Mad for…Cole

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10)

Today, I want you all to meet an outstanding young man named Cole Hepp. Cole is a junior at the University of Dayton and the oldest son of a couple of my most dear friends. However, before I tell you more about this ace of a kid, I’d like to share why I chose him today.

It’s been an overwhelming few weeks for me personally. That probably explains why the childish noise coming from the bully pulpit of leadership from one side of the political aisle along with the deafening cheers from the other side of the aisle over their right to kill full term babies…well it just has made me insanely sad. What kind of future can a nation have when almost all the adults in charge are acting like moronic fools? We’ve all gone and lost our minds and forgotten how to love!

In the midst of those interior thoughts, what’s really important suddently cleared my head. Few things help bring into crystal clear focus what’s really important in this life like, “You have cancer.”

The morning after news began to circulate about my diagnosis, I received this photo from Cole Hepp. His text note read, “Hi, Mrs. Thieme! I am praying for you from St. Meinrad. The whole Hepp family is so thankful for you and we love you.”

Cole was the face of Christ to me that morning. I suspect he’s been that same light for many during his time as a retreat leader at St. Meinrad and as he lends his guidance and shares his faithful witness to the young people entering the church who are going through the RCIA program at the University of Dayton this year. That includes his completely fantastic brother, Clay, who he is guiding through the process as a sponsor.

I’ve known Cole for several years. He went through high school with my son. They were basketball and baseball teammates, and they celebrated their graduation together at a big joint party. He’s got a wide and dimple-filled smile for everyone. His eyes are of the twinkly and compassionate variety. He’s so bright, articulate and full of the love and joy and hope of the Lord that he can’t hold it in. He’s just got to share it…with a great big grin! ALL the moms want their son to have this kid for a friend. He shouts out the greatness of God by the way he lives his life and the choices he makes. He’s on fire for the Lord, and the news is too wonderful to keep it to himself! He’s a grace-filled human.

I received a letter from Cole today. He opened with a funny memory about my youngest son describing us to him once saying, “We’re a good family!” It’s Zach’s famous line and it really made me giggle. He then shared with me the scripture quote I opened with above and how it represents the beauty of our shared faith. What a lovely and kind gesture for a 21-year old kid to make. He mailed an ACTUAL LETTER you guys. There was a stamp on it and everything. Did I mention he’s a college kid?

Cole Hepp. In offering me your prayers for strength, peace and love, you were an enormous reminder to me that we crazy old people needn’t worry too much. There’s a generation of faith-filled, courageous, compassionate lovers of Christ all around us. Young man, God loves to watch you climb…and so do I. Some days might be itty-bitty painful steps of blind trust and other days you’ll be an unstoppable mountain climber….but keep going onward and upward. I believe God will continue to use you for great things!

As I’ve watched you grow from a boy to a man, and the last couple of years as a Catholic Christian, you’ve been a witness to me and many of what joy comes from leading a life of integrity and faith. Thank you for reminding me that the lunatics will not prevail in the end and our collective future is in excellent hands! I LOVE YOU, KID! THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME THE WORLD IS FULL TO THE BRIM WITH GOODNESS!

P.S.– This article about him from UD is pretty impressive. Take a peek!

https://udayton.edu/advancement/impact/report-2018/donor/faith.php

Mad for…Sam

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. –Proverbs 31:25

Day 36 of 365. Meet Samantha Langdon. Sam is my 24 year old cousin. Actually, she’s 24 TODAY. If anyone has earned the right to have her life celebrated to the full on her big day, it’s Sam. Girl….I hope there’s a festival going on for you this week up in Muncie!

I’m the oldest grandchild on my mom’s side of the family, and Sam is (almost) the youngest. Her brother is the same age as my oldest son, Nick. I am pretty sure I am within a year or two in age to her mother. Also, she grew up two hours away from my hometown, so for those reasons, we’ve never made the kind of connection that contemporaries might make. However, I’ve been watching her from a distance over the years and this is one young lady who has been a warrior since she was very small.

Around the age of 3 or so if my memory serves, Sam was diagnosed with cancer. It’s a battle she fought bravely, with the help of some fine folks at Riley Hospital. She was one sick little girl, and she smiled throughout the fight. Except for the parting “gift” of Diabetes, Sam took the beast down! From my perch here an hour south, I’d say Sam has managed to move forward in her life, without fear of the future as the scripture quote above states, primarily because of her strong faith in Christ. At times, her cross has been very heavy, and she’s always carried it anyway. She’s a courageous human.

