Thursday, August 30, 2012


It's funny how things can be twisted and warped in the world.  Relationships, work, and life in general get so confusing and difficult when your focus shifts from where it should be.  The important things that matter are often more in the background than the simple little details that are not.

Some times we just need to "wake up" and realize what is more important.  If we get wrapped up in the little things, we become like the Pharisees and Sadducees that were so caught up in obeying the laws, that they forgot the purpose of it all.

Love one another!  I have been through some difficult things, especially in recent years, but I still have Love even for those who have caused me the most pain.  I will never be as loving as Christ, but I try to model myself after Him.  I have failed and will fail in the future, but I will not give up!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Somebody brought it to my attention today that I could be viewed by some as overzealous in my faith.  My initial reaction was slightly disturbed that this person felt this way.  As I was also dealing with some other emotional issues at that moment, the only thing I could think to do was pray about it.  I know, what a conundrum!

After that I decided to go for a walk.  While doing so, I had some time to think and ask God, "Why must I endure this suffering and persecution?"  I was reminded of the fact that today is the day that the church remembers the beheading of John the Baptist.  As was said by a priest in the past, "His persecutor had not demanded that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth."  John the baptist spent his whole life spreading the truth, and I feel that not doing so, would be the same as denying Him.

I don't really want to die for what I believe, but I don't want to lose everything I have left either.  That said, I cannot deny Christ by not sharing what I believe either.  When we go through dark periods of our life, we may do so because we have lost sight of the truth for a time.  That does not mean that we should have to be separated from those who entered our lives during that dark time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Divine Mercy

If that Devil gets any little hook in you, he will yank on it and pull you further down.  It may seem all the worse when you are already lifted up.  These are the most important times for prayer, especially when an important phone call gets no answer, an event looked forward to gets canceled, and someone gets upset with you over something silly all about the same time.  

My favorite prayer at those low moments, is that of Divine Mercy..."Jesus, I trust in you!"  These simple words are extremely powerful.  They can be a tiny doorway back into a realm of peace.  Remember them always and let them come from deep in your heart.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Excitement and Reflection

My children started back to school today.  I called and talked to my daughter, who gave me a rundown of her first day.  It's amazing the way one child will tell you almost everything that happened at school, and the other you can't even get on the phone.

Amid their excitement, I managed to get my "new" cassock adjusted to a point that it will fit comfortably.  It will always be a bit big for me, but as I don't have the money for a custom fit, or know anyone who has time to make one for me, it will have to do.  I believe it will work just fine.  Now my surplice looks a little silly, but that is a matter for another time.

These exciting things going on only serve to deepen my reflection on discerning my purpose.  The level of comfort and peace I feel, when I am the church, just doesn't compare with anything else I do.  I have yet to feel anything that steers me away from my desire to be a deacon, but as I still feel like I might also be called to the priesthood, the powers that be have asked me to wait and pray about it some more.  I will gladly continue to do so and hope that all who read this will pray for me as well.  

May GOD bless you all!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Get over here!

I can really tell that my help is appreciated at church, when right before my Sunday morning Bible study, Father looked at me from across the church a just gives the motion with his index finger that says, "Come Here!"  He already knew that I was scheduled to serve at the later Mass, but there were only ten minutes to the first one and no servers.  I happily agreed to help, and no sooner was I vested did four more show up.

After our second Mass together this morning, I pointed out that the cassock I have been wearing is starting to come apart and that I am hoping to try to find a way to purchase something more durable, since I use it almost every day.  He asked me to try on one of his in the closet, and then told me I could have it.  After re-securing a few buttons and pinning the back to take it in a bit, its still too big, but I think it will work.

Maybe some day I'll get one that wasn't either made for a kid or a man with a much larger chest and neck.  This evening I have also been asked to come back and help with another Mass, as two of the scheduled servers are unable to be there.  I guess I will get the chance to see right away how well my alteration attempt turned out.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Prayer vs Evil

My mother offered me a bumper sticker for my car today!  I haven't had a bumper sticker on my car in years.  I think she realized that if I was going to put anything on my car, this would be it.  It says "Prayer, Our Best Defense Against Evil" and I think I'm actually going to put it on my car.  

