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“I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

Well, I’m back from vacation. My wife and I had a great two weeks with my brother from another mother in Florida. It was a very good two weeks to say the least. One of our extended family members had their first baby (congrats Nick and Bridget); one of them got engaged (congrats Kyle and Eden); one of them celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary (congrats John P and Anissa).

The quote this morning came from our first reading yesterday and I wanted to write about that – briefly – this morning before heading back into the office after being gone for so long. I heard three separate homilies on this yesterday – Bishop Barren’s, Msgr. Cronin’s and Msgr. Ramacciotti’s. They were three very different homilies but I found it rather interesting that they all mentioned this one point in each of their homilies. That point was when we are baptized, we are made Priest, Prophet and King. Put simply (by my understanding), as a Priest we are called to actively participate in our Faith; as Prophet we are called to witness our faith to others; as a King we are called to take ownership of our faith.

This morning, I want to act as Prophet and share with you a story as to how our Risen Lord still to this day remains active and answers (rather quickly) my (our) prayers. Coming home from Florida Saturday, the drive went rather smoothly until we hit traffic in Atlanta and then again in Chattanooga. Having stopped for our last tank of gas just outside of Nashville, we hit the road for the last stretch home. It was about 9:30 PM (having been in the car since 5:30 AM) when we hit Paducah and the skies opened up on us and it rained HARD. We kept forging ahead and about 11:30 PM, Sarah and I were both exhausted and tired of fighting the elements. We literally had no business driving in this weather. So we decided to pull off in Vienna, IL and get a room at a hotel just off the highway. As I sat in the parking lot, Sarah went in to get the room. 20 minutes later she came out after having had the person in front of her get the last room. Back out onto the road again. This time she called ahead to another hotel to try and book a room, but they were full also so we made the decision to keep driving. Not much further down the road, still raining very hard, the Holy Spirit inspired a thought in my head. I was reminded of the Gospel passage where the Apostles were out on the water and caught in a violent storm. Jesus came to them and settled the waters. That simple thought inspired me to pray that Jesus hop in the cab of the truck with us (it would have to be the back seat because Sarah is the official navigator who always rides shotgun). After saying that simple prayer, quietly and unannounced, Jesus did come to us and the rain slowed to a drizzle and within a few miles stopped completely. For the next two hours until we arrived safely at our home, we had no issues with the weather.

So in my prophet role this morning, I am here to tell you God is true to His promises. Ask and you shall receive; knock and the door will be opened. A simple thought; a simple prayer was all that was necessary for my fears – and my wife’s – to be alleviated and calmness restored. Praise be to the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – thank you for coming to me and providing our safe travel home.

Do something great for our Lord today – know that you as a baptized man or woman – are called to be Priest, Prophet and King. Take an active role in that ministry.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.

Those with ears ought to hear…

The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.

Today, more specifically this afternoon at 4:30PM Mass, is going to be a Mass filled with mixed emotions. My boss, the pastor of our flock at St. Mary Magdalen, will be saying his last Mass this afternoon at St. Mary Magdalen as he is being transferred to St. Ambrose (on the Hill). I say mixed emotions because I excited for him to be heading back to the parish of his mother’s youth. I am excited for St. Mary Magdalen because in his place we are getting a very humble and holy man in Msgr. Timothy Cronin. But in the midst of that joy for both of us, it is hard to let go of a man who in my estimation is probably one of the most holy priests I’ve met in my lifetime. He is true Shepherd of his flock and in my 11 years of working with him, I’ve come to believe beyond a shadow of doubt, he was put on this earth to guide the flock and give them a living example of what it is to truly follow Christ and His Church.

Fr. Siefert gives of himself wholly and without reservation to teach the flock he has been blessed to shepherd. St. Mary Magdalen has been blessed with many great men to lead our congregation. From the day he set foot on our parish grounds, Fr. Siefert was dedicated to making St. Mary Magdalen a better place. Here is just a short list of what he has accomplished in his 11 years…

Renovations to the entire property to include updating the Rectory, a full renovation of the Church, numerous improvements to the school building and his latest accomplishment was completing the Dominican Garden.

