25 July 2015

Boiling, Stewing, Dancing and Touching Faith

[Post-writing] I really did not know what to title this blog post at the outset or really what was going to come out as I typed. It turned out, I think, to be a summary of my life and faith so far in my 27 years and also my experiences of being a novice monk here at Saint Meinrad Archabbey half-way through our 12-month and a day novitiate.
The more I grow in my faith, the more I think, "Why didn't I do this sooner, or read that sooner, or pray for this sooner, or talk about that sooner?" Much of what I've heard and learned growing up about faith is starting to make sense and "click". The light bulb is growing brighter day after day. The more I get out of the way the more God gets in the way.

In high school, I remember my baseball coach being adamant about us taking baseball in high school seriously because for some of us those would be the last 1, 2, 3 or 4 years we would play baseball. Soon, we would be on the sidelines watching our kids or nieces and nephews play wishing we would have taken it more seriously in high school. I wish I would have taken baseball more seriously in high school.

My spiritual director says basically the same thing in the sense that I have a lot of "worries" about monastic life and what it holds, but looking from his hindsight perspective he encourages me to pay attention to the present moment and revel in what God is putting in front of me now. I want to heed his advice and try not to worry about what's to happen. I still wish that some of what I'm learning now I would have been more serious about several years ago.

For instance, after a conversation with a friend on the following topic, I decided to borrow Theology of the Body Explained by Christopher West from our library. I always thought Theology of the Body was about the Catholic's teaching about sex. In some part it is, but it is so much more than that, and it is so much more for so many people, not just Catholics. Theology of the Body is the concept St. John Paul II (formerly Karol Wojtyla of Poland) formulated in 129 general audience addresses from 1979 to 1984 while he was Pope.

George Weigel is a well-known author of a biography about St. John Paul II: Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II. He wrote the foreword to West's book, and there he wrote:

I described Theology of the Body as a bit of a theological time bomb, something that would explode within the Church at some indeterminate point in the future with tremendous effect, reshaping the way Catholics think about our embodiedness as male and female, our sexuality, our relationships with each other, our relationship with God -- even God himself.
West breaks down Theology of the Body in 494 pages. I'm on page 24 after a couple days. I'm slowly and intentionally chewing and gnawing and reflecting through this book. I'm embracing the fact that there are many people who are much smarter than I, and I am glad they are. They put into words often times what I can't adequately describe, or their research and writing answer one of many facets of this world that I ponder. Here's such a paragraph I read today that brightened my bulb on a timely topic on which I've been dwelling:
The attack on God's Fatherhood -- on the truth that "God is love" -- was only the first lap on a "very long process that winds it devious way throughout history." The deceiver has worked in stages, patiently awaiting the opportune time to induce man toward the ultimate denial of God's very existence. In "the first stage of human history this temptation was not only not accepted but had not been fully formulated. But the time has now come," Wojtyla tells us; "this aspect of the devil's temptation has found the historical context that suits it." Man is now prepared to deny the very existence of God. This is not the atheism of the skeptics or the despairing that has dotted history. This is a planned, systematic attempt at "liberation from the very idea of God in order to bolster man." This is the idea that to believe in God -- especially the Christian God -- is inherently dehumanizing. The French Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac described this as "atheistic humanism" (see Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] 2124). In Karol Wojtyla he would find a voice of agreement that this radical denial of God is at the heart of all the man-made hells of the twentieth century.
CCC 2124:  The name "atheism" covers many very different phenomena. One common form is the practical materialism which restricts its needs and aspirations to space and time. Atheistic humanism falsely considers man to be "an end to himself, and the sole maker, with supreme control, of his own history." Another form of contemporary atheism looks for the liberation of man through economic and social liberation. "It holds that religion, of its very nature, thwarts such emancipation by raising man's hopes in a future life, thus both deceiving him and discouraging him from working for a better form of life on earth."
I can't adequately describe my faith or how God is moving in my life. God is beyond explanation. I am sure God is moving in my life and in those around me, but I can't have any expectations of God. Expecting God to move in a particular way is trying to control God. We can't control God. God moves as he wills. The more I get out of the way the more God gets in the way.

I often wonder, "What the heck am I doing here in the monastery?" "Why did I choose to explore this as a way of life with God in community?" People ask me what my favorite part is of the monastery. My answer, as complex, profound and loaded as I want to make it, dissolves down to "peace". It's the peace in knowing that it is OK to have questions about my faith because monks come here to seek God. That idea of seeking is active. It's not a said and done activity. It's ongoing, and I'm growing more and more fond of that. We seek God in a particular and unique way, and I realize that diocesan priests, religious sisters, married and single people, Carthusian monks, and Christian communities around the world seek God in their own unique and particular ways.