This is something I have learned quite well over recent years.  Whenever things are going wrong, and my thoughts are turning to evil, I like to bring myself back to the Lord with a bit of prayer.  I think this is what I like so much about praying the Liturgy of the Hours.  By design, it is meant to bring us back to prayer multiple times a day.  Five to seven times a day we come back and read a bit, offer praise, sing hymns, and just re-focus our day.

You know, it just blows me away to realize that so many people feel that it is only for priests and religious.  It is meant for us all, as we are all asked to pray without ceasing.  It is an obligation for priests and religious, but it is also recommended for the laity.  I have made a promise to myself, as well as a commitment when I became an Oblate of Conception Abbey, to pray this daily as well.  It frustrates me when others do not take my commitment seriously because its not a "vow."  It's still a commitment to the Lord, and one I intend to keep...even if its not always easy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Exhausted & Happy

Recently, I decided that I needed to get back in shape.  I had started to gain a significant amount of weight from a lack of physical activity.  Between working two jobs and serving at daily Mass early in the morning, I just didn't have the energy left to go for a run anymore.  I decided last week that I would start with walking, and I enjoyed it so much during the first two days, I went for a run on the third.

That bordered on being a mistake.  I was miserable by the end, but the whole time something just kept telling me, "Just push through it."  I realized tonight that it must have been the devil I was listening to.  As I went for a 6 mile walk this evening after mowing two lawns, I made excellent use of a great app on my phone.  I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours daily and this app has it as mp3 files, which meant I was able to pray and walk at the same time. 

It occurs to me that God will provide you with an abundance of energy, when you follow the plan.  I might be exhausted now, but I feel better than I have in a long time.  I still have a long way to go, but this is just like everything else.  I just need to keep following the plan, and have patience.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wake up Sleepy Head!

There's nothing quite like rolling over and learning that you were supposed to be at work 15 minutes ago!  Some could easily say that it sets the tone for your whole day.  Then, as you pull into the parking lot at work, you realize that you've forgotten your badge as well.

My thoughts this morning started out as, "Oh great, this isn't going to be a good day."  When break time came along, I realized yet again that I had left my phone and my prayer books at home.  At this point I offered it all up to God and said, "Apparently, I needed the extra sleep today," asking Jesus to carry me through.  I may have gotten way behind on my routine daily prayers, but my spontaneous prayer prospered.

At lunch, I was able to get home and at least get my phone, and I made some CD's for a little evangelism with some co-workers.  My afternoon consisted of more driven initiative than I have put forth in some time.  All this was followed up this evening with an opportunity to watch an exclusive interview with Mitt Romney which actually helped put my mind at ease about him as a presidential candidate.

I still feel like I missed out a little today, by not making it to Mass, but God had other plans for today and I will be back there again tomorrow.  It's great to have peace following me around even on a day that seemed to start out pretty rough.  Thank you, GOD!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just have faith and be productive!

Today's Mass gave us an interesting parable to ponder.  When we receive the same pay as someone who doesn't work nearly as hard as we feel that we have, we feel cheated.  Shouldn't we rather be proud that we have accomplished more?

It seems that the subject of money has always been a source of great struggle.  Those that know me well, know that money has been, and will continue to be a source of great stress for me for some time.  When a 34 year-old father of two has to go live with his parents for three years, it creates immense tension between him and his family.  The children suffer from the fathers lack of resources to make the best of the time they have together.  Eventually he must make that leap of faith to strike out on his own once again.  That stress can be deeply compounded by juggling remaining debt, pressure to move out, and working two jobs to make it all work, and knowing that it still may not be enough.

Please don't take this post as a request for money, as I am not asking for a handout.  I only ask for continued prayers as I move forward into an unknown future with head held high, knowing that if it gets too rough, Jesus will carry me.  Whenever a challenge is thrown at me, may I face it head on and know that He is at my side. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Excitement explosion

Each new day is a blessing from God!  Did you ever notice how much easier it is to say that and really feel like you mean it after you have been to the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  How often do you take advantage of such a blessed sacrament?  While I am working on developing the habit of going every other week, and eventually once a week, I have been blessed to have established a once a month habit.  I like to go on Tuesday evenings, as our parish has a regularly scheduled Confession time right before Mass.