He changed the Mass schedule on Sunday’s to better accommodate the parish.

He added a daily Noon Mass for the business people in the area to have a place to go and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice on their lunch hour.

He added a daily 5:30 PM daily Mass for people to have a chance to offer praise to God and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice at the end of their work day.

He offered the Sacrament of confession before and after each of these Masses so people could receive that Sacrament on a daily basis.

He honored Holy Week by telling the parishes all activities during the Triduum will cease so everyone had the opportunity to participate in Holy Week.

He began a Tenebrae Service during Holy Week. It was a real “bang” with the congregation 🙂

He renovated the St. Joseph Chapel and made it a place where people could go to at any time of the day or night and spend time in prayer with the Blessed Sacrament.

This man, Fr. Jack Siefert, was a blessing for St. Mary Magdalen. He will be a blessing for St. Ambrose. So this afternoon, I am reminded of the bittersweet line from Job…”The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Lord!” I will end the blog today with Bishop Barren’s reflection because I believe it sums up who the man Jack Siefert is and I will also end by saying a simple thanks to both God for blessing our parish with this holy man and to Fr. Siefert for not only answering the call from God to be a priest, but for being that “window” for me in which I was able to see Christ in all of His glory.

From Bishop Barren:

Friends, today’s Gospel passage acclaims a centurion’s trust in the Lord Jesus. To trust is to have hope, to turn one’s heart to God. It means to root one’s life, to ground and center one’s concerns, in God. And oppositely, to trust and to turn one’s heart to human beings means to root the whole of one’s life, to ground and center one’s concerns, in the things of this world: in wealth, fame, power, honor, or pleasure.

What is the center of gravity of your life? What is your “ultimate concern”? The Bible consistently lays this out as an either/or. Think of the passage in the book of Joshua, when Joshua lays it on the line for the people of Israel: “Do you serve the Lord or some other gods?”

Jesus tells his followers, “Either you are with me or you are against me.” Today’s Gospel reminds us that we each have to answer this question with great honesty and clarity.

Do something great for our Lord today – follow the example of Fr. Siefert and say YES to His Holy Will for you. Be that man of God the Church so desperately needs today.

I firmly resolve, with the Help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.

God Bless you Fr. Siefert…you may not be physically in our presence but you will always remain in our thoughts and prayers.

“Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Or can Sarah give birth at ninety?”

This reading brings a smile to my face everytime I hear it proclaimed. NO, not because my wife is named Sarah and I tease her about this all the time…and I do. I smile because a very close friend of ours from Decatur – Dr. William Hoffman (God rest his soul) – had lost his first wife of many years, found another love and married again in what we will refer to as his senior years. Sarah and I were at the wedding and I pointed out to her during the vows that they omitted the line that they would lovingly accept children from God. It just so happened that I was ask to give a toast at the wedding reception, so I opened up my Bible to this exact passage from today’s readings and merely substituted the name William where Abraham was mentioned and the name Patty where Sarah was mentioned. The things I’ll do to get a laugh…

Today’s readings actually have another thought that comes to mind. I am thinking of how our great Nation came to be, the sacrifices made by many, many people so long ago that founded our Country. A group of individuals who were willing to sacrifice all that they had in order to be able to be free to sing their praises to God unfettered by the rules of a King. When I think of all they had to sacrifice in coming across the waters to a strange land, the hardships they had to endure, starting over in a completely unknown land another thought comes to mind. Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.

Their trust in God was so absolute that they were willing to give up all they had – many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice in giving up their life for this cause (and many still do) – in order to be free to practice their faith. You don’t have to look far to see how much they believed in God – pull out any piece of American currency and you’ll find the words “In God We Trust” emboldened on each one. Recite the Pledge and you’ll hear the words “One Nation Under God, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL.”

