Category Archives: Christianity

Be Awake

Dear Folks,

We begin advent, a journey of waiting and preparing to be more welcoming to God. I challenge everyone to take a look at how we understand prayer and how we pray. It involves attentiveness to God’s presence. Jesus emphasizes the need to stay awake.

In our second reading, St. Paul says “You know the time; it is now the hour for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation now is nearer than when we first believed (Romans 13:11).”

Obviously, this does not mean that we should stop sleeping, sell our beds, fill up on coffee and try to be awake 24/7. We are still human and cannot function that way. So what does it mean?

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap (Luke 21:34-35a).”

Notice two sources of drowsiness: pursuit of pleasure and anxieties of daily life. This should remind us of the parable of the sower (See Matthew 13:1-23). Seed that is sown on rocky ground withers because of some tribulation or persecution. Seed that is sown among weeds is choked by worldly anxiety and the lure of riches.

Perhaps being drowsy involves being so focused on the pleasures we pursue and the tasks and worries that pursue us that they fill our whole mind, and we start to think they are all that there is. We have heard stories of those who would spend all their time either at work or at the golf course and lost contact with their families, and they became strangers. The idea is not to remove all pleasure from our lives, nor to neglect our tasks, but to put them in proper context of our relationship with God. Heaven knows we struggle to balance the parts of our lives that are always competing for our attention, and they can be overwhelming. On vacation I read a book called “Juggling Elephants” about sorting your life like you were a ringmaster coordinating a three-ring circus.

I would ask you to consider some questions:

What if prayer is more important than you have thought it is?

What in our behavior shows that God is a dear friend to us?

Do we treat Him like a dear friend?

What if everything depended on a bit more prayer each day?

Is there anything else we do that we can shave just a couple minutes off from to make just a couple more minutes for prayer?

Even a brief minute attending to the presence of God several times a day can make a difference. What if we resolved this advent to make a bit more room for God every day? We might be surprised, first that we can do it at all, and second, how good it is to do it.

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, patron Saint of doctors, mothers, and unborn children, pray for us and for our nation. Help us be attentive to God’s presence in everyone, especially the weakest and most vulnerable.

Blessings,

Fr. Jim

Strength in Weakness

Dear Folks,

Today we celebrate Christ the King. In our Gospel today (Luke 23: 35-43), we see Jesus portrayed as King, but appearing as unkingly as it is possible to appear. This is the great paradox of Christianity, that the greatest of all victories was won by what looked like the greatest of all defeats. This defies the wisdom of the world and turns it on its head. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18, though I encourage you to read the whole chapter).”

In the Second letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul is dealing with a challenge. He had taught the Gospel to the Corinthians, but then some others came and claimed to be better apostles with a better Gospel. They called St. Paul weak, and unworthy of following. They boasted about how wonderful they were by comparison. St. Paul said he could boast too, and then talked about being imprisoned, flogged, shipwrecked, and similar things that were normally not cause for boasting. He accomplished great things because he was willing to be a suffering servant.

This is not possible without a close relationship with God. Christianity does not work as a project, as a set of beliefs and tasks. It is a love relationship, or it is not Christianity. Our Scribe and Pharisee friends tried to make it a project, a set of beliefs and tasks, but their hearts remained closed. “Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that on one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I would rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell within me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:6 -10).”

By the way, I’m very unhappy with the passing of Proposal 3. I’ve talked to a number of people who are also unhappy and would like to do something about it. We all can recognize that what we have been doing hasn’t been getting us where we need to go. I’ve connected with a few people on a project to shift the culture. The first step will be to pray (of course!), and I don’t mean saying a quickie prayer and getting to business, but serious time with God. Then we can talk about action, and I suggest that we work messages that promote empathy for unborn children. I’m tentatively calling this the “Notice Human Life Project.” Much more to be figured out, but this is a beginning.

Blessings,

Fr Jim

Destruction of What We Take For Granted

Dear Folks,

As we get toward the end of the Liturgical year, we talk about endings. In “Avengers: Endgame” Iron Man famously said, “Part of the journey is the end.”

Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are the apocalyptic chapters. John, instead of a chapter, gives us the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse. “Apocalypse” comes from the Greek for “removal of the veil. “Revelation” comes from “removal of the veil” in Latin. Apocalyptic writing tends to use bizarre imagery and lots of numbers. It is to unveil the meaning of what is happening. It is not meant to help us figure out when Jesus is coming again.

These chapters in Matthew, Mark, and Luke start with Jesus talking about the destruction of the temple, move to dealing with persecutions, and ending with the coming of the Son of Man. This finishes Jesus’ public teaching, except Matthew adds chapter 25 with three parables about the last judgment. The prediction of the destruction of the temple was amazing to people. It had been destroyed once before in 586 B. C. by the Babylonians, so it was not without precedent, but that was a long time ago, and the temple was the most stable thing they knew of, and the center of their cultural and religious life. In the year 70 the Romans did destroy it and destroyed much of Jerusalem.

In Apocalyptic writing, there are some key points:

• Anything of the earth might be destroyed.

• We will see virtue punished and evil rewarded.

• It might look like God’s side is losing.

• We will be tempted to give up.

• God’s plan is actually unfolding, and He wins, but it might not look like it until the end, so..

• Most Important: Don’t give up!

In a culture that is increasingly hostile to the Christian faith, Christian belief, and Christian values and accusing us of being oppressive and hostile to human rights, we have to get better at sharing God’s teaching in a way that shows its goodness, beauty, and truth. Many Christians have shared Christian faith and values in a way that makes sense to them but does not make sense to others who have been steeped in the mindset of society. We live in a society in which killing babies, mutilating confused children, and defining marriage out of existence is seen as compassionate, and opposing it is seen as cruel. We have to start at the beginning, on the dignity of every human life, empathy for those different from us, and how being human means something much deeper than following our feelings and desires. We have to show God’s love by example and do better than we have been doing (whatever we have been doing, it clearly is not enough).

We have to bridge the gap between the Christian world view and the society’s perspective. One of the great champions of this is St. Paul, and I recommend his talks in Acts 17, Acts 22, and Acts 26. Much to be done, and we are just getting started. “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up

(Galatians 6:9).”

Blessing

Power of Baptism

Dear Folks,

At the priest conference, Dr. Timothy O’Malley said that if there is going to be Eucharistic revival, we must deepen our sense of the Baptismal priesthood. He reminded us that when we got ordained, we had a different role in the Church and the world, and the presence we bring is different, but it doesn’t immediately “attune” our thinking and our behavior to our new reality. That is a task we take up from then on, to be who we have become. I gradually

got used to the fact that people looked at me differently because I was a priest, and there were different sets of expectations (that is several conversations right there). When he got married, there was a similar process. Our faith tells us our baptism changes us. We

remember from the rite that we are anointed “priest, prophet and king,” a participation in the anointing of Christ (we remember that “Christ” means “anointed.” We are then called to attune our view of ourselves, and how we approach the world, according to that reality.

The Second Vatican Council called for renewal of awareness of the Baptismal priesthood, but what was often done was to erase the distinction between the baptismal and ordained priesthood. People started saying priests’ parts at Mass, and there wasn’t room to talk about the unique gifts that the ordained priesthood brought to the Church. When I was in the seminary, it was pretty rare to talk positively about the ordained priesthood, except when they were talking about ordaining women (the dropout rate was very high). The mistake was thinking it was a zero-sum game, that for one to shine, the other had to be in the shadow. We can celebrate both vigorously.

The council said that the two priesthoods differed in kind, rather than degree. Think about how love relationships can differ in kind: the love between husband and wife, the love between siblings, the love between parent and their children are different kinds of

relationships, each with some different qualities and proper ways of expressing themselves. We do not start by ranking them according to intensity but appreciating their uniqueness.

