Deacon Pat's Books - Popular Catholic novelist and author!

Deacon Pat's Books - Popular Catholic novelist and author!
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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Profound Experience


I walked up to a man, maybe in his late 30's or early 40's sitting in a wheelchair at Mass today. I didn't recognize him. He was ruggedly handsome, well proportioned, but unobtrusive. He was sitting off to the side and a row or two back. Father first gave him communion and then I approached him with the chalice. I voiced, "The blood of Christ." He didn't move. Instinctively I placed the chalice of the precious blood against his lips and tilted it as he slowly drank. I then retracted and he then looked directly and deeply into my eyes and said softly, "Thank You." His voice penetrated my heart and infused deeply.

I am not sure if he was paralyzed, or what was his story, but the interaction and exchange affected me greatly. I almost couldn't contain the emotion erupting inside of me. I saw and felt God in the occurrence profoundly. I can't shake it. It was one of those rare and supernatural moments.

It reminded me that God and His Spirit is everywhere and now and then he even reminds us of that! What a great moment in time.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Liz and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Friday, December 05, 2014

Funeral Mass for Deacon Everett

Deacon Pat and Bishop Cotta

 Today was a special day at Our Lady of Mercy Parish.
We celebrated the life of Deacon Everett with Bishop Cotta and numerous Deacons and Priests.

 This was a powerful experience, serving at the side of a Bishop and hearing the many voices from the priests as they spoke the holy words of the consecration.

  The incensing of a Bishop!

 Preparing the Gifts.

 Receiving the Gifts.

What an honor it was to serve with the Bishop, fellow Deacon and brother, and praying for a very honorable man who no doubt is already in heaven.

Thank you Mackenzie Kearns for taking the pictures today - you are awesome!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Agradecida-Thankful


Here is a beautiful post from Mackenzie's Blog (The Missionary Adventures of Mackenzie)

It's Thanksgiving break right now and for the first time this year my college made the decision to give us the entire week off of school. This is a much needed opportunity to catch up on sleep, homework, and everything else that I've been putting off before entering the stressful last couple of weeks of college. I was sitting in my room today trying to figure out where I wanted to hang a painting from Guate and a Cross from Honduras (Yes, I realize I've been home for three months, but these things didn't have priority until now, okay?) and I realized I don't have to move them from my desk because in about six months I will be moving. In six months I will be living in some amazing place that I don't know where that is yet and I have let that completely terrify me for a long time. 

This summer I started to read The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in Guatemala and there's this line where he says "Avoid fear, though fear is simply the consequence of every lie." I love that line for so many reasons, but mainly because it points out that everything that you fear is because somewhere along the way you believed some lie and that is the reason you're fearful. We are taught so often that you need to have your future completely planned, you need to know exactly what you want to do, know all the steps it's going to take to get there, and that you're not allowed to be unsure about the "big" things. I think I finally started to realize that that way of thinking is one of the biggest lies I've convinced myself to believe and as a consequence I've allowed myself to fear the uncertainty of my future. Sometimes transitional periods in life can leave you feeling like a big mess of split ends, but I've been learning that it doesn't have to be that way. I've been learning that it is 100% okay to not know what I'm doing because I have these insane dreams that change weekly or even daily.. and that's okay. I've been learning that fear is often one of the biggest things that keeps me from my dreams and I can change that. I've been learning that it's okay to not have all the answers and that it's okay to let all of the possibilities in life completely thrill me. I'm learning that the fear of figuring out my future only has the authority over me that I allow it to.

We are taught so often as little kids that God has our future completely planned out, but I think sometimes as adults we don't understand what that means. We stress about huge decisions or even small ones and forget that ultimately God takes care of us if we put our trust in Him. We need to realize that yes, sometimes what we're meant to do comes with a lot of work and effort, but if you're spending so much time worrying about something that it is ultimately taking over your life and consuming your happiness I think you're second guessing God. I think by doing that we are saying that our plans for our life, our decisions, and our worry are worth more of our time, attention, and heart than Papa God is. We need to realize that whatever is not from God will ultimately fall apart on its own and that what He has planned for us will be there EXACTLY when we need it to be even if it doesn't feel that way. We do not realize how poisonous stress and worry are until we lay them down to God. So whenever I realize that something is causing me stress or worry I've been working on giving it to God and having him show me something to be thankful for about that situation.