I chose this photo of Sam because she looks so joyous when she’s hanging with the youngest among us. She’s a Ball State grad who excels at art and has an old soul. She paints, she runs, she takes stunning photographs in natural settings, and she reminds others about the importance of faith. At our family Thanksgiving events over many years, she was the mayor of the craft table…and we didn’t believe in term limits! Her patience and fondness for all the children was remarkable and ever present.

Sam, I admire you for your faithfulness, creativity, and patience. Your love of the Lord always shines through in all you say and do. I hope your Reds have a great season!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Mad for…Fr. Haan

O how great is the priest! If he realized what he is he would die… God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from Heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host. Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in the tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for the journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest—always the priest. And if the soul should happen to die (as a result of sin) who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again the priest. After God, the priest is everything. Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is. -St. John Vianney

Day 22 of 365.

Fr. Thomas Haan is a young priest from my hometown of Lafayette. He grew up in a farm family, which I am sure helps to account for his work ethic and natural humility. Like many young men from the Hoosier state, Fr. Haan was a talented basketball player and football player in high school. In fact, he was a gifted athlete who set some impressive records as a quarterback at my alma mater, Lafayette Central Catholic. He also went on to Purdue University where he was a member of the football team there.

That’s kind of a nifty and unique background for priest, but it’s not why I’ve chosen to highlight him today. You see, what makes Fr. Thomas Haan truly sensational in my book is that I believe he gives us all a pretty swell witness of what it means to live as a courageous and holy man. Accessible and reverent, Fr. Haan is an amazingly self-possessed and passionate guy who clearly loves the Lord.

In his role as the chaplain at St. Theodore Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville, he preaches the faith to young people without even a hint of condescension. Some of those homilies are just incredibly challenging and they always call all within earshot to live in the world but not be of it. He asks us all to be the hands and feet of Christ to one another. He gets away with some bold and extremely demanding calls to holiness which enter into the interior of the listener because his authenticity and personal witness is clear for all to see. Also, he’s just a cool guy. That definitely helps when you’re dealing with teenagers everyday.

This fall, for instance, after my middle son, Drew had barely begun his freshman year in college, he and his high school buddies were back home for fall break. As 18 year old boys will do, a few of them decided to meet up at GCHS and play some pick up basketball. This was a fantastic crew of recent grads and they were thrilled to have the chance to go get sweaty with the buddies they hadn’t seen in a couple months. As Drew tells it, Fr. Haan walked into the gym with a scowl on his face and called out loudly, “Hey, do you guys have permission to use this gym?” They stopped and looked up at him and hollered back, “Uh, no, we don’t Father…” at which point Fr. Haan grinned widely and replied “PERMISSION GRANTED”. They all got a big laugh out his teasing, and it gave them the sense that they are loved and always welcome. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done. Everyday kindness matters.

In short, Fr. Haan is one of the good guys. With him, young people (and their parents too) know he truly loves Jesus and feel that he cares, therefore his witness of faith bears fruit and begins to spread– even when he tasks us with the challenging work of being a disciple of Christ.

THANK YOU, Fr. Haan, for all you do each day!

PRAYER FOR PRIESTS

Gracious and loving God, we thank you for the gift of our priests. Through them we experience your presence in the sacraments. Help our priests to be strong in their vocation. Set their souls on fire with love for your people. Grant them the wisdom, understanding and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Inspire them with the vision of your kingdom. Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel. Allow them to experience joy in their ministry. Help them to become instruments of your divine grace. We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest. Amen.

Mad for…Rex

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. -Johann Sebastian Bach

Day 14 of 365

Meet Rex Rund. Conspicuously faithful and hugely talented, Rex is the Director of Music and Liturgy at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana.

For the sake of transparency, it’s only fair for me to share that I have only very briefly ever spoken to Rex. Here’s the thing, though. Wow, has our good and gracious God spoken to me through this man! Music has a way of reaching us interiorly, and Rex knows how to tap in. He’s an accomplished musician to be sure. His singing voice is elegant and engaging. What makes him estimable, though, is that he is a man giving his very best effort for the sake of the Lord. Every. Single. Day.

