Advent in the next day or even same day world! (Thanks Amazon & UPS)

Advent in the next day or even same day world! (Thanks Amazon & UPS)

A season to prepare, Advent.  I think most of us get too busy to take the time for it, yet it is essential to a meaningful celebration of Christmas!  We have Amazon and UPS working together that we can order things from our phone anywhere and have them delivered almost anywhere the next day.  We have fast food, express lunches and minute planners, (OK yes that shows my age) and all things to live in a same day world.  Remember when 24 hour photo was a huge and not cheap solution.  Even pictures are immediate.  No waiting no anticipation and if we don’t like it, DELETE.  Our immediate world is also a disposable world.  This season is to fight the tenancy that even permeates our faith!

For those that are parishioners, this next part will be pretty much the same as what I have in this weeks bulletin.  Sorry, but see if you can find the differences.

Happy New Year!  The First Sunday of Advent, is also the start of a new Church year with Advent being a very short season of preparation.

Webster defines prepare as:

a : to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity-> prepare food for dinner

b : to put in a proper state of mind -> is prepared to listen

With Christmas having been out in stores for months now and many of our houses set up for Christmas we miss Advent, the first season of the Church Year.  How can we maintain a sense of Advent and preparation in a world that wants everything now and has no sense of the rewards of delayed gratification?  After all, our lives are in themselves a time of preparation, aren’t they?

To prepare implies a journey, getting ready for something that is not present to us yet.  How do we step back, realizing that we know Christmas comes whether we do anything or not to prepare?  We get rapped up in the parties and the lights and we lose that sense of waiting and preparing.

We are making changes to our Liturgy.   The Mass parts will be different, the Apostles Creed will be used, we will have a quieter nature all to focus us on the season.  The environment will help, but Advent is very short this year.  Christmas Eve is the 4th Sunday of Advent, so no 4th week of Advent.  We have 1.5 hours between masses to change everything over.  St. Pius is having many events to help set the scene.  We start with Rachel Dagget, a top Cutco rep and mother of ten, speak to us at our Meal and a Message.  We will celebrate an Advent Reconciliation service and we have Breakfast with St. Nick to help focus on the religious aspects of who Santa really is.

Questions for meditation or prayer this Advent season?
  1. If today was my last day, what would I have to do or say?
  2. Pray to constantly be learning new things
  3. We can pray for Grace
  4. Pray for the ability to truly rest and especially rest in God
  5. Pray for humor and being able to laugh every day.
  6. (Got this from Pope) Pray for discernment.
  7. Pray to see the Spirit in all you do and all you encounter

Have an amazing Advent!

On Thanksgiving Morning, Things that I am Thankful for…

On Thanksgiving Morning, Things that I am Thankful for…

I woke up on this Thanksgiving Morning missing my parents.  To remedy that I decided to take my own advice to others and look at all the things that I have to be thankful for this day.   I will not remember everyone, but this is just those I thought about this morning With the title, I have to start with my parents.

I am thankful for the combined 140 years that they spent in this world and the difference they made.  For taking chances and in that showing us the world.  For raising a few ADHD kids in a world that just thought we were “bad” or not focused, they always pushed us to be what ever we wanted to be.  They never expected one of their kids would become a priest, yet they gave us the freedom to know and follow God’s will.  Faith was an essential ingredient for all that they did with us.  I still encounter people whose lives were change because of who were.  What a great example of living the Gospel.

Olph and Holy Spirit

I am thankful for Archbishop Gustavo for taking a chance on this priest off the street.  For Fr. Jim Fischler for all the work he did to make this happen.  Especially to Fr. Thumma and Sr. Leonita Barron who brought me back out of a dark time when things were not looking good.  To Fr. Eriic Ritter who introduced me to the archdiocese and the entire staff at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Selma, for being there for and helping.  For Deacon Louis and Diana Heimer who understood the challenges of owning a business with so much uncertainty about timing.

To Fr. Carlos and the community at Holy Spirit for an amazing 5 months and preparing me for St. Pius.  You will always have a warm place in my heart.  (Gabby’s too)

St. Pius X

To the staff of St. Pius X.  I am very different from my predecessor, thank you for being so patient through the transition, patient with me,my dog and my way of doing things.  Thanks to the people of St. Pius X.  I was a little talken back when I was handed pages of pastoral priorities to implement.  Looking back, I can’t think of a better way to start.  Taking what all of you had worked on, and making it a reality.  We are almost there.  What a great way to learn a new community.

