Another Day of Work in the Vineyard

The elections are over. I will refrain from commenting on the results and was reminded during Morning Prayer, that regardless of who won or what initiatives passed, the work of a disciple remains the same. Think of the countless souls who surround us everyday who don’t know the joy of claiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. Think of the church going people who worship from a distance, not engaging with their hearts, and how dramatically things could change if they got baptized in the Holy Spirit. The Vineyard is in desperate need of faithful workers. Hopefully, we all rolled (or crawled) out of bed with an open heart and desire to do the Lord’s work for the day.

Politicians come and go. Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever! I now have the privilege of celebrating this Truth during Daily Mass.

Have a blessed day!

Seattle Prep President Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

Yesterday, I taped a show for Sound Insight with Dr. Tom Curran, Fr. Kurt Nagel, and Pam Gunderson. Before we began taping the show, it was brought to my attention that the President of Seattle Prep High School posted a blog on the School’s website supporting Referendum 74 which seeks to redefine the definition of marriage. I was extremely shocked and upset to hear about this. Why do parents spend thousands of dollars to send their children to Catholic schools so that the faculty and staff can actively undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church?

The weakest link in the Catholic schools education is passing on the Catholic faith. We can’t even get a good number of our parents in our Catholic Schools to actively worship and participate in Sunday Mass with their children. This has been a constant struggle since I have assumed being the pastor with a Catholic school.

I guess I should use this as an opportunity to thank my mom and dad for always making the Sunday Mass a priority in my life when I was growing up. Way too many of our children and youth don’t have this support in their lives today.

We need to pray for huge renewal in all of our church structures. May the Holy Spirit remove all of the people who “teach their doubt and speculation rather than the plan of God to be received by faith” (cf. 1 Timothy 1:4-5).

Great Youth Convention!

I just heard Jake Finkbonner being interviewed by the Faith Formation director of St. John the Baptist in Covington. What an amazing young man with a deep faith. He was the last miracle for the recent canonization of St. Kaeteri Tekawitha in Rome. He got to receive Holy Communion from Pope Benedict VI and his younger sister received her 1st Holy Communion from the Pope. Too cool!

Jake has a website if you would like to learn more about him. Here is the link

The Archdiocese does a great job every year with the Youth Convention. A Catholic High School from Victoria, BC has been attending every year for the last 20 years.

Steve Angrisano is the Master of Ceremonies. I first met him several years ago when I was invited to participate in the Archdiocese of Anchorage Catholic Youth Convention. That was the place where I was giving a workshop on the Mass and talking about how annoying it is when cell phones go off during Mass. As soon as the words rolled out of my mouth, my cell phone rang and played (rather loudly) the WSU Fight Song. Needless to say, I turned 4 shades of red and turned it off.


I am reviewing our book for the taping of the Sacred Heart Radio Bookclub today and saw a great quote from G.K. Chesterton:

We’re all in the same boat; and we’re all seasick!

The Ring of Kerry

Yesterday we traveled through the Ring of Kerry. This route takes us around the peninsula and is one of the most famous and panoramic routes in Ireland.

We spent quite a bit of time at the Muckross House and Gardens. Muckross House is a mansion designed by the Scottish architect, William Burn, built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the watercolourist Mary Balfour Herbert. With sixty-five rooms, it was built in the Tudor style. Extensive improvements were undertaken in the 1850s in preparation for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861. It is said that these improvements for the Queen’s visit were a contributory factor in the financial difficulties suffered by the Herbert family which resulted in the sale of the estate. In 1899 it was bought by Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun who wanted to preserve the dramatic landscape.

     It was bought by a wealthy Californian mining magnate William Bowers Bourn, as a wedding gift for his daughter Maud and her husband Arthur Rose Vincent.

   Killarney National Park was formed principally from a donation of Muckross Estate, which was presented to the state in 1932 by Senator Arthur Vincent and his parents-in-law Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II, in memory of Senator Vincent’s late wife, Maud. The park was substantially expanded by acquisition of land from the former Earl of Kenmare‘s estate. (from Wikipedia)

Most of the people in my group thought the lifestyle of the residents of the Muckross house was way over the top and how easily people who enjoy that lifestyle could lose touch with the common folk who are struggling to feed their families and survive.

Our next stop was to Ross Castle. It was an old castle from the  late 15th century. Most of the building is in ruins but you can get an idea of how large the structure was by walking through the doorway and looking at the structures that are still standing.

We stopped along the way at the Red Fox Inn which is part of the Kerry Bog Museum. We raised a glass of Irish coffee and had a short visit.

We stopped along the way back to Dingle in a few spots for photos. Our last official stop was to the St. Mary’s Killarney Cathedral. St. Mary’s Cathedral (1842-1855) was designed by the renowned English Architect Augustus Welby Pugin and is considered to be one of the most important and best Gothic Revival churches of the nineteenth century in Ireland. The spire and nave were completed by the Irish Architects Ashlin and Coleman of Dublin. The interior decorations were designed by J.J. McCarthy.

The interior was severely damaged when the interior plaster was removed in the 1973 renovation by D.J. Kennedy.

Some people find the nave to be too narrow, but the width of the nave was based on the medieval models to be found throughout Ireland and England. The spire is tall and elegant. The west end is very Irish in character, with three tall lancet windows and a very low entrance door beneath.