This guy is a liturgy crackerjack. He’s considerably beyond mere proficiency when it comes to understanding the solemn, ritual and sacramental significance of the Catholic Mass. The liturgy and it’s communal response to the sacred, is in my view, utterly enhanced by his loving musical direction at this parish.

Let me say this in a less formal way. At OLMC, people sing. It fills the sanctuary and my heart swells. I am certain I’m not the only one. Hearts are moved because the music is beautiful and chosen thoughtfully, and we all want in.

Rex, thanks for all the extra elbow grease. Your energy and effort every day is clearly aimed at glorifying the Lord, and it inspires me to want the same in my own life. I’m grateful!

Mad for…Katie

Day 7 of 365

katieconway

Meet Katie Conway.  I’ve chosen to post this stunning photo of her, because I want to still be on speaking terms with her.  My other choice was a snapshot from a weekend we once spent together with a group of fantastic gals.  We were buried in a couple feet of snow about this time of year, in South Haven, Michigan and Katie never took off her winter hat.  As God is my witness, she wore that thing everywhere we went and also inside the house.  She wore it drinking wine and getting a pedicure and while we screamed and chased a bat out of the living room.  She looked slightly less glam than in the photo of her here.  Because she radiates love of the Lord in her face and from the center of her being, she pulled off this look with aplomb.  She’s as self-possessed, poised and genuine as anyone I have ever met.

Katie is the person whose witness most strongly convicted me of the idea that being a Jesus girl is the only way to roll.  I wanted a scoop of what she had.  Her faith penetrates ever fiber of her being, and it defines her entirely.  She’s one of those people by whom I measure others.  What I mean is this.  If someone were to tell me they just didn’t care for Katie, I would immediately know that the poor soul was lost.

A loving, affectionate, joyful mother of 4, Katie is also the wife of a pretty handsome guy named Brian who probably thinks it’s entirely possible to have too many religious items in one’s home?  Ha!!  Lets just say she is a collector of beautiful things.  Katie is a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic woman and a presenter at a women’s ministry called “Awaken to the B.E.S.T.” which is held at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana.

Awaken offers spiritual and scripture based opportunities for women who desire to deepen and share their Catholic faith in God.  I might be the last woman in Hamilton County to not have attended this VERY SUCCESSFUL program.  It’s a dynamic spirituality group for women-  innovative and original.  Visit http://www.awakentothebest.com if you want to know more.

It surprises me NOT AT ALL that Katie was instrumental in this ministry’s formation and ongoing success.

Thanks, sweet friend, for teaching me about being a Jesus girl.  I love you.

 

Kooky Aunt Helen

In loving memory of my peculiar, imprudent, silly and utterly amazing great aunt Helen Lammers…

On left, my photo from inside San Luigi dei Francesi, “The Calling of St. Matthew”

Allow me to introduce you to my Aunt Helen. To merely describe her as a colorful figure in my childhood would do her a tragic disservice. Aunt Helen always wore a wig and whatever was trending in the juniors department at Kmart. I recall quite a few long, bold fish necklaces paired with stirrup pants, big sweaters and those plastic shoes we called “jellies” on her feet. Her gifts at the holidays were always my favorite, despite being the least expensive of all the offerings, because they were so obnoxiously wrapped, one inside the other. The unwrapping lasted a long time…which I found incredibly fun! Inside, there would inevitably be some vibrating or glow in the dark plastic trinket mostly likely purchased at Spencer gifts.

If you could hum her a few bars, she could play absolutely any song you wished on her piano. She rarely, if ever, used sheet music. She liked us to sing along with her to songs like “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”, and she always insisted I sing it in an octave a little higher than my alto voice wanted to go. “It sounds prettier,” she’d whisper. She wrote a little song about me as a small girl, the chorus of which included my entire proper name, which somehow rhymed the way she sang it. Phonetically, it sounded like “ME-SHEL-LIN DIE-Q-ZIN… is a very pretty girl.” There were verses too, but I don’t remember them now. I do, however, remember that chorus and how she made me feel when she sang that song.