Right now, this peace is strong, but the more I pray, read, reflect and digest, God might put on my heart that I am called elsewhere, or he may put himself more in the way reassuring me that this peace here in the monastery is lasting.

What I am left with after this blog reflection is recognizing there are times when I boil and stew about what I am doing here, God's existence, following my own will, giving in to temptations societally and spiritually, leaving the monastery to seek worldly pleasure, slacking in prayer, acedia, pride, gluttony, lust, slacking in charitable works, and giving up on family and friendships and other life-giving connections.

This boiling and stewing is my man-made hell.

When the non-believer dances around and touches upon "God is love" they glimpse the light of God-made eternity.

It's really not about you or me in the end. It's about all of us (past, present and future) in eternal communion with God. The more we get out of the way the more God gets in the way.

I still have a lot of questions, and the more I read what I wrote above the more questions I could anticipate believing and non-believing readers to have. I hope to hear about, read about, pray about and reflect on those questions and answers the rest of my life.

I desire everlasting life and the God-made eternity. I hope I can get out of the way enough to follow that path.

In closing, here's a bit of St. Benedict from his Rule which we follow:
That desire [of attaining life everlasting] is [the monks'] motive for choosing the narrow way, of which the Lord says, "Narrow is the way that leads to life" (Matt. 7:14), so that, not living according to their own choice nor obeying their own desires and pleasures but walking by another's judgment and command, they dwell in monasteries and desire to have an Abbot over them. Assuredly, such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord in which He says, "I have come not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38). (From the Rule of St. Benedict Chapter 5) 


10 May 2015

Mary, Our Mother: A Voice of Consolation

Here is a talk I gave today at the Monte Cassino pilgrimage site here in St. Meinrad, Indiana. The pilgrimages started in 1932 and take place every weekend in May and October.

I left the spacing and emphasis for emphasis as you read it.

Mary, Our Mother: A Voice of Consolation
May Saint Meinrad Archabbey Monte Cassino Pilgrimage
May 10, 2015
Novice Timothy Herrmann, OSB

I heard on a podcast one time several years ago that by talking to your mother on the phone it helps reduce stress and tension. 

There’s that saying, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet or hear in podcasts, so this past week I did some research to confirm if what I heard was true.

Long story short this is what I found:

In 2010 the University of Wisconsin at Madison had several middle-school aged girls and their mothers participate in a stress and stress-relief experiment. The girls solved math problems in front of a panel of judges. The social-scientists monitored their hormone levels, particularly noting an obvious increase in their stress hormones.

Then, the girls were separated into three groups. The first group was able to spend time with their mothers after the math testing where their mothers comforted them and hugged them and reassured them of their work.  As was expected by the researchers, their “love” hormone, oxytocin, increased.

The second set talked to their mothers on the phone, where their mothers reassured them of their work on the math problems in a loving manner. Interestingly, the girls who talked to their mothers on the phone had almost identical levels of the “love” hormone increase as the first group who spent time with their mothers.

The third group watched an emotionally-neutral movie after completing the math problems. The “love” hormone was not present in their urine and saliva tests.

So, it is true that talking to our mothers on the phone or thinking of them can reduce our stress.

As a monk, this is reassuring because as St. Benedict says in the Holy Rule, “The novice should be clearly told all the hardships and difficulties that will lead him to God.” (Chapter 58)

The graces and joys we have in the monastery are significant, however, there are days when we better understand our weaknesses and humanity – and to reach out to someone like our mothers or family members and friends on the phone, it’s helpful to us as we increase our oxytocin. It helps us be better community members.

When I was thinking about today and giving this reflection on Mother’s Day it encouraged me to think critically about my relationship with my two mothers: My mom, Barb, who is here today who brought me into this world and our heavenly Mother, Mary.

In Carey, Ohio there is a beautiful basilica named Our Lady of Consolation. My mom and I have spent time there for retreats, conferences and pilgrimages. My cousin was married there by now Bishop of the Diocese of Lexington, John Stowe.  For the past 10 years I have been very blessed to help with Teens Encounter Christ retreats there with the Diocese of Toledo, which is where I am from originally. It has become a refreshing spiritual home.

