How Could God Let This Happen, God’s Will be done!

How Could God Let This Happen, God’s Will be done!

Recently,  I have had many questions about God’s will.  I cringe when people say, “I am praying to accept God’s will.”  Like God is testing us by having bad things happen in our lives.  Jesus taught us to pray, God’s will be done.  Not help us to accept that will.  So, why the confusion?

There are many theories about this.  Again, this is based in theories and broad generalizations and not a much longer thesis.  One is that God is like a watch maker and sets the world/clock in motion and lets it run.  God is present, yet not meddling.  My problem with this theory is it discounts any ability for a miracle and I have seen miracles.   The opposite end of the spectrum is that we are all predestined.  What we do is predetermined and we are basically actors in God’s plan.  In this theory, my brain goes, why bother, if it is all predetermined, why work at it, I AM DONE.  I will just do what I want as the outcome with be the same.  Sort of fits with the protestant idea that once we are saved we have it made and are assured of entrance into heaven.

We will obviously not have these answers till after we have left this world.

I have worked it out God’s will as follows.

We are all called and created to do God’s will.  We do God’s will when we act as God taught us.  When we care for each other,  care for those in need, provide for the less fortunate, we are doing God’s will.   To put it another way, when we work building the Kingdom of God or work to strengthen the Body of Christ, we are doing God’s will.

If God saved us form all bad things and this life was perfect, what would be the point.  For me it is a plan beyond comprehension.  How could God create a world that he would then have to send his son into the world to be killed! The icing on that cake for me, killed by those he was trying to save.  I hope to have a chat with St. Peter about this someday, hopefully not soon.  And if I don’t like the answer, I will ask for his supervisor.

For now, this mystery is at the core of our faith.  We proclaim the mystery of faith every day at Mass.  Once we accept that fact that our very existence and our faith is based in mysteries beyond comprehension, it actually helps.  From our earliest days we have tried to grasp the reality and the whys of our relationship with God.  The Pentateuch is filled with stories working to explain this reality or answer these whys.  Philosophers still grapple with these questions.  Scientists, keep hoping to find that missing piece of the puzzle.  I believe science and religion are coming closer together in many ways.  That said, again it is faith that they are looking for.

Finally

Through the doubts and crises of faith that I have had, I really don’t doubt my beliefs much anymore.  But it was a very painful process to get to where I am.  It is hard to get away from the whys and transition to how can I bring God into this situation.  How can I be God’s healing presence.  How am I the light of Christ in each situation I encounter.  That is when we are living God’s will.

I can’t see how a loving God could call a child to heaven in 8th grade.  I do see a God that asks us to be the sanctifying force in those situations.

Bringing this all together, God’s will is what we are called to do, not what God does to us.

End of Year Thoughts (From my St. Pius X Bulletin Reflection)

End of Year Thoughts (From my St. Pius X Bulletin Reflection)

As this year comes to an end, I realize that one of my most important relationships is also coming to an end, and I don’t like it.  My great friend Bishop “Bob” Brucato is in the hospital and it is becoming more obvious that his time with us is limited. This man was at both my parents’ funerals, vested me at my ordination to the priesthood, and presided at my sister’s and brother’s weddings. He was the first priest I talked to about this crazy idea about the priesthood that came to me while on retreat.  I went to talk to him after a school retreat and I was sure he would say it was a passing inspiration and happened to everyone on retreat.  I never really thought anything would come of my thinking that God had called me to the priesthood.

At a family gathering along with the three priests that were close to our family, my mom mentioned a little  confusion as to how I ever considered a vocation.  We had never really talked about it as a family and my      parents were a little speechless when I told them.  All three chuckled and were shocked that this was a surprise to my parents.  They said in the Air Force we were always the family in the 2nd or 3rd row by the ambo as my dad was a reader.  I was an altar server since 6th grade, and my parents were very involved with marriage encounter. Our social life as a family revolved around the church.  We would get there early and be the last to leave.  My parents didn’t have to say anything about  living the faith, it was an essential part of who and what we had become.  When they were first married, my mom would frequently go to Church alone and my dad didn’t start receiving communion till my first communion (long story).  From about the time he was promoted to Lt. Col. he would go to daily Mass whenever he could, especially during Advent and Lent.  When he retired, he would often spend as much time at church as some priests.  He led the RCIA and reader programs for more years and at more places than I can count!  My mom did many things other than proclaim the Word; that was not her thing – her actions spoke the Word.

