Sunday, December 29, 2013

After the Feasting

People asked me in church today: “How was my Christmas?” I spent time with family and friends and appreciated the time to connect with old friends and new.

Two moments that were memorable for me were being asked to say the grace before the Christmas meal. I’m sitting with the young people trapped behind the picture windows. But the young people are not little kids any longer. They are young adult men and women in the process of dating and finding their lifelong mates. Church is not a priority but I believe this was a moment to introduce them to a God who wants them to find a purpose in life that will make them happy and respected.

So my spontaneous prayer can best be paraphrased: “Thank you Lord for bringing us all around this table to renew our friendships. We are grateful to our hosts for bringing us together for this delicious feast. May your love for us continue to grow in our hearts. May we realize that we are never alone for you listen to all our concerns. May our gift to one another be our hands and hearts willing to help each other in our time of need.”

As one family member pointed out to me after the desserts, in which I ate too many cookies. What our young people need is not pious words but a genuine invitation that says: “when you’re ready” God invites you to join a faith community that lives the true meaning of peace and happiness. That’s my prayer now for all of you as we begin another new year.

My second memorable moment is the image I have posted on this Sonshine. After hundreds of hours of work, clearing trails and cleaning hundreds of years of debris, we took our special friends for a Christmas “gator ride”
through the snowy trails and over the creek into the land of make-believe. 

After another hectic year of being busy, shopping, decorating and wrapping.
Now might be a moment for you to lean back and let the beauty of God’s landscape take hold of you and revive your drooping spirit.

As you reflect on this image, let your heart pray this psalm over and over again: “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” (Psalm 31:5).

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends in this New Year that we learn to lean on you more often. Help us to discover the truth that you simply want us to be at peace and assured of you ongoing love that give us strength and courage.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sin Carpet

Ask any priest what they want for Christmas and you get the usual humble response: “I don’t need anything but your prayers.” However, Fr. Matt’s weekly chores around the house include vacuuming all the wood floors and carpets. Not a problem except for the “sin carpet.” No, this is not a typo. It’s the “sin carpet”. This oriental carpet has a beautiful weave pattern and a mind of its own. The vacuum fails to pick up the kitty hairs and so I attach the chair attachment, get down on my knees and brush the carpet by hand to get it clean. This method works much better with a few choice words and the reason why I call this my “sin carpet.” It’s a prayer carpet with a certain twist. It’s twisting my body around because the beater brush just doesn’t do the job and pick up kitty hairs.

So what I want for Christmas is a solution to this backbreaking problem. The family says take the carpet and the vacuum to the repair shop and see what they suggest.

On this snowy day, I walk into the shop of an “old fashioned vacuum shop.” I humbly ask, “Is it OK to bring my oriental carpet into the store and show you the problem?”  The kind repairman motions to bring it on. Vacuum plugged in, he immediately says the vacuum has no power. He opens the machine and finds the filter and bag are OK. The attachments are in good order, but then with the wisdom of a guru he says, “this machine will never clean this carpet because it is not a motor driven unit but air powered.”

No one will tell you this at a box store because they don’t know the difference. A motor driven unit is best for carpets and works stronger to pull the dirt out of any carpet. He quickly demonstrates with a floor model and says: “go ahead and clean your carpet.” With a few easy strokes, no genuflecting, no swear words, the carpet was cleaned. Why don’t the salespeople tell you this when you buy a vacuum. I went online in Consumer Reports and found no information about the difference between a motor and an air driven unit.

The kind vacuum man suggested to continue to use my canister on the wood floors. I thought I had Dirt Devil in the basement that has not been used in years. He suggested using the upright to clean the carpet and wait till my canister dies. Then the next time, you need a new vacuum, make sure that it is a motor driven unit.

Sometimes, our sins seem to follow us around and we fail to clean up our life. Even on our knees, we pray to God for help with our temptations, but we still can’t get rid of those threads that make us feel dirty. Maybe, our machine needs a tune-up, a motor driven (spirit driven) unit that will clean up our act. A spiritual director like the vacuum cleaner repairman might help you clean up your life and get rid of those spots.

A motor driven unit not an air driven vacuum is the secret to getting carpets cleaned. I never knew the difference. The sin carpet will become a prayer carpet. When vacuuming, I will remember this kind man’s wisdom and ask God to bless him and all who help us lead a better life free from troubles that break our backs and frustrate our efforts to be holy.

