Sunday, May 22, 2016

Short Introduction to the Trinity

For Trinity Sunday, my answer to a difficult question:

Can you please explain the Trinity?

I always cringe a little when I get this one. First of all, there's so many different ways to go about it. My head always swims with the many possible ways I could approach the question. Secondly, how do I explain this simply? When someone asks you to explain the Trinity, they're typically not looking for an elaborate treatise on the subject. They just want the gist of it. But how do you give the gist of an inexhaustible mystery?

Since I became a DRE in 2008, the RCIA process has given several opportunities to hone my skill at explaining the unexplainable. I guess I'll have to devote the rest of my life to trying to get down to "the gist of it." For now, here is the approach that I take.

I think it's important to begin by looking at what a “mystery” is. In a theological context, a “mystery” is something revealed by God that is beyond full comprehension.

It is revealed by God: this means that it is God’s own self-discloser to us. God desired to share this aspect of Himself with us so that we might know Him better!

It is beyond full comprehension: this means that we will never completely understand the Trinity. We can definitely know certain things about it, but not everything.

At first this seems like a source of frustration, but think about it: In a world full of empty pleasures and fleeting joys, isn’t it reassuring to know that we have a God who our minds can never fully consume? We can plum the depths of our Trinitarian Lord forever and ever! He is like a bottomless wellspring, or a banquet table without end.

With that in mind, the doctrine of the Trinity is basically this: God is 3 Persons equally and fully possessive of a single divine nature. 3 Persons in 1 God. But, how can that be? 3 does not equal 1, and it’s not enough for the inquiring mind to simply “take it on faith.” There must be some way to understand this better. For me, it helps to know more about the categories involved. Notice, we are talking about “person” and “nature.” If the teaching was that God was 3 persons in 1 person, or 3 natures in 1 nature, that would be absurd. But that’s not what we’re saying. There are two different categories involved -- person and nature -- and so the interplay between them is going to be different.

Okay, but what does “person” and “nature” mean? Nature answers the question “What?”. What kind of a being am I? I am a human being. This means I have a human nature. This also means that I can only do things that are in accordance with a human nature. I can think and love and read a book ... but I can’t breathe underwater. That would be in accordance with a fish nature, and I am not a fish!

Person answers the question “Who?”. When you see an animal walking by, you don’t say, “Who is that?” because animals are not persons. “Who?” is a question that can only be answered by human beings and by God. Your personhood is also the source of what you do. That “you” inside of you, the “I” inside of me, that is my personhood. I am not the color of my skin, I am me. My human nature does not do things, I do them.

Now, we only experience nature and personhood at a 1:1 ratio. I am my own person, and I have my own unique manifestation of the human nature. This means that you can’t think with my mind, and I can’t love with your heart. But, within God, personhood and nature exist at a 3:1 ratio. If me, and you, and a third person all thought with the same mind or loved with the same heart ... that would sort of be like how the Trinity works.

When you think of it that way, then I think the Trinity begins to make a little more sense. At least, I hope it does! Note that this is only the briefest introduction. But, it is important groundwork that must be laid before one can begin a study of what God has revealed about Himself.

For more from me on the Trinity, see the following blog posts:
I also highly suggest F. J. Sheed's explanations of the Trinity. He was a master of granting the average layman access to the great mysteries of the faith, and I must admit that I have borrowed much of my approach to the Trinity from him. See the following works, which are available online:
Finally, I must recommend these videos from Bishop Robert Barron. He too is a master at making the mysteries of our faith more accessible, while still remaining faithful to them

Pax Christi,

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Significance of Pentecost

Most people only know Pentecost as a Christian holiday, one that commemorates the day when the Holy Spirit fell on the apostles and disciples of Christ as they gathered in the Upper Room after the Ascension. While the apostles and disciples remained in Jerusalem out of obedience to Christ (cf. Acts 1:4-5), Scripture tells us that Jews from many different nations were also present in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 2:5, 9-11). They were present for a different reason: The Jewish Feast of Pentecost.

Pentecost is originally a Jewish holiday. Along with Passover and Tabernacles, it is one of the three Great Feasts of the Jewish calendar. The word “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word which means “fiftieth.” The feast takes this name because it occurs fifty days after the second day of the Passover.

