Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fasting From Facebook

I'm sure you all know I like to be present on Facebook and believe we can reach many through the New Media.  However, at times we are called to Fast from even things that are good (Like Food and pleasurable activities).  So I'm going to be Fasting from Facebook for Lent.  You will only be able to reach me by the medieval ways of phone and email:)   Contact

Hopefully my posts will still automate to Facebook and Twitter, so you will hear things from me, but don't think I'm cheating... it's one of those magic things of the internet.  I'll post somehow but won't check.

Into the Desert!


If you Haven't read it yet, here's my latest article published in the Priest Magazine:

Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving: Observing this penitential season in the Digital Age

Benedict XVI Stations of the Cross

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Take the Survey: Win a Jerusalem Cross from my Trip to the Holy Land.

E-ZPass? Nope... Love is Patient, Love is Kind.

As a priest I do a lot of traveling.  I often drive to the hospitals to anoint people, to their homes to bring them communion, to other parishes for funerals, masses or meetings.  Last week I drove over an hour to get to a treatment facility near 271 and Chagrin to see a young boy.  Yesterday my family called because they were having an engagement party for my youngest sister (Sheri got engaged Friday Night), and my family was so excited that my dad wanted everybody to meet in Strongsville for a brunch.  The only problem was he wanted everyone to meet at 2pm and I had to be back here at the Church at 3pm for confessions.  So I asked if we could do it earlier… “OK, quarter to Two” He said and hung up the phone!  So I drove half an hour to Strongsville in a blizzard, ate an omelets and drank a cup of coffee in fifteen minutes and hit the road again! 

There is one thing that makes all of this driving for me easier… The E-ZPass!  That’s right no lines for me on the Turnpike.  I love when I see all of the lines and an empty E-ZPass line and I can fly through.  As I do I always smile and look at the people waiting and think: “Suckers!” 

I read a News Story Recently about a tollbooth in New York.  They were looking into one agent in particular because there was always a line at their tollbooth.  What they discovered was that the people liked waiting in line!  Why?  Because the agent talked to each person, asked how there day was and made them smile.  That’s right people were willing to wait in line just to have a moment with this guy.  Now I think maybe I’m not winning out with the E-ZPass. 

I started to think about my own life… “Are there people like this in my life?”  And as I thought about it, I realized there are.  For example, there is a Marathon gas station that is passed the highway, but that is my favorite gas station to get gas.  Why?  Well, one morning, it must have been a holiday because Chipotle was closed so I went across the street to Marathon because I’d heard about these amazing Gyros they serve… Now I know you are already thinking… No way would I eat a Gyro from a gas station.  But I have to tell you these things are amazing.  Anyways, I get into the store and ask about the Gyros and the guy says, I’m sorry Father, but the ladies aren’t in and we don’t start serving those until 11am.  “Oh darn” I said, “I heard they are so good.”  Then he stopped me and said “Hang on Father, I’m gonna make you one.”  The next thing I knew he took off and ran around to the other counter and started opening the ovens and prepping everything to make me a Gyro.  The only problem was I noticed customer after customer walking in.  I started to feel bad so I said: “Hey take care of them first you can do that later.”  He said with a smile: “No, that’s alright father, they are regulars they don’t mind waiting.”  And the truth is they didn’t.  They grabbed coffees and were hanging out as he maid my Gyro and asked them how there day was going.  Before I knew it, it was like a Happy Hour here at the Marathon at 10am.  Everybody was just laughing and enjoying each other.  I left that place not only with a Gyro and some of my favorite Starbuck’s Frappuccino but a huge smile on my face.  I had been running errands all morning and realized that for the first time that day somebody acknowledged me, was kind to me, and genuinely cared about me.  I told myself after that, “This is where I’m getting my gas from now on!” 

Another example is on my days off I like to go to this one restaurant for breakfast and the funny thing is the food is not really that good and it’s overpriced, but the waitress is a riot!  She makes me laugh, tells me jokes, and shares her life.  And to be honest I go more for her kindness than I do for the food. 

Can you think of people like this in your life? 

We all yearn for this connection with people and I think we are willing to go through any kind of inconvenience if someone is good to us. 

What is it that makes these people so attractive?  I think St. Paul gives us the formula in Today’s second reading.  

“Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.”

St. Paul is encouraging us to do anything we can to grow in every way, to use our gifts, to excel in life, but above all he wants to show us “a still more excellent way.”  What he is saying is that it doesn’t matter what you do in life, you can do it even better if you do it with love. 

What does it mean to love?  How are we called to love that God places in our life?  The following beautiful litany of Love from St. Paul can be a great way to examine our own relationships.  Are you really loving the people that God has given you to love? 

Paul begins by giving us two qualities of love.  “Love is Patient, Love is kind.”  So to begin with “Love is patient.”  That is the first quality.  Are you a patient person?  Are you patient with those that you are supposed to love?  Are you patient with your husband?  Your wife?  Your Children?  Your co-workers?  Your friends?  The original meaning (from the Latin “patiens”) means “to suffer with”.  It means being willing to bear with one another in their suffering.  It means being patient with your spouse when they don’t act how you want them to act.  It means being patient with your child when they ask you the same question for the 10th time.  It means being willing to be present to a person and walk with them on their journey.  It means patiently suffering with them as they are in their stage of life.  If you find yourself being impatient, it is not love.  Be patient with those that you are supposed to love. 

