May this beautiful sacred space continue to bring people to know, love, and serve God!
Congratulations to the parishioners of the Cathedral of St. Mary in Cheyenne, Wyoming on this 109th anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral. On January 31, 1909, Bishop Maurice Burke of St. Joseph, Missouri, who had been the first bishop of Cheyenne (1887-1893), consecrated the cathedral. Bishop John P. Carroll of Helena, Montana was the homilist for the occasion.
May this beautiful sacred space continue to bring people to know, love, and serve God!
An advertisement for whiskey (suggesting it is a food item to be ordered), on a sign sponsored by a beer product, is only complicated even more by the subliminal message with the background script of "The Silver Bullet." I guess nothing is simple and straightforward in our world today.
There are probably a lot of media "experts" and political pundits who are hoping to walk by this cafe today after their meltdown following the State of the Union address last night. The "Soup of the Day" may be a hot item on the menu.
Watching the reactions of our elected officials in the chamber last night during President Trump's State of the Union address was quite entertaining on one hand, but very sad on the other hand. The ideological divide in our country is real. Ultimately, where does that lead us? The words of Abraham Lincoln resonate in my mind. "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
There are some common sense values that should be easy to uphold. Would you not assume that all would be happy about lower unemployment numbers in the country? Apparently not. We are unable to celebrate even the most basic of things which should unite us. Ideology reigns supreme.
The U.S. Senate has recently proven once again that common sense is not too common. I share the sentiment of Rev. Dwight Longenecker in being shocked that the bill to outlaw abortions past twenty weeks was defeated. I am also deeply saddened by the 14 Catholic Senators who voted against this bill. Fr. Longenecker's post gives the names and shows their votes. I highly recommend you read his article.
Moral issues have been politicized across the board. Let's be realistic. It is not politics which will bring healing to our country. It is faith. The words of Jesus in Mark's Gospel spoken to the woman healed of an affliction of hemorrhaging for twelve years should speak to all of us. "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction." (Mark 5: 34)
Do we have the kind of faith that allows God to truly move in our lives?
I typically do not watch award shows on television. As I get older I realize that I am more and more out of touch with what is "hip and happening" in the entertainment industry, but I am really okay with that. Thus, I missed the Grammy Award show. Hearing about it on the radio this morning and looking at a few headlines on the internet proved to be sufficient coverage for me.
I also missed the Pro-Bowl football game yesterday. I caught about a minute of the half-time show and quickly switched channels. There were enough gyrations by the performers in those sixty seconds that I needed no more. How do we maintain custody of the eyes when we are bombarded with less than pure entertainment on a regular basis?
The headline on the USA Today website stated, "The 2018 Grammys were an out-of-touch embarrassment." I figured they were referring to all of the political commentary contained therein since that is what I had been hearing about on the radio. That was an inaccurate assumption on my part. The USA Today article was addressing winners and losers of the awards--not the political statements being made by the performers.
So how does the football half-time show and the Grammys impact us? It depends. Each of us carry baggage in our lives. The hurts, the struggles, the poor choices, and a laundry list of other things that complicate our lives can weigh us down. Some of this is thrust upon us against our will; other things weigh us down because we allow ourselves to be drawn off the path that leads to God. Sin can be some real heavy baggage. Does a suggestive half-time show impact our path to maintaining purity and chastity in our lives? Does the political commentary at an award show make us angry?
I have resisted the urge to watch much football this year because of the politicization of the sports world. Sporting events should be entertainment--nothing more, nothing less. I don't need overpaid millionaires playing a sport attempting to indoctrinate me to their way of thinking. Many of them have very little credibility upon which to stand in proclaiming a particular morality for the rest of us.
If the athletes themselves aren't providing enough angst for us, leave it to the half-time performers to fill in the gaps. Can anyone sing a song without suggestive gyrations being a focus of the show at one of these events? Common decency isn't too common in our world today.
As I review the baggage I carry in my own life, I am aware that much of it has been added due to my own poor choices. Television is one such area where I allowed the baggage to accumulate. What have I gained in my life by watching television. Obviously, it can be used to learn about places all throughout the world. We can learn about our faith from religious programming. There are good things to be gained from watching TV. However, what have the sitcoms taught us? What have we learned through years and years of watching particular shows? What did society learn from a character such as Archie Bunker? Roseanne? The cast of Friends? That doesn't even begin to touch some of the more hard core things on cable TV. Has my life been enriched or impoverished due to watching TV through the years? I think I can answer that without much hesitation.
As we draw near to the beginning of Lent, I invite you to clean house in regard to your personal life. What are the things that are adding weight to the baggage you are carrying? How will you be set free from the things that are hindering your relationship with Almighty God?
I am starting my Lenten journey early. It is time to walk humbly with our God!
I had the privilege of being the opening speaker at an event on Friday at St. Mary's Catholic School in Cheyenne, Wyoming in which we celebrated National School Choice Week. It is a tremendous asset in our country to have the ability to choose where we seek education for our families. Whether we choose a religious school (in particular Catholic), public school, private school, charter school, home school, virtual school, or a combination of methodologies, it is good to have competition. It encourages all of our schools strive to be better.