So take a few minutes to reflect on the beauty of our Responsorial Psalm today…

Responsorial Psalm

128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (4) See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.

These words still ring true today – if we let them. Blessed are WE who fear the Lord, Blessed are WE who walk in His ways. We shall eat the fruit of His handiwork, blessed shall WE be, and favored. See how the Lord blesses those who fear Him. This is not a “question”; this is a statement. SEE HOW THE LORD BLESSES THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. I see this great nation of ours turning away from a fear of God and taking on an arrogance that MAN’s way is the path we must follow. I pray that I am wrong and I pray daily for this great land we call the United States of America. I also take great comfort in the fact that as long as this Country is still alive and breathing, it will never be too late to amend our ways and learn to place the future of America in God’s hands again. We should be like the leper in today’s Gospel and cry out to Jesus at the top of our proverbial lungs…”Lord, if You wish, You can make us clean!!”.

Do something great for our Lord today – keep our Nation great by pledging your allegiance to the Holy Will of God. You do that and you will see how the Lord blesses those who fear Him.

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease. (from yesterday’s Gospel)

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean. (from Today’s Gospel)

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

So who is it that inspires you? Who is your window, your portal to see God in all His Glory? St. Paul, for a number of days now, has asked us not to boast in ourselves, but to look to our weaknesses…

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is
made perfect in weakness.”

I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.

Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

So today I think of all those who I know that inspire me daily with their courage to trust in the Lord completely because of the “thorns” they bear for Christ on a daily basis…Sarah, Judy, Jackie, Ellen, Sandy, Larry, Jack.

I pray for the women who carry life in their bodies and sacrifice so much for the child in their womb…Lydia, Maddie, Jennifer.

I pray for the men that I know who are great fathers and a living example of God’s love for His children…John, Jeff, Jim, Joe, Jay, Big J, Pete, Joel, Paul, Tom, Chris M, Chris C, Mark, Damien, Jim C (x2). Neal.

It is through all of these people – and many more not mentioned here – who bear witness to what is taught in our readings today.

Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
    for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
    but those who seek the LORD want for
no good thing.

They also show me the meaning of today’s Gospel…trust in the Lord completely…

So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

Do something great for our Lord today…seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid, just have faith.

Jesus, I trust In You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.

Life is full of its ups and downs and at times I have to keep reminding myself of this. I am in one of those “down” times right now. I am managing a project right now that has me stressed. Very tight schedule, long hours for the men in the field, hiring people who aren’t familiar with the Plant we are working in, material is expensive and not easy to obtain. There is a lot to worry about. I pray every morning for the safety of the manpower, the wisdom of my foreman to stay on top of the work we are completing. Did I mention this has me stressed?

I then I turn to our readings for the day reflecting on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and I’m reminded of what true stress is, true sacrifice for the good of others – true selfless love. It is in reflecting on these readings that I come to understand that sometimes life will be stressful and because of my love for my fellow workers, I will deal with that stress and do my best to manage this project to the best of my God given abilities. I must learn to let the Holy Spirit guide me in all that I do because I know that only through His gifts of knowledge & wisdom will I find the necessary solutions to help me manage this project.

I live in a world of acronyms so maybe STRESS could just be an acronym for Sure True Rest follows Extreme Self Sacrifice. Again, look to our Gospel today to truly understand this…

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, 
they did not break his legs, 
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, 
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; 
he knows that he is speaking the truth, 
so that you also may come to believe.

This Gospel reminds to say pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy today…

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

(Repeat three times)
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You!

Do something great for our Lord today – TRUST IN HIM; give yourself over to His holy will specifically designed for you. As we should always say…God’s will, not mine, be done.

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.

God’ will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.

Thank God! Give him the praise and the glory. Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things he has done for you, by blessing and extolling his name in song. Honor and proclaim God’s deeds, and do not be slack in praising him.