To the Jewish people, Pentecost has historical and agricultural significance. Historically, Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Since God accommodated his Law to an agricultural people, it enjoins upon the Jews various grain offerings. So, agriculturally, Pentecost also commemorates the time when the first fruits of the wheat harvest were harvested and brought to the temple in the form of two cakes of leavened bread (cf. Lev 23:17).

As Christians, we may ask ourselves what significance there is to the fact that Jesus decided to pour out His Holy Spirit upon the Church on this Jewish Feast. I think there are many instances in which the Christian celebration of Pentecost proves to be a sort of fulfillment of the Jewish Feast.

The Jewish Feast celebrates the beginning of the wheat harvest by offering the first of the harvested wheat to the Lord. In the Christian Feast, we celebrate the beginning of the Christian Church, when Jesus harvested 3000 souls who were cut to the heart by Peter’s teaching and were baptized. Jesus Christ Himself is the first fruit (“of those who have fallen asleep,” cf. 1 Cor 15:20), and we too are a kind of first fruits by the grace He has given us (cf. Jas 1:18). Finally, the Spirit that the Church received on that day guides us into all truth and knowledge of God’s Will in a way that far surpasses what was given in the Torah.

So, in many ways, the Jewish feast of Pentecost was the perfect day to set in motion the Church that God had in mind from the very beginning.

For more information about the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, see the following resources:Dr. Bergsma's three posts on the readings for Pentecost are also excellent:Pax Christi,

Sunday, May 08, 2016

"Happy" Mother's Day?

"We should all be thankful for our mothers" ... that was the message of today's homily. My first thought was, "What about all those who have lousy mothers, mothers who do drugs, who physically or verbally abuse their children, who are always ridiculing their daughters about their weight, who bring home strange men every night, who are overprotective and overbearing? What about them?" I'm sure that there were quite a few people in the pews who dread "Mother's Day" and find nothing "happy" about it whatsoever. For some reason, all of those people came to mind as the priest was speaking, and I wished that he would have spoken to them too.

But, after I thought about this some more, I realized that, in a way, he was speaking to them. Now, he never addressed this explicitly, but it still holds true that we should all--as in, every single one of us--be thankful on Mother's Day. But why?

Well, for one, the fact that you are even reading this right now means that, however sinful your mother may be, at least she didn't make the decision that thousands of other mothers make and "terminate her pregnancy." Instead, she decided to let you live. No sharp instruments were thrust into your skull, praise God! Your mother spared you from such cruelty. If you have ever been weak or totally dependent on another person, then I'm sure you understand how wonderful it is to have someone care for you, instead of rejecting you or harming you. This is what your mother did for you when she bore you and gave birth to you.

Now, to this some may say, "Yea, and she's been giving me hell for it ever since!" Unfortunately, for some mothers, the choice to bring their children into the world was only a momentary kindness, one that they overshadow with daily acts of cruelty and disrespect towards their children. It is here that the second reason to be thankful presents itself.

Despite the imperfections of our mothers, we can all say that we have a mother who is perfect. That woman is Mary, the Mother of God, and the mother of all those who are made brothers and sisters of Christ through the grace of her Son. Just as Sarah was the spiritual mother of the Jews (and of all who "do right", cf. 1 Pet 3:6), Mary is the spiritual mother of "those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus" (Rev 12:17). She loves all of her children with a tender and motherly love. She prays for her children daily, and she wants nothing more than for them to find the happiness of heaven.

In Christ, we are never motherless. He will never leave us orphan (cf. Jn 14:18). No amount of hatred or disregard can take that away from us. If you suffer at the hand of your earthly mother, flee to your spiritual mother. This can be difficult in a world where it seems that the only thing that is real is the material. But, we must have faith that Mary will come to our aid, that she will intercede for us to her Son as she did for the wedding party at the feast of Cana (cf. Jn 2:1-11). She loves you, she loves us all, and in her is reason enough for us all to be happy on Mother's Day.

Pax Christi,

PS: The Church is our mother too!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Who Was Responsible for the Ascension of Jesus?

Or, to put it another way:

Did Jesus ascend into heaven by His own power or did the Father raise Jesus into heaven?

