Thursday, December 22, 2011

Saint Philip Neri - December 18, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
I spent the past weekend, Monday, and Tuesday with a four and a half day migraine. I hate migraines. Unfortunately, they are a fact of life for me, and while I appreciate the people who are empathetic towards me, and those who pray for me when I'm in the middle of one, it is I who have to deal with them and overcome them.

Those who are close to me can see when I have one, I'm sure I look like I'm unhappy or some other external sign that I'm not getting along too well. Or maybe I'm just crabby to them. People who don't know me probably think I'm an idiot, a jerk, or both when I'm in pain. If I've treated you like this, I'm sorry, please have patience with me.

It's not always easy to see when someone is in pain or suffering. Consequentially it is not always easy to deal with them. Our call is still the same, to help without enabling, to lift up, and to help to bring everyone closer to Christ. Pray my friends that we can be ready to help, regardless of how we feel when hear the call.

Maggie, me, Beth, Sarah, Joe, and Marilou.

I wasn't the only one, but I stayed out too late the night before, so I went right home after Mass, everyone else went out to eat. I'll be compiling all of the photos from this mini-tour here.

"Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. ” Luke 1:30

God knows the plan, but he needs to communicate it to Mary. He sends his angel to visit her. Surely a visit from an angel is going to be perplexing, and probably might cause a little fear. The angel announces to Mary that she has been found with favor by God. The angel speaks to Mary, but it we who have our fear removed, the miracle of Jesus birth is coming, and it is we who are saved. Our fear turns to hope, then to joy.
"...a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices"
This part of the tour is finished, and I'll be stepping back from blogging for a little while. I hope to see you all at Mass. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holy Family Shrine - December 17, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
This past Wednesday I had dinner with a friend of mine from high school. We went to Marian Central Catholic in Woodstock, Il. Tony and I were two of four friends who hung out all the time. We talked about church, and we talked friends and family, and we talked about some the dumb things that we did as kids. We were your typical suburban teens; full of pride, listened to no one, didn't care about anyone's feelings, and did what we wanted to do ... yet somehow we made it through. My friends, I was an idiot, and I'm sure I wasn't alone. Do I want to be remembered for the stupid things I did almost three decades ago? No, I don't. Not everyone responds to God's call with change, but we have to encourage them to do so, to give them the opportunity to do so. Does this mean that we should put ourselves in harms way? Probably not, but it isn't always the safest thing to deal with people living in sin and/or crisis, but it is still our calling to help. God offers redemption to all, let us be remembered for choosing Him and helping others, rather than being remembered for the sins of our youths.

Me, Marilou, Beth, Ronny, Tom, Frank, and Joe.

I love Holy Family Shrine, it is so easy to feel at peace there. It is also easy to get very good pictures. It's not so good if you want to pay attention at Mass; I get caught up in watching the cars go by on the highway, or looking at the wonderful view of the Platte River valley. You can see all the pictures from our Advent Mass Chaos tour right here.

"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham...” Matthew 1:1

God is thorough. His son could have been born to any person in any generation and still made the difference in the world. However God wanted to make certain that we, frail and question humans that we are, had no way to point away from, or question the authority of Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of the all the prophets and kingship of David. Saint Matthew wants this to be obvious from the very beginning of his gospel. Jesus is the heir of David, the king above all others, and our Lord.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Boys Town - December 12, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
Back in the late 90s I went to Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception on Boys Town campus quite a bit, I worked nearby, and I went on Holy Days and when I worked on weekends. I hadn't forgotten how beautiful the church was, but I did forgot how crowded it Mass is there. Yes! Standing room only, the way it should be, like people crowding around Jesus, Lazarus climbing the tree, the woman yearning to only touch his cloak to be healed. We all should be clamoring to see Jesus all the time.

Father started the homily with "Don't be a grump at Christmas." Father illustrated the story with examples and practical advice. Boys Town sees its fair share of tragic stories, but it also sees a few miracles. I'd like to further what Father said, nothing has changed my life for the better than this; a good attitude. I'm not certain that my life situation is better than it was ten years ago, but I can tell you this, I am so much happier.

Rich, Frank, Joe, me, Teri, Sarah, and Maggie.

Location and Architecture:
The Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, on the campus of Boys Town, is a traditional church, with the kind of design touches that I like so much. It is not unlike Saint Margaret Mary in design, but with an airier feel to it, like Saint Joseph, but smaller than both. The feel is both light and intimate. The majesty of God is reflected in the details in stone, glass, woodwork, and the organ. When walking in the main entrance, if one turns immediately to the right, there is an alcove with the tomb of Father Flannagan, where you can pray or read about his life. Alone, the church is worth a visit to see it's beauty, but given the history and importance of Boys Town, it's as much of a must visit as there is in the Omaha area.






You can see all the pictures from our Advent Mass Chaos tour right here.