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For my beautiful wife Sarah…

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For my mother Judy and my mother-in-law Bernice…

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For my Uncle Jerry, who passed away on Monday. A true gentleman, a lover of all things John Wayne, a civil war enthusiast, a man God, a loving husband and father. May the angels come and take you to paradise. Rest in peace Uncle Jerry.

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For my crew at the GM Plant who will give up their summer in order to help the Plant in their upgrades. Bless them and keep them safe from harm in these upcoming weeks…

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For the families of my electricians who have to give up the summertime while their husband/wife/father/mother work at the Plant.

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For all of my children, their spouses and children who bless my life in so many ways.

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For my Aunt Jackie and Uncle Jim; for my Uncle Bob.

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For my siblings and their beautiful spouses; for my wife’s siblings and their beautiful spouses

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For Bill and Sandy; David and Sally; Kelly and Karen; Patrick and Leanne; Tony and Jill…

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For John and Margaret; Chris and Liz; Mark and Judy; Damien; Gerry; Marianne and Shawn; Chris and Amy; Neal and Lydia; Dave and Debbie…

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For Fr. Seifert; Msgr. Ramacciotti; Msgr. Witt; Msgr. Cronin; Msgr. Morris; Fr. Wilkins; Fr. Kollross; Fr. Schumacher; Deacons Preiss and Weiss and all the clergy who inspire us with the work for the Lord and His kingdom…

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

For my parish family at St. Mary Magdalen and my work family at Bell Electrical…

Bless the Lord, all you his chosen ones,
    and may all of you praise his majesty.
Celebrate days of gladness, and give him praise.

Do something great for our Lord today…think about all He blesses you with each and every day of your life. The good, the challenging, the funny, the sad. It is the Lord who gives; it is the Lord who takes away. Blessed be the Lord.

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.

Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.

Some days it is not my obligation to write – it is my obligation to share. As I read our readings for the Daily Mass this morning, I was moved by the the second option offered for our first reading. In our political climate today, nothing more needs to be said than what is written in our Holy Scripture shared with us this morning. I share with you now…

Brothers and sisters:
Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal,
be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation.

Do something great for our Lord today – take a moment to think about all who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Spend a moment in prayer this Memorial Day. Spend that moment thanking them for their sacrifice and thanking our Almighty God for the blessings He bestows on us each and every day.

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; to God who is, who was, and who is to come.

Everything I have in this life – everything that has value – is truly a blessing from God. Today my wife and I will celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. We will celebrate this day the same way we have celebrated since our wedding day. We will start the day in Church giving thanks to God for bringing the two of us together and we will spend the rest of this day celebrating it with our family. A day has not gone by in these 34 years that I haven’t looked at my wedding ring and reminded myself of the vows I took the day I was married. The vows I gave to my wife on that day in front of family, friends and most importantly – God. To be true to my wife in good times and in bad; in sickness and in health; for richer or for poorer – I will love her and honor her all the days of my life. To take from the line from our Gospel acclamation…I still do, I always have and I always will.

I don’t know that there could be more appropriate readings this morning to celebrate our anniversary either. These readings are full of inspiration and a call to holiness.

Reading I from Deuteronomy…

…This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever…

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33

Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield. May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us who have put our hope in you.

Reading II from Romans…

…The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Gospel from Matthew

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

In the Church today, we celebrate the Mystery of the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Three distinct beings that make up one distinct God. Just as this is a mystery to all believers but the basis of our faith, it is in my mind is the basis of what my marriage is to Sarah. We are two very distinct individuals who have become one and from the love we share with each other, we have our eight children. And from that comes 4 beautiful spouses (we hope #5 too – eh Ruth?) that have joined our family and from that 6 beautiful grandchildren. So what better way to try and understand the Holy Trinity than the celebrate our anniversary on this beautiful Sunday and thank God for the blessing of my wife Sarah, for Grace, Chris, Aiden, Logan, Audrey, Jerome Jr., Megan, Jerome III, Nicholas, Cecilia, Garrett, Skylar, Richard, Megan, Mary, Ruth, Paul (eh Paul?), Tony and Teresa.