Thoughts for New Year

As we end this year, I am struck by the importance of what we do and what we believe, about how much they influence those around us.  As we set our goals (resolutions) for the new year, how can we be better?  What can we do to increase the impact we have on those around us? How can we draw people deeper into their faith?  How can we learn from and respect those that have been essential to who we are?  It really shouldn’t be about losing weight or stopping a bad habit; those things should be a byproduct of being the person God made us to be, respecting the gift of our lives and all that we have been given.  I was feeling like a hypocrite preaching about being all we were created to be and being 100 pounds overweight.  I had to fix that and now have 30 more to go.  Now I ask the deeper question: what do we need to do in order to be for this world what God calls us to be and needs us to be?  Let’s resolve to work on that.

 

 

 

Advent Present – Mary Did You Know? Pentatonix

Advent Present – Mary Did You Know? Pentatonix

The questions in this song remind me the amazing faith of Mary and the complexity of that simple, “Your will be done!”  I don’t like songs like “Sing of Mary Pure and Simple”  I don’t see her as simple.  She is an amazing model of faith in the midst of uncertainty.

I figured this would be a great song to think about while we get ready to end Advent and smack right into Christmas!

Have an Amazing 4th Sunday of Advent!

The Jews Missed the Messiah! (According to Christians)

The Jews Missed the Messiah! (According to Christians)

Why Advent?  We have been listening to Christmas Carols in stores for months.  Churches have Christmas lights and Trees already up and decorated.  Why bother with a three week season this year?  Ponder this: The Jews Missed the Messiah!  (According to Christians)  But by our faith, the Jews, missed Him after generations and generations, of preparation.  Read the start of the Gospel of Matthew to confirm all the generations that they prepared.

I get tagged on Facebook with all the places that are celebrating Christmas.  Teachers and staff are quickly stopping their Christmas music when I show up.  I grew up and in house where advent was a wreath and we had advent calendars, but the prayer we prayed before we opened the window was, “let us remember as we pray this CHRISTMAS game that it was a night so long ago, that baby Jesus came.”  Well it is half and half.  My mom would have the house fully decorated for Thanksgiving so that we could enjoy it.

Every room, even bathrooms, had something Christmasy and she had what seemed like hundreds of different nativity sets, ornaments from all of our travels, it was spectacular.  Dad made it so that Christmas music started while we did the Thanksgiving dinner dishes.  The part that made me the most crazy was that Christmas evening my Mom was already planning on taking it all down.  She was tired of it.  My dad’s battle was to leave the main Nativity scene up long enough for the Wise Guys to show up at Epiphany.

Why Advent?

I sometimes want to say, OH HECK WITH IT, do what you want.  But I can’t, it is too important.  Listen to the prophecies.  Think about all the preparation the Jews had for the exact Messiah foretold to them for all these generations.  By skipping Advent and diving into Christmas, are we robbing ourselves of the season we need the most?

I look at our world and think most people don’t get it.  As I look at my life, I realize in many aspects, I am still struggling to get it.  If we got it, we wouldn’t let our friends sit at home, we wouldn’t passively attend Mass or any church.  We would be unstoppable.

Advent is a season to focus on preparation.  We are giving this season, to focus on what we do daily to be prepared.  Can we afford to take this for granted?  There was a book many years ago The Inconvenient Truth and although I have no idea what it was about or if I ever even read it, the title strikes me this Advent.

Our Inconvenient Truth

By Baptism we are called to evangelize.  I fear we are falling into the same trap as the Jews.  We become complacent.  We go to church, we tithe, we do all the things we are supposed to, just like the scribes, pharisees and Sadducees.

Question to help us focus on Advent:

Are we dealing with everyone in our lives as a creation of God?  Even the wonderful people cutting us off in traffic or “stealing” our parking places?