While I am filling out applications to colleges I'm thankful for the opportunity to take my mask off and be vulnerable to failure in a society that is constantly fighting to try to hide their vulnerability but I'm learning that to be vulnerable is to be alive.

While I am stressing about finals I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to live in a country where education is so available, I have a family that supports me in school, and teachers who work hard everyday to help us succeed.

When I think of how scared I am to have to say goodbye to so many friends and people that helped form the person I am while I was growing up when I leave in six months I am beyond thankful that I have been so blessed to know so many amazing people.

While I am in a season of waiting I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn that sometimes God calls us to be content in our discontentment. That's exactly what waiting is, being content in your discontent and trusting wholeheartedly that He will provide for you.

God has your entire future planned so stop stressing and start living in Him and you will encounter your beautifully pre-planned destiny.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Jesus and the temple





Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Gospel John 2:13-22


As I continued to read, study, and pray over the Gospel, I realized that there is so much more to this message than just an angry Jesus. Today’s Gospel reveals a profound message about rituals and knowing Christ in an intimate and personal way. So let’s take a few minutes and try to discern the message together.

Jesus had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. It was customary that at least once in a lifetime all Jewish males would go to the temple for Passover. So when Jesus arrived there must have been thousands of people filling the city, the narrow streets, and the temple area. He would have witnesses a chaotic scene; people exchanging money, the selling of sacrificial animals, loud noises, and food venders selling nourishment to the travelers, all in the proximity of the temple. This hustle and bustle, the buying and selling, and other actions apparently angered Jesus.

But as the scripture says, he didn’t just act impulsively as one might think. He thought about what his actions were to be as he took the time to make a whip out of cords, and then began chasing out the animals, turning over the tables, and telling others to take those things away. This wasn’t a fit of anger, but an act of disruption. To Jesus, this was a moment of crisis for the people of the Jewish faith. He saw that the heart of the faith had become lost in their ritualism. He was confronting the Jewish people with a deeply uncomfortable truth. This was to be a moment to re-evaluate and to re-assess. He wanted them to think: “Was it enough for the Jewish people to fulfill their rituals, or did they need to reconnect with what the rituals actually represented?” It wasn’t that Jesus was opposed to rituals; he himself was a Jewish man, steeped in the law and the ways of the synagogue. But he clearly witnessed something very disturbing, a disconnect between the people and God.

The Gospel messages are not just something of the past, they are alive, and they always have a relevant and pertinent messaged for us.

So what does all this mean to us here today? We should probably take a few moments and think about some our own actions, our own rituals. Let’s start with the first thing we do as we walk into the church. We dip our fingers into the holy water and bless ourselves. So, let’s ask ourselves, as we do this, what are we thinking? Are we immediately reminded of the waters of our baptism? Or of the cleansing, life-giving, and the purifying effects of water? Or has it become an empty ritual. How about as we approach our pew and genuflect before entering. Where is in our mind and our thoughts as we genuflect? Are our eyes immediately focused on the tabernacle and of Christ within it? Is our gesture of reverence directed to our Lord and Savior as our King? Or has it become and empty ritual?

Or what about some of the things we do within the Mass? Do we even know why we do them? I have noticed that most of us do something in this church that no other church in the diocese does, or at least I haven’t seen it done. After Father receives the gifts, the bread and wine, and they are placed upon the altars he prays over them. He then turns to wash his hands and before he even touches the water everyone stands. Why do we stand? Is it in reverence of Father washing his hands? No! We stand for what comes after the washing of father’s hands. After Father washes his hands he then returns to the altar and asks us to pray as he says, “Pray brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father. It is in the response, our response to God, that we stand and pray, not the washing of his hands. We are standing at the wrong time.Our actions, especially at Mass have meaning, and doing them at the correct time is important, otherwise they become empty rituals, just something we are doing because everyone else is doing it.

Please do not misunderstand my words as those of a chastisement, they are not meant to be, but rather a reminded to all of us, me included, that we are to see beyond our rituals and to know what we are doing, and why we are doing it. It isn’t so much the ritual that pleases God, but our thoughts, our hearts, and our true devotion that pleases him. Now returning to the Gospel once again, the Jews responded to Jesus by questioning him and his authority. They asked, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” They didn’t recognize Jesus for who he was. So Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Not knowing who Jesus was, what Jesus said made no sense to them. They responded, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” Jesus was speaking about the temple of his Body not the physical building.

