Catholic Community Commentary

Posts tagged “spirit

The Hand of God and Snow Angels

Hi to you bloggers,
     I’ve been away for a while due to vacation and Christmas activities.  It is good to be back.  Today’s topic is seeing the hand of God. 
     Recently, our parish put together something unusual and touching.  We decided to put together a project called “Andy’s Angels in the Outfield.”  An invitation was put out to get participants to line up on a lighted baseball field and to fall backwards into the snow (in zero degree weather) to make snow angels for a recently departed angel named Andy.  Our expectations of a few angels showing up were soon overwhelmed as hundreds of angels showed up for the fundraising event to help the family with expenses due to Andy’s illness.  Although we raised a nice financial nest egg, we raised the spirits of the family and community. 
     To say that we will never forget, and that love will never die, is part of our faith and our hope.  To express that so well on that night will be remembered.  It was truly a God-event for many.  Tears were shed and hearts were touched.
     For me, I had the best seat in the house for the event.  I was in a tower, high above the ball field.  As an organizer, I also knew how things came together.  That itself was the hand of God.  A six inch snowfall days before made for beautiful angels.  The timing of the participants walking in lines across the frozen outfield could not have been better planned.  Everyone was in place with 10 seconds to spare.  The 8 o’clock bell rang, a shout of one, two, three rang across the tundra, and hundreds of angels fell to the earth to flap their wings in support of a fellow family member and friend.  From the tower, it was just like a movie.  Hundreds of colorful angels marching across the snowy white field to land for a moment, before flying in unison while looking into the sky. 
     I have to believe Andy looked down and smiled because we looked up and smiled.  It is not so hard to believe that heaven and earth can be united.  It happened on a snowy field in Ohio.  That day, the hand of God looked like snow angel wings.

Fr. Mark

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You’re Such a Snob!

A friendly hello, with a smile.  That’s all it takes to brighten my day.  It’s a simple gesture with a powerful effect.  How many times do we walk by others during the day and fail to say hello?  We know the person walking by us, or maybe we don’t, but we put our head down or act like we’re busy doing something else.  

We’re all guilty of it, but why? 

When someone greets me by name, it’s the best!  When I walk into church and someone holds the door and says “Good Morning,” my day just got better.  I love those little moments of genuine goodness. 

What stops us from saying hello?  Maybe we’re afraid they won’t say hello back.  Maybe we think we’re not good enough or they don’t want to be bothered. Maybe we’re just having a bad day and don’t feel like talking.  These aren’t good excuses. 

The people we encounter don’t know WHY we’re not saying hello.  We’re just coming across as snobbish.  And who likes a snob?

So, here’s the challenge…say hello to everyone you meet today.  And if someone says hello to you, don’t respond as if it pains you.  Smile and call them by name if you can.  Don’t be selective with your friendliness…share it with EVERYONE!

Spread a little love….a little hello.  It says you care.  It feels good. 

You up for it?


Everyone is a Missionary

October 21st is the feast day for St. Gaspar, the founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.  When I was considering what type of priest I wanted to be, I reflected on going to a foreign land to spread the knowledge of God.  There are different kinds of priests.  Some minister to a local area (diocesan priests) or others have teaching as their focus (Jesuits), but I chose to be a missionaryA missionary doesn’t always mean going to a different country or culture but an attitude of active preaching, living and learning of our faith.  Missionary is just as much learning God from the people you are living with as much as bringing your idea of God to others.
This past week I got to observe God Happenings right in front of me.  During the tornado watch, the kindergarten through 5th grades came to the basement of St. Michael’s Church.  It was a time of confusion and fear.  For some, this was the first time they felt this fear without their parents being at their side.  We gathered together to put ourselves in the Lord’s care as we prayed.  It helped to pray together and be God’s arms for each other as siblings calmed each other or classmates assured each other with a hug.  The kids were being missionary to me as I witnessed care, concern and love overcome fear and doubt.  I was pretty proud of our young ones.
At the soccer games this week, the missionary spirit came forwardWe prayed for a victory and placed the players in the Lord’s hands.  Even though the victory was not won on the field of soccer, I saw students and parents hanging around to console, comfort and encourage the team and coaches.  This strong sense of community is nice to behold.  When this spirit reaches out from a local community to a world community or even a neighboring community, that is being missionary.
Our faith is played out on many fields and locations not necessarily in a church building.  This week I was reminded what it means to be a missionary.  Thanks to everyone who showed the face of God to me this week.
Have a blessed week.  Fr. Mark

Living the Sweet Life

It’s Pioneer Days in Kalida and it will be a busy weekend. I’ll be working with the Bingo booth, Duck Races, flipping social burgers, calling square dances and most of all enjoying the food and atmosphere.

