Friday, November 28, 2014

Advent Poustinia Retreat this Friday and Saturday

Call St. Joseph, Amherst for more information 440.988.2848 or email Bob Glatz at

Please pray for me as I will for you.

I will be away on my annual 8 day retreat. Please pray for me as I will for you. My director is Monsignor John Esseff, exorcist for the Diocese of Scranton, spiritual son of Padre Pio, Spiritual Director to Mother Teresa and her sisters. You can see his blog here:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

5 Easy Ways to "Get More" out of Mass.

praying before mass

1.  Come early

Get to mass at least 15 minutes early so that your not rushing in during the readings, speeding, or anxious about getting there on time.   This will give you time to prepare your heart, quiet your mind, and allow your soul to enter into the Liturgy.  It was often said by our spiritual director at the seminary: "If you come to mass on time... you're late!"  

2.  Pray with the Sunday Readings

Nearly every church has a missallette.  Simply look up the readings for that Sunday by date and spend some time reading through them.  Take notice of any lines, words, or phrases that catch your attention.  That just may be God speaking to you!  You can find them here.  If you have an iOS or Android you can us this app by clicking on "Daily Readings".  

3.  Got Guilt?  

You probably did something stupid over the last week.  We all sin.  Try to think about anything you feel sorry about, feel shame from, or simply need to let go of.  The Penitential Rite is at the very beginning of mass.  "Brothers and Sisters, Let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries."  The priest (hopefully) pauses for a moment of silence.  We are actually supposed to be doing something here!   It helps if we know before hand what sins we want to acknowledge, be forgiven for and enter into mass with a clean conscience!  (Please note all venial sins are forgiven at every mass - this is Awesome!  However, if you have any serious sin or if you haven't been to confession in over a year then let yourself be loved by God in that way first.  Click here to learn more about Confession).  

4.  If you could ask God for anything... what would you ask him for?  

We begin every mass with "The Sign of the Cross" and then the "Opening Prayer".  When the priest says "Let us pray."  Again, there is a moment of silence.  That is your time to pray and ask God for anything that you want!  

Jesus promises us that the Father will grant us anything that we ask for, especially when we are gathered together in his name.

"Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Matthew 18:19-20

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."  Matthew 7:7-8 

5.  Eucharist means Thanksgiving! 

Take some time for gratitude.  It's easy as thinking about all the good things that God has given to you.  

"The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all “thanksgiving.”  Catechism 1360

If we enter into the Eucharist not only prayerfully but with thanksgiving we are going to be much more able to see and experience the Risen Lord.

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."  Philippians 4:6-8

I hope these 5 Ways will help you "Get More" out of Mass!  

Fr. Michael Denk 


There's a wonderful app that can actually help you to do all of this.  It's called the Examen Prayer and it helps us learn to be aware of God so that we can experience Him more fully, especially at the mass.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

End of the Year Tax Deductible Donation to the Prodigal Father Productions

Consider an end of the year tax deductible donation to
"The Prodigal Father Productions".

Please Consider Making A Donation

I’m grateful for your generosity and support of the work that I am doing to help teach people how to pray using new media.

Your donation will be used to further create more videos, CDs, Apps, and media for people to connect with God in the midst of their lives.

Through prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit and an invitation from our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, I’m hoping to answer the call to reach many in this way.

May you remain always in The Father’s Loving Consolation,

Donate Online:


Mail a check to:

The Prodigal Father Productions
P.O. Box 453
Painesville, Ohio 44077

This Tuesday November 18, 2014 at St. Vincent de Paul in Elyria - Prayer: There's an App for that!


The Fall, 2014 series continues with:

“Prayer, there’s an app for that!”

on Tuesday, November 18 at 7:00 PM

The ExAMEN App: Do you want to grow in your prayer

life? The ingeniousness of this app is that it will remind

you to pray the Examen daily and walk you through the

steps helping you to reflect and make changes in your

life that will bring you closer to God.