Aunt Helen was the sister of my grandmother, Pauline. That made her my great aunt, in reality. She had one beloved son who had long since moved to Florida when I was coming of age, and he was unmarried. That made my sister, Robin and myself her adopted grandchildren. Since Mom was a young student at Purdue when she married my Dad, Aunt Helen was a frequent babysitter. I spent a lot of time at her little house on 27th Street, just a block from Columbian Park and with a backyard that virtually backed into the front door of the old Home Hospital. We made tents out of the sheets she hung from her clothesline in the backyard and spent whole afternoons pretending to hold an imaginary circus, making a palace for our dolls, or trying on her closet full of high heels. It didn’t matter that we were without a swimsuit. If it was hot and we wanted to run through her sprinkler, she just told us not to worry about a silly problem like swimsuits and she let us run through in our underwear. We’d break pieces of bread and toss them back into their bread bags and take them to the park to feed the ducks. The larger, more aggressive among the flock terrified me not just a little, and my running from them made Aunt Helen cackle with delight on many occasions.

As I grew older, we remained close. She was my confirmation sponsor. When Tom and I were in high school and then in college, we would stop in to visit my Aunt Helen (and Uncle Charlie) to play euchre. It was always girls vs. boys and I really have no recollection of who won or who lost. I just remember my quirky Uncle Charlie always slow playing his 1 beer and 3 oreos, which by the way, was the same pace at which he played euchre. We always left there smiling and feeling like it was time well spent. I loved Tom for all the hands of cards he played with me and my grandparents as well as Aunt Helen and Uncle Charlie.

When she passed away down in Florida, where she went to live with her son Johnny at the end of her life, I recall feeling robbed of the opportunity to properly mourn someone I loved so deeply. All those years later, I honestly still feel that way. Here’s the utterly inappropriate and yet awesome gift Aunt Helen gave me. I knew I was her favorite. She was embarrassingly open about the fact that she liked me just a little better than everyone else, and in fact it got her into some trouble with my grandmother as well as my parents. “Helen, you can’t ask the girls what they want for dinner and then ALWAYS make what Shelly asks for,” my grandmother would scold. As a parent myself, I know I would be vocal about this kind of favoritism when it comes to my boys. It was wrong….oh so wrong….B-U-T….I always felt beloved by her.

When I was in Rome very recently, I found myself in the very front left corner of a church called “San Luigi dei Francesi” which translates “The Church of St. Louis of the French” and it is not far from Piazza Navona. One of the side chapels in this beautiful church contains some spectacular paintings by the baroque master Caravaggio. This includes a world renowned canvas of “The Calling of St. Matthew”, the seeing of which rather took my breath away. It has long been a painting I consider a favorite for spiritual reasons I don’t think I can convey adequately here. To look up, though, and see it in person felt a whole lot like being that 8 year-old girl who knew she was Aunt Helen’s favorite. In that instant, a certain feeling of belovedness which often eludes me, just washed over me.

For just a moment, I nearly drowned in it.

Writing about a moment of divine intimacy, or of spiritual consolation is often said to be a poor idea, as it’s very giving away can serve to minimize or trollop on the moment which was perhaps meant to be a private gift between one soul and it’s Creator, among other reasons.

Here’s the reason I’m doing it anyway. The thing that had long prevented me from growing closer to God was a disordered view of myself. Like A LOT of people I know, I had been Matthew with my head on the table. I am quick to believe all criticism and remember all failure, and loathe to believe in my goodness. I long felt like Matthew with his head on the table saying “not me, Lord.” He was a hated tax collector, he was all things unworthy. Yet there was Jesus pointing at him saying, “Come follow me.”

We think we are so darn smart, but our self-knowledge and ingenuity are utterly insufficient, and they certainly won’t effectuate union with God. What we really need is a supernatural faith. We need a faith that understands God loves His children more than we love ours. We need to know that we are worthy, our lives priceless, simply because WE ARE HIS.

If you are reading my words today, I want you to know something. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU ARE WORTHY.

This summer, my cousin took his life and that of his family. This fall, a young college senior named Evan, who was the very picture of goodness, took his life. Last week, the nephew of a church friend, a young man named JJ, the only child of his parents, took his life. In the last year alone, my pastor has buried 5 of his parishioners after the same tragedy. Folks, this must stop.

I’m not quite sure how but we must help and it must begin with being unafraid to love others. That means EVERYONE. ALWAYS. You and I maybe aren’t mental health professionals. We are just regular people like my Aunt Helen. What can we do about it, right? I mean who are we to solve such a big problem? I’m not sure.