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who struggle in prayer with any sin that does not want to go way. Help us to persevere and remember that Advent is the moment a Savior appeared to be with us and save us from all our messes and fears.
Note, I did not find the Dirt Devil in the basement. I forget that I donated it to the Salvation Army this past summer. I wonder if it is still there?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Plug That Hole


Before Mass, a parishioner wanted to share his findings after walking through the school. A retired engineer, I asked this humble man to share his expertise. The school was abandoned for many years and the parish has just installed a new furnace, but it was leaking cold air like a sieve. Needless to say, our engineer was a blessing for he found lots of holes that needed to be plugged.

His suggestions were very practical, like discovering holes on the first floor where the cold air was coming from the basement. Also, a back door had an opening so large that you could see straight to Buffalo!

Now I’m trying to get ready for Mass and lead the Advent Penance Service. This man is passionate and wants me to find 3 or 4 people after Mass to plug some of the holes or he fears the water pipes will freeze and the furnace will die.

During the Penance service, I shared a statement from Pope Francis. He shared that there is darkness in each of us. For we are all sinners. Hold on, the Pope is not talking about Catholic guilt. He says, “Walking in darkness means being overly pleased with ourselves, believing that we do not need salvation. That is darkness! When we continue on this road of darkness, it is not easy to turn back.” St. John wrote: ‘If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us”. Look to your sins, we are all sinners, all of us … this is the starting point.

When the Lord forgives us, He does justice” – continued the Pope – first to himself, “because He came to save and forgive“, welcoming us with the tenderness of a Father for his children: “The Lord is tender towards those who fear, fear not in the sense of being scolded but mentored to those who humbly come to Him “and with tenderness,” He always understand us”. He wants to gift us the peace that only He gives. ”

But let’s get real and be honest, many of us are too busy to look within ourselves, we are often ashamed to tell the truth: ‘I did this, I thought this’. But “shame” is a true Christian virtue, and even human and to be ashamed is a virtue of the humble.

Pope Francis continued: “ we must have trust, because when we sin we have an advocate with the Father, “Jesus Christ the righteous.” And He “supports us before the Father” and defends us in front of our weaknesses. But you need to stand in front of the Lord with confidence, even with joy, without masquerading… We must never masquerade before God. And shame is a virtue: ‘blessed shame.’ This is the virtue that Jesus asks of us: humility and meekness”.

In other words, there are lots of cold drafts in our lives that need to be plugged. I witnessed humility in our church today as peoples’ cheeks were cradled and I told, “ to let go of their shame and walk in humility.” Yes, we are all sinners, yet we all came to receive the Lord’s mercy to restore the warmth of our hearts that have been made bitter cold by the sin in our lives.
At the end of mass, we made the announcement for volunteers and a dozen people walked over to church to plug some holes and promised to return to repair the many doors and windows that need to be readjusted to keep the cold air out and warm air in.

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends that “to be ashamed” is a virtue that will bring us out of the cold into the warm embrace of our loving God. Believe and celebrate this blessing.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Wait A Bit


It is Advent now. We hope to quiet down during this time, and ponder our need for a savior. Look around the world and you will see plenty of reason to need one. Looking can be immensely disturbing.

But let me tell a story that might show a different side of “waiting.” Holy Family started a tradition common in many churches today to have coffee social after Mass. On the first and third Sunday of each month, people gather in the back of church to meet and munch.

Every social features some special goodies that our pastry cooks bring to church. Sometimes it’s a juicy cheese cake, or crème puffs, others times, a pastry apple filling, there’s always something with maple and a variety of tasty cookies.

What does this celebration have to do with Advent? Well, the funny thing is that no one in line at the coffee social is in a hurry. They talk, they share stories about their family, they relish being in “the” place. People can cut into line for coffee or another pastry and no one cares. The crowd seems to have turned waiting into a social affair, a time of patient anticipation, together.

The point? Our waiting during Advent does not have to be an agony. Jesus will be born, and in fact we know this for sure, since we have experienced him at Mass. In Advent we join each other not around pastry treats but around the peace and goodness that his birth will bring to our hearts and to our rapport with others. God turns our waiting into a social, prayerful event.

Granted, it is not always easy. Traffic jams, grocery store lines, shopping on Amazon, the usual chaos of the season can be exhausting. Sometimes our minds are spinning with the many things we have left to do. Christmas is coming, after all. Impatience rears its head. But what is the alternative?