To Mrs Zarate and Mrs Brown for being there as we take a good school and not only make it great, but give the teachers and students the tools they need.  By the end of December, we will have more technology and a better student teacher ratio than any school in the area.  Thanks for building such an amazing team and putting up with all my crazy ideas and being able to tell me when they are maybe a bit too crazy.

To all the volunteers that make things happen, the Woman of St. Pius, the Knights and the list goes on and on.   There is a real concern in our church that the young people are no longer engaged.  I have a different experience.  Our youth programs and Teen ACTS are thriving, I had the young people that volunteered all summer, nicknamed the Minions, and all the youth ready to pitch in, St. Pius is blessed with their youth.

Siblings

Probably my best source of humility and regardless they are always there.  My brother and his wife gave me the grill that produces the amazing meals that have made over $25,000 for the church.  My sister is a natural cook and worked with some amazing chefs and is a great consultant when I try new things.

ADHD

Frequently a joke, but I truly see this “deficit” as a gift.  To Dr. Gay who did my evaluation for the Archdiocese and was the one who really put the pieces together behind my falling out with my previous diocese.  Your insights have been very helpful.  I thought I would include this video which really sys it all and you will understand that if you think you should have been on this list, that it wasn’t personal that you are not, just how my brain works

 

 

Doubt

This may seem odd, but this year I am thankful for doubt.  If we knew everything about God, we would not be able to go deeper.  We don’t ever consider again that 2 apples plus 2 apples gives us 4 apples.   We learned that a long time ago!  So there is no reason to delve deeper, 2+2=4, PERIOD.   Talking to some High School students  a few months ago who were worried about doubting parts of their faith it dawned on me.  These were very smart creations of God, all good students at Incarnate Word High School.  I realized in that conversation how important doubt as it draws us deeper into our relationship with our God.  Doubt is truly a special gift from God.

Catholic Television of San Antonio

Being ADHD there are times when I am preaching that things come out of my mouth that I really wish hadn’t.  SO when the Archbishop asked me to host his show, I was taken back.  I was sure that they didn’t know me well enough and that a disaster was looming.  The Archbishop even asked me before first show why I was so nervous.  I happily gave him great examples of what could go wrong.  He laughed, picture on Facebook.  They hadn’t seen the side of me that used to be the painfully shy kid that would hide behind my dad’s leg meeting new people.  I was also following in the footsteps of giants in the archdiocese.   I was still feeling like a barely reverend and it was a bit much.  A year later, I would really miss the show if it was cancelled.  I love seeing the different parts of the diocese, meeting new people and the process of doing a show that is live to tape.  Basically we film as if we are live so that it isn’t edited.  And to date, my brain and mouth have cooperated.  (My dad just rolled over in his grave now that I tempted fate, but oh well)  The bishop did start us at St. Jude’s, patron of hopeless cases, but it seems to have worked out.

Diet

To the doctors at St. Pius X especially Deacon Jose, Doc Mike and Dr. Cassias for all your help with my crazy diet.  To Dr. Ross who put it all in perspective as I was worried about my diet being unhealthy and he pointed out being 284 pounds wasn’t really healthy either.  I am at the weight threshold between obese and just overweight, so about 33 pounds to go, but thanks for helping me with the first 67 pounds.   And to Marshall Smith who did the last round with me and actually made it fun.  Thanks to all who have not tempted me and helped me stay the course.  I feel at least a million times better and no longer fall asleep at my desk.

Finally

This is much longer than intended and I still miss my parents but that is in a better light now.  As I head to mass and end this 1000 word plus blog, thanks to the rest.  From the sisters that sell that gave me a great place to work and grow to all the friends that I met along the way.  I am pretty sure I was not following God’s plan through much of what I did, but I do know God was able to work through everything I did to help me be a much better priest than I ever could have been before.  Thanks to those from the first time around that were so encouraging, The Hopkins, Gerbers, Delines, O’Learys, Fr. Marty Lally, Fr. Bob Fisher, Fr. Kevin Fausz, CM, Bishop Brucato (Bishop Bob), Fr. Ed Deimeke and of course my mom’s 4th kid, Fr. Jim Thomas.  Thanks for being a part of the journey, then and now.

