Saturday, August 22, 2009

Leadership Homily

Fr. Michael Denk
Year B 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Barnabas 5pm, 7:30 and noon

Joshua gathered all of “their elders, their leaders,their judges, and their officers” and declared:
“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua was telling them what Leadership really means.

(The following is adapted from Fr. Corapi’s conference)

Lead by Example
Respect and reverence those you are leading
Plan, Prepare and Practice

L – Lead by example from the front. To get an army to march anywhere, it needs to be lead…preferably from the front
E – Educate. If you are waiting for the church to educate your children you are remiss losers. It is not the church’s job to educate your children. You need to educate them and you can’t do that unless you yourself are continuing to learn and be educated. It’s up to you. Know your faith, own your faith, and teach your faith. The church offers adult education programs for you to grow in your faith. Read the bulletin get involved, pick up a book at Grismer’s. Every household should have a bible and a Catechism of the Catholic Church (We believe in Scripture and Tradition).
A – Attitude: Your attitude sets the tone for the family. What is the attitude you take towards your faith? Are you excited and passionate about your faith? Do you look at it with disdain or apathy? So will your children.
D – Discipline. We become disciples by discipline. First putting ourselves under the discipline of the Lord and doing what asks of us, second, by self-discipline, and 3rd by disciplining our children. Discipline is the training that helps us to accomplish a certain task or adopt a pattern of behavior. We will never have a routine of prayer or the willpower to come to mass without discipline. We need to discipline ourselves because we can sometimes be so distorted to think that we don’t want to come here and receive God’s love and so yes we do need to discipline ourselves to come here and to pray on a regular basis. And our children do need to be disciplined. They need to come here whether they want to or not.
E – Empower. Good leaders empower people. They don’t have to do it all, rather they allow others to take part in the leadership. Empower your family to learn their faith and nurture a love of the faith in them. This is the most important thing that you do. If you fail to hand on your faith in a way that they will live it out then you have failed gravely.
R – Reverence and Respect those whom you lead. Leadership is not about enslaving, it is about serving. Jesus has such a reverence for us that he never forces us, he no longer calls us slaves, he calls us friends. We hear in the reading from Paul to the Ephesians to Be subordinate to one another. Put the other person first. Reverence them as a human being created in the image of God.
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.For the husband is head of his wifejust as Christ is head of the church,he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ,so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.Husbands, love your wives,
S – Sacrifice. No pain, no gain. No cross, no crown. For a winning team, the players must sacrifice. Anything worth having is worth sacrificing for. So yes, faith does require sacrifice, serving God does require the cross. The most important thing that we do is come to mass on Sunday and sacrifices need to be made. Soccer games must be missed along with other sporting events, we have to sacrifice sleeping in, or being inside when it’s beautiful out there. Maybe it even means sacrificing work. It does call for sacrificing our time, talent and treasure. Giving back to God and his people. Loving God and loving our neighbor requires sacrifice. We must lead by laying down our lives so that others may live more fully.
H – Humility. Real leaders are humble because they know that ultimate power comes from God and not them. Jesus showed us a true leader when he knelt down to wash his disciple’s feet. He humlbled himself taking the form of a slave. Humility is ultimately realizing that God is God and I am not.
I – Initiation. Seize the day. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. 'Pray like it is all up to God, but work like it is all up to you.'
P – Plan, Prepare, Practice. Good leaders have a plan, they prepare, and they practice. Have some idea of how you’re going to practice your faith. What do you need to do differently? How are you going to make the time to educate yourself, get involved, and be fully invested in faith? So maybe it is really difficult to get your kids here to mass on time. Plan how you are going to do it. Do drills like a fire escape. Plan where you are going to go to mass when you go on vacation. Plan your day around the mass not your mass around your day.

This is what it means to be a leader, this is what it means to be a Christian. This is the message that Joshua was screaming out to their elders, their leaders,their judges, and their officers.

If you are in a leadership position either at home at work hopefully like Joshua you can say with conviction: “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dave's Magic Cup 2009

St. Barnabas Blasers support the Fundraiser for Robert Purgert

“Anger was meant to be a visitor, never a resident.”