Here's an idea. If we use our senses we will not need to buy another gift to make the season joyful. In the present moment, as you read these words, hundreds of real and God-filled objects are all about you. Did you take a walk on the first day after our first snowfall? Despite my frozen fingers, I took the above photo and enjoyed this moment of beauty. How about letting in the colors and lights of your Christmas tree? There are times when we can stay in the present during Advent, instead of in the future or the past. Maybe we will find subtle and quiet beauty all about us. The present tense is still happening.

Advent is a time to focus a bit and realize that emptiness is a healthy and normal part of our lives. We will only be filled if we let emptiness have a home in us first. Strange to say, the waiting for fulfillment is also itself a fulfillment. It lets us be what we are—not God but human.

God waits for us as we reflect: "Happy is the one who listen to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting besides my doors." (Proverbs 8:34).

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends that they stay awake and find your presence in their daily lives waiting to bring them peace and comfort.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Thnaksgiving Prayer


Thank you letter to people of Holy Family Catholic Parish…

Dear People of the good earth in North Java and surrounding neighbors:

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I like to acknowledge the contribution of so many gifted people who have worked generosity to keep Holy Family open these past two years. Sadly in 2013, they have prayed over and returned to heaven seven family members. Over 3,000 family, friends and neighbors from surrounding towns returned to this closed church to pray and to lay to rest a baby, a sister, a wife, an aunt, a husband and daughter. All who came back to this “refreshed” church walked away from the service praising the warmth and beauty of this Catholic community. 

What I have seen in my brief ministry is a dynamic commitment to God and neighbor. So on this Sunday, I praised the choir and their organist who sing God’s praises. Then there’s the “church ladies” who put on the luncheons after the funeral. Their desserts are made in heaven.  Must not forget the “Sunshine” lady who writes letters to the sick in our hospitals and homebound. Then there are the “dessert chefs” who bake homemade treats for our church socials after Mass. Someone said their priest in the past would row over in his grave if he saw people eating in the pews. I simply would tell father that his people like to eat and visit after Mass.

Don’t forget our children learning about Jesus during Mass. We are grateful for their special teacher. We have a “basket lady” who made over 60 gift baskets for our Spaghetti Dinner raffle and more cooks to feed the hundreds of neighbors who came to support the  Annual Spaghetti Dinner. Also, the Summer Java Garage Sale had our volunteers cooking sausages and selling treats. Must not forget our altar servers who wait on this priest with special care. And all our young people who lector, sing and welcome people at our front door.

Then we are grateful to the committee who pays the bills, audits the books, records our words and make recommendations for the future of the parish. The building team found the best roofer, refreshing the rectory for a new tenant and getting heat back in the school to begin its new mission. Must not forget our “Liturgical Art Design Engineers” who  decorate the altar for the Fall with pumpkins and are planning poinsettias and trees for Christmas. I hear plans are afoot to bring St. Nicholas back to have breakfast with all the children for Advent.

Many good people prefer not to be known, but donate clothes to keep other families warm, make the extra sacrifice to pay for the church roof, or will donate toys and cloths to make Christmas special for a poor family.

I’m just grateful that people enjoy listening to the stories about Jesus. I appreciate their openness to change and welcoming all people without hesitation to join them in prayer and service.

My church calendar for 2014 focused on the activities of the parish such as our children blowing horns on Christmas eve like the angels, or a birthday cake for Jesus and baptizing a newborn on Father's Day. These are signs of growth that I hope will inspire others who are searching for God to come and join this loving community of faith.

With Gratitude,
Your Shepherd,
Fr. Matt

My gift for his Thanksgiving for each family is a holy card that I designed that features a picture of the parish steeple taken from behind the church with the fall braches enveloping the cross. The prayer is a Thanksgiving Blessing Prayer that you may say over your turkey with your family. It is brief and studies have shown that saying prayers of gratitude as a family over the turkey makes it taste better.

A Thanksgiving Prayer
O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home, our parish, our family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work our play and the loving hands who prepared this meal. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your Son. Amen.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Proof of Heaven


On my way to church this Sunday morning, I had already received four emails to pray for people going through hardships. A mom requested prayers for her daughter who had another miscarriage. A daughter’s father had died last week and she was bringing her family to church. Another man was told that he has pnenomia and a fourth was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The gospel story was about people in the bible who did not believe in the resurrection. Today, these might be the people who are too busy to think much about God, religion or resurrection. Their time is taken up with building or acclimating more stuff. They are the online shoppers who have half their Christmas list completed. No more Black Friday shopping for them, they do all their buying online. But what about eternity and the gift of the resurrection.