Father Michael Denk, Parochial Vicar, St. Joseph

Church, Amherst, Ohio will introduce his first app

“ExAMEN” which is available on iTunes and the Google

Play Store for all iOS and Android devices. This talk is

designed to help people always be connected to God

and be reminded to pray throughout the day.

EVERYONE...with or without devices, will benefit

from this presentation!

Mark you calendars now! This series is open to all

parishioners and friends. You don’t want to miss this

rare opportunity for spiritual growth!

St Vincent de Paul Parish
41295 North Ridge Road
Elyria, OH 44035Phone: (440) 324-4212 Fax: (440) 324-2892 A Parish of The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland OH

The Difference between Fear of the Lord and Burying our talents out of Fear.

burying talents

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 157

Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;

the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Give her a reward for her labors,

and let her works praise her at the city gates.

Blessed are you who fear the LORD,

who walk in his ways!

For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;

blessed shall you be, and favored.

Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,

'Master, I knew you were a demanding person,

harvesting where you did not plant

and gathering where you did not scatter;

so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.

Here it is back.'

His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!

The common theme that goes through all three of these readings, and I didn't realize it until a couple of days ago when I read about the third servant, the common theme that goes through all of them is this notion of fear. And it gives us a couple different versions of fear.

One version of fear is fear of the Lord. And it's a Godly fear. It's a gift. It's one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The last gift is fear of the Lord. And the other fear that we hear about with the servant is a fear that causes him to be servile, to kind of bury his talents, and to actually kind of wither up inside and do nothing. It's a paralyzing fear. They're two very different kinds of fear.

And I think fear of the Lord is one of those things that's often misunderstood or not understood at all by the faith. So that's what I'm going to talk about today, the difference between fear as we know it and what it means to fear the Lord.

The first reading we hear about the wonderful wife. Charm is deceptive and beauty, fleeting. The woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labor and let her works praise her at the city gates. So notice, the woman who fears the Lord is to be something that's praised and sought after, and her fear of the Lord throughout her life brings about a reward for her labors. Her labor is done out of fear of the Lord, bring about reward, and her works actually will praise her at the city gates. When she goes to heaven, she is going to be praised for all the good works that she did, all of it motivated by this fear of the Lord.

In the Psalm we hear, "Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored."

So again, we hear the psalmist saying, "Blessed are those who fear the Lord," and then right after that we hear some of the fruit of fear of the Lord. "Those who fear the Lord will walk in his ways." So that's one of the graces. When we have this fear of the Lord, this holy fear of God, we walk in his ways throughout our life.

"You shall eat the fruit of your handiwork." When our work is done and motivated out of this fear of the Lord and not motivated by anything else, there will be fruit from it.

"Blessed shall you be and favored." So God is going to bless you if you do all of your work and live your life under this fear of the Lord.

Now, here is where we hear about a different kind of fear. This is the fear we normally associate with fear. "Then the one servant, who had received the one talent, came forward and said, 'Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.'" Notice he did nothing. He buried histalent. "Here it is back. His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked and lazy servant.'" The master is not agreeing with him. He is not saying you didn't do this because you really feared me. The truth is you are a wicked and lazy servant. That's why you buried your gift.

And then Jesus says, "For everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." So this seems like, I don't know, this seems kind of crazy to me. Doesn't it to you, like a little bit unfair of God?

But what we have to remember, whenever Jesus uses a parable, he uses real-life situations. It kind of works with us today. For any of you that invested heavily in the market and lost a few years back, you can probably relate to this and say, "This is crazy. You don't want to invest your money like that." And Jesus is not talking about money. He's not talking about anything worldly. He's talking about the gift of the spiritual life. All of his parables are talking about the Kingdom of Heaven. And what he is saying is he has given each of us -- he's given each of you the Kingdom of God. He's given you this spiritual life. He's given you in baptism this life of grace. He's given you this gift of the Holy Spirit; one of them being the fear of the Lord. All of these gifts are given to you.

Now, here is the reality of the spiritual life.
Any gift that we try to keep to ourselves, any gift that we bury in the ground is going to die. It's going to bear no fruit. However, if we are willing to risk and willing to give our gifts and spend our lives in service to others, it is not only going to bear fruit, it's going to multiply and double anything that we are given.
That's kind of the mystery of the Gospel today.