Thanks Archbishop Gustavo and Fr. Jim for making this all possible.

To all those I didn’t have space to mention here, Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving to all and a special prayer to all those deployed and in harms way as they are serving our country.

Thoughts after Southerland Springs 1st Baptist Shooting.

Thoughts after Southerland Springs 1st Baptist Shooting.

I didn’t want to respond to the violence in Southerland Springs right away.  I was mad and frustrated.  How could this be and so close.  This will be a summary of my homily and for those upset that I am not jumping on the gun control wagon, please look at purpose of what I am trying to do.

Is it the guns?

My opinion is that guns are not the issue.   The closest I have come to being hurt in an attach was in Germany, with very strict gun control.  There they used a propane tank.  Oklahoma City was a truck.  9/11 were planes.  Chicago, DC and Mexico have amazingly strict laws, yet shockingly high levels of violent crime.  I think it is us…

Are we silly virgins from Gospel parable?

Multiple times in the last year I have had to deal with threats from middle school kids to kill someone.  This is in a Catholic school.   Yes, we take it more seriously now, but these were kids with a plan.  I have watched young kids in less than 10 seconds wipe out a small village in a first person shooter game.  That has to have an impact.

I remember the first time I was in the ER as a Chaplain and a chest was opened and the smell and the sound almost made me toss my lunch.   After time, I became accustom to it.  Are we “virtually” becoming desensitized to violence through movies and games?  Or by texting and not talking, especially while in same room.

What about the mental health angle.  I have tried to get people help.  I have friends that have family members, but their personal rights seem to get in the way of getting them help.  Everyone is too afraid to do what needs to be done because they might get sued.  How is that being our brother’s/sister’s keeper?

How do we help overworked and under prepared parents?

I don’t have answers, yet.   But I am working at finding them.  I am hoping this blog starts a discussion.  I will not approve any comments stuck on guns.  That is not the point here.  That is a whole other issue.

How to we regain a sense of godliness or holiness for each other?  How do we engender that in our youth?

Some of my ideas:
  1.  If you die in a first person shooter game, you are dead, you have to buy the game again.
  2. Make all violent movies and games NC-17.  Let the person form before subjecting themselves to these “games.”
  3. If we are going to really fix health care, we need to fix our mental health system.  How?
  4. We can’t ban texting, but can we force more interpersonal relationships.  We are shifting to more project based education to help facilitate this.

Please take a moment of prayer for all those affected by violence before responding.  

Archbishop Gustavo’s Statement on shootings in Southerland Springs today.

Archbishop Gustavo’s Statement on shootings in Southerland Springs today.

Statement of Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, of San Antonio on shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs

 

We need prayers! The families affected in the shooting this morning at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs need prayers. The evil perpetrated on these who were gathered to worship God on the Lord’s Day — especially children and the elderly — makes no sense and will never be fully understood.

Disbelief and shock are the overwhelming feelings; there are no adequate words. There can be no explanation or motive for such a scene of horror at a small country church for families gathered to praise Jesus Christ.

At this time, there are reports that more than 25 were killed and more than 20 have been wounded while gathered for Sunday morning worship in their small sanctuary. Those injured are currently being treated at hospitals in San Antonio and Floresville.

These Baptist brethren are our family, friends and neighbors who live among us in the archdiocese; just minutes away from our Wilson County parishes of Sacred Heart in Floresville, St. Ann in La Vernia, and St. Mary in Stockdale. We are committed to work in unity with all our brothers and sisters to build peace in our communities; to connect in a more direct and substantial way. The Catholic Church in Texas and across the United States is with you.

Catholic Charities of the archdiocese stands ready to assist and provide whatever services may be needed in this time of tragedy and will do whatever needs to be done.

Let’s help these brothers and sisters with prayers; they need us. Also, pray fervently for peace amidst all of the violence which seems to be overwhelming our society. We must be lights in the darkness.

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”

May God have mercy!