In this pre-Advent season, we might remember that the name Immanuel, means ‘God is with us.” And at the end of His life Jesus reminded us, “I am with you all days, even till the end of time.” He added,’ So do not be afraid. I go, prepare a place for you.”

Some folks get bogged down in lots of me questions. Will I still need my contacts?  Will I look like I am now or when I was twenty-one and lots of hair? What about those poor souls cremated, those eaten by sharks, those pulverized by explosives? Will my kitty be there? Will I know my friends?

As curious as we are about these and wonder how God can reassemble broken bodies, we must accept the fact that the resurrection is not about us. The resurrection is about God and God’s fidelity to a promise, God’s promise never to abandon us. God will work out the logistics.

In 2008, Dr. Alexander contracted bacterial meningitis. The deadly infection soaked his brain and sent him into a deep coma. During that week, as life slipped away, he was living intensely in his mind. He was reborn into a primitive mucky Jell-o-like substance and then guided by “a beautiful girl with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes” on the wings of a butterfly to an “immense void” that is both “pitch black” and “brimming with light” coming from an “orb” that interprets for an all-loving God.

While his book, “Proof of Heaven” makes little mention of God or angels, his message to those who deal with dying is one of relief. “Our spirit is not dependent on the brain or body,” he said. “It is eternal, and no one has one sentence worth of hard evidence that it isn't."

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends whose anxiety makes them worry too much and focus on themselves. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believe in me shall live forever.” That’s a promise that will be kept.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

What Does It All Mean

A good friend ran into some difficulty with her van’s automatic windows and made an appointment with the dealer. When she arrived at the service department, the manger looked at his watch and said that she was “ten minutes late.” Well, things happen, traffic, weather, so what’s the problem “please fix the van windows.” The man said that there was no way that he could fit her in now. She was ten minutes late and he had no one available to look at her van. He was too busy!

Ten years age, maybe five years ago this Christian woman would have given him a piece of her mind. Was his lack of courtesy due to the fact that she was a woman, an elderly woman, and a woman in a wheelchair. This time she took a difficult tack. As he leaned over her van window, she noticed that his arm was tattooed with a rosary.

Now was this sign from the Blessed Mother? What young man would have his arm tattooed with such a holy image? Did his mother harass him that if he wanted a tattoo it must have a religious image like a cross and not a skull and cross bones. Or, maybe this busy man had an epiphany moment and felt that the rosary would make a good conversation piece.

“What does it all mean?” she said to herself. She made the decision to go quietly out the door despite this man’s lack of courtesy. She prayed to God for strength and courage as she drove away from the service department without anyone willing to help her with those windows. 

On the way home, she asked Jesus and the Blessed Mother to choose a different way to respond to her dilemma. Instead of feeling pity, she would choose kindness and patience. She lives with a miserable debilitating disease for over twenty-five years that has made her mobility extremely difficult. Don’t people pay attention? Don’t people understand how hard it is to live physically challenged? However, instead of feeling sorry for herself. her prayer was “No thanks.” I will not laquish in this moment of self-pity. She chooses to be a blessing and expressed her thanks for friends who understand and offer her help in her times of need.

Maybe this story is a wake up call for the rest of us who have been blessed with good health to say “thank You Jesus” for my life, my job, my family and health. We might not wear our religion tattoo on our biceps but we need to have a heart willing to make the sacrifice and care for those people who need our compassion and patience. We need never be “that busy.”

God prays for us as we reflect: “The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who ask themselves “what does it all mean.” When you feel overwhelmed or misunderstood take it to Jesus and Mother Mary and say “No Thanks” to pity and your put your trust in God.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

We Are Both Grand And Petty

It's interesting to note that the word "Gospel" means "good news," not "good advice." The gospels are not so much a spiritual and moral theology book that tell us what we should be doing, but are more an account of what God has already done for us, is still doing for us, and the wonderful dignity that this bestows on us.