Before we can answer this question, we need to define some terms, because sometimes people get the Ascension confused with the Resurrection. The “Resurrection” is when the human soul of Jesus returned from Hades and brought His body in the tomb back to life again. The “Ascension” occurred 40 days later when Jesus rose, body and soul, into heavenly glory.

Now, there are some passages in Scripture that portray the Ascension as something that happened to Jesus. In other words, He is the passive recipient of what is taking place. For example:
  • Mk 16:19 “The Lord Jesus … was taken up into heaven”
  • Lk 24:51 “he … was carried up into heaven”
  • Acts 1:9 “he was lifted up, and a cloud took him”
  • Phil 2:9 “God has highly exalted him”
  • 1 Tim 3:16 “He was … taken up in glory”
  • 1 Pet 1:21 “God raised him from the dead and gave him glory”
  • Rev 12:5 “was caught up to God and to his throne”

However, there are other passages that portray Jesus as the actor, as the one doing the ascending Himself:
  • Eph 4:8 “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives”
  • Eph 4:10 “he … ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things”
  • Heb 9:12 “he entered once for all into the holy place”
  • Heb 9:24 “Christ has entered … into heaven itself”
  • 1 Pet 3:21-22 “Jesus Christ ... has gone into heaven”
  • Rev 3:21 “I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne”

This means that we cannot give an “either / or” answer to the question of who is responsible for the Ascension. This was the work of our trinitarian God. All three Persons of the Trinity were involved.

Happy Solemnity of the Ascension!

Pax Christi,

Sunday, April 03, 2016

What Is the Divine Mercy? How Can We Honor It?

Today's feast day compels us to ask these important questions. Basically, the “Divine Mercy” is the kindness, and forbearance, and forgiveness of God towards men. It is His readiness to assist sinners with His loving grace. It is an essential attribute of God, perfectly embodied in the Person of Jesus.

The message and devotion to Jesus as “The Divine Mercy” is based on the writings of St. Faustina Kowalksa, a Polish nun from the 1930’s who received many revelations from Christ about His mercy and His desire that mankind be devoted to it. She wrote the content of these revelations in a diary over 600-pages long. Pope John Paul II, being from Poland, had a strong devotion to the Divine Mercy, and when he made Sr. Faustina a saint in the year 2000 he also declared that the second Sunday of Easter would be a feast day dedicated to the Divine Mercy for the Universal Church.

The Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception have developed an acronym you can use to remember the message of the Divine Mercy and how to live out a devotion to this Mercy. Just remember your “ABC’s”:
  • A — Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
  • B — Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
  • C — Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive His grace and mercy.
A devotion to the Divine Mercy typically also entails daily praying of the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 PM (the hour of Jesus’ death), displaying the image of the Divine Mercy in one’s home, and receiving the Eucharist on the second Sunday of Easter, “Divine Mercy Sunday.”

I can tell you that praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet has helped me tremendously in finding more peace in my life and in overcoming sin. It is a very simple yet beautiful prayer, and also an excellent first step for anyone who is just beginning to use rosary beads when he prays.

For more on the Divine Mercy, see my previous post: Is the Divine Mercy Chaplet a Cop-Out? (short answer: No!)

Pax Christi,

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Resurrection Poem for Easter

The following poem is from the compilation Garlands of Grace, selected and introduced by Dr. Regis Martin. It is especially pertinent on this wonderful Easter Sunday.

by Leonard Feeney

In crocus fashion, sunlight-wise,
The body of Our Lord
Slipped through the stone-bound sepulchre,
Streamed through the soldier's sword.

Though stripped and whipped and spat upon,
Sundered by nail and spear,
Thus did our dust in Him prevail
At the robin-time of the year.

Albeit our interval under earth
Must needs much longer last,
Let there be always ready the roll
Of drums and the trumpet blast.

With bones ablaze and flesh aflash
And hair set flying free,
So shall I come to you, loved ones,
So shall you come to me.

Quick Defense of the Resurrection of Jesus

Here is my Q&A for the Easter Sunday bulletin at my church. I thought it fitting on this day to answer a question about the resurrection of Jesus.

