I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

I want to make two points in my post this morning.

First, my children are becoming “fasters”.  No, they have not given up any meals or even given up eating between them.  I realized what a “faster” is earlier this week.  My youngest daughter, Teresa, had joined another daughter, Mary, and myself at the Vigil Mass for the Assumption.  The Gospel was read and Teresa reacted with putting her hands straight up and making a fist pump.  I thought, wow, she was really moved by the Gospel…here it is for you to read this morning…it is from Luke 11th chapter.

While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”
He replied,
“Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Well, Teresa didn’t stop with her raising of the arms and fist pumps, she went on to say that she loves it when the readings are fast — in short, she (and her brothers) are “fasters”.  The “faster” the reading, the “faster” the homily, the “faster” the Mass are all good things.  They would encourage all of you to spend the 10 seconds it takes to read today’s Gospel too…from Matthew’s 19th chapter – all two verses together…

Children were brought to Jesus
that he might lay his hands on them and pray.
The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said,
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them;
for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

They would highly recommend that you stay away from the 1st reading from Joshua this morning.  I highly recommend reading it though.  One of my favorite lines from the Bible comes out of today’s 1st reading….As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Which brings me to my second point.  Sarah and I have tried to raise our children in much the same way our parents raised us.  There were a lot of goods things are parents taught us, but one of the most important was service for others.  Take some time out of the busy lives we live and do something good for others who may need help.  It is with great pride that I got to go to a Trivia Night last night that my daughter Grace and her husband Chris organized, wrote the questions, gathered all of the auction items, promoted, etc.  It was all done for a firefighters family who lost their son, husband, father fighting a fire earlier this year.  I don’t know the amount raised but I’m sure it was in excess of $10,000.  I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of the efforts she and Chris put forth doing this for a family that they didn’t even know; what they did know is that it was the right thing to do.  God bless you Grace and Chris.  The only downside to the evening was that our table lost to my daughter Mary’s table by 4 points.  I’m gonna have to live with that now.

Do something great for our Lord today – live in His love and live in service for others.  We are a family – lets behave as one.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

 

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever; Give thanks to the God of gods, for his mercy endures forever; Give thanks to the LORD of lords, for his mercy endures forever.

In all things, in all circumstances, give thanks because God loves you and His mercy endures forever.  A few weeks ago I posted how I wanted to receive our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and have the “rush” wash over my body.  If you recall, I shared with you to look for God in small things.  Last night, at our Mass celebrating the Assumption of Mary, I experienced another one of the “small” things.

There is something about music that can have such a powerful effect on my life – and I’m sure your life too.  When a certain song plays on the radio, that warm feeling you get because of the memories it brings back.  Maybe it was your ‘jam” back in the day; maybe it was playing when you met your wife, husband; maybe it was the song that played when your home team won a championship – I can name two right now that most of the people who read this (mainly because their my family or close friends of mine) will smile immediately – Celebration by Kool and the Gang and Gloria by Laura Brannigan.  Another song that takes me back to my youth and brings back vivid memories is Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty.

Last night I learned that even an old Church hymn can have that power.  We sang some of the old standards last night for the Assumption.  Our opening hymn was Sing of Mary.  (Let me digress just a bit here.  I have a unique seat at church because the organ and piano are up in the Choir loft now at St. Mary Magdalen.  Just as much as the heat rises up there (and I’m telling you, I literally sit on the hot seat now at Church), so do the voices.)  So when Mass started last night and the congregation – though not full – started singing the hymn, the sound that echoed up in the choir loft was angelic.  Fast forward to the closing hymn – Hail Holy Queen.  As is typical for the a Catholic standard hymn, I knew we would sing two verses.  So I started the first verse of Hail Holy Queen and was blown away by the singing of the congregation.  As I started the second verse, I continued playing the organ so as to keep the congregation singing but when I got to the refrain, I stopped playing completely.  The congregation sang even louder that final refrain.  Sarah even backed away from the microphone.  It was beeyouteefull.  Now I can tell you with quite certainty that not everyone singing last night could carry a tune (with or without a bucket) but that is the beauty and strength of singing out like that in a congregation.  (I’ll digress again – have you ever been to a concert where the band stops singing and playing but the crowd sings on in unison?  It is pretty powerful stuff!  So much so, they usually put that on any live album you listen to…)  So last night at the close of Mass I was treated to the unity of people who had just received the Body of Christ and they came together as one body to give honor to the Blessed Mother of God.  They joined the angels and the saints in one voice…