You have to remember, he's talking about the spiritual life. Now, I want you to think about your spiritual life right now. So when you think about fear of the Lord as being a gift to the Holy Spirit, so true fear of God is supposed to be this tremendous awe, this tremendous wonder, this tremendous almost disbelief that he's given us, the spiritual life, that he's given us this access to the Kingdom of Heaven, that right now in a few moments, that you can receive the body and blood of Christ. You're going to experience Heaven on Earth right here. Fear of the Lord should evoke some sense of wonder and awe before that.

Now, the opposite of that fear is a fear that is, like he says in the Gospel, lazy and wicked. The opposite of that fear is a fear that says it's just all about me and what I do.

Let me give you a couple of examples. So people will say to me all the time -- you know, actually, I was just with somebody and I was asking him if he's going to church because he's been away for a long time. He's Catholic. And he goes, this is a classic line, right? "Father --" now, he's from New Jersey. "Father, I don't really go to mass. Me and God, God and I, we got our own thing going on right here. So I don't need the church. You know, you got all that, but we got our own thing going on." He's got his own thing going on with God. Where do you think his talents are buried? It's in the ground, right? He's not sharing it. It's not a part of anyone else. It's not a part of community. It's, me and God, we got our own thing going on, and I'm burying my gift right here. I'm not doing anything with it. The truth is he's burying his gift. And the other truth is we're either growing in our faith or we're dying in our faith. There's no remaining stagnance.

I'll give you another example. It's the heresy that I call the good-guy heresy. So there's a heresy going on in our modern-day culture called the good-guy heresy, and this is basically what it's sounding like. Father, I'm a good guy. I don't really have to go to mass, or I don't go to church or anything like that, but I'm a good guy. I haven't killed anyone. I haven't done anything really bad in my life, so I'm a pretty good guy. Is that someone that's growing in their prayer life and increasing their gifts, or have they buried their gifts? They have buried their gifts, right? The good-guy theory. The good-guy heresy.

So think about yourself. Think about your own life, you know, the gifts you have been given, your faith. Do you tend to see your faith as just something between you and God and something you don't need to grow in, something that you are fine with?

The third example that I will leave you with is I have these three older Catholics who are running a marketing business. And you may or may not know, but I started a nonprofit, and I'm trying to -- the whole vision and mission is to help people grow in their prayer life. So I'm trying to present this vision to these three marketers, and they're awesome guys. They're Catholics. They're very faithful Catholics. But the whole vision is to have this deeper prayer life. And all three of them told me about their prayer life.

And one of them said, well, you know, I only pray to God when I need something. So if I'm going to work, I'll talk to God and I'll tell him what I need. And I said to him, "Is that your whole prayer life? Is that all you do?" He's like, "Yeah."

I said, "How about the next guy? Tell me about your prayer life." He goes, "Well, Father, I'm more thankful. So I just thank God. You know, if something good happens, I feel grateful and I thank God, and you know, that's kind of how I pray." I said, "Well, is there any other time you pray during the day, or is that kind of it?" "No," he says, "No, that's good. That's it."

These are all good prayers, by the way.

And the third guy goes, I said, "How do you pray every day?" He says, "Well, Father, I always pray. I've always done this my whole life. Before I go to bed, I say the 'Our Father,' the 'Hail Mary' and the 'Glory Be,' and I go to bed. I pray every night like that, Father, before I go to bed."

I tell them all, "That's wonderful. You're all praying. Those are vocal prayers. It's kind of a beginner prayer. Hopefully, at some point, we do meditative prayer and we even enter into contemplative prayer. Are you guys happy with your prayer life, or would you like to grow in your prayer life?"

You know what all three of them said? Take a guess. What do you think they said? "We're happy with it. We're good. I'm good, Father. 'Our Father,' 'Hail Mary,' 'Glory Be,' I'm good." And I looked at them and I said, "Really? You learned to pray those prayers in second grade and you're not growing any more. You're good." Hopefully the response should be, "Yeah, Father, I want to grow in prayer. Can you teach me?"