Please note that, with only the space of a column to work within, I had to cut out a lot of information (for example, why the New Testament is trustworthy as proof of the resurrection) and additional proofs. I would expand upon it here but honestly, I'm enjoying my time away from the computer. I think that, as it is, this post is at least a good start. For more information, I highly suggest Peter Kreeft's "Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ," a chapter from his Handbook of Christian Apologetics that you can read online.

That said, how would you answer this question?:

What proof is there in the resurrection of Jesus?

First, let's outline what happened. The Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Messiah, was arrested, condemned by Pontius Pilate, and crucified. He was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, which was sealed with a large boulder and guarded by Roman soldiers. Three days later, some women who went to His tomb found the boulder removed and the body gone. In a span of 40 days, He appeared to over 500 people and then ascended into heaven. But, is it true?

With any historical event, you discover what happened by utilizing eyewitness accounts and the documents of those who collected such accounts. For the resurrection of Jesus, the New Testament is our primary source for such documentary evidence. There simply is not enough room here to defend the historical reliability of the New Testament, but trust me, we can be exceedingly confident in the purity of the New Testament as it has come down to us (despite the fact that we do not have the originals), and we can rest assured that it gives us an accurate reporting of what actually happened.

That said, we know that Jesus resurrected from the dead because: 1.) all of the reliable historical evidence tells us that He did, and 2.) There is no other explanation that better accounts for the facts of the matter. Of course, people have their theories, but they are easily refuted.

Some say that, in their great psychological distress, everyone who thought they saw the resurrected Lord was actually hallucinating. But, 500 people hallucinating the same thing? Not likely. You can’t touch a hallucination either (like Thomas did), and last time I checked, hallucinations don’t eat, nor do they last for 40 days.

Others say that once Jesus died, the apostles realized that He was actually a quack and so, to avoid embarrassment, they devised a grand conspiracy to fool everyone into believing that He was actually the Messiah. Also not likely. For one, these are simple people we’re talking about here. The apostles did not have the brains to conceive of such a perfect scheme. Secondly, the conspiracy theory requires them to do things that would have been nearly impossible, such as rolling away the boulder, separating Jesus’ body from the burial linens (which by then would have been securely glued to his skin), and then running away with the body all without the Roman guards seeing. There’s also the fact that no one travels to far distant lands and then suffers a martyr’s death for a lie — unless he is absolutely deranged!

The fact is that the tomb was empty, Jesus appeared to over 500 people during those 40 days, and the gospel message spread like wildfire because Jesus Christ had truly risen from the dead. Thanks be to God! Alleluia!!

Pax Christi,

Fulton Sheen and the Latin Mass for Easter

As is my custom every Easter, watch and enjoy the Solemn High Mass for Easter Sunday, 1941, with narration by Fulton J. Sheen. There is no better man to explain the mysteries of the Latin Mass ... and as they happen!


Pax Christi,

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why the Easter Vigil

Pope Benedict XVI holds a candle during the Easter Vigil Papal mass on Holy Saturday on April 23, 2011 at St Peter's basilica at The Vatican. Source: Getty Images

With Easter now fast upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to explain just very briefly why I think you should attend the Easter Vigil.

Reason #1: You’ve never seen anything like it

The Mass for the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night is the liturgy of all liturgies. All of the symbolism that makes the typical liturgy so rich and meaningful is multiplied by 100 for the Easter Vigil. What this means is that you’re going to see and experience something truly unique.

For one, the Mass begins with the lights out. The only illumination comes from a massive bonfire burning outside. Once the Paschal candle is lit by the fire, its flame is used to light small candles held by those in the congregation. To see the church ultimately alive not by the force of electricity but by a holy fire is truly a sight to behold.

The Liturgy of the Word during the Vigil Mass is also much more substantial. It is essentially a grand tour through salvation history, as reader after reader tells the story of God’s interventions into human history. It is awe-inspiring to see the plan of God unfolding and to reconsider the often arduous path that lead to the moment when God finally gave us His Son and raised Him from the dead for our salvation.

Thirdly, the Vigil happens much later in the evening then we are used to celebrating Mass. This may be off-putting at first, but the late hour is instructive and meaningful for us. The dark sky reminds us that we live in darkness without the light of Christ in our lives. It also reminds us that those who celebrate the Vigil are in waiting, are truly taking vigil, anticipating the moment when our Savior will rise from the dead and share His new life with us.

