Gaudete Sunday – Rejoice!

imagesAt a time that stood in the shadow of notorious papal scandal and other church corruption, a time of great distrust of the church, a saint came along to who would change some of this. This man had a great desire to counter these feelings of suspicion and a lack of trust, and replace them with a love of the Lord. If you were walking around Rome in the 16th century you might have spied him, perhaps standing in a piazza or on a street corner. He might stand out because he was frequently seen wearing absolutely ridiculous clothing and sometimes with half of his beard shaved off. What a sight! It was in this way that St. Philip Neri helped to change the course of church history, and bring many souls to know Christ.

While Neri is known for his extraordinary evangelizing, it was this offbeat approach that helped change lives. By joyfully using his extraordinary sense of humor, St. Philip left a huge imprint upon the church and the world. All this was accomplished by Continue reading

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Remain in My Love, a reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter

13746Have you ever heard someone say, “I used to go to church, but I’m not welcome now.”? These words, and variations of them, may be spoken in anger, sadness, resignation, but most always in hurt. Hearing them breaks my heart.

What church doesn’t welcome/like God’s people? God’s longing is to draw everyone in relationship with God, as members of the mystical Body of Christ in the world. All three of today’s readings orient us towards God’s invitation to all people, offered in love, and made manifest through our own participation and action.

image002First we hear about Cornelius, a Roman citizen, who prostrates himself before Peter. Without hesitation, Peter tells him to get up, reminding Cornelius that he too is human, not divine. We are all human, and Jesus – who is divinity enfleshed, came to draw us into deeper relationship with God through one another. Peter tells Cornelius that God shows no partiality, and that every nation that “fears him and acts uprightly” is “acceptable” to Him. At this point, the Holy Spirit “fell upon all who were listening to the word.” Such an event is shocking to the “circumcised” who were amazed by God’s generosity and welcome to those they considered outsiders.

This makes me wonder why God’s generous welcome remains Continue reading

Saturday Lazy Blogger Edition

Can_call_you_back_Im_with_piece_of_string_Cartoon_print_by_Leo_Cullum_Published_in_The_New_Yorker_on_17_2005It hit me this morning… I have neglected you little bloggy blog, and you brilliantly beautiful blog readers. Nothing is wrong, just my typical post Christmas slowdown. In any case, if you are a new reader, welcome. If you have been with me for long or short while, thank you. If you found your way here today due to reading my reflection today in Give Us This Day – I am grateful that you made the journey.

Anyway, the cartoon to the left kind of says where I am. January  is typically my lazy month. In reality, I have been busy here, doing some January-ish things, such as cleaning and organizing. Also, I have some talks/teaching/retreats/travel coming up, not to mention some writing deadlines, so there’s that. In the very near future I will post Continue reading

Making time for prayer #whynot

whynotThe other day I posted about New Year’s Resolutions – or lack of them. If you read the post then you know that they have never been my thing – and that I have been prompted by the Spirit to ask the question #whynot? Why not try something new or different, something that has been long desired – or recently imagined – and see what happens? Most change, as we know, comes slowly. Many times one small change can bring forth more sweeping ones over time.

One thing that seems to come up for a lot of people is the desire to pray; either to begin a regular prayer practice, or to deepen an existing one. Speaking as the world’s most undisciplined person, I can tell you that the only consistent practice in my life is Continue reading

Hungry, Naked, and Sick

10702060_765501393522463_5332331349274774028_nYou heard the Gospel on Sunday, right? Well maybe some of you did, maybe some of you didn’t. Here is a snippet from Matthew 25:

For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’

This is Jesus speaking to us, reminding us of our Christian life and vocation. It is one of the most powerful Gospels, clearly telling us what to do if we want to follow and serve Jesus.

In early 2012 I was invited to contribute a few gospel reflections to a book that was being put together by Deacon Jim Knipper; the book would be sold to benefit others and his working title for his enterprise was “Homilists for the Homeless.” While flattered, and slightly mystified to why I was invited along, I said yes – imagining one of those spiral bound books you can get made up at Staples, sold in Jim’s parish gathering space. Was I ever wrong!

Imagine my shock and surprise when the dawn began to break in my head and I realized that I would be in a book with a number of spiritual and religious giants who were heroes of mine, such as Richard Rohr OFM. Then there was James Martin SJ, whom I had interviewed by phone once, and corresponded with a little – another person who inspired me regularly. These two were the big ones for me, but there were many others. This first volume of Homilists for the Homeless gathered voices that were ordained and lay, Catholic and other Christian, male and female, to break open the Scriptures for each Sunday and Holy Day in the Catholic liturgical year. And the title? Back to today’s Gospel, the book would be called “Hungry, and You Fed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C.”