The second quality is “Love is kind.”  I think what makes people line up for the tollbooth attendant in New York and what makes it a Happy Hour at Marathon at 10am and why I’m willing to overpay for a less than average meal is because of the kindness of the person serving.  That kindness changed my whole day and my outlook on life.  I realized that people are good, that relating to people is more than getting in and getting out, and that I’d be willing to put up with anything when people are kind to me.  So, how kind to you are the people in your life?  Are you kind to those that you are called to love?  Do you speak kindly to your husband or wife?  Do you treat your children with kindness?  Are you kind to those whom you interact with throughout the day?  One act of kindness can not only change a persons day, but it can change their life.  “Love is kind.” 

From here Paul goes on to give us eight ways of “You’re doing it wrong!” 

Love is not jealous,

Love is not jealous.  So right away if you ever find yourself jealous of someone, jealous of your husband’s friends, or your girlfriends jewelry, or your friends new house or car, or the attention that a loved one shows to someone else, it is not love.  Love has no place for jealousy.  So if you are acting with jealousy, stop it!  It’s not love.  Don’t even go down that path. 

Love is not pompous,

If you find yourself bragging a lot, putting others down, trying to make others see what you have, trying to show off.  Stop it!  It’s not love.  Don’t even go down that path. 

Love is not inflated,

This is the tendency that people have to blow things out of proportion.  If you make too big of a deal over things, set your expectations too high for yourself or others, exaggerate or become demanding.  Stop it!  It’s not love.  Don’t even go down that path. 

 It is not rude,

Are you rude to people?  Do you yell at people?  Do you come off as being cold, aloof, impersonal, or not wanting to be bothered?  Love is not rude.  I think this is important for children to hear as well.  Children don’t be rude to your parents, your teachers or your friends.   Love is not rude.  If you find yourself acting disrespectful, discourteous, or impolite… Stop it!  It’s not love.  Don’t even go down that path. 

It does not seek its own interests,

This is one of the most important aspects of love.  Love does not seek its own interests.  It’s not all about you!  It’s about the other people in your life.  Love is about seeking what’s best for the other.  Do you find yourself trying to manipulate so that you always win?  So that you always get the best deal?  So that you always come out on top?  This isn’t love.  Love seeks for the best interest of the other person.  Love always looks for ways of making it better for everyone and not just for myself.  If you find yourself being selfish, self-centered, and manipulative… Stop it!  It’s not love.  Don’t even go down that path. 

It is not quick-tempered,

Do you have a temper?  Love is not quick-tempered.  This one is often for the guys!  If you find yourself losing your temper with your wife or your children, your parents, or others, you are missing the mark.  No matter how well you are doing everything else, if you are quick to anger, vengeful, spiteful and mean… Stop it!  It’s not love.  Don’t even go down that path.   

It does not brood over injury,

Ok and this one’s generally for the ladies!  I even had a copule tell me after last nights homily.  “Father, we laughed all car ride home because we both realized that my husband is “quick-tempered” and I so easily “brood over injuries.”  But, Love does not brood over injury.  Psychologists say that one of the most toxic things for a marriage is when one spouse constantly brings up sins of the past and throws it in the other ones face.  This may be giving your spouse the “silent treatment”, it may be constantly bickering or harboring anger for a hurt in the past, it may constantly focusing and obsessing about their failures and mistakes.  If you find yourself brooding often… Stop it!  It’s not love.  Don’t even go down that path. 

It does not rejoice over wrongdoing

Finally, Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.  I think we see this especially in the Entertainment Industry.  We just love to see when a “Star” falls.  Some of the biggest news of the last year was Kristen Stewart being caught on camera cheating on Rob with a married man, Prince Harry’s naked Vegas pictures, Lindsey Lohan arrested for throwing punches at a night club, Lance Armstrong doping up, Beyoncé caught lip-syncing, and of all things Elmo!  We should not be entertained by people failing, falling and messing up.  Sometimes we rejoice when someone who seems like they have it all fails and falls.  We may even find ourselves delighting when this happens to those whom we are called to love.  If you find yourself rejoicing or secretly hoping that someone will fail… Stop it!  It’s not love.  Don’t even go down that path. 
Now for the unbelievable affirmations of what love can do! 

Love rejoices with the truth.

When we love people we rejoice in what is true.  They are children of God.  We can rejoice when other people succeed, when the good does shine through, when light does overcome darkness.  Love rejoices with the truth that other people really are good, they really are worthy of our unconditional love, and in the end the truth of someone’s intent will shine through.

And the final four…

It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

You see, if we love, as God intends us to, that love will bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.  If we love in the ways above we can get through anything together.  We can believe that love will endure, light will overcome darkness, the good will overcome evil in the end and not be naïve.  Imagine what our families would be like if we loved in this way.  No longer would half of marriages end in divorce, no longer would children grow up with low-self esteem, no longer would we so easily turn to addictions, escapes, or unhealthy or impure relationships. 

The truth is, everything said by St. Paul about love can be said of God.  Why?  Because “God is love.”  (1 John 4:8)  So that means that God is patient with you.  God is really kind.  God doesn’t delight when you fall or sin, but rejoices and delights when you do well.  God believes in you, hopes in you, bears all things with you, and will endure everything with you… and in the end God will not fail you.  Love never fails. 

When we realize how loved we are by God and as we practice loving each other in these ways we too will be like that tollbooth agent, my friend at the Marathon gas-station and the waitress at the restaurant.  We can be patient, kind and loving because we have been loved by God and by others. 

In the end true Love never fails. 

EZ Pass... Nope: Love is Patient, Love is Kind