Reason #2: Welcome to the party!

Since the revival of the RCIA process after the Second Vatican Council, the Easter Vigil has taken on new significance as the liturgy that welcomes new members into the Church. This year we have one catechumen who will be baptized and three candidates who will receive with her the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion.

This is cause for great celebration! These four people each bring their own gifts, and talents, and aspirations to the Church, for the benefit of all Her members. This can only work to build up and renew us here at Blessed Mother. But, beyond the benefit for us, we should also celebrate this occasion for the simple fact that four more souls are entering into the fullness of grace and truth. Praise God!

Considering all this, what message would it send if the church was only half full, or if no one attended the reception afterwards? We should show these new Catholics that we are thankful for their presence and for the hard work that brought them here. I hope that you will come to welcome them and to experience the awesome beauty that only the Easter Vigil can bring. Christ is coming soon. Are you ready?

Pax Christi,

Why Is the Wednesday of Holy Week Called "Spy Wednesday"?

Today is called "Spy Wednesday" because the Gospel reading for today (cf. Mt 26:14-25) is about how Judas agreed to act as a spy for the Sanhedrin and hand Jesus over to them for 30 pieces of silver.
  • 14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

    17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the passover?" 18 He said, "Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples.'" 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the passover. 20 When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; 21 and as they were eating, he said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." 22 And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" 23 He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. 24 The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so."

A spy is someone who acts like he is trustworthy when all the while he is plotting to betray you. Judas did that when he said "Hail, Master!" and gave Jesus a kiss -- which is the greeting of a friend -- when really he was giving the chief priests the sign to arrest Jesus. He says, "Is it I, Lord?" as if he is innocent, but there is no one more guilty.

May we all be more like the beloved apostle, who stayed ever at the side of Christ throughout His Passion, and less like Judas, who betrayed the Lord for the price of a slave.

UPDATE (3-31-10): "Suburban banshee" (interesting s/n) left the following comment that I think is very helpful:
  • It's not a new term; it's the English translation, which goes back to at least the 19th century, of an Irish term that goes back at least to the early 15th century.

    The translation is a bit shaky. "Ceadaoin in/an Bhraith" meant "Betrayal Wednesday". But "braith" also meant someone who observes or spies. (Two different verb rootwords, spelled and pronounced the same.) So Betrayal Wednesday was translated as Spy Wednesday.

Pax Christi,

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Resources for Palm Sunday

I don't have time to post a great deal today, but I wanted to at least point you in the direction of some resources that you could use to learn something new about Jesus' amazing entrance into Jerusalem and the great mysteries of His Passion. I also threw in a few activities for children (why not, right?).

And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it. And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!"
-- Mark 11:7-10

Pax Christi,

Saturday, March 19, 2016

In the Hands of St. Joseph

Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I have always looked to St. Joseph for the strength to be a good and chaste man. He is, after all, Mary's "most chaste spouse," and as the father of Jesus and the protector of Mary he is an ideal model of what it means to be a responsible husband and father. I hope to live as he lived: chaste, responsible, strong, courageous, skilled, loving, manly. I am so thankful that, in giving me my middle name, my parents made him my patron. I have done the same with my own son (Dominic Joseph), so that he will always have the intercessory power of St. Joseph to guide him and protect him.

Here are some articles on St. Joseph. Learn what it means to be devoted to him and to live the sort of life that he lived:
Pax Christi,

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Short Biography of "The Apostle of Ireland" for St. Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387 AD. When he was 16, he was captured by pirates from Ireland and sold into slavery there. For six years, he tended the flocks of his master. While a slave, he prayed 100 times a day and the same every night. Regardless of the weather or the time, in the woods or on a mountain, he was always praying.

Providentially, his time in captivity became a preparation for his later work as bishop and evangelist. He learned to speak the Celtic language, and, because his master practiced Druidism, he became very familiar with the religion that he would almost single-handedly replace with Catholicism among the people of Ireland.

A vision of an angel compelled him to leave his master and flee to England, where he studied at a few monasteries and eventually became a priest. With St. Germain he preached against the Pelagian heresy. Together they performed many miracles and converted a great number.

