Silence in the Storm

Posted on August 9, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Silence in the StormFor Sunday, August 13, 2017
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:22-33

Have you ever heard five hundred teenagers singing? As a music minister, it’s not always easy to pull off. When I worked in a Catholic high school, there was one song that nearly everybody always sang, whether it was in the Mass, on retreat, or at a prayer service: “Oceans” by Hillsong, the music ministry of an Australian evangelical church. Here are some lines of the refrain: “And I will call upon Your name. Keep my eyes above the waves when oceans rise.”

I spent a lot of time considering why this song roused an instinctive response in so many students, regardless of grade, race, and social clique. In many ways, I think this simple song reflects the cry of the human heart. We all, at times, feel storm-tossed and unconsoled. The song isn’t just about our effort to reach out to Christ, but the steadfast presence of God as we brave the unknown.

I don’t know the history of the song, but I have no doubt it was at least somewhat inspired by today’s Gospel. Jesus has spent time alone, consoled in his weariness by the presence of his Father, and he returns to his friends by night, supernaturally walking on the waves of a stormy sea. Peter, in a classic display of bold faith, trusts that if the figure really is Jesus, than he too can walk on the water. His Lord will do the miraculous, keep him from sinking. (more…)

The Kingdom of God in Our Midst

Posted on July 26, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: The Kingdom of God in Our MidstFor Sunday, July 30, 2017
17th Sunday Ordinary Time

This Sunday’s Gospel can seem obvious, even cliché. We’ve heard the stories before. Man roaming in field finds treasure, sells everything, buys field. Merchant finds pricey pearl, sells everything, buys pearl. “God is worth it!” we hear loud and clear. But this Gospel presupposes something that, to be frank, I don’t think is always presupposed. These people were actually looking for something.

Consider the man in the field. He’s taking time away from tasks to wander a patch of open land. Consider the merchant. He knows what he’s looking for and he’s thrilled to discover it. I wonder, if we’re confronted with the kingdom of God in our midst, will we know it when we see it? Have we given ourselves the mental and emotional space to search? (more…)

4 Ways to Grow as a Family of Faith This Summer

Posted on July 22, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

summer family faithThe school year is filled with a predictable rhythm. It’s easy to settle into a routine, even when families are balancing multiple children and a diversity of activities. When summer hits, things can get a little disjointed, especially when it comes to the practice of faith. The family is the first place children experience the love of God and formation in the Christian life. Vacation Bible School is a great place to for children to grow, but what about when the week is over?

  1. Take a Family Pilgrimage

Looking for a day trip with a little more meaning? The United States is filled with unique shrines, basilicas, and historic religious sites. Check out this Top Ten list or search sites by state. If the location is a bit of a drive, cross-reference the location with campgrounds or state parks to experience the beauty of God’s creation along with the beauty of the Catholic faith!

  1. Make Mass a Priority

Every day in Catholic churches around the world, the same Mass is being celebrated. If you’re away from home on a Sunday, the Internet makes it easy to find a Mass near you. MassTimes.org has a helpful mapping feature. To ensure that the Mass times are accurate for the summer months, check out Parishes Online where you can find downloadable weekly bulletins.

  1. Get Creative with Crafts

Pinterest is a gold mine for ideas about faith crafts and Catholic activities for kids. The next rainy day, don’t break out the iPad or start streaming Doc McStuffins or Daniel Tiger. Give the time indoors a deeper meaning for young children.

    summer family faith
  1. Serve Together

There are clothes that need sorting, community gardens that need tending, and meals to be served. Many nonprofits have tasks for all ages or specifically designate a “family day” with age-appropriate responsibilities. Grow in giving by volunteering for a local nonprofit as a family. 

Though summer may be half gone, it’s not too late to inspire your family or your parishioners in faith!

Who Likes Waiting?

Posted on July 12, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Who Likes Waiting?For Sunday, July 16, 2017
15th Sunday Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:10-11
Romans 8:18-23
Matthew 13:1-23 or 13:1-9

I’ve heard that if someone waits more than four seconds for your website to load, there’s a 25% chance the person will skip it entirely. When there’s a line at Starbucks, we tap our foot. When the subway is delayed, our eyes repeatedly flick to our watches. When the tinny “all circuits are busy now” chirps in our ear for the fifteenth time, we grit our teeth and debate hanging up. When the promised reward is slow in coming, we don’t like to wait.

On a larger scale, we can see the same impatience for change. Hasty to fulfill campaign promises, the Republicans brought their healthcare bill to the House floor without a guarantee of support and now, as a result, move forward more hesitantly. Of course, all earthly leaders face the same scrutiny. Whatever side of the aisle, we want our promises fulfilled. And we don’t like waiting. (more…)

Extending the Communion of Persons

Posted on June 7, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Midweek Reflection: Extending the Communion of PersonsFor Sunday, June 11, 2017
The Most Holy Trinity

Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
John 3:16-18

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of our origin and destiny as human beings, our beginning and end, the One who made us and the One to whom we return. It’s Trinity Sunday.

Thinking too hard about the Trinity can cause some intellectual hurdles. At the idea of three Persons in one God, our mind stops up short. The medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri said, in his words on the Trinity in Paradisio, “My wings were not meant for such a flight… Here powers failed my high imagination.” It’s an awe easily evoked on the edge of the sea or below the night sky. When we earnestly aspire to grasp the infinite, we find we can’t hold it in our hands. (more…)