I just want you to think about that. What's your disposition? Do you have this notion of, like, I'm good, you know, God and I are good. We got our thing going on. You know, I kind of got it under control. Or do you have a desire to actually grow in your spiritual life? Do you take every opportunity to come to a mission or to join a prayer group or to join a renewal?

You know, this weekend we had 50 women making the Women's Renewal. And I know a number of them were on the fence. You know what I mean? They just weren't sure about it, weren't sure if they wanted to do it, weren't sure if it was their time or they needed it. I got to say, they're having an amazing experience. It's changing their life. But they were willing to take that risk. They were willing to kind of get out of their comfort zone and take a risk and draw on their faith. And now it's coming back to them multiplied of what they ever could have imagined.

So think about it for a moment. Are you growing in your faith or is it stagnant? And if it's stagnant, you're dying in your faith. There can't be any stagnation. We're either growing or we're dying.

You know, Jesus has given you this great gift. He's given you talent, and some of you he's given you more talent than I can even express.

Are you using them to build up his Kingdom? And if you are, you are going to experience all of his goodness and all of the joy.

He says to his servants, "Come, share your Master's joy. Well done, good and faithful servant." Or do you kind of have that mentality of, nah, we're doing fine. You know, I've got everything I need. Prayer is pretty good. Go to mass. I'm a good guy. I got it buried here. I'm just going to kind of hang on to this until I get to eternal life. If that's more of your mentality, then you're dying, and Jesus would say you're wicked and you're lazy. Just to kind of shake you up a little bit.

Ultimately, hopefully, we are willing to take that risk. You know, so if you are like an investment person today, a banker, you would always look at risk versus reward, and risk versus reward versus how much you could actually profit from it. We're talking about eternal life. We're talking about the ultimate reward. And so it is risk. It does mean taking a risk and growing in your faith. It does the mean taking a risk and getting to know God more. It does mean taking a risk and letting yourself be vulnerable to others and letting others know you have more, and growing in this faith. It does take a great risk, but the reward is beyond anything you can imagine.

When we come to the end of the life, of our life, hopefully when we meet our maker he will say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Since you are faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come and share your Master's joy."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

All Souls Day - Life is Changed not Ended

I love my German Shepherd Ratzinger

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, while he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was known by some as "The German Shepherd" or "God's Rottweiler," because he was the defender of the doctrine of the faith.

If you've ever actually read his works though, he is a beautiful soul and reveals in a very eloquent way the goodness of God.  Some of his greatest treasures are his series on Jesus of Nazareth as well as his final encyclicals on Faith, Hope, and Love.  

In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict deals with the notion of purgatory as being one of God's last and wonderful gifts to us.  

Pope benedict xvi happy

The belief that love can reach into the afterlife, that reciprocal giving and receiving is possible, in which our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death—this has been a fundamental conviction of Christianity throughout the ages and it remains a source of comfort today. Who would not feel the need to convey to their departed loved ones a sign of kindness, a gesture of gratitude or even a request for pardon? Now a further question arises: if “Purgatory” is simply purification through fire in the encounter with the Lord, Judge and Saviour, how can a third person intervene, even if he or she is particularly close to the other? When we ask such a question, we should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other—my prayer for him—can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God's time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain. In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too. As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well.

While he was still Cardinal he was interviewed about some of the highly debated doctrines of the faith and one of them was of course the Church's teaching on Purgatory.

He explains:

"My view is that if Purgatory did not exist, we should have to invent it. Why? Because few things are as immediate, as human and as widespread - at all times and in all cultures - as prayer for one's own departed dear ones... Praying for one's departed loved ones is a far too immediate urge to be suppressed; it is a most beautiful manifestation of solidarity, love and assistance, reaching beyond the barrier of death. The happiness or unhappiness of a person dear to me, who has now crossed the other shore, depends in part on wether I remember or forget him; he does not stop needing my love." -Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Report 1985

"He does not stop needing my love."  Isn't that beautiful?