Triumph all ye Cherubim, Sing with us ye Seraphim.  Heaven and Earth resound the hymn.  Salve, Salve, Salve Regina.

It was one of those “small” things where I was able find that warmth of God rush over me.  I found God through the voice of the congregation last night.  Life is good.

I would ask that you pray for my son-in-law Garrett. Per his request I won’t go into any more detail than this, but when you say your prayers this morning, offer one up for him and my daughter Cecilia.  Thank-you.

Do something great for our Lord today – know that you are beautifully and wonderfully made.  Take some time to thank God for that.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid;  just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

There are many divisions between the Catholic Faith and the Protestant faith.  Transubstantiation,, the Pope as the head of the Christian faith, being borne “again”; purgatory.  But I have always been baffled as to why we as Catholics take such heat over our reverence for the Blessed Mother, Mary.  I’ve listened to many call-in shows on EWTN where numerous non-Catholics tell the host that their biggest reason for not being Catholic or for leaving the Catholic faith was because of our love for Mary.  My mother once told me that she knew of a nun who struggled with the Catholic Church’s devotion to Mary simply because Mary “set the bar too high” for any other woman to achieve that greatness.

I do not share those thoughts.  I have always had a love for the Blessed Mother, but it truly wasn’t until 1999, when my job had me driving from Decatur to Champaign IL (and back) everyday that my devotion to Mary truly developed.  I remember at that time I was looking for something to help me make the most of my commute so I refreshed a tradition from my youth that I had not practiced for years.  Back in my youth, we used to drive with my mother as she went to work (at the Wishing Well Restaurant).  She would take us there and we would sit in the car until my Dad got off work and came and picked us up.  On the way there, we would recite the Rosary.  I do recall not really enjoying having to say that many prayers at one time.  Once mom stopped working there, my practice of reciting the Rosary stopped.

When I first started saying the Rosary again (on my commute), I didn’t even remember what the Mysteries of the Rosary were so I just said an intention at the start of each decade.  About a year later, Sarah and I went on a weekend retreat and during one of the “down” times of the retreat, I took the Bible I had with me and memorized the Stations (which were pictured in the middle of the Bible).  Since that time, I’ve added a few more of my own stations to make my Rosary meditation one that has a different set of Mysteries for each day of the week.  Each of these mysteries (which I’ve talked about in past posts) were inspired by the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother.  This wasn’t the only inspiration I’ve had since starting my daily Rosary.  I’ve also written a number of songs now guided by the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother.  Cursed Wood, Blessed Wood (a song of the Sorrowful Mysteries), The Window (written for my sister-in-law Ann for her final vows).  I’ve wrote a Mass for the 75th Anniversary of St. Thomas the Apostle (Decatur) and my most recent was an Ave Maria that Sarah and I use on occasions such as today – The Assumption of our Blessed Mother.

I am confident in my devotion to Mary for many reasons.  It was Christ himself who gave us Mary as OUR mother while dying on the Cross..Mary behold your son.  John behold your Mother.  Luke’s Gospel starts this holy devotion to Mary when Mary is visited by the Angel Gabriel…Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.  Then when she visits here cousin Elizabeth…Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  Do those two lines sound familiar to anyone?  They make up the first two lines of our Hail Mary…tradition has added the rest of the prayer…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.  Amen.  Read the Book of Revelation and tell me Mary isn’t talked about (with great respect) there.