This concept of Knowing and Recognizing Christ is of great importance to us and to all Christians. It isn’t so much of knowing about Christ, as much as it is of knowing him personally. Not knowing him personally or having a personal relationship with Him is more common than you might think, even for Catholics today. Did you know that a recent study of Catholics across America showed that almost half of Catholics today think it is not possible to have a personal relationship with God,? (40%) That statistic shocked me. But it is true.Many Catholics believe in God, Jesus, and their Spirit, but find that they don’t have a personal relationship with any of them. Without a personal relationship, without an intimate relationship, that means they know about them, but they do not know them. That changes everything, especially the idea of the Eucharist. If a person doesn’t personally know Christ, then how can they recognize him and experience him the Eucharist. Maybe they don’t. Maybe for them it has become, or always has been, and empty ritual. If so, no wonder why so many have left the faith and can so easily walk away from the Eucharist and the Sacraments. They have never known Jesus. Maybe they have known about Him, but not knowing him personally and intimately, they were never able to experience him in the sacraments.Maybe that explains why the confession lines are so short, and the communion lines are so long. It is just a ritual for them. One who knows Jesus, can recognize him, and experience him in an intimate way, can clearly see him in the Eucharist. And upon seeing him, they would never want to come upon him full of sin, so they prepare themselves. They cleanse and purify themselves with routine confession so they are prepared for that holy encounter. Otherwise, unprepared and uncleansed, we are placing Jesus into something unclean, our sinful bodies.Saint Paul tells us “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.” Meaning: directly sinning against Jesus himself.” 

There isn’t one of us who travels through life without experiencing sin, and in this current culture serious sin isn’t uncommon. It is that sin that must be confessed and forgiven before taking Holy Communion.Saint Paul urges us by saying. “A person should examine himself,for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.”I realized these are strong words that I am sharing today, and some of you might be put off by them. I hope not! Wasn’t Jesus acting in a strong way in today’s Gospel? Yet that doesn’t mean he wasn’t acting in love, nor does my message mean to be anything but an act of love. Love doesn’t always mean that we have to be agreeable, complacent, passive, and non-judgmental as some might want us to believe, sometimes it means the opposite. Especially when done with compassion, empathy, understanding and for the right reason. And the saving of souls feels like a pretty good reason to me. Maybe not unlike the Jews at the temple, is it a possibility that today’s Gospel message was meant to be a disruption in our lives. Maybe we are now being confronted with a deeply uncomfortable truth. Maybe this is to be a moment to re-evaluate and to re-assess. Is it enough for us to fulfill our rituals, or do we need to reconnect with the heart of the faith that is at the core of the rituals?The good news today comes in the reminded that: we are not to be caught up in empty rituals; we are reminded that the rituals have embedded within them wonderful and mysterious meanings and that they are to nourish our lives.And the good news is that we are to work at developing a deep, intimate, and personal relationship with Christ.And that by doing so we will be able to recognize him in the Sacraments, in those we love, in those around us, and even in those that at times we struggle to love.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Faith Isn't Enough!


28th Sunday Ordinary Time (Year A) 
Matthew 22:1-14


I’m not sure about you, but often when I read one of the gospels I can be confused as to what the actual meaning might be.

Today’s gospel from Matthew is one of those confusing gospels for me, at least it was initially.
Preparing for this homily I needed to spend some time looking into the specific references to understand what was actually being said.

After the use of a few concordances the parable began to come alive as is true for most parables once we begin to understand the deeper meaning and hidden message.

This parable however contains a deep and troubling message for many of us here today.
It speaks of faith, and how faith alone may grant you a meeting with God but not necessarily entrance into heaven.

Let’s take a closer look at the details of the parable.

First of all we must understand that the story is actually describing God as the King, Jesus as the son, and the bride is the invisible kingdom of heaven here on earth.

The first guests that were invited and who refused to come to the banquet were the Jewish people and their leaders, God’s chosen people.

They rejected God’s invitation.

Those of the second invitation were the gentiles, the non-Jewish people.

