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.

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.

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.  

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.

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Homily, and subsequent thoughts…

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Homily, and subsequent thoughts…

It wasn’t until mass today, see video below, that I realized that today was 9/11.  Not only do we have a mysterious God, but a good God.

This weekend I preached on the internal part of the message in the readings.  Click here to read readings.  All of them had an internal element.   Ezekiel reminds us that our faith requires us to take responsibility for our brothers and sisters in faith.  Even correcting those that need correcting.  The second reading and Gospel tell us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Seems pretty simple.

First, in context, before we can correct or direct our fellow journeyers on this path, we have to make sure we are right with God.   To hit this home more, we have to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Simple, until you realize that you have to love yourself first!  To love ourselves as God loves each of us.

To apply this, we all have people in our lives that seem to be placed on this earth to drive us crazy or to be our arch nemesis.  These are the people we like to hold a grudge against.  These are the people we try to get others to side with us against them.

The command is to love!  What we naturally want doesn’t fit today’s message. With absolutely no clue that today, Monday & day I am typing, was 9/11, I mention that it took me 10 years to even realize that I should be praying for our attackers on 9/11.   The way I have found it best to deal with those that really drive me to distraction is to earnestly pray for them.  Pray for their well being!  (Not that they fall off face of the earth or something along those lines.)

In our human state, that is the only way I have found to try and live this message to love.  How else can we correct those with us in our faith.  Only in love and prayer.  I am not sure it is ever easy, but it certainly makes life easier.

Today’s Mass on CTSA:  (You will recognize presider)

Transfiguration, an interesting event

Transfiguration, an interesting event

This story, which we celebrate every August 6th, is in all three synoptic Gospels and is a bit odd.  It really doesn’t fit with the rest of the Gospels.  It is more like a magical Hollywood production than a story about a humble Savior who came with mercy and forgiveness.   We have the dead reappearing and the voice of God from the heavens. It is hard not to think of Charlton Heston and The 10 Commandments.

So why is it in the Gospel?  Each Gospel is written to a different community and this story is still there.  I don’t know if this is my thought or from a book I read or from a seminary class, but I have seen this for a long time as having to be true.  It doesn’t meet what a historian would say was fact, but the purpose has to be true for us and for our faith.  Jesus even asked his disciples to not say a word about this until after the resurrection.   The Transfiguration is an event that has to be for our faith.  That is the only reason that it is there.

The Transfiguration brings old and new together; it shows for all people that Jesus really is our Lord and Savior.  When we doubt or lack trust, we just need to look to the Transfiguration and the words of our God.

 “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Mt17:6

Information on March 2018 Holy Land Pilgrimage.

Information on March 2018 Holy Land Pilgrimage.

Hot of the press if you are reading this in August.  Here are the details of St. Pius X and friends pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Some questions answered:

Who is eligible?  Anyone with $2900 that wants to go on pilgrimage to Holy Land.

Do we have to fly out of from Houston?  Yes, seats are booked, but if you live in other part of country all you need to do is get a ticket to either San Antonio and take bus, or Houston in time to meet us before flight.

Do I have to be Catholic?  No.  It is, however, a Catholic pilgrimage with Mass every day and focused on the Christian sites.   There is not requirement of anyone to attend Mass, but there will be no transportation to other places.

Is it safe? I purposely picked a tour company that specializes in the Holy Land.  The company owner is from there and his brother still lives there.  They have sent thousands of people there and they have all returned safely.  That is there livelihood.  We are actually paying  a little more to reduce our travel and avoid delays, which again increases our safety.  Please come to meetings and meet Moses and he can discuss this further.  (yes his name really is Moses)

The info you have waited for:  (I HOPE)

Email me at FrPat@StPiusXsa.org or call me at 210-824-0139 if you have any questions.

 

I did (fill in the blank), is it a sin?

I did (fill in the blank), is it a sin?