But my deepest respect for Mary comes from today’s Gospel

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary said “YES” to God.  And from her yes, the Savior of the world was made flesh and dwelt among us.  Thank you God, thank you Jesus, Thank you Mary.  May I forever be thankful for you ultimate YES in God’s plan of salvation.  And as you stated in the prayer above (The Magnificat), I will call you Blessed.  Amen.  Alleluia.

Do something great for our Lord today – get to know His Mother.  Blessed is she among women and Blessed was the fruit of her womb (the new ark of the Covenant) Jesus, the true and everlasting Covenant.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Hail Holy Queen, mother of Mercy, our life; our sweetness; our hope.  To thee do we cry, pour banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, morning and weeping under this vale of tears.  Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of Mercy towards us and after this, our exile, show unto us the Blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  O clement, o loving, o sweet virgin Mary.  Pray for us, o Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of  Christ.  Amen.

How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

It’s been a hard week along the funeral lines.  One of my foreman lost his wife at the age of 29; he buried her yesterday.  He now faces the daunting task of raising his two young children, ages 5 and 2 without his wife at his side.  Please keep them in your prayers.

We also lost one of the most beautiful women who walked the face of this earth – Rosario Gasquet.  My family first met her at Gateway Academy where she taught Spanish.  Her love and dedication to her family, her network of friends (oh my gosh she had a network) and her love of the faith where a true example of discipleship.  Her funeral is on Saturday.  Her death is especially hard because her husband is recovering from a recent stroke; the two of them were inseparable and loved each other deeply.  Please keep them both in your prayers.

I guess that’s why the readings for the Memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe ring so true to me today – they are some of the “more chosen” readings for a funeral Mass.  Wisdom 3:1-9; Psalm 116 and our Gospel, John 15:12-16…

Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”

No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

If you don’t know who St. Maximilian Kolbe is, I have posted Bishop Barron’s words on this great saint.  I thought St. Kolbe was canonized back in the  90’s but I when I looked up the date, I realized I was just a bit off.  He was canonized on October 10, 1982 by none other than St. John Paul II.  I pray that I have the courage to stand up for my fellow man just as St. Kolbe did for his…

From Fr. Barron’s Daily Reflection:  Friends, today we celebrate the feast of Maximilian Kolbe, the great saint of Auschwitz. A prisoner from Fr. Kolbe’s barracks escaped, and in retaliation, the Nazi guards picked out ten other prisoners at random for execution. When one of those chosen broke down in tears, protesting that he was the father of a family, Kolbe stepped forward and said, “I am a Catholic priest; take me and spare this man.”

Priests are called “father” because they are life-givers in the spiritual order. Spiritual fathers protect their children; they teach them; they are there for them; and at the limit, they even give their lives for them. And that’s what we see in today’s great saint.

Jesus gathered around himself a band of Apostles whom he shaped according to his own mind and heart and whom he subsequently sent on mission. Priests, down through the centuries—from Augustine and Aquinas to Francis Xavier and John Henry Newman to John Paul II and your own pastor—are the descendants of those first friends and apprentices of the Lord. They have been needed in every age, and they are needed today, for the kingdom of heaven must be proclaimed, the poor must be served, God must be worshiped, and the sacraments must be administered.

Do something great for our Lord today – have courage and be stouthearted.  Live by Christ’s greatest commandment – love one another as He loved you.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.

Do you have a guardian angel?  Do you believe that they exist?  Take a closer look at today’s Gospel, Jesus is telling his disciples that each child has an angel looking over them.; that line from the Gospel is today’s opening thought.  I had a guardian angel growing up – I was rather close to him – I even named him – Jerry the Giant.  I believe my Mom referred to him as my imaginary friend, but nevertheless Jerry was always at my side.  As  I “matured”, I grew distant from Jerry.  It wasn’t until last November/December, as I was running a project for Bell, that I realized Jerry the Giant was still protecting me.  The project I was running wasn’t doing well money-wise and I was stressing out over that.  I was on my way to the job-site and was listening to EWTN and the topic for the day was guardian angels.  The program on the radio went into great detail as to how we each have one.  The program was very interesting and I was rather sad to have gotten to the job-site so quickly and missed about the last 15 minutes of the program.  Nevertheless, it was enough to convince me to start looking a little more closely at how my guardian angel protects me, always seems to be at my side just at the right moment.  Since that program was on, I’ve tried to be more aware of God’s protector assigned to me – Jerry the Giant.  I started praying daily at the end of my Rosary that child’s prayer we were taught growing up…take your time reciting this because it is truly a prayer worth reciting everyday – especially as an adult.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits thee here.  Ever this day be at my side to light, to guard, to rule and to guide.  Amen.

