The Spiritual Battle of Lent

When various challenges arise in our daily life, there is an innate drive in human nature to confront the challenge, battle fiercely, and win.  All sporting events reveal this powerful drive in athletes, academic competitions reveal this in those who compete on an intellectual level, those with illnesses often fight hard to beat the sickness (my aunt Kay fought bravely against lung cancer and won, even though she died a couple years later from the effects of all the treatments; I miss you dearly, Auntie Kay), and we confront many other types of battles each day, but often we forget about the most important battle of them all, the one waged on the spiritual level.  Each year, Lent gives us the focused opportunity to engage in this battle, the battle for our souls, by recognizing our own weaknesses and failings, and turning back to the Lord with our whole heart. Read more

Why I Love Star Wars So Much

“Why do you love Star Wars so much?”

I was asked this question recently and have been pondering whether my answer adequately spoke to the depth of how much Star Wars truly does mean to me.  Many people would respond to this question in a generic, superficial, pop-culture sort of way.  Star Wars is popular now more than ever (if the Box Office records The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi broke are any indication).  It is definitely a fun and engaging galaxy to like and enjoy and to love, where the characters are rich and real, the story is deep and emotional, and the nature of human life and love it explores is just as good as many of the great sagas of our day (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and dare I say Star Trek ;), etc.)  Now I could also answer in that same sort of generic way, namely that Star Wars is a fun (lightsaber battles and The Force!), deep (Anakin’s fall to the dark side and subsequent redemption by his son, Luke), and an emotional (Han and Leia’s son Ben’s fall to the dark side as Kylo Ren, who kills his dad) story that I find appealing, and indeed it is, but that is not why I love it so much.  Let me explain… and I know this may seem a bit strange, but bear with me. Read more

Jump Rope for Heart at St. Mary’s School!

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At St. Mary’s Catholic School here in Cheyenne, Jump Rope for Heart begins today!  The students will jump rope and learn more about healthy ways to stay active and keep a healthy heart.  And yes, I do plan on jumping rope with them!  I greatly remember this event when I was in elementary school and enjoyed jumping rope as an entire school and just enjoying the whole event.  This event is also a fundraiser for the American Heart Association which helps kids with heart disease.  I’m joining millions of others to help save lives with the American Heart Association! Read more

Why I Don’t Like New Year’s Resolutions

Today is January 2 and most New Year’s resolutions are in full swing with high optimism and zeal.  Glancing at the news headlines, they were full of health related topics, typically all geared toward New Year’s resolutions regarding personal health.  One suggested a diet surrounding eating low-carb, high fat foods (bring on the bacon!), while others suggest cutting alcohol, and others offered tips and incentives for gym memberships in the new year.  Now while these are all well and good, particularly if we have overindulged over the last month with Thanksgiving and Christmas, I do have an issue with these health crazes surrounding New Year’s resolutions. Read more

Receive the Gift of Jesus this Christmas

Today, we gather to celebrate my favorite holiday of all. We gather to celebrate Christmas! We celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, which we just heard proclaimed from the Gospel of Luke. We celebrate the coming of God’s infinite mercy to each and every person throughout all of history, by being born in the humblest of conditions. We celebrate today the coming of God as man so that man can become children of God and gain eternal life. Read more

4th Week of Advent: The Wondrous “O” Antiphons

We come, at last, to the final week of Advent today.  Even though this year it is barely one day long since Christmas falls on Monday (something that isn’t common and hasn’t happened since 2006), the fourth week of advent is crucial in the advent journey to Christmas.  This week is the final preparation for the coming of the Nativity of Our Lord at Christmas.  Everything around us beginning on December 17 (regardless of the week of Advent it falls in) reflects this final push to Christmas, most especially the liturgy in which we celebrate.  Read more

3rd Week of Advent: We are Halfway Out of the Dark

An important date occurs this week, and no it’s not quite Christmas yet.  This week is December 21 and this date marks an important point in the Earth’s yearly journey around the Sun.  We are halfway out of the dark.  Generally, we call this the first day of winter.  In science we call it the winter solstice.  It is this day that marks our journey around the sun, after which the days will slowly get longer and be filled with more light.  It is no coincidence that we celebrate the season of Advent and Christmas at this time when it is so dark in our natural world.  Nature around us mirrors the Advent and Christmas meaning.  Just as we will go through the darkest day of the year and after begin to see more and more light as the days continue, Christ too entered the deep darkness of humanity to continuously bring more and more light out of the darkness of sin through the first Christmas!