The baptismal priesthood is exercised in sanctifying the world. The Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) says, “Though they differ essentially and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are none

the less ordered one to another; each in its own proper way shares in the one priesthood of Christ. The ministerial priest, by the sacred power that he has, forms and rules the priestly people; in the person of Christ, he effects the eucharistic sacrifice and offers it to God in the name of all the people. The faithful indeed, by virtue of their royal priesthood, participate in the offering of the Eucharist. They exercise that priesthood, too, by the reception of the

sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, abnegation, and active charity (LG 10).” People help sanctify the world through their worship, through their seeking to grow in holiness, through their family life, through their work, and through their enduring suffering and trials with patience and faith. Again, the council says, “For all their works, prayers and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation

of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit –indeed even the hardships of life if patiently borne—all of these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Pet 2:5) in the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God (LG 34).”

Let’s face it; the world needs lots and lots of sanctifying.

Blessings,

Fr. Jim

Eucharistic Revival I

Dear Folks,

At the priests’ conference, we talked about the Eucharistic revival. Our speaker was a theology professor, Dr. Timothy O’Malley. We reviewed the statistics about the (vast) majority of Catholics who believe that at Mass the bread and wine are only symbols of the

Body and Blood of Christ, rather than being truly, substantially the Body and Blood of Christ. As horrible as that is, we cannot solve the problem simply by telling them the correct doctrine, but people need to know why this matters, what difference it makes in

their lives. Furthermore, they must not only know it cognitively, but personally, deep down to their core. There is a gap between faith and life, and people don’t see that it matters that much.

Nor need we think only of those already beatified and canonized. The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people, for “it has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness”. In salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people (Gaudete et Exultate 6).”

We are so busy and moving so fast that life is a series of events, and we don’t step back to see the larger narrative, the meaning. People have been taught that the good life is being very productive. Relationships, contemplation and meaning get pushed aside by an ever increasing torrent of tasks. People are falling apart, and there are not nearly enough counsellors to help people who need counselling.

People see the reality as primarily something to manipulate rather than resonating with it. Consider, for a moment, resonating with someone or something. Rather than coming to a reality with preset preferences and trying to see how much we can push things in that

direction, we are sensitive to the movement and quick to adapt. Think of two people dancing together, their movements seek to be synchronized so that they flow together. This is a powerful experience and helps draw us out of ourselves. One of the major challenges of our time is to get more Catholics to see themselves less as customers in the Church, and more as disciples and co-workers in mission. More on that later.

As we talk about becoming a Eucharistic people, we start with looking more deeply at the meaning of baptismal priesthood. I trust everyone was taught that at our baptism we were

anointed “priest, prophet, and king,” but we most were not taught much about what that means, much less what it means in practice. That is for next week.

Blessings, Fr. Jim

Poor in Spirit

Dear Folks

In the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew (the importance of which I cannot emphasize enough), Jesus starts by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3).” If you ask a lot of Christians what that means, most will not have an answer.

Matthew 8, immediately after the Sermon on the Mount, begins with two healings. First is a leper. This guy was poor, absolutely poor. He could offer Jesus literally nothing in return for a favor. He has no money, no contacts, and couldn’t even offer Him his coat if he had one (it would be infected). He was completely dependent on Jesus’ mercy. The second miracle is the centurion’s servant. This centurion was, in the world’s terms, probably the richest, most powerful, most important person who had ever been in Capernaum. Furthermore, he had been good to the residents, and had built a very large synagogue (bigger than such a small community could normally afford), and so might easily be thinking that everyone in town owed him a favor. If anyone could be expected to approach Jesus with a sense of entitlement to special treatment, it was him. And yet we see the opposite. When Jesus says he will come and cure the servant, the centurion says, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof (Matt 8:8).” This is, perhaps, the greatest expression in the Bible, and we repeat it every Mass. He approached Jesus, not with a sense of entitlement, but of humility, as a beggar. He was not poor, but he was poor in spirit.

Contrast with Jesus’ visit to the synagogue in Nazareth in Luke 4. The people there thought that since Jesus had grown up there, they were entitled to see some miracles. When Jesus told them they weren’t they got quite nasty. When people approach Jesus with a sense of entitlement it does not go well.