I would add... "We do not stop needing their love."

We are a faith of scripture and tradition and one of the ancient beliefs of our faith is Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. "The Law of Prayer is the Law of Faith."  Meaning what we pray is what we believe.

Notice the prayers used during the Funeral Rites (And Mass for All Souls) are based in hope.

Prayers at the Vigil

My brothers and sisters, we believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death. Confident that God always remembers the good we have done and forgives our sins, let us pray, asking God to gather N. to himself.

Pause for silent prayer.

Take a moment now to remember someone you love who has died.  Bring to mind one of your favorite memories with them.  Try to see them and hear them and feel them.  Hold them in your heart as you read the rest of this.  

Notice this is exactly what Pope Benedict was describing - "Our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death."  

The opening prayer continues with this truth that death does not destroy the bond of our love:


Lord our God,
the death of our brother/sister N.
recalls our human condition
and the brevity of our lives on earth.
But for those who believe in your love,
death is not the end,
nor does it destroy the bonds that you forge in our lives.
We share the faith of your Son’s disciples
and the hope of the children of God.
Bring the light of Christ’s resurrection
to this time of testing and pain
as we pray for N. and for those who love him/her,
through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

In the Preface for Funeral Masses we hear this echoed so beautifully.

In him the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned,
that those saddened by the certainty of dying
might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come.
Indeed for your faithful, Lord,
life is changed not ended,
and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust,
an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.

This means that the reality is for those of us who believe, life is changed not ended, we can be consoled by this promise of eternal life.  We can also be consoled that we are not separated by our loved ones.  The truth they are with us now in an even deeper, more intimate, and constant way than they ever could have been on earth!  They are with you always.  

Every time you receive the Eucharist you receive the Body of Christ, and if they are with Christ and He is in you, then they are in you and you are in them.  You can't get more close or intimate than that.
So what does the Catechism say about Purgatory?  

The Final Purification, or Purgatory (This is a summary: Read more here)

1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610
Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

The message of All Souls Day, and of Purgatory, is really a beautiful one.  

We are assured by the readings of the mass so often used at funerals: 

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)

Wisdom 3:1-9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.  

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.
Romans 5:5-11 

Hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly...
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then... will we be saved through him from the wrath...
how much more, once reconciled,
will we be saved by his life.

John 6:37-40 

This is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,

Over and over we are assured by the prayers, by the Word of God and by the Sacraments that we celebrate that those whom we love are in the hands of God, and at the same time we are not separated from them, for those of us who believe life is changed not ended.

So how do we make sense of purgatory and why is there a sense of dread when there should be a sense of hope?

Purgatory is a lot like confession and it seems that those who don't believe in one don't believe in the need for the other. The reason for this is our reluctance to admit our sin, our fault, our imperfection... and the reason for this is probably because we don't realize or believe God's unconditional love for us.

Think about it, Purgatory is a lot like confession. We can not forgive our sins but must go before Christ. It is difficult to go to confession especially if it is a sin that we are embarrassed by, ashamed of, or powerless to overcome, but when we can confess it, when we can bring it to Christ, though it is painful and difficult, we experience not His condemnation or judgement, rather we experience His forgiveness, mercy and unconditional love. We go into confession with the weight of the world on us and we may even dread it, but when we purge our sins before the Lord and experience His acceptance, absolution, and unconditional love, we walk away feeling better than we've ever felt before - it's a glimpse of purgatory and heaven really.

So we don't have to fear death, we don't have to fear purgatory, it is God's last and greatest act of loving us and forgiving us. We also know that we don't have to fear losing the ones we love because for those of us believe life is changed not ended. The ones you love, who have died, are with you now in a deeper way than they ever could have been on earth.

To end, a friend of mine had a brother who died suddenly 15 years ago.  He was a priest and was very devoted to praying and offering sacrifices for the holy souls in purgatory.  The prayer cards distributed at his funeral offered this quote from St. Thomas More which beautifully brings this to a conclusion:

“Pray for me, as I will for thee, that we may merrily meet in heaven.”