What would I do if this were my last day? (answer should be nothing, I’m ready) (it isn’t for most of us)

Who do I need to drag into church?

Do I spend enough time everyday with God?

If God appears before me, will I recognize that as my God?  (don’t be too sure, many Jews missed Jesus)

As the readings challenge us, Wake UP!  The time is at hand!  Even if the second coming isn’t close, the world is in desperate need of Christians on fire with their faith!

Advent – A season of Waiting…

Advent – A season of Waiting…

Last week I emphasized the preparing aspect of Advent,  the weekend readings also showed it is a time of waiting.  As in preparing, we don’t like waiting either.  What is a season of Waiting?  For one, our life is a season of waiting.  We know we will die and we are waiting.

Usually we get frustrated at waiting.  Little ones, and sometimes not so little ones, are always wondering, “How many days till Christmas?” or “How many days till school is out?”  As I kid I would say, “I wish tomorrow was Christmas!”  My dad would always say, never wish your life away.  When we are in traffic, is it ever a good thing?  Do we pick the longest line at the store?  Not most of us, we don’t like to wait.  Do we get frustrated at the commercials now on YouTube?  I’ve wondered if they put them there just to get me to pay.  Well, did they?  I don’t observe most of us waiting well!

How do I get to head of the line?

Unfortunately, I think we are inclined to get frustrated at time spend waiting.  I love to read.  Before becoming pastor at St. Pius X, I was reading/listening too over 100 books a year.  I did this by always having a book with me.  In a doctors office, in line even, or even shopping, I could listen/read.  I learned to make that time productive, but I don’t think that really captures what advent is about.

In business I would read lots of book about being productive and understanding people.  I loved when Malcolm Gladwell would have a new book as his view on the word is simply amazing.  Now I read for mostly fun and some Church stuff, but don’t read nearly enough.  Part of the reason, is that I have taken my morning reading time and made it prayer time.  Prayer for me helps me understand Advent.

When I take quiet time int he morning, I rarely have great revelations.  Rarely does God clearly speak to me.  By I start with a few intentions, a few always for St. Pius X and for those on my prayer list and then get quiet.  I spend 15 to 20 minutes just in Gods presence keeping my mind clear for God to work.   I see the results of my prayer throughout the day, or week.  There are times that from the end of the Gospel to the time I start preaching, I have a different message than I prepared.  When I trust that different message, it is much more amazing than what I had come up with on my own.

We are a people in waiting

From the Earliest Christians we are a people waiting for the second coming.  It could be today.  Our lives could end today.  Waiting isn’t just the time before an event, it is a time of preparation.  See last weeks blog.  This time for us is to learn to use our time wisely.  The Gospel is filled with stories of those waiting wisely and those not.  The virgins as the wedding feast most recently.

So for Advent, how do we wait?

  1.  What are we doing to evangelize?
  2. How are we spreading the word?
  3. Do our lives reflect Gospel values?
  4. Do all those in our lives know us as Christians?

Most of us when being honest can do better on all the above points.  This is the season to make those evaluations, to really take this waiting time and make something off it.

The above is represented well in the phrase attributed, but not probably said by St. Francis

Preach the Gospel always, and if you must, use words.

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!

Reverence, how do we or should we show reverence….

Reverence, how do we or should we show reverence….

I was asked today about how I project reverence.  That took me back a little, because I’ve struggled with that question.   I don’t really think that working at showing reverence is appropriate.  How do we show reverence?  Kneeling?  Folding our hands?  By what we wear?  The prayers we say out loud?  I don’t think it is any of those things by themselves.

Reverence is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

1 :honor or respect felt or shown :deferenceespecially :profound adoring awed respect
:a gesture of respect (such as a bow)
:the state of being revered
:one held in reverence used as a title for a clergyman
So what does that mean for me?

On Ash Wednesday, I find the readings challenging.  We are told to pray in quiet and not to mark ourselves, and yet we do just that.  We put a big black cross on our forehead.  I reconcile that because our intent is to show our humanity and frailty, not that we are fasting.  We show our dependence on God.