Why do people get angry? We get angry when we or someone we love is wronged or we perceive a wrong. It is important to realize, though, that there are two types of anger: Definitive anger and Distorted anger. Definitive anger: When someone has wronged us.Distorted anger: When things didn't go our way.
Definitive Anger would be when someone truly wrongs us or someone we love. This is a Righteous Anger. And it is an anger that is given to us to motivate us to make things right.
Unfortunatlel though, much of our anger is distorted. The traffic moved too slowly. Our spouse didn't do what we wanted. I don’t agree with the way my boss is handling things. My computer crashed and I lost my calendar. Benjamin Franklin once said: “Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one
Distorted anger, that is anger when things didn’t go our way, is still very intense and must be processed. Definitive Anger must also be processed and if necessary acted upon in a positive loving way. “Anger was meant to be a visitor, never a resident.”

Scripture is certain about this: Today’s second reading from Ephesians clearly states that: All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. In other places scripture echoes the same response:

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil. (Do not give the devil a chance to work on you!)
-Ephesians 4:26

But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths.
-Colossians 3:8

Give up your anger, abandon your wrath; do not be provoked; it brings only harm.
-Psalm 37:8

One of the most common and difficult things that many of us deal with personally is anger. So how do we remove all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling, along with all malice? How do we do remove this intense feeling which swells up inside us? Notice Paul doesn’t say to burry it, put it off, or to ignore it, he clearly says IT MUST BE REMOVED.
Dr. Gary Chapman has written a book called Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way (2007) that addresses how we can use anger positively. In one section of the book he lays out five steps for processing anger and ultimately removing it so that it does not become a resident, but a visitor. In one section of his book, Dr. Chapman lays out a workable process to handle our anger towards people we love. The two overarching themes that must be kept in mind is that our processing anger ought to be positive and loving. So here’s five steps that we can use anytime we find ourselves experiencing anger: Step 1: Acknowledge to yourself that you are angry. Say these words to yourself, “I am angry.” I don’t want to bury this. I want to deal with it.
Just realizing that we are angry can help us to stop fueling it and begin the process of letting it go. We need to name it and claim it before we can get rid of it.
Step 2: Restrain your immediate response. Don’t let your emotions sweep you into saying or doing something hurtful. Count to 10 (or 100, or better yet 1,000), tell God you are angry, and take a time-out. I always love teaching people the acronym HALT. We should never speak or make a decision when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired). And Anger is a big one. When you are angry – HALT!
Speak when you are angry - and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret.” Dr. Lawrence Peter
Anger is only one letter short of danger” –popular quote
If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” –Chinese Proverb
Step 3: Find the focus of your anger. Why are you feeling angry? Is it a major or a minor issue? Is it definitive anger: someone has wronged me or is it distorted anger: I didn’t get my way?
Anyone can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way - that is not within everyone's power and that is not easy.” –Aristotle
One of the best ways of processing anger is by talking it out with a trusted friend, parent, counselor, priest, spiritual director. “Venting” to someone can help you express it and process it. But it needs to be productive venting, not griping or slandering, but sorting through these questions so that you can make a positive and loving response.
Step 4: What are your options? Think through what your response could be.

Should you lovingly confront?
Our Lord confronts others when he himself or those he loved were wronged:

At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." MK 8:33

When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village. Luke 9:54-56)

Should you choose to overlook?
It is good sense in a man to be slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
If it is something that is not serious we can consciously choose to overlook it.

Should you turn it over to God and let him deal with the offender?
Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Romans 12:19)
There are some things that we are better off not dealing with. There are some people that it just would not be helpful to confront. Remember it must always be positive and loving. Sometimes no good may come from confrontation and and we need to turn these people over to God and surrender.
Step 5: Take action. Choose one of these three options, share your decision with God, and then act on it. Either lovingly confront the person, choose to overlook it, or turn it over to God and allow Him to deal with the person. So just to review here are the 5 steps:
1. Admit to yourself that you are angry2. Restrain yourself until you can process it – count to 1,0003. Try to discover the source of your anger. 4. Analyze your options with God and others.5. Make a firm act of the will and take action.
By allowing ourselves to process our anger it will not only keep us from lashing out, but allow us to use our anger for good. These steps will help us to remove all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling, along with all malice.
Remember: “Anger was meant to be a visitor, never a resident.”

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More Tips for Dealing with Anger


1. Consciously acknowledge to yourself that you are angry.
2. Restrain your immediate response.
3. Locate the focus of your anger.
4. Analyze your options.
5. Take constructive action.


1. Listen to their story.
2. Listen: Ask them to tell their story again.
3. Listen: Ask questions that clarify their story.
4. Try to understand the angry person’s situation.
5. Express to the person your understanding of their situation.
6. Share additional information that may shed light on the subject.
7. Confess any wrongdoing and perform restitution.


