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Goodbye Summer

Summer seemed like it flew by, didn’t it?  For many people, school is back in session this week, if it hasn’t started already.

When I was growing up, school always started after Labor Day.  Maybe it was the same for you.  Somehow, it seems a bit strange to go for a whole week, then get a three-day weekend.  I guess someone knows what they’re doing 🙂

Well, now that our rhythm of life has changed a bit, it should give us pause.

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Last Thursday night, I had to put my dog Maggie to sleep 🙁  I got her about nine years ago from our local Humane Society, and she’s been a faithful pet ever since.

When I first saw her, I liked her, but when the kennel folks brought us together, she peed all over the floor.  Not a good sign. They begged me to give her a chance.  She had been abused by her former owner, and she as very scared around men.  Great.  But I took her home, and it turned out she was a great choice.

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Moving Forward

Well, I am finally recovered from my three weeks of intensive doctoral studies at Catholic University.

I’ve had three or four days to reflect upon the many experiences, and to say it was a powerful time for me would be an understatement.

There is much fodder for this blog, so trust that you’ll be reading about my adventures over the next several weeks.  Suffice it to say that my studies have given me a fresh outlook on a lot of things.  

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Don’t Just Be A Hearer

I’m in my second week of doctoral classes at Catholic University of America.  Actually, if you throw in the on-line component (six weeks), I’m more than half way through the semester.  Thanks be to God 🙂

One of the real joys of being on campus is that I can visit the National Shrine, which sits on campus.  One of the largest Catholic churches in our hemisphere, the Shrine is a remarkable place.

Earlier this week, I walked by one of the side entrances, and looking up, I read this passage from James (1:22), which is above the doorway.  I hope you can make out the words in the photo, but if not, they read:  “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”

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Happy Mother’s Day

This is a shot of my mom and sister on their last visit to Maryland a few years ago.  I’ve had the chance to take mom to Assateague Island to see the famous wild ponies a couple of times, and that’s where this photo was taken.

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Balancing Life

Yesterday marked the beginning of Holy Week, a time when Christians spiritually prepare themselves for Easter.  I hope and pray that these days might be a time of reflection and inspiration for you.

Recently, I was at a men’s conference, and the speaker said something that really got me thinking about life.

He said that there are four main parts to each person’s life: physical, mental, social and spiritual.

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You Just Never Know

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; the one who seeks, finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Luke 11:9-10

Over the last several days, my church has hosted what we call a Parish Mission.  Our parish community gathered each night to hear a spiritual talk, and our presenter this year was a retired bishop named Harry Flynn.  He was the Archbishop of St. Paul & Minneapolis until retiring in 2008.  Before he left yesterday morning, he celebrated our early morning Mass, and I had the chance to hear him preach one more time.

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Come On Spring

Spring won’t officially get here until March 20th, but the poor bulbs don’t know it.  Like most of the country, we’ve had unseasonably warm weather and hardly any snow.

Growing up in California, I never really appreciated spring until I lived through my first Maryland winter.  Actually, as far as winters go, most of ours aren’t too bad.  We do get snow, but it tends to not stay around for very long.

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The Feast of St. Stephen

I hope you had a great Christmas 🙂 In the Church’s liturgical calendar, the Feast of St. Stephen, the first recognized Christian martyr, comes the day after Christmas.

I don’t know about you, but this has always struck me as a powerful statement.  The anticipation in Advent gives way to the joy that comes with Christmas, only to give way to the realization that to be a follower of this newborn King comes with a cost.

If you want to read about St. Stephen, you’ll find his story in the Acts of the Apostles (6:1-8:1).  He was known to be a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit (6:5), and his courage under persecution is powerful.  

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It’s You Lord

Several years ago, I was introduced to the music of Jason Upton, a Christian musician who one day happened to be doing some recording in a studio next to one being used by my good friend George.  The next time George and I got together, he told me how moved he had been by meeting this young man and listening to his music.  

Months later, George and I were in Washington DC for a big Christian gathering, and as we walked on the Mall with thousands of other folks, Jason came up to George to say hello, and the three of us talked for a bit.  Later that day, Jason sang before about 300,000 people, and I was amazed by the power of his voice and the words of his songs.  I hope you enjoy this special song he wrote to celebrate Christ’s birth.

It’s best listened to meditatively, so get yourself in a peaceful frame of mind, and let the music wash over you, a gentle reminder of what the Nativity of the Lord should mean for our lives.

Merry Christmas!