We’ve been busy since then, still hearing that Gospel in our hearts and publishing “Naked, and You Clothed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle A” last year. This November we have released our third volume in the series, “Sick, and You Cared for Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle B.”

This is new for this year - a box set of all three volumes. Available  at this link.

This is new for this year – a box set of all three volumes. Available at this link.

We’ve also been blessed richly, selling many, many books. The result has been that over $30,000 has been distributed to our selected charities for our first two years. We look forward to what the future brings and are grateful for our readers and such wide support.

16392_756880211051248_3157002784781926629_nOur list of contributors has grown since year one, keeping all the originals such as Deacon Greg Kandra, Fr. William Baush, and Michael Leach,  while adding some new voices. For example, last year we added names like Sister Simone Campbell SSS, Jan Richardson, Mary Sperry, Gregory Boyle SJ, Michelle Francl, Daniel Horan OFM, and Rob Bell. This year Deacon William Ditewig, Rev. Martha Sterne, and Margaret Blackie were added, and Joan Chittester OSB wrote our forward! All of our cover and interior art is done by Bro. Mickey McGrath OSFS. There are so many voices, names recognizable and others less so, but all quite gifted and passionate. You can find a comprehensive list of our contributors at this link.

I can’t even begin to express what an honor and privilege it is to be a part of such an august group. And that’s my ego speaking – the real honor and privilege comes from knowing just how many others are served because of these books.

Think the books are not for you because you are not a homilist, think again. We have many readers. Some use the books as homiletic resources for preachers from every tradition. Others use it to study, read, and pray. Groups and individuals use the books for weekly prayer and scripture study. I have heard of people bringing them to nursing homes and other facilities; I’m sure that they would be a welcome addition to prison libraries.

If you have purchased our books – we thank you! And if you are just learning about us, please have a look at our website. We are grateful for your purchase which puts the Gospel into action. Please “like” us at our Facebook page and “follow” us on Twitter. visit our Clear Faith Publishing website, where you will find other items for sale. We are also grateful for any social media sharing that you can offer us. Not for us, but for the sake of those who are hungry, naked, and sick. Which in the end, is all of us – completely dependent on Christ, completely dependent on one another.

Whimsy full of wisdom – UPDATED

We have a winner! The name chosen out of the hat was Linda Reid! Thanks to one and all for reading the blog, and hopefully the book!

JohnXXIII-1 Although this is not a book review, I am going to talk about a book – and yes, I am going to give one away. Yesterday two popes were canonized, becoming official saints in the canon of the Catholic church – St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II.

Bro. Mickey McGrath OSFS is a gifted artist, author, retreat leader, and speaker. He is also a dear friend, and a colleague of mine. His latest book is about one of our new saints, one who is close to Mickey’s heart. This book, published by Clear Faith Publishing, is called Good Saint John XXIII, Quotes & Quips from the Prophet of Peace.

The book is one that is full of the whimsy we may associate with Mickey’s art, but make no mistake – this is not just simple fun – this book is Continue reading

Naked, and you clothed me…

Last year at about this time, a new book was published. This book, a compilation of homilies and reflections based on year C of the three year lectionary cycle, was the brainchild of Deacon Jim Knipper. Jim had one goal of bringing forth a new lectionary resource for prayer and reflection, based on the sermons of a wide swath of authors. This book contained the work of Richard Rohr, OFM, James Martin, SJ, and art of Bro. Mickey McGrath, OSFS, who are very well known, along with the work of lesser known writers. You know – like me! Jim’s other goal was at the heart of the project, and that was to use the proceeds from said volume, to support various charities. This book was the highly successful, Hungry, And You Fed Me: Homilies and Reflections from Cycle C.

ClothedMe.Cover_.Full_-e1372305936491This year we are both proud and privileged to present the second volume in the series, Naked, and You Clothed Me: Homilies and Reflections from Cycle A.  This year we see the return of all the original authors, along with a host of new and familiar names. Gregory Boyle SJ, Sr. Simone Campbell, Rob Bell, Jan Richardson, Christine Valtners Paintner, and Dan Horan, OFM, among others, are the ecumenical contributors to this year’s work. And the forward was written by the esteemed Robert Ellsberg, author and publisher at Orbis Books.

Our publishing company and website have been redesigned to support our work. Please  visit us at Clear Faith Publishing and have a look around. We are pre-selling Naked, And You Clothed Me, (list price $20) and Hungry, And You Fed Me is currently on sale for $16. Once there, you will find books, cards, and the 2014 calendar from Bro. Mickey McGrath. You can read about the charities that our books support.

We look forward to seeing you soon!