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2nd Week of Advent: Joining in the Ancient Expectation of the Messiah

As we continue in the journey of Advent this year, it is important to recall that waiting for the Messiah is not only something that happens in Advent today.  Although, in a very particular way, today we await the second coming of Christ, which is one of the main themes of Advent, salvation history before the first coming of Christ was also filled with expectation and the awaiting of the messiah.  Our waiting for the second coming of Christ parallels the same waiting with expectation that the people of Israel experienced in the many centuries leading up to that first nativity over 2,000 years ago. Read more

1st Week of Advent: We Begin by Considering our End

Happy New Year!

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

I think many in our world today fall into this reality, many don’t know (or reject) what comes at the end of our lives and end up living without a direction in life.  As Catholics we know what our end is: eternal life in heaven or eternal punishment in hell.  This means that there are certain paths to get to these ends and God, our Heavenly Father, desires us to be with Him eternally in heaven, which is the only thing that will truly fulfill us.  Advent is a privileged time to look at our lives and make changes to live in the light and love of God to journey on the path to eternal life.  Advent calls us in a particular way to wait and prepare. Read more

It’s Not Christmas Yet!

In a world where Christmas decorations are on sale even before Halloween, it is quite difficult to remember what Christmas is truly about.  Plastic Santas and reindeer pop up on front lawns across the country, “Merry Christmas” is replaced with “Happy Holidays,” and the season of peppermint mochas and eggnog lattes has engulfed us once again.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but what many people don’t even realize is that Christmas doesn’t actual begin until December 25 and they miss out on the season of Advent, which precedes Christmas in the Catholic liturgical calendar, a season I love just as much as Christmas. Read more

A New Adventure … in the Big City

I keep telling people that I have “settled in” to my new life here in Cheyenne at St. Mary’s Cathedral, but that I’m still “transitioning.”  Uprooting one’s life and moving to a new place is never an easy transition, even for priests who are seemingly more used to moving around (especially associate pastors as we tend to get moved around more frequently).  Saying goodbye to friends made and opening your heart to a whole new parish community is tough but it is also incredibly exciting. Read more

When Too Much Introspection is a Bad Thing

I’ve always had a certain ability to be very introspective, which has been tremendously beneficial, but occasionally I find it is also perhaps one of my biggest pitfalls too.  In seminary as we went through formation to be ordained priests, being introspective was part of the process; we had to look at ourselves and discern how to be a better man on a human level and on a spiritual level.  Some guys did this with ease and for others, this process was a bit more laborious.  I am naturally introspective and so when I am in various situations I am usually fairly aware of my interior state: happy, joyful, peaceful, sad, anxious, tense, scared, excited, etc.  This is useful because, for me, it has helped me identify parts of my life that cause me to be anxious, scared, or tense and go deeper to find where the Lord still wants to heal me and help me to grow.  Or I notice what brings me excitement, peace, and joy and so I am able to identify where the Lord wants to rest in me.  Part of this process for me is being able to talk these things out with someone; my friends can attest that I wear my emotions on my sleeves and am fairly open about my interior state (perhaps they wish I were less so!).  Regardless, it’s how I process and discern the Lord’s voice within my own heart, since, left to my own, I am likely to miss the Lord’s voice of truth.  While this may be how I process, everyone listens and hears the Lord is working in their life differently and each way is absolutely good, that’s the beauty in the diverse way God created each human person.  Even so, no matter how best we discern the Lord’s voice in our lives, I also think there is a danger in being overly introspective, which some are more susceptible to than others. Read more