It has become an even stronger spiritual home in the past 5 years because 5 years ago my dad died very suddenly and unexpectedly.  Little did I realize that my time spent at the Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation would be teaching me about Our Lady’s consolation.

I am beginning more and more to grasp Our Lady’s consolation and how she has loved my family and prayed for my family in our grief and sadness and also in our joys and happy memories.

I am beginning more and more to grow with Our Lady in her consolation as she teaches me how to mourn as she mourned at Jesus’ death but to also rejoice as she rejoiced at His resurrection.

I am beginning more and more to rely on Our Lady and her consolation as I learn to “thank God from the depth of my heart when things go well and to suffer them patiently when they go badly.” (Imitation of Mary by Thomas A Kempis)

I am beginning more and more to seek Our Lady’s consolation, because, like my mom and our telephone calls and video chats, Our Lady’s voice is beckoning us to go to God for mercy, grace, peace and love.

Our Lady’s voice is a nurturing voice that helps us increase our spiritual Oxytocin.

Our Lady’s voice is a voice that gives a warm embrace when parts of our lives feel cold and dark.

Our Lady’s voice is a voice that reassures us of a mother’s love
a mother’s love that knows the
power
and mercies
and forgiveness
and grace
and friendship
and fraternity
and fellowship
and love
and sacrifice
and peace
her Son, Jesus Christ, desires to give us and grow in us.

(SLIGHTLY LONGER PAUSE)

I have had some interesting Godcidences in my life. Often times these Godcidences are signs God wants me to be where I am.

Two Godcidences came to mind as I prepared this reflection, and both were also reminders of Mary’s voice of consolation comforting me in my current situations and reminding me of God’s love and will.

The first took place a year or two after my dad passed away and before I joined the monastery. I was home visiting my mother on the weekend, and we were talking about the joys and sorrows of life since my dad died.

For whatever reason, we decided to go to Mass in Carey, Ohio at the basilica, which is about 15 minutes from her home and home parish. The opening song at that Mass was the same opening song at my dad’s funeral. We both looked at each other a little teary-eyed and goose-bumped and smiled.

The second Godcidence happened much more recently. This week, several of us novices and our Novice-Master traveled to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky to spend a couple days experiencing the Trappist monastic life.

It was there that I finished a book by Thomas A Kempis titled Imitation of Mary. Novice Thomas lent me the book in anticipation of this reflection.

In my cell at Gethsemani there was a beautiful icon of Mary and Child Jesus titled Our Lady of Vladimir.

Well, toward the end of the Imitation of Mary as I was flipping through the pages, there, on a full page in the book, was the same icon of Mary and Child Jesus. I was so surprised I nearly spoke out loud – which I am glad I didn’t, because they have a very strict observance of silence.

(SLIGHTLY LONGER PAUSE)

I have two things to close my reflection with today before we go to Mary for her love and consolation through the praying of the rosary.

The first is from a book my mom gave me at the beginning of novitiate titled Walking with Mary by Edward Sri. He writes:

“Mary’s example reminds us that no matter what may happen in our lives, we should always ask God what he might be trying to teach us through these crosses that come our way. We, like Mary, should keep all these things, pondering them in our hearts.” (Luke 2:19)

And from the book the Imitation of Mary:


Mary is filled with delight and is constantly gladdened by the songs of the Angels; but she rejoices when human beings serve her, because this gives greater glory to God and brings salvation to many.

She is moved by the tears of the poor,
shares the sufferings of the afflicted,
helps the tempted in their hour of danger,
and hears the prayers of the devout.

Those who turn to her with confidence and humility and invoke her sweet and glorious name will not go away empty-handed.

Let us now turn with confidence and humility to the voice of our Mother Mary, Our Lady of Consolation, bringing to her our tears, sufferings, temptations, joys and thanksgivings

            for we will not go away empty-handed.

23 December 2014

Trimming the Spiritual Fat

I've been trying to wake up (or at least my alarm goes off) at 4:03 a.m. each morning. I might not roll out of bed right away, but when I do, I go grab a cup of coffee from our monastery equivalent of a living room, head back to my cell (my room) and read until our first community prayer at 5:30 a.m.

I'm reading in the morning "God is Near Us" on the Eucharist by then Cardinal Ratzinger (emeritus pope "Father Benedict" -- as he prefers to be called now). It's a pretty dense and academic book at least for me for 4:17 a.m. I was sluggishly working through it while on my heart was to read Pope Francis' comments to the Roman Curia from yesterday.