Some of them ignored the invitation and went away without giving the invitation another thought, while others not only rejected it, but fought fervently against the kingdom in opposition.

But our God, our King, being the merciful and forgiving Lord that he is, reaching out again and invited everyone, saints and sinners to the feast.

He invited anyone who cared to come.

They were invited to participate in the Kingdom of God.

Now this is where the story gets interesting, and the idea of the wedding garment can be confusing to some.

Thankfully Pope Benedict, citing Saint Gregory the Great in one of his homilies clarified that the wedding garment is actually a reference to charity, meaning love and service.

Now knowing this, the parable begins to make sense.

In other words, probably everyone who had arrived at the banquet had faith, but those who had failed to practice charity in their lives, meaning Love of God and neighbor, they did not gain admittance.
Still a little confused?

Let’s look at the scripture once again now knowing what we know.

“The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the King came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘my friend how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’”

The man was silent; he knew exactly what God was saying.

He had passed from this world onto the next and was being judged for his life on earth.

Both he and God knew the truth and the man had nothing to say.

Actually there wasn’t anything to say or that could be said, the time to act had already passed.

God being a God of justice, then ordered the man to be cast out and into the darkness where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

We all know what and where that place is….. It’s HELL!

And the parable ends by reminding us that, “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

WOW!

This message left me feeling more than a little troubled.

I always wanted to think of God as being infinitely merciful and forgiving, which he is, but I so often forget that he is also a God of Justice and that we will be judged for how we lived our lives while here on earth.

This parable made to stop and think about my own life, and how God will probably see me when I stand before him face to face.

Yes, I have faith, and so do you, if we didn’t we wouldn’t be here today. But so did everyone else who was invited to the banquet, they also had faith. Yet, Faith alone isn’t enough, isn’t that what Jesus is telling us in the parable.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am trying to say today. We don’t earn our way into heaven, or earn our salvation; Jesus already took care of that. But we do make choices in life; those choices are called our free will.

We either respond by living a Christian life in action and deed, or we do not, there really isn’t a category of being “A pretty good Catholic.”

One of my favorite scriptures is from the book of James and speaks of faith and works.

Saint James clearly states that Faith without works is a faith that is dead.

What a startling message for us here today.

Thinking that we might just be one of those people who have believed and believed without a doubt, and thought that we would be welcomed in heaven at our time of death, yet we might just be judged unworthy to gain entrance when that time comes upon us.

I think Jesus might be asking us to open our eyes a little wider and to take a step back and ask ourselves a few questions.

Have we loved enough?
Have we forgiven enough?
Have we cared for others enough?
Have we truly lived a life of service to others,
or have we lived  a life of mostly serving ourselves?

After pondering these questions for some time I came to the realization that to answer them honesty my answer to all of them would need to “No!

I have not done enough!”

I might assume also that some of you, if you gave the questions deep and honest thought, you might just be in a similar situation.

Believing in Christ is wonderful, but it is Christ and His Spirit in us that should be constantly changing us.

We should be growing in humility, patience, love, and charity each day of our lives.

This transformation is what empowers us to do the works of a sincere Christian.

In a few minutes we will be receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we should allow him to change us, purify us, inspire us, and guide us.

The most powerful thing we can do is to worthily accept Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist and then respond to his call.

That call is so often heard in the quiet of our hearts, and that is why a time of quiet and prayer is so important after receiving communion.

Yet, we have to want to hear his voice.
We have to want to be changed.
We have to want to be a sincere follower of Christ.

Although today’s gospel contains a sobering message, it also contains the good news.

The good news is that we are still here on earth, we still have a free will, and that we can begin this minute thinking about our lives in a different way.

Thinking about how we treat our family, how we treat those sitting next us in church, and how we treat those in need that we haven’t even met yet.

We can choose to be people of action; with our smiles, our kindness, our love, our charity, and our friendships, or we can chose to be something else.

The Good News is that we have heard God speak today through the Gospel, we have understood his warning, and hopefully we can be inspired and guided by His Spirit to not only respond to the  invitation to the banquet, but to also be invited in, and accepted as eternal guests into the heavenly kingdom forever and ever, Amen.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The Mass Explained


A wonderful talk about the Mass, What it is and where it came from!