Serving at Mass is made even more amazing when preceded by Reconciliation.  Today, it became evident to me that the simple things that I do at church have a larger impact on our priests than I knew.  I enjoy being useful to the Parish, even though it doesn't always seem that way.  I got a special treat tonight to find out that we had a special Mass to welcome the Teachers and the Parents back to school for the new year.  Father asked me to help him with it, and I just felt wonderfully needed.

I'll thank you to forgive me for my thoughts today as they are an explosion of joy having just come from the excitement.  Sometimes I fear that this joy borders on vanity, however I then ask Jesus to shield me from the devil and remember that my joy comes from the benefit I have been to others.

Monday, August 20, 2012


"If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then com, follow me."

In today's Gospel, we hear these words, and like the young man that Jesus said these words to, we are sad as we have many possessions.  However, there are many ways that we can follow this message and be closer to "perfection."  How often do we find ourselves, watching television when we could be praying the rosary?  How many times would we rather read a novel than scripture?  If we just take some of that time and give up what we want for what brings us closer to Christ, is that not following this teaching?

I have found that many a day I will catch myself falling slave to these earthly things and they take hold of my life.  While this brings happiness on the surface, it ultimately causes misery.  When I step back and listen to God's message, I understand further the reality that being a servant of the Lord brings us true freedom.  This freedom is the freedom from the misery that the devil wishes upon us through his efforts to convince us to partake in earthly pleasures.

Sometimes we let these things draw us in so far, it seems hopeless to break the cycle.  These are the times that our faith is most important.  Put your faith in the Lord and he will carry you through.  Take that one step toward Him, and He will take the other 999.

Prayer vs Mass

Last night while stuck working an overnight shift at my part-time job, I was discussing with a fellow Catholic, the difficulty approaching in the morning with making it through Mass without passing out from sheer exhaustion.  Another co-worker suggested that we go home and lie in bed with the gospel channel on the television.  When I told her that, that isn't the same as attending Mass, she looked at me and said, "You don't have to be in a church to pray!"

I couldn't help but feel sorry for this person as she doesn't seem to understand that there is a difference between Mass and prayer.  "I may attend Mass daily," I told her, "but that is only a fraction of my prayer."  It saddens me to realize that people of that mentality believe that those who attend a church regularly only pray while they are there.

As it turned out, not only did I remain awake during Mass, but Father asked me to serve as usual, and I managed to focus better this morning than many others.  I thank God for helping me through this weekend and believe that my prayers were answered.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A connection through faith!

This morning I came to the understanding that, as I increase my devotions, and continue to serve at church, my life affects more people than I knew.  Someone asked me the other day if I had given any more thought to being a deacon.  I told this person that I am continuing to pray about it and that for now the office of the diaconate has told me No.

This morning the same person share with me how upset it makes her when she sees people who are very devout turned away from something it seems they would do very well.  She was nearly in tears, so I shared with her that there are reasons behind why I was told no...I am only 34, my children are young, and I am still discerning the possibility of the priesthood.  At this point she lit up and said, "I was just thinking to myself yesterday, 'Gosh, he'd make a great Priest!'"  I felt the need to remind her that God knows what He's doing, and if it is truly His will, no man will stand in the way...He will open the right doors at the right time.

I found myself beaming, not that she thought I'd make a great Priest, (although that was flattering) but that I was able to comfort her, and help lessen some of the ill feelings she was starting to feel with some of our leaders in the church.  I have no doubt that God is guiding them as well!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Some random thoughts

Last night before Mass, a young girl altar server asked me, "Are you studying to be a Deacon, or a Priest?"  I replied, "Neither, I'm just a server, like you."  Her response was, "That's Cool."  At the end of Mass, before the recessional hymn, our Priest said he wanted to thank me...and the servers for our help.  I went to him and said, "Father, you don't need to single me out like that."  He responded, "Well you're more than just a server."  

I realized later that I have been questioned about this quite frequently lately, and my answer always seems to deny the way I feel inside.  However, I do not want to claim anything that is not so.  With that thought, I decided to start giving a new, more appropriate answer.  From now on, the answer is, "That remains to be seen."

Its hard to come up with something to talk about everyday, and keep it interesting.  You have to give those priests props for being able to take those daily readings of scripture and find a message to share with us.  In the spirit of continuing with daily posts, I decided I needed to share something today.  As I reflected on the day and what to share, I came to the realization that my mother and step-father were married 26 years ago today.  Congratulations to them!  That's no easy task in this difficult modern society in which we live.  