The Roman Curia is the administrative body of the Catholic Church. I saw yesterday on social media that Pope Francis gave a rousing challenge to those in the attendance. I was curious to read what he said, so I visited the Vatican's news site and read the following article here.

In the monastery, we set aside two or more times a day for Lectio Divina -- simply put, it's an intentional way to read and pray with scripture or other spiritual material. Occasionally, lectio-type revelations strike me from very modern-day texts ... such as Pope Francis' rousing challenge to the Curia.

Here's a simplified list of his "ailments" from his address:
  1. The sickness of considering oneself 'immortal', 'immune' or 'indispensable'
  2. 'Martha-ism', or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work
  3. The sickness of mental and spiritual hardening
  4. The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism
  5. Sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance
  6. 'Spiritual Alzheimer's' disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation
  7. The ailment of rivalry and vainglory
  8. Existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life; This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters
  9. The sickness of chatter, grumbling and gossip
  10. The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence
  11. The disease of indifference toward others
  12. The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim
  13. The disease of accumulation
  14. The ailment of closed circles
  15. The disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism
(Visit the link above for further details he provided on each. Worth the read!)

In this list, I find myself looking at the ways I fall short of doing what is right, and because a new year is dawning, I found in his words many ideas for new year resolutions. Maybe you can, too?

In years past, I said I would exercise more throughout the new year, or do a certain amount of pushups every day or walk after lunch, etc. In a conversation with a friend yesterday, we were talking about the body, the mind and the spirit. He said that when he focuses on fulfilling his spiritual needs the rest seems to fall into place. For him, healthy spiritual practices lead to healthy practices of the mind and body. This resonated with me.

So, this year, I'm looking to trim the spiritual fat out of my life. The journey inward in monastic life has been a blessing because I am seeing more and more the "immensely-greasy", "heavily-sugared" and "chemically-charged" "stuff" I am soaking in and seeping out. Each day in this journey, though, is a workout toward a healthy, balanced, nourishing and fruitful life of prayer and work.

On another note, last year, I found this link to a list of Pope Francis'ism that were listed in a New Year's resolution list. It's another helpful resource: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/46933-new-year-resolutions-pope-francis-quotes

Peace,

Candidate Timothy

P.S. All 5 of us candidates were voted upon by the solemnly professed monks to move on to novitiate. We start our novitiate on January 19, 2015 for a year and day. It's a more formal period of discernment, prayer, work and study before, and God-willing, we make our temporary vows as monks.







04 July 2014

A One in God Chance

I'm here again ... processing One Bread, One Cup conference 2. This time it involves what I like to call Godcidences -- or a coincidence which may have God's involvement.

See my post about One Bread, One Cup conference 1 where I give an overview of my work in the Stewardship and Hospitality liturgical formation session. This will get you caught up to speed if you're not familiar with One Bread, One Cup.

Fast-forwarding to my first time teaching the students during conference two when I am laying out our roles from baptism as being anointed priests, prophets and kings. For the prophet role, I use the word "witness" to help them remember what we are supposed to "do" as contemporary prophets. We are to witness to others how God has shaped our lives.

My activity for the prophet role was to first share with them some ways in which God has impacted my life. I told them that I often have Godcidences where I wonder, "Hmm, was that God sending a sign?"

For instance, the day prior to this session, I was driving to Saint Meinrad from Michigan, and I wanted to listen to Matisyahu (a music artist) on my iPhone. I hit shuffle on my iPhone music playlist, however, without navigating to Matisyahu. Coincidentally, of the 720 songs on my iPhone, Matisyahu began to play. Second, I was trying to find a motivational video to show my students, and I thought of Kid President's Pep Talk. As I thought of this video, I happened to open Twitter, and one of the first Tweets I saw on there was a retweet from a friend of a post by Kid President. Coincidence? Third, at our opening Mass for One Bread, One Cup. I was out in the foyer of the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel looking at his statue. I was looking at his relic when Fr. Brendan said in the chapel, "Welcome to St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel". Hmm?

The ultimate coincidence so far in my life was when I was able to read to my father a eulogy I wrote for him in a speech class in college. This was while he was still alive, and I had no idea he was going to die only a couple months later. I was able to read that same eulogy at his funeral Mass.