Our Gospel today tells the story of a servant who had been plowing the field or tending sheep all day (Luke 17:7-10) comes home, and, instead of being able to relax and eat, still has to make and serve dinner for the master.

In C. S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” he says, “Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied (Letter 21).” We can believe that after all we have done and all we have suffered, we should have things go our way for a while, but things don’t go as well. There is not just a sense of disappointment, but a sense that we have been wronged. Sometimes people do wrong us, but when there is nothing we can do to correct the situation, holding on to the resentment will harm and not help us. We recognize the truth, but must work toward healing. We can feel wronged that God has not done what we wanted. We can decide we deserve better from God after all we have done and all we have gone through. We are all reminded today that however much we do for God, He doesn’t owe us anything. Ephesians 2:1-10 makes that point very powerfully. If we worked 29 hours a day, 11 days a week 64 weeks a year for a million years, we could not earn a moment of heaven.

When we approach God, we are confident that he will respond because of His infinite love, not because we are entitled. A disciple does not tell God that we will follow so far and no farther, or we will follow only if our conditions are met. We do not know what discipleship will demand in the future, but we are called to follow wherever it leads. I find He will send some consolations and encouragements to keep us from getting totally discouraged, but not always when and how much we think He should.

We ask for the strength to follow without limits, and with a willing heart.

Blessings,

Fr Jim

Stewarding the Gift of Faith

Dear Folks,

A theme of the Gospel readings from Luke this fall is our response to God’s gifts. God has given us the most wonderful gift of the Catholic faith, and this is a good time to ask how we

are stewarding that gift. Many who were raised Catholic have been sacramentalized but not evangelized, with what Pope Benedict called “The torpor of a Christianity of mere sacramentalism, little different from magic, and not productive of the faith that comes from hearing (From Theological Highlights of Vatican II).” That is so sad when we think of what can be.

It’s not just a matter of accumulating tidbits of information but developing a Catholic perspective and a Catholic imagination. In the words of “From Christendom to Apostolic Mission” by the University of Mary, “Christians don’t see some things differently than others: they see everything differently in the light of the extraordinary drama they have come to understand.” We follow God’s teaching, not because God is standing over us to

smite us the minute we step out of line, but because it is the fullest, most free, most ultimately satisfying way to live, and because the more we grow in our love for God, the more we want to please Him. Moral principles are not rules arbitrarily imposed upon us,

but revelation of how to live out our dignity. The challenge is to learn and share this great treasure.

We have so many resources now for everyone to be able to learn more about the Catholic faith. At Saints CJM, we have access to Formed.org, and many others do as well. That makes available a huge treasure of books, video, and movies of every description. [I really wish that everyone everyone everyone would watch Trent Horn’s one hour talk “How to Talk about Marriage and Same-Sex Unions.” If we want to make headway, we don’t start with appeals to religion or tradition, but humanity, and why would society privilege a certain type of relationship.] There are so many wonderful books, study programs, even YouTube videos, and anyone can do little bits when we get a moment. We are surrounded by tremendous wealth.

Jesus said, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more (Luke 12:48b).” Read Luke 12:41-48 if you dare.

Our Gospel reading this Sunday is about the rich man and Lazarus, and the rich man had been abundantly blessed with material goods, and did nothing to share with poor Lazarus, who lay dying outside his gate. The Gospels are pretty fierce about the mandate for Christians to address physical poverty. Now, what about the poverty of spirit? We have been so richly blessed with the treasures of our Catholic faith, and the world is full of people suffering and dying because they don’t have this truth (Show hands, who thinks the world would be a better place with more Jesus in people’s lives?). What will God say to us if we decide it’s not our job to help share the goodness, beauty, and truth of Jesus and His story with the world?

I know people are horrifically busy, overwhelmed, and tired from the other demands of life. If you can only do a tiny, little bit but do it with all you have, that is huge in the Gospel perspective. Remember the story of the widow’s mite (Luke 21:1-4). The critical thing is that we recognize the great need to do what we can and be ready to tell God that we did the very best we knew how. He will take care of the rest.

