Tag Archives: conversion

Mary and Joseph Go to a Fish Fry

It’s a Friday in Lent and two Catholics go to a local Fish Fry. We’ll call one Mary and the other Joseph. At first glance, the two don’t seem very different. Both were baptized as infants; both attended 12 years of Catholic schooling. The difference is that Mary attends Mass each weekend; Joseph attends infrequently. A recent study (see Sherry Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, especially pp. 43-44) indicates that the most significant predictor of whether a Catholic attends Mass each weekend or not depends on how the person answers this one question: Do you believe …

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Magi or Shepherd?

If you were given your choice as to which part you would play in the pageantry of the Christmas story, would you rather be a magi (king, wise man) or a shepherd? Before you read on, answer that question for yourself and ponder why you chose what you chose. The magi and the shepherds have some things in common. Both came to believe that Jesus was the Savior. Both found him in the manger. How they got there – how they came to that conclusion and how they came to that place – was quite …

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One of Those Moments

One of the joys of my position is the opportunity to gain the wisdom of people from across the archdiocese at various meetings and conferences.   So, just recently I presented on “Sacramental Adult Faith Formation” at a session of the Northern Area Catechetical Congress at Piqua. The point of the session was to encourage participants to recognize the sacramental qualities of adult faith formation as work done by and for the Church in the name of Jesus. We brainstormed how the various components/characteristics of adult formation – such as hospitality, service, witnessing, knowledge, and transformation …

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Holy Ship of Theseus!

I do not remember much of my Metaphysics 101 class from my undergraduate days at the University of Dayton. I would describe the class as a giant mind trip in all honesty. One particular mind trip, though, has stuck with me through the years because I think it is a very good analogy for the process of conversion in our Christian life. The thought experiment is called the Theseus’s Paradox and it goes something like this: Theseus has a ship. Over time Theseus replaces parts of that ship as they wear out or break. The …

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Fruits of Lent

During Easter week my wife and I went out to dinner at our local Mexican restaurant and got to talking with Jose’, the restaurant owner, who happens to be a fellow parishioner. We were all talking about how this past Lent had been our best in many years when Jose’ said that now he’s looking for the “fruits of Lent”.  His point was that if the spiritual disciplines we began in Lent were beneficial, it doesn’t make any sense to quit at Easter.  Lent should yield good fruit well afterward, and if it doesn’t, then …

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Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

I have a very special memory of something that happened to me as a little child.  On Christmas Eve, Mom brought down from the attic the banged-up, musty, ancient cardboard box. Inside were all the Christmas ornaments and decorations. Each had been lovingly, tenderly wrapped in tissue paper and placed in the carton the year before just as they had been placed there the year before that and the year before that. Out of this moldering treasure chest I plucked out an equally ancient music box that was shaped like a church. It was white …

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Why I Hate Retreat High

For the record:  I love retreats, but despise any language or sentiment surrounding a “retreat high.”  I am not anti-emotional, nor promoting some sort of devotionalism devoid of all human emotion.  From my experience, many take on the spirit of a “retreat high,” in which teens (and adults) tend to approach retreats in an attempt to feel better about themselves, get emotionally jacked up on Jesus, or put Jesus on like a fragrance they know is going to wear off in a few days/weeks after returning home.  This is all superficial talk.  I’m positive Jesus …

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Your Not-So-Typical Commencement Address

If I were to speak to graduating Catholic school students, here are a few thoughts I might share: I’m not going to be able to take much credit for these points.  Almost all of it has been inspired by one of the seniors graduating from our Youth Ministry program.  Because she could not attend our End-of-the-Year Party and share her parting reflections for the underclassmen, she wrote them out (you can find it HERE, though some of it will not make complete sense to the outsider].  I will quote part of it for you: Jesus …

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The Door

I had just begun a second master’s program at a small theology school in San Antonio.   It was my first day visiting the library, and I love libraries, so I had spent a good deal of time there before deciding to head back home. I was passing through one of those large gates that scans your body to ensure you aren’t trying to steal a book when I noticed—just in time to avoid a broken nose—that the door did not open for me. I had just spent the past seven years in undergraduate and graduate …

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How Do I Get Into THAT Group?

“He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.”  This verse appears at the beginning of John 13, and we heard it recently at Holy Thursday Mass.    For some reason, this line jumped off the page at me during Holy Week, even more than the image of Jesus’ self-awareness about his power before stooping to wash feet. There is an incredible intimacy about this line – Jesus loved his own until the end.  The Greek word here is just as strong, idios, which literally means pertaining to one’s self, or …

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