Can Anyone tell us we sinned?  I get asked almost every weekend, is this action a sin.  I have to resist just saying, what do you think or would you be asking if it wasn’t.  Too many people have the wrong notion of how to determine a sinful act and I know who to blame.  I blame years of poor teaching on our part.  So when I hear, I did (fill in the blank), is it a sin, I need to do a little teaching first.

Sin?

Defining sin, people constantly ask, if I am sure.  To avoid people thinking I’m making this up, here is the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s definition:

1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. Sin wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.

To just add a bit more Church talk a mortal sin must meet this conditions:

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

So if you ask if something is a mortal sin, I will ask did you intentionally sever your relationship with God?  Unless you say yes, it is not a mortal Continue reading “I did (fill in the blank), is it a sin?”

A mixed day, a farewell to Archbishop Patricio Flores.

A mixed day, a farewell to Archbishop Patricio Flores.

–Written the evening Archbishop Flores was burried.  Due to a glitch, or operator error this never published, so very late, it is published.

A mixed day, a farewell to Archbishop Patricio Flores is bitter sweet.  He wasn’t himself, yet now he is again whole.  To all accounts he was an amazing man that was unable to speak Spanish except in confession during his first assignment and then was ordained the first Mexican-American Bishop.  A priest for the poor, his family picked cotton and he would say he was a cotton picking bishop.  His sense of humor was one of many great qualities.

I could write a months worth a blogs on the man we bury today, but I don’t think he wants that.  His life focused on the poor and the building of the kingdom.  His stories and his music might someday be forgotten, but the courage of Archbishop Patricio Flores can never be forgotten.  The courage to be exactly who God created him.  Always simple & humble and he knew from an early age that God had called him to be a priest and against most odds, he got there.  Even as a famous Archbishop he seemed to always see himself as a everyday priest.

I hope as we celebrate his life tomorrow and inter him into the earth that everyone remembers that he is whole again.  He is cooking, singing and loving life!  Our challenge, I hope, for each of us to remember that we are all called to bring the message he constantly proclaimed in word in song to all those we encounter.  Archbishop Patricio Flores was an amazing cook and host.  He loved the poor and was constantly helping his priests help the poor.  Spreading the Gospel was his life!  Going forward, I believe he wants us all to do just that; spread the Gospel in all that we do!

In Short

Thanks for all you taught me, I miss you Archbishop!

Catholic Schools, Youth Groups and almost 30 years of Priesthood!

Catholic Schools, Youth Groups and

almost 30 years of Priesthood!

Today, on paper, is my day off.  I started the day with a few school issues, had a funeral, dropped in on the diocesan counselor that are visiting our students to asses some issues, worked on relocating WiFi controller and confirmed 92.  The only bad part of the day happened when counselors from Dept. of Catholic schools informed me that the process to eradicate bullying takes up to 3 years.  Seriously, I don’t have that time I want it done now.  I spend some time thinking of 30 years of Catholic Schools, Youth Groups and Almost years of Priesthood and had another sad realization.

I was asked as a baby priest preparing for World Youth Day in Denver, what the hardest part of dealing with youth was and without really thinking just said their parents.  Before I’m compared to a salamander again, let me make a few things clear.  Most kids in Catholic programs either schools or youth group come from amazing families.  That said there is a small number who drop off their kids and expect us to make them Catholic.  We never see them on weekends and they don’t understand why it isn’t working.  I really don’t see that working ever.

I put on Facebook over the weekend that I wanted to find a way to get parents who wanted their kids at our school to agree to a app store password that only parents knew, no snap-chat or other like program, and regularly checking your kid’s phones.  Not easy, but in my mind essential  We have to assure the safety of our young.  I can’t find any reason snap-chat has enough value to be an under 18 or even 21 game.

In short:

Our school needs and students deserve a whole community that is aware and working to eradicate bullying.   Working together.  Parents need to remember that they are the adult and not the friend.  Kids have friends at school and if they don’t us being their friend isn’t going to help.  Our kids need adults making good choices, enforcing tough rules and insuring our kids get the education and formation they deserve.