism states essentially the same thing except that the word “attend” is replaced with the word “assist”. There is a world of difference between t…

Woe to Me

I don't often think of Jesus letting folks "have it", but occasionally He does. Today's Gospel is in the midst of an onslaught of rebukes directed towards the Scribes and Pharisees. For nearly two full chapters Jesus has been challenged and questioned by the teachers of the Law and now He shoots back.  In today's Gospel Jesus speaks harshly to the Pharisees. So much for the "Jesus-loves-you-no-matter-what" kindergarten approach to Christ. He points to their hypocrisy in word and practice. He shows them how they have lost sight of what God has called them to

Too often I imagine myself standing behind Jesus as He rebukes people. Like a weak sidekick, I stand behind and off to the side and say, "  Yeah, what He said." I like to imagine that I am on the right side and those rebukes are always given to everyone but me.  However, I must be realistic. After all, if Jesus saw fit to call Peter "Satan" then I should not be surprised to find …

Praying for Integrity

As human beings one of the great pleasures of life is being a material being.  Our senses are wonderful and extremely pleasurable.  Our hearts leap at the sight of a beautiful sunrise or sunset.  Our memories of love and joy coming flooding back with a familiar smell or song.  There is no greater pleasure than the touch of another human being be it the touch of a lover, the kissing of a baby's tiny head, or the holding of a hand as the life slowly ebbs from someone we love.  God has given us a great gift in the material world and our senses.

However, this great gift can also become a curse, our downfall, if we are not careful.  When we become so enamored with the creation around us to the point of forgetting the Creator, we have a problem.  This is where addictions come from.  This is lust, gluttony, avarice, and a host of other sins.  When you and I live for creation, and not for the Creator, our world is turned upside down.  We must often remind ourselves that there is something…

The Eternal Shore

Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have said, in so many words and in their own unique style, that the problem is not that God has not fully revealed himself to man but rather that He has revealed too much and it is too difficult for us to comprehend. It is difficult to understand how the Creator could be held by His creation. It is difficult to reckon how God could take on human suffering even until death, death on the cross. Is this God really all-powerful, all-knowing, all-everything as the catechisms tell us?

The problem is not so much the fact that God isn't all that and more, but rather that He doesn't fit our mold. He refuses to be boxed in. His ways are not our ways. Thank God!

I often think back to times in my faith walk where I asked God for a sign. I asked Him for silly things and serious things. I asked because I was lost and needed direction. Often He answered me clearly and without delay. Other times it seemed as though He didn't hear a w…