The Pope, so impressed by Patrick, sent him to Ireland to convert the Irish people to Christianity. Before Patrick set out on his mission, he was made a bishop. When he arrived in Ireland, one of his first acts was to visit his former master, pay the ransom owed him, and give him a blessing and forgiveness for his cruelty as a master.

On several occasions, Patrick met with violent opposition by the Druid chieftains. When one of them tried to kill Patrick with a sword, Patrick make his attacker’s arm immovable and did not relieve it until the attacker pledged obedience to Patrick. He eventually converted his attacker and every Druid chieftain and king who sought to kill him.

Everywhere Patrick went, he converted people by powerful preaching and miracles. He also formed several parishes and dioceses throughout Ireland. He ordained priests, healed the sick, expelled demons, and brought the dead back to life. Through boundless prayer and severe penances he sought the salvation of Ireland. He continued until his death to visit and watch over the churches he had founded throughout all the land.

Patrick is the one who first used the shamrock as a tool for teaching the Trinity. “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, a prayer he composed on the morning of a great victory over paganism, remains to this day a popular Catholic prayer. He is called “The Apostle of Ireland” because of his tireless evangelism in that land, and is one of the Church’s greatest saints.

For more about St. Patrick and the conversion of Ireland, see the following resources:

Pax Christi,

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Night My Beard Evangelized

Yes, you read that right. Last Saturday, while my wife Amy and I were celebrating the death of a martyr the only way we know how -- by going out to eat at a nice restaurant -- my beard did some evangelizing. But, before I elaborate, some notes about my beard:
  1. I hardly ever post pictures of myself on here, so you probably don't know that I have a beard. It's not quite "Jimmy Akin" long, but it's getting there. It recently grew past my collar bone, a sort of milestone in the beard-growing community.
  2. It's red, even though the hair on my head is dark brown. I'm not a geneticist, I don't know how in the world these things happen, but they do.
  3. It's very curly. If I don't comb it daily than I look like a drunk, ginger Santa. *shudder*
All of this means that I get comments on it rather frequently. The beard abides ... but it hadn't yet decided to evangelize until the other night. My discussion with the waiter went something like this:
  • Waiter: I have always wanted to grow a beard like that.
  • Me: Make it happen!
  • Waiter: I can't! I tried once and it grew all patchy and misshapen, made me look like a creeper.
  • Me: I'm sorry to hear that.
  • Waiter: Yours makes you look so ... (he's waving his hand in the air now, trying to come up with the right word)
  • Me: ... professorial?
  • Waiter: Yes, exactly! Nice word! What do you do for a living?
  • Me: I'm the Director of Religious Education at my parish.

He nodded his head in approval and then proceeded to take our order. I thought that was the end of the conversation, but when he brought us our ticket after the meal, he mentioned it again:
  • Waiter: What church did you say you worked for?
  • Me: Blessed Mother.
  • Waiter: Is that a church around here?
  • Me: Yes, it's a Catholic Church here in Owensboro.
  • Waiter: Oh, Catholic! I've always thought that if I ever joined a church it would be a Catholic one. Everything there just seems so much more ... serious.
  • Me: Well, I'm the man to talk to!

I introduced myself, shook his hand, and gave him my contact information. It was all a very pleasant surprise, and I walked away thinking, "All of that started because he liked my beard. My beard just evangelized!" It made me glad to have something that can be a conversation starter, that gets people to open up and share a bit of themselves.

A lot of times, Catholics have trouble extending the invitation to consider the Catholic faith because they don't know how to get past that initial barrier that people put up when they are in a public setting. The organization St Paul Street Evangelization teaches their evangelists to overcome that barrier by simply asking people if they would like a rosary or a Miraculous Medal. My encounter at the restaurant made me realize I had another tool that I could use:

I'm just gonna keep rockin' this beard.

My son Thomas, resting under the bearded mantle of his father.

Pax Christi,

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Resources for St. Valentine's Day

Love and St. Valentine's Day
St. Valentine's Day Activities
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Immaculate Heart of Mary
The "Mother of All Peoples" website has more articles on the Immaculate Heart of Mary than I could possibly list here without losing a week of my life, so I suggest browsing that website for more information on this topic.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Pax Christi,
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