Tag Archives: JOllier

Are You the Next Matthias?

The first act of the apostles after Jesus’ Ascension was to find a replacement for Judas. Of all the things they could do, they chose to focus their attention on finding a twelfth apostle. Why? Twelve was a very significant number to the Jews, representing completeness.  There were twelve tribes of Israel, so if the disciples of Jesus were to symbolize a new Israel capable of evangelizing the whole world, a twelfth apostle was needed. But Jesus had chosen the original twelve. Now that he was gone, how would they know whom to choose?  In …

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Dry, Barren, and … Hopeful?

A few weeks ago, I happened to have two different conversations with two very different people in two very different places about the exact same thing: Spiritual dryness.  Both people talked about not feeling God’s presence, about wanting so desperately to have something concrete to hold on to – some proof that He was there, but finding nothing.  Both people talked about a feeling of desolation, and wondered if there was something wrong with them. Sometimes even though we believe in God and we try our best to live out our faith, we all go …

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Do Not Be Afraid to Dream of Great Things!

A little over one year ago, on March 13, 2013, the College of Cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as the 265th successor of St Peter.  He chose the name Francis, and ever since he stepped out onto the Vatican balcony and shyly waved hello, he has taken the world by storm.    The amazing thing I’ve seen about Francis is that he has said nothing really very different from what John Paul II or Benedict had said before him.  On all the so-called controversial issues like women in the Church, abortion, …

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Snow Day

The January I was in 4th grade at St Bart’s school in Cincinnati, we got hit with the biggest blizzard in the city’s history, followed by ridiculously cold temperatures.  Like sub-zero with wind chills that made it feel like 50 below.  It was so cold that the Ohio River actually froze over.  We missed school for 2 straight weeks, as much because of the cold as the snow. I still remember the snowdrifts that blocked our back door, and using a pick axe to break through the ice so we could clear our driveway. After …

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Sanctuary

When I was 16 my extended family took a trip to Arizona to visit one of my mom’s cousins, who was celebrating 25 years as a missionary on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  On the way, we stopped at a place called Canyon de Chelly, which some folks call the Little Grand Canyon.  It’s about a 2 mile hike to the bottom, and a few of us decided to make the trek.  By about 1/2 way down all but three of us had bailed and gone back up to the canyon rim.  And at that point, …

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Give the Devil His Due

In the preface to his classic work, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis makes the comment that people can make “two equal and opposite errors” regarding devils.  “One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel and excessive and unhealthy interest in them.  They themselves are equally pleased by both errors…”  In other words, those who don’t believe in Satan and those who join him both have fallen into his trap.  Both have believed his lies. One of Satan’s greatest lies is convincing people that he doesn’t exist – that …

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All Shall Be Well

I saw a wonderful little movie a few weeks ago, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  It’s about a group of Brits who decide to “outsource their retirement” and move to a resort in India.  Well, the “resort” turns out to be anything but, and everyone must learn to adapt.  Suffice it to say that some succeed better than others, and those who do learn to embrace their situation find a joy and peace they could not have imagined.  But it’s not the plot or the characters that has stuck with me – it’s a line …

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What Did You Learn Today?

On my first day of high school I walked into homeroom and met Mr. Ballaban.  He was big, gruff, and larger than life.  He’d been at the school for over 30 years, and had been both the basketball and football coach back in the day.  That first day he gave us homework.  That’s right, homework for homeroom!  We had until Friday to learn 3 things, or face JUG (“Justice Under God” – you probably just call it detention):  1)the school’s Alma Mater, 2) the fight song, and 3)the following prayer by St. Ignatius: Lord, teach …

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Playing with Fire

There are some Gospel passages you never hear in Sunday school or religion class.  Yesterday’s passage from Luke is one of them.  We like stories about miracles and healings.  We like parables about mustard seeds and prodigal sons.  We tell kids about how Jesus was a cute little baby in a manger, about how he died and rose from the dead.  We tell them that Jesus loves them very much.  But I’ll wager we don’t share these words with our 5 year olds too often: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and …

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The Young Church of NOW.

When I tell people that I’m a youth minister, many well-meaning and wonderful people will say something like, “Oh that’s such important work. After all, the young people are our future.” Since those conversations usually are in passing, and by and large the folks who say things like this have the best intentions, I mostly respond with a smile and nod then say something affirming. But if I have a little more time, I like to politely disagree. You see, I don’t believe that young people are the “future of the Church” – and here’s …

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