Blessings,

Fr Jim

Church in Transition

Dear Folks,

I think it is safe to say we are going through transition. The shortage of priests is getting people’s attention, but also the fact that most people who were raised Catholic are not practicing the Catholic faith, even minimally, in any measurable way. Our society is

getting more and more hostile to some core Christian values, and we don’t know how far that will go (there is no natural limit).

People point to various reasons why people leave the Church, but we must always remember the other side of that question: they were not given enough reason to stay. If you take away one thought from me today, let it be this:

Many, many people think the Catholic faith is much less than it is, and it doesn’t take much to get them to leave because they don’t think it matters that much anyway. Now there have been generations who were taught that way, and we are seeing the

results. If they had a semi-decent appreciation of the awesome gift of the Catholic faith, for the magnificent and unique gift of the Eucharist, you couldn’t pry them loose with a crowbar. Turning that around is a central factor in setting the course for our future.

As we seek to fix this, there is a challenge. There is polarization in the Church, and that is a major problem. I think Satan laughs himself silly every time he can get Christians fighting

Christians, and he has had much cause to laugh of late. To reduce some complex issues to simple categories, we can speak of traditionalists and progressives, each with a different set

of emphases and priorities. This is often coming up in how people think we should celebrate Mass.

Before Vatican II, there was tremendous emphasis on the other-worldly nature of the Mass, on reverence, on how is was unique and transcendent it was. The problem was that people

often had a sense of being disconnected from it, even while present. After Vatican II, there were a number of changes, not all of them called for by the council. There was a greater

sense of the importance of participating, on the community dimension, on making the mystery easily accessible. The problem was that some people often thought of the Mass as just another gathering, to be judged according to how it makes us feel and what kind of experience they have.

Coming off the lock-down, many are saying they have decided they like to do their Sunday morning prayers in their jammies in their beanbag chair with their hot chocolate. The big tragedy is not that they have stopped coming, but that they had so little sense about this in the first place.

We need to connect people as powerfully as possible with the divine mystery, a key component is how we celebrate Mass. Vatican II did teach that people should be taught to understand really well what is happening and why, and encouraged to full, conscious, active participation. The council also said that people should be able to sing or say at least those parts of the Mass that pertain to them. This does a number of things. It helps set apart the

liturgy from other activities: Folks, this is different from everything else we do, and we must be conscious of that. That is part of having a sense of the sacred. It requires more effort to learn and understand, and there is merit in that. It also unites us with people all over the world. If people are gathered from other countries with other languages, we can all pray together. Even if that doesn’t happen to us on a regular basis, it reminds us that Church

is much larger than us and helps us put ourselves in perspective. We also focus on music that is different from secular music, that is faithful to what is being celebrated, and pulls something from deep inside us.

Some people are unhappy because we are being more traditional. Some people are unhappy because we are not being much more traditional. One thing is fairly certain: we will not get

through this without dealing with things we don’t like. I think that’s part of why God calls us to be Church: this is about something larger than us.

The adventure continues.

Blessings,

Fr. Jim

Things I’ve Learned as a Priest

Dear Folks,

Last week I wrote a bit about my experience as a priest, and I mentioned that I have learned a great deal. Graduating from the seminary is like getting a complicated piece of IKEA furniture with no directions. I had components, but no idea how they fit together. It has taken some time and some trial and error (and error and error), but I have made some progress.

My priority should not be maintaining the status quo of the institution, or even forming the institution, but forming people in the faith, helping them build and nurture a relationship with God and helping them serve God. That will do the most to help the institution.

There will always be a hundred gazillion tasks nibbling at my ankles, but priesthood is not first and foremost about tasks, but about relationships (you still have to do tasks, though). Without putting relationship with God first, none of the rest of it makes sense.

It is not enough to say something that is correct; how you say it matters at least as much.

That is an art that takes a lifetime.

As long as the work of the Church is better off with me than without me, self-care is a sacred duty.