With a fast growing culture attacking marriage and family life, its also easy for people whose marriages were not meant to be to feel as though they made mistakes.  I attempted marriage, and I have no regrets.  If I hadn't made that attempt, I would not have been blessed with my two wonderful children.  That said, I also know that it was only a part of the Plan.  

I still don't know what the rest of the plan is, but I will keep doing the best I can to follow it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Do you ever have those days when you just don’t want to get out of bed?  After working a part-time job until 1:30 in the morning, the 4:30am alarm is really early!  Fortunately, today happens to be the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  As much as I would have liked to have been at Mass this morning, I know that I have the opportunity to go to the 6:00 evening Mass.  I was already planning to go and serve, but now, since I didn’t get out of bed until 7:00am, I have made it an obligation.

Many people tell me that I am doing too much and I shouldn’t try to get up and go to Mass so early every day, but what I understand and they do not, is that Mass and morning prayers are the “glue” that holds everything else together.  I couldn’t work two jobs like I do, if I didn’t have Jesus carrying me through.  I wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t offer my all to give thanks.

     Almighty God, you gave a humble virgin the privilege of
     being the mother of your Son, and crowned her with the
     glory of heaven.  May the prayers of the Virgin Mary
     bring us to the salvation of Christ and raise us up to
     eternal life.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
     your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the
     Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  AMEN

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sisters of Saint Francis of the Martyr Saint George

When I think of religious orders, I used to think of old monks staring into a book or chanting and living in some over dramatized castle-like place in the mountains.  Recently I have met many religious, who have helped me come to the realization that there is so much more to religious life.

These ladies are very hard working and deserve much love respect for all the hard work and prayers that they as well as many other religious provide for, not only their own communities, but also wherever they find the need and can make themselves useful.

We have been blessed in our parish recently to have some of these very ladies helping out with the elementary school and parish.  They returned a couple months ago to prepare for their profession of perpetual vows.

I pray that they are able to continue their good work and prayers and faithfully make their final commitment for life.  I can only hope to be as faithful to God's will as these precious women have been.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Divine Mercy

While praying the Divine Mercy chaplet yesterday, I found myself in a state of peace.   Even though I don’t always feel a strong desire to stop my busy life to pray, I recognize that Jesus is the one that carries me through that long day or night at work, and then gets me up in the morning to start it all over again.

What better way to honor the Lord than to pray for Divine Mercy.  “Jesus, I trust in you” is a phrase that I use most often when I feel like my own strength is not enough.  We often times take the credit for the things that we do even though we are being carried through.  It’s easy to ask God for help in our hour of need, but how often do we take time out to really thank Him.

A quick “Thanks God,” is not quite what I mean.  When another person does something simple for us we don’t hesitate to say “Thank you,” and when it is a major help, we usually sit down and write a note or purchase a gift.  Isn’t it worth doing a bit more than that for God?

Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ…In atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion…have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

An introduction

When I was growing up, ending up a 34 year-old, divorced father of two that lives 800 miles away from his kids couldn’t have been further from my radar.  

I was the typical kid who dreamed of growing up and being just like my dad, only my marriage was going to be one that lasted.  For a brief time I thought about what it might be like to be a priest, but that was just wishful thinking.  Soon after, I found myself in a desolate separation from the church, married to an unbeliever, and raising two kids that would not know God.  In the misery that followed, my bad marriage fell apart, God led me back to the church, my marriage was found to be invalid, and I started to teach my faith to my children from a distance.  This has brought a change in my life that I never thought possible.

The truth is most people don’t plan for their life to turn out with divorce, separation by distance from children, job loss, and basically starting life over.  It can happen more often than we care to admit in this twisted world we have built for ourselves.

What happens to us when we don’t listen to God’s call, and follow a path to a different vocation?  Doesn’t it stand to reason that, once we find our way back to Christ, He will put us on a path to where He wants us, even if it doesn’t seem appropriate to others?

I don’t really know what will come next, but for now I am struggling to get out of debt while raising my children from afar.  I feel that I may be called to the priesthood and/or religious life and plan to share here what I learn on my journey.


Benedict MAC