Do something great for our Lord today – hug your spouse; remind yourself of the vows you made before her and the Lord. Live your life by His statutes and commands, be an heir to His kingdom and dip your hand in the Holy Water while going into Church and think about the sign of the Cross you’ll make when doing this…In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…AMEN.

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and kindness. Compete well for the faith.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday. Tomorrow we renew our belief in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every Mass at every Church should be filled to the brim…that is my hope and prayer this morning. After the year we just endured we all need to renew our faith in the Holy Spirit and pray that the sevenfold gifts of are renewed – rekindled – within us.

The following is copied from an article I found online written by Frank S. Blisard on June 10, 2019…

The Traditional Explanation

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are, according to Catholic Tradition, heroic character traits that Jesus Christ alone possesses in their plenitude but that he freely shares with the members of his mystical body (i.e., his Church). These traits are infused into every Christian as a permanent endowment at his baptism, nurtured by the practice of the seven virtues, and sealed in the sacrament of confirmation. They are also known as the sanctifying gifts of the Spirit, because they serve the purpose of rendering their recipients docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their lives, helping them to grow in holiness and making them fit for heaven.

The nature of the seven gifts has been debated by theologians since the mid-second century, but the standard interpretation has been the one that St. Thomas Aquinas worked out in the thirteenth century in his Summa Theologiae:

  • Wisdom is both the knowledge of and judgment about “divine things” and the ability to judge and direct human affairs according to divine truth (I/I.1.6; I/II.69.3; II/II.8.6; II/II.45.1–5).
  • Understanding is penetrating insight into the very heart of things, especially those higher truths that are necessary for our eternal salvation—in effect, the ability to “see” God (I/I.12.5; I/II.69.2; II/II.8.1–3).
  • Counsel allows a man to be directed by God in matters necessary for his salvation (II/II.52.1).
  • Fortitude denotes a firmness of mind in doing good and in avoiding evil, particularly when it is difficult or dangerous to do so, and the confidence to overcome all obstacles, even deadly ones, by virtue of the assurance of everlasting life (I/II.61.3; II/II.123.2; II/II.139.1).
  • Knowledge is the ability to judge correctly about matters of faith and right action, so as to never wander from the straight path of justice (II/II.9.3).
  • Piety is, principally, revering God with filial affection, paying worship and duty to God, paying due duty to all men on account of their relationship to God, and honoring the saints and not contradicting Scripture. The Latin word pietas denotes the reverence that we give to our father and to our country; since God is the Father of all, the worship of God is also called piety (I/II.68.4; II/II.121.1).
  • Fear of God is, in this context, “filial” or chaste fear whereby we revere God and avoid separating ourselves from him—as opposed to “servile” fear, whereby we fear punishment (I/II.67.4; II/II.19.9).

These gifts, according to Aquinas, are “habits,” “instincts,” or “dispositions” provided by God as supernatural helps to man in the process of his “perfection.” They enable man to transcend the limitations of human reason and human nature and participate in the very life of God, as Christ promised (John 14:23). Aquinas insisted that they are necessary for man’s salvation, which he cannot achieve on his own. They serve to “perfect” the four cardinal or moral virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) and the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity). The virtue of charity is the key that unlocks the potential power of the seven gifts, which can (and will) lie dormant in the soul after baptism unless so acted upon.

Because “grace builds upon nature” (ST I/I.2.3), the seven gifts work synergistically with the seven virtues and also with the twelve fruits of the Spirit and the eight beatitudes. The emergence of the gifts is fostered by the practice of the virtues, which in turn are perfected by the exercise of the gifts. The proper exercise of the gifts, in turn, produce the fruits of the Spirit in the life of the Christian: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (Gal. 5:22–23). The goal of this cooperation among virtues, gifts, and fruits is the attainment of the eight-fold state of beatitude described by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3–10).