#Vancouver2017

Vacation…what an multi-faceted word.  In one sense it means a break from the daily grind of life for a time and enter another world, in search of rest and rejuvenation.  In another sense it means adventure, where we go out from our homes to a new place and explore the amazing things God created on the earth, in search of excitement.  In yet another sense it means an inward discovery of oneself no matter where geographically a person finds oneself, in search of balance amidst the roller-coaster of life.  This kind of experience is crucial to any well-balanced life, even in the priesthood, and so in May I took the opportunity to do just that: I took a vacation.  Not a vacation from my vocation (as is often warned against; not a vacation from reality), but I went on a genuine vacation where I discovered God’s grace in my life in much deeper ways than I could have ever expected all the while being true to the man and priest God created me to be. Read more

Be Who You Are and Be That Well

In the Gospel from this Sunday we are faced with a seemingly impossible command from Jesus, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.”  On the surface this command seems absolutely unattainable, we are human beings after all with flaws and sins, so how are we supposed to achieve perfection?  In order to get what Jesus is actually saying we have to understand that He is not using the word perfection in the same way that we use the word.  The greek word used here is τέλειος, which is derived from the greek word τέλος, meaning end or goal.  The τέλος of a thing is that which it is made for, its purpose.  For example, the τέλος of a winter sleigh is to be ridden over snow pulled by a horse.  So a perfect sleigh, using the word τέλειος, is a sleigh that is able to be ridden on snow well, regardless of whether the sleigh itself has physical flaws.  It may have dents and scratches on it, but if the sleigh rides well, it is perfect; it is fully achieving its purpose of existence.  So when Jesus is calling each and every one of us to perfection, He is calling us not to somehow correct all of our flaws to be perfect (even though this is a continual process in the moral life), He calls us to be the men and women He created us to be, to attain the goal of who we were made to be: saints. Read more

God Has You and Me Right Where He Wants Us

Life is a constant journey.  Just when you think you got it all figured out, you realize how far away you still are from having it all figured out.  But before becoming discouraged, it is important to realize that it is okay to not have everything in life figured out.  As we keep trucking on this road we call life, God continually places us in positions to keep learning, growing, and drawing closer to Him.  Two years ago today, on February 6, 2015, I was ordained a deacon.  It is hard to believe that it has already been two years, and I am quickly approaching my first year anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood in May.  As I think back to my two year younger self, I could not have imagined then being where I am today.  St. Stephens Indian Mission was not on my list of expected appointments as a newly ordained priest in the Diocese of Cheyenne, and yet here I am.  I am not at all where I expected to be, but even so, I am exactly where God expected me to be.  And even more, I am where God wills me to be.  In His Divine providence, God placed me in the unlikeliest of places as a newly ordained priest in order to keep forming me into the priest He has called me to be and to keep drawing me closer to Him.  He sent me a friend and brother, Deacon Bryce, to journey on this road together and through these past many months, I have continued to grow and learn more about the priest God is forming in me.  It has been far from easy, but then growing in holiness never truly is easy because it requires a continual death to self, a continual giving of oneself with a love that is free and doesn’t grasp, which, in our broken humanity, is difficult. Read more

What a Sleigh Ride Taught Me About the Beauty of Reality

On Christmas Eve I did something I had never done before, I went on a sleigh ride.  It wasn’t just one of those sleigh rides you pay for as a tourist attraction in a quaint little Christmas-looking mountain village, but I went on an authentic Wyoming ride, with a sleigh, restored by Deacon Bryce and myself (with a little help from our friends) and Chief, the horse, whom Deacon Bryce had been training this past autumn to pull the sleigh.  Now is typically the part where you would think I would describe the sleigh ride as “magical” or “amazing” or other such things, but I’m not going to.  In fact the sleigh ride was a bit more mundane that I had originally thought…and yet, even so, the reality was more beautiful than any of the perfect, romanticized versions could ever be, and I loved it. Read more

Coffee at Jacob’s Well

Everyone loves coffee…well, almost everyone loves coffee…and if you don’t love coffee, you probably love the idea of coffee.  The aroma of freshly brewing coffee, the earthy, crisp taste of the coffee itself, the hot cup that warms your hands in contrast to the cold weather outside, the deep conversations that spark between friends over coffee, or even just the quiet solitude of a hot cup of liquid as you contemplate life and pray in thanksgiving to God, there is something for everyone to enjoy in a good cup of coffee. Read more