Of course the idea is that since we are gifted in this way our actions should reflect that dignity rather than what's less lofty and more petty inside us. Morality is not a command, it's an invitation; not a threat, but a reminder of who we truly are. We become taller and less petty when we remember what kind of family we ultimately come from.

In essence, we all have two souls, two hearts, and two minds. Inside of each of us there's a soul, heart, and mind that's petty, that's been hurt, that wants vengeance, that wants to protect itself, that's frightened of what's different, that's prone to gossip, that's racist, that perennially feels cheated. Seen in a certain light, all of us are as small in stature .

But there's also a tall, big-hearted person inside each of us, someone who wants to warmly embrace the whole world, beyond personal hurt, selfishness, race, creed, and politics.

We are always both, grand and petty. The world isn't divided up between big-hearted and small-minded people. Rather our days are divided up between those moments when we are big-hearted, generous, warm, hospitable, unafraid, wanting to embrace everyone and those moments when we are petty, selfish, over-aware of the unfairness of life, frightened, and seeking only to protect ourselves and our own safety and interests.

We are both tall and short at the same time and either of these can manifest itself from minute to minute. But, as we all know, we are most truly ourselves when what's tall in us takes over and gives back to the world what the short, petty person wrongly takes.

God prays for us as we reflect: “The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who are big-hearted, generous, warm and hospitable. May we embrace each moment with your love and compassion for all your people.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Wish I Was Like Him


Just returned from Holy Family’s Third Annual Spaghetti Dinner. The nicest feedback I received was from a gentleman with his walker who came up to share that he was grateful that his son comes to church. This father shared that he attends another Catholic church in a nearby town, but he has heard so many good things about he spirit of Holy Family.

Frankly, I wish that I was more like this man. For despite his physical limitations, he shared a unique quality of the Christian spirit and that is humility.

Let me help you look through the lens of faith and realize that humility does not mean that we are no better than anyone else. It is humanly impossible not to compare ourselves to others. We all like to make comparisons, that we are better at what we do, that we are more holy or that our church is more friendly. But the roots of humility do not lie in where we stand, above or below, others in terms of our moral behavior.

When we think about being humble, and sincerely believe ourselves to be no better than anyone else in this world, we need to look at our “sweet spot,” at the depth of our heart, where one sees that, like everyone else in this world, we are vulnerable, alone, fearful, naked, self-centered, inadequate, helpless, just as much in need of God and others as absolutely every other person on this earth, and, thus, no better than anyone else.

Nobody gives themselves life, or gives themselves salvation. We are all equally inadequate and helpless here. Our vulnerability levels us all and the key to genuine humility lies in recognizing that. Indeed, the more morally and psychologically sensitive we are, the more likely we are to recognize our neediness and our solidarity in weakness with everyone else.

When we make the claim that we are no better than anyone else and that we stand in need of God's mercy just as much as every sinner on earth, we are not faking humility, but we are not making moral comparisons with our neighbors or other religions.

The invitation to humility is a clear: Become like a little child. Take the lowest place. Never consider yourself better than anyone else. Know that you need God's mercy as much as the greatest sinner on earth. However we don't come to this by comparing ourselves to others, but by recognizing how utterly naked we all stand outside of God's mercy.

God prays for us as we reflect: “My child, perform your tasks with humility; then you will be loved by those whom God accepts.” (Sirach 3:17.)

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who go about their ordinary lives with much grace and kindness. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Monks Secrets About Prayer

Why is it so difficult to pray regularly?

Some reasons are obvious: over-busyness, tiredness and too many demands on our time, constant distraction, laziness, worship services that bore us, and methods of prayer that leave us flat and inattentive.

But there is another reason too, suggested by monks and mystics. The problem we have in sustaining prayer, they say, is often grounded in the false notion that prayer needs to be interesting, exciting, intense, and full of energy all the time. But that is impossible, nothing is meant to be exciting all the time, including prayer and church services, and nobody has the energy to always be alert, attentive, intense, and actively engaged all the time.
When I am on the altar leading the community in prayer, it’s not show time but rather, a moment to put everyone in the presence of a loving Lord.

Prayer is meant to respect the natural rhythms of our energy. Praying is like eating and, as we know from experience, you don't always want a banquet. If you tried to have a banquet every day, you would soon find coming to the table burdensome and would look for every excuse to escape, to sneak off for a quick sandwich by yourself.

