How lovely are your dwelling places

Sometimes in our lives, our souls are filled with great longings; the desire for healed relationships, the emptiness of those taken much too soon from us, happiness in the midst of the mundane, fulfillment in what we do, what we’ve become, and who we are. Our very being is filled with an emptiness that comes from once having seemed to be full.It is easy to focus on what we have lost, or what we are looking for, that which we don’t have.Our humanity focuses on all the ways that things should be perfect for us, our relationships, our finances, our here and now.

Yet, in the middle of this mediocrity are signs of great wonder, and the realization that we will always be less than full while on this journey.Our hope and our help comes from the Lord, who made the Heaven and the earth.One day, all will be perfect, and our joys will be complete.In that day, there will be no more sadness, no more longing, no more hoping for a better tomorrow.All will be perfect in love.
Love’s gifts come to us i…

Martha and Mary

I was raised in a home that when someone came to visit, we pulled out all of the stops to make them feel welcome.Glasses would quickly come out of the hutch.A pitcher was given to one of the children to go down to the “wine room” to fill with some of my father’s home-made wine.Plates were quickly filled with nuts, dried fruits, and any other appetizers that were kept in the house for when “company came.” When we expected visitors, all of this work was done prior to their arrival.As a child, once the feast was set, I would simply stare at all of the goodies, which could not be touched until our guests arrived.In the case of unexpected company, we were still so thrilled to receive them into our home, but the first few minutes of their visit was spent putting together their welcome feast.Everything had to be just right.At a young age, I truly learned what it meant to serve another with a joyful heart. I never once heard my mother complain about company.I never saw her scurrying to get th…

God Speaks in a Whisper

Sometimes when I pray, I look for great signs that God has heard my prayer.Honestly, sometimes what I am really looking for are signs that God is going to hear my prayer in the way that I want to have it heard.Rather than placing my trust in God, and remembering that, “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28)   I am guilty of needing just something, anything that can assure me that I have been heard.
When I seek out God’s presence, I sometimes seek Him in the great and majestic.I expect that His voice will be loud and powerful, because He is great and powerful.But the reality is that God speaks to us in so many calm and gentle ways.I have experienced the presence of God in the gentle touch of another.I’ve heard God’s voice in the laughter of a baby.I’ve felt God’s love and presence in the last breath of family members.I’ve known of God’s love sometimes just in the gift of the presence of another person, at times in their e…

The Canticle of Daniel

The Canticle of Daniel

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about all that I have to be thankful for in my life.Truthfully, it’s a never-ending process.My life has been filled with so many graces and blessings, and I don’t know that I have the capacity to ever truly appreciate all of the blessings that I’ve received.Like many, I can easily focus on the things that haven’t gone right in my life, but sometimes need a gentle reminder of what’s right in my life.Sad, but true.
One of the blessings in my life was the time that I spent in the seminary discerning my life’s vocation.My seminary experience is very much a part of the man that I am today.My sense of both community and spirituality was truly deepened in those few years.Praying the Liturgy of the Hours daily gave me a love of the Psalms and of Scripture, and has helped me to find strength and comfort in all things, joys and sufferings alike.
Anyone who knows me, knows that my life’s guiding passage is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all thi…

Hail Mary

Originally written 07/13/2015

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen”

I have probably prayed the Hail Mary thousands of times in my life.Sometimes my prayer is done like a Marian marathon runner…hurrying to get through the prayers of the rosary so that I can do something else. In hindsight, most of the time that I am rushing through my prayers, I am doing so to free myself to do something else; go to bed, get a bite to eat, waste time on the Internet, or any other meaningless task.However, lately I have been graced to pray a bit more deliberately.
Almost a year ago, 93 year old “Nana” fell and broke her hip.She was admitted to the hospital where she had emergency surgery.While recovering from the hip surgery, the symptoms of congestive heart failure appeared.If I had to choose a word to describe Nana’s spirituality, I …

My Psalm

Originally written 07/09/2015

Oh Lord, how beautiful to me is your presence.
In the morning, you bless the earth with dew, life-giving water in our midst.
In the day, your sun shines upon us, warming us as your love enfolds us.
In the evening, the stars and moon guide our ways, just as your love for us in times of darkness.
In the night, the calm comforts us to rest in you, and the promise of a new day gives us hope.

You make your presence known in the gentle breeze, the crisp air, the beautiful colors that you have painted on Earth's great palette.
In the rolling stream, I hear your whisper.
In the sounds of your birds and creatures, I hear your for our souls.
In the crashing waves of the ocean, I see your power.
In the claps of thunder, I hear your might.
In the grandeur of the mountains, I adore your magnificent creation.
The trees reach to you and worship with outstretched arms.
The scent of the forest is full of your wonders.
In my brothers and sisters, I see your fa…

Suscipe Domine

Originally written 07/19/2015 7:22 p.m.
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me."

St. Ignatius of Loyola

The prayer of surrender and trust is never more real to me than when I walk through the halls of Marian Manor. Every day I see the same faces of the beautiful residents who make up this special family. I try to make an effort to calm myself down, and mindfully greet each resident as I pass by them. Sometimes, there are so many residents sitting in the great hall that my "hellos" are more generalized and less personal. But when I am able to truly experience the presence of each resident, I feel the presence of Christ, and the essence of this profound prayer, the Suscipe Domine, that Saint Ignatius has left for us.

There i…

Nurses as Christ to Others

Then the King will say to those on His right, Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.

Then the righteous will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.

Nursing is an amazing profession. When I watch a nurse do his or her job well, I immediately am drawn into this passage. Spending time at Marian Manor has reall…

Christ in the Chris, the homeless man

July 6, 2015
Rosa Parks Circle, Grand Rapids, Michigan
38th Convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians
Public Concert with the Cortez family
While sitting in Rosa Parks Circle, in Grand Rapids, MI, attending an outdoor concert by Jaime Cortez and family, I watched a homeless man take his place at my side with a tin container of spaghetti and another container of some other food.Clearly, one or two of the hundreds of people in attendance at the outdoor event had given this man food to eat.As he sat there eating the spaghetti with his hands, he seemed to be content.He was clearly tapping his foot to the beautiful Catholic songs of the Cortez family, their Spanish rhythms and percussive beats evoking joy. Every once in a while, he’d break out into a little seated dance. He seemed to be enjoying the spaghetti, as he pulled each handful to his mouth to eat.I have to admit, shamefully, that I was a little grossed out watching this man eat with his hands in this way.Yet, at…