Do something great for our Lord today – become aware of your guardian angel and thank God that He assigned that particular angel to you.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens, belong to the LORD, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it.

My favorite fishing story doesn’t even involve me – its about my brothers John and Jay.  We lived in a great neighborhood growing up – but one of the best things the “hood” had was what we referred to as “the woods”.  You could do just about anything in the woods – hike through them to another world (well, another neighborhood), ride your bike on the trails through the woods and it had a creek.  It doesn’t sound like much now, but you could spend hours there and never get bored.  My youngest brother Jay had always wanted to go fishing so my brother John got permission from Mom to take Jay down to the creek and go fishing.  Now you need to understand that my dad wasn’t one to do much camping or fishing, he preferred his water and woods be on a golf course.  We had plenty of old golf clubs laying around but no fishing poles.  With that in mind, my brother John had to fashion a fishing pole from a stick pulled from our front tree with a rather long string tied to the end of it.  I’m not sure what he used for a hook (or even if he used one at all) but he did manage to tie a piece of bread (or possibly bologna) to the end of it for bait.  They made the long trek to the end of the neighborhood where the woods were located, got to the creek and Jay cast out the line into the creek and waited patiently for the fish to bite.  From the way John tells the story, that patience lasted about 10-20 seconds and then Jay announced these fish aren’t biting and they went home.

That is my favorite fishing story.  Today’s Gospel has a pretty good fishing story too.  How would you feel if you caught a fish, opened its mouth and found enough money to pay your taxes?  (I’ve already been outside looking for a stick and some kite string.)  It’s amazing to me the ways in which God provides.  There have been many times when Sarah were facing having to pay for something we didn’t have the money for but God always seemed to have us catch the fish with the money in its mouth.  God will provide but you have to put your trust in Him first.  My advice to any young couple getting married is to always give of your “first fruits” to Him.  Give that money to Him freely to do with it as He sees fit and necessary.  It is something Sarah and I have done faithfully and I am convinced because of this, God has always protected us and provided for us in times when we needed that support.

Do something great for our Lord today – share with Him because He alone is the source of all your treasures.  All that we have comes from our Father; all that we offer says thanks to Him.  Just as God will provide for us, we too must provide for others.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Well for the man who is gracious and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice; He shall never be moved; the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.

Two “shout-outs” this morning.

First, to my niece Abbie who had a baby boy – Axle – yesterday.  Pray for Mom, Dad, Axle and their young family.  God bless you Abbie.  By the way, I don’t know if I’m spelling the babies name correctly.

Second, to the newly weds, Josh and Diane Bryson, married yesterday afternoon in a small country church – Harmonie Church – in Innsbrook, MO.  God bless you both with your new family.

Today won’t be a “cheat” day, but I am going to post a reflection video for today’s readings and another for tomorrow’s.  I say this isn’t a cheat because many people ask where I get my thoughts for the daily blog – well, this is one of the ways.  If I read the passages on a given day and a message doesn’t jump out at me, this source of daily reflections (offered by a variety of people) helps in giving me inspiration on what to blog about.  I hope you find them helpful to you too.  They can be found at the following website:  http://www.usccb.org .

Here is the video for today’s readings.

As a bonus, here is the video for tomorrow’s readings.

Do something great for our Lord today – spend time in quiet reflection and prayer – then get the grass cut! 😉

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.