Eating has a natural rhythm: banquets and quick snacks, rich meals and simple sandwiches, high times with fine linen and low times with paper napkins, meals which take a whole evening and meals which you eat on the run. And the two depend upon each other: You can only have high season if you mostly have ordinary time. Healthy eating habits respect our natural rhythms: our time, energy, tiredness, the season, the hour, our boredom, our taste.

Prayer should be the same, but this isn't generally respected. Too often we are left with this impression: All prayer should be high celebration, upbeat, with high energy. The more variety the better. Longer is better than shorter. Time and tiredness should never be a consideration. During prayer, nobody should ever look at a wristwatch. People at a prayer service need not be told how long the service will last. The solution to boredom and lack of energy is more variety and imagination.

No wonder we often lack the energy to pray, and want to avoid church services.

Monks have secrets worth knowing. They know that, if you pray regularly, boredom and lack of energy will soon begin to wear you down. The answer then is not so much new prayer forms and more variety, but rhythm, routine, and established ritual. For monks, the key to sustaining a daily life of prayer is not so much variety, novelty, and the call for higher energy, but rather a reliance on the expected, the familiar, the repetitious, the ritual, the clearly defined. What's needed is a uncomplicated, practical prayer form which gives you a clear expectancy and does not demand of you an energy that you cannot muster on a given day.

It is no accident, I suspect, that more people used to attend daily church services when these were shorter, simpler, less demanding in terms of energy expenditure, and gave people attending a clear expectation as to how long they would last. The same holds true for other prayers, the office of the church and basically all common prayer. What clear, simple, and brief rituals provide is precisely prayer that depends upon something beyond our own energy.

Some people complain about the rituals of the church. What they don’t under stand is that the rituals can carry us, our tiredness, our lack of energy, our inattentiveness, our indifference, and even our occasional distaste. They keep us praying even when we are too tired to muster up our own energy.

Sometimes, I think, we are working too hard to make the Mass more entertaining and are not letting the rituals themselves work hard enough

That's true too for prayer. We think that good intention and energy will sustain our rituals of prayer, but they can't. Rather our rituals of prayer can sustain our good will and our energy.

God prays for us as we reflect: “Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.” (Psalm 66:20).

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who grow tired and busy and unable to pray. Help them relax and sense your presence in a heart open to receive your gentle comfort and peace.

Sunday, October 06, 2013


On my drive into work each morning, I pray the rosary for all my friends. It can be a challenged when the beads get knotted up and a tangled mess. I am waiting for someone to invent a rosary that does not “‘get tangled.” That’s like asking God for a life that doesn’t have any snags in it.

You have a choice when your life begins to ensnare you with lots of demands. Option one. Blame God. Option two. Fix your own problems but worry that it’s not good enough. Option three. Practice “self compassion.”

I prefer that you learn to practice this ancient tradition of letting go and repeat the following mantra “good enough is good enough.”

I read that people are wired and caught up in judging themselves. Of course there is scriptural basis for this concern. A parishioner share that he liked this past week’s homily when I walked down the aisle and get close to the people. Most folks don’t sit too close to the front in this church. He agreed with the teaching that a sign of holiness is gratitude. But he wanted to reconcile the bible teaching about a judgment day separating goats and sheep. Which side of the aisle do you think you will wind up on?

Scientists suggest that it’s in our DNA to look at something to say it could be better and then work on this trait as a goal. This way of thinking could be a good step toward self-improvement. But it can become negative feedback in that we start to look at every moment and say: ‘I could have done a better job.” The toxic voice in our head finds us lacking. I do not think God wants us to put so much effort into worrying about judgment day. When asked by his disciples to increase their faith Jesus reminds them that their faith is a gift. We can better focus our attention on living our life in gratitude for the gifts we have received from God and share them with others.

The prayer when we meditate on as we pray the rosary beads is to break the cycle of negativity so we can choose to be purposely compassionate toward ourselves.

We say the rosary in honor of Mary who had to be a special mom nurturing her son. It was her example that taught Jesus to be a compassionate young man. She must have had something special called the “the will to do one thing.” The one thing every saint knows is to live a life of gratitude. Mary possessed that special quality “to will the one thing” because look how her son turned out.

God watches over us as we pray: “Yet He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them; often He restrained His anger, and did not stir up all His wrath.” (Psalm 78:38).

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who find their lives tangled and in a mess. As they pray the rosary, may each bead release them from toxic worries and may their life be filled with self-compassion.