In building a vision for accomplishing things, I need to have lower expectations short-term and higher expectations long term (God is mighty, but it can be frustrating how patient He is until we remember how much we depend on His patience).

Lessons are often like spices. They have to simmer for a while before they can have their full effect.

However much patience I think I have learned, God seems to think I need to learn more.

I keep finding more about how the world is a mess, the Church is a mess, and it goes very deep (other words than “mess” spring to mind, but I’d better stick with that one). This leads to anger, disappointment, frustration, and several other reactions. I must avoid the twin temptations of being in a constant state of rage on the one hand, or giving up, doing the minimum, and waiting to retire on the other hand.

Learning from experience is not automatic. It requires will to take the effort and skill to do it well. We must look at what happened, analyze it honestly and clearly, then strategize how to do better. This is an art worth a lifetime of effort. This goes double for learning from our mistakes.

Looking back on my life, I can see how God had been at work, forming, shaping, and preparing me. It did not make sense at the time, but it looks much different in the bigger picture.

The more I learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the more wonderful I find it is and the more anxious I am to learn more. God is at work, and I think He is planning something wonderful. If we accept the challenges that face us, the road will be hard, but leading to a glorious future.

I have more, but I better stop now.

Blessings,

Fr. Jim

35 Years of Priesthood

Dear Folks,

I have been a priest for thirty-five years now. It has been quite an adventure.

“Are you resolved, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the office of priesthood in the presbyteral order, as a conscientious fellow worker with the bishops in caring for the Lord’s flock?” We are not to be free-lancers; we are part of a team. There can be disagreement that can be frustrating, but I think God planned it that way.

“Are you resolved to celebrate the mysteries of Christ faithfully and religiously as the Church has handed them down to us, for the glory of God and the sanctification of Christ’s people?”

“Are you resolved to exercise the ministry of the Word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and explaining the Catholic faith?” This is perhaps the most underestimated aspect of the work of the Church. Many don’t know enough about their faith to maintain it in the face of attacks from the world, or even questions they naturally ask as adults. Many learned a version of the faith that made them think that the Catholic faith doesn’t make much difference, and there is no reason to learn more. Our succeeding as Church absolutely depends on our learning lots and lots about the faith. I’m learning as fast as I can, given the realities of my life.

“Are you resolved to consecrate your life to God for the salvation of His people, and to unite yourself more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered Himself for us to the Father as a perfect sacrifice?” First and foremost, our lives are meant to be an offering to God: this is what I have done with what You gave me, Lord.

As a priest, I deal with the most important issues that exist, the things that go to the center of the human person, the things that affect someone’s life forever (yes, literally forever). I have the privilege and the challenge of regular intimate contact with the most sacred, most profound mysteries. The challenge, of course, is the temptation to forget how amazing and powerful they are and treat them in a matter-of-fact manner. This requires constant care. I have had so many different experiences. I have been to hospitals, psychiatric wards, jails, prisons, rich neighborhoods, poor neighborhoods, schools, and other places I can’t think of. I have been with people in their happiest moments and their saddest moments. Helping people through the most important moments of their lives is a unique privilege.

I have had a sharp learning curve. I look back in horror at some of the mistakes I’ve made. I remind myself that God knew all about me when He called me, and somehow decided it was worth it to have me around. Someone once said, “Remember God has incorporated your stupidity into His plan.” I find that wonderfully comforting. I’m not responsible for where I started, but I’m responsible for where I go from there. Priesthood has been such a great opportunity to learn and to grow, and I can’t imagine what I would be like now if I weren’t a priest.

I have dealt with all sorts of people. Some are the kindest, most generous, holiest people who are an inspiration to be with. Some are very hard and painful to deal with. Some are quite broken. Some demonstrate incredible gifts, and some have not discovered theirs yet. Everyone is someone I can learn from.

The Church is undergoing major transition now, and how we react is going to make a great difference for our future. I see signs that there will be major difficulties but also potential to accomplish great things. This is an exciting time to be a priest. It is an exciting time to be a Catholic.

Blessings,

Fr. Jim