When I was young, church festivals and fairs were tough to attend because I did not have money for a lot of extras.  That meant I had to be careful of how I spent my quarters, dimes and pennies(yes, I am old).  I thought to myself of how neat it would be to run away with the circus, so to speak.

I’d be surrounded by cotton candy, taffy and parades all the time.  I think I was secretly called to be a carnival person rather than a priest.  As a young person I was looking for the sweet life, and that meant cotton candy.  My mom always said that too much cotton candy would make my teeth fall out.

Either my mom was telling me stories, I didn’t eat enough to make my teeth fall out or there was a lesson my mom was trying to teach me.  I’m banking on the latter.  Life isn’t always a sweet carnival. There is real food that must be eaten sometime.  Sweets are fine for short intervals but will I really grow without substance?

I believe this lesson goes not only for the body but for the whole person.  To be a whole person there will be things on our plate that might not be the sweetest but may bethe best for us. Sacrifice and hard work are hard to swallow but may help us grow more than selfishness and laziness.

Mom always said our teeth would fall out if we had too many sweets.  Mom made sure our teeth didn’t fall out due to proper eating habits at the table and in life.  I am better for it and smile with my own teeth.

I believe we want a sweet life for our kids and for ourselves.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full.  When I see the kids here I smile and want the best for them.

Today, I don’t think they have to run away to the circus to be filled with sweet things.  The circus is here. As a nation and a community we have been blessed with many sweet things.  The challenge for parents and our community is to help the kids keep their teeth and to smile because they have a full life.

And yes, I will have some cotton candy this weekend.  I’ll also work the booths to keep our community strong.

In the spirit of Pioneer, what are you most looking forward to in this weekend’s festivities?


To Hell and Back

There have been a number of people make comments on the first blog regarding after-life and what I experienced nearly 45 years ago when I got shot at the age of 8.  There are parts of that near death experience that I will never forget. 
Through the years, I have spoken with a number of people who have shared their near death experiences.  There are a number of things we have in common in our “visions” of the next life.  Nearly everyone I have spoken with have shared the presence of an amazing light, the feeling of complete peace and the feeling of not wanting to come back. 
These aspects are common, but the second part of my near death experience is not necessarily common.  I have only found a couple of people who have shared with me the second part of their and my near death experience.  We got to experience a vision of what hell would be.
I remember after I experienced such amazing peace and light with a heavenly gathering, I found myself completely alone in such a darkness, where shadows lived and so did pursuant beings.  I knew I would never experience what was once so near and so right.  To be pursued by darkness and nothingness was completely scary.  (If you have ever seen the movie “Ghost” with Patrick Swayzee you may have some idea of the darkness which pursued me.) 
I remember the fear, which I have never experienced since, that filled me.  I remember the aloneness.  I remember knowing that I would never be able to leave that place.  My memories of hell were of darkness, loneliness, being pursued by evil and pure fear.  I’ve experienced a lot of fear in my lifetime but nothing like that portion of the near death experience.  
There are questions that I have asked myself after I came back.  Why did I go there in the first place?    Why did I go there after I went to the heavenly place first?  What I tell people is that if heaven is like I experienced it, heaven is the place you want to be, and I don’t tell them about the dark vision. 
For me, I am not driven by a fear of the darkness.  I am so influenced by the light of the Lord that there is little room for darkness.  To be in the presence of the Lord is heaven.  I see glimpses of that light in my ministry, through people and nature. 
I believe in the reality of hell, that people have the capacity to choose to be away from God’s love and other’s love.  I believe hell is living a life without God.  To be pursued with something other than light and never know fulfillment or peace scares me.  To never give love or take love in is hell and darkness.  As opposed to my heavenly vision where there were lots of people, I saw no one in hell.  
 
So get used to going to the light.  It is where we all want to be, forever.