The stonework used is an attractive mixture of brown and grey stone. The siting of the church is more like the siting of a priory than the siting of a cathedral, as the cathedral stands in a huge field instead of in the middle of the original settlement of Killarney.

One feature that fascinated me and is typical of the gothic age was seeing gargoyles on the four corners of the base of the spire. I just bought a new camera with a 20x zoom and was able to get a pretty good picture of one of the gargoyles. The use of gargoyles was a bit controversial and the quote below from St. Bernard of Clairvaux obviously shows his objection to their use.

What are these fantastic monsters doing in the cloisters before the eyes of the brothers as they read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys, these strange savage lions, and monsters? To what purpose are here placed these creatures, half beast, half man, or these spotted tigers? I see several bodies with one head and several heads with one body. Here is a quadruped with a serpent’s head, there a fish with a quadruped’s head, then again an animal half horse, half goat… Surely if we do not blush for such absurdities, we should at least regret what we have spent on them.

We arrived back at the hotel a few minutes before dinner.

It is hard to believe we only have one more day left before we begin the journey home. As I mentioned yesterday the trip has been very enjoyable and the rest of the pilgrims seem to be enjoying themselves and no one has gotten sick.

Thanks for stopping by.

NPR & Media Bias

A few weeks ago, I was asked to do an interview for the Archdiocese of Seattle with a local NPR reporter on Referendum 74.

The story has aired Nationally, and the reporter erroneously said that I was “sitting on the fence” about whether or not to allow the referendums in our parish. I stated repeatedly that I was behind everyone else’s response because of my trip to Rome and a retreat weekend in May. I wanted to make sure that I was at all of the Masses to address the issue. That’s hardly sitting on the fence.

The story spent most of its time and energy on people who didn’t want the referendum and disagreed with the Archbishop. Why am I not surprised??

Addressing A Growing Problem

I just finished reading this article by Archbishop  Charles J. Chaput from the Archdiocese of Denver. Radical secularists are increasingly applying pressure to govern and dictate what the social outreach of the Catholic Church can do since it receives government funds. I wonder if we are heading into a huge conflict whereby we are going to lose the nonprofit status and use of government funds. This action would put a huge burden on the government. But maybe it will spur some kind of powerful renewal connecting the social outreach to the mission of the Church. It seems to me part of the problem we face as a Church is that the  Social Justice teachings of the Church often get disconnected with the mission to evangelize. Great energies are often spent to meet physical needs but a holistic program that addresses the total person and offers them the opportunity to come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to experience new life in Him are often completely absent.  I know of few Catholic social outreach organizations that have prayer ministry, Bible studies, or extends invitations to people to attend Mass or other church activities. In many ways the problem is partially our fault since many people who are hired to work aren’t believers or church goers. What exactly makes it “catholic” anymore or differentiates it from any other social outreach organization?  A few years ago in California, the courts determined that Catholic Charities wasn’t really a religious organization (see this article from Christianity Today) since it didn’t proselytize, pray with people, or distribute religious literature. They studied the organization and made the decision based on its actions that they had to make contraceptives available treating them like any other social outreach organization. There simply was little to no evidence it was connected with the mission of the Church. 

I was reminded of a an article I read by Brian C. Anderson about how Catholic Charities has lost its soul. A friend of mine works for Catholic Community Services and said she tried to start a Bible study with her co-workers and got tons of resistance. One person even commented about how they no longer need the Church for their work.   

Pope John Paul II said that the ultimate suffering was the loss of eternal life. I don’t think a lot people believe that anymore and are simply trying to construct the “perfect” society apart from God and apart from the God’s call to conversion of mind and heart.  If we really believe that Christ is the answer shouldn’t we be doing more to help people come to know and follow Him? I’m not advocating being manipulative when people in need come for assistance or holding conversion over their head in order to help them, but there seems to be very little effort to pray with them or share our faith with them. Maybe the increasing conflicts in this area will cause a soulful examination leading to a more holistic approach. 

Lent – A Season Of Grace

     Lent has begun, and I just returned a short while ago from taping an episode of Sound Insight with Tom Curran and Pam Gunderson. Our theme for this episode was highlighting the season of Lent. Our exclusive text for the program was Pope Benedict XVI’s Ash Wednesday General Audience. He states: 

     We are entering into a very “intense” liturgical season that, while preparing us for the celebration of Easter — the heart of the Church calendar and of our very existence — invites us, or we could say, provokes us, to push forward in our Christian lives.

     Think of sin as a kind of gravity which holds us down and prevents us from reaching out to God.  I love the whole image of pushing forward and it reminds me of a quote from St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians:

     I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.     Let us, then, who are “perfectly mature” adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you. (Chapter 3 verses 14-15)

     Lent is all about allowing the Holy Spirit to cleanse us from all worldly things that hinder our spiritual development. The result is that “new attitude” St. Paul talks about. People who take Lent seriously and recognize that it is not a time for cosmetic changes, but rather, a time for a radical change of mind and heart will move forward to a greater level of “maturity”. While there may be moments of great strife and difficulty, the ultimate result is total freedom to live by the law of the Spirit which sets us free from the law of sin and death. (cf. Romans 8: 1-2) How can this be seen as anything but a season of grace? 

    May God grant us a fruitful and blessed Lent! 

     The Sound Insight program will air on AM 1050 (Sacred Heart Radio) on Monday, February 11th at 11:00 AM.