Do something great for our Lord – help in spreading the Word about tomorrow. Help in kindling the Fire of the love of God through our celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Be there to celebrate this blessed and holy gift.

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo,a the peak of Pisgah which faces Jericho, and the LORD showed him all the land—Gilead, and as far as Dan,

I know this is a rather late blog, but bear with me on this. My thoughts went to this the first chapter of Deuteronomy tonight…

all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, the plain (the valley of Jericho, the City of Palms), and as far as Zoar. The LORD then said to him, This is the landc about which I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “I will give it to your descendants.” I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross over. So there, in the land of Moab, Moses, the servant of the LORD, died as the LORD had said; and he was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; to this day no one knows the place of his burial. Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.

So how is it on a Tuesday night that my thoughts would go to this Chapter of the Bible? My wife and I have invested many years in varsity high school sports. Our first year of this was 2002 – we had moved back from Decatur, IL and our kids were attending Gateway Academy. At that time, our oldest daughter was in 8th grade, but the high school soccer program was very small and they needed girls to play up on the Varsity team…since Gateway was not part of MSHAA at the time, Grace was able to varsity soccer as an 8th grader. 8 children played a variety of sports in high school…soccer, basketball, volleyball, track & field, field hockey, wrestling, cheer, theater and choir (I’m going to hear from my boys on the last three :)) over the 19 years. That’s a lot of days/nights/games/practices/ups/downs.

Fast forward to tonight. Tonight Teresa’s soccer team took the field against Lafayette in the first round of the district playoffs but there was one slight problem…game time was 6:30PM, she had to be back at school and dressed out for her last choir concert by 8PM. Both the soccer coach and the choir director knew about the conflict. She didn’t get to play in the soccer game tonight and when we left to go back to Marquette, the Mustangs (Marquette) were winning 2-1. We left, but our daughter Mary stayed behind to watch the game (Covid protocol only allowed for Sarah and I to attend the final choir concert at school). As we were sitting down in the theatre for the concert,, the phone buzzed…3 minutes to go and Marquette was still winning. Then the phone buzzed…40 seconds to go and Lafayette tied the game at 2. Concert starts but I had a pit in the bottom of my stomach about the soccer game. Mary texted again…no score after 9 minutes into the 10 minute overtime. And then the phone buzzed again quickly…with 21 seconds left in overtime, Lafayette scored and won 3-2 over our Marquette Mustangs. It was in the middle of the 4th song of the concert the cold hard reality sunk in…I have 3 more songs to go and our high school varsity experience would be over. The concert was beautiful and Teresa was part of a “solo” but just as quickly as it started 19 years ago, it is now over.

And so my thoughts drifted to Moses. I thought of all he went through to lead God’s chosen people; all the sacrifices he endured through the trials with the Egyptians, the Exodus, the wandering in the desert, receiving the 15 (according to Mel Brooks) commandments, the burning bush…all of that only to be told at the end… I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross over. Just as I’m sure Moses was like WHAT?!? is exactly how I feel right now. WHAT?!? How can this be over? Just give me another soccer game…volleyball, basketball, play, wrestling match – heck, I’ll even cheer for the cheer leaders…this can’t be it. But it is and I think that might be the point. I had all these grandiose plans for the final soccer game, but they have now changed. I’m sure Moses had his eye on a condo and a jacuzzi but that wasn’t in the plan God put together for him. Same for me. I pray every morning to have the courage to live my life according to His will; according to what He has planned for me. So I’m sure He’ll understand my sorrow for the rest of tonight but come tomorrow, I’ll wake up and start fresh in the morning. I will wake up and dedicate my day to His will and all will be well. I can say I have many fond memories of watching my children compete, sing, dance, act and with a slight hesitation – cheer. I have God to thank for all of that and I will do so.

Do something great for our Lord today – let Him make the plans, you just need to have the courage to follow them. I’ll remind myself in the morning that His joy will be in me and my joy will be complete…but tonight I’m gonna sit and wonder how the hell did all that time go by so quickly.

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.