However, I do know this. Aunt Helen was divorced at a young age, a thing about which she never spoke. She liked her cocktails a little too much. She thought iodine and baby oil was the nectar of the Gods and should be slathered upon the human body whenever the sun peaked out. She seemed to believe pimento cheese and fried chicken were both food groups unto themselves. Also, in her quirky and ordinary life, she was the face of Christ to me. Despite her flaws, God used her to teach me that I am beloved. She was a person who seemed to see the butterfly wings I couldn’t spot because they were behind me. So, when God came close to remind me, I remembered the feeling as I gazed at the beauty of the Caravaggio painting and He drew me in.

I left there thinking about how very much I love Him, and that I can do more for the Lord.

The beautiful senses God has given us can help us grow in holiness. I feel His love at mass, in the Eucharist and when Tom kisses me gently on the forehead. I feel it when a friend sends me a sweet card or when the sun sets over Lake Michigan—and apparently in the corners of dusty old churches in Rome I discover with Mom.

This week, we celebrated the feast day of one of my favorites, St. Theresa of Avila. She said this. “The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and do that which best stirs you to love.”

I don’t know how to fix so many problems I see in this world, but I think it starts there.

 

Too Much to Lose

Author’s note: I was asked by a friend who is a recent convert to the faith to share my take on the Catholic Church in all her messiness. I’m just one Jesus girl who loves the Lord and who cannot imagine life without the Eucharist, and therefore her Church family, and this is my take. Whatever you read in this, know one thing for sure. You are loved beyond all measure by God. Always. -ST

“Who is going to save our Church? Do not look to the priests. Do not look to the bishops. It’s up to you, the laity, to remind our priests to be priests and our bishops to be bishops.” –Archbishop Fulton Sheen

When I was an 8 year-old at St. Lawrence Catholic School, I remember a morning filled with genuine heart ache—and a few tears too. You see, nearly every member of my fairly large class had some important role to play in the all-school mass being organized by Miss Mecklenburg’s 3rd grade class. I did not. Cue the pathetic meltdown. I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, been a little too emotional for my own good, and the truth is, the Lord used this amazing teacher to help draw me to Himself that year. It wasn’t about “I’m a better reader” or “that’s not fair” for me on that sad little morning. It’s a moment I’ve never forgotten (almost 40 years later) because that little girl was just authentically sad about not being able to do something special for Jesus that day. I wasn’t worried about what any of my classmates thought of me, I was just this innocent child who wanted to show the Lord she loved Him. The truth is, it never occurred to me that my ridiculous sniffling might cause my teacher or my classmates to disapprove or think less of me. Eight year olds don’t think like that. With children this age, the one thing you can you can almost always be assured of is authenticity. In good news, I’ve since come to realize that Jesus can see our hearts, even if we don’t get picked to bring up the gifts at mass.

To this housewife from Indiana, therein lies the critical disconnect in this current crisis in my beloved Church. When we forget that in the end, it’s all between us and our Lord, we are lost.

In all walks of life, at all ages and stages, our humanity inevitably oozes forth. When you’re eight, it’s transparent. Unfortunately, as we age, we often lose the ability to be truly genuine. That means that on the edges of the humanity continuum, there are some childlike (genuine) souls who pour out their lives working to be the face of Jesus, and others become more wicked or manipulative and end up reminding us more of Judas.

Miss Mecklenburg? She was the former. She noticed my pained face and pulled me aside. She promised another role, another day. I knew in that moment, because of her kindness, that God had something else in mind for me (and the fact that it involved me getting a brand new green velvet dress for Christmas mass was pretty cool too). She also taught us about satan that year. In fact, she is the only teacher I can remember in 12 years of Catholic school, bringing up the topic of evil in such a courageous way. She encouraged us, when we encountered the diabolical (my word, not hers) in our lives, to speak the name of Jesus, aloud, repeating it if we must. “He will flee if you do that.” I recall that conversation scaring me, as I had not considered the presence of darkness in that way. However, she loved us enough to speak truth, in love. I have always used her sage advice.

Unfortunately, on the other end of the spectrum, far from everyday heroes like my 3rd grade teacher—across all walks of life– are folks who violate all goodness and commit acts which I would characterize as gravely depraved. Turn on CNN. The profound lack of moral integrity exists in all types of folks including parents, teachers, coaches, police officers, doctors, priests, bishops…and the list goes on. This article is not really about the fact that there are deeply disturbed criminals among us. You already know that if you ever watch the news. A neglectful mother doesn’t make us all neglectful, a careless doctor doesn’t make them all careless, and an abusive priest doesn’t make them all abusers, obviously.