We all see those people doing things to be noticed.  The person with the wad a prayer cards or the 30 rosaries dangling from their hands, arms and neck.  Any overtly obvious sign to look at them praying or being holy.  We have all seen it.  This doesn’t apply to all.  I think of the widow and the one coin, the woman at the well, the tax collectors and all those Jesus lifted up and they all have one thing in common, they were humble and simple of faith. Simple, doesn’t mean shallow, but unencumbered.  Simple faith can be the deepest.  We know when we meet those people too.

So how do I show reverence?

By respecting all of God’s people.  Whenever I slip and think or say bad things about someone, I feel that I have not been reverent to God’s creation.  Same is true with self-talk, we need to respect ourselves.  As a priest, it is about being respectful of my duties.  It isn’t my Mass, it isn’t your Mass.  All our official liturgies belong to the Church.  I show reverence, by doing them as closely as possible to what the Church intended.  I show reverence by being the best possible priest that I can.  Showing reverence is being all of who God created us to be.

2 suicides- one day. Please get to those maybe thinking of suicide

2 suicides- one day. Please get to those maybe thinking of suicide

Modified a little, this was on Facebook last week.  But with funerals this week, decided to also post here.

I’m sitting here a bit dazed. I’ve been a chaplain at a level one trauma center and am usually pretty unflappable, but today has me thinking and praying! 2 people working or attending my parish lost siblings to suicide today. So please, if you, or someone you know are at risk, please know there are people that care. Even people you may not know, care. The incredible pain this causes those who your life has touched is immeasurable.

If you are not sure if you can take another day, or know someone that might be feeling that way, call a church, call the suicide hotline or go to an emergency room. Always better safe than sorry!

No matter what you think right now, your life does matter. If you truly believe that no-one cares, know you were created for a purpose and ending your life in noway serves that purpose.

Here is the number for the suicide hotline. They have a chat option too in case you can’t call privately or can bring yourself to talk about it. Just google suicide hotline or call…

Click here

or call 1-800-273-8255.

Or the Boys Town HOTLINE:

1-800-448-3000  FOR EVERYONE, but just boys.

 

Homily that wasn’t given 25th Sunday Ordinary Time A – Pat O’Brien

Homily that wasn’t given 25th Sunday Ordinary Time A –             Pat O’Brien

It was the deacon’s week to preach and I always have something ready just in case.  This has never happened, but one of the deacons started the homily exactly as I would have, but after that, went a little different way.  I liked my homily, so thought I would just share it here and as always it is something that I needed to hear.  So here is what my homily would have been for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time A.

Click here to see readings

The Gospel was about the land owner that paid the same amount to those that worked one hour as those that had worked the entire day.  I would have started as Deacon Dan did.  Ranting as a child “It isn’t fair, it just isn’t fair.”  Life just isn’t fair.  The reality is that our faith isn’t about being fair.  All we have to do is look at the crucifix to see a sinless man that died for our salvation.  In whose book is that fair?  Not mine.

Our litigious society is all about what is fair and just.  People wrong us and we want justice.  People take advantage of us and we promise to not let that happen again.  Fairness has become a part of everything we do.

Fairness is subjective

Continue reading “Homily that wasn’t given 25th Sunday Ordinary Time A – Pat O’Brien”

St. Pius X Parish Festival – Celebrating 60 Years of Service!

St. Pius X Parish Festival – Celebrating 60 Years of Service!

 

Don’t miss out!  October 8, 2017.  11Am – 6pm.  This will be a great event.  BBQ dinner tickets go on sale this weekend after all the masses.  Only 700 printed and remember last year we sold out!  This is 60 years of service, and the St. Piux X festival gets bigger each year.

Rides for the kids.  Amazing live and silent auction items.  Games that all can enjoy including BINGO!  Sit and enjoy the live music, eat, drink and be merry!

The raffle this year has 10 prizes and is only $5.00.  Look at what you can win.

Join us for a great day and a chance to win thousands of dollars or a Diamond Necklace or 65″ Samsung Smart TV.

Call parish at 210.824.0139 for more info or email me at frpat@stpiusxsa.org

Hope to see you there!