I shared all these stories with my students and then encouraged them to find someone from the other small group in the class to meet and hear a story from one another's lives where they experienced God. I told them this was part of witnessing about their lives to others. I also suggested that a good "prophet" is a good listener and that I would go around the room and have one of the partners share the other partner's story.

This is where it got very interesting. (Changing the names for the sake of anonymity) Brian from Indiana and Sara from Indiana partnered up and shared their stories with each other. When I asked for volunteers to share stories, Brian shared Sara's story. Sara received some sad family news as she was preparing to head to NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference) in Indianapolis last fall. Many of the young people bring all sorts of items to pass out to each other. Sara said one of the things she received was a clothes pin attached to her bag or shirt with a scripture verse handwritten on it with something along the lines of casting your cares on the Lord. She said this really helped her understand things would be OK regarding her sad news. She felt at peace.

Then, out of the blue, Amy, another participant in the room from Louisiana said, those are the clothes pins that my youth group wrote on and passed around at NCYC, and that's the exact same scripture quote I was tasked with writing. Needless to say, all our jaws dropped, and we may have set a world record for most goosebumps received.

I can't make this stuff up.

Over the next several days I was trying to process this coincidence in terms of math. There are three conferences of OBOC, and there are probably on average 100 youth attending each conference. The youth, prior to the conference, are asked to choose their top 3 liturgical formation sessions to participate and learn in at that conference. Some returning youth participants can choose "advanced" sessions. I think there are something like 10 sessions from which to choose, and some sessions have multiple groups in them. Typically, too, the youth ministers or campus minister choose their top youth leaders to attend OBOC in order to allow them to develop their liturgical leadership skills so they can go back home and lead their peers.

So ... How is it that these two students were chosen to attend this year, this conference and this formation session and have this connection? How is it that Brian felt compelled to share Sara's story? How is it that Sara even shared that story when she likely had a couple other stories to share? Why did Amy decide to write that particular scripture verse on the clothes pin? Why did her youth group even write on clothes pins?

I tried to add all this up in my head to think of it in terms of "this is a one in ####" chance that this could happen, and the only number I could come up with is that this was a one in God chance -- a Godcidence.

I am sure there were many other Godcidences which happened this week at One Bread, One Cup, and I very much look forward to working with the OBOC staff, interns, catechists and monks for conference 3 next week.


20 June 2014

On the Other Side of S&H

As is my typical fashion, writing after having helped with a leadership conference like “One Bread, One Cup” helps me process my thoughts, take away’s and emotions. You’ll see how my “teaching” role quickly turned in to a learning role at the airport today.

This week, I was blessed to work very closely with two incredible college interns in the Stewardship and Hospitality formation session – helping their 16 youth participants take on a better grasp of their roles as priests, prophets and kings. When we are baptized, the priest anoints us priests, prophets and kings.

I told them to pay attention next time at a baptism and listen for these titles. I suggested they remember their roles as priests, prophets and kings with the following three words: participate, witness and serve. In what ways are they participating, witness and serving in/to/for/with the life of the Church?

Our roles as stewards and ministers of hospitality tied very closely with the king role or the service-based role. Our project for the week was the “High 5 Project”, which was in addition to serving lunch and dinner every day, bringing up the gifts at Mass and greeting all those who entered the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel before Mass.

Through the “High 5 Project”, youth from the S&H group encouraged their peers to give up a latte, a $5 footlong, 5 soft tacos at Taco Bell, a clothing purchase, etc. in order to give $5 5 times throughout the year to our program. This financial support will then go toward providing a scholarship for a youth group or high school group to attend the conference in future years.

We looked at fundraising, not just as an answer to a crisis, but as a ministry which needs continual cultivation and commitment from both the giver and the receiver. As Christian faithful, we don’t raise money for our own needs but we raise funds in order to make that money available to God.

Finally, on our last day of formal class together yesterday, we discussed practical ways around their parishes and high schools the students can serve as stewards and ministers of hospitality. We also reflected about what good, solid Christian-living looks like in terms of stewardship and hospitality: welcoming the unwelcomed, treating others as sacred gifts from God, treating our bodies with respect, etc.
We were a sassy bunch of stewards and ministers of hospitality!

Why am I sharing ALL of this with all of you…? I learned a lesson about stewardship and hospitality at the airport today.