The challenge for me is, what about the rest of us, and what about people in positions of moral authority who fail to lead? What is our collective responsibility? There are (I would argue, otherwise decent) folks who overlooked the misdeeds of Dr. Larry Nasser. There are fellow officers of the law who performed their own roles lawfully but who noticed their co-worker’s propensity for violence or racism and said little. There are shepherds in our church who turned a blind eye to abusive clerics at all levels.

“Cry out! Cry out with a thousand tongues! This world is rotten because of silence.” –St. Catherine of Siena

When we avoid all controversy, choose the path of least resistance, and work to keep from offending everyone, it sets us up for a lukewarm life. We all want to be in the inner ring, so to speak. If we who are essentially good reveal the content of our hearts, we fear we will lose approval, acceptance, or prestige. When we have too much to lose, we tend to compromise, lest we lose our upward mobility, our power, or whatever it is we are valuing more than truth.

Our religious leaders are a lot like many of us in that way. We all want an invitation to the party. We feel we have too much to lose to make a stink. Have you ever had a close friend or family member you knew needed honesty, but whom you feared losing even if you lovingly tried to point out a serious concern? Did you go ahead and speak the truth or did you decide it wasn’t your place?

When our Bishops have this mindset, though, it’s a huge problem. Their failure to act on their moral authority in a holy way undermines the life of the Church. Discretion seems to be the word they love more than they should. It’s probably partly what landed them in pink hats, actually.  We are to be impressed when they speak like elite academics. The problem is that when they are insulated from genuine communication with the laity, when they insist on formal letters from the priests in their diocese who have urgent issues to discuss, when they are long on administrative skills and short on pastoral experience, when they are positioning themselves instead of shepherding real people, it gets us precisely here.

I don’t want a confessor who assures me “it’s ok” when I commit a serious sin. I want mercy and forgiveness to be sure, but also I need fraternal correction. I’m looking for Christ in that interaction.  I have a holy, courageous priest and other friends willing to do that in my life.

Guess what? Our leaders need the same. Some of them have forgotten who they are and to whom they ultimately belong. I’m not suggesting our priests and bishops start sending out their cell phone numbers to everyone. You know what though? That would be standing alongside your flock, huh? Right now, a little more authenticity and courageous leadership would sure be a breath of fresh air.

I’ll leave it to the most holy, clever and creative of the bunch to find a way to be the salt and the light and show us the path forward. However, we must demand honest and courageous shepherds! Indignation and righteous anger have a place at the table right now for us who sit in the pews. In the midst of this diabolical masterpiece unleashed on us by the devil himself, though, I vote we cry out every day like I was taught in 3rd grade and call upon our Savior by name. Let’s just keep crying out to the Lord. Why over complicate things? Pray! I read once that even Pope John XXIII, now a canonized saint, would pray before bedtime in a childlike manner and say, “Oh Lord, I’m going to bed. It’s your church. Take care of it!”

“The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine—but for unbelievers a proof of it’s dignity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.” –Hilare Belloc 

Rother 

ABOVE:  Bl. Stanley Rother

Because a funny Irish priest once told my mom, “Ye gots to leave ‘em with a wee bit of hope”, let me give you a shining example of a saintly shepherd by whom I find myself inspired. Oklahoma native, Stanley Rother, became a priest who eventually served the poor in Guatemala. A dangerous civil war broke out and all religious were targets. He was urged to leave. He defiantly refused. On July 28, 1981, he was attacked and killed in his rectory. Shortly before he died, he explained why he was staying with his people, despite the incredible courage and fidelity it must have taken to stay with his flock and lead at an impossible time. He said, “A shepherd doesn’t run at the first sign of danger.”

Amen to that. To all you holy priests and bishops out there, I stand with you. You are heroes who bring us the sacraments, without which, we cannot live. I urge you to remember this is no time for weakness and I want you to know of my daily prayers for you. Thank you for all you do each day. Truly, I love you amazing men!

To those who have been abused and victimized by evil people, my prayers are for your healing and for justice.

Bl. Staney Rother, first martyr born in the United States, PRAY FOR US!

Footnote:  For those in the area, Fr. Don Wolf, the cousin of Bl. Stanley Rother, will be coming to give a first person account of his holy and inspiring life on Oct. 23 at 7pm at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Carmel, Indiana.  It’s a free event, and all are welcome.