"John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” ” John 1:26-27

He is amongst you, but you do not recognize him. This declaration is straight forward and, given who John the Baptist was speaking to, not a really good option politically. God is unlikely to be interested in human politicking, He's more interested in His children being with Him forever, and John the Baptist was sent to declare His coming. John is speaking to the Pharisees here, they were expecting the Savior to look in a certain way. They were even willing to stretch enough to ask John if he were the one, even John lived in the desert and had strange clothing. Even with their willingness to make this stretch, John is clear, He's here, you aren't getting it.

We too are confronted by John's words. Make no mistake my friends, Jesus is here and available to us. He is present in Eucharist, He is listening when we confess our sins, He is there in the faces of everyone we meet. One of our biggest challenges as Christians is to recognize Jesus when we see Him. Merely stretching our concepts of who our Savior is may not be enough, we have to be ready to seek Him with our whole being if necessary. We are told if we seek, we will find, I pray we will recognize Him when we encounter Him.

Next week:
Sat, Dec 17 @ 10:00am - Holy Family Shrine - 23132 Pflug Road, Gretna
Sun, Dec 18 @ 10:30am - Saint Philip Neri - 8200 North 30th Street, Omaha

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saint Margaret Mary - December 8, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
As I've remarked before, happiness + peace = joy, it's easy to understand this formula. Happiness comes from the enjoyment of God's creation. Peace comes from being close to God. Joy is not the normal state of humankind, although we can certainly seek happiness from God's creation (although we tend to mess it up), our sinful nature keeps us from peace, so it's hard for us to get to joy. I find it easiest to overcome myself and enter into joy by keeping the moment I am having right now in front of me and thanking God for it.

I encountered joy in the parking lot of Saint Margaret Mary Thursday after Mass. I was running through the snow with Marilou and her daughters. I'm sure some might call my childlike behavior 'undignified' or 'immature', but I know joy when I encounter it. Do not be afraid to love the life that is right in front of you, right now.

From our visit to Saint Margaret Mary on September 26, 2010.

I took no pictures ... who knew it was possible. We had Rich, me, Joe, Sarah, Patrick, Jen, Marilou, Rebecca, Morgan, and Chad there, I'm going to throw in Ronny just for good measure, 'cause she says she wants to go, and she was there. I'll be compiling all of the photos from this mini-tour here.

"Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38

The Old Testament is full of crotchety, sinful men who crankily get to do God's will in a roundabout way, or only after repenting from their sins. Mary, in contrast, is none of that, merely saying yes. Mary is the example, for every generation, of how to respond to God's call. Without regard for our own desires and without regard for what others may think, but only trusting in God. Our reward is not here, but it is in Heaven and being with God forever, where our joy will know no end.

Next week:
Sat, Dec 11 @ 11:00am - Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Boys Town

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saint Bridget - December 3, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
Giving up is not an option. I have to laugh every time I give people advice like this. Indeed, giving up is not an option, however having the wherewithal to change your goals is an excellent ability. I find myself at a fork in the road, and really don't particular like either path. One is familiar, but apparently loops around back to this same spot, the other path means going into the unknown. I'm not particularly frightened, but choosing the unfamiliar path means letting go of something I have wanted for a long time, and I already know where the familiar one leads.

I had a close friend that used to to say "I'm not selling out, I'm buying in." It's a phrase about attitude, and there in lies my issue. I don't necessarily have the best attitude about the whole thing. In fact, it can occasionally be really crappy. I feel like I letting go of what I want is being disloyal, that I'm selling out.

In fact what I'm doing is adapting. My plan A didn't happen, so I should be on to plan B. My inability to let go means two things, that I'm putting more value on loyalty than doing what I think is right, and more importantly, I am not trusting God and the path He wants me to go on. The former should probably be well thought through, the latter, however, should not be. Change is not easy, but we should be ready to turn away from what we're doing, and towards what God wants for us.

From our visit to Saint Bridget on December 3rd.
Me, Patrick, Jen, Sarah, Maggie, Nancy, Beth, Marilou, Luke, and Joe.

I only took a few photos, because we have been to this church before. I'll be compiling all of the photos from this mini-tour here.

"A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” Mark 1:3

Why is a voice crying out in the desert? Why not a dense woods, or a lush field, or beautiful coast. A voice cries out in the desert because that is where we are. Without God, we exist in a desert, we are without water, we are without nourishment, we are without shade. Without God, not only do we not have anything, we don't even know what we are missing. Saint John the Baptist came to herald the coming of God's son, our Savior, the one who will lead us out of the desert in to a life of abundance.

Suddenly in the midst of our wanderings, we hear a voice, and we follow it. The voice is that of Saint John, the other saints, angels, and even each of us is capable of making this call. We suddenly realize there is more, so much more, than we are capable of imagining. How do we react? Some, out of fear, or pride, or jealously, react poorly, and reject the call. Some of us however, are drawn towards the voice. We encounter Jesus, and we follow Him. As we travel, our mountains are made low, our valleys are filled in, our paths are made straighter. The voice leads us to paradise, my friends, follow it.

Next week:
Thu, Dec 8 @ 7:00pm - Saint Mararget Mary - 6116 Dodge Street, Omaha
Sat, Dec 11 @ 11:00am - Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Boys Town