I had my Honor Your Inner Monk t-shirt on, and the TSA agent asked me about it. I was about 40 minutes way from my flight at a new airport, so I didn’t know what to expect as far as security lines and gate procedures. Needless to say, I was in a hurry. I told the TSA agent that my shirt was from a monastery in southern Indiana. She asked me if I was studying to be a monk. I told her I soon would be in October. I think she could tell I was in a hurry, and she wished we had more time to talk about why I was choosing this path. Briefly, I told her that the monastic way of life right now is where I feel closest to God. She excitedly congratulated me and wished me well.

I really do wish I had stayed longer to chat. In hindsight, I certainly had plenty of time to do so because the airport was not busy at all.

I was struck by this woman’s hospitality – a TSA agent of all people too. Stereotypically, I see them as very rigid and stoic figures with no room monkey business. Yet, here she was, just as human as all of us looking for connection, providing hospitality to a hurried guy like me who probably should have been honoring his inner monk a little better.

Again, I was struck by her hospitality, and it reminds me of a homily from Archabbot Justin (for what occasion, I don’t remember), but he said often Benedictines are identified with the charism of hospitality (and the monks of Saint Meinrad do hospitality well), but he asked how are we being good stewards of the hospitality we are shown? It’s just as important to be a responsible guest as it is the host.

My lesson: I was very richly blessed this week to encounter Christ in the face of so many youth, youth and campus ministers/teachers, interns, coworkers, catechists and monks this week. I primarily focused on my role as “teacher” of stewardship and hospitality this week, but Miss TSA Agent showed me that it’s just as important to be a dutiful recipient of hospitality as it is to be a minister of hospitality.

28 December 2013

An afternoon inspired by Pope Francis

Pope Francis ... He's right about ministering to the poor and those in need. I feel guilty writing about this because I'm tooting my own horn, but I hope in doing so, I inspire others to reach out.

It's not every day I am in a big city. So being in Denver for a friend's wedding provided for me the opportunity to be around many different people from all walks of life. I've always been fascinated by people-watching.

After I had lunch with some UD friends here, I decided to get some coffee and read a book. However, I wanted to be outside since the sun was shining and the weather was very pleasant. After sitting at a chess table for a while and trying to avoid eye contact with the homeless, Jeremy approached me and asked if I had any pieces.

At first I thought of drug pieces or gun pieces, then I realized I was sitting at a chess table. Haha. Jeremy shared most of his life story with me and said he had been homeless for the first time starting a week ago. He said it's been a trying experience. I asked him some questions about his life, his family, his work, etc.

Without him asking I decided to give him some money. I struggle giving away money like that, but it felt like the right thing to do.

Debbie, Me and Jeremy playing chess in Denver, CO

Debbie, sitting at the table next to us, asked if any of us wanted to play chess. Jeremy played with Debbie and I watched. Debbie, from what I could tell, has hitchhiked around the world. She is now homeless. She's originally from Akron, Ohio.

A short time later, Steve came by. Apparently, he is really good at chess and is very humble about it. He seemed to have a good head on his shoulders. He had a thoughtful and wise quietness about him. He is homeless, too.

It was a good experience to immerse myself with them instead of passing them by. I know not everyone has this opportunity, but it was a good experience. I didn't necessarily put myself in this situation, but I happened upon it, and I'm glad I did. I have so much more to share about their stories, but I will save that for another time.

We've been hearing a lot from Pope Francis about engaging the poor ... those poor in spirit, finances, humor, emotions, family, food, etc. Regardless of your beliefs, I think we were created to be in communion with others. For me, it was very meaningful to be with my UD friends this morning and then to connect with new friends "on the street" this afternoon.

I told my new friends that I could learn just as much from them that I could in a book. I told them I appreciated their company and conversation. We can learn a lot from one another and inspire one another. I think that's what Pope Francis understands and is teaching.

I hope my interactions with people from all works of life demonstrate to them that I care, that there is hope and that because I am a Christian -- that they believe God cares. I hope they are inspired to pay it forward and to spread a bit of hope.

I can't help but think God created this beautiful day for my friends to get married and to also lead me to enjoy my coffee outside in order to meet some friends.

20 November 2013

I have a cool Mom

My mom is pretty awesome. Most moms are pretty awesome. One way in which my mom is pretty awesome is that she blogs. What makes her a rockin' blogger is that she helps breakdown the Catholic faith in a way which helps those who might judge it or have preconceived notions about it or practice it without really understanding it, understand it.

My mom and dad were my first teachers, and I appreciate how I still learn from them -- particularly in this unique way from my mom.

Here is a link to her blog: http://catholicenlightening.blogspot.com/


My mom and my nephew/godson Holden.