1. Acknowledge the reality of anger.
2. Agree to acknowledge your anger to each other.
3. Agree that verbal or physical explosions that attack
the other person are not appropriate responses to anger.
4. Agree to seek en explanation before passing judgment.
5. Agree to seek a resolution.
6. Agree to affirm your leave for each other.


1. After listening once, jump into the conversation and set the
person straight on all the facts.
2. Tell the person to stop being angry.
3. Escalate the situation out of control by being angry back.

Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way
(former title: The Other Side of Love -- Handling Anger in a Godly Way)
by Dr. Gary Chapman © 2007.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gethsemani Retreat


I had a wonderful retreat last week at The Abbey of Gethsemane. I very
much needed the silence, deep prayer, and time for reflection. It was a
blessed time and a blessed retreat. I prayed for all of you. I have to
admit I was getting overwhelmed and a little frustrated and discouraged
and then all the questioning begins. One of the exercises my retreat
director had me do was to write down everything I was doing and to
prioritize. So with the personality that I have I sat and wrote down
every thing that I am involved in, everything that I could think of:
reoccurring events, appointments, counseling, groups, committees, annual
events, ministries, sacramental ministry, and everything else. After an
hour or so I realized I had four pages. The funny thing is after I got
done writing it all out and reflecting on everything that I was doing I
realized I so love what I am doing. I love being a priest and I love
being here with you at St. Barnabas. After spending some time in the
Blessed Sacrament chapel and asking God to help me see what he wanted me
to be doing I came out with a very clear focus. He didn't take anything
away, but he did give me direction. After I shared all of this with the
Director he was delighted and pretty entertained too I think.

Having said all that, it's always difficult coming back from a retreat
experience for me. I can get quickly overwhelmed and as you may have
seen on the front of the bulletin my Calendar is gone. You all know I'm
not the most organized person to begin with so this has really caused a
little crisis for me. I don't know what's going on or where I'm
supposed to be so please remind me and be patient with me.

I love you all, Fr. Michael

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Filled Homily

Fr. Michael Denk
St. Barnabas (7:30 am)
Year B, 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 2, 2009


What brings you back every Sunday?

Think about it… why do you come back every Sunday? [I’ll ask the people in the pews and let you know what they say]. I imagine for some people it’s because it’s what they’ve always done, for others it’s to be with their families, for some it’s because their parents made them, or it’s because God commanded us to keep holy the Sabbath and so we go to mass on Sunday. For some it’s because they couldn’t survive the week without it. What is your reason? The crowd, who had been fed by Jesus in the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, came to Capernaum looking for Jesus and when they found him He said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signsbut because you ate the loaves and were filled.” They came back not because they had to, not because they saw signs or miracles, not to be with their families, not because God had commanded them to, but because when he multiplied those loaves and fed them something happened. They were filled. They came back looking for him because they found fulfillment.

I’m often saddened when people tell me they left the church. Often times they will say they left the church because they weren’t fed. And I think to myself: What did they miss? How could they not have been fed? Every Sunday in the mass Jesus feeds us with His Word in the scriptures and with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. How were they not fed? I wonder if they ever really got it, if they ever really knew him, if they ever understood what really takes place here, if they ever moved beyond the law to its fulfillment.

So why come back? Maybe your reason is one of the above: maybe you come because your parents make you, or you come because God commands it, or maybe you’re afraid of going to go to hell if you don’t. These actually aren’t bad reasons for coming. As a matter of fact they can be good motivators for someone that doesn’t quite get it. But the law is only for those who haven’t really come to know the Lord and understand the miracle of the loaves.

At every single mass, no matter where, no matter who the priest is, no matter how the music is, no matter what you think of the church or the people in it – we are fed. Anyone who leaves a mass and says I wasn’t fed must have completely missed this. He does feed us in a very real way. If we walk out of here getting nothing out of it then maybe we are missing something, maybe it’s not the church to blame, or the priest, or the music, or the church, maybe it’s our own lack of faith.

Hopefully we will all come to that point in our faith where we will return every Sunday, not simply because of the commandment or because of guilt, but because you have been fed and you have been filled. If you’re not experiencing this then it may be a time to ask yourself: is this faith real for me? What am I missing? Why am I not filled by this? Do I know enough about my faith? Am I really living out my faith? And then ask God to feed you, ask him to help you to believe and to experience the fulfillment that can only come from the Eucharist.

I hope and I pray that you come back here every Sunday hoping to be fed and walking away filled and fulfilled.