My thanks to to the principal of St. Mary's School, Mr. Pat Lane, for inviting me to the event. My remarks were primarily directed to the adults in the room. I reminded them of our mission as Catholic school educators and parents. We are attempting to fulfill the six tasks of catechesis as outlined in the National Directory for Catechesis. If you want to review those six tasks, you can view an easy to read PDF file here:
I want to thank Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow, for coming to speak. Having the head of the public school community understand the value of Catholic education is a blessing indeed. Her remarks were directed to the children. Her encouragement for them to "work hard" and "be nice" was a reminder of the environment we are striving to create so our students can be successful.
Finally, Laramie County Commissioner Troy Thompson closed out the line-up of speakers by sharing his own personal journey through St. Mary's Catholic School. His preparation in the early years of his life set the stage for him to attend Cornell University, become a veterinarian, and now an elected official of our community. He emphasized gratitude for receiving such an opportunity. His story was truly inspirational.
This event was a good primer as we now prepare to enter into Catholic Schools Week. My thanks to all who support Catholic education with your time, talent, and financial generosity. It requires many of us to join together to do this ministry well. As I watch the results year after year, I am convinced that it is a noble endeavor to pursue and worth every ounce of energy poured into it.
Even the pastor joined in the "National School Choice Week Official Dance."
St. Mary's Catholic School will once again be hosting a gathering for National School Choice Week. I have my opening prayer and brief remarks prepared for tomorrow. In my role as Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Cheyenne, I am always appreciative and happy to get these types of opportunities to share the story of Catholic education with others. The blessings of Catholic education are immense for individuals, for families, and for our local communities.
It has also been a day for me to complete preparations for the annual RCIA Retreat here in the city of Cheyenne. This will be my ninth year leading this particular retreat. It is always exciting to gather with the catechumens and candidates as they prepare to enter the Lenten journey of purification & enlightenment. I am grateful for the work of the RCIA team leaders, catechists, and all who help prepare people to make the formal step to enter fully into the life of the Church at the Easter Vigil. This annual retreat has become a good reminder for me personally of the commitment I have made to God through my baptismal promises.
Next item on my agenda for today--prepare a presentation on the Gifts of the Spirit. I have cordially been invited to speak at St. Patrick's Parish in Casper to address the young people preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation (as well as their parents and sponsors). I am thrilled any time I get to speak about the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. What could possibly be better than that?
After I complete those preparations, I will begin working on my presentations for the parish mission in Newcastle coming up in early March. Then I will be working on putting together material for the young adult retreat scheduled for March 24 and 25.
The season of Lent is never dull.
What prompts you to lift your heart and mind up to God?
Are you on a path that leads to holiness?
What inspiration do you find in reflecting upon the lives of the saints?
God's grace is shining brilliantly upon you.
(Are you walking in the light or in the shadows?)
Do you get a sense of the bigger picture of your spiritual journey?
This floral arrangement captured my attention all week long during the Southwest Liturgical Conference. There was no shortage of creativity and artistic talent on display during the conference, and the simple little adornments scattered about the building emphasized that point. The gifts that each of us uniquely bring to this world is a testament to the immense love of God for humanity.
The musical talent of some of our presenters and prayer leaders was nothing short of amazing. Music can certainly be a powerful force for us to lift our hearts and minds to God. We were all challenged to awaken our voices. The simple reflection question in my mind is this: How well do we participate in the celebration of the liturgy each week?
While I am tired today, I am refreshed and renewed in spirit. I am grateful to all of the committee members who worked for two years putting this conference together.
While it was warmer in Cheyenne, Wyoming this past week than it was in many areas of the south, the attraction of attending the Southwest Liturgical Conference next January in Houston is certainly appealing. Can you say, "Road trip?"
I attended a workshop this morning presented by Marty Haugen. There were only 15 of us in attendance so it was up close and personal. All of the workshops have served as good reminders about things I already knew, and then every once in a while a new nugget of learning drops into the mix of it all as well. Continuing education is a true blessing and a privilege. I never want to take for granted the many opportunities I have been given in these last 25 years of spiritual education and formation.
Attending this conference has reminded me of the burden of responsibility that is placed on leaders within the Church. It is vital for each one of us to be people of prayer. It is only then that we are able to effectively prepare to lead God's people in liturgy, catechesis, and service.
Although I am not a presenter at the Southwest Liturgical Conference, I was invited by the organizing committee to share a spot in their booth. My thanks to the staff and volunteers of St. Matthew's Parish in Gillette, Wyoming for their kindness and hospitality. This will be an awesome opportunity to meet the 400 people in attendance from all over the southwestern part of the United States. I am looking forward to these upcoming days. ValLimar Jansen will get us started this evening at 7:00 P.M.
"Awaken the Voice: Sing As One To The Lord!"
Please pray for all those gathering in Cheyenne, Wyoming this week to attend the Southwest Liturgical Conference Study Week. May we each walk away at the end of this week more committed than ever to giving glory and praise to God through our Eucharistic liturgies and all the rites celebrated in the Catholic tradition.
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